Friday, May 23, 2008

How to use voice recognition free on your computer.

Line drawing man listening on phone, talking voice on headset, taking notesLots of people don't realize voice recognition is already available free on their computer (if they own a recent edition of Office or are running Vista). You just have to turn it on/activate it. Or, it can be purchased for under $40 (see bottom of this post). It bothers me that there were no replies to request for help on this issue anywhere on the web--meaning few are using this great feature.

Not that many people are using voice recognition, and that's a shame. It's a great FREE feature in all the recent versions of Office until 2007 (which was removed because Microsoft put it directly into Vista). I do get asked how easy it is to use (very!!) and what you need to get started.

headset and microphone simple line drawing for voice activation usersIf you do want to start using it, a few recommendations are:

  • You can start with any microphone that is convenient, but I recommend that you...

  • Get a head-mounted noise-canceling microphone (as little $15). Even better is to pay more and get a USB-based noise-cancelling microphone, starting around $30;

  • Go through all the training scripts (a few extra minutes of talking into a microphone);

  • Set accuracy for maximum (runs slow, but better results);

  • Click on incorrect words and say "correction" and choose the correct word from the drop-down list (if the correct word is shown). Helps the engine improve recognition.

voice recognition wearable headset over head styleDon't have it and want it? Here are three highly rated vendors you can buy it from in early 2008: $36.95 �� $47.23 �� $46.55. (The product you are buying in some cases is Works 2002 Suite with Word 2002/XP included. It's Word that gives you the voice recognition--plus you get the whole suite of Works products!)

Also, here's a tip on a
minor annoyance to be aware of.

Read more!

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Be a good neighbor, and make your site more popular.

Here's a simple tip for making your website more interesting to search engines and other site owners to get more traffic to your site. (This a simplified explanation, instead of using a lot of SEO gobbeldygook.)

Link to your own pages, especially when you're also linking to outside pages. Why is that so simple, and important?

Every page on your website or blog has a value. That value counts like a vote when you have a link to another page. Say a page on your site is worth a fictional value of 100, and you have five outbound links on that page. Each one of those links will give a vote of 100/5 = 20. If you had 100 outbound links on that page, each link would be worth a vote of 1 for the page it linked to.

giant strong chain linkLinks make your site more valuable in several ways

Search engines use these votes to determine what pages on the internet are more important than others. Let's break links into two kinds: linking to other pages on your own site, and linking to pages on other sites.

The first thing to know is that by linking to other sites search engines learn more about what you are about, so they can send more traffic your way for whatever topic your pages are most expert on. They also can send you more traffic if they determine that you link to other pages that might be useful. This means they might consider your site a good reference if you link to other sites.

Linking to other sites makes the owners of those sites more likely to visit and leave a comment, and even to link back to you from their site. This brings traffic from people who click the link and helps search engines learn more about your site, so they can send more of the right kind of traffic.

But each link to an outside site takes some of the value of your page and spreads it to to other sites. By contrast, if you only linked to your own pages, that value/those "votes" would all keep their highest value within your own website.

Linking computers and websites on the internetWhat to link to

What to do? Make sure that all the content on your site contains plenty of links to other pages on your OWN site, as well as some links where appropriate to other sites. That way you're not giving away too much of the value of your page to other sites, but you still make your site more valuable by linking to them.

Make sure the links are from words (known as the link's "anchor text") that are descriptive of the page they take you to. That way most of the value of the links is kept within your own site, but you also help the search engines learn more of value about your site (so they can send you more traffic) and you help other website owners learn about and take an interest in your site.

How to get links and find out who links to you

You can see who has links to your site by checking your statistics/analytics for referring sites, to see who has come to your site by clicking a link on another site. Another way is to sign up for Yahoo! SiteExplorer. Yahoo! will give you a list of the other sites that link to you. Don't try this on Google - they won't show you ALL the links.

Television is your biggest time waster!And don't forget to comment on other people's blogs - it produces a link back to your site, and is a friendly way of introducing yourself to other site owners and getting traffic (some search engines sometimes treat comments as a different class of link.) Also get involved on social sites like Twitter, Digg and MySpace and create links to your website on those sites. (Those sites are becoming more powerful all the time.)

Also try these advanced methods of getting links. Don't have time for any of this? Watch less TV and you'll have time. Here's a good overview of most of what you should be thinking about when promoting your website.

