stone city


…And We’re Back.
December 6, 2010, 4:46 pm
Filed under: blogging | Tags: ,

The last time I updated this blog was almost exactly two years ago. And that was to announce my move to my own domain, TheDether.net. That went well, but I wasn’t using it enough to merit renewing the domain. It costs money. No really, I checked.

Yet I want to continue blogging, albeit intermittently. So I’m back here. Where it’s free, comfy and smells like home. It’s like moving back in with your parents when you’re 32, which I imagine I’ll know something about in about four years or so.

So keep watching this space. Or just follow along on Twitter like everyone else does these days. Stuff will appear.



Moving Day – New site, new name!
December 6, 2008, 2:37 pm
Filed under: biz, Uncategorized

logo1Thanks for following stone city. As of today, this blog will continue at The Dether.net. Same content, same purpose, different name, different site.  Please update your links to reflect the new address: http://thedether.net.

I’m excited about the new site, so head on over and take a look. Thanks again for reading!



Now That We Only Have One Basket, What Do We Do With All These Eggs?
December 2, 2008, 8:32 pm
Filed under: biz, blogging, social media | Tags: , , , , ,

diploma1We may not have felt it yet, but another kind of crunch is coming as a result of the American credit crisis. And for me, and others who make their living writing for blogs like this one, this looming squeeze will hit closer to home. I’m talking about the ongoing failure of the print publication industry.

There are plenty of examples ready at hand. PC Magazine, for instance, which has enjoyed a 26-year run as a print monthly, will see its last issue hit the presses January of 2009. It will, however, continue on in its online guise. Which brings me to my point: virtual space is about to have a lot less elbow room.

A recent article on Arizona State University’s journalism program points out a shift in the program’s focus to digital reporting. They are not alone. Closer to home, Ryerson Polytechnic University in Toronto, Canada, also recently introduced courses to add digital media to the mix in their post-graduate Publishing certificate program. Schools around the world are recognizing the industry shift, and are moving to meet the new demand. That means a number of things for those of us already in the space.

1) Credentialism Comes to Blogging

It’s still one of the few remaining places where you can get traction with an on-the-spot audition and no portfolio to speak of, but that’s about to change. With print journalists entering the online fray and grads fresh out of university and college programs brandishing field specific degrees and diplomas, gates are going to be harder to open and walk through. Those already in the field have the advantage, as long as you’re diligent in keeping your clips update, and knowing which pieces to highlight in your portfolio. Experience will still trump paper certification, but hungry new entrants will come packing both.

2) Fewer Fish Require Wider Nets

Whenever there’s economic trouble, it’s a good idea to take a long hard look at your skill set and see if you need to add to or improve it. If you’re a blogger, it’s probably a good idea to make sure you can be at least a bit of a generalist in a pinch. At the very least, be open to covering topics not usually within your comfort zone. Those you work for will appreciate the extra effort, and see that with you, they get a resource who’s quick to learn, and quick to adapt. Broadening your scope will also result in a portfolio that will suit a wider range of calls.

3) Blogging Institutionalized

Looking ahead a few years, we can anticipate one good thing coming out of blogging’s new maturity. As schools begin to shift the focus of their journalism programs, they’ll also need to supplement their teaching staff with proven experts in the field. They’ll likely try to use their existing print journalism faculty as much as possible, but eventually, they’ll need to turn to people with actual field experience, which will present the perfect opportunity for those who have a proven track record. Professional colleges, especially, wil likely need bloggers with long resumés to fill the faculty ranks.

It may seem like we’re looking at a none-too-bright future, but if you keep focused, and remember that this kind of adjustment period accompanies the legitimization of any industry, there’s a lot of opportunity to be had. A competitive field isn’t something to shy away from; the blogosphere will come out better for it in the end.



The potential of Clouds.
December 1, 2008, 8:02 pm
Filed under: gadgets, geekery | Tags: , , , , ,

clouds

More and more, we as computer users have our head in the clouds. We’re depending less and less on even making sure our feet are firmly planted on the ground at the same time. The elegant combination of netbooks and web apps is quickly bringing browser tech to the forefront in an unprecedented way. My most commonly used applications? Fluid-enabled versions of Facebook, Hiveminder, Flickr and Remember The Milk. And Firefox is always the first thing I open and the last thing I close. I think Mail is the only hard drive-based app I actually use anymore (besides Transmission. Shhh!).

Here’s yet another step skyward. It’s a new operating system from the makers of gOS, the Linux-based OS that powers Wal-Mart’s bargain basement Everex-brand netbooks. It’s also based on the Linux kernel, but it borrows some obvious cues from a certain Google-branded internet browser. The name of the OS is itself “Cloud,” and it boots in mere seconds. Basically, its a browser optimized for using web-apps, and not much else.

The beauty is that we no longer need much else. Even Microsoft Office, long the only real “required” piece of software on most people’s computers, is fairly easily replaced with Google apps or Zoho. There’s only one place I use Office anymore: at the actual office. And even then, in a better connected, more technologically current environment, I could probably largely avoid it if I wanted to. As a freelancer, I have little cause to ever open Microsoft’s Office suite, unless I want to see how it performs in a new OS environment.

