Category Archives: blog

idiomag – a missed opportunity

Idiomag’s value proposition is great: A daily personalized music magazine. Unfortunately they take it too literally.

I signed up in January 2007 and have been to the site only about 10 times since, typically as a result of an email notification that new content is available. These notifications seem to come in spurts. Sometimes I get one every day for a few days in a row. And then nothing for weeks.

2 days ago I received an email that promised new content on Dinosaur jr, Jeff Buckley, Radiohead, Nada Surf. Awesome! I click through but can’t find any of this content. Instead I find Hot Hot Heat and a History Channel ad. Yesterday the email promised Radiohead, Nada Surf, Weezer, Kasabian. Again, the content of the “magazine” didn’t match. We Are Scientists just isn’t Radiohead. And I couldn’t figure out how I would get to the content I came for.

The idea is great but the execution sucks. The virtual magazine does indeed look like a real magazine (except for the videos). Nice layout, glossy look and you can even flip the pages, all done in Flash. Unfortunately this interaction model doesn’t really work on the Web.

How to fix it

Idiomag has good content but makes it really hard to access and share. They have built in sharing functionality but it’s really hard to discover. They will have to drop the magazine-style if they want to become successful.

I would publish the same content (including all the meta data/tags) in an invisible blog. Expose the main genres as their own page/blog (basically a tag search on the main blog). The same recommendation/matching engine can still act in the back and produce a customized main page based on tags and meta data. Users would still have their personalized content but in a form that is easier to consume. I could then subscribe to my personalized RSS feed and go check out the full rich-media blog whenever I feel like it. Enable comments and ratings and even suggest new things based on what similar users find interesting. And all of a sudden sharing is easy through simple linking.

But what about the widgets

Idiomag is available as widget for an impressive amount of sites. I just added the one for Facebook and suddenly I do see Dinosaur jr, Nada Surf and Hard Fi. At least a partial match. However it doesn’t seem to play very nicely with the new Facebook design. Widgets are great for distribution but Idiomag has to fix their main site first. And please make the edit Interests easier too. Thanks.

Dear Mashable – slow down please!

Mashable is one of the most comprehensive blogs covering web startups and technology. It’s written by a group of authors and they’re on a roll. I can barely keep up reading the posts at the pace they publish. The sheer volume of posts has actually made me consider unsubscribing as a few other blogs cover similar topics (Read/WriteWeb, Valleywag, Techcrunch). The quality of the content has kept me subscribed so far. The posts are well written and contain critical analysis.

Interestingly enough I don’t know who’s behind Mashable. This might be mainly due to the fact that I’m reading it in a feed reader where the author is not displayed anywhere. It’s not hard to find out who’s writing it, I just never bothered. The blog itself is important not the individual contributors, similarly to a newspaper. Compare this to Seth Godin or Doc Searls where the person takes the center stage. Can you build your personal brand as a contributor to a group blog?

Back to the blogs mentioned above: I unsubscribed from Techcrunch a while ago. Too much hype, not enough analysis. Plus the arrogant writing style annoyed me. Valleywag has gotten pretty good in terms of analysis and seeing through the hype. Plus it’s funny from time to time. Staying subscribed. Read/WriteWeb is more narrowly focused on the web compared to Mashable. There is a pretty big overlap between the two though. I go from planning to unsubscribe from Read/WriteWeb (Mashable is covering the same topics and more) to planning to unsubscribe from Mashable (Read/WriteWeb covers the essential). It’s interesting to have two point of views and resulting analysis on the same topic though. Staying subscribed to both for the time being.

I stumbled over a draft post on my feed reading habits from about a year ago. My list of subscriptions has changed significantly since then. I’ve unsubscribed from various blogs that didn’t add value. Most of them are probably still around but I stopped reading them. I do consider a few still must reads though namely gapingvoid and Seth Godin. I find both inspiring.

Bloggers on the Move

While Scoble “had a wonderful day in Basel yesterday” (that’s where I’m from in Switzerland*) zefrank is hanging out in San Francisco (that’s where I’m right now*). He doesn’t let us know what he’s up to but his take on the Silicon Valley and SF are amusing.

And Overstated has started a discussion about neighborhood equivalents between SF and New York (where I’ll be next weekend).

Yes, I’m fully aware that my last post was 4 weeks ago and already about zefrank. What can I say? Busy and stuff…

Note to self: Write more interesting stuff again!

* At least close to it.

Metroblogging San Francisco is Not Alone

I’ve been reading Metroblogging San Francisco for quite a while. They have short (I like short) posts about local events, sometimes funny, sometimes informative, sometimes both.

And they just announced their 50th blog, Metroblogging Graz. Now I had no clue that there is more than the one I’m reading (let alone 50). And I didn’t know that they’re also covering Europe. I went to look at the full list of cities immediately! But no, Switzerland is nowhere on the list :( . C’mon guys!

