Thursday, July 29, 2004

Convention blog humor

Best line of the convention blogs: “I sure hope the Republicans or the terrorists don’t figure this system out.”

Second best line, from Jesse, answering how good Barack’s speech was: “It will be on rap albums next year, during the tracks that are trying to be socially conscious.”

Mobile updates to the blog

Yesterday was an interesting experiment on my blog, and a sign of what’s coming. While at the airport, I snapped this picture with my phone:

Using the phone’s MMS capabilities, I sent it to TextAmerica which both uploaded it to my photo blog, and, thanks to a little bit of code, also updated the image on my home page.

Calling in from that same phone to, I was able to record a couple audio updates from my car. Because AudioBlog integrates with MovableType, it was able to login to my blog and publish the posts automatically.

End result? I could update the audio and visual on my blog with nothing more than a cell phone.

Now it's official

AP – Republican Jack Ryan officially withdrew from the U.S. Senate race Thursday, nearly five weeks after a sex scandal forced him to abandon his candidacy. [Yahoo! News – Politics]

Campaign training for the DL21C

For anyone in the greater Chicago area, you might want to check out the DL21C’s campaign training scheduled for Saturday, August 7. I’ll be giving a session in the afternoon on political organizing, with an obvious focus on how to use the Internet effectively in campaigns and outreach efforts.

Socialtext in today's Wall Street Journal

On the front page of section B of today’s Wall Street Journal is an article about wikis, and prominently features what we’re doing at Socialtext. (If you subscribe to, you can read the article here.)

Enter the wiki, which has aims to revive the idea of the “writable Web,” which was how the medium itself was originally conceived by many of its earliest proponents. Using simple software, it allows anyone with Web access to post a page of information that is accessible to anyone else in the same group or organization. Others in the group can then modify, enhance or update it. To keep track of changes, old versions are retained. A wiki has been likened by some to a giant digital white board in a constant state of movement and creation.

… Indeed, the creation of communal fabric is one that a wiki revives, says Clay Shirky, an interactive telecommunications professor at New York University, who has written extensively about the beneficial uses of social software like wikis in the workplace. “It’s got to be a fluid, ongoing conversation to work,” he says, noting that too much emphasis on the Internet has been about attracting giant passive audiences to Web sites over which they have little control. “But suddenly, people are realizing that perhaps the most human value actually occurs in smaller groups.”

A Rising Tide Lifts All Blogs

OneMan notes that he’s seeing a lot more traffic this week; my daily traffic has more than doubled. Why? Simple: Barack. Whole lot of interest in that skinny guy with the funny name.

Wednesday, July 28, 2004

Jack Edwards...

That was pretty funny. John Edwards finished his speech, the family joins him, and Elizabeth is holding Jack. C-Span, sensing a special moment, zooms in. Jack’s face fills the screen.

It’s almost 11pm.

And parents around the country can clearly lip-read: “Mommy, I’m sleepy.”

They really are just like us!

Audioblog: Comments about Barack

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Audioblog: Comments on the convention (part 2)

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Audioblog: Comments on the convention (part 1)

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In Boston...

Attended the 11am Democratic GAIN training session with Joe Trippi. I took a ton of notes (long-hand; go figure) and will get them on the blog as soon as I can (meeting Mat Gross, Atrios and Matt Stoller for lunch in a sec, and yes, I’m name-dropping). But I will share the end of the session: Joe was talking about how last night, the bookends of his presidential career were on stage on the same night: Ted Kennedy, talking on some of the same things that inspired Joe to help Ted out in 1979. And Howard Dean, who pulled Joe out of political retirement to lead a most improbable run for the White House.

Joe got choked up as he said, “And it’s coming full circle. The 22 year-olds, who Howard inspired…” his voice trailed off, he wiped tears from his face.

The crowd (about 75 people, mostly delegates and campaign staff from various campaigns around the country) rose, as one, in a standing ovation.

It was one of the most incredible, unscripted, and sincere moments I’ve witnessed since getting involved in the Dean campaign. Truly special.

Tuesday, July 27, 2004

Barack Obama Keynote Address

The speech rocked. Is there any question that Barack is a future president? The Obama site is collapsing under the traffic – 335 hits per second. Some instant reactions:

  • Pandagon: “He entered this a star, he’s leaving a Clinton.”

  • Kos: “Brilliant. Awesome.”

