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  • January 2009
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Friday Frivolity – Star Wars and the Curse of Knowledge

As communicators, we are sometimes so close to a story, product or social media tool that we have a hard time explaining it to someone “on the outside.” But we should always be keeping our target audience in mind as we write, present, and network. What do these people know right now? What am I hoping they’ll know when I’m done talking? How do I bridge the two?

In Made to Stick, the authors Dan and Chip Heath refer to the Curse of Knowledge in their story about Tappers and Learners (read exerpt). I think of this every time I explain or present anything anymore. Sometimes knowing too much becomes a hindrance – your job is to not get trapped by the Curse of Knowledge.

But sometimes it’s just funny, as seen in this hilarious video: 
Star Wars: Retold (by someone who hasn’t seen it) by Joe Nicolosi

My friend Amanda had never seen a whole Star Wars film. When I asked her if she wanted to watch the original trilogy she said that she would, but that she already knew what happens. So I took out my voice recorder and asked her to start from the top. I then created some very basic animation in Final Cut to go along with her narration.


Blog Scrapers Imagine a Magical Concern

RSS Scraping

Original Photo by Bret Arnett

Since there have been blogs, there have been people who steal your content. I’m not taking about borrowing your thoughts or words under a Creative Commons license, I’m talking about directly stealing your content to house on blogs loaded with Google Adwords or other advertising. Actually, for some of these blogs I’m not even sure what the point is. I’m not sure I understand a lot of the scraping and comment spam I’ve seen. If anyone has a good post on it, let me know in the comments.

Shel Holtz briefly introduced CopyGator during episode #416 of The Hobson and Holtz Report last week. CopyGator is:

…a free service designed to monitor your RSS feed and find where your content has been republished in the blogosphere. We automatically notify you when a new post of yours is copied to another feed, we also build an overview page you can view to see how/when/where your content is being duplicated, quoted or plagiarized.

It’s a great idea, but one I haven’t been able to test it out yet.  I’m looking forward to it, as in the past I’ve found a surprising amount of my content posted to other sites, which, while flattering, is annoying.

So while monitoring the blogosphere for some client mentions today, imagine my surprise when I found this bizarre review of a product with the strangest non-native-English-speaking tone to it, i.e.

  • “Imagine a magical concern where you read text scribbled by a kinsfolk member in their poorest cowardly scratch” or
  • “Make trusty to yield a interpret here to intend this terminal entry.”

And while absolutely hysterical to read in the Engrish Funny kind of way, it just shows that for every tool created hackers, scrapers and spammers will figure out a way around it.

Upon further review, I did discover the original blog post written about my client’s product. So apparently scrapers are now taking your content and running it through some sort of thesaurus program or other word-altering script so you can’t easily locate them, except that the product name was still in there along with the images. Not cool. CopyGator appears to work on the feed, not the content, so I look forward to delving further into that and seeing how it works.

So if you find your content being scraped you might want to look into CopyGator. Has anyone tried it? Thoughts? Comments?

For kicks, I just wish I had whatever program they were running this content through. It would be fun to push some classic poems or literature through it, i.e.

  • “To have being or to not exist, that is the interrogatory statement”
  • “Times being the most plentiful, also worst of all were the times.”
  • “More than one pathway did fork in timberland, and myself taken to me the unihabited choice, and that has made all the expression of the form f(x + h) − f(x).”

The Rundown with Twitter Caution and Transparency

TheRundown Welcome to the Rundown Podcast. Here I give and get The Rundown on social media and all things Public Relations and Digital marketing on the web.

Episode 2 of The Rundown Podcast introduces co-conspirator and co-host Ashley Mead. We discuss some recent Twitter-related events and at least one cautionary tale regarding the always-on, always-linked web.

We also welcome back Matt Dickman, the Techno//Marketer and get his thoughts on twitter transparency.

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Join the show and send audio or text comments, suggestions and complaints to:

Show Notes

  • 00:41 Welcome
  • 01:09 Comments? Suggestions?
  • 01:24 Introducing Ashley Mead 
  • 03:43 Welcome, again
  • 04:09 Twitter: A Cautionary Tale
  • 09:12 Transparency in Twitter
  • 12:12 Two Seconds of Silence
  • 12:16 What is Being Posted About You, by you, that you don’t even know?
  • 15:35 Wrap Up
  • 16:09 Luke pimps FIR’s outstanding recent series of live panel discussions, including:

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A Podcast Dies a Thousand Deaths…

Death of Podcasting …an unfounded Internet meme lives forever.

