The Idea Dude


Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Why ranking does and doesn't matter

To say that Google's page ranking adjustments this past week has created a disturbance in the blogosphere is an understatement. It's not the first nor is it the last. Should it matter, no. Does it matter, yes. Because we live in a world where social status is one of the keys to natural selection and evolution. Even the animals in the wild have a pecking order. For any species to thrive, the strong must survive and the weak must die. If it were not so, the weaker genes would eventually kill off the species or be killed by other superior species. That is life in a nutshell.

So from the time we played king of the hill, to the zillion of top ten lists we always seem to be making, it is our way of keeping score. To rank so we may know where we are in the food chain or in this case the blog chain. That's why we have "vote for me" buttons on social networking sites and boast of the number of LinkedIn connections we have or the number of friends we have on MySpace.

The problem with ranking is not the concept itself but not really knowing how the ranking is achieved or the rules that surround it. Of course, every rule has an exception and like the laws in our country, some will get bent and some will hurt the very people they were meant to help.

Take the Technorati ranking for example. Their authority is based on the number of links to your blog within 6 months. So what does it really mean. At TheGoodBlogs we have hard data to back up what I'm about to say.

  • Generally the rule or what at least what you expect is, if you're highly ranked, you should be receiving a lot of traffic.
  • We have bloggers in the top Technorati 5,000 with less than 100 views per day.
  • We also have bloggers with consistently 1,000 or more views a day with rankings worse than 85,000 on Technorati.
  • Ergo, on Technorati, ranking does NOT imply traffic and vice versa.
  • BTW: it has nothing to do with how often you blog either. In both cases above, the average blog post is 1 per day.

Technorati is what I would call a relationship rank. The folks with the highest ranking actively engage themselves in the blogosphere. They are the connectors. This is what they do best, being marketeers of their brand and their topic.

Google is what I would call a relevancy rank. While they have changed their algorithms over the years, they are not particularly interested in how many real relationships you may have had on your blog. They are only interested in trying to determine how much relevant content you have on your blog and you're not a spammer or a host page for advertising links. With 100 million blogs and 10x more blog pages, they automate all that so often they can't tell reliably whether you're linking to 1,000 real bloggers because you want to give some link love or just link to 1,000 websites as an affiliate.

What does all this mean? If you blog because you love to, than it really means nothing. Continue to leave your trail of breadcrumbs in the blogosphere because they are instances of you over time. And really that's all that should matter...

Why I love the blogosphere? I get to read what the so-called pundits have to say because it's important for business to sell orange dresses and not green if that's what Hollywood is wearing this spring. BUT, the best part is to find the blog in Indonesia, Ireland or a small town in Alaska that has that one post that speaks to you, that one sentence that moves you and inspires you for the rest of the day.

Because when that happens, you realize how much poorer we would all be without the Internet...

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Can it be...

We spend most of our lives following cues and rules. The lights are green we go, the lights are red we stop. We take orders from our employers, requests from our friends. We walk into restaurants and are given menus. We watch TV and go out and buy what they tell us. Buy now and save.

24/7 we are driven by cues and rules more than we think or would like to admit

Except for your blog...

Fire up that browser and the cursor awaits, it is your choice, your words, your thoughts.

Do you ever think of your blog as the most important outlet for your creative energy each and every day?

For most of us, we may meet 10 people in person everyday, speak to another 5 or 6 and email a couple more....

With your blog you could reach 100 or maybe 1000. The world (not just your friends, colleagues and neighbors) can continue to listen even though you've stopped talking.

Do you ever think of your blog as the single most important short-term and long-term impact you may ever have on this planet?

Yesterday, almost 700 people joined in the conversation at Successful Blog. One post, 700 comments.

Your blog is a place where people connect, interact, converse... because they choose to...

Do you ever think of your blog as the most important conversation of your day?

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Happy Birthday Successful-Blog and Liz Strauss

Today marks the 2nd anniversary of Successful-Blog.

Here are words and phrases that come to mind on this day.

