WordCamp Albuquerque 2016 talk: Marketing Your Business With WordPress

Standard

Thanks so much to everyone who attended my WordCamp Albuquerque presentation this morning on Marketing Your Business with WordPress! If you’d like to see the rest of the presentation, or just want a copy of the slides, here’s the original Keynote:

Marketing Your Business With WordPress

And if you’re more of a PDF person, I’ve got you covered:

Marketing Your Business with WordPress – WC ABQ – April 2016

Wine Tourism Conference Presentation

Standard

If you’re visiting my site after attending my presentation on Designing Websites for 2016 and Beyond, thank you and welcome!

If you would like to download a copy of my Keynote, here you go:

Wine Tourism Conference 2015 Presentation

If you’re more of a PowerPoint aficionado, I’ve got you covered:

Wine Tourism Conference 2015 Presentation

And lastly, if PDFs are more your thing, I’ve got that too:

Wine Tourism Conference 2015 Presentation

It was lovely meeting everyone and sharing stories over such wonderful wines and food!

 

The ‘great and cursed work’ that was the Encyclopédie – Ideas – The Boston Globe

Standard

Here’s the great difference between the Encyclopédie and the Internet, between what reading meant then and what it increasingly passes for today. While Diderot encouraged differences of opinion and perspectives among his closest contributors, he knew that all of them — from Voltaire to Rousseau, Baron d’Holbach to the Chevalier de Jaucourt — took the act of writing as seriously as did those who read it. No activity was more noble.

via The ‘great and cursed work’ that was the Encyclopédie – Ideas – The Boston Globe.

And now for something completely different

Standard
Change is good. Good change is even better.

Change is good. Good change is even better.

If you read my previous post — written waaaaay back in October 2013 — you may have caught a hint of the dissatisfaction I was feeling in my life. My writing was beyond neglected. My life had become a roller coaster of activity, crammed with errands, endless to-do lists, money woes, sleepless nights, and this gnawing feeling that I’d lost my way. Somehow, in the previous four years, I’d launched a business, taken on an investor, adopted four dogs, fostered countless more, wrote a book, hired and fired employees, gained a few very unwanted pounds, landed in the ER, and oh, wrote very, very little of that novel that I began in 2006.

In other words, I’d lost my way.

If you read my short bio the left sidebar, you’ll know that things have changed. And if you used to read my blog back when it was hosted at Blogger, you’ll see that I’ve moved, too.

I’m now working at my dream job as Happiness Engineer at Automattic, helping WordPress.com users publish and share their thoughts with the world, and am winding down my marketing agency. I only recently started the job, and already I’m in love. If it’s at all possible to be madly in love with a job, this must be how it feels.

I’ll still write about books, films, writing, travel, and yes, the occasional posts about my family, but I’ll also be diving into the fascinating worlds of open source computing and publishing and the way the world has changed to allow the most ordinary folks in the most ordinary places to have their voices heard. It’s going to be a wild ride, too, but this time, it’ll be both fun and fulfilling.

Photo by emdot on Flickr.

Would you care if your town lost its only newspaper?

Standard

Grand Junction has a relatively healthy media community: we have two newspapers, including one daily and one tabloid that publishes three times a week (that would be the Grand Junction Free Press, my personal choice and for whom I’ve written the last two years); a biweekly business tabloid; a senior-news tabloid; a Things to Do tabloid; a student newspaper published by the Mesa State College journalism department; and a gorgeous glossy monthly, the Grand Valley Magazine. That doesn’t include the much smaller community papers, including the Fruita Times and the Palisade Tribune. The Free Press, as many know, went from a Monday-Friday circulation schedule to Mon-Wed-Fri recently, in light of economic conditions that have hit the Western Slope, but it remains very popular and continues to publish the kind of community news and announcements that everyone clamors for.

Considering the relative size of the city, then, Grand Junction’s media community is surprisingly robust. Dallas, for example, has only one newspaper, the Dallas Morning News, and more than one media pundit has predicted that the neighboring Fort Worth Star-Telegram will close and soon be folded into the greater Belo empire. The Irving Daily News used to be published 2-3 times a week, but the Morning News eventually either drove it out of business or took it over entirely; now the Morning News simply comes out with a local edition once a week, distributed only to the subscribers in that area. The same thing happened to a number of other community papers in the greater Metroplex, although a few hearty souls managed to survive and somehow thrive.

