PME Day 2: Keynote with Jim Louderback

Jim Louderback, formerly of ZDNet, recently joined Revision3 that is essentially TechTV version 3.0.

I had a drink with him last night and we discussed their recent $8 million in new funding and how they would be using it.

He talked about the new studio and the vision to be the Discovery/TLC of the Internet Generation.

It is clear that they are in the Digital Media business and not the podcasting business. That has been the theme this year and I can’t agree more.

He has a great quote “we are in the first inning of a very long game”. So true.

Jim is a very dynamic speaker and interviewee and a hell of a nice guy. I can’t wish him well enough and Kevin Rose was smart to hire him.

What is working for them is the in-show sponsorship pitch and discussing the experience with the brand. The ones that are more adventurous see more return from the brand awareness.

Great speech. Next up is Susan Bratton of Personal Life Media on Selling Advertising and Sponsorships for Audio and Video Content

The 7 Secrets of Media Monetization

Sitting in the PME afternoon sessions I had the opportunity to watch Paul Colligan of PodcastSecrets talk about the “7 Secrets of Monetization that Big Media Hopes You Don’t Figure Out”.

As a summary, here we go:

– You are the media
– Big Media is Big Business
– Always Improve/Never Invent
– It Changes when you stop thinking like a podcaster and start thinking like BIG MEDIA

The 7 Secrets

  1. Content Rental
  2. Content Sales
  3. Merchandising
  4. Product Placement
  5. The Paying Built-in Audience
  6. Ad Inserts
  7. Production Companies

Content Rental
Nutshell: Some people will buy what they can get for free

Content Sales
Nutshell: Some people will for premium content

Merchandising
Nutshell: Free content with profitable schwag

Product Placement
Nutshell: Someone will pay for access to your audience

The Paying Built-In Audience
Nutshell: Starting Over Is Silly, Use you existing audience

Ad Inserts
Nutshell: Boring, But Profitable – Use Podango and Gigavox

Production Companies
Nutshell: Other People’s Money isn’t yours

Awesome stuff…

How Much Do People Talk About You?

In today’s day and age of “dog eat dog” and marketing and getting ahead and SEO and linkbaiting… how much do people talk about you? Better yet, how often do you talk about other people. Picture the situation. You’re standing around in a crowded bar at a social event after a conference. There are 150 people standing around in various states – some drunk, some not. Everyone’s talking. Most likely, they are talking about some hot button issue in whatever industry you’re in. They might be talking about their newest product or pitching a potential partner. Business cards are exchanged as frequently as George Bush tells us to “Stay the Course”.

In one conversation, an industry expert is referred to and the four people participating in that conversation laugh and nod. In another conversation, another industry experts new startup is opined about and everyone questions the business model. The point is, people are talking about these other people and conversation is flowing. Those people are not present. Can’t give business cards. Can’t pitch their product. Can’t talk about their new experience or their new lines of thinking. Yet, their messages are getting out. For better or for worse, their personal brand is alive and well and well represented in this crowd.

There’s a misconception in blogging and similar industries that if you produce good content, people will come. While that is true to a certain extent, that theory will never amount to much in the broad scope of things. how many web developers are out there? How many people do wedding photography? how many people write 500-750 word posts once a week that are thoughtful and well written, but nobody knows about?

Let me answer that question: Alot.

And why?

It’s important to create great “stuff” (define “stuff” for yourself). It’s really important to stand out above the crowd. It’s more important to get other people talking about you. You are a brand. You are a subject matter expert. Well, you have the potential to be a subject matter expert. But you’re not yet. Not if no one is talking about you when you’re not around.

Here’s a thought. When you write that great content, try to get that content in front of other SMEs. Find ways to market yourself. Give away your knowledge. Speak at industry events. Host meetups related to your industry. Be social and network. Go drink a beer with others in your industry. When an opinion is asked for, be aggressive and share your opinion in a succinct, well-spoken manner.

In the end, you not only can produce, but you become the first person people look to for help or advice. You’re the first feed that someone reads when they open their feedreader. You do want to be the first person people come to – not just a referral. ;-)

Blogging from PME – Keynote with Howard Lindzon

This morning the keynote with Howard Lindzon he talked about his sale to CBS for a reported $5 million dollars.