Successful-Blog is where smart people go because they come away even smarter. The wisdom lies in both the words of Liz and the comments that accompany every post. Conversation is its life-blood. Yet all that wonderful knowledge and insight is always humbly delivered.

Successful-Blog is where you will find a lot of heart. Perpetually generous and always authentic. It asks us to share, makes room for us to talk. Teaches us to be nice.

Successful-Blog is all about soul, inspires us all to be great. Ever embracing the human spirit. It transcends words, bridges gaps, forges relationships.

Successful-Blog is all these things because...

Successful-Blog is Liz Strauss
To many who venture into the blogosphere is just a cacophony of voices, a sea of opinion, rhetoric and spam ... one person has helped us make sense of it all... that person is Liz Strauss.

2 years ago, Liz stepped into Successful-Blog, she took it far beyond where she found it.

Thank you, Liz. You have always wanted to change the world. Guess what? your blog shows that's what you've been doing every single day.

Happy Birthday

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Time compression, when it's time to slowdown...

We live in a society today called, Now!. Immediacy seems to be the order of the day. Instant gratification is norm and thinking long-term is out. Fedex, fast food, instant messaging and email all point to our obsession with speed. How often have your heard the following?

  • We need this feature by tomorrow or our customers will leave us.
  • Buy now, sale ends soon.
  • Use our diet program and lose weight in weeks.

Where it really hurts us is how all this short term activity impacts us in the long run. Sacrificing quality, breaking down of personal relationships, physical and emotional stress.

Strategy+business speaks of a report where one of their findings was...

People could tell you when their day began, but not when their day ended

So where is the thinking that says...

  • Take a little longer, quality is important
  • Let's get to know each other a little better, how are you today?
  • Let's explore this a little further
  • What is the long term impact of our actions?
  • Where should we really be investing our time, energy and money?

Perhaps that is why conversation is really a lost art. Speaking and listening is something we now do to get the job done. Our questions are really checkpoints inquiring about status. The answers we expect are "yes" or "no". We stop long enough to ask a question or just long enough to answer one. How sad is that?

True conversation is a journey of discovery of ideas and people.

Do we really take time to meander over a coffee and ask "what if". Or stop and marvel about an instant in time? What happened to the walks in the park, breakfast in bed, fireside chats... they are replaced with getting to meetings on time, rushing for the bus, drinking coffee bought in drive-throughs.

Alas, time compression is the culprit, if we could only expand time, our outlook would be less stressful, our conversations more meaningful, each moment maybe more memorable.

We use interesting phrases like take time, make time, save time.

Yet is the only thing we can't control... or can we.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Taking time to be inspired

It's Sunday morning and it comes with the realization I haven't blogged for almost a week. As they say, I haven't left the building just been busy in the basement. Being a 4 day work week in Canada didn't help either. Everyone expected everything to be done by Friday. I am Friday...

I'm probably what you would call an eclectic blogger. I don't keep schedules for reading and writing. I hardly keep notes about what I should write about and save them for a rainy blogging day. I think I break every blogging rule in the book. For me, my blog is a sketchpad for inspiration. If I'm not inspired, I don't write.

Working deep down in the bowels of software development is not unlike working underground in a diamond mine. You spend many days in the dark, sweating and toiling. If only each miner saw the look on "her" face when "he" presented "her" with that diamond ring, I think they would see see their work as a labor of love instead of just labor. We all have to come up for fresh air to get a fresh perspective in life.

So weekends for me is now the time to come up for air, to write for Liz's blog and generally take time to be inspired.

Here are my thoughts on how to be inspired:

  • Read at least 1 familiar blog a day
  • Read 1 new blog a day (try using TheGoodBlogs! to find great blogs)
  • Connect with one friend a day (who have you not emailed or called for over a week?)
  • Speak to one person you've never met before each day (even if it's the person serving coffee on the other side of the counter!)
  • Look around constantly and absorb (actively look around, trees, people, ads, shop windows, look for that which makes you sigh)
  • Ask what inspired you today? (was it the color in the dress in the shop window, or a comment on the bus you overheard)
  • Take time to reminisce
  • Have some ALONE time!

If you do one or more of these things, you can't help but be inspired.

