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January 31, 2008

Rating Burner's Alexander Fedorov Explains Site, Hidden Features

Yesterday, we uncovered Rating Burner, a new site that ranks popular blogs by their total subscribers, as calculated by FeedBurner. The site, previously unknown to the blogosphere, offered little behind its story, and little clue to its owner, though we did find Alexander Fedorov as the registrant of ratingburner.com. Today, Alexander emerged, and sent me a few e-mails, which further explained the site's origin and purpose, uncovering an interesting approach to discovering new sites and RSS feeds, as well as Web advertising opportunities.

First off, the site is more than an Internet egotist's dream. Rating Burner has its own Web crawler, aimed to discover new FeedBurner feeds and subscriber counts. As Fedorov wrote today, "The rating is growing all by itself. As soon as someone links to your blog, sooner or later it will be found by Rating Burner's bot."

And the bot had to start somewhere. Fedorov kicked off the Web crawling using John Battelle's Searchblog at http://battellemedia.com/. You can see this by using the same type of URL hacking popularized with ReadBurner just yesterday. Try the URL http://www.ratingburner.com/?order=1&dir=a and find the exact order of the robot's work. Hovering your mouse over the "1" in the "N" column shows the site was indexed by January 18th at 11:18 a.m. 4 minutes later, it was off to the Black Hat SEO Diary. 3 minutes later, the robot found TechCrunch, and it was off to the races. The robot eventually found louisgray.com on January 20th after noon, making me #216 in the list, which now has 368 individual sites.

Even more interesting, Rating Burner shows a detailed map of how each of these blogs link to one another. (Download the detailed graphic) The sites with the most links their way have the most arrows, and those sites with the most FeedBurner subscribers have the widest arrows to and from their site. As the below graphic shows, his robot correctly noted I link out to Mashable and WinExtra links to me. The map was generated by GraphViz, an open source tool.


My position in Rating Burner's map.

The robot spawned by Rating Burner has specialized intelligence to discover ad networks, and enables site owners to display going rates. As Alexander explains, the "crawler scans all blogs for signatures of some well known sponsors/advertisers and lists this information. It is possible to publicize prices for banner ads using special html comment . Crawler will find this info and publish price in the rating."

There are also a number of hidden tricks in the database.
To find out the total number of comments in the most-recent post on any included blog, you can sort with the below URL:
http://www.ratingburner.com/?order=17

To sort included sites by the most recent post, it's a different command:
http://www.ratingburner.com/?order=16

... and by PageRank:
http://www.ratingburner.com/?order=12
If you recall, Rating Burner also hinted at further categorization, including tags for SEO and gadgets. Alexander promises there are many more to come, automatically generated, again by the robot and the intelligent database:
He writes, "...categorization is completely automated. I have several samples of texts on special subjects like "gadgets" and then all blogs (5 last posts) are tested againts this texts using bayesian filter and shingles, and if the similarity is close enough, this blog will be listed under this category. I just need to add more categories and collect more sample texts."
Rating Burner is still in its infancy, even after yesterday's debut, without question. But there are some interesting tricks lurking in the database. Want to find recent posts with lots of comments that might be "hot"? Try this link: http://www.ratingburner.com/?order=4&filter=category%3ATOP.

And the blogosphere has noticed. In addition to my post, which hit TechMeme, and Mashable's coverage this morning, the site's debut was included in Danny Sullivan's Search Engine Land wrap-up for the day, as well as Marketing Pilgrim.

Kudos to Mashable, and Three Links Their Way

Some companies will talk about change, and not follow through. Mashable is not one of them. After promising to offer an improved level of transparency and attribution, the popular social networking news site has done exactly that, revamping they way they report news, share linkage and introduce original sourcing. Over the last few weeks, Mashable has managed to seamlessly keep reporting the news while adapting to the new guidelines... and that's hard to do.

With that said, I wanted to draw your attention to three great stories Mashable is running right now.



Podcast: A Conversation with MG Siegler
http://mashable.com/2008/01/31/l33t-reddit/

Mark "Rizzn" Hopkins sat down with MG Siegler of ParisLemon to talk about our new joint venture of delivering an "elite" Reddit, aimed at offering the best in tech news, free of the usual nonsense.



