Opportunitize, Not Monetize

30,000 feet up, on my way to a 3-day client meeting I took a tip from Doc Searls and stared at the landscape.

That altitude provides a pretty good view of the roadway branding our country like a waffle iron. While I speculate most of these stretches of pavement are unused most of the time, without them, our economy would evaporate.

From regular Joes carpooling to the office, armies of FedEx and UPS trucks making their rounds, high school kids driving to their first job interview, garage bands loading up their gear for a show. My car? It’s sitting in a parking spot awaiting my return.

All while Eric Rice‘s Future of Podcasting plays in my headphones. He snarks, “People always ask ‘How do you make money at [podcasting/second life/etc]?'”

Opportunity.

Without a car, there are simply fewer opportunities. Opportunities to connect with other people. Opportunities to make money. While I don’t put direct pressure on my car to pay for itself, the inverse is true. Replace ‘car’ with ‘podcast’, ‘blog’, ‘laptop’, ‘telephone’, or ‘mouth’. The statement is still true.

Remember the bit from Dave Slusher’s Amateur Means You Do It For Love talk about how podcasting makes conversations and other opportunities happen? Opportunities that wouldn’t happen otherwise?

And remember when Doc rhetorically asked, “What’s the business model of my telephone?”

Yeah. Me too.

Opportunitize: to turn anything into an opportunity.
“No, my car doesn’t make any money, but I’ve opportunitized it to get a job.”

What an awful, corpspeak word, I just submitted to the pseudodictionary.

Behind the Blog: Norwegianity

The Wege goes in-depth on all the reasons Norwegianity is a must-read.

  1. Cursing:

    “…my policy on swearing – I’m for it.”

    So few people know how to effectively curse – The Wege does. Sloppy, ineffective, low-vocabulary cursing is so prevalent that his use of ‘fuck’ (as in “Fuck the new Republican party”) is refreshing.

  2. Music:

    “I know more about Ethiopian music than you do….I was listening to hip hop in 1981”

    The Wege knows music. Frighteningly so.

  3. Convoluted, multi-topic, verbose, heavily-quoted, posts:

    ” I throw in gratuitous obscenities to keep the mainstream media from linking to me, and I complicate my posts so pissed off wingnuts can’t link”

  4. Politics:

    “I know what conservatism is, and it ain’t got a goddamned thing to do with Fox News, Rush Limbaugh, George Bush or Mitt fucking Romney. I respect Scientologists more than I respect Republicans. At least they had the gonads to join a real cult, and not some faux, whatever-Karl Rove-decided-to-call-it-this-week, fundraising apparatus.”

Just what an ‘about’ section of a blog should be – full disclosure and a manifesto.

With Comments Like These…

Chuck posted a comment (and his response) on a MNStories video he posted.

I’ve had my share of baffling comments and well, I generally keep them from you. The most baffling ones are usually drive-bys – without a real url, real name, or real email. Add in a comment that isn’t co-hesive and well, it doesn’t get approved. Simple as that. On the flipside – I’m far more lenient on trackbacks.

That said, all media – like we the people ourselves – are biased. That doesn’t mean we can’t share the camera with someone we disagree with. If anything – that should give us license to do more of it.

The Problem with Badges

Fun-loving, happy-go-lucky Nick Carr points to TopRankBlog’sRSS Button Maker and declares it a problem with RSS.

I’m assuming he’s commenting – not so much on RSS but – on aggregators trying their damnedest to co-opt RSS to their specific silo.

That’s a little unfair of me considering 33 of the brands in the list are aiming to solve a problem I bumped up against again this morning while working on FeedSeeder.

Dealing with URL strings any longer than memorabledomainname.com is cumbersome and error-prone.

The buttons in question, from Yahoo, Google, Technorati, and 30 others are trying to eliminate that problem. Same with the ‘Digg this post’ links on Nick’s site and the pile of bookmarking badges at the bottom of each post at the TopRankBlog proper.

Each badge represents a single action (bookmark or subscribe) at a specific account-based (login/password) site. Once I’ve decided on where I’m doing my bookmarking and where I’m aggregating my feeds and set up the pre-requisite accounts – all of the other badges are irrelevant, noisy, and ignore the fact that most of those places have bookmarklets. If I haven’t set up one yet – it’s the paradox of choice.

I suspect way back at the beginning, these badges were an easy way for publishers to promote and recommend the sites they themselves use. Word-o-mouth and all that. No longer. Today, these are straight-up free advertising (there is a difference).

I’m making the following assumption;
People reading this post and find it interesting and want to bookmark/subscribe know how to deal with URL strings.

