Apture makes killer plug-in for web sites and blogs

While viewing my Plurk timeline (oh, you haven’t see plurk yet) this evening I found a link to an interesting blog post. Not only did I enjoy learning about the new open source Twitter client called identi.ca from my Plurk friend Bwana, I also couldn’t help but notice his very useful site plug-in that let me see definitions of words in Wikipedia.

Four months ago I went searching for just such a WordPress plug-in so that I could add custom and general definitions to my small business marketing site LocalNa8ion. After finding little of value in the WordPress plug-in arena I ended up using the tried and true HTML acronym tag. How does the acronym tag work in HTML? The acronym tag places …… under the tagged word, and when you mouse over the word your mouse cursor turns into a question mark with a pointer – a universal computer symbol for help. The acronym tag is particularly useful to site visitors when you’re knee deep in technical and industry terms that you would otherwise have to stop and write about just to gain understanding for less expert readers. Rather than putting everyone through a long written description the acronym tag has allowed me to speak to experts and newbies alike in less time. Yes, this is a bastardized use of the acronym tag. I’m bad bad bad. Technically, the acronym tag should just be used for acronyms and nothing else, but hey, it gets the job done for real people in the real world.

So Apture can address this need for me on Local Na8ion. But it does SO VERY MUCH MORE. In fact, I haven’t been this excited about a plug-in since I started using WordPress in 2004 and found out there were things called plug-ins.

Tools like Apture could change the web – radically.

See for yourself on the short video below and be sure to experience Apture. Subscribe to Apture’s blog while you’re at it.

Join the conversation today

Join the Conversation by Joseph Jaffe

Joseph Jaffe of JaffeJuice.com, a respected colleague and conversation leader in my line of work is hosting an online book sale today over on Amazon.com. His latest book is called Join The Conversation and promises to share new research, case studies, insights, along with trends in social media that are happening right now in businesses around the world – large and small.

Joseph is using OUR network of bloggers and blog readers along with his offline and online social networks to make a statement about our collective voice today by selling as many books on this day as we can (Sunday October 21, 2007). I just purchased a copy for Shannon and I, and I hope you do the same. Joseph does very good work.

Buy the book today using this link and Joseph will donate all the affiliate commissions from today’s book sales to charity.

If you want to enjoy more of Joseph’s work I’d also suggest you listen to his weekly podcast Jaffe Juice and visit his company Crayon, a social media company among the first agencies to build online communities in Second Life.

[tags]Conversational Marketing, Word of Mouth Marketing[/tags]

Scrybe online organizer

Scrybe

Scrybeâ„¢ is a groundbreaking online organizer that caters to today´s lifestyle in a cohesive and intuitive way.” -Scrybe home page.

The much anticipated Scrybe online personal organizer has launched their beta today. I’m writing about it here for two reasons. First, who isn’t interested in ways to be more productive? As far as tools go, the quality of the axe you swing does make a difference, even if the skill of the operator is more important. Second, it’s a great example of how you might use savvy online marketing techniques to promote your effort (be it a recruitment campaign, local, national, or even international, hello world, launch) as Scrybe is going for.

Scrybe made all the cool watcher lists due to a knock-your-socks-off video that they circulated on video sharing sites like YouTube. The video has been described as a savvy use of modern online marketing. Take a look at their home page and all the ‘A list’ blogger testimonials and it’s pretty obvious that Scrybe made the blogging digerati a key part of their social media marketing plan as well. Call it what you want: guerrilla marketing, word-of-mouth-marketing, buzz marketing, social media marketing, social media optimization. Whatever! I’m calling it a great example of how to make a ton of people aware of your stuff so that they’ll want to someday buy your stuff when you’ve got a budget of…well, pretty much nothing. Judge for yourself.

Remember folks, this is only the launch of Scrybe’s beta – not the final product. If you’ve watched the video, you’ll get an idea of how their use of the latest web technologies (like Ajax) are used to create what would appear to be, highly functional and useful tools.

Useful tools eh?

AchillesOK, here are a couple that make my list. Offline sync, once the Achilles’ heel of web based programs, is handled with aplomb, as are paper output modes designed to appeal to the luddite or PDA Hipster in all of us. And it all looks easy to use – dare I say it – even enjoyable to use.

So here’s the thing. I’m always on the hunt for better ways to organize my life (I use David Allen’s framework). Yes, sometimes my lust for new tools even outweighs my desire for productivity itself. But, never for long, and I’m quick to apply a .22 to the head of any self described productivity tool if it gets in my way. For now, I’ve signed up to be part of the beta with about four different e-mails in hopes of getting in on the action. So far, I haven’t heard a peep from Scrybe. I imagine this blog post might help. At least it will if Scrybe is as up on their social media marketing as they appear to be. Because if they are, they’re monitoring the blog buzz on their launch right now and they’ll see this. So, what are you waiting for Scrybe? I can’t write my review until you give me the keys.

[tags]iScrybe, iScrybe.com, Organizer, Calendar, PIM, Personal Information Manager, Life Hacks, GTD, Getting things done, Time Management, To-do Lists, PowerLists, ThoughtPad, Social Media Optimization, Social Media Marketing, Interactive Marketing[/tags]


Digg!

