Monday, November 29, 2004

Want to find GTDers?

Online TechSoup Event

This week, in TechSoup's Virtual Community Forum, we're talking about the impact of spam on nonprofit organizations.

Join in!

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Want GoogleRank? Get a Blog...

Politics & Technology: Want GoogleRank? Get a Blog...

One of the biggest strategic challenges when running an Internet campaign is getting people to visit your site. Google (and its competitors) are the entry point to big traffic. So, how do you get highly ranked on Google?

We've talked before about search engine strategies, but here's one to add to the list: Start a Blog.

The entry then goes on to list the reasons Google loves weblogs. This is good information for understanding how weblogs can benefit an organization or an advocacy/campaign effort.

However, it's important to understand how to leverage the content -- having permalinks, commenting on other blogs and using trackback, making sure feeds (either Atom or RSS) are available.

I've heard from more than one organization who said, in essence, "Weblogs haven't increased our traffic at all." And then, when talking to them, I found out that they weren't doing anything to leverage the content. Except for the regular updates, they were treating it like a static content web page. This doesn't take advantage of the tools that are built into weblogs to help have a web-wide conversation.

(in: weblogs, blogs, leveraging_content)

RSS Feed change

I've been using furl to power both the link blog and links on the right sidebar. I've decided, however, to make a change to Spurl. The main reason? I can integrate it with so that one post hits both services.

For those of you that read via an aggregator, here's the new info:

(in: housekeeping, rss_feeds, spurl)

Wednesday, November 17, 2004


Rebecca McKinnon has launched BloggerCorps. It's an attempt to connect nonprofit organizations and blogger coaches/mentors/volunteers. Check it out. Help out or sign up as is appropriate.

(weblogs, blogs, bloggercorps)

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

A browser extension has never made me so happy.

I don't think of myself as a bad speller. I think of myself as a terrible speller and an impatient proofreader. And the Living Web. Well, it just kills me. In the good ways and then in the ohmygodbutican'tspell way.

SpellBound is for me. It's a Firefox extension that, you guessed it, checks spellings. I installed and now I'm just a right-click away from removing "no spell checker" from my list of excuses.

(in: firefox_extensions, spell_check, spelling, things_i_am_bad_at)

What reports would you like to see in Enterprise?

Monday, November 15, 2004

Wrong blog.

Note to self: double check all the political posts and make sure to send them to correct blog.

Of course, for those of you who caught it, I really am worried.

Subscribe to

I have a Furl feed on the sidebar of my weblog that points to TechSoup content I find particularly interesting. This has been unofficial, maintained only by me.

The team has started their own atom feed. They've done it the 3rd party tool, eat your own dog food kind of way. They have set up a blogspot blog and post TechSoup items to it. Via the magic of blogger, they get a nice little atom feed. You, too, can subscribe.

I like this solution because it uses free tools, a little bit of creativity, and only a small amount of time (I'll be interested to find out how much time it takes to maintain this) and pushes TechSoup content out in a whole different way.

I also like it because it could be useful to any organization wanting to easily set up a "subscribe to what's new" on their site.

(in: rss_feeds, techsoup, 3rd_party_tools)

Sunday, November 14, 2004

OPML file of Nonprofit blogs

I've been thinking about the weblog aggregator issue. was a good (and now dormant) attempt to pull together different nonprofit weblogs on single page so that it was easy to scan headlines. I've been longing for something that helps me do a little more with the data -- track the frequency of links, for example.

In the meantime, I started collecting some nonprofit blogs on CompuMentor/TechSoup's Omidyar group pages. I just pulled those weblogs into a bloglines account, exported them as an OPML file and made that file available: npoblogs.xml.

The download interface isn't exactly intuitive. Clicking the download link brings up a html version of the xml file. Most aggregators allow you to import feeds from an URL. If you'd like to import a batch of nonprofit weblogs, broken down by the NTEE top level codes, go to it. And if you have any weblogs to add, please throw them in the comments here or on the nonprofit blogs page. Critical mass is, I believe, one of the first steps to making weblogs more levarage-able (is that a word?) for nonprofits.

(in: weblogs, rss_feeds, nonprofits)

Friday, November 12, 2004

Posts to write

  • Information management and communication
  • It's like sending a newspaper clipping
  • Engaging with media
  • Using weblog posts to get action
  • The hard work of leveraging content creation
  • Open standards

(in: housekeeping, self, reminders)

RSS goodness

Some of you who read this only in RSS entries might not notice the new feeds I have available. Those of you who read this on the website might not realize you can subscribe to this via RSS.

So, here are the currently available subscriptions:

Go on; get aggregatoring.

(in: housekeeping, rss_feeds)

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Nonprofit weblogs?

In Rebecca McKinnon's post, Blogging for change she asks people who know of nonprofit weblogs to put links in her comment section.

I put a link to a similar list that we started on Omidyar Networks: Nonprofit Blogs.