Readburner’s Unofficial API
http://mashable.com/2008/01/31/readburner-api/

Hardly a day goes by without Alexander Marktl's pet project, ReadBurner, making the news. Yesterday, as noted in my link blog, David Rothman posted a piece on Hacking ReadBurner URLs, which can deliver unique, and often unexpected, results. URL hacking is among my favorite past-times. Combine it with ReadBurner, and you've got some good fun ahead.



RatingBurner Ranks Blogs According To RSS Numbers
http://mashable.com/2008/01/31/ratingburner-ranks-blogs-according-to-rss-numbers/

Mashable's Stan Schroeder also followed up on our piece on Rating Burner from last night, highlighting the new site's ability to rank blogs by RSS numbers. As he writes, "... it’s a ranking system with positive sides and flaws like any other, and I guess it can’t hurt to have another one."



All are worth clicking through and reading. Make sure you do. And Mashable, nice job.

January 30, 2008

Rating Burner Debuts With RSS Feed Ranking, Growth Stats

There's precious little that bloggers like to do more than measure their own statistics, and gauge how they're doing, relative to the rest of the blogging community. And there's similarly precious little that smart Web developers like to do than harness publicly available data, point it at an intelligent database, and debut a new service.

When the two come together as one, you have the potential for a must-bookmark site that stataholics and egotists alike will visit time and again.

While earlier this month, we talked about two new sites focused on tabulating popular shared links from Google Reader, in ReadBurner and Shared Reader, today we've seen a new, unheralded site emerge, which displays the most popular blogs, by RSS feed subscribers, and shows their day to day momentum in terms of new subscribers or defectors. That site's name, appropriately enough, is Rating Burner.

(Note: There are no blog hits for Rating Burner as of 8 p.m., but the secret is now out!)

Though in its early stages, Rating Burner is accomplishing what many geeks set out to do by hand just a few short months ago. (See: Top Blogs On Google Reader, How Many Google Reader Subscribers Do You Have? and Find the Number of Google Subscribers for Any Feed)

The site, currently holding approximately 400 individual blogs and RSS feeds, at time of this posting, aims to summarize a blog's feed popularity, show its Google PageRank (a measurement often used to illustrate trust), its aggregate change in subscribers over the previous 24 hours, including percentage change, when they most recently posted, and what, if any, ad services they use.


The Most Popular Blogs, According to Rating Burner

While the list isn't yet 100 percent inclusive, Rating Burner unsurprisingly shows TechCrunch, the official Google Blog, Mashable and Guy Kawasaki among the top-subscribed feeds. Amazingly, Rating Burner shows more than 11,000 new adds to TechCrunch's 654k subscriber army in the last day alone, dwarfing the 709 Mashable picked up, and my measly 38, although I did manage to go up more than 8 percent between the two snapshots.

As with ReadBurner, Rating Burner should only get better with time, and with user submissions of new blogs. The site offers an entry form to post new blogs for inclusion, and looks like it will soon add categories, to further segment the data. So far, the site has SEO blogs and Gadget blogs listed as possible filters.

Also like ReadBurner, upon initial writeup, Rating Burner's UI is quite spartan, but the functionality is very interesting. I'm impressed to see the developer has grabbed the FeedBurner statistics for each blog and is hosting the results on their site, rather than externally pointing to FeedBurner graphics. I for one noted the statistics listed for louisgray.com were from Monday night, so it's likely the data trails by a full 24 hours. Thanks to my subscriber count dropping from 436 to 413 overnight, I would expect my own stats to drop tomorrow, reflecting Tuesday's data.


louisgray.com, 37th fastest-growing, according to Rating Burner

If you would like to be included in Rating Burner, post your blog feed at their URL, and they will likely index you for tomorrow's results. While I used the site's contact us form on their Web site to reach the developer, I haven't yet heard back, and we don't yet know for certain the individual behind the service. Domain name records show Rating Burner registered to Alex Fedorov in Massachusetts, so we hope to hear from him soon and see the service further develop.

iPings Ping Service Suffering Multi-Day Outage

Since early last year, when Steve Rubel of Micro Persuasion introduced me to iPings, I've relied on the multi-service Ping engine to update sites including Technorati, Weblogs.com, FeedBurner and IceRocket, alerting the services that my blog had been updated. Using a simple form, I could enter my data in iPings and hit all the services at once, rather than updating them individually, or hoping their spiders were quick.

But for this entire week, iPings has gone missing, offering instead a stark notice, saying, "ipings.com is down for maintenance. We apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused. Please check back soon."

