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Current Events

RSS feeds for Salesforce

You gotta love it. Ex-Newsgator developer, Charlie Wood has attached RSS feeds to salesforce.com. If you have a salesforce.com subscription, you can now subscribe to a feed of your Open Opportunities or Open Escalations. This has been out since July and is now in 2.0 – I’m only now caught wind of it.

On their TypePad-powered blog they are taking feedback from their customers and announcing new features so if you’re a user, this is a feed you’ll want to subscribe.

Charlie’s venture, Spanning Partners, has the tagline, “RSS-enabling the enterprise, one application at a time.” Cool, I can’t wait to see what’s next!

Categories
Current Events

Serendipitous Audio Streaming Services

Now joining last.fm is a new service, Pandora, which supplements revenue from affiliations with Amazon and Apple with a very reasonable subscription fee ($36/year, $12/quarter). The interface works better for me but that’s mostly because they’ve simplified the number options they make available. Unlike Last.fm, you cannot tag your music collection nor does it monitor what music you play to adjust your profile which is what I find so fascinating about last.fm.

Last weekend I had friends over for dinner and had last.fm’s “vocal jazz” tag streaming all night long and we were constantly surprised with the things passed our way – Judy Garland, rare Louis Armstrong, the occasional spoken word rap, all like rare cheeses on a silver platter.

Last.fm is worth it if you invest the time to manage your profile and feed the ecosystem – Pandora is more for the person that wants to boot up, login, and start listening right away.

One point in Pandora’s favor – they have a Movable Type blog so they can post on their plans for the future.

Categories
Office

Round Up of Round Ups

It’s that time again. Both Kottke and MacManus post lengthy on the inevitable coming together of web services into a unified Web OS. The state of web 2.0.

GoogleOS? YahooOS? MozillaOS? WebOS? – Jason Kottke
Web as Platform Mash-Ups – Richard MacManus

Infoworld on Blogs as lightweight content management

InfoWorld surveys the corporate blogging landscape and sees them as a right-sized solution to basic content management. If you’re publishing a website, you’re managing content. Yet, if you go shopping around for a traditional content management solution, the enterprise software vendors will give you a six figure estimate with a healthy “services” chunk thrown in.

Deploying a full-blown ECM (enterprise content management) system to address basic corporate content publishing and
workflow needs has been likened to trying to kill a fly with a rocket launcher. A more suitable solution may lie in souped-up blogging tools, which by design simplify content publishing.

I couldn’t have said it better myself. From Blog tools tackle content management.

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Office

Movable Type 3.2

The pop of a champagne cork at Noon today signaled that Movable Type 3.2 has been pushed out for general release. Jay, Brad, Ezra, Anil, Walt, and too many countless others to list all pulled together and have launched a product for which they should be really, really proud.

I’m always amazed at the depth of talent here and how Six Apart can consistently launch products which are not only powerful publishing platforms but also lightweight (the .zip file of the full install is a dainty 1.7MB) and  elegant in design.

Administrative Dashboard,
Plug-in based spam filters,
A template picker,
all this and much, much, more

We’re running a back-to-school special and knocking $30 off the price of our personal editions until the end of September or you can go to our hosting partners and get an account with Movable Type pre-installed. One of our ProNet consultants already jumped on the bandwagon and is offering to upgrade your MT install starting at $40.

Amidst all this, there’s still room for humor with nice little touches such as a shit-colored Junk folder and a little retro-badge in hommage to the Netscape of yore.

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Office

Six Apart Mascot

OK, I can no longer resist. My colleagues from my previous employer would appreciate this because I always was going on about how we needed a mascot to liven up our image.

Say hello to Toph & TophToph the official TypePad mascot.

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Office

The lowdown on RSS Feeds

Feeds, feeds, feeds. What are they and what can they do for me? How do I read them and how do I make them? All of us at Six Apart get these questions everyday. For this very reason, Anil’s written up a great summary. Without further ado, the Six Apart Guide to Feeds.

Xml

Please resist the urge to click on that little orange button, it doesn’t do anything but confuse. Next generation browsers will take care of this confusing behaviour once and for all just as Apple’s Safari is doing for Mac users today.

Fear of being blogged

One last thing about the Blog Business Summit and then I’m done. Really.

I was sitting next to a PR person from a major company and she was expressing frustration that the sessions were not going the way she wanted them. Since the bloggers that ran the session love to run things in an interactive way, I asked why she wasn’t asking more questions to drive the sessions to answer what she was interested in. Her reply (I’m paraphrasing slightly) punched right to the core of some of the difficulties faced by a corporation that is trying on their blogging boots,

"Ask a question? Are you crazy? This place is not only full of press, it’s full of bloggers! I can’t have my company’s name all over the place tied to some stupid question of mine."

Categories
Office

Slogging up the Business Blog Slope of Enlightenment

Debbie Weil, a blog business consultant, points to a Gartner conference call in which they place RSS and Corporate Blogging heading into the Trough of Disillusionment. As you look at Gartner’s Emerging Technology Hype Cycle for 2005, (check out page 6 on the PDF) you can see that they place corporate blogging about two years out to widespread adoption.

This is not to say that you should throw in the towel and sit on your hands for the next two years while the rest of the world figures it out for you – it just means that companies, now that they have begun to experiment with blogging tools realize that effective blogging is hard work. A blog requires someone not only to write intelligently and consistently, it also requires someone to monitor blogs and respond to comments. I can still hear the sigh of disappointment from the realtor that called me the other day to ask if he could pay Six Apart to also feed him content for his blog.