Read more!

Monday, May 19, 2008

Google making us sick? Will you have to sue your spouse for your health?

Google Health opened for "business" today. Lots of people are wondering: is this Good, bad, or the end of the world as we know it?

Will Google make us even sicker?

Here's a big problem with PHRs (Public Health Record repositories) like Google Health that no one seems to be mentioning: users have to keep their information up-to-date and accurate. Gosh, does anyone ever make a mistake in their personal bookkeeping? If you hire someone to do your taxes, should you hire someone to keep your Google health records accurate, useful and up-to-date?

If your spouse errs when entering in all that data after your last doctor visit, and a third-party makes a mistake that affects your health, what recourse will you have? Will insurance cover the health problems caused by what is essentially YOUR error? Will you have to sue your spouse to get your HMO to cover your problem? If that sounds extreme, realize there are already lots of lawsuits among family members to try to get insurance paid. Sad, but true. I remember a friend who accidentally hit a family member with their car, and the lawyers said it was typical for the injured party to have to sue to get insurance in such a case (they did, and won).

What LEGAL privacy protections do you get? None?

A similar issue: Your HIPAA health information protections don’t apply there. Google execs say the user controls their info and it won’t be shared without a patient OK. Nice "promise," but it’s not HIPAA. In fact, the Google TOS says "... HIPAA does not apply to the transmission of health information by Google to any third party."

The upside, of course, is that you can add to your records. Consumers of these services even have the potential to influence medical practices in a positive way by creating more usefully detailed profiles. Greg Simon, president of the nonprofit FasterCures medical organization and a member of the Google health advisory council, points out:

"If I bring all the information my doctor has onto my site, I can then add information my doctor does not have — my diet, workout routine, family history."
Google's partners (some shown at right) allow you to share lab results as well as prescription information. What you can do here includes:
  • Health profile
  • Import medical records
  • Explore health services
  • Doctor search
Google has entered a competitive field: several of the few dozen health record sites tracked by the journal Informatics Review are no longer in operation. While it may seem they haven't thought this out (past the money Google will make), it seems likely they will be the one that sticks around, and hopefully fix the inevitable problems.

Has Google thought this out beyond the money they can make?

And then of course there is the $57 billion or so big Pharma spends on promotion each year. GOOG made $5.19 billion last quarter, and would love to add more of Pharma's pie to it's own revenues.

However, probably the biggest area of online scams involves health and pharma: viagra, Mesothelioma, etc. Besides simply selling drugs illegally, or selling fake brand names, by some measures, hundreds of spam sites are created every day just to show these ads and make money when people click on them. It will be interesting to see how the biggest enabler of all these schemes--Google--will be working with advertising shown through Google health.

Google's hidden march into the financial markets?

This seems to be another step on Google's possible hidden march into the financial markets. They have so much money to manage, and such a great core competency at managing information, won't they eventually start moving investments around based on automated reading of news? It's already a huge growth area for the upper-end investment services. Everyone on Wall Street wants to make money-making moves before the next guy. What if Google gets better at this than anyone else? What's next, world domination?

Read more!

Friday, May 16, 2008

"Youthiness" infects internet writers of all ages.

corporate giant goliath with david and slingshotUpdate: When Carl Icahn got into the fight later, he used all UPPERCASE letters.

Jerry Yang sent out memos today in all lowercase letters, trying to motivate the troops. Apparently this is common for him. I don't doubt it--lots of emails from bosses look like this. Shows how busy and important they are: "I can't be bothered to capitalize my letters. I have people to do that for me!" Jerry should try to be more like Google, where even their bad jokes generate bandwidth.

When is cool not cool?

Of course, lowercase is cool, if you're 13 and texting your friends, or sending MySpace messages. So Jerry is probably also striving to affect an aura of youth and cool.

uncool man with dark glassesApologies to Stephen Colbert, but this looks like another example of misplaced youthiness to me.

A lot of text communication strives for youthiness nowadays. No one wants to be caught using email when they could be texting, Twittering or DM/IM'ing. But modern text systems push us to do more and more with less and less, particularly encouraging TMA (too many acronyms).

