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Sorry about the delayed post on this, but I was flying home late last Friday night and there was a little gal coughing the entire 3 hour flight in my row…needless to say I contracted whatever she was spreading into the air.  Ugh!!  Anyway here is my delayed post on Blog World.

Summary:

A bunch of bloggers getting together sounds like “geekfest” and this conference delivered.  It’s dedicated to promoting the blogging industry and “new media”. This was a first for an industry-wide exhibition, and BlogWorld featured more than 50 seminars, panel discussions and keynotes from a who’s who of personalities.   The conference was for the serious blogger, podcaster, or vlogger who want to increase readership, improving functionality of blogs, but most important were the discussions and examples of new business models leveraging affiliate or ad/promotion programs.   

Blogging Statistics – Level Set

  • Over 12 million American adults currently maintain a blog.
  • More than 147 million Americans use the Internet.
  • Over 57 million Americans read blogs.
  • 1.7 million American adults list making money as one of the reasons they blog.
  • 89% of companies surveyed say they think blogs will be more important in the next five years.
  • 9% of internet users say they have created blogs.
  • 6% of the entire US adult population has created a blog.
  • Technorati is currently tracking over 70 million blogs — over120 thousand blogs are created every day.
  • There are over 1.4 million new blog posts every day–22 of the 100 most popular websites in the world are blogs.
  • 37% of blog readers began reading blogs in 2005 or 2006.
  • 51% of blog readers shop online.
  • Blog readers average 23 hours online each week.

 Blog statistic info/source: HERE. 

Conference Details:

The conference had a lot of exhibitors that provided product services to bloggers, vloggers, and podcasters. Another way to view this is a tradeshow catering to individuals and businesses that tie at least some of their efforts to the process of communication and commerce through the internet.  Exhibitors included: Blog publishing software, RSS services, Broadband ISP’s, Wi-Fi services, Podcasting services, Advertising networks, News readers, Aggregators, Badges, Widgets and Plug-ins, Web hosting companies, Blog designers, Affiliate program partners, recording hardware/software, and more. 

I thought about blogging a blogging conference, but there was no time to post.   Conferences (at least the good ones) are about action and events. And when formal events (like panels or keynotes) aren’t in progress, there are numerous informal conversations, exhibits to visit, etc.   I can’t write, talk, and listen at the same time. 

The event started with an opening keynote which was a Q&A between Ed Sussman from FastCompany.com (also Inc.com) and Matt Mullenweg who is the founding developer of WordPress. This was not very dynamic. The speakers sitting down in leather chairs and had the energy of The Actor’s Studio. It was interesting, but wasn’t the best morning kick-off for a long day packed full of sessions.  Ed asked the questions and Matt provided answers and weaved in a “state of the union” on the blogging industry (both content & software) and where things are heading.  Matt had several interesting comments, and the key points were: WordPress will ALWAYS be an open source project.WordPress is working an “auto-update” feature (ala Firefox) that lets you update your blog through a single button click when you log in to your admin section. 

Overall I found the sessions to be very interesting and the exhibits had many ideas on how to add to a blog and earn affiliate or ad banner revenue/cash. 

Notable Sessions:

  1. Blogging 101 – by Andy Wibbels.  Great presentation.  Discussed how 73% of journalists are looking for expertise from blogs.  Discussed how the unexpected connection changes your life, your perception.  Kind of exciting, but also a bit creepy.  Mention that 1/3 of all blogs are in Japanese.  We’re missing a lot of good insight due to language.  Discussed multiple streams of blogging income:  Contextual text ads (Google Adsense); Impression based ads (Tribal Fusion); Traditional Affiliate Programs (Amazon Assoc., Commission Junction); Contextual Widgets (Chitika.com); Paid Reviews (payperpost.com) and other branded schwags and RSS “tip jars”.  He also mentioned several blogging search engines: Blogpulse, BlogCatalog, IceRocket, BlogDigger.  I really liked Andy’s analogy of “Why are people on-line?”  a. Fun/Entertainment, b. Utility/Get Info (What’s that rash?), c. Community.  This was a similar theme in other speaker’s presentations as well and needs to be constantly referenced to make sure we are serving our customer.
  2. Good to Great: Blogging & Profit Potential – by Jim Kukral.  Jim has made more $500K blogging.  He is a jedi master so’s to speak.  Deliver a great presentation, with topics covering how blogs are making money and that everyone should be tapping into the money with online videos.  Like his “MarkCubanCallMe” blog idea.  Never spoke with Cuban, but generated a lot of views.  Jim discussed that the majority of blogs do not make money.  It’s a lot of work and with out setting a goal or serving a targeted niche or solve a problem you will not succeed.  He worked thru the mechanics of click-thru payments.  Jims view is that people got to the internet to have fun or get a problem solved.  That if you have a passion and can be an expert then you will do well producing quality content.  Described how problogger.net bought a home on blogging revenue.  Referenced one of the most successful blogs is by Tim Carver “askthebuilder.com”.  Think of it as a how to blog.  He discussed how no one is doing video on blogs.  Very small numbers today and that Google are doing a lot to drive video search.  Jim stated buy a $100 flip video camera and solve problems for people.  A secret to success.
  3. Building an Online Community – by Wendy Persall and David Nalle.  Wendy runs Emomsathome.com and David runs blogcritics.org  Discussion around content for the clicks and building a blog so that people don’t leave.  Meaning sometimes the affiliate or ad’s will redirect a reader away from your site and it might be more advantageous to run direct ads on your site so they stay and read more content or ads.
  4. Social Media vs. Pay-per-Click – by Jalali Hartman.  Played an interesting video “EPIC 2014” by museum of media history. Basically states to watch out for Google world domination.  Jalali talked about a project Wardancethemovie.com and how “movements” attract much larger and passionate members than a movie can.  He discussed the viral content elements of the project and type of tricks he used.  He mentioned an example of a movement on the Colbert for President on Facebook groups was generating 120 users join requests per second during the first 24 hours.  When people would post comments to The Wall they wouldn’t show up for hours.
  5. Using Social Media to Drive Traffic to your Blog – by Robyn Tippins and Larry Bailin.  Great presentation and primarily a Q&A session.  Robyn is super knowledgeable.  Works for Yahoo.  I met with her after the session and learned that she did some work for ISN while back.  I learned several techniques on how to cross reference/link for maximum exposure of a blog.  Mybloglog is a gold nugget.
  6. The Web 10.0 – by Thomas Frey (DaVinci Institute).  This was a futuristic discussion and Thomas pushed the level of understanding of what the net/blogs will become.  Basically his presentation is about the net being group into 3 categories:  Education, Global Systems, Techno-Nation.  Depressing to learn that in 1970 30% of all college graduates lived in the U.S., but today it’s 14%.  The most educated country in the world is Canada.  He discussed how future of education would evolve.  The Techno-nation area discussed economic borderlines of the world will not be drawn between countries, but around economic domains.  Virtual countries and no land involved.  With borderless economies it’s caused countries to lose control of commerce.  Lastly he discussed how search will become increasingly more complicated and an even bigger business opportunity with taste, texture, reflectivity, smell being some of the attributes.
  7. Social Media – by Chris Heuer and Marshal Kirkpatrick spoke on the Social Media landscape. An interesting discussion group and the Q&A session were good.  The main point is that Social Media enables us to tear down the walls between each other. It opens all of us up to one another and it allows us all to connect with the community around us and bond with it. In the end the Social Media Landscape is up to us and what we make of it.  Chris answered the “What is Social Media?” question by: “Its evergreen & persistent, it creates more opportunities to be found, puts a human face on your business, builds trust in the market and allows you to co-create with your customers.” Thinking about this statement it’s very true and we apply it every day to our Social Media usage whether we realize it or not.

I didn’t conduct in-depth research, but did listen to several brief demonstrations in the exhibit area.  Some of the notables are: 

  • Ligit: I’m going to use this site!
  • AdaptiveBlue: If you like movies, books, and music and blog about them often this site would be a great addition to your blog and a great way for you to make a little money as well.
  • SezWho: This is interesting but to be truthful, I need to play with it more before I totally understand it.BlogCatalog: Great site.  I’m just putting it here in case you haven’t been introduced yet.
  • WooMail: These guys hit me up while I was outside on break and were not part of the show. I know nothing about them other than its e-mail but I’m going to have a look. 

Summary:

Putting all this data and learning’s about blogs/Internet into good use:

  1. Focus on building relationships between businesses, bloggers & readers
  2. You will not succeed unless you focus on the things you have passion
  3. Commenting on Blogs to increase visibility and credibility.  Not something routinely done today.
  4. Always provide value by offering substantive material.
  5. Further the conversation in comments and be inviting/friendly so as to promote community and the sharing of ideas.
  6. Experiment with affiliate programs and continue to leverage any viral element.

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Justin.tv

I’m sure you’ve heard about Justin — and Justin.tv — he’s 23 and been wearing a video camera and webcasting his life live on the web for the past couple months. Everything he does is broadcast live — similar to the Hollywood movie The Truman Show.