What’s this: links for 2006-10-29

I’ve been using the social bookmarking site del.icio.us for a while now to keep track of sites that I want to reference or visit again in the future. I don’t like using a browser’s bookmarks tool because I use too many different browsers and computers on any given day so I need something that isn’t platform or browser dependent.

del.icio.us is a good tool to address this. I can use it for my own stuff but the links that I tag with a key word (e.g. web tools) can then be reviewed by others and vice versa. It’s the whole powerful tagging concept that has become so pervasive on the web in the last 18 months (tagging shows up on all sorts of content sites, including blogs). Very cool for search engines.

In any event, my work in social media optimization has led me to start posting my del.icio.us links as a daily blog posting. This accomplishes two main things. People who visit Julians.name can see what’s got my interest for any given day. It’s true that my links could bore you to death, or they might allow you to find a new favorite site to visit. The other benefit is for me. My site will get better search engine rankings by receiving an automated daily update. If you didn’t already know, search engines love frequently updated sites. While my search rankings really don’t matter on julians.name (because this site isn’t about that) it’s really more to practice good social media optimization practices for our business. Oh, and if you don’t want people to see all of your links you can mark them private (go to your settings once you have an account and look under browser for private saving). There, now you understand the funny posts that began showing up on Julians.name.

Want to know how to do this yourself on your blog? Well, it changes a little based on the blog platform you are using. You can find your own settings by doing a keyword search like ‘del.icio.us daily blog posting nameofyourblogtoolhere’. The instructions below work for WordPress.
By the way, I had a hard time getting mine to work until I found a page that told me that WordPress users don’t fill in the out blog id field (see below). Argh!

  1. Sign up for a del.icio.us account
  2. Start posting links. Do this from a browser page with del.icio.us loaded on it or go here if you want to use the handy browser buttons to facilitate this
  3. Set up a blog category for your del.icio.us daily post (I called mine Daily NetTrek)
  4. Get the ID # of this category (in wordpress you can see this in your manage categories section)
  5. Go to the settings section of del.icio.us and under blogging look for Blogging: Daily Posting
  6. set up the daily posting by clicking on ‘add a new thingy’. This is an automated routine like a chron job that you can schedule to run once per day (the point being to collect your daily links and publish them to you blog for you automatically)
  7. Fill in the details for the add a new thingy job. For a WordPress blog don’t put any value in the out blog id field and your out url is going to be: https://www.yourblogname.com/xmlrpc.php

[tags]del.icio.us daily blog posting, wordpress[/tags]

Newsvine: Julian and Shannon sitting in the Greenhouse, k-i-s-s-i…

Shannon and I recently started using Newsvine.Newsvine We’ve lurked there since it went live earlier this year but now we’re taking the time to get involved.

If you’re the type that likes to listen, here you go.

Gabcast! Julians.name #2

Newsvine is a news website where users, or citizen reporters, contribute blog like posts or more traditional news stories to the Newsvine site and community. Notice that I said community – this is not a typical passive experience news site. Like Digg.com, users vote and comment on stories. The amount of votes and comments a story receives determines the overall visibility of your story. Highly popular stories make the front page – other stories never see the light of day. The user generated content is built around a complete, and non-programmed feed from the Associated Press news service. The sheer number of AP stories is really staggering – we’re used to content programmers at media outlets whittling this content down to bite-size morsels for us. I believe Newsvine also features ESPN content.

As you can imagine, the fact that you have full access to the AP wire is both a good and bad thing, but it’s clear that the purpose of the AP content is to give people fodder to have conversations around. That’s the real point of Newsvine. The action is in the conversation that takes place between the readers and author, and reader to reader. You participate in Newsvine by reading, commenting, voting on stories, and writing your own stories. You can also ‘seed’ Newsvine by publishing story excerpts from interesting web sites and stories that you read elsewhere on the net. For example, you’re reading your local online newspaper and there is an interesting story on rising crime rates. By putting a piece of that story on Newsvine others will then come to know about the story, and just like AP, or user generated stories, people ‘on the vine’ can vote your story ‘up the vine,’ and comment.

One thing that makes Newsvine so fun to use is the tools they give users to interact. There are many taken from different successful communication, web, or social media sites. You can make friends, chat, e-mail, create watch lists, and more. What’s really different though are the tools that let you track your interactions and contributions. For example, it’s really easy to return to Newsvine and check on how people reacted to a comment you made on a story. You can track authors, stories, comments, geographic regions, the list goes on. It all brings you closer to the news and the people who are writing it and reacting to it. I’m not even a big news consumer and there’s something about this service that is addictive.

The Internet marketer in Shannon and me is also fascinated by the triggers that cause people to react to content. I wrote a humorous comment on someone’s story last night and I had more votes (by far) on my comment than all the other comments. This was especially interesting to me because NO ONE in the conversation thread, the author or readers, acknowledged my comment. When you read the comments they were very much interacting and talking with each other – but not to me. Because of the Newsvine voting functionality, I learned that readers liked what I wrote, but I also found out that what I wrote did not induce a conversation. This is pretty powerful stuff for a blogger or marketer to learn, given that a major goal of both fields is to connect ideas and people and create a relationship that is relevant, engaging, and interactive.