The three T's of status on Twitter

Updates on Twitter such as "cleaning toilet naked in meeting with guy k at jfk" are another example. This is a person combining the youthiness of missing words and lowercase letters with the three T's of status on Twitter:

  • I'm so cool I can share embarrassingly personal stuff;

  • Proof of my high status is that I meet with people who have status;

  • I'm so busy with important stuff I'm frequently tweeting from airports.

(Of course I was personally so uncool on Twitter when I started out people contacted me directly to try and educate me.)

Where will it end?

It makes me wonder where this will all end. Using acronyms for our feelings was only the beginning, I fear. Is the way people are texting and tweeting today the way our novels and press releases are going to look in the future? I wouldn't doubt it. Conversations keep "atomizing," with no end in site. Even the thought leaders of our new age can't keep things straight, or as Kevin Rose said earlier today "and by wofo I mean wifi."

crook behind bars in jail line drawingOne day, some corporate bigwig will be tried for insider trading, and get off by saying "I didn't actually have inside information, I misspoke: I meant to say "AFAIC, not AFAICT." And we will realize nothing really changes: ssdd.

Read more!

Monday, May 12, 2008

Who is the greatest Tweeter, the Hemingway of our times?

New contest!

Using the Twitter limitation of 140 characters, write a book review. Can you sum up the essence of a good read in 140 characters? (Click here for great one-sentence stories.(

Here are the winners from the first contest, from first place on down:

“Time travel works!” the note read. “However you can only travel to the past and one-way.” I recognized my own handwriting and felt a chill.
Ron Gould
Tony was a snitch, so I wasn’t surprised when his torso turned up in the river. What did surprise me, though, was where they found his head.
Anthony Juliano
When Gibson hit that homerun in the fall of eighty-eight, my old man had never been so happy. He hugged me for the first time. I was eleven.
Thelonius Monk
Happily sobbing she held the boy, her memory of his violent conception falling away. She had learned to love him, this would be her revenge.
Melissa Pierce
The priest at the funeral home asked if she had been a loving mother. The children all stared at each other. The silence spoke volumes.

Here is the original post for the first contest:

Frequent users of Twitter sometimes find a new set of synapses developing somewhere in their brain, generating 140-character communications. I don’t mean every communication or every sentence needs to be exactly 140 characters long; it’s just a feeling for what will and won’t fit.

But, as a challenge: put up your clearest, finest or most moving thoughts conveyed in EXACTLY 140 characters (with any number of sentences). The best Twitter story wins an IPod Nano 4 GB in your choice of available colors; Copyblogger and other Twitteriffic judges do the deciding.

And, for language nerds out there, I would love to see your links to sites with similar examples, such as six-word stories, in the comments.

If you have never tried this before, give it a twirl and you’ll see it’s not too hard: each sentence in this post is exactly 140 characters! (Twitter is going down for two hours May 19, beginning midnight Pacific time; maintenance, maintenance, maintenance: when will it ever end?)

Read the rules and enter today.

Read more!

Google: So powerful, even their jokes generate bandwidth

Google joke: TISP broadbandOkay, if you aren't familiar with Google's original joke ("TISP: Going with the flow"), it's here:

.. don't bother doing a double-take after visiting the link: yes, that's Google's URL: this is a joke from Google awhile back.

And yes, they're suggesting you flush your bandwidth down the toilet for best results.

Fast forward to the present:

This is now actually happening.

H2O Networks Ltd (love the name!) has found a city that their CEO Elfed Thomas says has "360,000 miles worth of sewers" that they hope to use to bring "next generation connectivity" to the residents at speeds approaching 100Mbps.

Yes, this is really happening--the city is Bournemouth in the UK.

Now they just need to come up with a name for the service. Suggestions?

Read more!

Friday, May 09, 2008

All-Time Gravity-Defying Great Original Videos: Dance and Movement!

Videos that always give me a lift -- hope they do the same for you! Also see my collection of greatest uplifting music videos.

Includes the "Greatest dance number ever filmed," the "Best video of all time," one dancer becoming many dancers, many dancers becoming one dancer, the smallest, the legends, as well as the great, the merely famous, the funny and the viral ... not to mention parkour, acrobatics, and amazing fight choreographies!


The Nicholas Brothers
Don't miss the second half! Landing in splits from bigger and bigger leaps .. incredible! (And a lolpic version of brothers dancing--couldn't resist!)

