I guess it is unavoidable to do some sort of balance at this time of year. Disclaimer: I am a ranter; a natural cynic and an acid critic. I simply can't avoid it.
To make things a little bit lighter I'll start with the highlights. Look at it like the little pats nurses give you on the arm just before they insert the needle.
My personal life has no dark spots. After 6 years together with Luciana I have no complaints whatsoever. Sure enough there are some minor arguments. Most of them have to do with me spending too much time in front of my PCs. But she accepts that and, if you can talk her into it, she'll even state my passion for what I do is one of the things she likes about me.
Professionally it was a tough year. The first semester plainly sucked. I won't get into details, but the overall situation was stressing and frustrating. Why did I hang on? Two reasons: I never leave things half finished and there was light at the end of the tunnel.
There's too much people I'd have to thank for the opportunity I was given on the second semester of 2007. You know who you are, and you know I'm thankful.
The projects I've been involved with lately and (more importantly) the people I work with make every single office day worth every second spent working. I had to adapt to a lot of things, and my transition was very smooth thanks to the support I got and the trust placed in me. I love what I do and feel great doing it.
The not so bright things about the year that's about to die have one thing in common: they are variables which are absolutely beyond my control. Frequent readers of this blog should know exactly where I'm heading.
Inflation has been a major concern. There's no way my employer (or any employer) can keep up with a 40% increase in life cost (particularly i the government keeps twisting the numbers). I have talked about it in the past, so I won't repeat myself.
I'll elaborate on the personal side effects, though. We've been wanting to give the leap; try to buy a house/apartment, or maybe buy a car (either choice). So we started saving money since we got out of debt from our marriage. As we save towards a target, the target moves further away. As an example: the cheapest car we can buy was 8,900 U$D last year. Now it is worth 13,000 U$D (46% increase, once again my estimate of the inflation proves to be more accurate than the government's figures).
Argentina is an odd country. Real estate is more expensive today than it was in 2001, when our wages were paid in dollars. Another example: an 80GB classic iPod is now worth 249 U$D in the US. Take your wildest guess on how much it would cost you here. You probably missed. It is worth 570 U$D. Sure enough shipping is more expensive to Argentina, and there's a 50% tax on all electronics. I'd "understand" a 400 U$D price tag. The funny part is that we are dumb enough to pay for them because they are "cool".
I have a single new year resolution. I'll keep that to myself. If you read between lines you'll know what that is.
Overloaded with mental takeovers from multiple sources I got to this Christmas with quite a lack of Christmas spirit. Last Friday, when leaving the office I felt as if it could have been any other Friday; on the train back home I amused myself thinking that the next Monday was Christmas eve. I hadn't bought a single present and I had a tree at home only thanks to the relentless pushing done by my wife to set it up.
It all changed on Sunday, when we headed to my brother's house. My mom had arrived from Bariloche on Sunday, so the family was starting to gather. That is what insufflated the Christmas spirit in me: the Family.
Sure enough, as with all families, there are some quirks But, all in all, it is great to see the bunch after so long.
Yesterday (December 25th) we completed 3/4 of the brotherhood with the arrival of Bernie from the US. We might get the "poker" in a couple of weeks if I can make it to Bariloche in time.
Next weekend off we go to Junin to spend new Year with Luciana's relatives. I don't know how much work I will get done during this next three days (and I have a lot to do), but its good to feel all "Christmasy".
2 weeks to end the end-o'-year marathon, and feelin' good!
It has been a long time since I felt so enthusiastic about a sport. A couple of months ago I took on Squash. And I'm loving it.
It is one heck of a workout. Twice a week for one hour I get to focus on a little black ball, with nothing else on my mind but to wipe the sweat of my forehead; getting a breather and diving in "kamikaze-style" to save a point. The sheer intensity of the game is overwhelming, and I still suck at it. This is only bound to get better.
I want to get in shape. For the past couple of years I've started to feel a real geek; with fingers beating the keyboard as my only exercise. Enough of that. I feel like a fat bastard; I'd rather feel plainly "a bastard".
I still miss the loneliness and ease of mind of Mountain Biking. 2 hour long uphill pain for 10 minutes of adrenaline rush downhill madness. During the 2 uphill hours, there's plenty of room to let the mind astray with day-dreamish thoughts of all sorts; during the downhill it is just the most intense focus on trying not to kill oneself. Been there, I was hospitalized a couple of times due to miscalculations (towards a tree, a car, a rock and another biker).
