My God, I Actually Am a Geek – My Blog’s First Anniversary

macinate

Photo credit: macinate

Yup, it’s been a year. Where does the time go?

Let’s go to the wayback machine for a look at my first-ever post on this blog, Feed the Beast on February 9, 2008:

My initial foray into blogging. Not sure what form it will take, nor can I establish a consistent theme for it. But the most important thing is to…

FEED THE BEAST

Blogs generally will not get much readership. Sad fact. This one may be lucky to get anyone beyond myself. But I know for sure that if the you maintain minimal content, infrequently updated, NO ONE will ever bother. So you need to keep the posts going. Just post, baby! If you do it enough, you’ll find your blog “voice”.

True words from a newbie.

There are probably a billion things I could write about this…um..momentous occasion. Mostly important to me though. Rather, I’ll recount a few things, and end it with a big ol’ graphic.

Why I Blog

First off, a fair question to ask of anyone who blogs regularly without ads on the site is…why? Well, it’s not to make money. One reason is what I wrote in this earlier post about why professionals should blog. But I also have two personal reasons.

First, I’ve got a journalism family background. My Dad is a journalist. My wife is a (now former) journalist. My sister edited the school paper. I edited my grad school paper.

When I was writing and editing for my b-school paper, I really enjoyed it. After school, I moved on to banking and thought, “there goes my writing.” I didn’t have an outlet for writing. And I really didn’t consider blogging…after all, what would I say?

Once I took a job doing social software product marketing for BEA Systems, I decided I needed to be more of a participant in…social software. So I started blogging a year ago. And I’ve loved having this outlet ever since.

The other reason is that I learn best by participating, not by listening or reading. When I put a blog post together, I feel this vague pressure that comes from knowing people will read it. That elevates my resolve to know what it is I’m writing about. I pay greater attention to articles I read. I get much more analytical.

And the act of writing itself is a great organizing activity for me personally.

That’s why I blog.

Two Blog Periods: Before Louis Gray, After Louis Gray

There are two periods to this blog. The two months before Louis Gray wrote about it, and all the months thereafter. When he included me in his Five More Blogs You Should Be Reading, But Aren’t post of April 7, 2008, this blog got traffic I never would have expected. I wrote about that experience in When Your Blog Is LouisGrayCrunched… and inexplicably that post hit Techmeme.

From that point on, I really wanted to know about this blogging thing. So I dove in fully and committed to writing. And thanks to master blogger Louis for putting me on the map.

Is This an SEO’s Dream?

A post that continues to deliver visitors, day-in and day-out is How to Write a Farewell Email to Your Co-workers. It’s my actual farewell email to colleagues at Identrust (eFinance). It was on a lark that I posted it on a Saturday afternoon in March. Since then, that post has risen to the #1 spot when someone searches ‘farewell email’. Which happens a lot, it turns out. Particularly the past few months, unfortunately.

Not sure how many of these visitors care about my thoughts on technology. But glad to have them here.

Notice a Trend?

Four of my bigger days have come from these posts:

  1. When Your Blog Is LouisGrayCrunched…
  2. Tim O’Reilly Course Corrects the Definition of Web 2.0
  3. Karl Rove Is on Twitter
  4. Before There Was Twitter, There Was Dave Winer’s Instant Outliner

Write about a well-known person, and see what happens. I see why celebrity news is such a draw.

By the Numbers

OK, here are the stats for the past year:

  • 217 posts
  • Traffic, direct and RSS = ~140,000 (WordPress does not aggregate feed views, so this is my guestimate)
  • Comments/trackbacks = 1,276
  • Subscribers = 587 (according to Google Reader, I don’t directly use FeedBurner)
  • Technorati = 100 (as of today)

What Was I Writing About This Year?

Below you’ll see wordles for each month of this blog.After doing this, I really like the way it highlights your blog topics at a glance.

Some notes as I look at the wordles:

  • Check out April through August. One word stands out: FriendFeed. Yeah, I had the FriendFeed Fever.
  • December and January have seen a bit of a Twitter bender.
  • Throughout: social, social, social.
  • ‘Enterprise’ has been prominent the past few months, which is still an area rich with opportunity.
  • Last several months have seen a rise in ‘people’ and ‘information’. Good.

my-blog-keywords-by-month

And that wraps up this anniversary edition of the blog. Let’s do it again in a year.