Justin’s 24/7 reality online TV show has turned into a bit of a mini-phenomenon. His apartment was raided by the police, and they were later evicted by their landlord. They were on the Today Show. Justin was hanging out with famous rappers. A month ago, he was apparently on a date — the camera is stuffed into the curly locks of some blond. Everyone was wondering if this is the girl from the other night that some are thinking he “got lucky” with. This is “spicy” stuff! It all seems intimate and after wearing the camera gear for six months in prep for the go live web site, he likely doesn’t even think that the camera is there. The site is way successful.

Justin has big plans. He wants a lot of people doing the same thing in the future — so you could essentially flip through “life channels” of various people across the planet. Perfect for the bored at work generation…I could see people letting each other know what’s going on in “so and so” life at any moment.

Admit it…you’ve always wanted to start your own real-life television show? Now you can because Justin.tv is launching its own network to allow users to create and publish their own shows. Or, if you prefer just sit back and snoop/peek into other people’s lives — as they stream themselves live on the web.

Here is the ultimate Ustream.tv mash-up. Your computer screen will be turned into the security room of a local K-Mart or a Las Vegas Casino with all these live cameras.

Enjoy peeping…

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I ran across a cool website mention in the local paper today and decided to give it a look. I’m a visual person and making things visual always gets my attention. IBM’s Visual Communication Lab enables anyone to upload all kinds of data and turn them into graphs, maps, tag clouds and other visuals.

For example, want to convert the rhetoric over Iraq into something you can see or visualize? A user did just that by taking the text of the British House of Commons debate on the Iraq war and then converted the text into a tag cloud that displays heavily used words in larger type and little used words in little type.

See the IBM site here or click on the image:




Enjoy those visuals…

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I recently sat in on panel discussions and audience interactions at ETECH. At each session we were met by enthusiastic people/companies that have a genuine concern about understanding what customers want.

In a world where the noise of the social crowd is amped up exponentially with endless streams of chatter…what I took away was confirming some of the reading I have been doing lately (Check out Scott McKain’s “What Customers Really Want”):

We need to focus on creating customer experience, not customer service; personal focus, not product focus; reciprocal loyalty, not endless prospecting; and innovation rather than status quo.

Then I came across this new start-up website Oddpodz. It’s basically a website where creative, independent thinkers unite and share information.

I’m not sure how these type start-ups are changing the way we communicate or manage intellectual property?

Let me know what you think.

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Be careful out there. I often register at Web 2.0 sites as part of my function in life to sketch, discuss, “hot-glue”, mashup, hack, build and think toward a more innovative future.

Most recently in reviewing “Mommy” sites I’ve been posing as a 35 year-old mom (Carmen – likes Cars and Men – get it?) with 4 kids. My oldest son, Ricky, is 16 so he’s taking care of Tabitha, 6, and Billy, 4. My youngest, Jeremy, 3 months, is somewhere around here. He’ll turn up. He usually does.

In looking around some of these sites and they’re disturbing to say the least. The type of information being shared is pretty scary. You often see detailed information about the person and their family, holiday photos of the kids including geo-tags of their house and other content that could be used to identify them. Some of the things parents post makes them look completely clueless or like they are sitting at the computer writing a blog while their kid festers in a dirty diaper. Are parents really this stupid these days? As far as I’m concerned, parents posting too much information aren’t fit to be parents because they put their families at risk at the very worst and at the very best look like they are wasting time on the computer when they could be doing something better. With their kids!

In the backwaters of my online watch, I’ve heard that unemployed guys spend half their time trolling blog comments and the other half trying to pick up middle-aged women on the “Mommy” social networks.

As Carman the 35 year-old mom, I like that my profile is public. It’s good knowing that a lot of guys scour these sites looking for hot single (and not so single) moms to pick up on. I posted my pics from before I had my 4 kids and before the crank took my teeth so, I look pretty good in my profile. Just got an email from a used car salesman in New Jersey. He could be the one! And as long as they’re still collecting unemployment benefits bring them on! After I log off MommyBuzz I’ll head over to CafeMom and see if anybody can recommend the best online dating site. Still looking for a real man to take care of my kids. My welfare check arrives on Friday’s and I can’t wait to buy a new Alienware computer. My games are going to be so hot with the NVIDIA GeForce 8800 GTX graphics card!

The list of social networks for moms is growing: they include MomJunction, Maya’s Mom, MothersClick, MommyBuzz, MTV’s ParentsConnect, Famster, Minti, RaisingThem, Cingo and CafeMom. To be candid, I’m not sure which or how all these sites will survive, but surely the market can’t support them all.

