MyBlogLog → OneTrueFan

Remember those subscriber cards you found tucked into magazines that asked questions about your income, education, sports you liked, where you traveled or what newspapers you read? The editors and advertisers of that magazine were trying to find out more about their readers. Except for the folks that took the time to write in, an editor of a print magazine knew very little about the people who read their magazine.

Imagine if Henry Luce had access to a tool which could give him an insight to the readers of Time Magazine? What if he knew not only who was reading his magazine but also which particular articles were hitting a chord? Not only that, what if he knew what else they were reading in other magazines? Which articles did his most faithful readers found elsewhere that his reporters did not cover? This type of data would have been pure gold to the late Mr. Luce.

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MyBlogLog had some of this data but it was site-specific and the service has been since scuttled by Yahoo.  The team has re-grouped and pulled another rabbit out of their hat launching Live Fan Analytics (aka: Fan-alytics) as a new approach to site metrics. MyBlogLog required site owners to install a widget on their site to reveal users that have opted in to showing up on the MyBlogLog sidebar. OneTrueFan spins that approach around and asks the readers to add an extension to their browser in order to send back their browsing behavior on any site for aggregation and show a bit of extra love for the sites they frequent.

What’s in it for the Fans? Browse the web and have at your disposal an instant view of the last 10 fans who visited the site and articles on that site that have been shared by those readers. Also look at the top fans who visit the site the most often and see what they have shared on the site. As you browse, your history (minus any sites you choose to exclude), is fed into the OneTrueFan “panel” that helps site owners and other OTF users find interesting content. It’s like being a Nielsen family for the modern age. But there’s a bit of fun too as you’ll find yourself on the leaderboard for your favorite sites vying for the title of the OneTrueFan of that site.

What’s in it for the site owners? Real-time reading behavior. If you install the widget, (as I do on this site) the activity of your readers is aggregated from not only browsers hitting your site but also sharing activity on social sites such as twitter and facebook. You get a more complete view of how your content is shared beyond your site and a sample of what your most avid readers like to read, in real-time.

If your site is publishing multiple stories a day and, as editor you are always looking for the next trending story to cover, the OneTrueFan analytics dashboard is an invaluable tool to help drive your daily editorial calendar. Most blog packages allow you to “pin” a story to the top, above the fold. The dashboard will quickly tell you which ones to push to the top and which ones to let slide down on the scroll.

As social sites begin to drive a greater portion of traffic to your site, it is vital to understand which topics resonate with your readers enough to drive them to share via these networks. OneTrueFan gives you not only quantitative stats but also the qualitative insights that you can only get from browsing the names, faces, and twitter & facebook profiles of your most avid readers. Author Kevin Kelly has a theory that any business is sustainable provided it knows how to take care of it’s most avid fans. He calls it the “1,000 True Fans” rule. OneTrueFan is a tool that will help you cultivate your true fans.

Using Wordle to Visualize Keyword Traffic

On Avinash’s excellent Ten Steps to Love & Success post on Web Data Analysis he writes about using the keyword tag cloud visualization tool Wordle to visualize search terms used to reach your site. Below is a visualization that I made in representing the top 500 phrases which were used to discover this site over the past three years.

Click for full size image

It took me only a few minutes to make this image. All you need is Google Analytics running on your site, Excel or other spreadsheet software, a text editor, and access to Here’s what you do:

  1. In Google Analytics, take a look at the Traffic Sources > Keywords report. By default it will show you the top 10 search terms from the past month. Change this to the top 500 and extend the date range to the maximum history of your blog.
  2. Click Export up top and export the data as a CSV file. If you have Excel, use it to strip out the extra columns and rows. You only need the Keywords and number of times used. Strip away everything else. Save what’s left as a csv file that you can open in your text editor (*.txt).
  3. Open the file you just saved in your text editor and replace the “,” on each row with a colon “:”
  4. Open your browser to the advanced tab on
  5. Copy the keyword rows from your text editor and paste them into the weighted words or phrases box on the site (the first box).
  6. Click Go and visualize

You can fiddle around with the fonts, color and layout until you get an image you like. Share in the comments links to your own creations.