Tag Clouds for Our Lifestreams

We are marching down the lifestreaming road. There are a proliferation of lifestream apps, such as FriendFeed, SocialThing, Strands, Swurl and others. Lifestreaming is getting hotter, and there’s some thought that lifestreaming will be the new blogging:

Sites and social tools like these and many others encourage more participation on the social web than ever before. Although the social participants on these sites are often more active in socializing than they are in blogging, there’s still that need to stake out your own piece of real estate on the web. But we wonder: does that really need to be a blog anymore? Perhaps not.

It’s a great concept, one that Mark Krynsky has been chronicling for a while at the Lifestream Blog.

An area I think that is ripe for inn ovation here is the ability to find the meta data from one’s lifestream. On FriendFeed, people will have multiple services that fill up their lifestreams. A couple issues that crop up on FriendFeed are:

  • Figuring out whether to subscribe to someone
  • Catching up on what particular individuals have been streaming

Because there is one thing that has been noticed with all this lifestreaming – there’s a lot of information generated (or “noise” as some might say).

So here’s my idea:

Create tag clouds for our lifestreams

What do I mean? Read on.

FriendFeed Lifestream

I’ll use the lifestream service with which I’m most familiar, FriendFeed. Here are the tag clouds I’d like to see for each user’s lifestream:

  • Blog
  • Music
  • Google Reader shares
  • Bookmarks
  • Twitter
  • YouTube
  • Flickr
  • Digg
  • etc…

And I’d like to see tag clouds for what users Like and Comment on. Because on FriendFeed, Likes and Comments have the same effect as a direct feed of someone’s lifestream: they put the content into the feed of all their followers.

So via the tag cloud, I’m can quickly come up to speed on what someone is interested in.

Let’s Make Tagging Easy

I don’t propose that users suddenly tag their own streams. Rather, let’s leverage the work of others.

It’s de rigueur for Web 2.0 apps to include tagging. Bloggers tag. Social bookmarkers tag. Music lovers tag. Why not pull the tags applied to the source content into the lifestream?

Here’s what I mean. My blog has plenty of tags. These tags are included in the RSS feed of my blog. So any feed that includes my blog should include these tags. Let’s leverage:

  1. The tags that people apply to their own Web 2.0 content
  2. RSS/Atom feeds that include tags

For some background on this, click here for a page on Technorati that talks about tags in feeds.

By leveraging the tagging work already resident in user-generated content, one can quickly build up a tag cloud for lifestreams.

An Example: Google Reader Shares

Google Reader is a good example. People ‘share’ blog posts they read via their Google Readers. Sharing lets others see the articles that someone finds interesting and useful. And of course, those blog posts that someone is sharing have tags.

Here’s what the tag cloud of my recent Google Reader shares looks like. I’ve simulated the tag cloud by using Wordle for the tags.

You can see my interests lately: Enterprise 2.0, FriendFeed, social media. If someone wanted to get a quick sense of the things they’ll see by subscribing to me, this tag cloud answers that. And if someone is curious about the specific posts I’ve been sharing that relate to a subject, they could click on one of the tags and get a list of my Google Reader shares.

Curious, I ran the same analysis on the Google Reader shares of four people I follow on FriendFeed: Robert Scoble, Louis Gray, Sarah Perez, Mike Fruchter. Here are the topics they’ve been sharing lately:

Robert Scoble clearly is following the iPhone and Google. Louis Gray was following the happenings at Gnomedex. Sarah Perez is pretty even in her interests, with FireFox, social bookmarking, FriendFeed, Twitter, search and photos among her favorite topics. Mike Fruchter has been reading up on Twitter and social media.

Just like that, I’ve gotten a sense for their interests right now. And if those were true tag clouds, I could click the tag and see the Google Reader shares. Robert Scoble is really good at tracking useful relevant things. Clicking the ‘iPhone’ tag and reading his shares would be a quick way to understand what’s goin.

