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Recent PricePoints

From documents to conversations

How hard are your keywords working?

Online styleguides from the Brits

Join the spammers in random haiku

Who consumes our information, anyway?

We're all buying more content online

Blogging gets the attention of PR

Is your site getting out of date?

Tog on the magic of interface design

On electronic outlining

What's a blog?

Google tells you how many searches you've done today

Zippy PR from Cold Calls

June 4, 2004

Cold calling is tough, and calling a journalist is even tougher, because we tend to hang up very fast when we hear a PR person on the line.  But today I want to praise a PR person, because she has been so persistent--and cheerful--despite my footdragging.

Kristi Hlaing plugs a a me-too product.  SnapZip compresses files and folders into Zip files, just like WinZip. SnapZip extracts stuff from Zip files, just like WinZip. SnapZip costs $39.95, marked down to $29.95, compared with a free trial version of WinZip, purchasable for $29, with a lot of different site licenses available. SnapZip is at Version 1.0 and WinZip has matured to 9.0.  Against these odds, Kristi presses on, undeterred.

SnapZip does offer one interesting wrinkle.  In compressing graphic files, it offers to shrink the resolution to 72dpi, reducing the size of the file even more, labeling the file "reduced" so you don't accidentally overwrite your much bigger original. Nice touch. But that little extra hardly counts as a Unique Selling Proposition, as Proctor and Gamble calls it.

The best thing the vendor, Winferno, has done is hire Kristi.  Through her personality and conversation alone, she got them this mention.

She works for PR-Vantage, a glitzy high-tech PR firm.  You know the kind.  They have a black-on-black Flash intro, and all their menu items are black on grey--very fashionable, but not very usable.

Like a video game, the options only become visible when clicked--you have to explore to find out what kind of content is available.

Come to think of it, PR-Vantage is lucky to have a real human being working for them--someone who can actually talk to reporters.

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From documents to conversations

May 28, 2004

Now even Knowledge Management mavens are getting into conversation.

KM used to focus on data mining, particularly in loose unstructured documents like emails, or a million Word documents sitting out on the hard disks of the employees.

But once you have identified and organized all that information, what good is it?

You have to get some conversations going, and, when most of your experts are spread out around the world, many of those conversations are going to be virtual.

Lynnette Freese, a program manager at Rockwell Collins, recently redefined KM as "linking people to people and people to information so that we can think together for better business results."

Holy collaboration!

At a recent conference put on by Braintrust International Freese got together with a bunch of other folks who do KM for a living—and a few theorists from academia.

Seth Kahan, for instance, was there. Kahan bills himself as an organizational community specialist; he facilitates discussion through something he calls "jumpstart storytelling," aiming to build "constructive conversations."

Rob Cross, an Assistant Professor at UVA's business school, argues that social networking is the way work really gets done in an organization.

Like Seth Godin in Unleashing the Idea Virus, Cross creates a taxonomy of the movers and shakers in a social network, focusing on the energizers (engaged, engaging, positive, optimistic), or as Godin would call them, sneezers.

Increasingly, we're building the infrastructure to support these conversations, often entirely over the network, rather than in person.

For a summary of this aspect of the conference, see Jane Dysart's article, "Conversations and communities," in the May 2004 issue of KM World.

Bonus: the same issue has a funny piece by Dave Weinberger, author of the Journal of the Hyperlinked Organization (JOHO).

He describes a live conference where he and his buddies were using an IRC backchannel to chat, electronically, making comments about the speakers, the conference, the air conditioning, while apparently just sitting there quietly, during the live presentations.

They were "Talking amongst ourselves, in the shorthand of friends, about how to assimilate what the speaker was saying. To someone outside our little social group, it would certainly look disrespectful, but it was no more so than the sort of conversation one might have after a presentation: skipping over the parts you agreed with, focusing in quick jabs on the interesting points of disagreement."

Weinberger admits they were making jokes, and at one point he had to get up and leave the room, so as not to laugh out loud.