  • DNC Kicking Ass blog: “One of the most powerful speeches I’ve ever heard.”

  • The Left Coaster: Quoting David Brooks, “It was like watching Tiger Woods play golf.” To which TLC replies, “A double eagle – using only his putter.”

  • Jason Gallo: “Barack Obama is a force to be reckoned with.”

More later. Here’s hoping the crushing traffic lets up a bit so people can start leaving comments. (And we’d even set the blog up with Akamai to handle the expected spike…)

Time together

Adina quotes Pete Kaminski, a co-worker of ours (note that I’ve not met Pete nor Adina, and we live in three different states): “Time together is too important to spend working.” I love it.

Mat Gross and the man behind the curtain

Mat gross makes the point that, while we just posted a few paragraphs of Barack’s Keynote Address on the Obama blog, journalists already have the full text of the speech.

Wonder who will post it first.

Update: Bloggers exercised restraint; it wasn’t online before the speech. If you’re interested, you can read the whole thing here.

Ann Coulter on the Convention

Ann Coulter was hired by USA Today to cover the convention, then fired after filing this report.

The comments from USA Today are pretty funny.

Monday, July 26, 2004

Toned Dean and Gore down, but they forgot to tell Carter

(Note: Finding links to people who have good things to say about the speeches being made at the convention is pretty easy. So I’m going to periodically try to find those who take issue with the presenters say.)

Gore reportedly needed to revise his speech, and rumors are that Dean’s been told to keep his screams to a politely raised voice.

Someone forgot to tell Jimmy Carter. Carter’s speech was shockingly partisan. This is a guy who, the video intro helpfully reminded us won a Nobel peace prize. (Full text of the speech is here.)

Not surprisingly, the Republicans have a few words on this:

Jonah Goldberg is all over it: “Jimmy Carter just gave an astoundlingly nasty anti-Bush speech.”

Mitch Webber thinks Carter missed a few salient points in the speech, and says Carter’s “an asshole.”

And Power Line recalls a Boston Globe headline from years past: “More mush from the wimp.”

South End Grounds reports that around the same time as Carter was speaking, “Mr. Pot called Mr. Kettle black.”

Gore's speech

Jerome has a copy of Gore’s speech.

NinjaStu wires the convention

Also enjoying reading NinjaStu and his efforts to keep the Net up and running at the Fleet.


ConventionBloggers is an outstanding site, aggregating the posts of the various bloggers at the convention. Some of my favorite observations from today:

  • Dave Winer and Weinberger telling us how dull and boring it is. (So far.)

  • Googling the speakers to find out who they are.

  • Mat Gross explaining why the blogger coverage is so light.

(In case you’re interested, the ConventionBloggers site updates every 10 minutes.)

Joking aside, Pandagon has got great coverage so far. And be sure not to miss the tips for how to spot Ann Coulter in the Fleet Center. (USA Today has hired both Ann Coulter and Michael Moore. Go figure.)

Saturday, July 24, 2004

As Ohio goes, so goes the nation

Welcome to the latest advertiser here at tins, Make Ohio Blue. (Not excited? Well, the individual behind MakeOhioBlue is none other than… Jerry Springer!)

MakeOhioBlue is:

a place to meet up with likeminded people, blog, get the latest Ohio poll data, read developing stories, even share an occasional much-needed laugh. Make Ohio Blue can be your personal clipping service – free of charge – of important news in Ohio politics.

On a related note, Slate is previewing the various swing states this year, and just published their analysis of what may happen in Ohio, and what that means for Jerry Springer. (No, really.)

Friday, July 23, 2004

Change in plans re: convention

Sorry to report that my convention plans are being downsized a bit. Originally was planning on being in Boston for the duration, but something’s come up and I’ll only be able to make it out for Wednesday (when I’m speaking on a panel with Kos and Aldon.)

If you’re looking for good blog coverage, be sure to visit Convention Bloggers, Technorati Politics and BlogPolitics.

I’m most disappointed about missing the blogger breakfast on Monday (just heard a very interesting rumor about a VIP surprise guest) and the blogger bash Wednesday night which I won’t be able to stay for.

That said, I’ll enjoy reading others’ accounts of what they’re seeing and hearing, and will relay what I can that I find of interest.