Did I mention that it’s also just fun being part of the community? I’m enjoying the exercise of writing stories more in the voice of a reporter, vs. a blogger. The wider scope of the audience requires you to explain things in more general terms, which contrasts with a blog where you can assume readers have some interest and expertise in your subject matter to begin with. Except for general purpose blogs like Julians.name that’s aren’t about anything at all (apologies to Seinfeld).

Shannon and I are excited by the opportunity to expose a new audience to our blogs while also connecting with writers and people we might not otherwise find in the blogosphere. We have already seen some lift in traffic on our blogs from the stories we’ve posted on the vine. That was true even before we made it out of the Greenhouse which is impressive given the Greenhouse’s limited audience (more on the Greenhouse in a minute). It’s also yet another venue to increase our expertise in the emerging field of social media optimization (a useful term coined recently by Rohit Bhargava). BTW: Shan has published a couple of pieces on social media optimization, (SMO) on our online recruitment marketing blog EXCELER8ion. I originally used the term social network marketing (you’d never know I was a marketer) but fortunately Rohit’s term saved me from the most unfortunate use of the acronym SNM… Anyway, to wrap your head around SMO, think search engine optimization (SEO) type practices applied to social media like blogs, forums, wikis, Newsvine, RSS, MySpace, Flickr, etc. You can also check out the new wikipedia definition for a just-so description of SMO

Which is a perfect segue to explain our post title and the picture below. And you thought I’d never get to it. When you first start using Newsvine your stories don’t automatically appear everywhere on the vine. There’s a proving ground where you have to contribute stories, vote, comment, and otherwise interact with fellow users. People find new users by going to the Greenhouse (there’s a link on the left side navigation of the Newsvine web site). If they like your content, which includes anything you’ve written or ‘seeded’ from another news site, they vote for you. This voting, combined with all the other aspects of interaction (commenting, voting, etc.), eventually get you out of the Greenhouse and into the general community. The GreenhouseWhy didn’t they just call it the dog house? The message is clear, the more you interact and use ALL of the Newsvine features, the faster you climb the Greenhouse leaderboard and the quicker you get out. Not a bad way to teach people how to use the tools either. People on the top of the page are the closest to graduating to the general community. You’ll be shocked to learn that Shannon took this as our latest venue to compete. I started out way ahead of Shannon but within a day she was nipping at my heals in the Greenhouse, despite my head start. Very early this morning, while Shannon was sleeping, I staggered (careened even) down the halls of the vine, voting, seeding, commenting and even posting to see if I could push myself out of the Greenhouse. But, try as I might, I couldn’t get into the number one position – never mind out onto the vine. Not only that, while Shannon was sleeping, my voting for her stories inched her up a couple of spots (I’m taking full credit) so that we were right next to each other – with me on top, just as it should be. 😉 I took the screen shot shown above because I didn’t know how long it would stay that way. Good thing, because this morning when I logged in, you couldn’t find either of us in the Greenhouse. I guess this means that we’re bona fide members of the community now. It feels a little like graduating from Kindergarten and moving into grade school, sad, terrifying, and exciting all at the same time.

There’s even a revenue model thrown in for you budding authors out there. As Newsvine grows their advertiser base (something they’re still struggling with at present) you get compensated for the traffic you receive from the stories you publish on your column. I’m sure this won’t amount to much for most Newsvine contributors but you can expect some authors to make some real cash (the author receives 90% of the money from the ads that show up on their stories in their column – Newsvine gets 10%). Speaking of columns, here is Shannon’s.

Want to see Newsvine’s 60 second tour? Sure, now I tell you! Hey, you came here to read me didn’t you?

P.S. The CEO of Newsvine, Mike Davidson, has a good blog that you should check out if you’re interested in all this stuff.

P.P.S. Hey Shannon, the race is now on to increase our Vinacity. See you at the finish line.

Update Two things. First, it would be quite ironic, but now that we’re no longer in the Greenhouse, we don’t appear to be anywhere. Even areas where there wouldn’t appear to be ANY competition for our stories. Perhaps all our commenting, publishing, and voting DID get us in the dog house? Only time, and an even greater scouring of Newsvine help, will tell. Next, I had a thought for a feature. Just as we can vote on stories and comments, wouldn’t it be great if we could vote on specific written passages of a story? What a tremendous help it would be to the author to understand how their piece was received, was relevant, or which parts packed the most punch? It would be similarly useful to all Newsvine readers to see what parts of a story were considered to be of the highest import, or quality. It could work much like the Seed feature. The user would highlight the text that they wanted to vote on, or promote, and then hit a ratings or voting button. You could also place a visual indicator in the stories to show hot spots of the story. I’d call this feature ‘passages.’ There you go Mike, your next cool Newsvine feature.

Update September 5, 2006
The day after I wrote my last update my stories started making it out on the vine. Seems like it was probably just a database refresh ‘thang.’ Not only that, but I’m a ‘Featured Writer’ on the home page today and I’m also featured on the sports section.