You could get D Magazine and its many isotopes (D Home, D Weddings, D CEO, etc.), but they all come from the same small publishing group and share the same staff. There’s the so-full-of-itself-it’s-annoying-but-you-can’t-help-reading-it Paper City, but it’s unabashedly by and about the creme de la creme of Dallas social elite, so the rest of us read it just to be able to lick the pages, so to speak, and wonder what it would be like to be able to wear haute couture.

You could also get The Dallas Observer, the scrappy, award-winning independent weekly whose elegant, breezy, and downright eye-popping prose trumps that of the boring ol’ News anyday. It’s my and B.’s favorite, and we’re so glad it’s still there.

But still, for a metropolis with millions of people, Dallas suffers from a scarcity of great writing and great reporting. The handful of talented writers at the Observer and the News have more than enough to fill their column inches, but the Big D starves for more.

So yes, I’m moving from an amazingly media-friendly community to a shrinking one, and yes, I realize the irony in that statement considering the recent layoffs at the Free Press and the still-ongoing sale of the other paper in town, the Daily Sentinel. Am I going to miss that richness of local content, the gee-willikers tone of reporting and the proud, zealous efforts to elevate that local content above all others?

Hell yes.

Would I care if my town — and even though I’m leaving soon, I still consider it “my town” — lost either of its newspaper? Oh god, yes. I would care if we lost the Sentinel, and I would weep buckets if we lost the Free Press. I grew up at a time when Dallas had not only two newspapers (the Morning News and the venerable Dallas Times Herald) but two editions, a morning and evening. It’s more than mere nostalgia, too. I really do believe that newspapers represent the best and worst of a community, a demilitarized zone where neighbors as well as enemies can bring their grievances and concerns in the most democratic of all institutions and come to civilized solutions. It’s where we go to learn about our world, our neighborhoods and wards and villages, about births and deaths and all the terrible and wonderful stuff in between. Sure, we have the Internet, but with very few exceptions, the really good articles and essays unique to one’s town or neighborhood could really only be found in print. You can find a million people more than happy to sound off on the latest mayoral misstep or the shenanigans at City Hall, but only a tiny fraction will really have something worth reading.

It’s devastating to know that few people would care if they lost their town’s only newspaper, and not at all because I’m a journalist and freelance writer. I’ve had a unique opportunity to contribute to the local news, but it’s unlikely to happen in Dallas, where a kajillion out-of-work, frustrated journalists with far more experience than I are competing for the few remaining slots at the only game in town. But I do care deeply about the newspaper, not the least because — despite what some of the respondents say in the Pew survey linked above — local TV news shows bleed mediocrity. I rarely watch the local news here in Grand Junction, and I’m likely not going to change once I’m back in Dallas.

TV news reporting barely skims the surface of the news, and it certainly never strays beyond offering up the most basic of facts. To really understand the context of what’s happening, I turn to the local newspaper, where reporters and editors cull the sound-bites to uncover bits of the truth. Sometimes they get it right, but more often than not they give the reader more insight than she could ever hope to get from watching a ten-second video on the 10 o’clock babblefest. And with the newspaper, at least you’re spared all the “banter.” Oy, the banter. Is it any wonder that they’re referred to as personalities and not reporters? (I suppose that’s still a step-up from Hairdo, but not by much.)

I remain optimistic that cooler, more practical heads will prevail and that the “death of journalism,” as declared by gloomy prognosticators, will be nothing but a mere bump in the road. I refuse to believe that we are creating a world that will no longer recognize quality writing, critical analyses and solid investigative reporting. I can’t imagine that we will soon live in a society that will rather get crappy content online so long as it’s free, rather than pay for the really good stuff that we used to take for granted. It may be naive of me to believe that such a world couldn’t possibly survive, much less thrive, but I have faith that we’re a lot smarter than that.

Irene Natividad for Wikipedia!

Standard

In doing research for a query, I remembered an amazing Filipina-American whose name I read/heard on TV/radio countless times: Irene Natividad. Born in the Philippines but raised in various countries, she’s now the president of the Global Summit of Women, past president of the National Women’s Political Caucus, former National Chair of the AAPI (Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders) for Hillary during the 2008 presidential campaign, and oh, she heads her own public affairs firm in D.C., GlobeWomen. She’s a sought-after speaker, is on several corporate boards, has had editorials published in national newspapers, has appeared on national news shows, and is widely considered one of the most influential women in America.

Okay. I get it. She’s amazing. When I grow up, I wanna be her.

So why is she nowhere to be found on Wikipedia? Justin Guarini, yes. Irene Natividad, er, no? I realize that people are constantly warned never to consider Wikipedia as a reliable source, but I know more than a few professionals — yup, journalists, too — who consider it a valuable jumping-off point for research.