Here are some of his opinions about the show:

motivation to build the show – everything out there sucked.

what his end goal was – to sell the show

about interviewing over 600 people to eventually find Lindsey – very boring until she came along

approaching advertisers – most are just testing the waters and he was making stuff up as he went along. Eventually, there were numbers to have a discussion about but he was still throwing numbers out there for advertising costs.

on the sale – throwing the numbers out there and the negotiation was the best part for him.

do you think people can make a living doing this? No, unless you really niche and target and understand who would benefit from it.

it is all about the editing – you can go out and shoot wacky content but if it is not cut right, it will suck.

and finally, product placement and creative stuff integrated into the show has better impact that stupid 30 second spots.

10 Things You Need to Know About WordPress 2.3

We have a tradition around these parts of publishing information for the WordPress community surrounding a new major release of WordPress. With WordPress 2.3 to be released on September 24, 2007, I think it’s appropriate to follow the tradition and let you know about the ten things I think you should know about WordPress 2.3. There’s a lot under the hood that I can’t cover in this article, so particularly if you’re a developer, you should go look at the code and figure out what new hooks and functionality you can find.

Tags

Yes, tags have arrived. They have been a long time in coming and, in my humble opinion, are not perfect – but they are good. Tagging in WordPress is ad hoc and the UI presented demonstrates that. In fact there is very little UI, just a form field below the write screen area that takes a comma separated list. The methodology does reinforce the concept that tags are not hierarchal.

Observant users may notice that there is no way to edit those tags, manage a list of tags, or delete tags. I will point out that, there are already plugins that add management tools to WordPress for tagging and the development team has purposefully taken a “wait and see” approach to tags in this release. It does not make a lot of sense to add tons of UI that is later discovered to be superfluous or rarely used. Instead, they have opted to wait and see what plugins become popular with an open mind about possible integration in future releases.

Added: I was also notified about another plugin for managing tags called ClickTags. I have no first hand experience with either of these so anyone who can provide further input, I’d love to hear it.

Let me share some of the in-built changes that tags bring to the table.

  1. Terms Table – For developers, there is a new table called wp_terms. This table is a lookup table of sorts that shares terms between categories, tags and bookmarks. In previous releases, the wp_categories table was shared between categories and bookmarks and this table was the crux of the new development approach that was taken after tags were dropped for WordPress 2.2 and rebuilt from the ground up for WordPress 2.3.
  2. New Tag and Terms API – Plugin developers will appreciate new API that inevitably comes with a new feature this large. Take a look at the new
    1
    wp-includes/taxonomy.php

    for lots of new API functionality. Note that the new API probably effects more than tags, but I don’t know for sure. It probably interacts with category and links/bookmarks/blogroll API as well. If your plugins interact with this API, make sure your plugins still function as expected.

  3. New Template Tags – There are not a tremendous amount of new template tags dealing with tagging, however theme designers should be aware of them and adjust themes as necessary. Bloggers, feel free to hack your themes to use these functions, however, you may want to wait and see if your theme gets an update for WordPress 2.3 before you upgrade. There may not be a lot of documentation at first, so be sure to refer to
    1
    wp-includes/category-template.php

    to see what arguments can be passed to these tags (though all should work without any arguments whatsoever):

    • 1
      wp_tag_cloud()
    • 1
      get_tag_link()
    • 1
      get_the_tags()
    • 1
      get_the_tags_list()
  4. Tag Importers
    • Ultimate Tag Warrior
    • Jerome’s Keywords
    • Simple Tags
    • Bunny’s Technorati Tags
    • WordPress categories

I have been running WordPress 2.3 on this blog since pre-2.2 when 2.3 was supposed to be 2.2 and was branched to nuke the original tag concept and still hit the release milestone dates. I will tell you from first hand experience that importing WordPress categories does not associate those tags with entries that previously had the identical category. I think that will be a common question so I’d like to answer that here.

Feel free to gripe or complain or praise and adore the new tags functionality. If your voice is not heard then WP devs will be left to assuming what the community wants. As this is a community resource, I do invite you to express your opinions on the tagging feature here. Please keep it respectful though as the people doing this stuff by and large are volunteers devoting their time and energy to make WordPress better for everyone. If you behave respectfully, chances are your voice will be heard and not ignored.