But unlike Twitter, which goes down for maintenance seemingly a few times a day, iPings has never come back up, and it's tempting to think the service just might be gone - leading me to use my backup, Pingomatic, or trust the Web crawler gods.

While iPings never sported the most creative of Web layouts, and often annoyed with flashing banner ads or unreadable captchas, it simply got the job done. Now, I have to wonder if they're all done too.

My Apple TV Still Wants Rentals, But Apple is Holding Out

Remember how pleased we were to learn that Apple finally introduced movie rentals via iTunes? I was stoked. In the midst of the writers' strike, the fact we could potentially gain access to new entertainment via the Apple TV and playing on our big screen was a home run. But weeks after the MacWorld Expo hubbub has died down, we're still left waiting, and the situation isn't getting better any time soon. For as the calendar turns from January to February, we got news today that Apple still needs a few more weeks to get it right. (See Also: TUAW)

Rats.

Since the introduction of movie rentals, we've already enjoyed a few films we hadn't seen in the theaters, including "The Hoax" and "A Guy Thing". Both were in the perfect spot for this - not good enough to see for $10, but of high enough quality where I'd feel bad if I snuck off to some Peer to Peer solution and grabbed it, sans paying. As you would expect, the viewing experience from Apple was simple. After the films downloaded, they were in a special section of iTunes for rented movies, and played just like a DVD would on my laptop. When done, I deleted them, and got that 1 GB or so back of free space on my drive, just as I would expect.

But, despite this wonderful innovation, my Apple TV still doesn't have access to it. I've checked the settings, and each time I look, I'm told I'm "Up to Date". What a shame. Hopefully, Apple's newfound transparency in terms of notifying customers there are delays doesn't turn into a repeat pattern as the weeks turn to months and so on...

January 29, 2008

Custom Reddit for Elite Tech News Created

It wasn't all that long ago that RSS and blogging pioneer Dave Winer called for the ability to create a Digg clone. He envisioned a service not for a vast market, but instead, one for a specialized niche of readers. With a limited number of participants, an elite group of moderators could serve as editors, using their collective brainpower to push the best news to the top, unimpeded by random videos, images, politics and the latest Mac or Linux war to hit the blogosphere, as can be seen all too often on popular "wisdom of crowds" sites, from Digg to TechMeme.

Last Tuesday, Reddit was first to the scene, offering users the ability to create their own reddits. Now, instead of one massive catch-all site that absorbed all the news of the day, many parallel reddits have emerged, including some for Comics, lolcats, wikipedia and much more, from atheism to politics and the environment.

While the total number of subscribers to these custom reddits remains small, with the most popular typically sporting a few hundred users, one in particular has heeded Dave Winer's original call to deliver a site dedicated to the top tech news of the day, edited by a group of popular tech bloggers.

A sample of tonight's tech news.

The reddit, focused on "Elite Tech News" and featuring the "elite" address of http://reddit.com/r/l33t, is moderated, so far, by MG Siegler of ParisLemon, Steven Hodson of WinExtra, Frederic Lardinois of The Last Podcast and me.

While the site is just getting started, we are approaching 100 subscribers, and hope to include you among us. You can be sure that this reddit won't fall victim to pictures of kittens, promotions of fringe presidential candidates and off-topic nonsense. Find us at http://reddit.com/r/l33t.

First Round of Fifty AssetBar Invites Gone

Surprisingly, I managed to pass along all fifty of my first-day invites to AssetBar today, through this morning's blog post, and follow-up e-mails I had promised to those who contacted me in the last six weeks, looking to gain access to the new service. Amazingly, I even got a number of e-mails from close friends who tried to get in this evening, but were too late. So if you're still awaiting an invite, I won't forget you. Just send me an e-mail to louisgray@mac.com, and I'll reach out your way should I get more.

While the first few dozen folks find their way through the new service, and uncover a number of kinks, we did see some ineresting reactions in the blog about AssetBar's early debut:

CBS 5.com: Come On Now Social
"When Google Reader made "shared" feed selections truly shared items, people wigged. But a new RSS feed reader is out for public consumption, and the whole idea behind it is about showing off your stuff..."