In a article, I wrote:

What Weblogs Might Be Able to Do If We All Play Our Cards Right

  1. Provide an opportunity for ad hoc collaboration
  2. Raise the profile of important issues to a large, cross-organization constituency
  3. Provide a World Wide Web-sized conversation in context
  4. Provide access to tools to organizations that might not be able to afford them
  5. Create a variety of win-win situations

I believe those first two issues are huge potential. But for them to happen, we have to aggregate the nonprofit blogoshpere. We need a way of marking that particular slice of the pie and being to apply various toolsets to those blogs in a way that allows the content creators to leverage their work.

Sonny Cloward and I back-and-forthed about this on our weblogs, in email and on the Omidyar Network community. And, in some ways, I think we made the problem a little more difficult than it needs to be. Or at least, I made the problem a little more difficult than it needs to be.

I believe the first step is to simply collect nonprofit weblogs and to categorize them. I've choosen the NTEE breakdown as a first step at providing that categorization.

In parallel, we -- someone -- needs to be working with aggregatoring tools -- technorati, feedster, bloglines -- to create tools that support numbers three and five on my list above.

(in: weblogs, nonprofits, omidyar, leveraging_content)

ONE/Northwest KnowledgeBase: Are the contact records for your domain up to date?

ONE/Northwest KnowledgeBase: Are the contact records for your domain up to date?

The bottom line is that it's very important for your organizing to take a few minutes this week to make sure that the contact information associated with your domain is up to date. Many small organizations who first registered a domain some years ago find that their email contact information associated with that domain is now out of date.

(in: domain_name, domain_hijacking)

Podcasting manual

Here's a Political Podcasters Manual. I haven't dug through it yet but I hope the how to is more do-able than some of the others that I've read.

I think this medium as a lot of opportunity -- I've posting links about it on the TechSoup Digital Divide forum. Join in there if you have any thoughts on how nonprofits can use podcasting.

(tip o' the hat to Adam Curry's weblog)

(in: podcasting and digital_divide)

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

Addition to the Election Notes from BloggerCon

Robert Cox of the National Debate emailed a comment regarding my earlier post on the Election 2004 BloggerCon session. He writes (and this, by the way, is published with his permission):

Comment from the room: A Bush supporter, this supposedly non-partisan conversation is really about if we'd had better tools and used them better we would have won more. Maybe that isn't the right discussion. Because this represents slightly less than half of the country. The assumption is that the only way the Republicans won was by lying and cheating.

what you missed here is important...that maybe the Barack Obama and George Bush top-down model is better, rather that deride (Jay Rosen) candidates for "not getting it" or acusing them of cheating (Bush) how about noting that these were two WINNING campaigns while all of the bottom up campaigns like Dean, Clark, etc were LOSING campaigns. I also noted that the problem with dialog was that no voice in the room had expressed any acquaintence with the Bush campaign web strategy, their blog strategy, the Blogs for Bush organization or any of the top center-right, right and far right bloggers and so the discussion was self-referential.

My underlying point is that the entire BloggerCon would be better served by having more idealogical diversity.

Here is my post on this.

(in: bloggercon, election_2004)

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Saturday, November 06, 2004

BloggerCon: Law

[These notes suffer from the end of day attention overload; not a function of the session but of me]

Larry Lessig is doing the session on Law.

Facilitate conversation. Two possibilities: important law blogs, how do architect freedom into the tools that are being built.

Typical rockstar PowerPoint. Talks about how Creative Commons can help wrap content with a protective architecture layer.

Conversation about fair use.

After lunch lull. Having trouble tracking the conversation.

Comment from the room: What do you think about and Los Angeles Times. [ref:LA Times vs. Free Republic]

Lessig: Need to architect this issue so that there is win-win on both sides. The ability to quote and talk about issue. How do we make it so that both sides win? Rather than the way that p2p ended up being only about piracy.

Comment from the room: Issues where concentrated costs experienced by one group, distributed costs by another group. People with concentrated costs usually one. Gradually, distributed, diffused costs eventually add up to more. This is a political problem.

Lessig: IP law is the best example of rent-seeking. They are going to gain a lot so that they will fight hard and pay for it. But others get small individual gains (though larger as group) and so don't pay to fight. Looking for a way to get things to pass into public domain. For examples, after 50 years pay $1 to keep copyright. Motion Picture Industry fought this because it would burden poor copyright holders. Too hard for blogging to change the law. So important to think about how to build it into the tools.

Comment from the room: A few places where the most money always wins. IP, copyright law is one of the places where this is true.

Lessig: It's still about concentrated interests.

Comment from the room: In the last 20 years seen rise of trade associations who lobby and litigate. That has happened in the last 20-30 years and adds weight to this.

Comment from the room: Again, the most money win. Problem is that there is over litigation in the field. Someone receives a cease-and-desist letter and can't fight it because they don't have the funds. Also, punishment is not appropriate to the crime.

Lessig: Law sees theft -- stealing a CD from Tower records is $1k fine -- different from downloading the same CD can cost $1.5 mil. because it is copyright infringement. More lawyers are pushing the other side. EFF, Stanford Center for Internet and Society.

Comment from the room: One of the problems is that production has often been owned by a few groups. As we create more content that doesn't require expensive production equipment, will that change the balance of power?

Lessig: That's the hope. As more people get involved in creation it will tip the scales.

