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March 2004 Archive

Wonderfalls Appeal

posted by DL Byron on March 31, 2004

“It’s like Joan of Arcadia except the girl is a cranky slacker who works at Niagra Falls gift shop. The toy animals start talking to her and telling her to help people. It’s not clear what force is driving the critters to talk to her. It’s very possible that the girl is actually crazy.”

Manis covers the appeal in more detail. He knows one of the writers and they’re hoping Wonderfalls doesn’t get cancelled. So do I.

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inspiration innovation influence

posted by DL Byron on March 30, 2004

The sessions at i3forum are filler for the breakfasts, lunches, and dinners, where you drink and connect with your peers. There’s a real creative vibe here and a sense that business is getting done. I talked about blogging, blogging for business, and using blogging tools for content management. Most of the people I talked to had a general idea, or no idea, what a blog was. Hopefully we’ll see a few new blogs because there’s plenty that the people I met can write about and a creative professional blog conference may result from some of the discussions we had.

We tend to think that blogs are mainstream, and that tipping point tipped a while ago, but there’s much work to do and many creative people that want to do it.

Quotes from an inspired session with photographer Jerry Uelsmann

  • “I’d be old if I wasn’t so immature.”
  • “Once we fall asleep and begin dreaming, we create mythic figures.”
  • “Self doubt is part of the creative process.”
  • “It’s not the role of the artist to resolves mysteries, but to generate more of them.”
  • “What happens when you cross a post-modernists with a used car salesman? An offer you can’t understand.”

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Shitty little pictures

posted by DL Byron on March 29, 2004

The very unofficial moblog for the i3forum is up at textamerica. I'm in the day-one sessions, listening to a talk on the social impact of camera phones. The audience here is mostly photographers, with a mix of companies, and web designers/developers.

A lively debate about shitty photos is ongoing and I offered a rebuttal with Tom Coate's The Mass Amateurisation of (Nearly) Everything post. Textamerica argues that moblogs are the photography for the rest of us and shitty photos are good. Reuters picked up textamerica moblog photos of the NYC Blackout when no other information was coming through. They've enabled the citizen photojournalist and that's another example of mass amateurisation. I wrote about amateur intranets last week and the point is that anyone can publish, be a journalist, or a photographer. Textamerica offers community and their members could care less about the quality of the photos.

zonezero, an international photo site, demonstrated their community and how it's a network that interchanges ideas with photos. They don't moblog, but members upload their galleries.

04.01.04 Update: Cnet covers moblogs and textamerica.

In other news

  • I'm feeling relaxed in the creative enviroment here
  • The weather is sunny in the 70-80s
  • Ocean waves pound the beach outside my window
  • My xfn friendly list o' links has been updated with people I've met
  • No one has called me the Clip-n-Seal guy yet . . . .

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posted by DL Byron on March 28, 2004

I’m at the i3Forum.com, an invitation-only gathering of digital artists and photographers in Laguna Beach, CA. The weather is beautiful and I logged on briefly at a nearby Internet Cafe. There’s no net access in the room or wifi in the resort, but it’ll be good to disengage for a few days.

Update: The geeks prevail and now there’s a wifi network setup in the lobby.

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You are here

posted by DL Byron on March 22, 2004

In the column nav above, I use a “you are here” indicator that I call “onstate”. The onstate in the second column is a link with square bullet and normal font weight. The onstate in the third column is a link with a normal font weight. I think that works well, but when I started using Movable Type to build the third column based on the blog categories, the onstate was lost. I consulted with Doug Manis and he coded some php:

For the Category Archive
// get page name from URL and use that to override the
link style

$this_url = $_SERVER['PHP_SELF'];  // get current URL
$file_name = basename($this_url);  // get filename from URL

// the file names for the sub-category pages
$file_names = array('cat_almost_daily.htm', 'cat_clients.htm',
'cat_clipnseal.htm', 'cat_design.htm', 'cat_our_strange_world.htm');

// the MT generated category IDs
$mt_ids = array('4', '1', '5', '2', '3');

// replace the file name with the MT category name
$id_name = str_replace($file_names, $mt_ids, $file_name);  

For the Individual Archive:

// get story category from MT

$file_name = '<$MTEntryCategories$>
// get filename from URL

// the file names for the sub-category pages
$file_names = array('Almost Daily', 'Clients', 'Clip-n-Seal',
'Design', 'Our strange world');  

// the MT category IDs
$mt_ids = array('4', '1', '5', '2', '3');

// replace the file name with the MT category name
$id_name = str_replace($file_names, $mt_ids, $file_name);  

In the style:

#cat_ a:visited {
font-weight: normal;
background: transparent;
color: #336699;

#cat_ {
list-style: none

and html:

<li id="cat_<$MTCategoryID$>">

Now, there maybe a more elegant way to do this, but it works.

