datadirt Geek Supplies: Background-Template for formspring

Foursquare.com is getting gold: hype-searching geeks are moving on, and these days their favorite URL is formspring.me: it's a really simple q-and-a platform – kind of like Twitter, but without the 140 character limit. The service lacks a lot features, it's still in a pretty early stage, which didn't keep me from registering though: formspring.me/datadirt.

formspring.meThe setup just takes a minute: like on Twitter, there's the avatar pic, the homepage URL, a short description and that's it. When it comes to eye candy, formspring.me offers a couple of templates, but the more brand-aware user can also upload their own background pic – now in 2 minutes, because I've compiled a Photoshop-template that speeds up the process of creating a custom formspring template a lot. Read more

Dear Mr. datadirt, we’re doing research

Journalism students from the Dutsch university of applied sciences in Utrecht are currently conducting a survey about the popularity of social media – if you run a popular blog, the questionnaire probably already arrived in your inbox. All interviews with social media experts will be published on the crossmedialab homepage – good questions, I'm really curious about the results of the study and my colleagues' answers, just mailed mine to Wolfgang.

How long have you been working with online social media and what was your reason to get into this topic?

The question is: which online services do qualify as social media? Ive started using the internet in 1994 out of mere curiosity. A couple of years later I started working as a web designer for APA (Austria Press Agency). At the same time, 3 fellow students from the department of science of communication and me launched the platform medianexus.net a community site for publishing grey student literature about media-related topics. The project doesnt exist anymore, the site is archived in the Austrian National Library though. The comment function was one our most important features back than and even though services like Facebook and Twitter were lurking in the far future, we used e-mail and mailing lists for discussion and organisation purposes.
To me, there is no clear-cut between Web 1.0 and Web 2.0 technologies have evolved, dynamic web applications did replaced static content. So the new tools fuel the use of social media, but the basic principle of enabling dialogue and connecting people has been one of the main strengths of the internet from the beginning. Read more

World Blogging Forum 2009 – The Opening

The World Blogging Forum 2009 has started today. In the morning, Mr. Traian Basescu, former mayor of Bucharest and now president of Romania, greeted us with a warm welcome; I actually expected him to just drop by for a couple of encouraging words, but Mr. Basescu obviously is a quite avid followers of the blogosphere and even pointed out that he prefers political blogs over traditional media as they are a lot less biassed.

wbf02

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3 more Google Wave Invitation – who wants one?

Earlier today, I asked on Twitter if anyone of my followers wanted a Google Wave invitation. The number of responses was overwhelming, the 14 invitations I gave away were gone within 5 minutes. I'm not an evangelist of Google's latest collaboration service, as it's still lacking too many features. But the huge demand amazed me, so I'm giving away three more invitations each here and on my German blog datenschmutz. All you have to do is leave a comment until tomorrow, 12:00pm CET.

I'll randomly pick three names – please use the e-mail address you want your invitation sent to for the comment field. And I'm very curious to hear your opinions about Google Wave: is it just another time-consuming distraction or the perfect collaboration tool we've all been waiting for?

Weekly Blogistan Round-Up no. 26/2009

“Welcome to the world of tomorrow!” No, that's not right. Let me try again: “Welcome to the world of the last seven days!” That sounds better! There's a lot to show-and-tell, so without any further ado, let's jump straight into last week's social media news.

The Future of Facebook

There's been a lot of talk about Facebook's future last week. Regular Geek views the new multiQuery API plus the profile search as two important steps in opening the walled garden:

There is a very strong feeling from developers that a closed system like Facebook cannot succeed. While I tend to agree that a completely closed system will have difficulties, Facebook has slowly opened up little by little to a decently open system. They still have some work to do before they become as open as Twitter, but the foundation has been started.

And Copyblogger, even goes a step further in explaining “How Facebook kills SEO”:

But the rise of Facebook creates a growing segment of the web thats completely invisible to search engines – most of which, Facebook blocks – and can be seen only by logged-in Facebook users. So as Facebook becomes ever larger, and keeps more users inside its walled garden, your web site will need to appear in Facebooks feeds and searches or you will miss out on an important source of web traffic.