I can't have any of that on the "pampas" ("flat as a pancake") so I'll devote myself to this game that forces me to run like mad behind a black ball even when I'm spitting my lungs out and my legs burn as hard as Salem's witches.
I'll let you know about my progress (or lack thereof) in the game.
This date is becoming increasingly important to me. In case you are not aware of it, the Beijing Olympic games start that exact day. Lenovo is an Olympic partner: you do the math.
Today I find out another important thing scheduled for that same date. My wife's brother is bound to have family for that same day and I am to be the kid's godfather.
I know I'll be obsessed with 08/08/08; but this coincidence is beyond a conspiracy theorist's wildest dreams!
When it's 11AM and the taskbar looks something like this:
Oh boy... it is going to be one long Friday.
Out from the /for/ folder in del.icio.us I got a link to this article: The Secret Strategies Behind Many “Viral” Videos at TechCrunch. Dan Ackerman Greenberg of The Comotion Group shares some insight into how to get viral videos into the broader public eye.
Of course the methods depicted can be perceived as deceiving and even fraudulent, but come on, use your logic and common sense, you couldn't possibly believe that all of those viral videos became popular just by divine intervention.
Most users and way too many on-line marketers seem to have a naive and idyllic view of the web marketing business. As with everything else on life, there are several ways to achieve a goal, some are more straightforward, some are almost disgusting. Such is life.
I personally wouldn't use most of what Dan shares with its readers. Not because it goes against my moral, but because it goes against the idea of transparency I'm trying to endorse into all initiatives I tackle. I believe on a different way of conducting business. I endorse an open, transparent and clear policy when doing things. Deceiving people to click on a video (or any other type of viral campaign for that matter) conflicts directly with what I'd consider a true achievement.
If I'd happen to be forced to use any of such in-the-verge-of-legality promotional practices I'd knew I probably failed in the way I tackled the entire project.
Regular visitors to this blog should know I consider that content is the one true driver for success. This line of thought is quite opposite to what was stated on that post:
2. Content is NOT King
If you want a truly viral video that will get millions of people to watch and share it, then yes, content is key. But good content is not necessary to get 100,000 views if you follow these strategies.
Well. Whatever. I guess that is part of the reason of why I don't work or feel to inclined towards viral campaigns. I'll grant that good content is not a requirement for something as ephemeral as a viral video; particularly if you use strategies such as those depicted on the TechCrunch post. I'm personally more interested in building content that will become popular for its own merit, even if it takes much longer to build critical mass.
The only sad and,dare I say, lame thing is the follow-up post. Dan almost apologizes for what he said on the original publication:
Again, this post was intended to be pulling back the curtain on everything that’s going on on YouTube, not specifically about what we do in our business.
The original post was framed quite differently, but after going through the TechCrunch editorial filter, it ended up sounding like a tell-all about our shady business practices.
If you build up a business that does clandestine marketing campaigns (in Dan's own words) and openly talk about it in one of the most broadly read blogs on the face of the earth, put your money where your mouth is. I'll grant that most people won't like what you do for a living, but you shouldn't feel ashamed of what you do. If that is the case, just quit and seek another way to put food on the table at the end of the day, but don't sound apologetic.
(Side note: Dan, if you thought the result after editorial revisions didn't reflect your true intentions, why did you agree to publish?)
I personally found it refreshing that someone was willing to talk so openly on that "shady business practices". Would I implement that practices or hire a company that does so? Probably not, for the reasons I stated above, but I don't look at it through the morale looking glass. It is just business.
My final thought on the matter is that this probably reflects the demise of viral as we knew it. It is no longer a novelty, or something done naively with a wink to the customer, but rather just another Marketing Practice; another tool in the on-line advertising arsenal; nothing more, nothing less. Grow up and face the truth already.
Somehow I found some of my old pictures taken on Film 5 or 6 years ago. Quality is quite poor, I must admit it; yet maybe due to the personal feelings attached to them I do like how some look.
This pictures were shot back in my hometown, Bariloche. I'm starting to miss that badly.
This is one of my personal favorites: moon rising over Nahuel Huapi Lake:
I have an obsession with Clouds:
Black and White shot of the real Patagonia
A tree and, of course, some more clouds.