Gotta learn how to contribute to the Wiki.

Twitter

Standard

I used to have my Twitter account set up so that a portion of it would appear on this blog in a little window off to the side, but at the time the service was going through such a rough spot that whenever it was down (which seemed to be most of the time), it would actually hang up my blog as well. So I took it down.

I’ve been a bit more active on it of late, mostly because it’s a fun tool and seems to be an easier way to keep in touch with friends. What I’d like to know, however, is how people who have, say, thousands or even hundreds of people on their “Following” list manage to keep up with all of them. Surely they don’t read them all?

I’ve noticed that, since becoming more active on Twitter I’ve been getting an email or two every day letting me know that so-and-so is now following me. Most of them are people I’ve never heard of, but out of politeness and curiosity I check out their Twitter profile. Invariably these are people in the interactive media/blogging/social media industry, which likely means that they’re anxious to expand their online presence in order to generate the most buzz about their services. I started automatically reciprocating by following their Tweets as well, but recently I’ve become more careful about whom I follow, as inevitably I start losing track of my actual friends as opposed to my new Twitter followers.

Most of them just send out Tweets advertising their own services or pontificating on some aspect of social media marketing…Yawn. Not that I’m not interested — if I weren’t, I wouldn’t be blogging or Twittering — but after awhile all the “commercials” start to get annoying. They’re not conversation, they’re advertising. And that’s just not cool.

Plurk Carnival, or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Plurk!

Standard

On Monday I wrote about the wonder (and occasionally, frustration) that is Plurk. A bunch of fellow Plurkers and I got together to create a Plurk Carnival, posting on all the things we love and hate and are confused about Plurk. Enjoy!

Allan Cockerill (Ozegold): Why Does My Plurk Karma Keep Dropping? Social media analyst Allan points out an extremely simple yet effective way of earning more Karma points. Wanna know what that is? Click on the link to find out!

Shai Coggins (ShaiCoggins): 10 Things About Plurk. Blogging guru and b5media veep Shai Coggins shares some of her insights on Plurk, namely, 5 things she loves about it, 5 things she dislikes about it, and (bonus!) two essential Plurk tools.

Hope Wilbanks (HopeWilbanks): A Look at Plurk. Hope, a writer and avid Plurker, shares her thoughts on Plurk and offers suggestions on how to make the most of your Plurk experience.

Toni Tiu (macaronigirl): 5 Reasons Why I Can’t Stop Plurking. Toni’s a Philippine-based Plurker and all-around Internet fanatic who’s as addicted to Plurk as everyone else on this list. Find out why on her blog, Wifely Steps.

Meikah Delid (Meikah): Why MamaIsPlurking. I love Meikah’s description of the Plurk experience as being like in a bar, where you can drop in or eavesdrop on random conversations. She shares with her readers why she loves Plurking and her favorite aspects of the Plurk experience.

Sasha Manuel (Sasha): Why Do You Plurk? My favorite Filipina fashionista. Sasha’s a photographer, a part-time model, social media junkie, professional blogger, stylist, and awesome Net friend. She’s obsessed with her Karma, too, apparently.

Melissa Williams (flamehair): Plurk. Melissa, like many others, is discovering how much better Plurk is than Twitter. I agree. Read her blog and find out why.

There you go! As more people participate in the Plurk Carnival we have going on, I’ll post more links here. In the meantime, if you want to add on any of the above folks to your Plurk community, just click on their Plurk nicknames above. And hey, feel free to add me as well!

Plurk Fever

Standard

If you haven’t yet been introduced to Plurk, the newest and fun-nest micro-blogging service out there, you’ve been missing something good.

You’ve probably seen the Plurk timeline on the right-hand side of this blog (and those on my other blogs). It provides real-time updates of my “plurks,” or mini-posts and gives those of you who care an idea of what’s going on in my life at that moment. Like Twitter, Plurk limits your posts to 140 characters, but the difference between the two sites (and likely what makes Plurk so addictive) is that, unlike Twitter, your “plurks” are each given their own boxes so that people can respond directly to your posts. It makes it easy to keep track of who’s responded, what they’ve said, even when someone has posted a new respones. Twitter, for example, lists each tweet on one page, and while people can respond directly to each of your tweets, you have to go to a separate page to see the response better. Plus, Twitter doesn’t make it easy to keep track of your friends; if you want to see older posts from, say, 12 hours or 12 days ago, you pretty much have to go through several pages and find the ones you want. If you have a lot of Twitter friends, that can make for some serious searching.