Cab Calloway, "Stormy Weather" (movie)
"Greatest dance number ever filmed." - Fred Astaire

Related famous tap dance:

Christopher Walken
Drawing on his early dance and musical theater training Walken won awards for this unique approach to dance (and flight!) he created shortly before his 60th birthday.

Fatboy Slim, "Weapon Of Choice"
2002's "Best video of all time," six MTV awards

Related famous dance and videos:

Bboy Junior (aka Buana)
(France) A frequent European competition winner, his gravity-defying acrobatic style is based on his tremendous strength. Watch from 1:11 how long it takes before his feet touch the ground again!

Red Bull BC One Competition, 2004
One-on-one Breakdance

Related amazing movement:
David Elsewhere (Bernal)
Digitally plays all dancers in his commercials:
iPod; Singing in the Rain; Heineken; Music video: Kinky, "Sister Twisted"

Mikhail Baryshnikov:
Giselle; Don Quixote

Acrobat and Circus Artists:

Deaf Child Dancers: Thousand-Hand Bodhisattva
(China) Performing the amazing Kwan-yin (Buddhist goddess of mercy) in sync by following two women instructing them in sign language—because they can't hear the music! About the Disabled People's Performing Art Troupe

Fight Choreographies:

Funny Dancers:
Viral Dance and Movement Stars:
And all this time, you haven't been Rick Rolled ... yet!

Read more!

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Try reverse Déjà Vu for inspiration

What's Reverse Déjà Vu for inspiration? Do something uplifting you've NEVER done before! I'm betting NO ONE has seen ALL of the videos below before. If you have leave a comment with something new for the next visitor. There are some new variations of well-known ones here, but NO WAY have you seen all of these!

New inputs = new inspiration

Holding the sun in your hands on the horizonWhy did I put these together? It's important to seek out things to be motivated by, not to just stick to the same inputs, day in and day out. To find new things to lift yourself up, forget all the time-wasters and get energized or just relax deeper than ever before. To remember what you want most out of life, and feel that it can happen.

Sometimes when something inspires you, it feels like remembering something that you've forgotten. Peaceful music and imagery is what often does it for me, that and really cool, gravity or body-defying dance! Here's one of my favorites nature videos to start things off:

Remember the best things you want from life

I hope you find something here that helps you feel and remember the best side of yourself, and remember the best things you want out of life. Hopefully there will be something here you love but have never seen or heard before. (Yeah, I've also got puns, cats, photoshopped and large desktop pics*sigh*)

Links in most cases take you to other popular videos by the same artist, or style of video. All photos below are by me.)


Oh, and a suggestion: Watch and listen to these here but then watch your favorites in full screen. (How? Click on the YouTube logo in the lower right corner to go the video's main page, and then click on the tiny icon in the lower right to open the video in full screen. Viewing controls at the bottom of your screen, press the Esc key on your keyboard to exit full screen mode.)

"This is love: to fly toward a secret sky, to cause a hundred veils to fall each moment. First to let go of life. Finally, to take a step without feet." -Rumi
Eagle Mountain Mist

Okay, this is a viral video ad (Schweppes Burst), but it's great! Slow motion of water balloons bursting, with music. Won me over. Wait for the one that hits the guy in the face

Davy Spillane plays a lament on the Uilleann pipes to Cuchulain composed by Bill Whelan for Riverdance. (Once you've heard this sound, you'll never need to look up the meaning of "lament.")

Ray Lynch, "Celestial Soda Pop" (comments?)

Flowing Sand Art will blow you away. Don't skip this one if you've never seen this kind of artist perform before (comments?) 
Redwoods drawn to light
Kitaro, "Silk Road." For fans, here's a version of Symphony of the forest (comments?)

Glass Harp on wine glasses (comments?) 
Golden morning

Enya, Watermark Orinoco Flow and May it be are great too! (comments?)

Laughing Baby What a great audience! Thank you, I'm here all week! (comments?)

Saraswa, "Trees" (comments?)

Diamonds in the rough
Nessun Dorm by the Three Tenors. You really owe it yourself to hear how it develops--listen to the whole thing and it will bring tears to your eyes. Made popular recently by Paul Potts version (comments?)