Barack Obama on Meet the Press and Face the Nation

Whoa. Talk about big-time: Barack will be on Face the Nation on CBS and Meet the Press on NBC (find your local broadcast here).

He’s giving the keynote address at the convention Tuesday night.

And did you catch the open thread we did this week over at the Obama blog? More than 300 people left suggestions for what they want to see in the keynote. Barack listened, and was even caught reading the blog:


And help Karl too

Carl with a K (get it? His name is actually Karl) is also competing to be one of the majority makers, and points out in the comments that though he doesn’t want to be competing against his good friend Josh, he really wants to go to Boston.

I got to meet Karl when I was in Burlington last year, and he’s a funny SOB. I’m fairly confident that if we send Karl to Boston, we’ll be reading about it. (As likely as not, in Wonkette.) So get your money’s worth and send the DCCC a few bucks on Karl’s behalf too.

Help send Josh to Boston

Josh Aranovitch, a local Dean supporter who’s now helping out Christine Cegelis and is quite active locally, is close to being one of the top 5 “Majority Makers” over at the DCCC. Help him out by throwing a few bucks to the DCCC, and he can win a trip to the convention.

Good luck Josh!

Thursday, July 22, 2004

NFL doesn't want me to use TiVo

Today’s Washington Post carries a jaw-dropping article about TiVo’s latest fight [via waxy]. Tivo ToGo was announced at CES in January of this year, with a planned Fall release, but if the Movie Industry and the NFL get their way, it will never see the light of day.

This really pisses me off. I thought I’d seen just how clueless the NFL is when it comes to “customer service”, but apparently I hadn’t even begun to see how low they’d stoop. Now they want to tell me how I can (and, more importantly, can’t) watch their programming? I was excited when Tivo to Go was announced. If NFL has their way, I’m through. I’ll cancel my Sunday Ticket subscription.

Want to talk to someone at the NFL about this? Call (212) 450-2000 and ask to speak with Peter Brickman, senior director of operations and technology for the NFL. (That’s who I left a voicemail with, I’ll let you know if I hear back.)

(Don’t bother calling DirecTV to complain — according to their customer service rep, “We don’t have no contact numbers for nobody at the NFL.”)

Update: Peter called back and was very gracious. Good news and bad news: the good news is that the problem I had last year with NFL Sunday Ticket is now resolved, and I’ll be able to watch the games that I want. (I may have to jump channels to do it, but I’ll get the ones I want.) Bad news: Peter doesn’t believe TiVo has appropriately addressed the encryption issue, and said unequivocally “Keys can be cloned, broken or otherwise compromised. And our IP would be available without any controls.” He said that TiVo to Go is most definitely off the table for this season, but there could always be developments that could affect future seasons.

Bottom line: I understand NFL’s concern about its product. But guess what? I pay them for their product. And I pay DirecTV. And TiVo. At what point have I paid enough people for the privilege of watching right to watch it when I want it?

Audio Moblog

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What if lawyers became programmers?

Jeff Jarvis predicts, “In the next generation, I think people will learn programming instead [of law] — and that will have a subtle but deep effect on society.”

Jeff’s absolutely right. I’m one of the non-lawyers Jeff talks about; I have a degree, but have not practiced a day in my life. I absolutely loved the discipline I learned in law school, and not a day goes by that I don’t use the background in some way, shape or form.

There’s no question that many see lawyers’ role as Jeff does: risk-averse, contingency-writing, ambiguity-eliminating debate whores.

But I (and, I suspect, many others who got the degree but don’t practice) took a different lesson away from our training: the ability to see two sides to every story, the ability to boil arguments down to their foundations, build them back up with clarity, and then identify strengths and weaknesses in both. I left law school convinced of a few things: black and white scenarios are rare, and grey is where the action is. Unintended consequences are common (and, unless you’re a thrill-seeker, to be avoided by thinking through what you’re doing). Perhaps most importantly, thought and creativity will be rewarded with non-obvious (but often elegant) conclusions.

Now — if Jeff is right and the trend heads towards programming, I suspect that some of those same traits will persist. There’s more than one answer to the problem (i.e., there’s more than one way to code a problem in response to a need), improper QA can lead to disastrous results, and programmers who are creative often come up with elegant and brilliant answers.

Jeff says this of lawyers (and, by extension, what it means for a society of lawyers):

Lawyers are necessarily a suspicious breed. They live by rules. They think in terms of us vs. them. They think contention. They argue for sport. They always think they can appeal to a higher authority. They aim for victory. They are patient.