[missed some comments -- delved into letters I didn't follow]

Lessig: Strategy shouldn't be about violating the law -- in changes the structure of defendent/victimhood. Instead, make sharing, trading, mixing explicit. Again, build the intelligence and the freedom into the tools.

Comment from the room: It is possible to separate the internet from the laws of any one country.

Lessig: Possible but not practical. In Iran, a site made movies available for $1. It was legal in Iran and we had no copyright agreement. However, it took a week to get the site shut down.

[missing more comments -- same point about building the tools, representing the rules]

Comment from the room: Find like-minded people to agree with you and develop tools that make the transaction cost easy.

Talked about the Induce Act.

Comment from the room: If I have a creative commons license on a weblog post that has fair use information, what did I just do?

Lessig: I helped with film Outfoxed. Director wanted it released on the Internet, re-mixed. The problem is things that fair use in Outfoxed might not be fair use outside the film. It gets very complicated.

Comment from the room: Metadata -- can we develop tools to id the parts that are being used as a fair use portion? For example, use blockquotes as a way to mark fairuse material.

Comment from the room: How much of a problem is it that the general public isn't interested in copyright, IP law?

Lessig: Huge problem because the risk is hidden. Again, building tools that make this explicit and help to route around these issues. For example, Moveable Type build CC license into their tool.

Again, post-lunch, end-of-day lull is making my attention span and my notes, not as good.

Problem comes back to the fact that copyright owners are rent-seekers and they are not willing to give up that income.

[reference: IPac]

Open Commons protocol (for example, the Internet) helps to build business.

Building the tools that offer an alternative: flickr: creative commons.

Zack Rosen talked about the way that giving it away can be a good business model -- something between completely free and rent-seeking.

(in: bloggercon, conferences, weblogs, lessig, copyright)

BloggerCon Wiki

BloggerCon: Election 2004

Election Day 2004 is being facilitated by Ed Cone.

Ed Cone wrote about Dean Campaign and has been following the evolution of online campaigns. General, session introduction.

The trick isn't just having a weblog: it's leveraging it.

Problems of some is that they started too late and too little. They didn't have time to build a community.

Local politics is where it's happening. Many local folks are using the web to run their campaigns.

Shout outs to the famous campaign-online folks in the room.

The promise of the organizational benefits of the online campaign has not yet been realized in terms of votes.

Comment from the room: Some blog content, but I wanted static content. Things that let me see deep info about the candidate. Got tired of it being replaced by dynamic content.

Cone: What did you see not work? Or work really?

Comment from the room: Political blogs talk at readers instead of involving readers. Thinking about having the community run the campaign. Online scheduling. Let the community decide where the candidate go.

Cone: Blog is a short-hand for a whole suite of tools. The Dean Campaign is the high-water mark for this so far. They organized the hell out of people. Couldn't get the on-line campaign to work with the traditional campaign folks.

Comment from the room: Rural/urban digital divde: in Nevada, driving through rural areas, places like Virginia City -- telling people it would be a great area for WiFi. People said, what? Very slow Internet access. Not only not blogging, not reading blogs. Have a tendancy to talk to ourselves, like an echo-chamber. Somehow, we just forgot about the rural people.

Cone: Can't forget about them where I live. I live in NC. Yes, divide is a problem.

Comment from the room: Dean campaign and online efforts made democracy accessible. Check it out on-line. Ease into politics.

Cone: Then how come he got stomped in Iowa?

Comment from the room: The echo chamber. People said they worked for the campaign but only read the website.

Cone: Email was the most used tool. Remember: election about more than campaign -- MoveOn, organizations, efforts.

Comment from the room: (asked by Cone to talk about the use of the web to crucify Dan Rather) Just posted things to fact check Dan Rather. Memogate contributed to the idea that the idea of objective media is lucicrous. Bloggers have been upfront about their politics and reader can judge they are interested.

Cone: Powerline guys quoted in NYT saying that was the most important event of the election. Not just about the campaign blog, about advocacy and the media as well.

Comment from the room: Must distinguish between blogs as a tool of the campaign and the blogosphere and the disaggregated spread of information.

Cone: RatherBiased started in 2000. It takes time to build up community and following. You have to establish a personality and constituency. If you want to use a blog in the next election, start now.

[my reference: Web Politics 2.0]

Cone: Have to get the person working on a campaign blog who stays late, who thinks that blogs are the cat's meow.

Comment from the room: The thing that worked well was when a blog post came with an action item. A way for the reader to do something, react to, the information presented.

Cam Barrett: His perspective on the whole thing is that the campaign voice should be the voice of the candidate or the campaign itself. Every supporter had a blog and so it became a community.

Cone: Clarified that their has to be energy with the blog but it has to be the voice of the campaign.

Cam Barrett: A lot of people thought the Dean blog was the voice of Matt Gross. People began to pay more attention to what Matt Gross had to say and not what Howard Dean had to say. Lose the candidate. Candidate, campaign voice, or open the weblog up to everybody.

Cone: Hard to see why it's wrong for someone to have a strong voice within the campaign.

Cam: No, can't be more important than the campaign. The topic message will be lost.