Plurk, on the other hand, provides a horizontal timeline of your conversations with friends. It tells you if any new plurks or responses have popped up and will take you directly to those new messages and responses with one click. You can then choose which conversation you want to follow by simply opening up each message box.

I’ve found Plurk to be much, much more addictive than Twitter. One of the ingenious inventions of the Plurk folks is the whole concept of karma. Forget the Dalai Lama for the moment; on Plurk, your “status” in the Plurk community is all about your karma. You gain karma points by posting “quality plurks” every day; updating your profile; getting people to respond to your plurks; and inviting your friends who aren’t on Plurk to join in. You can, however, lose karma points if you, say, miss a day of plurking or if someone rejects your request for “friendship.”

One of the funniest and oddest things I’ve found in the short time I’ve been on Plurk is how zealously attached people become to their karma levels. On the one hand, it’s amusing to read people’s anguished posts about losing karma because they took a day off or because Plurk was down for an unusually long time (happened a lot this weekend). On the other, it’s crazy to think that something so arbitrary as karma from a mere Web site (and remember, there’s no money or fame or even M&M’s tied into karma — they’re just random numbers) can drive people so batty. People have gotten angry at losing karma. People have threatened to storm the Plurk castle because of losing karma. People have posted unnecessarily large numbers of plurks because they’ve lost karma. And it’s not even real karma. You don’t come back in your next life as a cockroach or anything. You simply…lose karma points. In a Web site. On the Internet.

Yeah. It’s weird.

Still, I love it. I love how much more interaction I’m getting from people. I’m cynical enough to wonder if perhaps part of the reason why people “friend” me is because they want to gain more karma points. I’ve grown tired of the handful of Plurk friends who “friend” me, only to do nothing but send what’s essentially Plurk spam by posting only links to their latest blog posts. They don’t post anything else, nor do they bother responding to my or other people’s plurks. I’ve seen people become overly concerned about “de-friending” someone, whether they’re on the “losing” end or if they’re the ones who want to “de-friend.” The psychology of Plurk is what fascinates me the most, but I’ve also met some amazing friends, from whom I’ve gleaned so much non-Plurk wisdom about the Internet, blogs and social media.

One thing that someone pointed out is that, unlike Twitter, Plurk doesn’t necessarily reward the “big guns” of the Internet. In other words, in order to gain the karma status so coveted by Plurk folks, one actually has to do more than throw up a bunch of links to one’s high-trafficked blog. You gain points by interacting with your fan base and writing frequent plurks. No slacking allowed here. And unlike Twitter, where being “un-followed” doesn’t result in a diminished Twitter status, each person who “de-friends” you on Plurk means the loss of more karma points.
I haven’t de-friended anyone yet, but I have learned to be a little more careful about adding friends. Once you have more than a couple dozen, it can be difficult to keep track of and respond to everyone’s conversations in a meaningful way, even with the help of the timeline. I’ve seen a couple of my “friends” who do nothing more than post “good bye!” and “hello!” messages on my plurks, which I don’t mind, but I would have liked them to be more engaged in conversation. Still, some of these friends obviously have dozens, if not hundreds of friends of their own, and I can’t even begin to imagine how they keep track of them all. At some point, people are going to start being ruthless and “de-friending” those who don’t interact with them. And then — horrors! — you start losing the karma points you invested so much time harvesting.

I’m curious as to how Plurk will play out in the war for more eyeballs in the social media sphere. If it can attract more people like myself — i.e., the “civilians” of the Web 2.0 world, those who don’t necessarily make their living writing/blogging/analyzing social media tools and the Internet — I can see it overtaking Twitter, whose interface I still don’t like, although I maintain the account just because, well, everyone has one.

Possibly the one thing that can stunt Plurk’s growth is their recent display of more frequent downtimes and outages. The weekend (Friday through Sunday) especially saw some complete downtimes, with no one being able to plurk for hours. I saw it as a good thing, in a way, as the addictive nature of the site means that any downtime can be a welcome excuse to actually get work done. But it didn’t endear Plurk to its new followers, especially those who’ve only been on the site for a few days (which includes a lot of my new friends). I’m wondering if it’s suffering from the same fate as Twitter, which still can’t seem to handle its massive traffic growth and is actually down as I type this. Let’s hope it’s just temporary on Plurk’s part. Addictive or not, I do miss my friends.

Stay tuned for a round-up of Plurk-related posts on fellow Plurker’s blogs tomorrow!