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Back to Blogging?

Paul CarrThnks Fr Th Mmrs: The Rise Of Microblogging, The Death Of Posterity

by constantly micro-broadcasting everything, we’ve ended up macro-remembering almost nothing.

Leo LaporteBuzz Kill

I was shouting into a vast echo chamber where no one could hear me because they were too busy shouting themselves. All this time I’ve been pumping content into the void like some chatterbox Onan. How humiliating. How demoralizing.

Seth GodinMoving On

It took a year or so, but I finally figured out that my customer wasn’t the reader or the book buyer, it was the publisher. If the editor didn’t buy my book, it didn’t get published.

Paul Carr has pulled back on all social media outlets except his twitter feed. He writes for a living and wants to maximize the value of his writing and own a more complete, thoughtful record of his life.  Leo Laporte realized as that despite early indications that social media amplifiers such as Twitter or Google Buzz are great for building awareness, it’s not so great when everybody is too busy shouting their own message to listen to yours. And Seth Godin is giving up on traditional book publishing and will now use his blog to directly communicate his ideas.

People are re-examining the blog as a place to record your thoughts and communicate directly with an audience. In the case of Paul and Leo, the failed filter is a transient third party social network feed and the associated black box algorithm of Re-Tweets, Likes, or Favorites. In Seth’s case, failed filter is the “fundamentally broken”  architecture of the publishing industry.

Are we seeing a trend back towards the digital “long form” blog post as the happy medium (pun intended)?

Radar, cool hyper-local service from

Image representing as depicted in C...Image via CrunchBase, the local news site co-founded by geographer-historian Steven Johnson, launched a service called Radar which claims to feed you news from within 1,000 feet of your stated location. Similar to the other hyper-local services like EveryBlock and Topix, their service parses blogs and other social media for stories tied to a specific location. also added GeoToolkit for publishers that want to geo-tag their feeds and take advantage of distribution. For users, they’ve synched with Yahoo’s FireEagle platform to automate updating of your location. The “news within 1,000 feet” is a compelling promise and hopefully it will generate enough interest in the service so they can reach critical mass.

Local news is a hard nut to crack. I still get the best results from a variety of bloggers that cover my home town which I can share via My Yahoo. The winning solution is going to be a hybrid of automated parsing (which has it’s own limitations) and crowd-sourced editorial that brings in the right people with the right set of incentives. Local Newspapers have the institutional clout to invite local participation but I’m still looking for a site that expands on the seemless integration of community blogs at the Lawrence-Journal (work incidentally started by EveryBlock’s founder, Adrian Holovaty).

Who’s going to write the CMS platform for the local newspaper that wants to go online?

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Doh! Comments Deleted

Chalk this one up to user error.

You should never try and de-spam your blog after a night out on the town. I was a bit frisky on the controls and the AJAX-y WordPress UI flipped from showing comments awaiting moderation to comments approved before I could stop myself from clicking, Delete All. I think I lost about 14 comments

I tried to get a back up but it’s turning to be more of a pain than it’s worth and I need to move on. To those that got wiped – Sorry!

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FriendFeed Needs Trackback

The success of distributed commenting systems such as Disqus, Intense Debate, and most famously, FriendFeed have generated a heated debate over if we should let discussions break out all over the place in small pockets or try to gather them all together in context with the source material so that everyone can benefit from a collective debate.

On the one hand, you have those that encourage everyone to “go with the flow” and let discussions take place inline, wherever convenient. Duncan Riley falls in this camp with his post last week about Blogging 2.0.

On the other, you have those that want to pull the discussion back into context. If it’s a blog post, they would like to see these distributed pools of discussion pulled back together under the original blog post. Fred Wilson falls into this camp with his post today, Leaving the Instigator Out.

fredwilson comment

Call me old school but I’m with Fred on this one. I think it’s possible to have both cookies – keep discussions distributed but at least tie them together so you’re not logging to sites across the web trying to chase down the latest discussion. The solution is to revive the long forgotten Trackback.

