Hop, skip and jump through this collection of resources, opinions and links for the content-scientious.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Retired, But Not Forgotten

This blog is retired, as in, I no longer post here. But there's good stuff here still worth reading and linking to. And comments can still be made and answered here. Meanwhile, enjoy my bloggy goodness over at: Amy Campbell's Web Log.

Thanks for visiting.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Fun with RSS Feeds

I've had this site bookmarked for ages, and just dusted it off. I'm posting it here so I won't forget it again. Feedzilla is a super easy way to add RSS feeds — yours or others' — to a web site. That is, you can add content to a web site that automatically updates when the source of the RSS feeds do! Give it a look.

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Thursday, November 02, 2006

Tech Soup: Great Resource for Web Masters

TechSoup.com taglined The Technology Place for Non-Profits houses a wealth of information of interest to web content creators and web site developers among others. Worth a bookmark.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

How People Read on Web Is How You Should Write for Web

OK, so I haven't posted here in a while. But a new eye tracking study brings up an important issue that should not be ignored just because the web is now familiar to us all. That point is that people read differently on the web (and they read different kinds of sites differently). So it is important to write and construct your web sites accordingly. See Jackob Neilsen's highlights of the new eye-tracking study, and review his knowledge base on writing for the web.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Know Your Audience — A Reminder for Internet Writers

A Pew Internet & American Life Project Report, Public Awareness of Internet Terms, reveals what tech terms the public understands, and which they don't. For instance, most have a pretty good idea what "spam "is, while not too many know what "podcasting" or "rss" are. Says the study, "The findings are another reminder that new and exciting technology developments that seize the interest of industry officials and journalists such as podcasting and RSS feeds usually take a while to register in the wider public." Download a PDF of the report here.

Friday, July 15, 2005

Eye Tracking Studies Should Drive Web Design

A recent eye tracking study for search engine/advertising results reveals a "golden triangle" of where users focus their attention on a search engine results page. While the results are specific to a Google search engine task, the results can be applied to any web project. See a Eyetool's summary of the report here. And check out Eyetools Research blog for ongoing information sample "heat maps" on this important stuff.

Monday, May 10, 2004

The new Blogger!

Just updated my tired old template for Content Loop with the new Blogger templates. It went lickety-split smooth. Except the Bold, Ital, Link, and Block Quote buttons don't seem to work for Macintosh. : (

Wednesday, September 10, 2003

Jakob on Information Pollution and Information Foraging

Here are the links to two Jakob Nielsen essays that I keep meaning to post: Information Pollution and Information Foraging: Why Google Makes People Leave Your Site Faster. Two of the most informative posts on Useit.com in a while for content strategists.

Wednesday, September 03, 2003

My Harvard Web Log

Been blogging lately on Harvard's Berkman Center platform... see Amy Campbell's Web Log for more posts.

Monday, February 03, 2003

UCLA Report: Internet More Important Than TV, Content Not Always Trustworthy

According to the third annual UCLA Internet Survey, Americans who use the internet consider it to be more important than television and at least as important as newspapers and books. They also trust what they read online less. Read this AP article highlighting the findings, or visit the UCLA Center for Communication Policy and download the entire 89-page report. Learn more about building trust on the web at Consumer Web Watch.

Sunday, February 02, 2003

Access Broadcast Content From Around The World

Access Broadcast Content From Around The World

PublicRadioFan - find and listen to public radio broadcasts worldwide.

Radio-Locator - search web pages and audio streams from radio stations in the U.S. and around the world.

FeedRoom - search current stories on local television newscasts.

Saturday, February 01, 2003

Rant #3: The Revolution Will Not Be Televised... but it will be blogged

As media conglomeration continues to put more power into the hands of fewer publishers and broadcasters controlling more and more outlets, the existence of the internet as the one true democratic communications technology (so far) may be our only hope to ever know the truth about world and local events.