ReadWriteWeb looks even further into the future. My guess is that scenario 4, “distributed social networking”, has a huge potential, and Google wave might give this a huge boost:

The next step after Facebook may be no social network in particular at all – it may be social networking as a protocol. A set of standards that let you message, share with and travel to any social network you choose. Suddenly all the social networks have to improve because they are competing on quality of service, over customers that have free will and are able to leave at any time.

From blogging to lifestreaming?

Blogging is dead – that's what they've been saying for a couple of years now. But is lifestreaming here to stay? Of course a social media feed is a welcome guest on many sidebars, and the time budgets are indeed shifting:

It seems as if blogging is becoming old hat, or at least evolving into something smaller, faster, and more portable. Im with Louis Gray, Im not going to give up my blog, instead, I think of it as the hub of content, and the rest of the information I aggregate (notice the Twitter bar up top and the Friendfeed integration below). To me, joining the conversation is certainly important, but it doesnt mean the hub (or corporate website) goes away.

19 Twitter apps compared

Mashable compares 19 twitter clients, from pro-dream-machine to keep-it-simple:

Now that Twitter is older than a toddler, you have a variety to choose from. From apps for groups, Mac and PC specific clients, and apps that let you do a whole lot more than tweet, you can use this guide to help you find the desktop client thats right for you.

And just in case you don't know what to do with these clients, take a look at his Mashable posting on twitter strategy..

The matrix tie-knot

I found Henry's video on Lifehacker – this one should make many Matrix fans quite happy:

If you're a very sharp-eyed fan of Matrix movie trilogy, you'll recognize the knot captured below as a rare specimen sported by “The Merovingian.” The knot itself didn't originate with the movie, and isn't rightfully named “The Merovingian Knot,” but the Ediety Knot. Still, it's nearly impossible to find any reference to it independent of the movie, so let's just keep the Wachowski-an etymology for now.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YA-n2xkYX6s[/youtube]

It took me a couple of tries and my knot is still not perfectly symmetric – but I must say: great video-tutorial!

The cost, the pay-off, the quickie

The Cost (and Payoff) of Investing in Social Media sure is an impressive title. So there's no need for actual arguments, especially when the introduction acts as a series of climaxes:

But is social media right for your business? Could it be a free substitute for a traditional (read: expensive) advertising plan? How much time should be spent in the care and feeding of all those profiles? The answers may surprise you.

It sure did not surprise me – actually, I'd have guessed that the answer would be “maybe”. But one thing I do know for sure: SM strategy (read: social media. don't read: Sado-Maso) is not a series of quickies and requires careful analysis and planning. So this is probably one of the dumbest quotes I've read in a while:

Time is money, but Weathers says it's all about how you manage it. “Previously wasted down time like sitting in taxis for 20 minutes or standing in a bank line for 10 minutes is now spent on my mobile phone, bouncing between Twitter and Facebook. It's getting easier and easier, and for branding an entrepreneur, I think it's golden.”

While writing the occasional tweet on your way to the airport or answering Facebook messages via Smartphone-client is a great time-killer for geeks, this is not what social media marketing is about.

btw: bad, bad entrepreneur.com! Using a javascript that dangles with the contents of the clipboard when copy-pasting is just… not a good thing.

Most WordPress Themes suck!

And it's Blair Williams who claims that – author of the mighty and highly acclaimed Pretty Links for WordPress. Now we all know that good looks are sometimes sufficient for a night of fun, but if you're thinking about a long-term relationship, there are plenty not-so-visible factor to be considered: in the case of a WordPress template comment formatting, landing pages and many more are among these. In his post, Blair outlines the 10 most common issues with WordPress templates – definitely worth a look if you're thinking about switching!

I'll think a theme looks clean, beautiful and professional then I install it, have a look under the hood and realize that it has fatal flaws.
This really makes me wonder how many people are slaving away on their websites and blogs all the while their site is dying a slow death because of a WordPress Theme that they think is fine.