Scoble: Problem was the disconnect from the bloggers and the candidate. Didn't feel like the bloggers were speaking for the candidate. A blogger is just an amplifier for a message -- however, if the blogger doesn't seem connected what happens. The stars can provide a person to turn to. It isn't happening in politics. Howard Dean wasn't talking through his blog.

Comment from the room: Can blogging scale? I couldn't get through the comments. It becomes a distraction.

Cone: The Dean Blog was a success because it raised attention but maybe it wasn't a success as a blog -- a natural voice communication.

Comment from the room: A campaign picks the alpha bloggers, the voice. And so a disconnect happens between the natural voice and on-message ideas. Takes away from the authenticity of the blog, takes away from the candidate or weblog. Kerry campaign had a blogroll -- pointed to many different views not just Kerry centric. Challenge between campaign blog, alpha bloggers and the tail of the blogosphere (folks with a small local readership). Also, the small blogs often have their own communication strategies.

(on the screen:

[misssed some comments]

Comment from the room: Blogs didn't help deal with the democrats branding problem.

Cone: Pointed to Richard Burr's site. Put a link to all North Carolina county chairs. Hierarchical organization. Links show that.

Jay Rosen: Told story about DNC. Barack Obama spoke at blogger breakfast and said, I have a blog. Maybe I'll ask for advice. Rosen said, Write it yourself. Obama said, I will when I have an extra 6 hours. So, he doesn't get it. But maybe bloggers don't either. They haven't explained why he should. So how do we get a high level blogger to blog?

Cone: And Obama won't. What his website gave him was national email addresses. And those email addresses can be used to pressure other senators because of the email reaches deep into the nation.

Rosen: But if they blog then they will be doing their other work to. If the blog is real, genuine voice, then they will make a ton of fundraising dollars and leverage from that activity.

Comment from the room: Maybe it's not the candidate who needs to talk. Maybe it's someone who is watching. Who speaks for the voter, the reader. A spirited supporter. Also, the email addresses are incredibly important. Many people believe that Ralph Reed's email list is what won George W. Bush the election.

Cone: Pointed to Carson from Oklahoma. He lost but he stood up on his weblog. Pointed to many different sources of information. Had moments of political courage because of standing up for free speech. He lost but a democrate in heavily republican OK.

Comment from the room: We focus a lot on the campaigns. The candidates don't have time to blog on the campaign. How about before and after? Can candidates blog on the blog of constituency -- like what Lessig did with his weblog. This will allow the candidate to interact with specific communities.

Cone: Pointed to Lessig, talk about inviting John Edwards to blog. How did he do?

Lessig: The first person who came on the site was Dean. And he's who inspired Edwards and others. Kucinich's posts were very Dennis and very real. However, it did feel that Edwards' campaign was framining his voice; took them a long time to agree.

Cone: Frustrated by Edwards unwillingness to engage. However, Elizabeth Edwards was very effective in her use of the blog and specifically comments.

Comment from the room: The politicians who were "blogging" sounded like a press release, like their press release. And that hurts them. Read it once or twice and then never go back because it wasn't authentic. It wasn't the politician's voice. DailyKos did this, however. And pulled others in. Must be an authentic actual voice.

Cone: David Hoggard is blogging now. And, though he hasn't announced it, he is running for office. Again, creating a voice and a campaign. What happened to MeetUp, MoveOn? What happened to all the things that were going to change politicians? (from the room) How about the exit polls?

Comment from the room: Donations based on posts.

Cone: Also, important. Blogging during the government.

Comment from the room: All this is focused on the campaign. Instead, blog about the issues. Build up a body of real stuff in between the campaign. And then the campaign, election will just be a side-effect of all of this body of issue and change. For example, Lessig runs an effective blog for change and stepping into a candidate role would be easy (not a comment on Lessig actually running for office)

Comment from the room: What are blogs famous for? Trent Lott. RatherGate. Keeping Bush's activities in front of people. That's what blogs are really good at. Impact of the blog has been to raise irrelevant points that end up being very important in the election. Blogs do not necessarily raise the level of the debate. For example, health care is a big issue. Where does that pop up on DailyKos?

Cone: Again, maybe get a candidate to blog on an issue specific blog.

Comment from the room: Politics is better at controlling information than disseminating it. A campaign controls the message, candidates time. All carefully controlled. Especially a presidential campaign. When talking about candidate blogging, talking about a new kind of candidates. Candidates are good at working a room, network. Not writing. That's not necessarily what they do. What MeetUp, email did, changed the way that campaigns get run. Cycle moves much faster.

Cone: Meetup, important. Now exit polls.

Comment from the room: Did the exit polls change your perception of who was going to win? Most people know that news before 8pm (pst) is all crap.

Scott Rosenberg: Exit polls are inside baseball trivia. Elephant in the room: +/-50 million people found WMDs in Iraq. In the process of dismantling authorities, however, we are in a time when the adminstration is creating its own reality. What authorities can be built up? All this informational fire power and there is vital information that isn't out there.

Cone: Maybe without weblogs, only 10% would know that there were no WMDs in Iraq.