Update Notifications


Update notifications have been a long requested feature of WordPress and thankfully in this release, it’s been delivered – not once, but twice. Now WordPress can alert you when a new version of WordPress is available as well as new plugin versions. I find the plugin update, particularly, very HAWT.

Canonical Redirection

This has long been a bane of every webmasters existence. Canonical URLs are treated differently by Google and the search engines meaning the www. version of a site is considered to be a different page than the non-www version. Search engines see two different pages and penalize one as duplicate content.

To fix this, many webmasters and bloggers, including myself, have taken steps to redirect one version to another. In my case, I redirect www versions of my URLs to non-www versions. Now, WordPress handles this internally based on the value you set as your website site URL under the Options > General page. In essence, this means instant SEO benefits to WordPress 2.3 users.

Post Workflow Improvements

Two more often requested features is better draft management functionality as well as a better editorial workflow for non-Editor, non-Administrator writers. While the second is amazingly better, the first is a step in the right direction but still not “great”.

Draft Management is improved by adding a series of dropdown menus on top of the blog’s Manage page. From this list, you can quickly select posts that are in draft status. This does not do away with links to draft posts that has traditionally been located at the top, but this too has received some TLC. If you’re a blogger that keeps lots of posts in draft for a rainy day, or simply start posts and save them to draft to work on later, you’ll be familiar with “Draft Hell” where multiple levels of links can crowd the top of the page and become unwieldly. Some smart massaging happens to this list now and displays two drafts and adds an “and more…” link to the end leading the blogger to a page listing draft posts. Aesthetically this is great, however I still think the management of drafts can be a bit unwieldly and ugly.

The second bit that pertains to workflow management has to do with “pending review” posts. These are great for multi-author blogs where “Author” level bloggers do not have the rights to publish an entry without a review. Unfortunately, in previous iterations of WordPress, an Administrator or Editor had to pay close attention to when blogs were ready for review but now, they are notified. This is an excellent editorial workflow item that is long overdue.

Pluggable Dashboard

If you’re pretty tired of getting all the stock WordPress and Technorati links on your WordPress dashboard and want to make it more useful for you, the dev team has made the WordPress dashboard customizable via several new plugin hooks.

We’ve been using this at b5media already to provide bloggers with feeds that are more relevant to them as well as replacing Technorati results with Google Blog Search results under Incoming Links. So far, no complaints!

$wpdb->prepare()

A feature that will only make hardcore developers giddy, there is a not-yet-used-yet-still-functionally-solid method added to the database class. the

1
prepare()

method is a handy little method that can be used to nuke SQL injection hacks before they become an issue by creating safe SQL code. Like I said, it’s not in use yet in WordPress because the devs ran out of time prior to release of WordPress 2.3. The feature is officially slated for WordPress 2.4 but I thought I’d point it out as the code is in place (and subject to possible modification in advance of its official support in WordPres 2.4.

Atomlib

Atomlib is a relatively late addition to the WordPress 2.3 codebase. It was created by none other than the great Sam Ruby who was influential in creating the Atom feed specification and the Atom Publishing Protocol. Atomlib provides a support library to the Atom products supported by WordPress – the Atom Publishing Protocol and the Atom 1.0 feed. As it is a self contained library, the potential for its application in other ways is there if a developer wanted to sling some code to create new functionality or plugins.

Deprecated Functions

Not a significant issue as I have not seen the two functions that have been deprecated in widespread use in the community. Yet, as a new release comes along and deprecates some functionality, I feel it necessary to point them out. In the case of WordPress 2.3, only two functions have been deprecated – and they both relate to permalinks. The first one, template tag

1
permalink_link()

has been deprecated in favor of

1
the_permalink()

. I believe most usage examples as well as most theme designers already use

1
the_permalink()

so I doubt this will have much effect. Additionally,

1
permalink_single_rss()

has been deprecated in favor of

1
the_permalink_rss()

.

As usual with deprecation, the functions still work and are available. However, it is advised that the new format be used as deprecated functions will eventually be removed from the core.

Multiple Category Widgets

With the advent of tags and terms, the possibility has been introduced to have different “groups” of categories organized in different ways. To that end, the Categories widget has been expanded to allow multiple category widgets. Though these widgets are not overly useful, someone may be able to find some uses for multiple category widgets.