Brno comin' up

It's been a while since Sacha Baron Cohen shocked the world as Kastachstan reporter Borat. In his new movie he portrays a gay Austrian fashion journalist – I'm so looking forward to see this film – starting on 10th of July. The trailer is *very* promising:

Pic of the week

Man's Best Friend is the title of zedzap's bw-shot – very nice pic, no HDR this time :mrgreen:

hundewoche

Video of the Week

This movie has got it all: action, car stunts, daring love scenes… unlike the director of the latest Bond movie, Asim Varol did a great job:

And that's it – see you again next week! Thanks for you whuffies and never forget: comments and feedback make blog authors happy :mrgreen:

Input for weekly round-upGot any news you'd like to read about in my weekly round-up of current blogosphere events?
Don't hesitate to contact me! Of course I'll include a backlink to your original story.

So don't hesitate – just click here for the contact form and give me an update on your issues: Give me input!.

Facebook kicks st00pid numbers, allows unique names

But if you actually want to secure your unique name, you gotta be quick, because:

Starting at 12:01 a.m. EDT on Saturday, June 13, you'll be able to choose a username on a first-come, first-serve basis for your profile and the Facebook Pages that you administer by visiting www.facebook.com/username/. You'll also see a notice on your home page with instructions for obtaining your username at that time.

That's what the official blog says – and what's even more important: once you chose your unique username, it's here to stay – no change of mind later on. And it's first come, first serve – so be quick! Read more

Weekly Blogistan Round-Up no. 23/2009

This weekly round-up comes with a built-in 24 hours of delay, as the author was extremely busy during the last weekend launching the Austrian Internet Council [site in German]. This was an amazing proof of the power of social media: within the short time span of 5 days we our project was the cover story on ORF FutureZone, Austria's biggest Tech News site. Crowdsourcing is great, but it can be quite time-consuming, especially when there's a lot of interest and involvement. So, without any further ado, let's jump right into this week's hot social media topics!

Ignore everybody!

breas! Hugh Macleod of Gapingvoid published his first book titled Ignore Everybody: And 39 Other Keys to Creativity. Just ordered my copy – I'm looking forward to some inspiring quotes and cartoons:

The first rule of business, is never sell something you love. Otherwise you may as well be selling your children.

The Real Pip-Boy Deal

The Pip Boy saved me various time – while I was strolling through the post-nuclear wastelands of Fallout 3. But the nifty little arm-computer might soon enter real life: Engadget shows pictures of an impressive flexible OLED-Display:

The 4-inch organic electroluminescent display sports up to 1.67 million colors, QVGA (320 x 240) 100ppi resolution, and can be bent to a curvature radius of about 2 inches. Hopefully, this doesn't become a must-have fashion accessory any time soon: while it's perfectly appropriate attire for post-apocalyptic wastelands, we don't know how well it'll fly at the sorts of high society social events we normally frequent.

Seesmic Desktop: no Air required

TechCrunch interviewed Seismic founder Loic LeMeur – and the most charming Leena Rao managed to make the man talk:

According to Le Meur, Seesmic will soon be offering a browser based client. This offering is actually appealing, considering that Adobes AIR platform has some strange UI bugs and quirks and tends to use a good amount of resources on computers. And Seesmic will also launch an iPhone app, which is currently under wraps along with the web-based product.

Jeremy's own Affiliate-Network

Jeremy Shoemaker has been writing about affiliate marketing for quite some time; but recently he launched his own affiliate-network and published a post about his experiences. I'm really curious about his plans:

Sure I hear you your thinking “Why the hell would you pay people to sign up for a free course?” It's a great question and I think when the dust settles around the shoemoneyx.com program I will write all about it, why I did what, and what exact effect it had. I do have a method to my madness but it's not as many have guessed. We will see if it works but that is for another post

Twitter is becoming infrastructure

Regular Geek posted an interview view on twitter – his main point: Twitter is shifting from an online service to a basic infrastructure upon which early adopters are constructing an eco-system:

So, why is marketing and economy so important to Twitter becoming infrastructure? Without an economy building on top of Twitter data and functionality, Twitter would just be a toy. With people researching the data that is generated from Twitter, it becomes much more important. In order to monetize the system, they can sell the data, but monetization becomes much easier when you become ubiquitous.

