Archive for August, 2009

Chocolate Cake that inspired my post from Brulee

Chocolate Cake that inspired my post from Brulee

Yep.  It sure is a piece of cake.  If only crafting good, portable, consumable content were as easy.  But at the very least, thinking of your online content as cake is a fairly straightforward (and delicious) exercise.

Today is my friend’s birthday.  I walked down to Brulee Bakery here in Calgary to buy her a piece of birthday cake that I then planned to deliver (I also bought myself one.  What’s the fun in buying someone cake if you don’t get any yourself?).  I went to the bakery, I picked out the best looking piece there, they boxed it up for me, put it in a bag and off I went, carrying their delicious content that I wanted to share with my friend.  Good, portable, consumable content.

If you think of your content in terms of cake, there are a variety of different kinds, but it’s all something people want to consume, and generally ears perk up when someone is talking about cake.  I’ll stick with just three broad categories here, but feel free to add some more in the comments.

Cake Types

Flat bed cakes – these are great for large parties or crowds where we will give away the cake.  Flat bed cake as web content may not be quite as fancy, it’s made in bulk, but people still want to eat it, and generally come back for seconds and tell other people where to find the free cake.  There’s plenty for all, people appreciate the free cake and it’s still great to give away once the primary audience has been fed.

Specialty cakes – specialty cakes are meant for a specific event or person.  You may customize your ice cream cake, have a cake made for your wedding, or a birthday party.  Specialty cakes are generally not meant to be consumed beyond the event they were made for.  If your website is a specialty cake, people come by, consume it once and leave.  If it’s really good, customers and guests may refer you to a friend, but your reach isn’t quite as great.

Cake by the slice – This cake is best for one stop easy consumption or for sharing with friends.  Web content that is most like cake by the slice is most likely to be shared.   There’s more variety available because I don’t need to buy the whole cake and I can buy a slice for any occasion.   It takes a bit more effort to produce, but it looks good, tastes good, and it’s easy to give away (this can also be done with flat bed cakes.  Slice it up and give it away.  The difference in the cake by the slice is that you can charge for it too depending on the quality of the cake.  Either way, it’s not people coming to the cake, it’s the cake going with the people once they’ve consumed it).

The take away:  Make your web content good enough to eat and easy for people will want to share with their friends and you’ll keep them coming back for more.

Where do I go from here?

Posted: August 20, 2009 in Twitter
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Where can I go for instant news when Twitter is down?  I have no idea.  When anything else is down, I go to Twitter to find out if other users are having the same issue.  I did this when Hotmail when down a couple of months ago, and when I was having problems with my Gmail account.  It’s my go to place for common errors and troubleshooting.  But when Twitter is down and Mashable and Techcrunch don’t have anything up about it yet, Twitter search doesn’t work and there’s nothing on the blog.  What can I do?  I have no idea… I’m at a loss.

Searching Google for ‘Twitter is down’ or anything recent like that doesn’t bring up anything either.  I rely on that real time info.  For me the important stuff isn’t what Ashton Kutcher or Oprah are doing.  It’s finding out what the current issue is with whatever service I’m trying to use and knowing that they’re on it.  Or at least that other people know what’s going on too.  Knowing that somebody is working to fix the issue brings me patience… wait a minute, this sounds a lot like what people keep saying companies can use social media for… my real life example.  Twitter’s down, and I don’t have a real time update as to what’s going on, and now I’m writing a blog post about it.

Oh yes I did. I did, I did, I did. It’s unthinkable. It’s ludicrous. This time I’ve gone too far. What did I do? I cut off my Internet at home.

Say what now? You heard me. Internet. BAM! Gone. Finito.

I’ve been all about creating efficiencies and alignment with the things in my life and with my activities lately. I recently turned my attention to my landline and thought ‘what is this still doing here?’. Hardly anyone phones me on it anymore… They all call my cell phone. Coincidentally my Internet came with my phone… I could have kept it. I know it works without actually having a phone. But I’m still in the midst of ‘FREE’ by Chris Anderson, at the time I had gotten to a part where he was talking about how cheap it was for him to work… He had a $250 netbook and free wifi in coffee shops. There are 5 or so coffee shops within about a 5 block radius from where I live. So I’m giving this a try.

I’m not completely cut off, I still have my email, Twitter and Facebook.. You know… The essentials via my iPhone.

But I also have something less. A little more time. Because now my Internet usage is that much more conscious. Monday night I spent 2 hours playing around with my guitars relatively uninterrupted. I can’t remember the last time I did that… My auto pilot would have checked my computer for something interesting happening online at least every 20 minutes before. But there’s always something interesting to find online… There’s only so much time for me and my guitars…

Today is day 3 of my ‘no internet’ experiment. If I go completely nuts, it will be back. But if I have my way, my time, my focus and my efficiency will all benefit.

If you haven’t noticed, I write a lot about Twitter.  Seriously.  Look at my tag cloud.  The two main tags are Twitter and Social Media.  And right now I’m going to write about, you guessed it.  Twitter.  I spend a lot of my time online on Twitter.  Well, that’s not true.  I spend some time on Twitter, and a lot of time visiting the destinations I find because of Twitter and the people I follow.  I get a lot of people who just shake their heads at me and say ‘I don’t get it’.  Nor do they want to.  And that’s okay, because Twitter isn’t for everyone.

The thought crossed my mind last week to branch out and check out other social networks, see what people are doing with them.  But I haven’t done that yet.  Why?  Because Twitter continues to fascinate me.  Okay, again, not quite true.  The way people are using Twitter continues to fascinate me.  The first tweet from space came from NASA astronaut Michael Massimo.  It’s incredible to me that the same service that is going to push out this blog post for me, the same service that people were able to see live updates of terrorist attacks in Mumbai, the same service that Best Buy is now using for customer service is also one that can be used in a vacuum.

Twitter started by asking ‘What are you doing?’  And well, people are doing some impressive things (I’m still stuck on tweeting from space… real time from space.  What’s next?).  People do fascinating things, and Twitter gives me a medium to find out about them.  From the best donair places in Calgary, to the guy who just landed on the moon.  One spot, one communication tool. With or without DDOS attacks… how can I not be fascinated by it?

Today, my inner geek is going to take a moment of pause.  It’s one of those rare days to just stop and contemplate, lose myself in thought… and to observe that source from where I draw my strength.  I have heard people say that someday this day will be like any other.  And although this day is certainly different each year, it will never be a day like any other.  It will always at the very least be the day I can honour he who gives me strength and purpose when I cannot find it myself.

There are few people that have come through my life that I truly admire and try to emulate.  Plenty that I have respect for, certainly, but the ones I’m in awe of, the ones who challenge me to continuously strive to be more than I am today, they are few.  He is by far the one I admire most.  I  was asked recently if there’s one person in the world I could meet, dead or alive, who would that be?  I’d want to meet him again, only now as an adult, now as someone who appreciates just how much life he brought with him, and how many people besides myself admire him too.

I remember the first time I looked at his picture and didn’t feel sad and lost.  The smile in the picture felt like a real smile out at me.  Like I was picking my way slowly along the right path.  I used to think that path was to fill the gap he’d left behind, to live up to the person he had been.  I remember the day I knew I couldn’t do that, that I didn’t want to do that.  That day, his smile got bigger, and I grew stronger.

Today is not a sad day, not like it used to be.  Today is simply a reflective day.  Today is a day to thank him for the contribution he’s made to who I am.  And tomorrow, I’ll keep moving on.