Comment from the room: Two models: broadcast model and distributed model. Republicans have distributed models -- for example churches. And, with the Republicans, their distributed amplifiers are willing to stay on message. Is that true for the Democrats? Must be willing to do the hard work of building grassroots networks. Republican used existing local grassroots organizations. How can a community on the web create a lot of value and have election be an outgrowth?

Cone: Points to Rebecca MacKinnon.

Rebecca MacKinnon: How can you bring these tools to existing organizations so that they can be more effective? Rather than create new organizations, how do you help exisitng orgs trap their networks and extend and amplify using weblogs and these other tools? How do you do that when the orgs aren't necessarily wired and tech saavy.

Lessig: One of the biggest problems was how difficult it was to persuade people on the other side. One of the promise of blogs was getting past this. However, blogs have the problem of the echo chambers. Both broadcasting and villages force you to confront ideas you don't want to hear, agree with.

Cone: Points to Zack Rosen.

Zack Rosen: Working on tools to help connect networks and amplify them. Works on CivicSpace Labs. Creates value by working on the baseline functionality they need: donation, email lists, etc. And then pour the additional outreach tools on top of that.

Comment from the room: A Bush supporter, this supposedly non-partisan conversation is really about if we'd had better tools and used them better we would have won more. Maybe that isn't the right discussion. Because this represents slightly less than half of the country. The assumption is that the only way the Republicans won was by lying and cheating.

Cone: Haven't heard that. This is about how the web deals with propogating issues. An excellent point: the best tech in the world isn't going to get Howard Dead to win.

(more back and forth on above)

(in: bloggercon, conferences, weblogs, election_2004, politics)

BloggerCon: Information Overload

Robert Scoble is doing the dealing with information overload.

Scoble is standing in front of the room wearing a grey, blogaddict t-shirt and holding a tablet PC.

Talks about the information he receives. Watches 900+ feeds, 1,500+posts a night. Also gets 100s of emails a day. In general, a whole lot of information coming in. Reads so much so that he can be on top of the world. Because of this, he found 10x10. Read about it.

Question for the room: How are you handling this information pressure?

Comment from the room: So much duplicate information -- a major corp has an IPO, everyone links to it, how do you skip it. Someway to organize the information so that you can weed out the things you don't want to see.

Scoble: But I want to read the raw you. Unfiltered. Finding the random stuff people are talking about.

Comment from the room: Clustering feeds -- all the people who are talking about the same thing. Serendipity: The thinks that you can just find.

Comment from the room: How do we find the very little things that are interesting? Not the things that everyone are linking to.

Comment from the room: It can be dangerous to let people running aggregators/filters to decide what you want to read. How do you really determine that things are duplicated? Understanding how many people were a part of that duplication? What were the comments? Who were the people who duplicated? (this the guy from pubsub)

Winer: Shut the conversation down because he said a vendor was going over the line. No vendor gets to talk at all.

[The room errupts into a meta conversation about whether or not the vendors can talk.

Comment from the room: Vendors should talk.

Winer: No, not your conference]

Comment from the room: Use blogs as editors. Pull information from people.

Scoble: Back to repeating problem. Frequency of linkage gives some indication of importance.

[missed comment]

Scoble: RSS, feeds, blogs. Fastest relationship building device he's ever seen.

Comment from the room: Talking about information overload. How can we get all the information that is interesting to us whether explicitly pointing to a feed, using a discovery device, or using other blogs as editors? And then making sure there is a presentation layer so that it can be organized, clustered: look at frequency, linkers (is that a word?).

Scoble: Write better headlines. That will help to deal with the pressure of information.

Comment from the room: Must measure need to create informative headline with the pressue to get attention.

Comment from the room: If able to rate trust level of source, story and so get recommendation back -- including sources not explicitly subscribed to.

Scoble: New kinds of attention metadata that can help us create new systems to find new things.

Steve Gillmor: Working on attention metadata. Next step is to help ourselves be able to improve the efficiency and priority of items coming into an information router, whether server or client system. Concept of roach motel: essentially we have an asset as users which is our attention, what we do, what we're interested in, who are affinities of trust are with, in terms of passing along clues. Wants to be able to improve that process. Need to have someway to get to the information that is of some interest to him. attention.xml -- what you've read, in what order, for how long.

Comment from the room: Is attention.xml going to stop working if I stop working on it?

Scoble: would like to be able to import others' attention.xml? What is the most common weblog that I've linked to? What is the most common word that I link to?

Comment from room: Privacy concerns. How do you differentiate what you want to share and what you don't? How do you separate your work, home, school life? Privacy concerns.

Scoble: True, but if it's on my link log I've already decided to make it public.

[my reference: attention.xml]

Scoble: This attention metadata works across companies.

Comment from the room: One way to deal with privacy is to do collaborative filtering -- firefly. Make attention public but anonymous. Folks who are similar to you, have similiar attentions, but you don't have to know who they are.

Comment from the room: Interested in different ways of finding the stuff? How do people get started with the items they want?

Scobe: Would like to hear from people who have less than 20 feeds?

Comment from the room: Not looking at gorging myself on information. Important stuff bubbles to top.