Can't argue with that – with all the various mash-ups and the growing interest in real-time search, it seems that Twitter is here to stay. At least for now.

Bing beats Yahoo

Microsoft's new search engine hat a great start: TechCrunch reports that Bing overtook Yahoo – now the question is: will this trend last or will the wearer of the ancient headband #2 leap for a comeback?

The companys analysis for Thursday finds that in the U.S. Bing overtook Yahoo to take second place on 16.28%, with Yahoo Search currently at 10.22%. For the sake of comparison: Googles U.S. market share is pegged at 71.47%, and its worldwide share at a whopping 87.62% (vs. 5.62% for Bing and 5.13% for Yahoo).

Content ain't king

“The idea that ‘content is king' in blogging is total bullshit” says Viral Garden:

Every day I read hundreds of blog posts. And every day, I see dozens of truly GREAT posts that get no comments. Every day I see dozens of pretty good posts that get dozens of comments and have vibrant conversations.
The difference? Most of the bloggers that write those pretty good posts are also pretty good about leaving their blog and interacting with people on OTHER sites. They comment on their reader's blogs. They tweet their links on Twitter. They are ACTIVELY social with social media.

Interesting thesis… I'd say that both factors come into play. Social media spamming will just piss people off unless you got some stories that are actually worth watching your moves.

Pic of the week

I admit: I just couldn't decide between these two beautiful shots. A direct path was taken by eyesplash Mikul, it's a free-handed shot. The seconded picture portrays a female lying wolf in the zoo of Zrich and was taken by Tambako the Jaguar:

picweekbird

picweekwolf

Video of the week

Boats are only people – pretty unreliable ones, to be exact. These love boat passenger are in for a wet treat – feel the pain of these great sailors:

This is the end – of this week's round-up. Thanks for stopping by and offering me some of your Whuffies. Let's do it like this: I'll keep posting and you'll keep coming back and drop a dime from time to time :mrgreen:

Input for weekly round-upGot any news you'd like to read about in my weekly round-up of current blogosphere events?
Don't hesitate to contact me! Of course I'll include a backlink to your original story.

So don't hesitate – just click here for the contact form and give me an update on your issues: Give me input!.

Welcome, dear new follower!

I recorded this 1-minute introduction video for all my fellow tweet-geeks: micro blogging is great, and it's even more fun if you can put a face to the name. So this is how datadirt (that would be me) rolls:

Read more

Guest post by Kim de Vries: Your Friend has just tackled you

Kim de VriesBite, lick, or tackle them back, or click here to theorize about what this all means. I'm very happy to publish the first guest posting here on datadirt. Kim De Vries, who I met via Facebook, wrote a very interesting paper about the symbolic kind of communication we all know so well from social networks like Facebook. “He who never superpoked shall throw the first rock” – enjoy the reading! Dr. Kim De Vries is working at the California State University Stanislaus, you can reach her at kdevries [at] csustan.edu

Introduction

Though Facebook was initially the province of college students, it has become popular with a broad range of users since opening its door to anyone with an email address in September 2006. However, until very recently, most research on Facebook has focused on the student demographic rather than exploring how Facebook is growing into a massive online society that is inhabited by many different groups using Facebook in a variety of ways for a variety of reasons. The academics studying Facebook generally join it and use it in order to observe students; now that more faculty are using Facebook outside the classroom, to organize events and to socialize, turning the focus to our own use of Facebook reveals that our own communities are being affected as well.

As of August 2008, Facebook is one of the most rapidly growing social networks, boasting 100 million active users, translated into twelve European and a growing number of Asian and African languages. The extent to which groups of people connected on Facebook can be defined as communities is highly debatable and a useful alternative has been suggested by Rieder and Sch

Social media triX: turn subdomains into profile URLs

Profil-Redirects mit SubdomainsA couple of social networks offer nice, human readable profile URLs, but most still don't. And since nobody is going to remember a link like http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=717807375, it's a good idea to use a redirect: this way, Facebook and other URLs are much easier to remember in an offline talk for example. If you're running your own site using your own domain, it's very easy to set up a subdomain which points to your profile. facebook.datadirt.net opens my fb-profile page – here's a quick checklist on how to do that.