As a MobileMe user, I’m well aware that moving to the cloud is not without its downsides. Still, I’m generally excited about the prospect. I’ve always been annoyed that so much of my notebook’s precious hard drive space is given over to applications that take up far more than their fair share of space. More and more, I can give that storage back to media, where it belongs. At least, that is, until streaming media matures to the point that it elminates the need for keeping local copies.



I’m still chuffed about this, but hey.
November 28, 2008, 8:16 am
Filed under: emotion, geekery | Tags: , , ,

giftcardtour-005

As you may or may not know, I use MediaTemple’s excellent Grid-Service hosting. It’s a bit pricey, but their client list is testimonial enough, and everyone I know who needs dependable hosting services goes there. The cost was the reason I was actually peeved when they sent me an email alerting me to their special gift card deal. You can give hosting to someone, for $95 a year, domain inclusive. Or you can give it to yourself.

Yes, it’s a lite version of their Grid-Service package, so you get half the disk space, have the transfer limits, fewer websites, etc. but it still would’ve suited my needs, at this stage in Verbosaurus‘ development. I host Sister Grimm off of my server as well, but still, what I have is probably overkill. Grr.

Griping aside, you can find out more about the deal here. If you’re looking for hosting, this beat most other offers I’ve seen for what you get, plus MediaTemple is a serious step up in customer service and dependability compared to others. When they ask for a referrer url during sign-up, just use “verbosaurus.com”, to abate my rage about not getting this deal myself.



Social Media and The Future of Advertising.
November 27, 2008, 11:18 am
Filed under: biz, social media | Tags: , ,

social-media

In a recent article for the Harvard Business School website, Martha Lagace provides a summary of a panel session that took place at the HBS Centennial Business Summit this past October. The session, called “The Technology Revolution and its Implications for the Future” featured a number of industry heavyweights, including Susan L. Decker, president of Yahoo! Inc., James Breyer, partner at Accel Partners, a venture capital firm, and Eric Kim, senior vice president and general manager of Intel’s Digital Home Group.

The broad topic of discussion was the effect of the internet and internet-connected media on the world in general, and business in particular. Discussion moderator David Yoffie characterized the internet as still a growth market, pointing to the rising popularity of internet enabled cell phones, home broadband access, and virtual world membership.

Breyer, an early Facebook investor, hit the nail on the head when he pointed out the problem with this growth market: bridging the gap between physical world point-of-sale data and information gathered on the web. As of now, the two aren’t talking to each other effectively, and the result is lost revenue.

The solution, according to Breyer, is only a “Eureka!” moment away, and he expressed optimism about the likelihood of this happening, given that because of the nature of net tech, it could come from any sector, since all share the integration issue and would benefit from a solution.

Susan Decker spoke about the difficulty of translating successful internet advertising model to social media. Decker believes that search ads work well because there is no mystery about what the client is looking for, since they more or less tell you with their search terms. In social media, sussing potential customer intent is more of an art and less of a science.

Decker talked about the desire advertisers have to be in the internet and social media spaces, since the market potential is high, but the challenge lies in capitalizing on that potential, since internet ads still don’t perform as well as they should.

While she makes good points, Decker and the rest of the panel don’t talk about the fundamental differences inherent in new media that make translating old advertising models difficult. With radio and television, you had a single stream model of information flow, and a target audience who’s cognitive style was shaped by that model.

Internet users are not single-stream thinkers, nor are they passive receivers of information. It’s a massive paradigm shift that demands an equally revolutionary change in the way companies advertise. As yet, no one’s been able to find an advertising equivalent that will be as effective as past forms have been on older media. Unfortunately, it’s not simply a case of making ad interactive and multi-channeled to match those qualities of the internet medium.

Eric Kim discussed the integration of television and the internet as a future path to increased advertising revenue, since it presents a low-cost way to get people in emerging markets interacting online. It’s a good solution for converting and tapping more traditional consumers, but what about the tech-savvy?

Decker thinks a dashboard model is the way of the future. Citing the fact that people increasingly want simple, minimalist solutions, she argues that people will be looking for one-stop social network shopping, which is a perfect place to integrate actual shopping as well.

Think FriendFeed or EventBox, but with seamless advertising and retail integration. The key to marketing in a social media environment is becoming part of the community, not simply a poster or billboard hung up in plain view of the group’s members. Finding the right balance won’t be a simple process, but humanization seems to be the right direction, so we might as well start heading that way and see what happens.



Free WiFi for Bell Customers at Starbucks.
November 26, 2008, 7:59 pm
Filed under: caffeine, geekery | Tags: , , , ,

bg_step3

It might not be AT&T’s all iPhone-user deal, but some of us still get to use WiFi free at Starbuck’s here in Canada.  If you’re a Bell customer. Which I am. This is the only time I’ve been happy to say that.

Here‘s how to do it, if you’re lucky/throttled like me.




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