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Mark it down

posted by DL Byron on March 21, 2004

I dig Movable Type, use it for my business, and evangelize it. However, one of the things I don't dig so much, is the posting process:

  1. Write in BBEdit.
  2. Log into MT, paste the post, preview.
  3. Switch back to BBEdit for revisions.
  4. Repeat until done.
  5. Publish.

Last week, Daring Fireball released Markdown. I read through the lengthy introduction, was daunted by learning a new syntax, but decided to give it a go. This post is written with Markdown. ok. cool. That eliminated several posting steps.

A few issues I've found:

  1. Not able to add a target="_blank" on links.
  2. Not able to have more than one link on the same line.
  3. I like visual interfaces.

Markdown is certainly more productive. After switching to BBEdit, nearly full-time, I've abandoned Dreamweaver except for quick layouts or tables. I'm just more efficient in code with templates. I do wonder where the visual interfaces to MovableType are? By that I mean a visual app that connects to an MT post.

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posted by DL Byron on March 18, 2004

I left SXSW on Sunday to get back to work (for the man) and missed all the XFNing going on in the hallways. I'd been paying attention to XFN and decided to update my “linkage” and “sites I looked at once” sections in the sidebar to include XFN values. I publish those lists with this template:

 <MTEntries sort_by="title" sort_order="ascend">
 <li><a title="<$MTEntryTitle$v"
 href="<$MTEntryBody convert_breaks="0"$>" 
rel="<$MTEntryExcerpt$>"><$MTEntryTitle$> </a>
<br /> <MTEntryIfExtended><
$MTEntryMore convert_breaks="0"$> </MTEntryIfExtended> </li>

My technique is similar to Keith's post, but with a seperate blog, php include, and this syntax:

  • Title — The name of the link.
  • Entry body — The link.
  • Extended Entry — the "title" tag and the text underneath the link.
  • Excerpt — the XFN relationship. One space if no relationship.

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Revolutionize that

posted by DL Byron on March 16, 2004

Wanderlost posted a summary of the Blogging for Business at SXSW. It went very well and I was surprised by the large turnout and amount of questions. Based on that, I think the topic could fill a conference day. Now that blogs are beyond the tipping point, people want to know how to make them work for their business. I discussed how we blog at Clip-n-Seal and my experience as a consultant at a large corporation that's embraced blogging. The questions centered on "connecting with customers" and "blogging behind the firewall." Most wanted to know

  • How to do it?
  • How to change your business with a blog?
  • How to get one started?
  • How to tell your boss it's not a personal journal?
  • What software to use?
  • What are the liabilities?
  • What about PR?

These same questions are probably being discussed at companies worldwide. The panel repeatedly noted how Movable Type was an effective team tool and Sharepoint Team Sites were not. I've built countless intranets that have never worked as knowledge management. Movable Type and RSS feeds simply (or a wiki) work. Tom Coates has written about the The Mass Amateurisation of (Nearly) Everything. What I'm thinking about now is the Mass Amateurization of an intranet, a sales/marketing plan, and how to revolutionize that. That thinking should turn into a case study or white paper.

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Austin City Limits

posted by DL Byron on March 16, 2004

On Friday, Pam and I flew into DFW and drove to SXSW. Neither of us had ever seen a city quite like Dallas. Its strip-mall architecture and audacious, neon-lit skyscrapers punctuate decaying infrastructure and it smells like fuel. Thick, hanging fuel. Skinny roads and two-lane bridges result in daily gridlock and we drove out of the rental car center right into rush hour. Inching along for an hour or so, I called out an HOV lane and Pam quickly exited onto it. Up a slight rise, back down, hard left, and the lane suddenly narrowed to a foot, sometimes less, on either side of us. It was like a white knuckle, Jersey-barrier flume ride. We determined that the city planners must have been faced with losing federal money because that HOV lane was either built out of spite, in a hurry, or by commuter haters. For 5 miles, we banked left, right, avoided a few big cracks, yelled at each other, down, up, and finally shot back into the regular lanes.