This kind of redirection is suitable for all kinds of links which you want to shorten and/or make easier to remember. There are no disadvantages whatsoever, as we are going to use a permanent redirect: this means that Google will not index the subdomain and hence there's no duplicate content problem. I'm using my own Facebook URL as an example for the following instructions – caveat: Your server has to run Linux and the apache rewrite engine must be enabled.

  1. Add a new subdomain: the way you set up a new subdomain depends on your web hoster. Usually it's done via some administration interface. Basically, a subdomain points to a subdirectory of the domains root-directory. In this example I added the new subdomain “facebook.datadirt.net” using the directory www.datadirt.net/facebook/
  2. This directory is going to contain just one file which you have to edit now. The name of the file is .htaccess (that's an Apache standard naming convention) and it contains the instructions that point the user to the destination URL. It takes only one line using the following syntax

    Redirect permanent CURRENTDIRECTORY TARGET-URL

    In this example, the content of the .htaccess file is:

    Redirect permanent / http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=717807375

  3. There's no third step – you're done. Don't expect your new subdomain to work right away though: because of the way the DNS system works there might be a delay of up to 24 hours until the new subdomain works. But you can instantly test your setup by entering the absolute URL, in this case:
    https://www.datadirt.net/facebook/
  4. Multiple redirects: Of course you can set up multiple subdomains (on multiple servers) and have them all point to the same profile. I added another subdomain to my personal site which also points to my Facebook profile: facebook.pettauer.net

    How to edit your .htaccess file using Windows: If you're using Windows, there is no chance of naming a file .htaccess as Windows requires at least one character before the dot. So use a name like temp.htaccess, edit the file, upload it to your subdomain directory via ftp and then rename it to .htaccess on the server. Or you can use a command-line tool and edit the file via a terminal window.

Blogcatalog premium features rule supremely

…over any other blog catalogue. These guys offer very good value for very little money, considering the popularity of the site. Some of my blogs have been listed for quite a while now, and I like the looks and usability of my blog catalogue profile page. Instead of trying to spam as many irrelevant directories as possible, bloggers are much better off concentrating on a handful of important dirs, and bc is definitely one of them.

Today I became a “supporter”: for 6$ a month bc offers a pretty impressive range of feats: supports receive a special profile icon, geta beta access to all new features and surf a completely ad-free site. Any freeware adblocker can do that as well, but not if you're on a public computer.

I can almost hear your thoughts – nice, but why should I pay for this? Okay, here's the two killer features: first of all, donors are able to integrate their other social media profiles and leverage their catalogue presence by doing so. Currently only twitter is supported, but Digg, Delicious, last.fm and others communities will follow in the near future. And finally, here's the juicy part: bc offers increased visibility, or in their words:

As a premium member your blog will be prominently displayed on our homepage, helping you get the exposure your blog deserves!

There's also a weekly snapshot update (a recurring task that bc should do for every users anyways, as it's in their own interest) or you might wanna spend some more money: an additional business model enables users to rent sponsored category links, the prices vary depending on the demand, but start as low as 8$ per month. Recently, Jeremy did an interview with one of the bc founders on these listings and on their newly launched social search. The reason why the made their prices so cheap is that they hope to make a lot of people use the premium services – at least in my case that worked quite well. I think this longtail-business-model is a lot smarter than high-prize premium placements and it shows that a good longtail site (containing no pr0n) *can* indeed be monetized.

[youtube]JW9AHPAiAA0[/youtube]

If donating some money for enhanced exposure in the bigges US blog catalogue (we're talking pagerank 7 here) sound like a good deal to you, simple login and chose “donate” in the account-menu. No subscription fees, just chose the time span (starting form one month), pay via Paypal and you're all set.