As if the media giants don't already control the major portion of our daily media consumption, the FCC is reviewing ownership rules and is expected to soon loosen them allowing media companies to grow bigger than ever. I fear we are headed for a Fahrenheit 451-sci-fi kind of dualistic society — one of fat, flag waving hypnotized couch potatoes addicted to a media diet of scintillating "reality" programming, eye candy and hyped up violent sports on one side, and those of us who can still use our brains to have an independent thought and form an opinion based on interpreting raw information through personal experience on the other. In such a future only wired folk educated with the skills and curiousity to seek it will have access to free thinking, open discussion and anything resembling the truth through web sites, email, and blogs. Major media outlets will continue to manufacture news to fit the needs and fears of a super capitalist, might-makes-right culture.

The internet's democratization of technology does for the many what the printing press did for the one, the few. A journalist named A. J. Liebling once said: "The freedom of the press is guaranteed only to those who own one." Internet technology and clever software have lowered the barriers of entry to being a publisher — the many now have the tools of production. The internet may be the last bastion of free speech (unless sweeping anti-terrorist, red-white-and-blue, Patriot Act-style legislation gives the feds the power to shut down these outlets willy nilly). And while the collection of personal web sites, instant messaging and blathering blogs certainly carry their share of scathing, ranting, superfluous junk, there are pearls among the swine. And thanks to great internet tools like Day Pop, Plastic, News Is Free to name a few, there are ways to sort through the junk heap — as I mentioned in an earlier rant, the technology helps "the good stuff rise to the top." (Such as Peking Duck, for instance.) Witness the role the power of blogs played recently in the downfall of Trent Lott ... the many would not let the few media outlets ignore the story. That's democratic! Visit Daypop on a given day and you'll get an idea of what people are talking about on blogs and how the important issues, the truth, can't help but rise to the surface.

Blogs put the power of the press into the hands of the people. Since the revolution will not be televised, better get your blog up.

Note: With all respects to Gill Scott-Heron. Click here to view full lyrics to The Revolution Will Not Be Televised.

Note: For an excellent collection of reports and analysis on media conglomeration, see PBS' Online NewsHour, the web site of The News Hour with Jim Lehrer, for Merging Media, How relaxing FCC ownership rules has affected the media business.

Note: Some stuff that won't be televised... This Interview with Kurt Vonnegut...This cartoon strip called Get Your War On...this blog called Media Whores Online... these terrific animated political cartoons by Mark Fiore.

Note: As I was preparing this blog, I learned about the Space Shuttle Columbia accident... ... at 9:26 a.m.... on a blog (via a CNN report)... (Instapundit, "The New York Times of the Bloggers")... before the networks, before NPR. (RIP)

Monday, January 27, 2003

Search Engines as Reverse Broadcasting

One of the most interesting aspects of Google is what it can tell us about ourselves. Google's search content (queries made to its search engine) are instant artifacts of the times we live in. See Google's Zeitgeist for a glimpse into the global mass mentality. I especially like the way Zeitgeist can can show the evolution of (or perhaps predict?) a trend sweeping the globe (such as Las Ketchup). I wish Zeitgest would go deeper, I think the real interesting stuff lies deeper than the Top 10 in each category.

Search engine commentator Danny Sullivan nicely describes the unique value of Google's inquiry data.

"I liken search engines to being a 'reverse broadcast network.' People pay tons to be on television because you can get your message out in front of millions of people: broadcasting. With search engines, millions of people are telling you *their* messages: what they want to buy, purchase or get information about. You don't broadcast to them; instead, it's the reverse, they broadcast to you. There's very little if anything as a marketing or information medium that I can think of that compares to this. It's golden and still today amazingly unrecognized".

I found this quote second hand on searchengineblog.

Thursday, July 25, 2002

The Subscription Solution Is a Dubious Content Model

I have to agree with PC Magazine's John Dvorak — that the trend to charge for content as the solution to the failure of online advertising is not really a solution at all. In a recent article titled Rethinking Content on the Web, Dvorak states,

"While there is potential for a subscription model, none of the relevant issues [about web content] have changed—philosophically or objectively—in the last four or five years. All the debates about the usefulness of the Web were argued to death probably about six or seven years ago. If a subscription model was a bad idea back then, what changed to make it a good idea now? We've already determined, based on good evidence, that people will pay only for Web-based information that is highly exclusive."