Cutting Down On Feeds – Getting My Time Back

I read all my feeds in the new Yahoo! Mail. I’ve been cutting down on feeds over the last few weeks. I’m down to 55 from about 100. Still too many I guess… I’ve seen other people doing the same around the same time. Is the quality declining? Or are we just subscribing to too many feeds?

I meant to keep a list of which feeds I unsubscribe and why but didn’t really see a lot of value in it. Here are the ones I unsubscribed today:

  • Download Squad and Download Squad: Yes, both feeds have the same name, one is for Google and one is for Yahoo!. They were more interesting in the Unoffical … Weblog days. And the Googleholic entries are really hard to read.
  • Coolz0r: He (can’t find his name on the site) does a good job at highlighting interesting ads and marketing. However ever since the hotlink protection, the feed doesn’t show images anymore in my feed reader. Clicking through, then clicking on the headline and then hitting F5 has become to tedious. See screenshot below.

Coolz0r feed in Yahoo! Mail's RSS Reader

Sorry guys, no offense intended…

Update: I just saw that coolz0r has been asking for feedback in case the above happens. I added a comment.

Busting That Cycle

Video blogger zefrank (the guy who never blinks) enjoys a lot of buzz. I checked out a few of his shows and never really got a kick out of them (expectations too high?) until I came across his show about Busting That Cycle. Hilarious and very inspiring at the same time (and a little nasty at the end).

Kevin Fox summarizes and gives some examples:

(…) by identifying the patterns you follow and deliberately departing from them you can gain new insights, new perspectives, and generally feel more alive.

When have you broken your last cycle? Or are you stuck in your life?

I’ve recently realized that planning to do stuff is not enough. Stop putting it off and do it! Today! You’ll be surprised how easy it was. And you’ll slap yourself for putting it off so long.

Who Reads Blog Comments?

Noah from asks: Why do people leave comments?

Makes me wonder who actually reads them… Is it only the blog owner and fellow commenters or does a wider audience read the comments?

I read blogs in an RSS reader and therefore never see comments. Is this representative for 10% of the readers? 80%?

The worst comments are the “great post dude”, “very insightful” and others that do not add any value. I think that’s one of the main reasons why I don’t read comments. Added value is too sparse.

In fact I get aggravated by pointless comments because I feel like someone is wasting my time. Same goes for the IE blog where there is usually a 2 line introduction of who writes the given post. I often find myself thinking “get out of my way and give me the content”. Feed reading is about sucking up as much information as possible in the most efficient way to me. Maybe because I’m subscribed to about 100 feeds.

So how does this fit in with “My readers are smarter than me”? (Picked up via Scoble but originally from Dan Gillmor I think.) Well, it probably doesn’t. But I don’t feel like I’m missing out too much. Or do I? Some bloggers update their posts with hints to insightful comments or even include quotes. This is much appreciated!

[Update] I was first writing this post in Noah’s comments. I think it adds more value to the conversation as a standalone entity. I made it its own blog entry where it becomes referable. The conversation (the essence of blogging) can happen on 2 levels: Within the comments on one blog or spanning multiple blogs and posts. Both come with a lot of noise but I prefer the second one.

Blogosphere in a Crisis?

It strikes me how many bloggers have announced recently that they’ll discontinue their blog: Dave Winer, Xooglers, Russell Beattie. Some of them have been blogging for years! At least Scoble took only a break and is back now.

Blogs have always been about conversations. But as they attract more readers, they also attract the idiots that are here to spoil the fun, sometimes even with personal attacks. Scoble has been pointing this out repeatedly and Russell has even turned off his comments a while ago. Well, geeks have never been an easy crowd.

Are we seeing a trend here? Are the old-timers getting frustrated with what the blogosphere has become? And if the old-timers give up, is the MySpace generation ready to pick it up? I’ve been mostly underwhelmed by the content I’ve seen on MySpace so far.

Keep it up guys. We need you! We appreciate the long hours and hard work that goes into quality content.

Are guest bloggers and ‘turning off comments’ signs for a blog’s nearing death?

Nobody Writes my Blog 2.0

It’s been almost 2 months since my first entry. Great, looks like I’m off to a perfect start! ;)

‘Nobody writes my blog 2.0′ (inspired by the fabulous gapingvoid ‘Nobody reads my blog 2.0‘ where I also borrowed the following picture from).
Nobody reads my blog 2.0

Usual excuses apply (including busy at work). But I also realized that I’m spending a lot of time reading feeds. Maybe I’m a consumer rather than a producer?

Joining the Discussion

After nearly 2 years of reading blogs and talking several friends into starting one… it’s finally my turn to join the discussion!

I’m now one of 26 million blogs (according to Technorati). Yay!

I have an opinion on pretty much everything and I usually do not hesitate to share it (much to the dismay of my co-workers). Who will be listening? Anyone? How long will it take until I start complaining “Nobody Reads my Blog” (by gapingvoid).