Now many of these claims could be made of programmers too. But I think the more important point is the underlying goal of law: to maintain the status quo, to be predictable. Programming, on the other hand, is built on a culture of innovation — not knowing what will happen is an intuitive challenge to figure out (and/or shape) what happens next. Programmers embrace the unknown.

Jeff concludes by saying this about programmers:

Programmers are logical. They believe in cause and effect. They believe any problem can be solved if you just find the cause. When they do battle, it’s with a mistake, not a person. They live in the details. They believe in openness and transparency. They also believe in following rules but the rules of reality — what a machine can and can’t do — over the rules man made up. They believe in planning. They, too, are patient. What else?

For me, it’s all about transparency. If Jeff’s right (and I’d like to think he is), then the biggest difference will be a shift from the old-boy’s guild that the legal profession maintains to the open source model that encourages disclosure, rewards iteration, and hides nothing.

Wednesday, July 21, 2004

The biggest hack ever

Was listening to WBBM tonight while heading over the gas station to fill up the minivan in anticipation of our drive out east (me for the convention, Robin and the kids for family visits). They reported on the Acxiom hack, and the woman reporting the story gravely intoned, “It’s believed to be the largest hack of customer data ever, more than 6 billion bytes. But company officials believe no customer data was misused.”

In other words, WBBM claims that a hack less than half the size of the current iPods is the largest hack ever?

In this article which TechDirt points to, they provide a bit more detail: it’s actually 8.2 gigs of data, which a Florida businessman allegedly accessed 139 times.

“It may be the biggest cyber-crime ever prosecuted and investigated,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Sandra Cherry said during a news conference at the U.S. Attorney’s Little Rock office.

Call me old-fashioned, but wouldn’t RTM’s or Kevin Mitnick’s cases rank higher than one guy accessing 8 gigs of data? I mean, RTM took down the Net., fer crissakes. Think maybe Assistant US Attorney Cherry is, say, exaggerating a bit?

Technorati and CNN

Sifry’s Alerts
Technorati and CNN

A few minutes ago CNN announced that Technorati will be providing real-time analysis of the political blogosphere at next week’s Democratic National Convention. I will be on-site in CNN’s convention broadcast center, along with Mary Hodder, and I’ll be providing regular on-air commentary on what bloggers are saying about politics and the convention. And on Sunday, July 25, we’ll launch a new section of our site for political coverage: This site will make it easy for bloggers, journalists, and anyone interested in politics to see the postings of the most linked-to political bloggers, to track the ideas with the fastest-growing buzz, and to monitor conversations in thousands of other political blogs. will link to this site, and we’ll be updating the CNN site with the latest from the blogosphere.

Great news for us at Technorati and hats-off to CNN for taking this leap. Hopefully this will help people view blogging as a more “legitimate” source of news.

It’s interesting to note that it was CNN which broke the big 3 TV network monopoly on news editorial by feeding local TV the raw video feeds, allowing them to edit the news themselves. Similarly, CNN providing bloggers the ability to reach the public directly may have an impact on the way media edits their news.

Obviously, incentive to just be faster, isn’t better. I think we’re going to get a chance to see whether Technorati authority management and the ability for blogs to fact check and manage news will be able to provide viewers of CNN with additional insight.

UPDATE: Here’s the press release from CNN. [Joi Ito’s Web]

Tuesday, July 20, 2004

Joe Trippi book signing

Just got back from Chicago, where I got to see Joe Trippi speak about his book, The Revolution Will Not Be Televised. Rumor had it I’m actually mentioned in the book, and sure enough, there I am. Twice, even!

I drove Joe to the airport after the book signing, figured it would be a good chance to get caught up. I asked him about this week’s US News piece, which seemed to be quite the platform for some score-settling. Joe was predictably disappointed, but his support of Governor Dean and the campaign in spite of the USN&WR article was impressive. When asked about the campaign, Joe pointed out, “In 30 years in politics, I’ve rarely seen a politician look at a poll where 80 percent of the people were for one position and 20 were for another, and pick the position with the 20 percent. Governor Dean spoke up early and passionately about the war, and gave the party life again. It took guts, and I gave the campaign everything I had because I believed in him.”