Have to go now. Billy can’t find Jeremy. He’s probably stuck behind the furnace again. *Sigh* Do I have to do everything around here?

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Looking in the mirror at just what objects did appear closer as the year comes to a close, I suspect a key question on your mind is: What is Mac’s prognostication of digital home and general usage trends next year…?

1. Music is THE Application for Mobile Phones

CD-quality music is going to be on more than half the entry-level cell phones used around the world by year-end. Music will be THE application on cell phones measured by consumer use and revenue-generated by handset makers and wireless service providers. Apple proved people will pay for good-sounding music, including hundreds of their favorite songs, easily accessed by simply pressing a button. And these music cell phones will store hundreds and late in the year thousands of songs, which is plenty for the average music fan.

But what about video or Mobile TV adoption? Mobile TV will continue to develop, but will be challenged to win market acceptance because of the small size of cell phone screens. Battery limitations and the small screens make long-term, non-stop viewing unappealing, not a good user experience. The most likely mobile TV applications will be people checking sports scores and updates; cartoons, videos, standup comedy etc., and/or general news. All these will need to fit in about a 3-to-15 minute time frame, according to most industry experts. Many people won’t watch TV on a cell phone for much longer than that, except for some special, out-of-the-mainstream reasons. Mobile TV’s early adopters are expected to be mass transit commuters, primarily Asian and European adults. Look for those countries to be early adopters.

2. Apple iTunes Remains Dominate

Apple will see their iPod market share erode in ’07 from increased competition thanks to Microsoft (Zune), the increased availability of independent video subscriptions (studio’s, broadcasters, news organizations etc.,), and the MTV URGE marketing juggernaut of VH1, MTV and CMT.

The “Leopard” version of the OS will extend Apple MSS to 8% and the FrontRow: media access embedded in the OS along with iTV is what the digital home needs in an interface device. The OS and device will be hugely successful with Apple retail stores able to promoting a compelling value proposition for consuming video content on your schedule…on any device… any time and keep those “buying eye-balls” on iTunes.

The increase in content sources and video quality of the iPod will drive demand for portable video players and subsequently on demand video content. The standard drive size for an iPod will be 100GB by year end. Flash models will ship with 8GB standard and upper end units with 15GB.

The Apple iPhone (Cell phone) will have few new features, but will become big sellers. It won’t be introduced at MacWorld rather it will be mid-year.

3. IPTV Over-Hyped and HDTV Prices Drop as Demand Increases.

The first sub-$500 27-inch LCD HDTV will hit the market. The dramatic price drops are causing consumers to not only upgrade living room sets, but buy additional units for different rooms in the house.

IPTV adoption and speculation will continue to be rampant and over-hyped. Industry pundits will continue to state that it’s right around the corner and that the deals are ramping the industry. New mega-revenue streams don’t exist. There are opportunities for the industry, including programming for non-traditional platforms, but 2007 will not be the year for broad adoption.

4. Blu-Ray and HD-DVD Sales Stall

With no HD-DVD standard concluded, format wars will continue to confuse the consumer and retail is unable to position the differences. Touted as the second coming of the DVD, it’s starting to look a lot like the second coming of the Laserdisc. The inclusion of 1080p support in Playstation 3 (PS3) won’t matter to consumers because there is very little content available and it’s at a premium price.

Speaking of Sony — they will stumble over backwards compatibility with PS2 games and lack of an interactive strategy. Gamers will become further addicted to Xbox 360 combined with Xbox Live, where points and ratings offer a direct comparison of skills against other Xbox Live members, which leaves PlayStation 3 out in the cold. For the console market, 2006 will be game over at Sony.

5. Generation C (Content) Mind Share

In three years, people born between 1980 and 2000, will outnumber Baby Boomers and Gen-Xers. They will be a consumer sector of tremendous importance to the media & entertainment industry. Not only are they big, but they will be fragmented and difficult to reach. The increasing number of media channels – instant messaging, email, social networks, iPods, mobile phones, Tivo, P2P networks, handhelds, video games, etc., – through which this group communicates and consumes media & entertainment, makes them a very elusive target for us to market to them. The characteristics of this generation – one embracing a pervasively digital world – and the implications for media, entertainment, and advertising is going to drive everyone nutty.

Social networking services will morph into something even less useful, like social shopper with coupons and we’ll see sites provide buying recommendations triggered by your profile data.

6. Microsoft Success

Late-February they issue a Press Release proclaiming that “Windows Vista is the best selling operating system ever.” Consumers will love the Vista Media Center Edition with Xbox 360 connectivity in large scale. Adoption rates of Vista with XP customers will be very slow due to computational and memory requirements.