I have received a few good comments in reaction to my post yesterday about how there is still a gulf between those that blog and those in the corporate world trying to figure it all out. Robert Scoble’s advice to hand out your card at geek dinners isn’t going to really work if you’re promoting a blog for Sarah Lee or Quaker State. The Blog Business Summit was held to try and address this and their upcoming one day seminar will further the education on the nuts & bolts of corporate blogging.

As with any hyped trend, self-help books are rushing in to meet the need. A few good books out already or very shortly include:

  1. Naked Conversations, by Robert Scoble and Shel Israel is available for pre-order on Amazon. They also have a blog.
  2. Debbie Weil is writing a book on corporate blogging for Penguin due out in 2006.
  3. Blog Marketing, by Jeremy Wright is available today!
  4. The Weblog Handbook, by Rebecca Blood is one of the first books on blogs and a great primer.
Categories
Office

Blog Business Summit – Day Two

One thing I learned from looking at my Day One post on the various aggregation engines and trackback excerpts is to never lead with an image again. You get his horrible “<img src . . . ” as your lead in which doesn’t exactly draw readers to the rest of your post.

Day Two was demo day with Matt and Om walking us through WordPress 1.6 and WordPress.com over breakfast coffee, Dean Hachamovitch, Sean Lyndersay, and Robert Scoble running through Internet Explorer 7 in the first session, and our very own Anil Dash speaking faster than I’ve ever seen him during his run through of Movable Type 3.2.

The gulf between pro-bloggers and the corporate types that are still trying to figure this all out became very obvious to me today. Dean summed it up when he said that there, “are some good tail lights to follow” but no one has it all figured out yet. Everyone said in their presentation somewhere, you just need to start blogging and then it will come to you what you need to do. I don’t think this really sat well with the visiting corporates who need to summarize this all into a PowerPoint SWOT Analysis of having a corporate blog with steps on “how to” listed up nicely, one, two, three.

Some Notes:

Microsoft on RSS:
The power of RSS subscription model is that it’s like a TiVo for the web, it changes people’s lives and puts the web on their own terms.

For businesses, it’s less about the technology used to drive the site but more about what you can do with this technology. Businesses now have the ability to reach out directly to their customers and present them the “unvarnished truth.”

Internet Explorer will make subscribing to RSS feeds as easy as adding favorite bookmarks. If used in conjunction with Windows (XP service pack 2 and above) all RSS feeds and their content will be stored in a central location that can be used by other Windows applications. Additional extentions which Microsoft is releasing under Creative Commons license will allow IE 7 to sort and filter feeds based on feed-specific parameters such as price, date, or neighborhood for a real estate feed that was used in the example.

A point was made that Microsoft originally embraced RSS and handed out jackets at Gnomdex with RSS written on them and that this message is now confused with their re-naming it a “feed.” Scoble countered that there’s confusion in the industry – Safari calls it RSS and Atom RSS, Computerworld calls it XML Feed. Dean sums it up by saying, “I’m unaware of any decision in the tech industry that has be unanimous – Feeds will be Microsoft’s label. In their view, they are both “Feeds” and talking about “RSS Feeds” is akin to talking about “TCP/IP” instead of “networking” or “HTML pages” instead of “Web Pages.” In order to really widen the adoption, you need to ditch the acronyms.

At one point, Dean talked about using RSS to update Calendar events. That got me thinking – RSS as a version of distributed Exchange? Hmmm. Interesting.

Will RSS replace email? Scoble counters, “did TV replace radio? did radio replace newspapers?” Dean says that until there is a security in which you can create a secure feed for a specific, authenticated individual, it will be impossible to replace point-to-point communication for which email is best. I would add that there would need to be a financial incentive to go this route – email still works really well for point-to-point messages, it’s just the anonymous and group email stuff that needs to be taken out.

Lessons Learned: GM & Intuit

Intuit has a “follow me home” interaction with its customers in which they are used to following users home from the store and seeing how they use their products. This level of interest in user feedback is in the company’s DNA so blogging is a natural extention of this. There is no formal approval policy but, Paul Rosenfeld just last week met with the Founder and the CEO to ratify a corporate blogging policy which they kept to one page. Training on blogging is encouraged but not required.

Paul’s word to future corporate bloggers is to resist the requirement by “blogging police” to post at least once every three days. It can wear you out and cause you to lose focus. Keep to your audience and only post what they want to read. Respond to comments and questions honestly and faithfully.

A bit of legal advice from the audience. Rather than put your blogging policy on the page as with Intuit Quickbooks blog, best to link to the legal disclaimer with a more prominent link higher up on the page.

A day in the life of GM’s Fastlane team. Posts are sent from Bob Lutz’s Blackberry for approval by two communications handlers who review and, if necessary double-check facts before posting. The approval process has been streamlined and now only takes a few hours. There is someone on the team that spends about half her day monitoring comments for approval. There is a weekly editorial meeting to understand what types of posts they can be expecting from executives posting.

Other notes:

“Dress for Success” says Darren Barefoot Your site design reflects as much about your business as the way you dress says Darren who is one of the few in conference wearing a necktie and suit.

Rebecca Blood – has a good page linking to corporate blogging policies. “When blogging for your business, don’t blog about your work or office, blog about your profession.”

Funniest Line – “At one point there were 9 rules but since I never wrote them down, I forget what they are.” – Paul Scrivens of 9rules.com