For the record, I found the USN&WR account of Kerry’s salvaging of Iowa to be remarkable. It echoes what I’ve observed before — that Kerry’s organization was stronger than anyone gave them credit for — and speaks quite highly of strategy and discipline. (Anyone else intrigued by the appearance of the secrecy and discipline theme showing up in another high profile piece on Kerry? This time it’s about his Iowa guy, Whouley — but the whole VP selection process focused heavily on the secrecy and discipline as well. Wonder what that’s all about?) As for the comments on the Dean campaign? Like with other debriefs, I think it’s best to take these not as fact but as one person/group’s representation of what happened. No doubt there’s elements of truth in each of the debriefs, but I think the agenda apparent in the USN&WR piece is obvious enough.

As I said to Joe tonight, personal attacks aside, one thing the USN&WR article did was lay to rest, once and for all, the canard that the Internet killed the Dean campaign. Compare and contrast Maslin’s Atlantic piece with Simon’s own piece in the USN&WR, and I think plenty of answers bubble to the surface. For what it’s worth, the fact that we’re talking about the Dean campaign’s demise at all is testament to the miracle of the campaign in the first place. Much of that miracle (the money, the people) is a direct result of the Internet strategies employed by the campaign.

I admire Joe for what he built, and I can’t wait to see what he does next. Oh — and if you’re in St. Paul tomorrow night and his flight got in OK tonight, then be sure to stop by the book signing at Ruminator Books at 7:30.

ArchPundit wants to do a book club

Arch Pundit suggests of Trippi’s new book:

Hey, maybe Klau, The Cross guys, Hiram and I should have a book club on this one? What do you guys thing? Anyone would be invited, but all of us have differing levels of using blogs for campaigns.

This is a great idea. I’m game.

(Speaking of which, Joe’s in town tonight at a book signing at a Barnes and Noble; I’m going to try and make it in to say hi. Will let you know how it goes.)

SBC touting net over TV for convention

Will Cox catches an interesting marketing note from an internal SBC mailing:

[T]he best coverage of the upcoming political conventions will be on the Internet. Most TV networks will offer only brief highlights; to follow all the action, customers will turn to the Web and they’ll want a fast connection for smooth video transmission.

Sounds about right.

Monday, July 19, 2004

KM - individual vs. organizational

Jeff Beard, aka LawTech Guru, has an interesting post today about KM. In KM Thought of the Day he argues that KM should shift its focus to individual effort in place of institutional effort. I disagree.

… If I were a client, I would not be happy retaining a large law firm if I could not benefit, at least indirectly, from the know-how of the partners and associates of those lawyers with whom I happened to be working directly. Furthermore, if I were a lawyer at a large law firm, I would not be happy if I could not tap into the expertise of my colleagues. [Strategic Legal Technology]

I’ve been meaning to blog this thread for a while; it’s a conversation that’s very much worth having. I used to be in the business of selling software to organizations, and by its nature that software addressed problems that were institutional in nature. Consequently, it was quite common to sell to the organization, and to sell to the entire organization.

But now I’m at Socialtext, and our strategy is to look at the problems faced by the individuals within the organization, not the organization as a whole. We tend to focus individually, and let the value proposition bubble up from there. It’s a model that’s increasingly finding favor, as enterprise software sales continue to lag the tech industry’s resurgence.

One of the underlying tenets of the social software concept is that you’re more willing to share with people you know. (The more you share, the more people you’re likely to know… and on, and on…) I think it’s impossible to solve the institutional need (large-scale knowledge sharing across individuals and teams) unless you address the individual need.

Case in point? Jeff pointed to comments by Dennis and Thomas Collins. Thomas was commenting on a post from Jack, who himself had pointed to Martin. Martin’s comment that started this whole thread:

You can’t manage knowledge. If you are an organisation.
You can manage knowledge. If you are an individual.

Look at that list above. Six people (seven, if you now count my comments). All of us seeking not to solve an institutional problem, but trying to flesh out our thoughts on KM. Each of us teased out a variation on the theme, and added our own comments and perspectives. Now we all have a greater appreciation for the thread and a richer understanding of what we all know, as well as what the dissenting views are.

Now — we don’t all work for the same corporation (what a company that would be!). But if this were internally focused (like, say a Socialtext Workspace) then the very real possibility exists that not only would we be individually smarter, but we’d be smarter as an organization as well. And we’d have arrived at that point not by trying to solve an organizational problem, but by empowering individuals within the organization to speak up.

