RssCloud: Getting blogs back into the realtime conversation

Posted by: on Sep 8, 2009 | No Comments

In the “Media 1.0″ world of a couple decades ago, where breaking news first appeared in print newspapers or on the 6 o’clock evening network TV news broadcast, the arrival of CNN’s 24-hour news coverage created serious upheaval.

While many news watchers may have stayed loyal to the paper or Brokaw for in-depth coverage and analysis, they increasingly tuned into CNN to see what was happening *right now*.

Fast forward to 2009, and Twitter is pulling a CNN on blogs. Where as recently as a few years ago the blogosphere represented one of the fastest ways to take a pulse of the online zeitgeist, nowadays it seems almost as slow as waiting for the evening news used to be.

That’s why the announcement today of WordPress supporting rssCloud matters. Automattic is trying to kick blogs back into the realtime conversation.

Part of the allure of Twitter is the near instantaneous view it provides into hot topics, reflected as trending subjects. Within seconds or minutes of a major piece of news breaking – from a celebrity passing to a politician cheating to a football player punching (arrrgh) – you’ll find thousands of people talking about it on Twitter.

With blogs, you have to wait for the posts to be composed, RSS readers to refresh, and then…you’re probably on Twitter by then anyway to find the hottest blog topics. rssCloud can’t tackle the issue of the time it takes to compose a coherent blog post vs a 140-character tweet, but it can minimize the time lag from posting to reading, and that’s an important start.

Yes, they difference can be as small as a few minutes, but in today’s obsessive world of memes that bloom and die within hours or even minutes, those minutes matter. rssCloud could be a very interesting experiment for the WordPress community, and bloggers as a whole.

As an aside: I read Andy Beal’s post asking if this announcement from Automattic isn’t just some “oooh, look! shiny!” sleight-of-PR-hand. My take – yes, it probably was to some degree. It may have been lucky timing for Matt and team, or it may have been an announcement planned for later that they pulled forward to change the subject. Either way, while Automattic still should focus on boosting WP’s rep for secure code, that doesn’t change the *potential* importance of the rssCloud announcement.

When is WordPress.com just good enough?

Posted by: on Sep 4, 2009 | No Comments

I get this question a lot:

“If I’m serious about my blogging efforts, shouldn’t I be hosting my blog with my own ISP?”

The answer, like so many things, is “it depends.” For most individuals and even small businesses, I actually recommend starting out with WordPress.com. Only making the leap to a self-hosted option when (and if) you run up against certain specific needs. Such as:

  • Do you truly *need* a heavily customized blog design? For example, to tie back in to your corporate branding?
  • Do you need to do something unique, such as hosting and displaying a deep video library? (though VideoPress may be a viable option now)
  • Do you need a custom plugin not offered by WP.com?
  • Do you want to run your own advertising?
  • Do you need to hack the core WordPress PHP files to do interesting things?

If “no” was the answer the above, then just stick with WordPress.com. After all, it does offer a wealth of free options, highly quality themes, and serious premium options, such as private branding and custom CSS, to make it suitable for most blogging efforts (such as Mayo Clinic’s excellent blogs).

So start small, focus on the content, and don’t hassle with self-hosting unless you need to.

Enjoy your long weekend!

Watching social media amplify one sports fan’s misery

Posted by: on Sep 4, 2009 | No Comments

As the name of this blog implies, I’m a huge Oregon Duck football fan. Huge. So last night I was geared up, ready to watch my beloved team kick off the season with a dominating performance against a ranked opponent on national television.

If you’re unfamiliar with how that turned out, wander over to ESPN. Or CNNSI. Or *any* sports news source you can find in the US. It was an ugly game, and it ended on a deplorable note.

What made it tougher as a fan, especially one who feels “plugged in” to various social media tools, to endure is the speed, ubiquity, and proliferation of reactions to the Ducks’ little debacle.

  • Twitter: “Oregon” became the #1 trending topic on Twitter shortly after our starting running back decided to play the role of UFC prize fighter instead of football player.
  • Twitter Part 2: ESPN posted (can’t find the link now) a “fan reactions on how Blount should be punished” query to its Twitter followers, and shared the reactions attached to the primary postgame story.
  • Newsvine: MSNBC immediately posted a fan poll via Newsvine on “How should Oregon running back be punished?” As of the morning after the game, there were over 6,000 votes (60%+ calling for him to get kicked off the team, in case you are curious).
  • YouTube: Hundreds of video caps of the soon-to-be-infamous moment are already floating around. Though, with impressive speed, ESPN has wielded some copyright fu on these and they are disappearing fast.
  • Blogs: Google Blogsearch reveals 12,000+ blog posts for “blount punches” – already.
  • Facebook: I watched several dozen posts fly around both during the game, and especially immediately afterwards, just from among my small circle of friends. Wall posts were made, videos linked, comments thrown about. And of course, every fan of rival teams gloated (deservedly) anytime they stumbled across a Duck fan. I’d also like to point out the awesome irony of this fan page, created long before “the incident” and selling Blount fan t-shirts with the slogan “You can’t hit this.”

I won’t even go into the amount of texting and emailing that happened among friends. In part this is all a kind of mass catharsis – we’re all sharing in our grief, amazement, and embarrassment with fellow fans and the rest of the sports world in realtime on a vast scale.

But it also makes me want to shut off the iPhone, close down Twitter, ignore my browser, to let it all die down lest I get reminded every few seconds about last nights game.

Social media. Double edged sword. Go Ducks.

New Client Work: Little Lala’s apps getting some nice reviews

Posted by: on Sep 3, 2009 | No Comments

One of the projects we’ve been working on is building awareness of the Little Lala iPhone applications – illustrated, narrated ebook and ABC flashcard apps. These are wonderful (*yes, we’re biased) little apps perfect for entertaining young readers, and both are permanent residents on my iPhone.

Fortunately, a bunch of other people feel the same way, such as Deb from Just a Mom’s Take on Things (thanks Deb!):

The bottom line: The Little Lala and Little Lala’s ABC’s iPhone apps are a charming way to not only help keep kids entertained for a few minutes when necessary, but also to sneak in a little bit of education into their day as well.

Here are some more great recent reviews of the apps:

Riding with No Hands

Sage and Savvy

The Way I See It

The iPhone Mom

Island Life

Mommies with Cents

Mammalicious

The Dirty T-Shirt

Beyond the apps, be sure to follow Lauren (the author) on her travels, and check her out on Twitter.