Help Us Pick the Cover for the Upcoming “Adventures of Man in the Can” Book!

Help us pick the cover for the upcoming book “The Adventures of Man in the Can.” Helping us is easy, just send an email to “mb at bsmkl dot com” saying your choice of Cover 1 or Cover 2. Everyone who votes will be put into a hat and five names will be drawn and receive a signed copy of “The Adventures of Man in the Can.” Don’t wait, vote now!

Send your choice to “mb at bsmkl dot com” today!

The cover art for the book was done by the amazing David Murdoch. If you have a need for an original and amazing artist you can contact David at “davidmurdoch_art at yahoo dot com” Or go to his website at http://www.dmurdoch.deviantart.com/

In Celebration of the 60th Anniversary of “1984”…

We are watching you!

In celebration of the 25th anniversary of the year 1984 and the 60th anniversary of George Orwell’s epic dystopian novel “1984,” Vernon Coaker the U.K.’s Home Office security minister said the EU Data Retention Directive, under which ISP’s (Internet Service Providers) store communications data does not go far enough. Currently the rules require ISP’s to store data for 12 months. “Social-networking sites such as MySpace or Bebo are not covered by the directive. That is one reason why the government’s looking at what we should do about the Intercept Modernization Program, because there are certain aspects of communications which are not covered by the directive.” said Coaker, speaking at a meeting of the House of Commons Fourth Delegated Legislation Committee. For those that are wondering what is the Intercept Modernization Program, let me explain. The Interception Modernization Program  is a government proposal for legislation to use mass monitoring of traffic data as an anti-terrorism tool. Orwellian indeed…

Ok, so what’s the deal. According to Coaker this change is critical to track terrorist activity in the UK.

It makes one wonder if someone doing something that sinister would use a service like Facebook, MySpace or Bebo to do so? So let’s play what if?

What if…you have a family member currently living in the UK and they use Facebook to send you messages, chat with you and update you. Do you like the thought of someone reading that communication?

What if…you have a business associate that is traveling oversees and sends you a SMS from a text platform, let’s say the text contains confidential business information? How do you feel about that?

What if…someone you love is traveling overseas and chats with you over Facebook chat. Do you enjoy the thought of a government reviewing and saving the chat? Will that change how you behave?

In each case I would be a bit uncomfortable sharing any private, intimate or confidential information and would have some discomfort, but not allot sharing basic small talk.

At the end of the day, the real questions are these…Is this loss of privacy worth a safer world? And do you believe the world will be safer after the loss of privacy? Do you trust a government to keep your secrets a secret when you are not breaking any law?

For those of you that will argue, “why would you feel discomfort unless you have something to hide?” I say “get a life,” that is the same argument that propagated the persecution of people for centuries. I think that argument would fade the second someone starts going through your underwear drawer… :)

In Orwell’s 1984, we have a vivid picture of a government that has justified the infringement on freedom; one that  used speech codes to limit everyone’s ability to understand and used a powerful media to build unwarranted consensus. This fictional government used technology to nip opposition and the result of was humanity denied its freedom to think. No, I am not saying the sky is falling here and I do believe we need to take steps to keep society safe but when is enough, enough? I don’t have a clue what the answer is but whenever I start to feel uncomfortable and like our privacy may be going away I suspect we may be getting close.

What Website is the Stickiest One of All?

Sticky

Yesterday, The Nielsen Company released their “Topline U.S. Data Report for February 2009.”  The easy to read news release provides the Top 10 online Parent Companies and the Top 10 online Web Brands. To no surprise Google is the largest Parent Company (133,983,000 unique audience in February) and largest Web Brand (127,142,000 unique audience in February).  For those wondering what the difference is between the two categories Nielsen describes as follows;

  • Parent Company: consolidation of multiple domains and URL’s owned by a single company or division
  • Web Brand: consolidation of multiple domains and URL’s that has a consistent collection of branded content

The big winners for February, as far as audience is a line-up of “you could have guessed” companies and brands; Google, Microsoft and Yahoo.  So which company was fourth on the largest audience list? Apple? Facebook? eBay? Nope, AOL.  That’s right AOL.  The former king of the net and then fallen son was fourth in company audience and sixth in brand audience, still ahead of Facebook, FOX Interactive (MySpace) and Apple.