Unique Frequency: Alerts On Readburner, Social Alternative To Google Reader
"Basically while you can share feeds in Google Reader, you don’t know what someone else might be thinking about it, other than the person liked it enough to share it. AssetBar changes that by allowing users to rate articles and comment on them as well."
I promise to post some more updates around AssetBar in the coming days and weeks. After all, this site is becoming well known as a go-to destination for information on next generation RSS feed readers, covering not just Google Reader, but FeedHeads, ReadBurner, Spokeo, Shared Reader and AssetBar. More to come.

January 28, 2008

AssetBar Launches, With Google Reader In Its Crosshairs

AssetBar, the next generation social RSS feed reader, has been in heavy development mode since we first got the opportunity to test the service back in December. (See: I Have Seen the Future of Social RSS Feed Readers) After significant infrastructure updates, error-checking and GUI tweaks, the service is ready to debut in pre-release.

Unlike every other RSS feed reader out there which I've tried, AssetBar catapults the user experience out of a journey of isolation, and instead to one of shared activity, commiseration, and comments. It's like taking the power of Google Reader, and spreading over a veneer of FriendFeed. Now, instead of wondering if a friend of mine has already read an article I found interesting, I can share it (like in Google Reader), I can rate it (thumbs down, informative or read now!) and I can post public or private messages to it.

Go to www.assetbar.com. Invite code is "louisgray". My ID is louismg. Bring OPML.


Additionally, as we've highlighted in recent weeks with Google Reader, I can add items directly to AssetBar that are not part of my subscriptions.

Essentially, AssetBar has created a foundation for what I expect to be the future of RSS feed readers - not aimed at individual news consumption, but instead, aimed at collaboration. AssetBar takes a leap forward, similar to the move away from Web portals and toward social networking.

In this pre-release phase, I expect to find issues, and AssetBar has been kind enough to make the site's admin a friend to all early access users, so you can make your suggestions known. In the six weeks I've had the opportunity to enjoy AssetBar myself, I know the team responds rapidly and continues to make updates.

Next up immediately for the service? Developing a river of news and keyboard shortcuts. This will give Google Reader's high-end users a real reason to make a move. As the site's co-creater, Israel LHeureux writes, "Our 100% focus will be on adding features to get high-end users to switch from GReader. You can bet we'll be sweating it."

Want an invite? Go to www.assetbar.com. The access code is "louisgray", without quotes. My friend ID is louismg.

See also:
AssetBar Early Access Delayed, Invites To Come Soon
AssetBar Set to Launch With Google Reader Inspiration

Forget the A-List? Not Quite Yet.

Well known A-list blogger and technology evangelist Guy Kawasaki says the time has come where prominent bloggers with brand names aren't any more likely to determine a product's success or failure. As he says it, referencing a recent article in Fast Company, "Lousy reviews by them cannot tank your product. Great reviews cannot make it successful."

But to summarily dismiss the most well-known bloggers as ineffective means to get word out around a new product or Web service is flawed. In my belief, there is no binary "right or wrong" answer here. You shouldn't make outreach to the A-list bloggers OR hope to reach users who can virally make your product a success. A good campaign should be more broad, and include elements of both reaching out to the most widely read, and to early adopters.

We can see Web services every day try to get launched through TechCrunch, GigaOM and Mashable, in hopes that the massive traffic spike will carry them through their next venture capital round and long-term success. People often refer to the ensuing deluge of visitors as "The TechCrunch Effect", as they once did about the "Slashdot Effect". And while we know that eventually traffic goes back down, being profiled by such well-read sites leads to smaller bloggers following on with their own take, trying out the product and writing reviews. In effect, rather than starting at the bottom to get a few links and working their way up, going after the big dogs means getting coverage both at the top and the bottom.

As I told Emanuel Rosen, author of "Anatomy of Buzz", following my first comments on his book, there are new ways to gain buzz and interest across the Web these days, from limited invites and private betas to working Twitter and the B-List. There's no question that each of these elements can deliver users. But to ignore a significant portion of a potential campaign on its face and declare it one to "Forget" is silly.

Some of us may wish the A-List concept were dead and gone, but it's not yet, and it won't be for some time, and if one name were to go down, there's no doubt another would rise to take its place. In every marketplace there are leaders who wield an inordinate share of power. Simply wishing them away won't make it so.

January 27, 2008

Google Honors Building Blocks of the Non-Web Kind


Google is well-known for modifying their logo to celebrate anniversaries or mark holidays. Today, with the 50th anniversary of the first Lego bricks, Google has edited their logo to be built out of Lego bricks, featuring a Lego figure atop the second "g". With so many engineers and techies on site in Mountain View, there's no question that many of them began their tinkering without computers, and many a youthful hour was spent in front of the popular children's toys.