DuPage County blogger Hiram Wurf gets press

From today’s Courier News, a great article about Hiram Wurf’s weblog:

It couldn’t be easier to find out what DuPage County Board candidate Hiram Wurf is thinking.

Since March, the Naperville Democrat has maintained a running commentary on local, state and national politics at his Web site,, making him one of the few people seeking office at the local level to maintain what’s known as a blog — essentially a regularly updated online journal that is typically the work of a single contributor.

Hiram is a great friend of mine, and as a result of his work on the Dean campaign, was inspired to run for local office. I helped him get his blog set up, and in the past four months he’s been on a tear. Nathaniel Zimmer really gets why Hiram’s efforts (and, by extension, those of other candidates trying to connect with voters) are important: never before have candidates had such a great opportunity to let people know who they are. Says Hiram, “If you’re not willing to be open with the people you’re trying to communicate with, then you lose a lot of what blogging is about. I want (the public) to understand what I’m about.”

Congrats to Hiram for the good coverage, and kudos to Zimmer for a solid article.

This coverage is a stark contrast to the weak article in this weekend’s Chicago Tribune, which has the word “fundraising” in the title but somehow fails to mention how much money a single blog has raised. If you combined Kos and Atrios, they’d be tied with GOPAC in dollars raised (about $700k). And this quote was priceless:

“If you give an outsized voice to people who are political junkies, that may distort the process sometimes,” said Seth Merritt, a Web strategist at Issue Dynamics, a Washington-based consulting group.

Yeah, I hate it when people speak up. Much easier for the process to run its course when we have fewer people to listen to. But this is presumably a position Hiram’s opponent would agree with:

“I don’t know where he stands on the issues and I have not looked at his Web site,” [Wurf’s opponent] Schroeder said. “I’m not a Web site kind of guy.”

When told about the site, Schroeder called it “an interesting modern gambit.”

Thursday, July 15, 2004

Does John Kerry really want the job?

So John Kerry is in LinkedIn, and amazingly enough he’s just two links away from me. (And you thought I wasn’t connected.)

He’s already listed as the Democratic Presidential Nominee? Kucinich is still running, right?

More interesting, though, was this at the bottom of his listing:


He’s “considering full- or part-time job opportunities”? He’s interested in “projects taking place in Washington D.C. Metro Area, as well as via phone/email”? Where’s the commitment? The dedication? He’s willing to just phone it in?

Wow. The wingers will have a field day with this.

(Yes, I’m kidding.)

Monday, July 12, 2004

Jonathan Kreiss-Tomkins, famous houseguest

Those of you who followed the Dean campaign may remember Jonathan K-T, one of the campaign’s most accomplished networkers. He recruited hundreds of people to join the campaign, he helped campaign staff in Burlington on dozens of tech projects, and he generated a tremendous amount of enthusiasm for the campaign. Oh — and he did all of this while living in Alaska and being 14 years old.

I’m looking forward to meeting Jonathan, who rolls into town tomorrow and will be spending the night with us here in Naperville before turning back around and heading out to DC. Jonathan’s fresh from spending a few nights at the Hynes house, where he got to attend a fundraiser for Kim attended by none other than… Howard Dean.

Friday, July 9, 2004

Get more out of your blog

A number of people have asked for tips on how to get the most out of their weblogs. I’ve written on some topics before, but figured I’d gather my suggestions into one place, and post them here. Note: these tips presume a fair level of technical ability on your part. If this sounds like it’s over your head, then get one of your techie buddies to help you out — my own experience suggests that if you implement these approaches, you will see your visibility, traffic and Google PageRank go up (potentially significantly).

