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My response to “Blogs Will Kill The Web Design Star”

Dear Reader,

My breakfast buddy Bill Seaver posted a real interesting post on his blog titled “Blogs Will Kill The Web Design Star”. I started a comment to it but it quickly grew into a post by itself. So before you read this, go visit Bill’s blog and read it. (and while you are surfing, don’t forget to drop by his podcast, The New Mediology and give it a listen.

My response:

Hi Bill!

I couldn’t agree with you more. The days of paying someone big bucks for a simple site are gone. I actually covered this on Sixty Second Tech a few weeks ago in the episode The Secret to Cheap and Easy Websites. WordPress makes a great simple blog and with the explosion of good, cheap/free skins, there’s really no reason for people to pay for simple web needs. I did get some flack over on iTunes on that episode because a listener considered my approach to the subject denigrating to web designers. :)

If your needs are more than WordPress can provide, Joomla is a great next step. It’s several order of magnitude larger and more complex than WordPress but it has a great plugin structure and like WordPress it has an active community.

BTW, my favorite WordPress theme site is www.wpthemesfree.com. I’ve used several of their themes as starting points for my projects.

Also, I’ve been saying for a few weeks now that the job title to have for the next five years is “App Skinner”. Wife 1.24, The Lovely and Talented Kathy who is a web designer has been able to successfully deploy several complex sites including an e-commerce site, without having to employ a programmer. This opens up new doors for the company she works for because instead of having to hire a programmer to write yet another shopping cart, she can deploy Joomla and spend her time concentrating on developing a look and feel that will set it apart from the competition.

Bill, thanks for the post, it was great.

Until next time,
(l)(k)(bunny)
=C=

Does It Sell Stuff?

Dear Reader,

Me and my favorite author, Scott SiglerDid I miss a memo? Scott Sigler, the author who has replaced Steven King as “guy I don’t want in my dreams” has started a marketing blog, “Does It Sell Stuff”??? Wait, that’s not the punch-line; the punch-line is that it’s GOOD! While Scott posts on his new venture infrequently (6 posts since August of 2007) the posts are always well written, insightful and always cover the burning question all of us trying to make money with Social Networking are dying to know, “Does It Sell Stuff?”. Here’s an excerpt from the first post.

This blog will not talk about the latest and greatest social media tool. For that, you just can’t beat Robert Scoble and TechCrunch. It won’t talk about manifestos, paradigm shifts or up-and-coming strategies. If you’ve got that kind of time, go check out people like Solis and Brian Oberkirch.

Me? I’m boring. I just want to know what works. Stay tuned to this blog, and I’ll share that information with you.

Dammit Scott, seriously, you have a full-time job, best selling books and great podcasts; leave some room for the rest of us, ok?

Seriously, if you are into “new media”, “social media” or what we used to just call “trying to make money on the web” Scott’s new venture is a must read. Thankfully, there are no chicken sheers involved.

Until Next time,
(l)(k)(bunny)
=C=

For Liz Smith…

Dear Reader,

I was playing around with bitstrips.com today and this is what I came up with. Props to Liz Smith for the content.

Not sure how I feel about bitstrips.com. Like a lot of Web 2.0 projects, …it’s cute but what’s the point? (I wasn’t aware that the web needed a youtube for comics)

Until Next Time,
(l)(k)(bunny)
=C=

Are Tivo and LinkedIn run by the same idiots?

Dear Reader,

DISCLAIMER: I have 2 Lifetime Tivo subscriptions and have been a member of LinkedIn since it was in beta.

I know a lot of you out there right now are scratching their heads and wondering what a Networking site and a PVR/DVR have in common. Here is what they have in common, ranks of upper management with closed minds.

Tivo

I was out at tivo.com yesterday and the first thing they did when I hit the page was ask if I would answer a survey after I finished my business. I of course agreed (I’m just that kind of guy) and so when I finished, I filled out the survey.

I gave them the usual answers anyone visiting tivo.com would.

  • 30 seconds is too long to wait for a page to load
  • Your site navigation is goofy
  • Your documentation is incomplete

However, the question they did NOT ask me is “What could we do to make your Tivo more useful to you?” See that’s a question I could write a book on. However, I won’t here, I’ll boil it down into a single concept. “Open it up and let me discover new ways to use it.”