My feeling has always been that online content needs to be part of an integrated offering; making it pay for itself is difficult. Exclusive online content providers will do better to take a more narrow approach — the more specialized the offering the more valuable. There's way too much general news out there. Success belongs to those that can add real value.

Wednesday, July 10, 2002

Wikipedia: Open-Source Encyclopedia Project

It Get's Better and Better and...

Here's an example of what the web can be. Wikipedia and Nupedia are open-source content projects that are building on-line, ever-improving free encyclopedias. That may sound wacky to you, but here's the Wikis' response:

"You might expect Wikipedia to be a low-quality product because it's open to everyone. But, perhaps it's the fact that it is open to everyone that makes a lot of these articles pretty good, and ever-improving. To alter a now-famous catchphrase: 'Given enough eyeballs, all errors are shallow.' We tend to cater to the highest common denominator — "lower denominators" tend politely not to touch articles they know nothing about! There are a lot of Ph.D.s and graduate students and other very smart and knowledgeable people at work here — but everyone is welcome."

I'm adding the Wikipedia to my search engine favorites. Check it out at www.wikipedia.com.

Tuesday, July 09, 2002

The Blogging Revolution

Weblogs are to words what Napster was to music

What is the sound of a paradigm shifting? Andrew Sullivan says "Blog!" In this May 2002 Wired magazine article, he asks: "Why should established writers go to newspapers and magazines to get an essay published, when they can simply write it themselves, convert it into a .pdf file, and charge a few bucks per download? Just as magazine and newspaper editors are slinking into the sunset, so too might all the agents and editors in the book market." Read entire article on Wired. See Andrew Sullivan's Blog.

Dave Winer vs. NYT Digital's Martin Nisenholtz
square off on blogs and the future of news

Will weblogs outrank the New York Times Web site by 2007 (based on a Google search of five keywords or phrases reflecting the top five news stories)? Read on.

Wednesday, March 28, 2001

Rant #2
Internet Continues to Confound Hollywood

Musings from the Tech Summit in Aspen, Colorado -- part of the U.S. Comedy Festival where Hollywood re-contemplates the internet and how to exploit it.

Attending a panel discussion entitled "Is the Internet Television?" I had to laugh at the narrow-aperture on the lenses of these Kings of Content expressing their fear and loathing of the slippery new medium that they can't quite get their hands around -- like chasing a greased pig at the county fair. They can't understand it because it is such a different beast. Hollywood still sees the internet as a distribution channel -- which it is. But it is so much more.

They laugh at it because it has no bandwith. It can't deliver. Movies, they scoff, can only be a couple minutes long. (So what? Maybe there's a future in 2-minute movies... actually it is a burgeoning art form taking shape on iMacs and laptops around the globe). The only thing it's good for, they giggle, is porn. But the bigger problem is how Hollywood only understands the all-controlling top down content creation and distribution model. It only understands large volume, big budget, mass appeal projects. Hollywood only understands what it can control, dominate and exploit. Then along comes the internet which turns all that on its head (see Rant #1 weblog entry from 1/29/2001).

But back to the panel discussion on whether the internet is like television... Duh. No! McLuhanites will remember that television is a cool medium... it's passive entertainment. The 60 MHz lightwaves of the television picture wash over us — its soft light flickering across our transfixed faces like a "cool fire" replacing the hearth and fireplace of our ancestors. Television soothes us, passifies us and broadcasts at us. The Internet is a hot medium. It requires work. It requires reading, scanning, making choices, it takes us where we want to go, when we want to go there. We interact with it. It responds to our commands. The bottom line is that we are in control. We are in control of what we view yes... but with the internet we also can choose to be the publisher, the broadcaster, or more appropriately, the narrowcaster. Simply by using email, we become a unicaster! We are actively engaged and suddenly...(gasp!) We are Hollywood! That's what Hollywood can't understand. They are in denial. The unwashed masses can't create content. Not content of quality. Not like they do. And that may be true. But that may be the future.