Fifty years ago, few could have foreseen the way technology and the Web have transformed business, commerce and communication. And just five years ago, few would have guessed how critical a building block Google has become to just about every facet of our online lives - from finding information, posting information, sharing information, and saving information.

And five years from now, what we know of Google today might be a mere shadow of what the company is set to become. Today's Google might just be a building block, like the first lego in a structure, of something monumental.

After all, you can't spell Google without the L, E, G and O.

Also see:
Google's Earth Day Logo Makes a Splash
Google: Holiday logos

How Soon Until People Demand Link Blog Portability?

The issues of data portability and ownership reached a fever pitch when Robert Scoble famously got kicked off Facebook for 24 painful hours. Users debated forwards and backwards over whether he had wrongly tried to export data from his friends that he believed belonged to him, while the social network believed they had ownership. In the ensuing months, many of the largest Web firms have joined DataPortability.org, essentially promising you can import and export your data from one service or another, without being locked into a data silo.

Yet, while this is happening, some services are becoming increasingly important, and are completely immovable. Take Google Reader's shared link blogs for instance. Despite the great utility of the link blog, combining all your best-liked posts from the blogosphere in one place, the link blog lacks customization in look and feel, in URL, or in the ability, so far, to both input data from sources outside of Google Reader, or to export the data to a new format.

Recently, in part due to the Google Reader team's lack of attention, services dedicated to tabulating the popularity of shared link items have risen up, most notably the debut of ReadBurner and Shared Reader.

Additionally, there has been recent interest in adding individual posts to Google Reader link blogs, without requiring subscription. I touched on the idea last Wednesday, ReadBurner implemented it that afternoon, and Google Operating System debuted a work-around this Sunday.

What this tells me is that the value of the link blog is only going to increase over time. Yet, it only can be modified if you utilize Google Reader, and it can only be presented at a Google-selected URL. This is in contrast to the wide variety of options seen if you use the company's Blogger service, where you can either use their blogspot.com address, publish via FTP to a site you already own with your own domain name, or thirdly, buy your own domain name through Blogger.

I believe that as alternatives to Google Reader arise, and bloggers start to see the value in their own link blogs, there will be a desire to:
1. Use other blog services to publish RSS items to their link blog.
2. Add updates from other non-blog services (like Del.icio.us, Twitter, Digg) to their link blog, a la FriendFeed.
3. Move their link blogs to a custom domain.
4. Customize the link blogs to look like their own Web sites.
Today, Google's shared item link blogs offer non-intuitive URLs, a bare minimum of design, on a white background, with your Google profile, and are limited to RSS feeds via Google Reader.

While Google was one of the first to offer this service, and has the highest following, as attested by ReadBurner, I believe people will recognize the need to open up and offer flexibility between both competing and complementary services. As Google offered to be part of the data portability movement near the beginning of January, I sure hope this concept is on top of their list. If it's not, I wonder how long it will take until their users ask for it to be.

Mormon Leader Gordon B. Hinckley Passes Away

Breaking away a bit from our usual technology coverage, we heard the sad news tonight that LDS church prophet Gordon B. Hinckley passed away at age 97, after leading the church for more than twelve years. Hinckley presided over the church in a time of significant growth, missionary outreach, and temple building world-wide. He also was easily the most visible Mormon prophet to date, showing incredible media poise, appearing on CNN's Larry King Live several times during his presidency.

(See transcripts from: 1998 and 2001 or the 2004 video from YouTube)

For those unfamiliar with the Mormon faith in general, Hinckley held the highest position in the church, behind only the Godhead, of course, and could be considered the equivalent of the pope for the Catholic church. Hinckley was a member of the First Presidency, with both a first and second counselor, heading the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, paralleling the organization of the New Testament times.

In my time as a member of the church, since birth in 1977, I've seen four prophets, starting with Spencer W. Kimball, Ezra Taft Benson, Howard W. Hunter, and Hinckley. While Hinckley was the oldest president in church history, he was well-known for his optimistic spirit and upbeat attitude, even as he was in his mid-90s. We will certainly miss him, even though we know the church remains in good hands.

For more information on Gordon B. Hinckley, see LDS.org or Wikipedia.

