Category Archives: Internet

Facebook & Flixster Wasted My Time

So while I’m waxing eloquent about Facebook and its new applications, there’s one thing I’m not so keen on. They just wasted my time.

I recently launched a new book review and movie review blog and added them to my sidebar. The main functionality I was going for–namely easily ranking and reviewing books and movies and being able to add them to my blog–are exactly the things you can do with Flixster. And while I’m not a fan of Flixster itself (it feels too ‘MySpace,’ all flashy and bloated with ads–which I think should be the new Internet insult), the fact that I can use it through Facebook means that I tried it out. And though I still don’t like Flixster’s interface, I can use it through Facebook which means I probably will use it. The partnership with Facebook enabled Flixster to find new users and overcome their site’s own shortcomings.

So how is my time wasted? I think all that time I spent setting up my new movie and book review blogs was a complete waste–Flixster does all that and more.

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Facebook Explodes

Brace yourself–Facebook just exploded.

Facebook is the little social networking site that could. While Friendster collapsed under its own weight and MySpace got all the hype, Facebook has been steadily building something better: a useful experience. I’ve thought for a while that Facebook had a better setup, but a few weeks ago they introduced a new developer’s platform and the site’s potential has exploded.

MySpace sold for nearly $600 million and everyone thought it was insane. The price tag tossed around for Facebook lately is around $2 billion–and they’re not very eager to sell.

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Drowning in E-mail

Ever heard of e-mail bankruptcy? It’s what happens when you give up on cleaning out your inbox and just delete everything and start over. This little article talks about the peculiarity of e-mail and how it tends to pile up. Ironically, I spent two hours last night pairing my inbox down from 400+ messages to three (I should say my main inbox–I’ve pretty much given up on the 10+ other inboxes I have).

My biggest failures with e-mail are my desire to keep every single e-mail (necessitating a ridiculously long chain of folders for every client and source) and my inability to act immediately on e-mail. I let it sit there, deciding to deal with it later–which usually means three months later when it’s one of hundreds. Every time I clean out my inbox I try to deal with e-mail as it comes and not let it pile up again, but inevitably I’m seized by indecision and decide to deal with one later, and then another later, and then pretty soon I’m stacking ’em up again.

Seems there should be a way I can take my own advice and make life easier for myself.

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Too Much Extra Junk on Blog Posts

Marketing guru Seth Godin blogged today about adding some fancy new links on his site.

First, he added this little pop up thing next to his books. It’s not a true pop up window (it’s all web 2.0–what is that? Java? Ruby on Rails?) but it gives you a number of link options. You can buy the book on Amazon or Barnes & Noble or Google it or do half a dozen other things. It’s interesting. Some what useful. I can’t help but wonder if one more arrow next to his book will confuse people (do I click on the book, the arrow, or the title?). It’s also fairly similar to SnapShots, which I also find some what confusing/distracting.

But second, Godin also added “flair” to the bottom of each post for Technorati, Digg and saving/linking/adding/whatever-you-do-there. I’m so unsure about this sort of feature-creep. I talked about it before, getting some inspiration from Jason Kottke to tone down the excessive information.

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Spending $25 to Get Free Shipping on

I just bought a couple business books on (ah, the joys of the business expense–in case you’re wondering it was Seth Godin’s The Dip: A Little Book That Teaches You When to Quit (and When to Stick) and Chris Anderson’s The Long Tail: Why the Future of Business Is Selling Less of More) and then splurged and bought myself these 2-inch metal spring clamps for 86 cents.

Why? Well, it seemed slightly more useful than the 7/32-inch GearRatchet Socket for 79 cents. Slightly.

Huh? offers free shipping if you spend $25 or more. My total (before the quality tools) was $24.24–76 cents shy of free shipping. So by spending an extra 86 cents I saved about $7. I’ve done this before (and with Barnes & Noble), but it was much more efficient this time thanks to the Amazon Filler Item Finder.

