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Quick Takes: 2/28/06

A few things that I just don’t have the time to get into further but want to clear out of Bloglines:

  • Edmunds.com, the car information site, gets into social media with the launch of CarSpace.com.  Unfortuntely they get docked two points for an unoriginal title but more than make up for it with effort.
  • Richard Laermer gets opinionated, saying the main product of most companies is “vapor,” meaning press releases about tedious business details that have no shot of being picked up as actual news.  He has a very good point.  Most press releases, I suspect, are more about fulfilling SEC requirements than they are stories the press (or blog community) are actually interested in.
  • Yahoo will begin returning Wikipedia information along with other search results.  This is one of the reasons I love Yahoo: They’re constantly trying to make the user experience better and more fully rounded.
  • Thought this was interesting enough to mention: Bally Fitness is taking the Web2.0 approach to health management by launching BallyNutrition, an online system for managing what you eat based on your own input.  There’s also the Bally Total Health Handbook that you can download here. (via Tom Biro, who works at MWW, which represents Bally. It’s all about disclosure.)

Google Pages falls short

So I was lucky enough yesterday morning to get in and create a Google homepage before they shut off access.  You can see the results here, but keep in mind I haven’t had more than about five minutes to play with it.  I’m not going to repeat what others have said about this being an AJAX equivalent of GeoCities since they’ve said it well enough.  What I do want to comment on is how the limitations of the service show just how much Google doesn’t get integration, though.

First off, why can’t I put headlines from my Blogger-based blog in a nav-bar?  Why can’t I get visitor traffic automatically from Google Analytics?  Why can’t I publish AdSense ads?  If I have items up for bid on Google Base why can’t I integrate that into the site?  In short, why can’t the myriad of other Google services talk to this one?  Sure I can link to these things but what’s the big deal about that?

Actually this is a complaint I have about Google in general.  Google Base should have been able to talk to Blogger and allow for someone to easy grab code to have their items listings dynamically refresh on the their blog.  Google Reader should have been able been an add-on to Gmail instead of a completely separate service.  The company is very good at creating things but not at having a vision of how those gadgets fit together and it makes for a frustrating experience, at least from my end.  I’d like to be able to sign into Google and, from their customized home page, access Blogger, Pages, Base, Reader, Gmail and my AdSense account.

So I might expand the page a bit to be a clearing house for all my online efforts but there’s a level of functionality the Pages service just doesn’t have and until it does I certainly can’t see this becoming something that catches on in any meaningful way.

The life-cycle of a blog post

Just yesterday I mentioned Eric Zorn’s “23-steps to RSS” post on the Tribune’s Change of Subject blog.  (I didn’t realize it at the time but I later discovered the Trib has finally added a pretty good slate of RSS feeds so Zorn’s post was likely part of that.)

Later in the day Steve Rubel picked up on it.

This morning it made it to LifeHacker.

Is four degrees linkage huge?  No, some really popular posts likely have many times that number.  The point is that good content, no matter the subject of matter or level of sophistication, will get spread around the net on its own power.  (Or you can game the system to make yourself look important.)  It went from Zorn (a local columnist/blogger) to me to Rubel (who’s so huge he needed a bigger agency to contain him) to LifeHacker, which is read by people in all industries and all levels of sophistication.  That’s power.

Some of the commenters on Steve’s blog take issue over how non-savvy the 23 steps seem to be but that’s the point – Zorn was talking to the around 95% of the population that don’t yet get RSS.  It’s the job of early-adopters to educate the late comers and help them get up to speed.

Mediapost update

Following up on my earlier gripe about MediaPost and their need for me to renew my free email newsletter subscriptions.  The following is now appearing at the top of a few of my emails.

Mediapost2

So I’m about to get automatically unsubscribed to a couple of the newsletters.  The link to “renew now” does work and the button to proceed to steps 4&5 doesn’t error out anymore: it just reloads the page with steps 1, 2 and 3.  I tried logging out, logging back in and just updating my subscriptions from the general account maintenance page so we’ll see if that works.  If not MediaPost is about to unsubscribe someone who reads their multitude of emails, links to the items contained in them and generally gets a lot of use from the content.