January 26, 2008

Oakland A's Fanfest 2008 Brings Baseball to January

As partial season ticket holders to the Oakland A's, each year my wife and I get a perk which includes passes to the team's annual FanFest, where as a small group, we got to tour the team's clubhouse and enjoy question and answer sessions with some of the team's favorite players. For the second year out of three (See our 2006 report), we got to go, and while weather was expected to be rainy and downright miserable, we were pleasantly surprised to get calm skies.

It's been a long, cold, dark off-season as an A's fan. Since the team missed the playoffs and finished with a losing record, just one game out of last place, we've seen the team's ace pitcher, Dan Haren, dispatched to the Arizona Diamondbacks, the team's best all-around player, Nick Swisher, traded to the Chicago White Sox, and one of the team's veterans, Mark Kotsay sent to the Atlanta Braves. The trades, all done in exchange for young prospects, have had some thinking the team's already given up on 2008. But even if we don't expect Oakland to run away with the division, I believe they'll surprise some people, and today, it was great to enjoy being a baseball fan again.

Arriving at the Coliseum around 11:00 this morning, with my wife and two friends from church, as well as their one-year-old, we made a beeline for the clubhouse tour, seeing the team's locker room and the coaches' offices, lined with memorabilia from yesteryear, seeing magazine covers and bobbleheads galore. Some of the lockers were still adorned with the names of players now elsewhere, as if frozen in time from the end of last season.

Then, the real fun started. We sat in on an 11:45 Q&A session featuring Hall of Famer Rollie Fingers, current A's pitchers Huston Street and Alan Embree, and pitching coach Curt Young. Between the jokes about Alan Embree being old and Street being young, fans got to ask Fingers about pitching in the World Series in 1972 against Johnny Bench and the Cincinnati Reds, and Young about the 1989 World Championship team that featured Mark McGwire and Jose Canseco.

I ask a question and try not to butcher itAt 1:00 p.m. there was another Q&A session, this time with A's hitters Daric Barton, Kurt Suzuki, Jack Cust and Mark Ellis. Of the four, only Ellis was starting with the team at the beginning of 2007. Cust was a journeyman minor leaguer, while Barton and Suzuki were working their way up the food chain to Oakland. This time, rather than sitting idly by, my wife asked Ellis about life away from the family (and his pug) and how he handled that, while I asked Cust how it felt to be in an organization who believed in him and whose fans were supportive of him, compared to others where he always seemed one strikeout away from the minors or one homer away from the majors, but never in a role where he belonged.

Cust seemed extremely pleased with his new surroundings, and while the sports world isn't giving much thought to the A's chances this year, we are excited about thinking about baseball again. We're excited about seeing Barton, Suzuki, Cust, Travis Buck and others for a full year. We're looking forward to spending a lot of time on I-880 going up and back to the A's games starting in April, and catching Spring Training in between. There's just something about baseball that makes the world right, even when not every game goes the right way. The 2007 season ended weakly for the A's last year, and Fanfest reminded us we start 2008 with a brand new schedule and brand new record, that of zero and zero.

The A's have already made full video of each of the Q&A sessions available on their Web site (including my cameo and that of my wife). You can find all that at OaklandAthletics.com. Additional commentary on this year's Fanfest can be found at Athletics Nation. (Fanfest: The Reports, The Gossip, The Aftermath)

NotchUp Sells You Out, but Nobody's Buying

I can see how a few overzealous marketeers dreamed up the concept of NotchUp, a new career site for casual job seekers who believe themselves to be so good that prospective employers would bid simply for the right to interview them. The thought... "What if we combine the utility of LinkedIn with viral marketing, using spam and a half-baked pyramid scheme? All we have to do is create a site and force companies to pay for interviews! We'll be rich!"

But the idea is ridiculous. After receiving way too many invites to NotchUp in my e-mail box, primarily from casual business acquaintances who I haven't worked with in years, I thought I'd sign in to see what the noise was about, while also pre-emptively blocking future invites. And what I found was absolutely silly.


Some of the NotchUp e-mail invites I hadn't deleted yet...

NotchUp essentially wants you to recreate your LinkedIn profile, even offering to import your LinkedIn contacts, and then set a price for how much you believe a company should pay for the privilege of meeting with your egotistical self. And, if you act fast, you can spam all of your buddies, thereby gaining 10% of their earnings from interviewing companies as a referral bonus for a full year.