Okay, this is straight-up comedy: Tripod, "Make You Happy Tonight." At 1:07 the real meaning of this song comes out. "Turn the lights down low .. it helps me feel like I'm in a spaceship" (comments?)

Tchaikowsky, Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy, Glass Armonica (comments?) Ultraviolet dreams

Read more!

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Message to MySpace users: Don't leave town

Long story short: woman goes missing, family distraught. Police and large, helpful internet community versed in finding missing persons have no luck, other than indications that she has left the state.

Question say no to MySpace logoAnd then .. someone suggests MySpace. [Cue music.] Bingo! Information about the missing woman begins to show up right away when the family starts checking with the missing woman's MySpace network. Most of her friend connections were on MySpace, and sightings of where she was and who she was with started coming right in.

It's much easier to teach ethics (and karma!) nowadays, by simply pointing out that your actions can be recorded or commented on and saved for decades on the internet for all to see. I don't think we've seen all the kinds of stories of people's internet information and connections catching up with them yet.

Ethics and scales of justice artworkFor example, a friend had a relative who didn't want to be found disappear some years ago, before MySpace. This was an unstable person, who incidentally was very entrepreneurial. Got me thinking how today's shady entrepreneurs are heavily involved in social media sites like MySpace, and the old story of "take the sucker's money and leave town" isn't going to play out like it used to.

Basically, the internet (supported by security and cell phone cameras) is making people more accountable. Politicians have certainly figured this out; they have become a collection of unflattering sound bytes and mashed-up internet videos.

And since heavy internet users skew young, it's like a giant, pre-adulthood ethics and reputation experiment. A lot of kids and young adults are still experimenting with letting pictures of them doing foolish thing show up on the web (and paying consequences).

I wonder: will the first internet generation develop a new common wisdom not only to avoid letting images or information about doing foolish things get on the internet, but to avoid doing foolish things in the first place? Or will they just create and accept a world where being a fool is the accepted standard? So far, it doesn't look good, but they're still young yet.

Of course, nothing will likely get rid of criminal behavior, but you have to love the story of the woman who took pictures of the thieves who stole her notebook by using the notebook's built in camera remotely. The happy ending: Thieves go online, victim logs in and takes their picture, police recover all stolen goods.

Read more!

Monday, May 05, 2008

Keep it simple, stupid: Making friends on social sites like Digg, Twitter, Reddit and Mixx

I can't believe the number of articles that over-complicate and philosophize how to enjoy and do well on social sites. (Or you can skip to the big list of links.) Disclaimer: This isn't any kind of "always works" formula for manipulating votes. It's just a simple introduction with some common-sense tips. I'll start by talking about Digg, and then cover Twitter a bit:

Getting your item to be "made popular" on Digg.

The first stage is watching your item climb the "Hot in [subcategory]" upcoming page for your post. For example: If your post rises here, it will either disappear or make the "Top in [category]" page. Example: Making the top of your category page will bring you TONS of traffic. If it fades, it was either surpassed by faster-rising submissions, or too much time elapsed (over 24 hours or so). But best of all is making the front page of digg overall.

When my last post made the front page of digg (a photo) it rapidly received over 140,000 views and well over 1,800 diggs. I deleted it pretty soon after, mainly because I decided it was indirectly unkind to the family involved. (But you can still see the digg submission and thumbnail here.) Now, on with the "how to:"

Make your homepage your friend's submissions

Add the user who submitted something you enjoyed to your friends. Make the feed of your friend's submissions one of the home pages in your browser. (You do have multiple home pages, right?) Press the F11 key at the top of your keyboard when you're browsing friend's submissions (press it again to return to normal mode).

The more friends you add, the more time you should spend finding and digging stories only from your friends submissions or shouts. It's amazing how much good stuff doesn't make it to the home page.

On Digg, this page is[YOURUSERNAME]/friends/submissions. (The equivalent page on Reddit is Digg headlines and descriptions that you think look worthy and go back through your list of dugg stories to chose ones to read. Unless you have a lot of free time, you should digg things that look good and only later go back and choose which ones to read. You're watering the garden for your friends by digging their stories, as long as you digg them while they're new, or barely a few hours old. (When you have a lot of friends, you can make your homepage the feed of your friend's shouts.)

I don't advise digging someone's story, and then shouting to tell them you did and ask them to digg something back. But when someone shouts this to me I almost always take a close look at what they've got.