At the end of 2008, with the demise of podcasting service Podango (no link ’cause they’re, uh, gone), the “Podcasting is Dead” meme recirculated again. The conversation, this time spurred from a recent blog post by Michael Goeghegan, referring to Podango’s situation and an unfortunately titled presentation he did in 2007.

So on Dec 31, 2008, Joseph Jaffe hosted a live discussion with some of podcasting’s greats to discuss the situation.

The rockstar guest list included:

It was a spirited discussion about podcasting with some really interesting insight. I regret not catching it live and joining the conversation via voice or the chat room. Keep in mind that most of these aforementioned podcasters are marketing and public relations folks (many have been on the cutting edge of podcasting for years), which is important to keep in mind. But there are a few names in there whose primary vocation is podcasting, which is also important to note. Take a listen if you want.

Also, Shel cited two excellent sources (thanks for the links, Shel) including a Pew Internet study “Podcast Downloading 2008” and Edison Media Research’s The Podcast Consumer Revealed 2008, which provide some interesting stats and figures about the consumption of podcasts. Listener and viewership is UP.

The themes I pulled from the 90+ minute discussion, include:

  • There are two types of podcast concepts (I’m stripping these down to their cores): 1) Podcasting as a marketing tool and 2) Podcasting as a distinct medium. The former includes producing content as a positioning tool for your business, consultancy, event, etc. The latter includes producing content strictly for the purpose of generating content. The print equivalents would be 1) producing a glossy magazine filled with interesting, industry-related content, sponsored by your business and 2) producing a magazine filled with interesting content, funded by ads and (possibly) subscription costs.
  • The death of podcasting tends to erupt whenever a business or person decides that concept #2 isn’t working out. Ravenscraft cites a conversation he had with Goeghegan referring exactly to this. It’s both time consuming and, for some, technically challenging to create a podcast. My opinion is that podfading is more prevalent than businesses going under and entrepreneurs giving up hopes on the medium combined.
  • Podcasting shouldn’t be about the technology. When you get hung up on the technology you’re missing the point. Podcasting is a tool, a channel for reaching audiences.
  • The main problem with podcasting today is that there is no easy, standardized method for distribution or subscription. RSS, as the geeks know, is what’s powering both,  and iTunes has come a long way in putting podcasts into the mainstream. A lot of people don’t sync, don’t timeshift, don’t know where to get podcasts.
  • Podcasting’s flexibility is its huge advantage. How can you make it work for you?
  • People ARE making money podcasting. Some are indirectly, by positioning themselves to be experts in their field; but Grammar Girl and Ravenscraft are both examples of people paying the bills directly because of podcasting.

So here are my thoughts on podcasting:

  • Podcasting is – wait for it – not dead.
  • The more niche the content, the better off you’ll be. The Internet has made geography irrelevant, all you have to do is find enough people across the world who are interested in what your talking about. I think that’s a fairly attainable goal. However, it’s easy to forget the Mid-Tail, as the Edison Media (link above) piece reminds us. As a good communicator, one needs to remember who the audience is and be sure the message is on target. It’s cliche as hell, but content is still king in podcasting.
  • That said, your talent has a lot to do with the show, that and production. Don’t skimp on either. I’ve chosen one podcast over another in similar categories numerous times because of the hosts. I’ll put up with a lot in terms of audio production, but there is a limit. Most of your audiences won’t be so forgiving and you’ll only have ONE shot to impress them.
  • Community is HUGE. This goes back to your talent, but you’ve got to make it easy for a community to form around your content. Don’t broadcast, engage. I think the reason the top podcasts on iTunes are typically repurposed mainstream media bits (ESPN, NPR, etc) is because there is already a community of people engaged with that content and talent. In this situation, the podcast is becoming an alternative method for receiving content, most likely because of the on-demand, timeshifted nature of the beast. As the Edison piece indicates, these people are big into social networks, too. I can’t lead your horse to the water more than that. Drink. And that only makes it hard to break through the clutter if you’re trying to do something that’s already out there. Here’s a hint – don’t do that unless you can do it WAY better. I’m still waiting for a short, weekly audio podcast wrapping up the NHL games, highlights and standings. I haven’t looked in a while, but if you know of one, tell me about it.

I LOVE podcasts, they keep me sane, but I have a 60-120 minute commute, one-way, depending on weather and traffic. And I have a lot more thoughts, but I’m hoping you’ll pitch in here. What are your thoughts? Do you listen? Why or why not? How and where do you listen? Do you sync and timeshift?