Saturday, September 23, 2006

Blogging Information

I found a great video on business blogging (transcript here

Summary of important points:
o How often do you update your website? Search Engines are how people find your webpages, not intra-site navigation, and search engines look for fresh, quality content.

o A Blog is a Tool for website management: It's up to you to make sure that it meets your needs. Ignore Blog Nazis, who dictate the definition of a blog.

o 'Pretty good is better than perfect.' A cheap blog is better for progress than a hugely expensive website that never goes anywhere, and they are hugely search engine friendly. (Corollary: Anything worth doing well is worth doing badly.)

o By aiming your Blogging, you can get ahead of the search engine curve. Look where they are trying to get, aim for that, reap the benefits. ( SEO)

o Blogs are fun. You can Pontificate! Websites suck in terms of fun (you get it good enough and stop, hassles on page updating.

o Establish a Dialogue with your Customers. Everyone in business should recognize how good this can be.

o Schedule things to be published in the future. Teach search engines to look for you every day even while on vacation. (Cycle reduction every time they find you've updated.) Post Every Week. Comments update your blog! They freshen pages you're never gonna touch again.

o "Bloggers are a very Cranky Whiny lot." Whatever you do, someone will tell you you're doing it wrong. Expectations of blog definitions, update frequency, format, etc. Whiny lot, bloggers.

o Set guidelines for bloggery. Look at myspace for idiocy. Don't do that. A business blog should be about business. You should take your other business elsewhere.

Recommended Blogging Techniques:
- Allow Comments.
- Have an Authentic Voice- Put a Face on your Company.
- Identify your bias
- Establish Credibility through Consistency
- Follow your industry and market news
- Stay Focused

All in all, a good presentation. At the end he showed some examples from his blog of topics already covered.


I spent some time looking at various presentations this week, and decided to post some of the more interesting speeches along with analyses of why they were interesting and how they might have been improved.

1. OSCON 2005 Keynote - Identity 2.0
Dick Hardt | Founder & CEO, Sxip Identity

This speech is an amusing and fast-paced presentation which relies heavily on quickly moving visual aids to keep the audience enthralled. He uses hundreds of slides to take advantage of the stickiness which always accompanies shiny things: they're cool because they're shiny!

The Good: A lot of material covered quickly while using visual aids to keep the audience interested.

Common Mistakes Made- OverReliance on Visual Aids
get a remote or an assistant and move away from the computer. Movement and physicality can help more emotionally driven or tactile people connect to your presentation if they don't like the shiiiiiiny visual aids. However, it's worth noting that his particular choice of presentation does translate extremely well to posting online and making into a movie. If you watched it online, you know what i mean. It's fast, it's shiny, it gets the point across.

Possible Improvements if you'd like to use this method: (in person) Look at The Word from the Colbert Report. It similarly uses visual aids (primarily words with a few pictures), but improves on the methods from this speech in that Colbert also has his physical humor and amusing reactions to the visual aids to play off of. Use both and you look much more prepared in person.

2. Malcolm Gladwell’s Blink presentation at SXSW 2005.

Besides being an excellent writer (everyone should read Blink and The Tipping Point), Gladwell is a good presenter for these reasons: He knows what he's talking about and thus doesn't need visual aids to structure his speech, and he shows passion.

Good: Fast paced, good material, no visual aids, passionate.

Common Mistakes Made- Happy Feet! This bane of the speech world causes the speaker to move unconsciously, shifting their weight and generally being distracting. Only move when transitioning from one story to the next or switching points or, for advanced speakers, moving into the audience to make an emotional connection. Otherwise, your movement is a distraction.

Little Improvements he could've made: Enunciation. If you're talking fast, enunciate way more than you need to.
Pace yourself. Another way to tae advantage of a fast speech is use dramatic pauses to their utmost- if you've been moving quickly the whole time, when you do slow down EVERYBODY pays special attention. If you're looking for it, his pauses are for thinking and phrasing, though the 'Dead Silence, Mein Gott' is an excellent example of what you should try for. Practice makes perfect.

3. Steve Jobs- 1984 Macintosh Presentation

Ah, I do love watching Mr. Jobs go. It's been a while, so the (in)famous Mr. Jobs has already fixed most of my comments. He could've benefited by being memorized at the start, but the dramatic effect from walking over and actually setting up the computer is a masterful touch. When the computer talks, everyone listens.

