Technorati

To quote the Technorati website:

Technorati currently track 112.8 million blogs and over 250 million pieces of tagged social media. They search, surface, and organize blogs and the other forms of independent, user-generated content (photos, videos, voting, etc.). They index the live web within minutes, providing their users with up-to-date information about the topics and authors they care about. Technorati is the authority on what is happening right now on the live web including the blogosphere. They can help bloggers by driving targeted traffic to their sites, and allowing them to connect to the millions of other individuals in the blogger community.

Lets see if it works.

Simon.Hibbott.com is currently ranked 8,911,336. It currently has no authority.

Here’s what that means and how it’s calculated:

Continue reading Technorati

Web 2.0 Online Operating System

I openly declare myself as a zealot when it comes to Open Source software and applications. To me it defines the spirit of the internet in terms of open free access to information through global collaboration.

Online Operating SystemToday I came across a cool Web Operating System called Online Operating System (OOS) which provides users with an online desktop and set of applications they can access from anywhere with internet access. It comes with a file manager, a system control panel, several utility programs (text editor, image viewer, games, etc.) and a comprehensive groupware suite.

The user interface seems at first glance to be fairly intuitive. I was able to create and save a document, set up a basic web page and send and receive mail from my new oos.cc account – all within minutes of signing up. In addition to the applications themselves they offer all users 1GB of free storage for files, photos and an OSS homepage.

User surveys in the forum show an age range of 17-38 (now 42!) and that most use the system for a combination of file sharing, desktop portability, free webspace and in a surprising number of cases playing Lemmings. But as one forum user states “This is the future of application delivery!”

The OOS project aim “is to create a common platform for and a comprehensive set of modern web applications, freely available and easily accessible on the internet” which fits in nicely with my utopian ideals. It is published under the GNU General Public License (GPL) and offers a Develop Suite which gives view and edit access to the source code of all available applications. Documentation for the Developer Suite is promised soon.

Development of the OOS applications is based on the commercial reBOX JavaScript API (Application Programming Interface) developed by an Austrian company, iCUBE Network Solutions. Whilst not forming part of the Online Operating System they promise to make a site-wide license of the reBOX API freely available to potential developers within the OOS. 

The system claims to introduce a new architecture, or paradigm, for web applications based on AJAX, DHTML and what it describes as “novel approached to http pushing”. Web 2.0 applications like this combine standardised technologies such as XHTML, CSS and AJAX with user-oriented design aiming to redefine web applications. For the user this means the ability to perform functions such as drag and drop and to be notified of changes and updates in real time.

All of the big web players have an interest in this thin client technology, but the OSS feel that their open architecture and strong focus on usability and extensibility put them ahead of the competition. I hope they’re right.

WordPress Stats

As a new WordPress user one of the first things I did was install the WordPress.com stats plugin. However, I was disappointed at the depth of information that it provides. I was fortunate enough to discover Statcounter.com when I first started designing sites almost 4 years ago, and continue to be impressed by the free service they offer. I’ve now installed the Statcounter WordPress plugin on this blog and found it straightforward and simple.

I have investigated Google Analytics and am currently using it on a couple of sites. If you are contemplating running an Adwords advertisement and marketing campaign I would highly recommend it. There are currently over 80 distinct reports, each customizable to some degree, and users can see ad group and keyword performance as part of their reports. The ability it offers users to define and track conversions, or goals, such as sales, lead generation, viewing a specific page, or downloading a particular file undoubtably prove invaluable under certain circumstances, particularly for e-Commerce applications.

For my purposes however, and at this time, Statcounter seems to provide the better solution.

Linked into LinkedIn

LinkedIn is a business orientated social networking site which uses a “gated-access” approach to build trust and credibility amongst users. Registered users can maintain a list of contact details of people they know and trust in business (called Connections). Users can invite anyone (whether a site user or not) to become a connection.

I’d already registered with LinkedIn back in December 2007. Today, prompted by LinkedIn Profile Extreme Makeover by Guy Kawasaki, I updated my Profile and invited some existing user friends to become connections. I’ve also added a link to my LinkedIn profile from this blog. Guy Kawasaki’s article is actually more common sense than extreme. Essentially he advocates putting some effort into making your profile as complete as possible in order to make it an effective networking tool.

The Unofficial LinkedIn User’s Guide for Executives and Professionals is a more  comprehensive guide to LinkedIn and a call to action for senior executives and professionals to increase their understanding of LinkedIn’s incredible potential as a collaborative networking tool.

Social Marketing 101

Here’s an annotated list of the 10 recommended steps to starting a social marketing campaign that triggered this blog.

