And indeed, “Homeland”, just the term, is worrying. And that’s after they changed that logo. “Because we don’t learn much about European history, the setting up of a
department of “homeland” security – remember who else was keen on the
word “homeland” – didn’t raise the alarm bells it might have.”

Admit it: parallels with fascism in today’s America are strong. It may be hard to notice over a latte in Sanfran, discussing Facebook or something, but come in fresh from the outside, and it’s all there. Not that the US is fascist or totalitarian, but edging in that general direction? Yep. And that’s a big deal.

In Europe, the memory of WW2 is still strong. In the US, I don’t get that feeling. “First they came for the Jews.” Most Americans don’t understand yet
that the destruction of the rule of law at Guantánamo set a dangerous
precedent for them, too.”

What is the next podcast brand?

With Odeo sold to Sonic mountain, the Yahoo podcast ghost town being closed, Podshow financially unviable (I believe so anyway, they raised way too much money and executed poorly), there’s no strong brand in podcasting – except for iTunes. And iTunes doesn’t really care about podcasting. Which means there’s an opportunity there. The podcast format is still brilliant, and there are millions of unserved users out there (it’s still not easy to make or find podcasts).

I was thinking what shape a successful podcast service could take. Creating podcasts still sucks, so that could be part of it. Finding them as well. I’m not sure if you’d need to go in the hardware business – it’s possible.

Users rate some sites consistently slow and other sites consistently fast. For example, is rated slow. But when looking at the data, the sites that were rated slow weren’t all really slow. Amazon is rated as fast, and it isn’t really that fast (fast enough, but not crazy fast). So why do users feel some sites are slow or fast? ( loaded faster than in the test, yet was perceived as very slow.)

This is exactly the kind of stuff that makes me like Jared Spool.

The 12 habits of slightly successful bloggers.

  1. We write non-original stuff that we just read somewhere else,
  2. and then we forget to link to the original post,
  3. while also not doing any additional research
  4. and clicking POST really fast
  5. without thinking things through, which might have given us something interesting to say,
  6. and without proofraeding
  7. nor adding any interesting links and/or pictures, because really, this whole web thing isn’t going anywhere, can we just go back to print?
  8. What’s more, when we do want some traffic, we copy the style of successful writers without copying the content,
  9. and we SEO optimize the hell out of things, because we think that perhaps, yes, we aren’t very good writers or original thinkers and perhaps no, we don’t have much to say after all, deep in our hearts we know this, but since there are quite a few SEO blogs out there we have started to think that getting traffic isn’t, somehow, about providing value,
  10. and what we also do is write really long posts sometimes,rambling on and on and on,
  11. making the same points again and again, until even the most bored, desparate, i-really-have-to-kill-this-time-because-i-despise-my-boss who-is-dating-that-cute-girl-in-accounting-instead-of-me and-who-does-she-really-think-she-is reader that may have accidentally stumbled upon our post has to just quit reading because it’s just TOO much of the same damn crap that’s all over the inkernets already and who the fuck do I have to kill to make it all stop?

(ps: and we can’t count either.)

The Origin of Brands Blog: Apple’s Golden Goose

The Origin of Brands Blog: Apple’s Golden Goose: “Distractions are not what Apple needs. A focus is what they need. The way to build a monster brand is to attain global dominance. Which is what Nokia did in cellphones, Red Bull did in energy drinks and Google did in search.”

Laura Ries is one of the most important branding thinkers in the world, and she nails it again on Apple: refocus on the iPod! The iPhone is, from a branding perspective, a distraction.

7 reasons I switched back to PHP after 2 years on Rails – O’Reilly Ruby

7 reasons I switched back to PHP after 2 years on Rails – O’Reilly Ruby: “I threw away 2 years of Rails code, and opened a new empty Subversion respository. Then in a mere TWO MONTHS, by myself, not even telling anyone I was doing this, using nothing but vi, and no frameworks, I rewrote CD Baby from scratch in PHP. Done! Launched! And it works amazingly well. It’s the most beautiful PHP I’ve ever written, all wonderfully MVC and DRY, and and I owe it all to Rails.”