Best remark from the panel: Nora Ephrom — We don't know what it's going to look like. It's still in the Milton Berle phase of the medium -- we're using it and thinking of it in terms of the last medium. Just as Berle was Vaudeville moved to television, Hollywood is still thinking of the internet as television moved to web browsers.

If HBO ever updates its site (what does that tell us about Hollywood's grasp of the new medium?), the Tech Summit panel discussions will be available online as promised.

Thursday, February 15, 2001

Zen Content: Achieving Reader Flow

Carefully worded headline links with brief descriptions will lead web visitors where you want them to go!

Jakob Nielsen, the Dalai Lama of usability and author of Designing Web Usability: The Practice of Simplicity — reveals how users view pages and what makes them click. His eye-tracking studies reveal that most web users focus on the center of the page as it loads (the content well) waiting for the "information" to appear. Research shows that web users pay little attention to navigation and graphics unless they don't find what they need in the content. For more Jakob Nielsen religion see his Alertbox column at www.useit.com.

Monday, January 29, 2001

Rant #1
Web Effect:
Turning the Mass Media Model on its Head

Instead of content trickling down from on high, the internet provides a way for content to bubble up from the crevices, from the niches.

Media folk and content providers have a hard time shifting their mass-audience mindset. Advertising support has always operated on the size of the audience reached. Well, the mass audience has left the building, it's a niche audience thing. And there are more and smaller niches every day. Reaching a mass audience -- which has been scattered, splintered among all these new media -- has become increasingly impossible and cost prohibitive.

The promise of the web is not to develop one global brand or product for the global audience. Rather the promise of the web is about empowering niche interests that previously could not collectively gather or communicate or trade because of geographic or other market constraints. The more unique and narrow a special interest, the more passionate are the participants -- it's the opposite of opiate for the masses, the dumming down of America. Witness the success of eBay. It is a collection of passionate niches. People with specific, passionate interests. In the web niches, communities flourish, passions heat up, expertise is shared, knowledge grows, commerce happens.

These smaller, specialized splintering audiences are indeed challenging the mass market mentality -- (one-to-many). Can original high-quality content be created at a profit with these shifting audience economies of scale? CNN is trying by taking its original content and repackaging it for many sub-audiences (one-to-several manies). That's a shift on the old model. But the web is creating an entirely opposite approach. Instead of content trickling down from on high, the internet provides a way for content to bubble up from the crevises, from the niches. (one-to-one, one-to-many, and many-to-many).

Stay tuned. Who will make money under this model? Unknown. But wonderful things are taking shape at self-organizing content sites like Plastic and Slashdot, where content bubbles up from the primordial ooze -- editors and user ratings act as filters allowing the good stuff to rise to the top. Then there's sites like Epinions and good old Amazon, where users contribute the lion's share of the site's content and credibility. The same principle is at work on eBay, where the more the users participate, the more self-regulating and credible the site becomes. (In support of my rant... here's a May 8, 2001 Internet.com article from Australia heralding the success of user-contributed content sites.)

Sunday, January 28, 2001

Try the Bullshit Generator

Use this handy web tool to create buzzy phrases that sound cool but confuse your audience. Actually, it drives home the point and begs the question: Do your marketing materials sound like this?

Friday, January 26, 2001

Avoiding Blah, Blah, Blah

Down with geekspeak! Make sure your words say something. Read Beyond the Buzz, by the authors of the Cluefest Manifesto, which reminds us to find our voice and create markets of conversation.

Thursday, January 25, 2001

Branding and Usability

A web visitor's experience on your site has a dramatic impact on his/her overall experience with your brand. This article shows that creating a successful web experience is less about graphics and glitz and more about organizing content for ease-of-use and meeting users' information seeking expectations.
Go to User Interface Engineering for more articles like this.