  • Publish posts individually. Some blogs give you the option of publishing multiple posts per page (Radio, for example, defaults to publishing posts by day, so multiple posts on the same day show up on the same day’s page. Movable Type offers this as an option.) Publishing posts individually will give you more pages on your site, will make it easier to link to your posts, and will increase your page views. Google’s PageRank is influenced by the number of pages on your site, so it makes sense that the more pages on your site, the more likely that your site can see an increased PageRank. (The higher your PageRank, the more likely you are to show up high in Google search results.)
  • Create a naming convention for your individual pages. It’s strange to me that Movable Type uses incremental numbers as its default file-naming convention. Who could possibly look at and understand what it points to? I implemented Mark Pilgrim’s cruft-free URLs suggestions, which publishes each post to a file that uses the words from the post title (so this post is published at /archives/2004/07/09/get_more_out_of_your_blog.php). More than anything else, creating a naming convention that’s predictable will make transitioning to another weblog application painless. (Blogger has no way of knowing Movable Type’s numbering convention, but Blogger can understand publishing to a /year/month/day/name convention.) As a result, when you convert to a new weblog platform, your transition will be seamless to your visitors. (I’m on my third weblog application.)
  • Use words in your page name. Google gives more weight to words in a page name than words on a page. If someone searches Google for “get more out of your blog”, the fact that this post is published to a file named “get_more_out_of_your_blog” will increase the likelihood that Google will point to my post. Reading Mark Pilgrim’s “cruft-free URLs” above will tell you how to do this in Movable Type; other systems (like TypePad and Blogger) do this by default. Not only does the increased visibility to Google help increase your site’s traffic, it will make post-publication editing much easier. (Have you ever stared at a directory with 1000 files in it and tried to figure out which file you wanted? “Hmm… is it 004257.html or 004258.html? No wait. Maybe it was 004527.html.”)
  • Include comments and trackbacks on your posts. With all due respect to Dennis Kennedy, I disagree that the answer to comment spam is to turn them off. Letting people comment on my site increases the likelihood that they’ll stop by from time to time. (Not all of my readers have blogs — by a long shot, so just telling them to write their comments on their own blogs is not a good answer.) Not only does this increase your traffic, but you also share your own visibility with those who take time out to write. This is good karma, and it’s part of how the blogosphere should work.
  • Publish full RSS feeds of your site. Nothing frustrates me more than a blog that doesn’t give me a full feed. I’m not as vigilant as Scoble on this point, but I’m getting there. My reasons for full RSS feeds differ a bit than Scoble’s: while I’m mildly annoyed when I can’t read the entire post in my aggregator, I’m more annoyed by the information lost in an excerpt. I can’t see who you’re linking to, I can’t see any relationships between posts among various RSS feeds. (For more on this, read my post on Threaded RSS and how full-text feeds dramatically increase my ability to see conversations among and across blogs.) For those who are worried about the need for RSS measurement (Jeff Jarvis has long posted on this requirement), then start using FeedBurner and you’ll get everything you need.

Implementing these tips will yield some tangible results: your Google PageRank will increase, which will increase the amount of traffic to your site from Google. Overall readership will increase, as more people will subscribe to your feeds and services like Feedster and Technorati will index your content and send readers to you.

Did I miss a tip? Leave it in the comments. Good luck!

Global Guerillas

Want to better understand what’s going on in Iraq, Afghanistan, and the “war on terror”? Forget about the conventional press: John Robb’s Global Guerillas blog is in a league of its own. John, a former tech CEO, tech analyst, and oh yeah, special ops pilot for the Air Force, is working on a book about the “intersection of terrorism, infrastructure, and markets.”

When you put political partisanship off to one side, you need to better understand the root causes of what’s going on and why. To simply write off Bin Laden as “evil” ignores the more unsettling reality that there may be a method to his madness. To avoid asking the difficult questions about why insurgents in Iraq were able to build a patchwork of resistance to coalition forces is to invite the possibility that it’ll happen again.

I have John to thank for getting me into blogging in the first place: nearly three years ago, he patiently explained to me what a blog was and helped me get started on this blog journey. (More about that here in an article I wrote for the ABA about blogs; interesting sidenote: whereas then I got 5-10 visitors from Google per day. Today I get 150-200 per day from Google.) It’s been cool to see him transition from his perch as a tech CEO and apply his various skills to an area that could really use some intelligence and analysis instead of simple fear-mongering.

Thursday, July 8, 2004

Private jailers in Afghanistan

Josh Marshall: “It just seems like someone must have been paying this guy to do something, unless it’s like a blog where you just set up shop and figure that someday a revenue stream might turn up.”

Going to the convention

I’m working on a few specifics, but I’m happy to report that I’ll be attending the Democratic Convention in a few weeks. I’ve been invited to speak on a panel with Kos and Aldon Hynes — the focus of the panel is “How Blogs Help Campaigns and How Campaigns Can Best Use the Blogosphere,” and is part of the campaign training given to campaigns, consultants, and activists during the convention.