DO click the link at the top of Digg that says new shouts, and digg all you like. Shouting is more of an advanced topic, (here's a basic how-to shout on digg) but for sure experiment by sending a few, and reading most that come your way.

For some great Reddit-specific tips, try this article.

Note that "shout to all" only goes to your first 100 friends, so you'll have to manually shout to each 100 when you have more than 100 friends (and you should!) Also realize that Digg adjusts how features work from time to time, so references go out of date from time to time.

Link to your followers content when appropriate

On sites where users promote their own content, I'll use Twitter as an example: link to their content when appropriate in your @ comments directly to them. It lets others visit the site your are referring to, and helps promote their work. On Twitter, starting a comment with @[USERNAME] adds your post (called a "Tweet" on Twitter) to what is essentially their public inbox (

Understanding Twitter

Prefer a simpler introduction to Twitter? Here's a great video introduction:

Always send a Tweet thanking anyone who follows you. It's the perfect way to make a connection. When Direct Messaging ("DMing") , if you're not sure if it would be perceived as spam, you can ask in the message. (Disagree?) Or don't do it. It's a great way to open a conversation, but be careful with it. You can say, for example, "[Brief message with link]. I don't/won't usually DM links, please say if this is spammy ..." Also realize that some users get their DM's on their phone.

Of course, if you really want the inside scoop on how people use Twitter, there is none better than the hilarious collection of inside jokes in the video below, "No Twitter for Hitler."

Follow your friends around the web

Comment on their blog posts, join their network on LinkedIn (why?) or elsewhere--at least read their profile!

Find people you respect, or have something in common with, and give them some attention. Set aside some time to read what they've written and when you find something you like, say something thoughtful about it in a comment or message to them. And avoid folks that seem like a poor fit for you, just because you're supposed to "network." Look for people you can help, like minds, and people willing to help you, in that order. I can't tell you how many times I've done a Google search for something of interest to a new contact and found something that helped them. Really. Othertimes it just helps me learn a little more about them.

Tools: Once you get better at this stuff ..

.. grab some tools to make it even easier:

Oh .. and use FireFox; it has hundreds of incredibly useful add-ins and extensions that you can't use without FireFox.

Also, read a few articles, get a few tools, and put your own wisdom down in writing (everyone else does). But if you're really geeky, this Forrester research post is worth a look. Any sites you would recommend? Also check the big list of articles at the end of this post.

Creating content that becomes popular on social sites

Not going to reinvent the wheel: here is an excellent article on creating good viral content, or, if you need to hear from the "experts," try this article. Recent research indicates that to give articles the best chance to go viral (such as reaching the front page on Digg), you should submit them after (or before) dinner (C.S.T.) Tue-Thu. Results go down if you submit earlier in the day or earlier in the week. The best days in order, best to worst, are: Thursday, Tuesday, Wednesday or Friday, Monday, Saturday or Sunday. If you're seeking to expand on Twitter, this looks like a collection of interesting tools.

There's a lot more that could be said, but somehow these basic ideas seem to be overlooked a lot, so I've kept this short and simple.


Big list of Social Media articles by Chris Brogan

These appear with permission of Chris Brogan. Click the headline above for links to the articles:

Community Development

  • Understanding Community Development Strategies

  • Ways to Disrupt a Community

  • Why Do Community Development

  • Should Your Small Business Use Community Tools

  • The Long Tail of Community

  • If Communitites Are Just Marketing Pools

  • The Magic of Including People

  • Meeting People at Events

  • The Community Play

  • The Community Ecosystem

  • How Blogs Improve Customer Service and Product Development

Social Networks

  • Three Things LinkedIN Does Better than Facebook

  • How I Use Facebook

  • Things To Do on Facebook

  • Facebook - Let Me See My Friends

  • Fix Your Facebook Profile Now

  • Facebook and the Social Graph - Who Benefits

  • Five Things to Do on LinkedIN

  • Considering Social Etiquette

  • Social Networks are Your Local Pub

  • Why Join Another Social Network

  • Marketers in a Social Network World

  • Real Live Human Social Networking

  • Social in Real Space vs. Social Networking

  • Making Social Networks Work

  • Improve Your Social Network

  • The Importance of a Human Social Network

  • Three Untapped Values of Social Networks

  • Five Things to Do at a Social Networking Meetup

Social Media

  • Social Media Starter Pack

  • A Basic Social Media Strategy

  • My Social Media Toolkit

  • A Sample Social Media Toolkit

  • Participation- The Key to Social Media

  • Social Media - Talk is Cheap for Businesses

  • How Big Companies could Use Social Media

  • Social Media Inside the Firewall

  • Social Media Power Secret - Listening

  • Small Businesses And Social Media

  • Social Media is a Set Not a Part

  • Social Media for Your Career

  • Help Someone Understand Social Media

  • Social Media as Personal Power

  • Snake Oil in Social Media

  • Using Social Media to Meet People

  • Social Media Starter Moves for Entertainers

  • Social Media Starter Moves for Real Estate

  • Social Media Starter Moves for Freelancers


  • How I Use Twitter

  • Deeper Twitter - Tuning Twitter for Value

  • Newbies Guide to Twitter

  • Twitter as Directors Commentary

  • Twitter as an Advisory Board

Personal Branding

  • The Power of Personal Leadership

  • Slicing Time in a Face to Face Environment

  • Brand Stories

  • Some Quick Branding Tips for Individuals

  • The foundations of Your Power

  • Personal Scalability

  • Personal Branding and Social Media

  • Passion Drives Personal Brand

  • Elements of a Personal Brand

  • Challenges of Social Media Types in the Workplace

  • The Value of Networks

  • Scaling Yourself

Making Media

  • Why Create Personal Media

  • Whats Your Social Media Strategy

  • Media Makers Next Steps

  • Blogging Advice for the Next Level

  • Expand Your Audience

  • The Future of Microcontent and Hperlocal Media

  • Why Bother Blogging Podcasting and Using Social Networks

  • Consider Your Media-as-Business Strategy

  • Marketing Media Means Moments That Matter

  • Using Social Sharing to Extend Your Message

  • Performance and Your Audience - Blogging Tips

  • Advice for Traditional and Local News Media

  • Tagging and Metadata and Why Bother

  • A Sunday Newspaper Strategy for Traditional Companies

  • Promoting Your Media

  • The Power of Links

  • 20 Blogging Projects for You

  • Succeeding in Independent Online Media

  • Seven Blog Improvements You Can Make Today

  • Keeping the Blogging Fires Burning

  • 100 Blog topics I hope YOU Write

  • 100 PodCamp Topics for You to Cover

Read more!

Friday, May 02, 2008

Ever been brainwashed? Sure about that?

One of my favorite themes is how identification (a key tool in brainwashing) is used in marketing and politics. In brainwashing, we are made to label ourselves, and then brought to "see" how in labeling ourselves we have also accepted other things about ourselves.

Wind-up toy control of people, individuals and groupsIn one experiment, people are asked to put an ugly billboard or small sign on their lawn promoting community safety. They are shown a picture of what it would look like on their lawn; huge, ugly, totally inappropriate for the yard of a house. Not surprisingly, no one wants the billboard---it's ridiculous.

A second group is only offered the small sign, some accept, and are praised for being a particular type of person.

Puppet strings broken free held by puppeteer handLater, the researchers (still posing as community activists) return to those in the second group who accepted the small sign, and use the same words of praise before asking them to "upgrade" to a billboard size sign (still ridiculously large and ugly). They are encouraged to believe that they are the kind of person, as demonstrated by their previous action of accepting the small sign, that would do this.

Proof of how powerful this technique is

Amazingly, some accept the billboard for their lawn! If this was an actual attempt at brainwashing, a smaller step would have been first, which they could have justified to their neighbors. The act of justification to others is a key step in brainwashing, solidifying the self-identification, and increasing the separateness from others. Divide and conquer. You would also be introduced to a group of others like yourself, also brainwashed. (If this sound a lot like single-issue politics, it is! An excellent modern-day example of brainwashing people.)

A favorite trick of Marketers is to fake an "authenticity" that we can identify with, and in the process of identifying ourselves with it, inadvertently trust the message. (Another issue on the web is how can we protect our reputation from attacks on it.)

Can you be manipulated?