But the wins do not stop there for AOL. AOL was the stickiest place on the net with each person spending 3 hours 45 minutes on AOL in February.  More sticky than Yahoo (3 hours 27 minutes) and Facebook (2 hours 59 minutes).  It appears the AOL strategy to add more social and media features to their site. Features and applications such as Twitter apps and Lifestreaming seem to have AOL users staying on AOL longer than any other site user.

Surprised? I was.

So after a big win in the ratings today AOL announced a new CEO, Tim Armstrong; the Google veteran who help build Google into an online advertising behemouth.  So let’s take guess at the future of AOL.  Long user visits+better ad delivery=more revenue.  Could it be that simple?  I don’t know but it will be fun to watch.

Do Bad Times = More Downloads/Views?

A recent thread in a group I belong to was bemoaning the lack of interest in the association’s podcast. It appeared from the stats shared to show February to have the lowest number of downloads for the podcast since mid-2007. This got me thinking, does the economy have anything to do with the success or lack thereof in New Media?

Now let’s flip the coin and look at first hand experience for one of the podcasts I produce. The below chart represents one podcast, total monthly downloads (all episodes) from October 1, 2008 through the end of February 2009.

Download Requests Chart - One Podcast 10-1-08 thru 2-28-09

*source – Mevio Stats, MarkLinder

Now I have to be honest, I picked this particular podcast’s stats because they looked the best.  But results from all other productions, although not having a 99% increase in January over December, had substantial increases and were all up 35% or greater average per month over the same three month period.  This combined with the group thread caused me to consider a cause and effect for such dramatic differences in results.  Ok, there is no doubt the economy is in rough shape right now and the stock market is a great indicator of our current condition.

Market Down Since October

*Yahoo, 3/3/09

So back to our question, “Do Bad Times = More Downloads/Views?”  Going only on my first hand experience I would say “Yes.”  Going on the collective conversation of the group thread and the results of the association’s podcast I would have to say “No.”  So which is it?

The “Yeses” would argue that more people out of work means more people with more time on their hands thus more downloads.  The “Nos” would argue that tough economic times carries over to “free” New Media productions and that means less money for internet service and more people out doing what they have to do to find a job and listening to a podcast or viewing a videocast is way down on the overall priority list.  So which is right, the “Yes” or the “No?”

I say both.  Because at the end of the day, both are reasonable explanations (however hard to quantify) for seeing downloads go up or down.  Maybe the real question should be “why are some up and others down?”  It is almost impossible to say, without first hand knowledge and all the information, why some are up while others are down, but here is a quick checklist of basic questions you can ask yourself to help you gauge how well you are “executing”;

  • Do your listeners/viewers/readers “trust” you? Have you earned their trust by building relationships?
  • Is the quality of your productions going up, going down or staying the same.  Many would say if your are not always improving you are simply slowing dying.
  • Is your podcast/videocast/blog easy to find in search engines?  Have you done the most basic Search Engine Optimization?
  • Are you building a community of like minded people? Have you joined a community of those that have the interests of your podcast/videocast/blog?
  • Do you ask for feedback? Especially from your listeners/viewers/readers? Does the thought of honest feedback scare you a bit?
  • Is it easy to share your content? Can users share on Facebook, Twitter, Google, etc… quickly and easily?
  • Are your comments turned on? If no, stop reading this and go turn them on pronto!
  • Are you an active participant in a social network? Are you a part of the conversation? Do you participate or just listen?
  • Have you approached someone who does similar work to get their insights and thoughts? Do you learn from your like minded community?
  • Are you discouraged? Feel like giving up? Take a break, a vacation, socialize, get out of the forest and regroup…come back energized and ready to go!

If you went through the list and found yourself (if you are really being honest) saying you needed to do this better or that better then you are well on your way to building your audience to new levels or getting your audience back to the levels you experienced in the past.  You see, this post is not just for you, it is also for me as many items on the list are items I can do a much much better job at.  So no matter if your numbers are up or down, whether the economy is up or down it comes down to this; those that execute the basics day in and day out over time experience the greatest success.  Luck hits us all, but never lasts.  Execution wins everytime over time.