August 27, 2007

Blue Fish Network Closes Down

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I’m posting this here in behalf of fellow contributor Andy Merrett, who recently announced that the Blue Fish Network has officially closed down.

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I’ve sent email to the remaining members explaining my reasoning. It’s probably past due, as small, general networks were never really going to survive unless they built a thriving community. We, unfortunately, never made it.

Make no mistake, I valued the contribution to the network of each member past and present, and I’ll continue to read the blogs of those who are still writing. I also know that I owe some of my current standing in the ‘blogosphere’, albeit a small one, to some Blue Fish members.

Blue Fish was actually more of a community or a blog commune, rather than a blog network, in the strict sense of the term. The network did not actually own any of its member sites, nor were the writers under direct payroll. Blue Fish members benefited from the interlinking, and also the getting-to-know each other part. I think it’s safe to say that one of the reasons we were able to successfully invite Andy to contribute to the Blog Herald was because we knew each other from Blue Fish (my site was included in the first few rounds of membership, if I’m not mistaken).

I wouldn’t say that closing down of Blue Fish means it has not succeeded in its aims as a blog network. As our resident relationship blogger Liz Strauss would say, a big part of blogging is all about relationships. So whatever relationships that Blue Fish has helped forge will be testament to that success.

We’ll be watching out for your upcoming new media network Andy!

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Plagiarism in Your Ranks

In May 2003, a young reporter at the New York Times handed in his resignation to paper. The reporter, Jayson Blair, had already earned a reputation at the paper for inaccuracy, but it was the weeks prior that he had become the subject of plagiarism accusations that he had been unable to answer.

In the investigation that would follow, some 36 of his 73 stories would be deemed “suspect”, meaning they contained elements likely plagiarized from other sources. The scandal grew so large that, a mere month later, it claimed two more careers, those of two of the top editors at the paper, one of whom who was a Pulitzer Prize winner.

Though the purge was largely viewed as appropriate, it did little to repair the damage to the once-prestigious publication’s reputation. What was once a bastion of great American journalism had become mired in accusations of fraud and dishonesty, a problem they are still battling today.

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Tumblr — Lifestreaming . . . One day I’ll stream where I want to.

Here I am. Floating away. Eveything I do is a river of life.

First it was that my little writing blog had a feed. RSS what was that? Really Simple Syndication. Then I joined a social networking, or was it a social media site? I don’t know.

But it had a river of news about what everyone was doing.

Now along comes Tumblr.

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Steve Rubel has a great description of lifestreaming and how he is using it. read more

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August 24, 2007

Google: Video Uploading Now Officially Included Within Blogger

After previously allowing users to test out this feature “in draft” (note: Google’s way of saying beta without saying beta) it looks as if Blogger is now officially releasing video uploading to the rest of the blog*spot population.
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What’s Your Brand Essence?

You probably think that I’m talking about a perfume; it wouldn’t be an entirely inaccurate association. Why? Because as perfumes are the high profitability lines of fashion designers and houses, the essence is really what remains imprinted in people’s minds as they come into contact with you.

And the best articulation of your brand expresses your essence – the values and voice, as well as how you express that in relationship to readers, potential clients/prospects and the community/blogosphere at large. To break through the pack, you need to discover your brand story, express it at every touch point, and manage it over time.

There are volumes and terrific blogs written about developing a personal brand. The ideas and material at the roots of this post come from work I have done with consultant and brand expert Gerry Lantz, founder of Stories That Work. For an in depth interview (and bonus podcasts) with Gerry, you may link here.

The difference between a generic and a branded statement will mean the jump in quality from one of many to one and only. The good news is that blogs are places where we are already seeing very specific and memorable qualities – in layouts, language, and behavior or way of interacting. In this sense, your blog is more of a 3D medium – use it as such.

Your brand has a story:

It offers an experience along with the product or service you may be offering as an extension of the online presence. That means the sum total of impressions you make and leave on others.

There are values associated with that user experience. Those grow as internalized by your audience and serve the purpose of expressing what the experience means to them.

The story takes on human qualities as users develop their relationship with it, or what it represents to them.

In other words, talk normally.

That would seem like an obvious statement until you dig a bit deeper and consider that all of the opportunities others have to deal with you, to touch and be touched by your story are what I define talk.

For this reason, you will need to dig deeper to:

Shine a light on the specific characteristics that make you a different experience. Are you using language and expressions that are common among your peers or are you finding ways to articulate what you’re about differently? When pressed, what would you say about yourself?

Think of the traits, skills, results, and values that make you stand out. Make a list, keep pushing until you get to what you feel is your core.

Show your human traits. What are your distinguishing traits? Think in terms of reliability, integrity, ability to solve problems, resilience, etc. Brands can make cars sound human so they can appeal to people. For example, I drive a Toyota Camry, that’s because I see myself as reliable. Are you practical? That would be reflected in the brands you purchase and use. The same is true with people as brands.