Common Mistakes Made- Staring at the Script
This common mistake makes it harder for the audience to think of you as reputable due to the lack of eye contact as well as the implication that you don't have the material down pat.

Little Improvements: Go watch a more modern Steve Jobs presentation.
Some things to look for are the use of the reciprocity principle, the use of stories to connect with the audience, and his gosh-darned enthusiasm for his products and actions. To emulate these attributes, make your speech as short as possible, use stories of events which actually occurred or are directly metaphoric to your situation, and decide on your motivations and your audience's going into the event. No one is just presenting to inform. If you are being informational, you are persuading the audience that your interpretation of the information is worth listening to. If you're actively trying to persuade, you're converting your audience to your religion. That's why they're usually hostile, unless you're preaching to the choir. Use the tricks of influence and social psychology to get yourself a neutral audience, and then be enthusiastic and mean what you're saying.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Journalism Blogging: A Place to Start

I was looking over my last post and some more of Guy's tips on how to work the bloggy crowd and I decided to give what he does a shot.

The Top 10 Editing Tricks to take the Diary out of your Blog

1. Think 'Not Diary.' Strange as it may seem, nobody wants to read your diary. Or my diary. Or even Leonardo DaVinci's Diary. Hm. My link appears to contradict my statement. But it's safe to say that nobody wants to read YOUR diary.

2. Let Your Conscience Be Your Guide. Or in this case, the little devil on your shoulder that says 'That's really not important, is it?' From someone much more famous than I am, "Now that you're thinking of your blog as a product, ask yourself if it's a good product. A useful test is to imagine that there's a little man sitting on your shoulder reading what you're writing. Every time you write an entry, he says, “So what? Who gives a shiitake?” If you can't answer the little man, then you don't have a good blog/product. Take it from someone who's tried: It's tough to market crap, so make sure you have something worth saying. Or, write a diary and keep it to yourself."

3. Lrn 2 Ed1t, n00b. Seriously. Spelling and grammar may not matter to your friends in IM (lol liek he knos whut IM is), but people will get sick of it if they see it on a blog, just like they would get sick of it in your local newspaper.

4. Think New York Times. Would your article make it into the New York Times? Granted, it doesn't have to (it's a blog, for chrissake. Nobody expects the Times to ever actually become a big RSS feed... or do they?) But just like WWJD, it'll help you stay on-track.

5. It Doesn't Always Have To Be Journalism. This may seem to fly in the face of my previous comments, but my point was not that you have to be a journalist all the time, but that it's a better place to start and get used to than book or diary. A Blog is much more than just journalism. If people just wanted journalism, they'd go read the newspaper. It's your blog, do what you want. However, people do read the paper every day. Not many books can claim the same honor.

6.Stick to What You Know. If you're going to write something, try to know something about it first. This one's really easy: just don't go out of your way to find anything to put on your blog.

7. Link people who know what you don't. I do Extemporaneous speaking on a college level, and here's why it's suggested that we cite a source on why our question is important: Because authority makes people pay attention. If you aren't an expert, find one and link them. Use the internet. Your readers might want more information on a topic, and make sure they can find it without their own google searches.

8. You Do Not Talk About Fight Club. This goes along with the Journalism thing, but please don't put inside jokes and annoyingly lengthy anecdotes on your blog. Keep it short and sweet. If you can edit out words, do so. In the words of Blaise Pascal, 'I am sorry for the length of my letter, but I had not the time to write a short one.' Follow this maxim. Cut your stories. What's the point?

9. Keep Up the Pace. I suggest you don't leave your readers on pins and needles as to when you're going to update next. A couple of times a week is great, people will wait if you're a busy CEO, but you should try to stay consistent. Some of the most famous webcomics have achieved their notoriety simply through persistence (got sidetracked looking for one of the ones that's updated every day for the past seven years... ah, wigu) and some... are infamous for never updating! Try to at least get somewhere in the middle?

10. Last, but not least, Go Find Information. The real trick to journalism, blogging, and life in general, is to be where the action is. If that action happens to be on the internet, Go Forth, my minions, and search the internets! If it's in your neighborhood bowling alley (and that had better be some good action there), go check out the bowling alley. Find some useful, interesting information (or make it up), and your Journalistic Blog will thrive.