I do feel some what odd buying crap I don’t need, but you can’t ignore those economics: buy more, spend less. And who knows how often you’ll need a metal spring clamp? (I’d wager seven cents it’s more often than a 7/32 socket, which I probably already have)

How To Be a Web Rock Star

A couple great web rock star articles:

  • Sex, Drugs and Updating Your Blog from the New York Times, focusing on how musicians are using the web to connect with fans. The story of Jonathan Coulton is great. A lot of this story focuses on the sheer volume of fan e-mail. As a person who has answered e-mail for an organization receiving over 100 e-mails per day, I can appreciate how maddening that is. While it’s great to interact with people and know that you’re making a difference, some people are just stupid.
  • How To Be a Star in a YouTube World from the Wall Street Journal, all about what it takes to be successful in online video. Not nearly as engaging, but some interesting reading.
  • Seven tips on how to run a successful community from the guy who founded MetaFilter. OK, it’s not exactly in line with the rock star theme, but if you’re going to be a rock star online community is important. It’s also important for the rest of us, so it’s some helpful advice. I’ve heard it said before that online community, or any community for that matter, is a lot like herding cats. So good luck with that.

(all links via

Subscribe Via FeedBurner & E-mail

I just added a new FeedBurner RSS feed and the ability to subscribe to this blog via e-mail. Nobody was begging me for either option, but I’m testing them out to see how they work and if they’re worth using. The e-mail subscription option seems pretty nice, especially for those unfamiliar with RSS (like the mom contingent that reads my blog).

I think Movable Type has an e-mail notification system, but I’ve never bothered to set it up. Plus it seems easier to let someone else handle it.

I’m not sure how helpful the extra RSS feed is, but it comes with the e-mail subscription service. Plus it has a lot of fun extras that might be nice. FeedBurner recommends condensing all your RSS feeds into a single feed–theirs. Of course they want me to do all my RSSing through them. I’m not sure if that’s a good idea yet. It seems smart, but I don’t know. We’ll see.

Whether or not it works out, when it comes to my clients it’ll make me smarter. And I like having work as an excuse to play on the Internet.

How to Write for the Web

A client asked me if I had any tips for writing online, and I salivated at the prospect. I’m just full of brilliant ideas. So I dove into my meticulously organized file of links and articles to find a collection of sources worthy of a college syllabus. Unfortunately I didn’t find much. Either there hasn’t been much written or I’m not as meticulous as people think I am.

So I figured I’d better write it myself. This isn’t anything new, simply tips and ideas I’ve picked up over the years. And much of it should be obvious–this isn’t rocket science. Unfortunately, it’s also not always followed (especially on this blog).

The key to writing for the web is readability. Anything you can do to increase readability is huge. That’s basically true for any type of writing, though certain elements become more important for the web.

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Ask a Ninja About the Future of Entertainment

Kent Nichols of shares his take on how to succeed in the future of entertainment in another Pop!Tech video. (This one’s about 24 minutes–kind of annoys me that tech-savvy folks didn’t think it important to tell you how long the videos are. And while I’m whining, where are the permalinks?)

It’s a crazy world we live in when someone can wrap a piece of fabric around their head and make a living. It’s obviously more than that (which is why you and I aren’t creating our own explosively successful viral video series), but it always makes me wonder. What would it take to be the next Ninja, ZeFrank or Homestar Runner? Sometimes I think I should start a club and set out to do just that. (link via

The Internet Gives Voice to the Fanatic

One thing that bothers me about the whole global warming debate is the way the Internet gives voice to the fanatics. The extreme fringes in this debate, or any other, get just as much say as the unbiased, balanced sources. The result being you don’t know who to trust, unless you’re willing to do a lot of legwork to sort it out.

Just do a search for Al Gore’s Inconvenient Truth (an amazing movie, by the way, for a glorified slide show), a movie that tries to debunk global warming skeptics, and you get all kinds of fringe arguments. Refutations of refutations of refutations and you don’t know who’s refuting what anymore. Every source is suspect, even the user-controlled Wikipedia where you’re never sure whether a right- or left-winger last edited the article you’re reading.

It’s all the more reason why anybody trying to argue for a cause or idea needs to be transparent. They need to give clear point/counterpoint. And they need to give their opposition the best possible footing–no straw man arguments. (My philosophizing friend taught me that one, and I often kick myself for it because I want to go for the easy kill, but it’s just a strawman argument. All I accomplish is making myself feel better–I don’t convince anyone.)