I’m a programmer, when I look at a box like that (or my XBox 360) where the mfgr has obviously gone to great lengths to make sure that I can never run “unapproved” code on it, it just makes me sad. Open it up a bit. Let me build services that can interact with my Tivo. I understand your issues with copyright and I’m not trying to steal content. but hell, it’s a Linux box. Let me write a service that feeds a widget on my blog that shows what I’m watching at the moment. Let me suck down the data on what it’s recording and slice it and dice it myself. Who knows, maybe I’ll find a better way to recommend new shows.

There are hundreds of thousands of ideas for product enhancements that you don’t have to write, we, the hordes of hobbyist programmers and 21 Century tinkerers will make the Tivo an indispensable piece of equipment if you quit locking us out and realize that the Tivo can be so much more than an appliance, it can be a platform.

Oh and it’s ok if you don’t make any money off of each and every service written…make your money on the stuff you do and don’t try to charge me for the privileged of making your device better. Get it together Tivo, if you open up and let us help you, then Hollywood can’t stop you. You can either be the big dog, or stay a whipped puppy.

LinkedIn

These guys still don’t get it. (This is getting to be a regular topic for me.) I’m on LinkedIn and FaceBook both for very different reasons. However, I’m on facebook 3-4 times a day and linkedin 1-2 times a week. See the difference LinkedIn? Pictures in my profile aren’t enough, I want to actually DO SOMETHING with the data I’ve been giving you all these years. We’ve had this discussion before, “Why LinkedIn Sucks (and why I’ll keep using it)”, “LinkedIn Rant – Part II” and you’ve even promised progress but so far…nothing. Open up, let me do what I want with my data and all of a sudden you are useful enough for me to start paying for your service. Have you ever stopped and wondered why you aren’t growing as fast as facebook? It’s not the teens and tweens on facebook, it’s the fact that on facebook, people have freedom to experiment. On LinkedIn, I still can’t write a program that allows me to simply figure out which of my friends know each other…hell on facebook it’s a game!

If Facebook ever wises up and decided that it wants to be the big dog in your yard, you are so toast. Don’t wait for OpenSocial, give me an API and give it to me now. Anything I can do via a web page should be doable from an API. Do that and do it NOW and it’s a good start…it’s only a start but it is a start.

To both tivo and linkedin, I write this post, not because I’m a disgruntled user but because I really like both of you. Both of you however, need a swift kick in the ass to get you moving before you are relegated to the pile of other services I liked once but are now gone. (anyone remember GEnie? I LOVED GEnie!) Come on guys, closed is so last century, open up, let us into the playground and I guarantee that what we create will do more for your bottom line than any overpriced CEO will ever do.

Until next time,
(l)(k)(bunny)
=C=

The Importance of Twitter

Dear Reader,

Ok, yes, I’m a twitterhead, thanks to the magic of programs like flock and Spaz I tweet daily now. However, Twitter, like any good web 2.0 application, is finding new uses like ioubeer and other innovative ideas.  At DevZone we are starting to experiment with using twitter as a reply mechanism for our podcast PHP Abstract and I know others are starting to work in this area.  Basically to me, twitter is an API to instantly contact, by whatever means they want, anyone who wants to share their attention with me.

Using PHP Abstract as an example, right now, to get people’s attention that we have posted a new episode on DevZone, I post on dzone.com, digg.com, and facebook.com. Now however, for the past 3 episodes, I’ve also been posting on the PHP Abstract twitter account. So if you want to know that there is a new episode, all you have to do is follow phpabstract. While that is cool, one of the problems we seem to be having is that people don’t listen to PHP Abstract siggint at their computer, while on the DevZone page.  This means that people can’t easily reply to a podcast.  However, now, thanks to twitter, starting next week (doesn’t work yet, don’t bother) people will be able to tweet @phpabstract and the comment will go back to DevZone and be posted. So we now have a two-way API to talk with our listeners.

I think that going forward we will see more and more uses come forward for twitter. it reminds me of the recent Cisco commercial where the producers of a movie want to contact everybody about a sequel. (oh yea, my heart skips a beat because the producer of a movie has figured out how to rehash all the jokes in the first movie and re-package it as “fresh” content)  The producer enters the message into his phone and it calls one person, emails one and TXT messages one.  Well, we don’t need Cisco or an expensive phone system to do that now, we’ve got twitter. I can enter a message into twitter, everyone who is interested in what I have to say can follow me and respond. Instant API into my attention sphere.

Now what would be cool is twitter groups…

Until next time,
(l)(k)(bunny)
=C=