Now that is a real virtual conversation.

As Weinberger says, "Put humans together and we'll figure out what we'll do with the connection.

"The less you try to tell us about what we ought to be doing, the better, and the quicker we'll invent something new for ourselves.

"Just be sure not to shush us."

How hard are your keywords working?

March 20, 2004

The Google spiders are looking for your keywords.  Can the arachnids figure out whether your pages really describe those topics, and, if so, how relevant your pages really are?

Seth Maislin, of Focus Information Services in Massachusetts, recently delivered a phone seminar to the Society for Technical Communication, showing how to invent keywords for search engines, use those same keywords as part of your interface (as labels, and as part of your running text), and show the results of a search.

He gave some good tips on ways to come up with potential keywords.

  • Start with whatever is easiest (commonly accepted terms, proper nouns, actions, actors, objects, environments)


  • Brainstorm synonyms (other accepted terms, local versions, international versions, grammatical variations, misspellings)
  • Acknowledge useful categorizations (parent classifications, adjectives, adverbs)
  • Consider the user's vocabulary (misunderstandings, incorrect terms, associated concepts, child classifications).

Maislin pointed out that keywords function behind the scenes to help a search engine find the content, but once the engine has found a bunch of results, keywords can be reused as helpful labels for groups of hits. He argues that we should structure our results in a relevant hierarchy, using these labels.

What kind of hierarchy works best for displaying the results of a search? 

An interface that looks like a back-of-the-book index, Maislin argues.

Why?  Because context helps to define what the labels mean, clarifying distinctions through easy comparison to nearby terms.  When we browse a hierarchy, we do not simply read down from the top to the bottom; we range forward and back, up or down, and we get a sense of the scope and orientation of the indexer. When keywords become labels on a results page, they can help indicate context.

So Maislin strongly urges us to categorize results.  Examples he cites:

  • Yahoo distinguishes results offered by paid sponsors from results drawn from the search itself.
  • O'Reilly distinguishes between news articles, weblogs, books, and conference talks. 
  • WebMD typecasts its content as health topics, symptoms, medical tests, medications, wellness, and support organizations.
  • CitySearch organizes results in two ways: alphabetically, and by categories such as restaurants and bars, hotels, movies, spa and beauty, events and Yellow Pages.

Maislin is a fun, serious, and intriguing information architect, who goes by the moniker, "taxonomist."  If you are considering building a set of keywords for your content, he is one of the first people you should bring in, as a consultant.

Maislin's site: http://taxonomist.tripod.com

Online styleguides from the Brits

February 12, 2004



I admit it. I like to read online styleguides.

I particularly like the ones created by experienced British editors, because they have had to adjust their pure ideals to accommodate their quarrelsome writers, who often object to the guidelines, pointing out exceptions, making the case for slang, jargon, and fresh language.  You can almost hear the debate.

The BBC speaks

If you haven’t read the BBC Styleguide, you should. 

You get wry advice for the reporters who have to speak their articles on the air. And between the lines you can hear the reporters pushing back, fighting to get free of the constraints. Like all good styleguides, this one reflects the conversations going on inside the newsrooms…and invites comments from listeners, too.

Yes, now you can discuss the recommendations with the writer, er, editor, John Allen. In the Styleguide Forum, each thread begins with a short opinion piece by Allen, after which the postings appear in reverse chronological order.

The tone resembles the Letters column of the London Times.  People can get very upset about the misuse of a single word.