One of the core tricks marketers rely on is that we don't realize we can be manipulated. Read up on the Obedience to Authority experiment if you don't think so. People argue about what it means, but remember this: it means most of us can be manipulated, most of the time (apologies to Abe Lincoln). You might also want to read 5 Psychological Experiments That Expose Humanity's Dark Side.

Brainwashing plays on our desire to remain consistent, getting us to agree to one thing, and then another, and then another ... Or, as Harry Beckwith says, "Certainty is a trick your mind plays on you; keep yours open."

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Thursday, May 01, 2008

Domains Under $2? Simple! $1.99 Through Yahoo

Some people have heard of this deal, but don't know how to get it to come up. Other people think the deal has ended. Not if you go through the steps properly! Here's how:

How to get the offer to come up

Yahoo keeps threatening to make this go away, and sometimes it's inaccessible for periods. If you have a Yahoo! account, sign out first, then search Yahoo! for "1.99 domains yahoo" and click the relevant ad links. (Don't do this from anywhere but Yahoo!, so Yahoo! doesn't have to pay anyone for the ad!) It will step you through buying a domain. Confirm that the 1.99 price is showing on each screen.

Watch out for the tricks

To get to the domain search screen, look carefully at your choices. You don't want to click a link for hosting, for example, just for domains. And once you have entered your choice of domain, and Yahoo! comes back and tells you your domain is available to buy (see below for how to find a good name) if you look carefully at the screen, you'll see there are two buttons you can click to continue. Last I checked, they both said "Sign up." However, one will take you to a screen with an inflated domain price. If that happens, go back one screen and click the other button.

I suggest buying with Paypal to prevent the domain auto-renewing at a much higher price once the first year has ended. Or, if you are POSITIVE you will to keep the domain for more than one year, transfer it to GoDaddy right away for about $7.95. That way it will be yours for two years, and GoDaddy is unlikely to start auto-renewing at exorbitant prices (due to their business model).

Create a new account

Man examining internet URLYou'll need to create a new Yahoo! account. Look for the confirmation email in the new account and click the relevant link and the account will go through faster (so you can set your DNS, etc.) Takes some minutes before the account is approved.

I switch from Yahoo! for later years sometimes. 1 & 1 hosting had a good deal for renewals recently.

How to find a good domain

Bust a name is really the best, IMHO. Builds domain names for you, finds synonyms, lots of tools for extending the name or creating special combinations, saving your searches, instant search, etc. MakeWords is good for a quick check with some common prefixes/suffixes. And Nameboy and Dot-o-mator have some nice options as well. (Sometimes it's easiest to start with or Wordsmyth though.)

Oh, and the Web 2.0 name generator is always good for a laugh -- or for ideas. (But it's results ARE real, available domains.)

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What motivates people? Harry Beckwith knows: The Beckwith 40

When I wrote about prof. Clay Shirky and giving people the chance to achieve higher needs, I was thinking about some of Harry Beckwith's genius.

Motivate using carrot and stick - donkey against blue skyWe're not talking brainwashing here, this is common-sense human nature from a brilliant observer of it. One of my favorites from Harry is: The ultimate test of a communication: Does it make people stop what they are doing? That gem of advice is #40 on the list he calls the Beckwith 40.

So, for an introduction to Harry, here's a baker's dozen from the Beckwith 40: (The subheads are my addition. For the full list, Rajesh Setty has published it with Harry's permission.)

First, Understand How They Think

1. Your biggest competitor is not a competitor; it’s your prospect’s indifference.
2. Your second-biggest competitor is not a competitor; it’s your prospect’s distrust.
3. Your biggest obstacle is whatever stereotype your prospect has formed about you and your industry.
4. Prospects decide in the first five seconds.
5. Prospects don’t try to make the best choice. They try to make the most comfortable choice.
6. At heart, every prospect is risk-averse, and risks are always more vivid than rewards.

Second, Understand How You Need To Think

7. Beware of what you think you know or have experienced; memories fail people constantly.
8. For the same reason, beware of what others say they know or have experienced.
9. Certainty is a trick your mind plays on you; keep yours open.
10. If everyone likes your idea, it’s not an idea. Good ideas always make enemies.
11. Don’t create something that everyone likes; create something that many people love.
12. Research never shows anything; it only suggests.

Value, Communication, Action, Understanding

13. Never take seriously what people say they think, because people are never sure. Trust only action.
14.-40. Full list

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