Recently a colleague told me, “Look, I was in the Air Force, I see the world of operations as leadership, fast decision making, and superb execution. To me that is what work is all about. We figure out what our customers need, how we can get there, and we go do it the best way we can.”

Your essence is the sum total of what you stand for. It goes beyond the perceived benefits of dealing with you and your skills and talent (features). It’s the beginning of a marketing conversation – not to be confused with conversational marketing.

So let’s spend some time in the comments here to talk about you and your brand essence and next post we will take it home by discussing what a marketing conversation is all about.

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What Is Sucking Your Blogging Confidence Away?

A blogging friend of mine called me the other day and said she wanted to stop blogging. “It’s just too much.”

Too much what?

After asking a lot of questions and listening, I realized that the writing and publishing aspect of blogging wasn’t getting her down. It was comments. In fact, it was three comments. Three mean and vicious comments that broke her blogging spirit.

She couldn’t think about anything else. Every time she’d sit down at her computer to write, she’d see those comments in front of her.

Physically in front of her, because she’d check her blog for comments and there they would be, staring at her. Black letters on the white screen, left there for her to see and her readers to read.

She didn’t have the heart to remove them.
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Harvard students serve communities, share experiences through The World Blog

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A new non-profit website started by two Harvard students aims to increase awareness about important issues all over the globe. The World Blog allows over 50 Harvard students as they travel around the world to help communities in need. Some are working to educate developing-world entrepreneurs, others are helping reintegrate former child soldiers into their communities, and yet others are discovering what life is like in the slums – a reality for over one billion people.

The site was created by senior Omar Musa and sophomore Tariq Musa, brothers at Harvard College. The two grew up in Salt Lake City, Utah and have worked together to build websites since a young age, having created Soccer Fans Network in 1998. Now, their hope with The World Blog is to allow the writers to share their experiences and raise awareness about their work. “Anything you hear about the Middle East is about war and terrorism, anything about Africa is about AIDS, and anything about China is about the country’s surging economy,” says Omar. “The reality is, there is a lot more going on in all these places and we’re lucky to have writers blogging about it.”

One writer, junior Leah Zamore, ventured to Uganda to work with an NGO that counsels former child soldiers. Many of these children had been abducted and forced into service by rebel groups, but the organization believes they can be reintegrated into society through education. While in Uganda, Leah contracted malaria and describes the experience in her blog. “The night I became sick was the longest and loneliest night of my life,” she writes. “I spent the first ten hours lying on my back unable to move or to speak. Every time I opened my eyes I saw nothing but the walls spinning and swirling around me.”

In Palo Alto, California, sophomore Liz Altmaier is working with Project Baobab, a non-profit organization that provides free education and entrepreneurial grants to women in Kenya. By giving these women an opportunity to start various businesses, Project Baobab hopes to mitigate the cycle of poverty in Africa.

The World Blog was funded in part by a grant from the Harvard Alumni Association of Utah, a donation awarded each year to a project benefiting the community.

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10 Minute Blog Tips: The Blogging Benefit of Making Lists

People ask me how I can write so many articles over multiple blogs. What do I do to maintain the posting frequency and the many varied topics?

The answer can be summed up in one word: Lists.

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August 23, 2007

Happy Birthday Blogger! (BlogSpot Turns Eight)

Eight years ago on this day three “uber” geeks got together and on a whim founded a web application called Blogger.

It was during the era of the “dot coms,” although unlike many of the other companies that eventually made the wall of shame, Blogger had no venture capitalists to back them up with stacks of cash.

It was not until Google actually purchased Blogger that the small team actually made their big break.

After surviving the world wide web for 8 years (which is an eternity in the internet age) Google has a few words of thanks for their past and current users.
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Is Your Blog Reactive or Proactive?

I met a young blogger recently who says that she’s addicted to her feeds. She jumps on her news feeds the moment she crawls out of bed, sometimes before she even hits the bathroom. She wants to know what is going on so she can blog about it before everyone else wakes up.

She’s not a journalist. If anything, she admits that she’s a news junkie and regurgitist. She knows she’s addicted to her feeds.

I asked her if she thought much about what she posted on her blog.

She admitted that she didn’t have time to think. She only had an hour to read the feeds, write a post, take a shower, and head to work. Even during her work day, she’d secretly sneak peeks at the feeds and quickly blockquotes, links, and pastes into her blog if something of interest is found. Once she gets home, it’s back to the feeds, eating over her computer, looking for new bits of news to add to her blog.

She is a reactive blogger, reacting to the news and posting about it. Does she resemble you?

Another friend of mine calls herself a proactive blogger, one upon whom the responsibility of her post content on the world around her weighs heavily on her spirit. She thinks about what she wants to blog about for a long time, considering different perspectives and stances before putting it down in words on her blog.

She is annoyed at how long it takes for her to publish a blog post, feeling out-paced by others who publish more frequently, but she knows that if it isn’t “right” for her, if it doesn’t add to the conversation, blogging doesn’t work for her. She wants her writing to have meaning.

Does she resemble your blogging style?
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