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April 19, 2008

ReadWriteWeb turns 5

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Congratulations to Richard MacManus and the team at ReadWriteWeb which is celebrating it’s 5th anniversary on Sunday, April 20th.

I probably began reading ReadWriteWeb back in 2005 or so when I first really became interested in blogging. It’s been interesting to watch its evolution into what it has become today.

Interestingly enough – both ReadWriteWeb and I started blogging using the same software – Dave Winer’s Radio Userland and had exactly the same theme back in the early days.

As Richard writes in his post:

Today the blogging landscape is vastly different. The top blogs now are full-on media businesses. ReadWriteWeb, which started out 5 years ago as an evening hobby for me, has evolved with the times and is now the 11th ranked blog on Technorati’s Top 100 – closing in on #10 Daily Kos! The reason we have continued to grow is because ReadWriteWeb is no longer just me. We have a great team of smart, web-savvy and passionate bloggers: Marshall Kirkpatrick, Josh Catone, Sarah Perez, Alex Iskold, Bernard Lunn, Emre Sokullu, and many other occasional and guest writers. ReadWriteWeb nowadays is also a network: last100 (Steve O’Hear and Daniel Langendorf), AltSearchEngines (Charles Knight) and ReadWriteTalk (Sean Ammirati).

Congrats!

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Tools of the Alpha Geeks – and a look at my own tools

JD Lasica, who has been in Israel with a group of bloggers – including Robert Scoble, Susan Mernit, and many others, profiles the tools being used by the alpha geeks on the trip.

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April 17, 2008

Google frees Website Optimizer from Adwords – launches free independent service

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Yesterday, at ad:tech, Google announced that it has launched its Website Optimizer application as a separate independent service – no longer dependent on the use of AdWords in order to access the service:

Today at the ad:tech conference in San Francisco, Google Website Optimizer™ launched out of beta as an independent product. Formerly a feature within the Google AdWords™ advertising service only, this free website-testing tool is now accessible through its own website (http://www.google.com/websiteoptimizer) as well. In addition, Google’s Website Optimizer has introduced its own blog (http://websiteoptimizer.blogspot.com).

Google Website Optimizer helps improve user experience on the Web by showing its users what their visitors want to see. Rather than debating or guessing how a webpage might look best, users can continually test different combinations of website content, such as images and text, to see which one yields the most sales, sign-ups, leads or other goals.

For professional bloggers seeking to improve conversion and gain other data about their users, the website optimizer is a great tool to use.

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April 16, 2008

Does Twitter take up too much time? How do you manage it?

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As I’ve become more engaged in my usage of twitter I’ve found myself in a situation where it can suck up more and more of my time – the same applies for other forms of social media, by the way, such as Facebook or MySpace for example…

The time sink aspect of social media is what Sarah Perez explores in her post on Read/Write web today about how Real People Don’t Have Time for Social Media. She writes:

Looking at all the various web-based activities and projects, what we can tell is that not everyone is going to have the time to be as heavily involved in social media as we are.

And I think this is true – but it’s also worth pointing out that even in the amount of time that I devote to social media in the course of a day – it’s almost impossible for me to keep up with all of the traffic on twitter and other services – though I do find them to be valuable tools that I’m glad exist.

It’s the productive use of Twitter that is explored by Corvida over at SheGeeks today in a post about how to manage twitter’s level of distraction while you work:

My workflow is often disrupted due to Twitter. It took me three hours to write a post yesterday because I was constantly trying to split my attention between Firefox and Twitter. To be honest, this is not going to work for anyone, especially if you’re Twitter stream is a heavy one.

The best solution is to simply exit Twitter: exit your client, close your Twitter tab, and move on.

Corvida goes on to provide some solid & practical ideas on how to manage the level of distraction that Twitter can interrupt your work day with.

For me, I use twhirl on a mac, so I do indeed sometimes have to exit out of the application in order to concentrate on what I’m trying to accomplish.

How do you manage your distraction while using twitter?

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Blogging from Anywhere

I realize that I’m probably more connected than the average person that inhabits the blogosphere – but it’s quite amazing to me how connected we can be if we choose – enabling those that wish to do so to truly be able to blog from anywhere.

ozark blogging

This week, I’m on vacation in Branson, Missouri – high up in the Ozark mountains. It’s a cycling trip more than anything else – so I’m here with about 12 folks from the Minneapolis area – and we’ve met up with nearly 200 from surrounding communities for four days of mountain biking & road cycling. We’ll cover between 200 and 250 miles across the four days – less than what we would normally ride in four days – but there are mountains here, you see.

I generally travel with four key pieces of electronic equipment – my trusty Apple Macbook Pro (my main machine for just about everything – and the central piece of my office-based problogging rig), a Dell D620 Latitude Laptop (XP Professional) – which is used mostly for client work, and my Apple iPhone (principal cell phone and mobile email/web device)… Finally, I travel with a Sprint PCS EVDO Modem – which unfortunately now works only in the Dell laptop since Apple eliminated the PCMCIA slots in the Macbook Pros – and I’m too lazy to get the new express format EVDO card.