Comment from the room: Bloggers are programmers, in the content-sense. Must understand that the people who are reading have information overload. Incumbent on content producer to know users and, via referrers, know what they are reading. Then moderate your posting. Don't overdue it. Use self-selection on what we comment on.

Comment from the room: Talking about what we want to read. Maybe we also need a list of people that we've stopped listening to.

Comment from the room: This is not a new problem. There have been various solutions to deal with information overload. How do we learn from the thinking that has already gone on on these topics. In many ways, Google is just the ultimate citation index. What traditional solutions can be applied?

Scoble: Two sorts of blogs -- connector blog: linking out; and, commentary blog: write about things but don't often link out. These two need to work together.

Comment from the room: Looking for a thumbs up, thumbs down on feeds. Also looking for a Google-ish type, gather together all the information on a topic structure. Third, a way to export and import feeds and ratings, so that he can tell other people or can move to another feed aggregator.

Comment from the room: What can content publishers do to help people deal with information overload? What do you do as a new blogger to help people sort through your informaton? For example, categories.

Scoble: Categories added too much pain to posting. Uses pubsub to build categories.

Comment from the room: Categories make it easier for me to find things I've written about on a certain topic. It creates a collection of information, resources.

Comment from the room: Not so much categories but communities. Maybe that's a better organization mechanism.

[my reference: I wrote about using using to create categories]

Comment from the room: Would like an aggregator that allows you to search through the feeds that you have already read.

[my reference: google desktop supports this *if* you use IE]

Scoble: Showed his method for reading through his feed, reading, posting.

Comment from the room: How many people are using their blogs for personal memory, reminder and not so much for other consumption? There is a way to index everything locally (this gets to the Google Desktop search).

Scoble: Save things locally, uses folders (folders are names of people).

Comment from the room: When I realize that I have too much stuff in a category, can I find someone who is blogging on this? Can I find an editor to help me deal with this information? It's becoming more possible to find people who are interested in weird specialties. How do you find the people who are good at filters?

Scoble: Linking behavior is a way to find who is adding value to a given community.

Comment from the room: Self-control from bloggers. More important to have good thoughts than quantity of thoughts.

Comment from the room: Once you're in my aggregator, I have to make a negative decision to kick you off. Again, more important to be interesting than frequent.

Scoble: Aggregator in alphabetical view. Why can't I reorganize this based on linking behavior? Most linked to to least linked to. I want to read the least linked to blogger because that's how I add value to the system.

Comment from the room: Funny hear people talking about trying to self-censor feed and not post too much. Cory Doctrow's outward brain, idea. My blog is my outward brain.

Comment from the room: Wants an aggregator to be able to kill all things on a particular story, meme.

[lost a few comments]

Comment from the room: How about what slashdot is doing to help manage the information in comments? A reputation system that works across different blogs, different people.

Scoble: This might also be an answer to comment spam.

Comment from the room: These can happen using various APIs. For example, what is a commentors Technorati link cosmos? Of course, those can be gamed.

Comment from the room: One of the best reputation systems is eBay. Something similiar might work well in this community.

[my reference: omidyar's feedback]

Scoble: Problem is lock-in on community. How does that translate to blogosphere? eBay isn't decentralized. The blogosphere is.

[missed some comments]

Scobe: I see a day when I will subscribe to 10k feeds. And I need better aggregators to help me deal with that.

Comment from the room: Use the whiteboard as a wiki and write down what people think we should do about this issue of information overload.

Comment from the room: I use bloglines. I'd like social networking introduced.

Comment from the room: When we are looking at someone who filters information aren't we going to get back to a centralized model?

Comment from the room: Must be careful about letting one source control our virtual world.

Comment from the room: 3 types of filtering. Content producer self-filters. Intermediaries decide who gets aggregator. And then end user configuration of feedreader.

Comment from the room: One of the ways I deal with this is to get a certain zen acceptance that there might be something wonderful that I don't see. I'm not sure that there are too many blogs.

Scoble: When I meet someone interesting, I ask them why they don't write about what they do? Give their enthusiasm to the web.

Comment from the room: The major overload isn't even the number of blogs but the comments. Once I hit a blog entry and I find 1k linear comments. I can't figure out which ones are on which topics. Which are by smart people.

Comment from the room: One way to deal with overload is to have more of senses of involved -- combine podcasting with a blog. So that they travel --your story and your browser -- together.

[missed some comments]

Comment from the room: Blogohalism is the real problem. We oversubscribe.

Scoble: Out of all the things to be addicted....

[missed a comment, but felt about media/blogs and not info overload]

(in: bloggercon, conferences, weblogs, information_overload, robert_scoble)

BloggerCon: Podcasting

(swearing alert: if you follow into any of the podcasts you'll hear swearing, sexual references, etc. Consider youself warned)

Adam Curry began his session with an opening familiar to anyone who listens to Daily Source Code.

Run the Google search. Google still doesn't understand -- do you mean broadcasting? -- but there are, at this moment, 191,000 hits.

Describes history of podcasting and how it's different from typical audioblogging. The unique factor has to do with RSS enclosures -- automatically updates -- and getting them onto iPod or other mp3 player. Wikipedia has a nice history: podcasting. is another resource.

