Recent blog posts

What I'm Reading via Google+

What I'm Reading via Google Reader

Friday, April 25, 2008

Blogging on TypePad

I enjoy some of the features of Blogger -- and particularly the Google connection.

But I've moved my blogging content to because I prefer the user interface, the trackback features and, frankly, the templates.

However, because blogger does have this nice Google interface, I've decided to maintain this as a placeholder for the RSS feeds I am reading.

Perhaps I'll leverage this interface in other ways as well!


Friday, April 4, 2008

A Cog in the Machine

In Seth Godin's would we miss you? post, he says

The problem with fitting in and being a cog in the machine is that cogs are intentionally designed to be easily replaceable. When one breaks, you just get another. No one particularly misses the old one.

We have to remember that change is a part of life and the question is not just would we miss you, but are we ready to evolve into something new.

Seth wonders if we'd miss Pizza Hut if it disappeared tomorrow. It is a cog in our societal machine.

But have you noticed that Pizza Hut is changing to Pasta Hut? At first I thought it was an April Fool's joke when I opened the email from Pizza Hut saying it was going to change it's name. Is this real or just a marketing strategy to get our attention? When I saw a Pasta Hut ad on TV last night, I began to think it was real. And when you go to their site, you see the brand logo is changed to Pasta Hut.

Are we ready for this change? Of course. We might wonder or gripe about it, but the Pizza Hut cog in our societal machine has recognized the need to change.

Benjamin Disraeli said, "Change is inevitable. Change is constant." This includes changes in organizations, in communities and in our own lives.

But getting back to basics, cogs are defined as:
  • a tooth on the rim of a wheel or gear
  • a subordinate but vital person or part
So a cog, by definition, is essential to the success of the organization. It has proven it's worth.

What makes a cog vital?

I've been working at same institution for more than 20 years. What I've found (and what I have enjoyed) is that I am allowed the flexibility to constantly evolve and reinvent my role and workload -- what I'm doing, learning, and contributing.

So, one of my strengths is my enthusiasm for trying and learning new things and changing with the organization. "Evolve or die" is too strong, I think. "Change or be replaced" may be more accurate.

I think that is what promotes longevity in cogs. The machine most likely will change over time.
Can we?

Trackback URL:

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Speaking of Tufte ...

Cool cartoon on Tufte posted on Trendsspotting ...

On Being a Web Craftsman

If you're a web programmer/designer this is for you ...


April Fool's Posts

There were a lot of April Fools posts circulating through the Web -- even on trusted sites.

A few of my favorites:
  • Tufte joins SlideShare board of advisors; No more bullet points on SlideShare. According to this post, "Special algorithms based on Tufte’s groundbreaking work will parse the PowerPoint file and remove all bullet points, deceptive “chart junk”, and other elements that distract from a presentations effectiveness." It should be noted that SlideShare started out the day with the SlideShow of the Day featuring a bulleted PowerPoint purportedly by Edward R. Tufte. That was taken down at some point and replaced with this blog.
  • Announcing Google Weblogs (beta). If it sounds too good to be true -- it is! According to this Google Buzz Blogger post, here’s what you can expect:
    • Don’t limit yourself to “reverse chronological” publishing. Our advanced Google algorithms put your best content at the top of your blog. Even if your later work goes downhill your previous posts will still shine.
    • No more template languages to mess with or sidebars to get right. Our advanced Google algorithms automatically populate your blog’s sidebar with the most relevant possible content.
    • Stop worrying about your PageRank or your search engine optimization. Post directly into Google search results for maximum visibility.
    • Save your readers time and effort. We’ll automatically extract the most relevant sentence from your post for the index page, along with any necessary ellipsis. We'll also put some words in bold!
    • Your blog’s header will stay fresh with new images from our team of artists, each and every anniversary of a scientific achievement.
    • Unsure of what to post about? Just click “I’m Feeling Lucky” and we’ll “take care” of the rest!
What April Fool's postings did you find?

Importance of Writing for the Web

The post Ten Practical Tips for Writing in English (Jarkko Laine) is a gem of an article which comes from a Finnish author wrestling with how to write more effectively online.

She provides the following simple tips with lots of links to online resources:
  1. Read in English
  2. Listen to native speakers
  3. When writing in English, think in English
  4. Write
  5. Trust your gut
  6. Proofread
  7. Have English-speaking friends who are not afraid to correct your English
  8. Study spelling and grammar
  9. Commas and hyphenation -- the tricky buggers
  10. Relax
I wonder if these tips translate to writing in other languages?

I also thought about how these might be transmuted into a howto list for blogging/web writing in general (isn't everything worth reading a blog these days)?
  1. Read blogs
  2. Read and apply howto's on blogging
  3. When writing a blog, think about your purpose and your readers
  4. Write (every day)
  5. Trust your gut
  6. Proofread (okay, we all agree that typos are part of blogging, but they do distract and you take a hit in the area of expertise)
  7. Read (and respond to) your comments
  8. Read and apply howto's on writing for the web
  9. Use short paragraphs, short sentences, bulleted lists and avoid over-punctuation
  10. Relax and enjoy the ride
This, however, doesn't address the need for incorporating images or other multimedia to better express your media. So I might add the following.
  • Use graphics to express complex information (a picture says a thousand words)

Importance of Network News Continues Decline

The Project for Excellence in Journalism State of the News Media 2008: Annual Report on American Journalism offers the following display of Evening News Ratings in decline since 1980.

Above version of chart published on Slate.

You can also view other charts or build your own charts online.

The full report is available online for reading or printing (in HTML only).

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Importance of Color

According to
  • color increases brand recognition by up to 80 percent.
  • color improves readership as much as 40 percent.
  • color accelerates learning from 55 to 78 percent.
  • color increases comprehension by 73 percent.
  • color ads are read up to 42 percent more than similar ads in black and white.
  • color can be up to 85 percent of the reason people decide to buy.
According to Trendspotting, the color blue is dominating the web. Blogger Taly Weiss predicts that innovative companies trying to achieve attention will use more “daring” colors to compete with the dominating blue. The new MySpace/ Facebook ought to be more of a fusion of colors as some of the web experts suggested here.

The article concludes by pointing to the following useful links on color:

Importance of in Online Marketing

According to Social Media Optimization:

Digg is the most popular and notable of the social bookmarking sites. Quantcast estimates that that Digg has about 25 million unique visitors a month.

  • Digg attracts more users than all the other social bookmarking sites combined.
  • Digg’s demographics have hanged as it has become more popular (mainstream). (... the typical social bookmarking site user is male, between the ages of 35-54 with a household income of $60k or more a year.)
  • Social media topics that do well on Digg include interesting photos, anything anti-Microsoft and lists (top 10, etc).

If you are trying to reach this audience, then you have to include Digg in your marketing efforts, simply because the audience is so large, relative to everyone else in this space.