Pluggable RSS Library

A common complaint in the WordPress development community has surrounded the inclusion and forced use of Magpie as an RSS parsing library. We at b5media, for instance, find a much better and supported library (Magpie stopped being developed awhile ago) in SimplePie. There may be other RSS parsing libraries available. The point is, WordPress is all about being extensible and offering the user choice.

To that end, there is a new plugin hook called

1
load_feed_engine

which allows plugin authors to load a different feed parsing engine if they so choose. I find this very interesting and useful. Others will not, but again, it’s about choice.

WordPress 2.3 brings us a lot of good things. It’s certainly not perfect. I’d personally recommend that everyone wait before rushing right out and upgrading. There may be breakage so make sure you back stuff up. With a new version, it’s usually wise to wait a few weeks and let plgin authors catch up and update their plugins. Of course, the fewer plugins you use, the better off you’ll be – but that’s a matter of choice. Overall, this is a very solid release in my opinion.

Also, I’d love it if you Dugg this article if you find it useful.

The Apple Store: Where Intelligent People Go to Die

What is it about Apple that causes otherwise intelligent people to throw away all trace of common sense? We all know that Apple has done very well for itself, turning around from a mere 4% market share in its computer division in the 90s to having a very viable and sustainable (and diverse!) product line.

Steve Jobs is no dummy. Somehow he managed to break the digital music divide between consumers and the music industry with iPods and the iTunes Music Store. Then he came at us with OS X, the operating system that marked the departure of the Mac OS trying to emulate Windows to stay afloat and go back to its own philosophy about how an operating system should work. Then he gave us Intel-powered Macs which was a smart decision way too far past it’s time.

Now we have iPhones and video iPods and touch screen iPods and iWork ’08 and iLife ’08 and the list goes on. Apple is a smart company. But with any company that releases hardware and software, they are plagued by bugs, oversights and flaws that sneak into Revision A of the product. We all know not to buy revision A stuff. No one waited in line for Windows since the days of Windows 95. We know there are bugs. We wait. Smartly.

However, Apple products incite a certain stupidity in people that encourages them… no, forces them… no, not even that – compels them to go to the Apple Store and buy the newest product on the day of launch or soon thereafter.

Most recently, the Applegasm has surrounded the iPod Touch and the new video iPod Nano. Not long before that, insane lines across this great nation extended out from Apple and AT&T Wireless stores everywhere in anticipation of the iPhone.

Inevitably, the wait for OS X Leopard (the next-gen OS X operating system) will be notable when it is released sometime next year.

Smart people ask why. Intelligent people don’t ask, they just buy.

Apple makes good products, but they are not flawless and almost inevitably are worth the wait. For instance, folks who had an Applegasm over the iPhone for $500 or $600 can now get the same phone 3 months later for $300-$400. People who bought it at full price can get a $100 rebate.

Early adopters of the Airport Extreme router (of which I do own) claimed incompatibility with the Xbox 360 wireless adapter.

First generation Macbook Pro owners (of which, again, I am one) cannot enable their wireless adapter to be 802.11n compatible. Waiting for the second generation fixed this problem.

Early adopters of the iPod nano found that their screens were defective and cracked. I can testify to this as I personally owned a first generation Nano who had its screen crack.

Folks purchasing the brand new iPod Nano may be surprised to know that the old method of connecting Apple A/V cables to the device to gain “TV Out” access (watching video from the iPod on your television) no longer works and that a new component that is not yet available is needed to use this functionality. This has been confirmed by Apple tech support.

The bottom line is that Apple products, as with any computer company, need some time to settle and work flawlessly. Yet so many people ignore this when it comes to Apple. I’ve been frustrated in recent days by observing the reactions of some folks on Twitter and across the new media landscape as they throw away their common sense and exchange it for Apple lust. My frustration is increased knowing that many of these same folks do not need their brand new Apple device as only months earlier they had similar Applegasms over the iPhone, the 80GB video iPod, etc.

I personally know kids who would love to have a simple 2nd generation iPod Nano but live in a household that struggles to put food on the table. Is the insane gluttonous debauchery really needed? I’d encourage folks to give their used device to one of these kids if you insist on wasting money on the new Apple device that you really don’t need.

Finally, a sobering thought: For the $400 needed to buy a new iPhone, $100 (approx) it costs to have an AT&T plan to use it, you could feed 5 people in the Democratic Republic of Congo for a year (per UNICEF). Think about it.