Organizing global websites.

At the European IA Summit in Barcelona, I’ll give a talk about information architecture for global websites. The slides without the talk aren’t that great, but here they are anyway, maybe it’ll help you decide wether to attend this talk or one of the other great ones. I’m also giving a Drupalized version of this talk at Drupalcon the day before, by the way. See you there!

IA for beginners: take your time

OK this is smart: “Jared Spool is interviewed about UIE’s Inherent Value Tests. It’s a
test designed to reveal why new users struggle to see the purpose and
value of some product or service when a large body of loyal users is
complete devotees.

The test is a modified usability test broken
into two pieces. First, loyal customers are asked to give you a tour of
the site and tell you what they find valuable. Second, new users are
given tasks to see if they come up with the same values. By comparing
the two tests, we can see what it is that the new users don’t get and

Simple approaches that solve real problems like that, I like it. The yes/no 10-questions game to reveal facets (for faceted classification) is another great simple approach that gives real value. I should make a list of these one day.

Customer acquisition for startups, and a bunch of fairly random numbers.

I’m often surprised by how customer acquisition is left to the “marketers” (that haven’t been hired yet) at startups. When really, it affects how you build the website, which features you add, the information architecture of the site, everything.

I’m also sometimes surprised by the naivete surrounding customer acquisition. Regardless of some success stories that apparently just became popular just “because”, most startups have to work hard at this.

If you’re trying to get paying users, a customer acquisition cost of 10 US$ / user is normal. 20$ would be normal too.

(Figures vary widely from site to site of course, but I’m adding some that have been fairly typical for sites I’ve worked on just because this information is so hard to get.)

That means, for example, that if your business model assumes you will only make 10$ per paying user over time, you’re not going anywhere.

There is also often little understanding about the amount of customers you can reasonably expect to get, and what that means.

For example, if you have 10,000 signed-up users for a free service, that most likely means squat, nada, zilch, nothing. Your 10,000 first users are rather easy to get.  If you have 100,000 users, that is a good start, 100,000 users is a respectable start. A million users, that’s doing well, someone might want to buy you.

Again a disclaimer: numbers are just numbers, and your situation will always be different. I’m just putting them out here as a kind of rough guideline.

As another example, if you’re getting 100 new signups a day, and it’s not trending upwards, that doesn’t mean much either. If it *is* trending upwards, then you might be going somewhere. At 1,000 new users a day, *if* those users actually use and enjoy the site, you’re doing good, going somewhere. You might get an investor interested with those numbers.

Another example. If you are hoping to get 10,000 paying users for your app, that’s certainly doable. If you then think you’ll get to a million just as easily, you’re mistaken. A million paying users means a *lot* of work doing purely customer acquisition. Years of work. And yes, that means marketing, amongst other things.

A much more useful metric than users are active users. Those are people that have used your site in the past week or month. You can accumulate 100s of 1000s of users, but if they signed up and then forgot about your site, there’s not much happening there. If you have even a few 100 very active users, that can be enough to jumpstart your site.

Digg only recently hit the million users point, and most of those users don’t post stories. Using Digg is very easy – just visit the homepage and click some links. That simpleness of the action is one of the reasons it’s been so successfull I believe. Next level, you can sign up and vote for stuff. Voting is super easy too: there’s only 1 button. No thinking required. Then the next level (and a very small % of users does this) is submitting articles.

So Digg has relatively few users for being such a powerhouse. And even when they only had a few 10,000 users they were considered popular.

Anyways, this post is mostly for testing Windows Livewriter, an excellent product from Redmond.

Testing Livewriter’s glossary feature: the UI is a bit weird, but it’ll help me adding links like this: (via Simon) by pre-populating the links. Cool!

Facebook is booooring!

Facebook is boring. I just realized that. For a social network that as LOADS of my contacts already on it to be boring, that means something. But every time I visit it, there’s nothing interesting to see but apps my friends added and empty discussion forums, nothing to do but add some friends. Booooring!

And I’m not alone. tags: , ,