I did... and I posted

Monday, October 08, 2007

The dots are free

Yesterday my guest post at Liz's blog was about looking at your blog posts as gifts. It was one of those posts that, when I was done, I did wonder if people will get it!. I think they did, judging from some of the replies. The concept continued to linger this morning. I was compelled to run this through my mind once more.

Sometimes we get caught up with this whole blogging thing and forget we all blog for different reasons. The most successful ones do it for a living. So they blog consistently every day with authority and with awesome content. For the rest of us, which accounts for 95% or more of the blogosphere, it is a channel for our thoughts and emotions. It is simply to say, hey I exist, and this is me.

My aha moment was inspired by Thanksgiving. It went like this...

If your blog post was a gift, it would be:
  • Free - nothing is expected in return.
  • Voluntary - you do it when you feel like it.
  • It is a gift - not everyone may like it and some may choose n.ot to receive it.
  • Gifts are unexpected - that's what makes them special.
  • The act is immediate, but the intent is timelessYour blog post is there for all to read forever.
  • Gifts are given not sharedOur words are gifts, sharing implies we haven't let go.
  • Gift is a gift, not matter how large or smallAppreciate the giver and the act of giving first.

    And the most wonderful of things is when the recipient does reciprocate in another blog post or a comment. Because it means...

    ...the conversation has begun...

    It was liberating for me, because all of a sudden when you have this realization, there is no more stress of smart or good you should be. There is no counting of views and links. For most of us, we shouldn't need to care. To turn one head and one heart should be all you should wish for. And whether it is today, tomorrow or 5 years from now, someone will read the post and their hearts will be touched. Of that I am sure.

    Just give when you feel like giving...

  • Saturday, October 06, 2007

    The dawn of the age of conversation

    Joanna, from Confident Writing was asking about role of the written word in the age of New Media. In the new age of conversation, how important were comments and how will we compete with video and other rich media. Lots of room for thought.

    I've always thought that blogging has two parts. It is both the activity and the medium. However they are not synonymous even though we regard it as such because of the pervasiveness of standalone platforms like Typepad, Wordpress and Blogger to name a few. It's no wonder that sidebars are filled with widgets that talk, record, show video or your favorite video stream. It doesn't take a leap of faith to realize that it is something that is part of the evolution of the Internet. Blogging is the personalization of the webpage. It is scarcely the best platform for conversation especially when you consider the only tool for that is the venerable comment.

    Over at MySpace, conversations has been what made it successful. Even though each member has a blog, it is not the reason why people connect there. It is the simply to hear the conversation of short soundbytes, "Hi how are you" or "happy birthday". Interestly enough, many people maintain a blog outside of MySpace but keep the latter as a place for boosting their profiles. Take a jump to Facebook. There you will see new interaction paradigms starting to emerge everyday. Whether it is being poked, writing on someone's wall, it is letting the community decide how they want to connect to the outside world through a multitude of applications. Something none of the other blogging platforms or MySpace for that matter did particular well.

    Today blogging is a conversation paradigm and for the longest while, the only sheriff in town. In a couple of years and maybe sooner, blogging is still relevant but just one page in your playbook. When Joanna asked about the quality of the written word especially when other types of delivery of Twitter are so popular, I thought about the thousands of blogs I've read. Many should never have been blogs. They should have been Twitters. Many comments should never have been blog comments. They should have been writings on someone else's wall. My children use their MSN displayname as placeholders for how they are feeling or what inspires them. Looking at list, I instantly know if they've had a good day or they're particular mad about something at school.

    The point being is that we are at the beginning of the age of conversation, but only the beginning. One day we will look back at our history and see blogs like cave drawings and Twitters like scratching on bones. Only several years ago, the Holy Grail of unified messaging was getting our email, fax, instant messaging and sms from one device and one account. Our requirements as hungry Internet citizens have already past that a long time ago. Unified messaging of the 'net is now about how I can manage my IM, Twitters, blog, walls, chatbox and video stream in a consistent and easy way.

    And to think when we first started TheGoodBlogs, all I ever wanted to do was own your sidebar...