Later, while Pam slept, we approached Waco and Terry Gross was interviewing novelist Tim LaHaye about his Left Behind series of books. While LaHaye evangelized the end of days, I noticed hundreds of churches lining the frontage roads. I was beginning to freak out a bit as the sun set and LaHaye’s voiced assured Terry that only the believers will be delivered into paradise.

Pam woke up as we reached the Austin City limits, I told her all about the end of days, wondered where Koresh’s church was, and then switched to a comedy station on XM radio. We both stated that we could use a drink at the hotel bar.

On Saturday, I got badged, and we tried to find the Austin downtown core. Well, there isn’t one. We figured out that after walking miles in each direction. No one lives downtown. They work, party, and attend SXSW.

Speaking of partying, we attended Frog Design’s handshake party. Didn’t shake any hands, but did enjoy Les Messieurs Du Rock’s unique set that included an angry french guy, suicide girls, go-go dancers (moblog photo above), geisha girls, and an accordion. Daily experience has a brief video of their performance.

Google is returning hits for SXSW blogs. Also check metagrrrl, Jason Calacanis, blog.sxsw.com, mezzoblue, and Wanderlost.

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Keep Austin Weird

posted by DL Byron on March 13, 2004

Pam’s shopping while I get online at Book People with free wi-fi access from lessnetworks. We’ve seen the “keep Austin Weird” slogan everywhere and we support that. With an interactive crew in town, there should be no problem meeting the weird quota. Across the table from me (moblog photo above), a self-absorbed couple is loudly discussing abusive pasts, sexual histories, anorexia, and I wonder what else there is to do in Austin and SXSW. It’s been pretty good so far. Later today, I’ll check a few panels before speaking tomorrow about Blogging for Business.

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The Clip-n-Seal Brand and Blog

posted by DL Byron on March 11, 2004

In preparation for Byron’s appearance on the Blogging for Business Panel he asked me to write up some of my thoughts on how the Clip-n-Seal blog has affected the Brand…

I think the blog has extended our brand by exposing the human side of the business. In a world increasingly overrun by faceless mega-corporations, being small can in many ways be a brand asset. I believe there is an emerging trend for people to buy from local businesses, to buy things locally, to support the corner market, to help keep the little guy in business and stave off the Wal-Mart-tization of our country.

Clip-n-Seal is a small company started by a group of designers - we don’t hide that, we celebrate it. The blog gives a personal voice to the site, something that people can relate to. Yes, we are trying to sell you Clip-n-Seals, but we’re also sharing the excitement that comes with starting a company. I think there is a growing number of people who appreciate and respect that. And those are the people that tell their friends about us, those are the ones that are the key to our success.

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Blogs, Sweat & Tears

posted by DL Byron on March 07, 2004

I finally clicked through most of the Weblogs Inc. Network (WIN) site and their effort to “make blogs into a business.” Alvey, WIN’s CEO, and I worked together on a Blogstakes contest and he coded WIN from scratch. As noted in my More than Shilling Product entry, we use our blog to connect with our customers and it’s been a remarkable branding success (Blogstakes contributed to that success). I also noted that I’m not sure where blogs are going, but it’s “definitely more than just people loving their pets, shilling product, politics, instant pundits, or wardrobe malfunctions.” WIN is one place where successful blogs are going. Blogs are part of our brand and it’s WIN’s business. Cheers to their success and making money.

Preparing for the Blogging for Business Panel next week, I updated the speaking page with more related links.

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Benish Updates

posted by DL Byron on March 02, 2004

Benish finally updates his site and I respond to a question about RFID privacy:

“I wonder where the value to the consumer is. A grocery club card tracks your purchases and reports demographics and in return you get a discount. If I participate in a retailer’s or event’s RFID, what’s the value to me? I expect personal RFID blockers to become available from enterprising companies - maybe as a device on a keychain that jams the frequency.”

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