Trackback was developed by the blogging pioneer Six Apart back when blogs expanded beyond a close circle of friends and there was a need for blogs to notify each other when they were expanding on a conversation and moving it to a new venue. The standard practice was that if you wanted to take someone’s idea and expand on it a bit more than would fit comfortably into a comment box, you would post about it on your own blog and trackback to the original post. This would do two things:

  1. send a ping to the original blogger so that he or she would know that you’re expanding on their idea,
  2. add a link in the comments section so that people reading the original post could follow the discussion over to the new blog post

Trackback was a very simple technology but it provided a thread that linked the two posts and brought the readership of both posts together. If you were moving the conversation from one blog to another, sending a trackback ping was the right thing to do, it was common courtesy, an attribution. That link, that attribution, is what has gotten people up in arms. Without this link, both the original blogger and the reader of the original post are cut off from distributed discussions and that just doesn’t seem right or efficient.

Positive Interference

Snowball Rolling Down Snowbank by Rob Casey

Yesterday I commented on Jeremy Zawodny’s blog on a fundamental difference I see between Plaxo Pulse, FriendFeed and MyBlogLog and I wanted to expand a bit further here in the name of thinking out loud and getting a sense of what others think.

As I announced on the MyBlogLog blog a couple of weeks ago, we are getting close to releasing a feature which publishes an aggregated view of all your updates from services such as flickr,, YouTube, twitter, and others. This aggregated event stream has been called a number of things (vitality feed, activity stream, lifestream, mini-feed) but we’re simply calling it New with Me.

As more sites add this feature, there seems to be two approaches to what to do with this data. One the one hand you have sites like Wink and Profilactic which simply pull in updates and republish them. MyBlogLog’s approach is like this. On the other, you have sites such as Plaxo Pulse and FriendFeed which are hosting specific actions such as adding comments around the content aggregated on their sites.

The question is, what is the value of hosting comments on a site that is removed from the place that generated the content? If I’m feeding my updates to a site such as Pulse or FriendFeed, I would rather be able to keep the conversation threads all together on my site or at least tie them together with something like a trackback to pull in threads if the discussion jumps over to another venue. The way Pulse and FriendFeed are built, your readers can never know what additional discussion is taking place which makes it an open loop of dis-jointed conversations that may never come together.

Bret Taylor from FriendFeed responded with a perspective that shed light on his perspective which didn’t occur to me. In his response to my comment on Jeremy’s post, Bret says that FriendFeed is less a distribution platform but more, “a forum for private discussion with people you know.” But why break off what likely to be the most thoughtful commentary and keep it from the others that might benefit from it if they are not your friend?

I look for inspiration from a broad variety of sources and thrive on the serendipity of unintended consequences. This morning I was listening to a podcast because there was a mention of a term I follow that dropped it into one of my tracking feeds. In it, Jeff Schmidt, a bassist that is also quite thoughtful on the latest social media technologies threw out a line that struck me.

I love being open to the possibility of positive interference.

That describes what I most love about the online world in which we live. The way that someone halfway around the world can stumble into your world and zap you with a turn of phrase that crystallizes a new way of looking at things. This happens best in a world where comments are open and thoughts are shared together in a way that everyone benefits. It’s all about Doc Searls’ Snowball.

Bret and I are on a panel together next week at the Graphing Social Patterns conference in San Diego and I really look forward to learning more what others think. It should be a fascinating discussion!

Two Blogs to Watch

The co-founders of MyBlogLog are. . . wait for it . . . blogging!

Todd Sampson and Eric Marcoullier have brushed off their CSS chops and will turn their critical eye to the world around them. Todd’s got a baby girl on the way so we’ll get to follow that journey as well as his observations on the world of computing. Eric’s decided to cap his posts at 100 words or less in order to focus his thoughts.

Either way, both blogs are bound to be entertaining. Check ’em out.

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A picture is worth a thousand words – Yahoo! Shortcuts for WordPress

Yahoo ShortcutsWhen I write a blog post I make heavy use of the tabs in my browser so that I can switch back and forth between the blog compose screen and other screens where I do my research. I usually have my trusty image editor running as well so I can crop an edit any images that I use in my posts.