(I'm having flashbacks to rushing home from high school to watch MTC. Music! On television!)

Some discussion of the link between podcasting and broadcasting. Main difference: podcasting young, supple, fresh. About having fun rather than making money and keeping your job (I didn't catch the speakers). If you think of yourself as a podcaster, don't try to get into broadcasting. Instead, think of yourself as a podcasting -- think about what's unique and fun so that broadcasting comes to this/you.

Dawn and Drew: Kind of a public access story. We wanted to find a way to get rants, words out there and this was it. On energy: don't do the show every day anymore. Starting to get burnt out. Got wrapped into this whole thing, podcasting, very fast. Meeting others involved in podcasting.

Dave Slusher, evil genius chronicles: Again, early adoption. Longtime reader of Adam Curry's weblog, had been in radio and so had stuff to produce files, and was able to get in very early. Talked about imitation as a way of finding voice. Brought a connection to public radio. An ability to produce, to distribute. A higher sense of connection with podcasting: listening to the voice, more of a person on the other end. Gives a greater "feel like I know you" sense.

Steve Gillmor, Gillmor Gang: Again, talked about he got into this. Gillmor Gang is pre-podcasting buzz word. In general, their were transcripts of shows and decided to just put the mp3 on instead. In decision, looked at relationship between streaming and downloads. Downloads beat streaming. In part, because people could control were and when they listened. Capturing attention, the voice of the cast of characters is what is key. Poised for the next generation: how do we mine attention, tag, provide metadata on these feeds. Called Curry "the Alan Freed of podcasting." This is the beginning of the new media, the next generation of the media. A seriously big wave.

Michael Butler, Rock and Roll Geek Show: Entry story. Stumbled across Curry's site. Saw the audioblog. Thought, that's cool. Every musician is a dj and wants to turn people on to their music. So, tried it and there you go. Has gotten attention to band as a result.

Curry: This is a way to find great independent music. A level of trust, a recommendation from a friend. This is starting to be a great way to spread new music. A new way to make hits, to get songs out there.

Question: Users of podcast technology means producer. All roads lead to Curry. He created an anthology, it's personal. Set a tone. Creates personal connection. Does Curry think that there is something about podcasting that is different in terms of the kind of relationship a listener has to the podcaster? Something for PBS to learn about relationships and connections?

Winer: Yes, but that's a function of Curry -- he did it on MTV, too. Talked about Morning Coffee Notes. Of course it will influence PBS in the same way that weblogs will impact the NYT. It makes sense. Podcasting is going faster because they don't have to wait for the traditional media to carry the message. The blogosphere exists. It is carrying the message. Blogosphere already gets that an individual's voice is important. Mainstream media doesn't get it.

Question: Difference between podcast -- which needs to be listened to at the rate it was created -- instead of the written word which can be scanned, skipped, drilled down.

Curry: iPod doesn't let you do that, really. Can't fast forward.

Answer from the room: Logical next step of RSS. Real needs is to be able to index, crawl across conversations, in a way that allows someone to pinpoint in on the information point. Talked about ways that Wall Street Analysts can use this to create earnings reports, or analysis or.

Comment from the room: earnings cast.

Comment from the room: One of the cool of thing about podcasting is that you can use it as a personal soundtrack in all kinds of ways: overlay it on grand theft auto, for example. Allows you to create a subtext to your life and then to create an interaction with the other artifacts of media, life. Example, chat about a DVD and push that to others who may watch the DVD. Podcasts don't have to be radio shows. They can be one offs.

Comment from the room: Back to question about scan, audio is different from text. It isn't supposed to be used in the same way. Different stories can be told with it. It has a different purpose.

Comment from the room: Podcasting is narrowcasting. Not how many people are listening but who is listening. Like weblogs, podcasts will check the accuracy of traditional media. In the era of one-to-one communication, accuracy and focus. Podcasting does this.

Curry: How do we consume all this information? Podcasting is creating rules: doesn't have to be a show; doesn't have to have an opening segment. It can be just having fun, just like writing on a weblog.

Comment from the room: Technology generation gap. How do people who grew up with this relate to this technology? How do they use it?

Comment from the room: A lot of talk about the need for annotation, need to find the good stuff. From the user perspective, how will they use this annotation? If you consider blogging, letters to the editor. Podcasting, with annotation, becomes a radio call in show. Need more intelligence on the user/listener tool. Can pull specific parts of podcasts out and integrate it with other relevant comments. A way that someone can essentially create a mix of podcasts. Anthology.

Curry: What can be better?

Comment from the room: Yes, make it open standards, Linux.

Comment from the room: Concerned about the fixation on iPod and the podcasting name, in that respect. When you start trying to create this, it's not easy.

Curry: There's a lot of work to be done. How can it better? So that it does work. The name thing, though, forget about it. It's out there.

Comment from the room: Yes. But it needs to be divorced from the hardware. Not everyone is using this only little, mobile gadgets. Need to think about the multiple platforms that users are using.

Curry: Developers need to think about this. Especially with the cell phones and the connection possibilities.