On the drive down, we were piled in a mini-van, with four passengers – with four bikes tacked on the back and a rear area full of gear, food, and luggage. Since I wasn’t driving, I spent most of the 11 hour drive through Minnesota, Iowa, and Missouri reading feeds, chatting on twitter, doing client work via the Dell laptop, and blogging on The Blog Herald and a few other places. It was a pretty productive time.

Via the iPhone, I was also able to handle some client conference calls and deal with a few other issues that weren’t fully wrapped up prior to my departure.

Once we arrived at the resort, we discovered, to my horror, that the lodge we were staying did not have wired or wireless internet as we were promised. While I was frustrated, the Sprint EVDO card works fine, and this morning as I sipped my morning coffee, I was able to skim feeds, participate in Twitter conversations, handle email, and write a few posts from the beautiful vantage point you see above before heading out today.

My point here is that with today’s technology – we’re able to blog and participate in conversations through tools like Twitter no matter our physical location – if we use the right tools. One can just as easily blog, or send tweets, from a mobile device or an iPhone, as they can from a computer or desktop PC – and who knows what tools the future might bring for us.

Even today we read about a man who used his mobile phone along with twitter to notify his friends of his arrest in Egypt. What might the future hold?

Do you have a mobile blogging experience? Share it in the comments below.

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April 15, 2008

Hugh MacLeod, of Gaping Void fame, is back on twitter

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Hugh MacLeod, only a few days after deleting his twitter account, is now back on the wildly popular social messaging service.

In his post announcing his return, Hugh wrote briefly:

Short answer: Too many people I do business with are also on Twitter. Being off it was impossible. My bad.

Hugh’s departure from Twitter was a major story on TechMeme with several responses from other sites and bloggers.

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Breaking the TechMeme echochamber: Meme13

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Rogers Cadenhead has announced the launch of a new site that he intends to break the TechMeme echochamber: Meme13.

Rogers explains:

Meme13 mashes together the last 13 sites that made their first appearance on the Techmeme Leaderboard. You can read these sites by visiting Meme13 or subscribing to its feed, which contains the latest entries from all of them.

I’ve been tracking the leaderboard since Feb. 4. In that time, 175 different sites have made an appearance on the top-100 list. The current Meme13 made their Techmeme debut in the past two weeks.

You can visit the site at Meme13.com or subscribe to its feed to be kept up to date with posts from the 13 sites.

I like this concept as it uses some different logic in order to help one find new blogs and/or bloggers to listen & subscribe to – letting one see more of a diverse voice in the blogosphere.

But I believe that the best journalist/bloggers out there are already doing this – I know I look at over 2,000 feeds daily presently – many of which aren’t the sort of folks that you’re often seeing on TechMeme.

At the same time, I note that some of the current “13″ on Meme13 are folks that are often on TechMeme – both Darren Rowse and Tony Hung are frequently seen on TechMeme.

So Rogers’s methodology isn’t perfect – but it’s a good recent example of how to find more diverse voices out there in the blogosphere.

Finally, like Tony Hung, I have a major issue with the fact that the Meme13 site is actually scraping a full feed and republishing it on their site. Why not just link to the content ala Techmeme?

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April 14, 2008

FreelanceSwitch celebrates first anniversary

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My favorite recent blog on freelancing, FreelanceSwitch, is celebrating its first anniversary.

Having never worked “for the man” in my life – I’ve always been out on my own in my own company – I’m naturally drawn to blogs and websites that have a high quality view about Freelancing. FreelanceSwitch is one of my favorite ones out there right now.

With recent hits like 35 Absolutely Essential Mac Apps and a new series on Social Media Essentials by former Blog Herald blogger Muhammad Saleem you can’t go wrong… particularly if you’re looking to move into freelancing.

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Dealing with 10,000 emails & getting to Inbox Zero in 24 hours

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Darren Rowse spent the weekend getting his inbox from 10,000 items down to zero in less than 24 hours.

How did he do this?

Well, he started with Google’s GMail:

I moved all my email activity to Gmail

To do this I forwarded all of my previous email addresses and contact forms so that they now arrive in my Gmail inbox. Previously I’d use Mail.app (mac) to fetch email from 5 different email addresses and synced it with Mac.com using IMAP so I could retrieve it from two computers. Now I’m using Gmail online rather than a client to sort them all. It does mean I can only access email while online – but I think this in itself will be helpful as it decreases the time I am using email.

Darren goes on to talk about his other steps – including merciless unsubscribing, using Gmail’s filtering and labels, and other steps. It’s well worth the read if you’re looking to get control of your inbox.

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April 13, 2008

Matt’s Morning Blogging Video

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I spent some time this morning recording myself going through my morning blogging routine and thought I’d show you what this might look like to the outsider.

A couple words of warning.. Yes, that music really is George Michael’s “Freedom 90″ – it’s what was up on the playlist in iTunes when I filmed this. And I really am drinking coffee out of a Blog Herald coffee mug. We did used to own this place, ya know…

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