For the past few weeks I’ve been playing around with a new WordPress plug-in (Yahoo Shortcuts) that will cut back on the copy-paste, rightclick-save, and other context switching by bringing content and references directly into the WordPress compose area. With this plug-in running, it scans your post for potential annotations that can turn a drab bit of hypertexed links into a gloriously illustrated work of art.

For example, if I wanted to do a story about my hotel in where I recently stayed, all I need to do is include the address (3000 Paradise Road, Las Vegas, NV 89109) and Shortcuts will look for suitable information such as the map you see on this post and add it complete with text wrapping. All it took was a single click. Not only will Shortcuts search across shopping for product information, it can also pull in stock charts for companies, and Creative Commons images from flickr. The embeded graphics are beautiful so the temptation is to go overboard and embed the Shortcut “badges” willy-nilly. An alternative is to chose the “link” option which is a great way to add context to your post while keeping your viewers on your site.

Some other examples where Shortcuts does the right thing. Hover over the link to view the contextual badge:

  • A chart for Dow Jones or (AAPL).
  • Shopping preview for the Nintendo Wii
  • A search preview for Barak Obama

Once you’re done with your post, click the Review this Post button and you get a preview window where you can choose which links you want to embed, which you want to just enable with a popup, and which ones you want to ignore. This is key. Other products that automatically provide contextual links are an all or nothing affair. It’s vital to retain editorial control so you can choose which words or phrases you want to recognize. Yahoo Shortcuts does this. To get a sense of the how the plug-in works, check out the screencast.

No more tabbing over to another window or fiddling around with HTML or CSS code, Yahoo Shortcuts just brings it all in so you can work with it right there and then, all on one page.

Yahoo! Shortcuts plug-in for WordPress

Climbing back up the rankings

One of the most frustrating things about moving your blog to a new domain is watching your various rankings drop off a cliff and the associated loss in all the things that come with it. Despite all the attention to detail (301 redirects, revisions on all your various social networking profiles, re-writing URLs) you basically cease to exist as far as the search engines are concerned and here we are, now a month later and I’m still crawling my way back to relevance.

Reputation and influence is not portable.

SEO is just a passing hobby of mine. Feeling inspired after the last Webmaster World conference in Las Vegas, I experimented a bit on my old domain and tried to see if I could get myself ranked for “social media advertising” and was pleasantly surprised when it only took me a few weeks to reach the #1 spot for the phrase on all four major search engines. I later realized that the term was not as popular as “social media marketing” so I shifted to focus on that term. I soon ranked highly for that term as well. That was back in January.

I later lost interest and didn’t really think of it until I moved everything over to this new blog on this new domain on August 5th. Right before I pulled the plug on the old blog, I took a snapshot of my rankings on various services and have been tracking my comeback and it’s been pretty slow going.

Here’s a summary of the highest point I had reached on and where I am now on

Rankings for “social media advertising”

  • – either 1 or 2 for Google, Yahoo, and MSN. #6 for Ask
  • – not even in the first 50 results

Rankings for “social media marketing”

  • – in the top 30 for Google, Yahoo and MSN, #5 for Ask
  • – #31 for Google, nowhere on Yahoo, MSN. Ask still has my old domain listed at #17

Technorati Authority. Stowe Boyd had a series of posts where he tracked his rise back up the rankings after he moved his blog which is interesting for comparison except that that was back before Technorati calculated an authority value.

  • – 56
  • – 12

Google Pagerank

  • – 4
  • – not even rated yet, must still be in the “sandbox”

Yahoo! Site Explorer Inlinks – I didn’t measure the inlinks on but I’ve been watching the inlinks climb up and am now at 866.

Google Webmaster Tools Inlinks – I also never got this on the old site but just saw it jump from just a handful to 4, 593 on 9/4


  • – 126 members in its heyday
  • – only 5 members have discovered this new site

It’ll be interesting to see if these numbers change much over time. If you feel like giving me a little boost, feel free to link to using the phrase “social media marketing” or “social media advertising” and see if that will change things.

Photo by Todd Sampson