Frustrated with Apple’s market power, the music industry will move aggressively closer to Microsoft. It won’t matter, as the Zune will be deemed the most underwhelming product Microsoft has ever made. And afraid of Microsoft’s market power, the movie industry will try to cozy up to Washington.

Groove collaboration software will ship in the Office suite for the first time. It won’t matter as more significant desktop apps will move to an Ajax/server-based design like Zoho.

7. MPAA Supports Consumer Content Value Chain (When Pigs Fly!)

We buy a title, not a particular file for a title (so, we buy video once, for all devices)

“Stop, pause, resume, buy, rent, etc.” all work across platforms, devices, and service providers/retailers

Content transcoding is a job for the professionals and the serious hobbyists and the MPEG, H.264, video compression codec’s…whatever, is banned from everyday consumer vernacular

We need to know as much about DRM as we need to know about locks in our bank safety deposit vault

Content (purchased and our own creations) are as safe as credit cards (Meaning we should be angry when someone rips the content that we had to pay for)

I left off the ever important legal prediction…there will be a felony conviction in the U.S. for a crime committed entirely in a virtual world and for the Wiki people, the word “mashup” will be the most overused word in 2007!

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Social networking sites can get millions of users, but can they make millions in revenue? I’m a bit conflicted about how these sites monetize services. And, just who are these people? The people that swarm to these sites? Do they have jobs or should we label them the bored-at work generation?

I submit that relevance to your social community and the monetary engagement is what accelerates the social networks forward in terms of revenue or traffic or users. The bored-at-work generation went thru the marketing spin-zone machine and are now called the “Participation Age”…all about people connecting across the network to share, collaborate, explore, create and discover just how amazing the world truly can be. I’m thinking this has a bit of deja-voodoo. If you are ‘ol enuff to remember the CB Radio then you’ll remember that when few people had them they were very good communication tools. Then as costs came down and as more people bought them the “noise” level increased to the point where you could not hear the conversation. How many people have a CB Radio on their holiday wish list? I suspect very few.

So, these predominately Teen oriented sites have had meteoric rise in growth, but the “noise” keeps increasing and increasing. Take Consumating yet another “new” way to find and connect with people. You tag (mypeeps) someone that makes you laugh and they appear automagically (is that a word?) and your peeps will continue to amuse/bemuse/distract you from your important job. Tell everyone what you just overheard at the water cooler and do it on-line…

“Jimmy just, like, called Bill, like stupid, duh we knew that and like he’s totally lazy too…like always surfing the internet…like can we, like just, like U-know go like, back to where we like all get along or like, what…”

Then there’s Fake Your Space. Feeling lonely because your are not popular enough on your social networking site? Don’t have enough friends commenting on your blog? So, how popular do you want to be? This new “service” where paid models (for a monthly price of $.99/month) will pump-up your MySpace, Facebook, Friendster, Flickr sites with comments and postings about how cool and popular you are. All this of course, is done as privately as possible so as to not let anyone know that you’re “faking” it and no one will be wiser with your new found gorgeous models as friends.

How about Datemypet. Another Match.com knock-off for the online speed dating crowd with focus on Pet lovers and their pets. Single and have a cat? Then why not spend time at work looking for a life partner or a buddy for your pet. Little known fact from the site is:

14% of dog owners admitted they might continue dating someone they didn’t like all that much, just to spend time with that person’s dog…

I wonder what the cat people think? I can visualize the dating profile now…Cute dog pics everywhere with the statement: My pets perfect date is hanging out in the park, taking casual walks with an occasional Frisbee romp topped off with bone-treats at the McDonalds drive-thru!

Another example is VampireFreaks (with 750,000 users) offers a premium subscription to create “unlimited cults” along with 17 other “useful” features.

Finally, the nirvana of social sites is one that shot up like a rocket called Second Life (a virtual reality world where only your imagination stops) has expanded into a new world and you’ll have the time of your life doing it. Second Life, for those of you who are going, huh?, is a video game full of fake cities, shops and people. It’s the type of place where people who have sex with dolls in real life can have sex with avatars in fake life. And, oh my, what forms these avatars can take. Or if you want to pole dance for $18 in a sleazy club never feeling so alive, this is the place for people who feel no pain while in the guise of a throbbing avatar. Sure, I’ve glommed on to the more thematically mature activities that occur within SecondLife, but it’s all there…on the internet.

Yep, that bored-at-work generation is truly getting everything they ever wanted from their social communities…and people will pay for it! Go figure.

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