31 Oct 2006 Related:

“This focus on campaigning over content seems like a classic case of misplaced priorities. The reason posts wind up at Digg, Delicious, or elsewhere isn’t because the authors made it easier to vote for them (it’s already easy). A post winds up at these sites because people respond to its content and quality.” – Matt Linderman

Blog Networks Are An Oxymoron

It’s a rare recording label with more fans than the artists it supports, a rare television company with more fans than the programs it broadcasts. Anyone can create a network just by installing MagpieRSS on their favorite server and loading it up with their favorite RSS feeds. Er, I think that’s a network, maybe a channel, eh, it’s close enough not to matter.

There are 333 feeds in my version of NetNewsWire. The vast majority of them, independent publishers, somewhat unrelated to the next. As of this writing, there are 73 feeds over at PodcastMN. Same goes for them.

But, aggregation is only so useful. Filtering, editing, whathaveyou is the other side of the coin.

“These network directors, as I call them, would add critical value to the plaza, and make the user experience much more than just a combined stream.” – Stowe Boyd

Does the above link make me a Network Director or simply a blogger?
(yes, this is all about the T-minus project)

What’s Wrong with Most People?

I remotely participated in a couple BloggerCon IV sessions this past weekend. I’m still a little in awe of how immersive the combination of IRC and streaming audio – kudos to the Dave Winer and the other organizers for bringing in the rest of the world.

Somewhere in the Niall Kennedy-led ‘Standards for Users’ session a bit about ‘most people’ not understanding technology (specifically RSS) came up.

According to 2005 population counts, China and India have a combined total of 2.3 billion citizens.

Chances are, if you’re reading this right now, you’re not ‘most people’. That’s OK. No one has ever solved a problem for most people. Problems are solved for very small niche groups – sometimes, when we get real lucky – more people (if not ‘most’) benefit. Curb cuts in the sidewalk originated to help those in wheelchairs – baby strollers, bicycles, skateboards, scooters, and grocery carts also benefitted. OXO Good Grips were originally designed to help those with arthritis – they’ve also helped me.

Though BloggerCon is a ‘users’ conference – the distinction between users & developers is horribly blurred. Thanks to technologies like RSS – and unlike automobiles and other electronics – that simplify without obscuring the inner-workings.

It’s not that most people need to intuitively understand a technology – it’s that they can tweak it, build-upon-it, to easily make their specific situation better.

On a related note, ‘Explaining RSS in 5 Minutes’ sounds like an excellent exercise.

UPDATE: Eric Rice wins for the Most Creative explanation.

The Bottomless Feed and the Need for Now Context

“I’ve punted on trying to catch up on 19,000+ updated posts in Bloglines. I don’t have the time, or interest, in trying to sift through them all. I picked out a few blogs from a few categories that I’m absolutely interested in and skimmed through them and then marked all as read.” – Ed Costello

I do the same everyday – independent of vacations. There’s no reason to feel uncomfortable coming back from a 10-day vacation and not reading every page of the daily newspapers you missed or watching every minute of the evening news you missed, the same applies to blogs.

So, a couple of notions we all need to get good and comfortable with:

  1. There’s always more to do. I’m not big on stressing out how much work there is to do – work scales, time doesn’t. Work is persistent, time (despite what Dali says) isn’t.
  2. There’s always more to read. If every person you know, would like to know, are interested in, or is connected to you in the slightest way is publishing on any regular interval – there’s too much to keep up with. Especially if you’re also publishing and attempting to accomplish something during the day.

Welcome to the Post-Scarcity world.

We don’t yet have the tools that can actually, really help us. The aggregation and filtering tools we have are extremely simple. In my experience, they all filter the most basic, single-dimension attributes; publisher, date, or some notion of category/tag. Nothing more complex.

The problem we all have yet to solve is deceptively simple:
What should I pay attention to right now?

There’s a reasonable chance that this exact post at this exact time is what I should be writing. Some much much smaller chance says this is the exact time you should be reading this exact post. Yet, here we are.

The best tool we have to determine exactly what we should be paying attention to right now is….our guts, our insecurities, obsessions, fixations, interpersonal relationships, and Google.

The majority of the information we receive during any given day is FYI at best. No action required. Depending on your definition of spam – it can probably be immediately deleted. There’s always one Best Next Action out there – finding it will only become more of a challenge.

On a Blog, the Author is the Advertisement

It’s not a question of making money via an online publication (aka “blog”, “podcast”) directly or indirectly.

All money-making via distributing words, audio, or video is indirect. All of it.

Newspapers, magazine, radio, and television all make money indirectly – selling advertising space. Blog publishers like Doc Searls, Dave Winer, Kathy Sierra, Hugh MacLeod, Chuck Olsen, Kris Smith, and even Mark Cuban (and me) make money indirectly as well.

In their case (and mine), the blog is promotion and advertising for them and the other things they do. The things that bring in the bigger bucks.

UPDATE 28 April 2006:
This is what Jason Fried is talking about when he says, “It’s all the same.”

UPDATE 10 May 2006:
There’s something in here about standing on the wrong side of the binoculars.