I wasn’t originally planning to attend the convention, but now will obviously be going. If anyone can help me get a convention pass or other credential so I can take advantage of my time there, I’d greatly appreciate it.

New advertiser - Christine Cegelis

Welcome to a new advertiser, Christine Cegelis. I’ve known Christine since last year, and have been impressed with her candidacy. (A first-time candidate, she’s received endorsements from NOW, AFL-CIO, Howard Dean and many others.) She’s now rolling out an ad campaign on a number of blogs to raise her profile ahead of the convention.

For any who are interested, Christine is running against Henry Hyde. That alone ought to be reason enough to send her a few bucks. After you’ve made a modest contribution, check out her blog where the campaign provides periodic updates to discuss what they’re up to.

Thanks to Christine and Pat Mogge, her campaign manager, for giving this experiment a shot.

Tuesday, July 6, 2004

Joe Trippi's new book is out

Joe Trippi’s new book is out today: The Revolution Will Not Be Televised : Democracy, the Internet, and the Overthrow of Everything. I have a copy on the way, will report back once I get a chance to read it. His forward is online at MSNBC.

It's Edwards

John Kerry has picked John Edwards. Not the out-of-the-blue pick I was predicting last night. But I think this is a solid choice — certainly more attractive to the base than Gephardt.

And ultimately, I think it’s this report from Will Saletan in Slate this spring that suggests why Edwards may be the most potent running mate. Edwards’ appeal among independents and Republicans is higher than among any of the other primary candidates.

Monday, July 5, 2004

On Kerry's selection

I’m keeping an eye on my inbox — Joe Trippi correctly pointed out that if the Kerry campaign hopes to e-mail 1m+ people with word of his announcement, they’ll have to start sending those e-mails in a few minutes if they hope to have them all distributed by early tomorrow morning.

As for who he’ll pick, I mentioned in my last post that my money is on the out-of-the-blue pick (while I named Bill Bradley, it could just as easily be any of a number of other individuals — how about Al Gore?!).

If Kerry manages to make a selection that nobody saw coming, if he manages to make the most public of decisions completely in private — well, that will show discipline that’s been lacking from Democratic campaigns in years past. It will show leadership — that he’s capable of a bold stroke that shows creativity, resolve, self-confidence.

And picking someone that seems a bit of a curve is just good news cycle management. Kerry’s already enjoying a bounce — but I think there’s room for this bubble to grow. An out-of-the-blue running mate becomes its own meta-story: the press will want to report on how they missed it, how Kerry went through the process, and the Kerry campaign will slowly leak details of the dead-of-night meetings, the head-fakes, etc. over the last month — leading to even more coverage. And that doesn’t even take into account coverage of the running mate himself (herself?).

Nicest random piece of intel you don’t hear about on the traditional news nets? Hair Force One is getting repainted in Pittsburgh as we speak.

Who's it gonna be?

Tons of rumors flying that Gephardt’s a lock, and plenty of responses, with Kos weighing in with a somewhat surprising defense of Gep.

Personally? The thought of Gephardt as VP leaves me seriously underwhelmed. (I’ll be equally underwhelmed if Wonkette’s right and it’s Graham, but then at least we’d have quite the campaign blog to look forward to.) So perhaps it’s wishful thinking that I’m predicting that tomorrow’s announcement will be out of left field. Much has been made of the fact that Kerry’s had face to face meetings with Gephardt, Vilsack, and Edwards in the past week, and that they’ll all be with him tomorrow.

I think those three are the nucleus of his cabinet. I think the VP nominee is a name we haven’t seen talked about in the press much. Maybe Bill Bradley?

We’ll know in less than 12 hours…

Thursday, July 1, 2004

GOP Marketplace head Allen Raymond pleads guilty to phone jamming

Early last year, Josh Marshall was on top of the allegations of phone jamming in tight races in 2002. At least one shoe has fallen: The AP is reporting that the former GOP Marketplace president Allen Raymond plead guilty today to deliberately jamming Democratic phone lines in New Hampshire in an effort to stifle voter turnout and frustrate election day telephone calls from Democratic offices.

I can’t find any updates regarding the NJ indictment Josh refers to, nor are there any mentions of Raymond and/or GOP Marketplace after February, 2003. Seems to have kept a low profile.

Raymond will be sentenced in November.