But there are some major glaring holes here.

#1: No company that takes itself seriously will pay for your interview

If a company needs to pay you to interview, they probably aren't one you want to join, and if you're willing to interview for the sole purpose of being paid, with no intention of taking the job, they shouldn't want you.

#2: In order to make any money off the process, you'd have to interview a ton, and never take a job. And all that interviewing might cost you the job you already have.

Notchup encourages you to set a price for interviewing between $75 and $5,000. Assuming you set your price at $250, you would have to conduct 200 separate interviews to rake in a $50k salary. And if you interviewed twice a week at that rate, you would be making $2k a month. But.... you wouldn't ever see that kind of money anyway.

I'm special. Pay me big bucks to chat.


#3: The very best way for people to find new jobs these days is through networking.

LinkedIn is a success because of who you know, not how well you write your resume or how well you interview. LinkedIn shows the quickest route between individuals, and NotchUp doesn't even talk about that. Their entire selling point is about you getting rich, not off working, but pretending to be interested in work.

#4: Friends who spam me shouldn't make a red cent.

You think I'm really going to export my 360+ LinkedIn contacts, invite them all to NotchUp, and then sit back as the profits roll in? Hardly. I don't have stars in my eyes thinking all 360 of my contacts will interview once a month at $200 each, and make me a cool $7,200 a month. If you sent me a spam e-mail asking me to join this quasi-pyramid scheme of a program, I'd have to reconsider whether I'd ever hire you on my team in a future capacity.

#5: The economy isn't so red hot that companies are panicking in need for good employees.

With all the talk about market fluctuations and even a recession, it's not as if companies are dying to meet you. I don't know if they want to meet you for free. The best ones, like Google and Facebook, aren't hurting for talent. They get thousands of resumes a day, most of which won't even get a courtesy callback. Maybe this process would have some chance of success in a go-go time of market inefficiency where job applicants were in control, but not now, and not any time soon.

I'm all for checking out the latest and greatest Web services, but NotchUp is a joke looking for a punch line.

See Also:
Center Networks: There Are Great Ideas, There Are Poor Ideas, Then There's NotchUp
Danny Man: NotchUp? Not so much . . .
eWeek: What if Companies Paid to Interview You?

January 25, 2008

RSS Subscriber Count Doubles In 4 Weeks



December 28: Feedburner Milestone Reached: 200 Subscribers... and 4 weeks later... January 25: 400+ RSS Feed Subscribers. From that note, I said, "... it'd be nice to have 500 subscribers or so by this time next year." Sounds like I may have to change that goal to a higher number!

HTML Colors for mosaic from Web Developers Notes | Chicklets from FeedBurner

January 24, 2008

Technorati's Latest Change: Front Page Revamp

If there's anything constant about Technorati, it's change. The last few months have been extremely bumpy for the once world-leading blog search and tagging engine, with executive changes, the more than occasional outage, and reduced relevance in the face of Google Blog Search.

But they're not going away any time soon, and tonight, it looks like they've reorganized their front page, to make the site more of a destination, rather than a conduit for you to get to tag data and ego-inflating blog statistics. Of note, Technorati might have gone the opposite direction, moving the most popular sites off the front page altogether, and instead, to Blogger Central.


The new front page highlights posts from my selected "favorites" as it did before, but displays the content in a more text-rich fashion, as if you were reading RSS in a feed reader. The site also brought forward the "My blogs" section, showing current authority level and my number of fans. (Not all that high, mind you)

Also highlighted is the integration of top tags, with a 30-day graph showing the prominence of those tags over time. The rising blog posts and rising news stories, determined by external links and discussion, has been pushed to the bottom, below that of updates from my favorites.

Will this make me visit Technorati.com that much more? Probably not, unless I were to start using the site to more thoroughly walk the blogosphere and tag my favorites. After all, given I have 240+ RSS feeds, and I'm only a fan of a small handful of sites on Technorati, I haven't been keeping up. But at least it shows the company is trying something new in another attempt to make traffic stick.

See Also:
Technorati: Totally Toast In Tracking Real-Time Traction?
Technorati Fights Off Irrelevance With Return of Charts
Technorati Down Again, Google Sure to Benefit

The Downside to Raised Blog Expectations

Heading into the last week of January, this has been more than a record-breaking month for louisgray.com. Instead, it's been a tidal wave. Without giving away all the fun statistics, planned for a February 1 post, suffice it to say that we've already had traffic more than 1,500% greater than January 2007, also more than double that of December, which was the previous record.