Tags + Wordles

As I said, most user generated content comes with tags these days. So pulling these into the feeds and representing them in a tag cloud would be a fantastic move forward in creating lifestream tag clouds.

But what about Twitter? There are no tags on tweets. Not a problem. FriendFeed and other lifestream services could do a Wordle-like tag cloud. Tally the most common words in someone’s tweets, represent it as a tag cloud. And make the tag cloud clickable, which would essentially run a Summize Twitter search of the user’s tweets for a given tag.

Use Existing Metadata to Solve Two Problems

The key here is to not make it onerous on the end user. Tag once, re-use everywhere. If desired, users could be given the option to add tags to their own lifestreams. But the core idea is to eliminate double tagging work for users.

If this could be done, you’ve got a visual representation of people’s lifestreams. And an easy way to find the specific entries in a lifestream that relate to a topic.

Lifestreamers – would you want something like this

I’m @bhc3 on Twitter.

How Are Enterprise 2.0 Vendors Pitching Web 2.0? Using Wordle to Find Out

Recently, a website called Wordle debuted. What is Wordle? You can think of it as similar to a tag cloud, except Wordle analyzes words, not tags. You can see people’s blog Wordles on FriendFeed. Wordles are only graphics – you can’t use them for navigation.

A nice use of Wordles is that you can quickly pick up the pulse of a website. Higher word counts show up as larger fonts, the way tag clouds do.

I wondered what enterprise 2.0 vendors are talking about now. We’re a couple years into the introduction of the term “enterprise 2.0“, made popular by Harvard professor Andrew McAfee. The market is still young, but a decent number of companies have entered the space. Given that they’re selling to corporate customers every day, I was curious as to how their message has evolved.

So I “Wordled” the websites of the following ten enterprise 2.0 vendors:

  1. Jive Software
  2. SocialText
  3. Connectbeam (my company)
  4. Atlassian Confluence
  5. Six Apart Movable Type
  6. Newsgator
  7. Traction Software
  8. Near-Time
  9. SpikeSource SuiteTwo
  10. Worklight

I focused on these pages for the vendors: home page, product pages, “about” page. Let’s see what’s going on out there.

Ten Enterprise 2.0 Vendors’ Wordle

For the Wordle, I removed company and product names to keep it focused on themes.

So looking at this Wordle, what do we see?

Content and information get a lot of play, while knowledge shows up less often in the messaging. That seems about right, doesn’t it? Knowledge is information that you’ve internalized. Well, enterprise 2.0 should help people with that task. Still, it does seem that the focus is on the inputs (content, information), not the outcome (knowledge).

Search shows up a lot. If you’re familiar with the enterprise 2.0 philosophy, creating and finding the good stuff that is locked up in workers’ heads is a key value proposition. Search as a basis for let workers’ connect with one another makes sense. As Nemertes Research notes:

Enterprise search is catching on with enterprises.

If search is the leading use case, what’s the next one? Collaboration. Very much in keeping with the web 2.0 ethos. After that, we see learn and networking as important use cases.

Note that RSS is only slightly bigger than email. A good acknowledgment of what the leading application in the enterprise continues to be.

Social as a top word is no surprise. Isn’t that the premise? Community falls in a similar vein.

Two other words I found interesting: can and new. Can is very much in keeping with the spirit of enterprise 2.0. Companies continue along the adoption curve, but there’s lot of opportunity out there. So emphasizing what you can do is in keeping with the state of the market. New has a similar vibe. The sector is continually iterating and innovating. Web 2.0 moves fast, and vendors have to be nimble to keep up.

Finally, note that Microsoft and SharePoint show up in the Wordle, but not Oracle, SAP or IBM. In terms of incumbent corporate software, Microsoft is the most pervasive and has enterprise 2.0 aspects with the collaborative features of its SharePoint application. As InformationWeek notes:

SharePoint dominates collaboration.

Companies’ use of SharePoint and the importance of Microsoft to the enterprise ecosystem is seen in the Wordle.

There are probably other interesting things to be gleaned from this Wordle. What do you see?

I’m @bhc3 on Twitter.