Comment from the room: Podcast from the swamp. Must create RSS feed and can put keywords (metadata) in that. Can add relevance to the podcasting. Helps to deal with idexing, search issues.

Curry: Talked about podcast directory on iPodder. Only need to know OPML to contribute. This can point to subcategories maintained by various people -- pulls OPML file. Metadata rolls through the OPML file. Nodes and feeds to continue to be added. What else can we do with OPML? (I admit it, I'm lost in what, exactly, he's talking about or what, exactly, the point is: Wikipedia on OPML). Somehow this was a pitch to the developers in the room.

David Sifry from technorati: He tried to talk about how technorati points podcasts but was shut down from Curry and Winer as a commercial comment. I think this is feed, top mp3s, that he was trying to point to.

Comment from the room: Apple could shut this down.

Collective comment from the room: No way.

Larry Lessig: Tech folks think up good ideas and lawyers come in with hachets and shut it down. How do we architect the freedoms into this system so that it can be used in all kinds of different ways?

Winer: Can developers, users and lawyers party together?

Curry: People want to see a demo. Brought podcasting bag. Uses a LAV mic. Records to a little mp3 player. Plug into headphone jack on computer. Generally a podged together system. No specific tools. His system seems to depend on the fact that he has radio experience and so is very good at prepping for his show. This means that he doesn't edit.

(in: bloggercon, conferences, weblogs, podcasting)

BloggerCon: National Anthem

It's the opening.

A general introduction to the speakers and the topics. In general, this is pitched as a users' conference -- no vendor pitches, an attempt to reach out to the audience; "everyone in the room is an expert."

We're at Standford Law School. The nice thing, very nice thing, is that it's in a tiered law school classroom and so we have a desk and plugs for the computers. Wireless connection. That is all nice and certainly underscore the users' conference bit.

A guy from Public Broadcasting System talked about the uses of podcasting and said that podcasting is a new chapter in public broadcasting and how PBS can help support it.

I'm pretty interested in podcasting (the session here is going to be run by Adam Curry) and I'd like to understand how nonprofits can use it.

Someone from BBC just chimed in. Said that she wants to understand how to connect people -- publish and engage -- that aren't plugged in right now.

This is what I'm terribly interested in: now that civic engagement is happening online, how do we make sure everyone (or as everyone as possible) has access?

(in: bloggercon, conferences, weblogs)

Today: BloggerCon

BloggerCon: It should be an interesting Saturday.

(in: bloggercon, conferences, weblogs)

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

ICTlogy: Is the free software model of production applicable to free educational content?

ICTlogy � Is the free software model of production applicable to free educational content?:

In an article entitled ¿Es aplicable el modelo de producción del software libre a contenidos educativos? (Is the free software model of production applicable to free educational content?), Sergio Monge Benito compares how free software is developed and tries to see if the educational community could reproduce its model to produce free educational content.

The text is very interesting. After a first short introduction to F/OSS he says that software and content are quite similar. They both are packeted knowledge and so they can be shared, modified, easily transferred, etc. Another point is their modularity. In both cases, software or content can be cut into little pieces (the shortest bunch of lines of code or the tiniest learning object) so its difficult not to be able to adapt a part of the whole to one’s own purposes.

I left a comment on the site but still want to circle back to this.

First off, there is a tool out their for uploading and trading training information: TrainingPoint.

It isn't a very developed community and it doesn't take full advantage of the Creative Commons license and associated tools. Nonetheless, it is there and can be used.

However, I think the real promise for trading content has to do with loading the content file with metadata so that they creative commons search engine can find it. The advantage is that an organization can upload their content to their own website -- this extends their reach, brings people to their other programs/services/materials -- and, therefore, enhances their brand. In addition, others can find by searching a wide swath of the web and not limiting their search to a specific site.

I think there are two tasks here:

  1. Create a tool which can allow users to easily plug metadata into a file as they upload it to their website. It seems to me that this is all about tool creation, training and education. Andy Carvin has talked about this in Conference Idea: Open Content and the Digital Divide on the Omidyar Network.
  2. Second, set up a search parameter that creates something of a portal of this information. It's like having a permanently running Google search. Something that assembles the information, based on the metadata, in a way that is usable.

I think there are many other possibilities here -- social neworking tools, user groups, a full community, in other words. But those two steps, they seem to be the starting point.

(in: open_content, foss, open_source, and education)

Blogs alter political landscape

Blogs alter political landscape:

Today, bloggers like Moulitsas break stories almost nonchalantly. Last week, Daily Kos (rhymes with 'rose'') was the first to show a Bush campaign ad called 'Whatever It Takes,' which featured a photograph, taken during a presidential speech two years ago at Fort Drum, N.Y., that had been digitally altered to add faces to fill in empty spots in the crowd. The campaign pulled the ad.

The salient point for nonprofits is, I think, the fact that weblogs can be used to pin-point relatively small easy to miss issues and keep them in the public eye. They can be a venue for demanding accountability.

(in: weblogs, communications, politics, and accountability)

Monday, November 01, 2004

The productivity of far-flung teams.

Ross Mayfield's Weblog: Productivity of Far-Flung Teams. Something to remember as we work with more and more partners.

(in: teams and partnership)