Rather than resulting from a few Digg spikes or runs at StumbleUpon, this increased level of activity has been through increased presence on Google, significantly higher linkage from other blogs, and a number of highly-discussed posts, both here and elsewhere.

And with the higher page views, site visits, RSS feed subscribers and Technorati Authority, I'm feeling as if I'm going to fall victim to my own raised expectations. While I used to be content to make comments on the latest updates in Bay Area sports, or my favorite TV shows, the threshold has been heightened, and more is expected.

After all, take a look at what Marshall Kirkpatrick of Read/Write Web (and formerly of TechCrunch) was saying on Twitter last night...


Via http://twitter.com/marshallk

Whether he was being too kind or just trying to send me a few new visitors from Twitterland isn't 100% clear, but now that we're getting noticed by some high-profile folks, and achieving previously uncharted levels of traffic, as well as reaching the rarified air of the TechMeme leaderboard, I'm feeling the pressure if I'm staying too many hours at work, or if I'm putting the laptop down a few hours to catch up on TV. My new subscribers are going to expect big things from this blog, and they won't want to be let down.

While I can't expect to find new services like ReadBurner and Shared Reader every day, and I don't anticipate starting a verbal war with one of the most widely read blogs on the planet all that often, I do expect we'll try to find new insight into the world of technology, and hope to earn the kind of accolades I've seen from people like Marshall, or VentureBeat's Eric Eldon that we've received over the last few weeks.

I do expect there will be days when I don't post at all. There will be days when my posts just might not be interesting to people, and there might be days when my RSS feed count goes down as people unsubscribe. And just as we've seen our traffic jump in January, it may fall in February, making me feel we're not measuring up. Even if there were an official "Up and coming tech blogger of the month", and even if I won for January, somebody else would win the next month, and I'd be yesterday's news, potentially fighting to stay relevant.

Taking Technologies for Granted, and the Resulting Quiet

Yesterday, while browsing updates on Twitter, Frederic Lardinois of The Last Podcast asked an interesting question saying, "I noticed that the Facebook hype seems to have died down quickly. What's going to be the next big 'it' thing online?"

While I can't speak for everyone, I see the lowered discussion around Facebook as part of the cycle which occurs when a technology transitions from being new, and therefore exciting, to instead, being accepted and absorbed into daily use. Oddly enough, in this phase, you're more likely to see news about these accepted technologies when they surprisingly stop working, or go down (in the case of Web applications).

That's why it's not too uncommon to see bloggers, from A-Listers like Robert Scoble and Steve Rubel, all the way to B-Listers and below, like me, seemingly change their tune - gravitating like moths to one technology, and then buzzing on to the next and the next and the next. One day it will be Twitter. The next day it will be Facebook. Then TechMeme. Or Google Reader. Then Joost. Then Seesmic, Pownce and so on.

For me, I was doing some thinking about how you've seen that here - and there's no doubt it's happened. I used to talk a lot about how I use iTunes. During my off-work hours, there is very little time when on the laptop and iTunes isn't running. I also don't talk much about my TiVo, where I used to. I don't mention FriendFeed as much as I once did, nor LinkedIn, Facebook, or standard Mac apps. Why? Simply because they work, and they are part of my every day technology intake.

Does this mean these services are less valuable than today's flavor of the month?

No, of course not. But they are not as shiny as they once were. They don't have the newness factor and intrigue they did when they were first discovered, and by the time you've been using a product for months or even years, it can seem that everything that needs to be said has been said. Is Facebook still inhabited by zombies and are people SuperPoking too much? Yes. That didn't change. Do my iTunes updates still automatically populate Last.fm? Yes, of course. Am I still using Google Reader at a rapid pace? Yes. But I won't mention it unless I set some new record, they add a new feature, go down or lose all my feeds.

So while Scoble and others are occasionally lambasted for having something approaching attention deficit disorder, it's not necessarily a medical issue. And that doesn't mean those developers working hard on the next generation of iTunes, Google, and Facebook have the option to slow down. It just means they're entering a new, more mature, quieter phase. As bloggers, we're not necessarily always looking for the "next big 'it' thing" online, but if we find it, there's no doubt we'll tell you.