That’s a fantastic business plan they’ve got there.

Step-by-step RSS setup

Eric Zorn at the Chicago Tribune has a great 23-stop how-to for getting started with RSS using Bloglines.  23 might sound like a lot but he includes things like “click ‘register'” so don’t be intimidated by the number.

Guiness launches a blog

(Note: Try to stay focuesed and not fade out while thinking about beer on a Friday.  Thanks.)

Beer maker Guinness has launched a blog which according to Adrants is written by the marketing team at the company.  It doesn’t pretend to be a character blog, it’s not written in overly flowery corporate language and contains good information that builds off other work such as the company’s ads.  In other words it’s great and contains a lot of credibility.  Way to go Guinness.

New feeds

Adding a number of new blogs/sites to Bloglines this morning.

I’m considering doing away with the Blogroll and replacing it with an OPML of my entire subscription list but am hesitant to do so.  I’ve got a lot of political and entertainment sites in there and don’t want to honk people off by including my personal stuff in with the on-topic blogs/sites.  Thoughts?

4 Things

So I got tagged not once but twice with this “4 things” meme that’s running around like my four year-old after an ice cream bar.  Once by Tom Biro and once by Blake Barbara.  A pox on both your houses, quite frankly.

(Actually I got it three times.  Mack Collier got me but he linked to my personal blog so I put my response there.)

Four Jobs I’ve Had

  • Movie theater usher
  • Video store clerk
  • Library reshelver
  • Media analyst (my first position at Bacon’s)

Four Movies I Can Watch Over and Over

  • The Godfather
  • Raiders of the Lost Ark
  • The Maltese Falcon
  • Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy

Four TV Shows I Love to Watch

  • Arrested Development (and I don’t have Showtime so I’m *******)
  • The Simpsons
  • Scrubs
  • Buffy, the Vampire Slayer

Four Places I’ve Been on Vacation

  • St. Louis, MO
  • Philadelphia, PA
  • Gettysburg
  • Taos, New Mexico

Four Favorite Dishes

  • Spaghetti
  • Bratwurst
  • Chili
  • Anything my wife makes since I can’t cook

Four Websites I Visit Daily

Four Places I’d Rather Be

  • Munich
  • I don’t know…who’d want to live anywhere but Chicago?

Four Bloggers I am Tagging

  • Tim Nudd
  • Kevin Dugan
  • This game is getting harder as just about everyone else I know has already been tagged.

Quick Takes: 1/31/06

  • Congratulations to Jeremy Pepper on his hiring by Weber Shandwick.  Fortunately Jeremy will continue writing POP! PR Jots.
  • The folks who run Wikipedia noticed Congressional staffers were altering entries on Congressmen and have shut off their privileges. See Tom Biro’s open letter to the offenders.
  • Stephen Baker solicited comments on whether companies should blog or not.  This isn’t an easy question but definitely warrants discussion in any and every company these days.
  • BoingBoing gets a nasty letter from a company it called out.

Meetup

I’ve been meaning to write about this for a week now but never remembered to at the right time.

Last week I got a chance to finally meet Tom Biro in person.  Tom and I, as you might know, write together on AdJab and Tom also runs both his own personal blog TheMediaDrop but also MWW’s Open The Dialogue, both of which are essential reads.  He was in town to take part in a panel discussion hosted by the TMP Marketing Club.  Considering I talk with Tom in some way or another just about every (work) day and have done so for quite a while now it was nice to finally have a chance to get together while he was in Chicago.  Of course the weather could have been nicer (it was about to drop six inches of snow) but it is Chicago and it is January so you never know.

Anyway, this was the first time I’ve actually gotten to meet anyone that I’ve blogged with or met online through writing and blogging.  Let’s hope the future holds more opportunities like this.