Some sad trees:
Finally a sunrise over Nahuel Huapi Lake
Either if you are a private blogger or if you have anything to do with corporate blogs you'll crave on increasing traffic. Whether it is for pure ego or for a business need, having people to actually come and read your blog is a good thing.
If you talk to any traditional on-line Marketer they'll say that SEO is the way to get such traffic. And it is true, to some extent. I won't write a SEO article giving out tips and tricks on optimizing a blog or site, others have done that before and in a far better way than I could try to achieve. If you are interested in getting some SEO knowledge I'd recommend you reading and looking around at Aaron Wall's SEO book.
The WordPress community has built several plugins that help optimizing posts and sites with crawlers and robots in mind. You can add keywords, meta tags, sitemaps and a myriad other things to make things more understandable for search engine robots. Yet things are always evolving in the SEO world and new tricks surface almost on a daily basis.
But, as Dylan would say the times they are a changin’. Blogs, wikis and other rich or social media sites don’t rely that much in SEO to attract traffic, since they are more socially engaged. People tend to find them on a slightly different way from the way we're used to find other things on the web (like a bargain or information on a particular subject, for example).
For blogs particularly the story is quite different. People tend to visit blogs not so much thanks to SEO (although it does play a role in a certain percentage of visits) but more thanks to links, comments, references and social finding & bookmarking sites (Slashdot, Digg, del.icio.us).
Here is an interesting note on how things are connected. As I was writing this entry, news came in from the Pub Owner on a related story. Here’s a short excerpt:
More important than that traffic, however, was the list's role as "linkbait." Users on Digg and other social media sites created more than 800 links to Olthuis' list in forums and blogs around the Web. Because Google ranks a Web site's relevance based on the number of other sites linking to it, LifeInsure now ranks fourth in Google's results when the search giant's millions of users search for "life insurance." Suddenly, the company had free advertising that put its name right next to huge brands like Metlife and Prudential.
You can read the whole article on forbes here.
(Sidenote: this really depicts how long some drafts take to come to life, Tim's mail came almost 2 months ago)
This proves that not only rules are quite different for this types of sites, but also that this rules, if played appropriately can also boost SEO. Of course it is no easy thing to get slashdotted or dugg (digged?), but that is a very different issue. One that I personally feel is more honest towards the end user (aka the reader), since it relies more on generating good content instead of trying to fool a robot and trying to make an engine believe you’re the best thing after sliced bread (after all, what do robots know, huh?).
So, the good news for bloggers is that they can get to spend more time delivering worthy content instead of trying to get google to put you on a higher pagerank. It most certainly will pay off better than just hacking a pagerank.
The thinking is certainly refreshing. I've grown an allergy towards sites that look more interested in catching search engines than catching me.
It is the tale of good content driving traffic, engaging readers and being the single best thing where to put focus on. If you are on a tight budget (or on no budget at all) and have to make choices, invest in the quality of what you are publishing.
As with all good things in life, the focus on content approach has some difficulties, particularly within companies. It is much harder to effectively measure. If you invest in paid keywords you can fairly easily crosslink the numbers you get, with good content measurement is not as direct and easy. It is also not immediate; some excellent blogs might take months (or even years) to take off. There is trust to be won. Then again you might get dugg on your second post ever and jump to fame almost immediately.
Please remind me to write a post on how to try to measure the ROI and KPI of good content. I have some wild thoughts that I need to thoroughly think, test and try out.
As I already said (quoted, actually) a couple of months ago, Content is the next killer application. As social bookmarking and other word-of-mouth tools evolve and become increasingly popular, and as search engines and indexation systems evolve to take more into account the real, human-aimed content the real SEO will focus more on delivering interesting, well thought and well put content and less on tricking search crawlers.
Bottom line is: trust your content, if you are genuine, honest and smart it’ll pay off much better than any other thing.
There's no need to actually write something when someone else has already made a great review of the tools. Check out Tim's review on Word 2007 vs. Windows Live Writer here.
A little postdata. I'm using Windows Live Writer for the first time ever. Let's see how it works out.
I set up my brother with a blog last March. He didn't pay much attention to it till now.
He has just made a great post (with excellent Pictures) on Argentine Dinner ("Criollo"). English-only speakers will have to live with just the pictures for this one.
Christian is an Excellent Chef, working at a top-notch restaurant in Bariloche, my hometown. I think he has a great potential for an exquisite Blog, let's hope he keeps it up.
As you can see I'm trying to pass on the passion for blogging.