  1. Schedule some time each day to work on the social marketing campaign
  2. Sign up for the major social news sites: Digg.com, Propeller.com, Mixx.com. Don’t submit anything to these sites until you have filled out your profile completely and submitted news from elsewhere on the web to generate a real presence and avoid being labeled as a spammer.
  3. If you don’t have a blog, you must install one immediately. This is not an option. It is an absolute necessity on today’s web.
  4. Once you have your blog set up, join the following networks: MyBlogLog.com (install the widget on your WordPress blog), and BlogCatalog.com. (they also have a widget to install)
  5. Join groups, make friends, and interact with other bloggers on these networks. Especially the people who would be most likely to link to your blog and send you traffic who write about similar things or have an audience similar to yours who’d benefit by knowing you. You can even start your own group, promote it in the network, and send “shouts” to the group when you have announcements or need attention to a new post.
  6. Once you have established yourself on all the sites above, meaning you have a decent profile in each that shows you’ve been active and involved, move on and search for networks that are geared toward your particular market niche. There are a lot of new “vertical” social sites popping up that focus on much more narrow markets and their membership is far warmer to your kind of information than on the bigger, more general networks above. Add a new site to the mix as often as you can and repeat the steps for becoming established there as mentioned in Step 2 above.
  7. Join a group dedicated to social marketing to pick up tips from other social marketers and find new places you can sign up with to continue building your social authority. New sites pop up every single day. Follow places like Go2Web20.net to find new opportunities to connect with your market.
  8. Remote blog. Join blogger.com and put content there that is good, just not good enough to go on your main blog. This serves two purposes: 1) you get to use more of the great content you find as you travel through all the social news sites and 2) it gives you another place to link back to your main site and pass on traffic and link popularity over time.
  9. Track your progress diligently.
  10. Don’t freak out! You have other things to do and this needs to fit into, not dominate, your current business and marketing.

A sense of ones own [brand] mortality

I am currently in the throes of rebranding my company which has led me to read around the subject of corporate branding and web identity. Lat night I was re-reading Designing Online Identities: Successful Graphic Strategies for Brands on the Web by Clay Andres, which seeks to identify and examine the elements of web branding by analysing what Clay terms “great sites that promote the site brand in attractive, memorable and innovative ways”.

It makes some interesting points about the need to develop online identities that users can identify with and relate to, in order to engender trust and recognition. In particular, the second half of the book explores the use of branding elements to create different types of site and examines the use of branding in defining elements of web architecture.

I was keen to hit the web and examine some of the examples given, partly to see how the sites functioned and partly to see how the brands had further evolved and developed since publication. The book was admittedly written in 2002, but on trying to visit sites used as examples, including the authors own site and two further web design companies, I found that they were no longer open for business.

My task is to ensure that the same fate doesn’t befall the websites that make up Generation X in another couple of years.

Unzip .zip or .tar.bz2 files on the server

When setting up new installations of Joomla! on my web server I have a choice of using my hosting control panel or uploading via FTP. However, my hosting company has recently updated to Joomla! 1.5 as standard and the site I am currently developing requires a component (NeoRecruit) which is currently only compatible with Joomla 1.0.xx .

In this situation I would customarily unzip the Joomla! files locally and then upload via FTP. However, the upload process using FTP is quite time-consuming. I was fairly sure it was possible to FTP the zipped files to my server, and then unzip them in situ. I simply hadn’t got around to investing the time to find out how. A little digging around on the net revealed the following procedure:

Upload a zip file using ftp. Once uploaded, you can unzip the file by following these steps :
1. Create a file called unzip.php as follows and upload to the same folder as the archive.
2. Copy/paste the following content into unzip.php :
<? exec(“unzip myfile.zip”); ?>
3. Replace myfile.zip with the name of your file
4. Open yourdomain.com/path_to/unzip.php in a browser
The .zip file will be extracted into the same folder as the archive.

Joomla! offer files in a variety of formats including .zip, but the smallest was in a .tar.bz2 file format. I could have used SSH to decompress the file on the server, but I preferred to use a version of the php solution outlined above. I replaced “unzip myfile.zip” with “tar xvjf filename.tar.bz2″and the files were untarred to the current directory.
Apparently the syntax of the code is:
tar – Tape ARchiver
And the options:
x – extract
v – verbose output (lists all files as they are extracted)
j – deal with bzipped file (replace j with z if its a .zip file)
f – read from a file, rather than a tape device

The entire set up took a matter of minutes.

Hello world!

I’ve really been meaning to start blogging for some time now. I was one of those children who would dutifully start keeping a new diary each year, only to abandon it during the first days of January. I’ve had a similar relationship with New Years Resolutions ever since. My birthday is on New Years Eve, and hence New Year already carries a lot of age and goal related baggage.

This blog started life with an article I read on Monday called 10 Steps For Starting a Social Marketing Campaign.

The first step was a call to action –  “Schedule a bit of time each day to do some new things. Don’t just say you are going to do them. Write the time into your day and follow through”. This fits in very well with my new Seven Year Plan, of which more later, and hence this blog was born. 

Now I just need to watch out for Step 10 –  “Don’t freak out…you have other things to do and this needs to fit into, not dominate, your current business and marketing”.