Examples of complaints about jargon

I get very cross when people use the word 'orchestrate' to mean 'organise'. The word has two very precise musical meanings: when you're composing, it means making the best disposition of notes and phrases among the instruments you are using to create the effects you are seeking; or carrying out the same process for a piece you haven't written yourself. …

The most upsetting thing is that there is also a really brilliant metaphorical use of the word, as in 'a carefully-orchestrated whispering campaign' - in other words, giving the right phrases and words to the right people to say at the right time in order to achieve the desired effect. But the word, presumably because of its aural similarity to 'organise' has become completed debased in the course of about five years.
Catherine Rose, Olney, Bucks, 22/1/2004


Your style guide advises against the use of 'key' yet the BBC (tv and radio) are one of the worst offenders. I stand listening to Today in the morning and every time I hear it (frequently) I shout out 'KEY!' It's infuriating -- especially if you consider there are at least 21 synonyms for this nasty little word

Sarah Maxey, Manchester, 11/12/2003

On Olde Englishe

Olde is a made-up word. There is no e on the end of old in old English - probably invented by modern signwriters to make boozers look traditional.
Dave, London, UK, 11/12/2003

There is even a fake course, free, online, for one hour. Turns out that what you do in the course is download and read the styleguide. The secret button that leads to the styleguide says Open Guide 1.  That’s clear, isn’t it?

The Guardian A to Z

The Guardian, a newspaper that claims it is written for writers, has put its styleguide online, but unfortunately, they have arranged it as an A-to-Z of terms (what to use, how to spell it, what the right abbreviation is). Not nearly as thoughtful as the BBC guide…but they do have professorial cartoons for most letters.

Typical outburst:

The rash of contractions such as aren't, can't, couldn't, hasn't, don't, I'm, it's, there's and what's has reached epidemic proportions (even the horrific "there've" has appeared in the paper).

While they might make a piece more colloquial or easier to read, they can be an irritant and a distraction, and make a serious article sound frivolous. And they look pretty horrible, particularly when the system attempts to hyphenate them.

Nice opening quote:

"When I see my name spelt with one word, I want to slap and choke people. If you do that, you have got to be a moron. It's on every poster, every album and every ticket as two words. If you spell it as one, you're an idiot. Bottom line." --Meat Loaf

The Best: The Economist

The best of the British styleguides comes from John Grimond, editor at the Economist, the most literate newsmagazine in English. Instead of a usage list, you get carefully thought out, relatively short, very articulate essays.

On metaphors, for instance, Grimond says:

Some of these are tired, and will therefore tire the reader. Most are so exhausted that they may be considered dead, and are therefore permissible. But use all metaphors, dead or alive, sparingly; otherwise you will make trouble for yourself.

Here’s the entire sermonette on short words:

Use them. They are often Anglo-Saxon rather than Latin in origin. They are easy to spell and easy to understand. Thus prefer about to approximately, after to following, let to permit, but to however, use to utilise, make to manufacture, plant to facility, take part to participate, set up to establish, enough to sufficient, show to demonstrate and so on. Underdeveloped countries are often better described as poor. Substantive often means real or big. “Short words are best and the old words when short are best of all.” (Winston Churchill)

You might expect that a British editor would come out against most Americanisms, but he gives a funny, and balanced tour of American bunkum and inventiveness. For instance, his alert ear catches our tendency to add prepositions to verbs unnecessarily (Do not write meet with or outside of: outside America, nowadays, you just meet people. Do not figure out if you can work out. To deliver on a promise means to keep it.)

But he recognizes the vitality of some of our inventions, such as spam and scam. To his British team, he says:

Do not feel obliged to follow American fashion in overusing such words as constituency (try supporters), perception (try belief or view) and rhetoric (of which there is too little, not too much—try language or speeches or exaggeration if that is what you mean). And if you must use American expressions, use them correctly (a rain-check does not imply checking on the shower activity).

Other fun rants:

Want to see if you are as articulate as John Grimond, the editor who put together the styleguide? 

Take the Style quiz.


Join the spammers in random haiku

January 4, 2004


It's a thesaurus attack.  But you can get revenge on the spammers by inventing your own fake names, semi-literate subject lines, and crazy body text.

For the last month, major spammers have discovered that they can fool filters by throwing words randomly selected from a thesaurus into the From, Subject, and Body of their emails. 

The garbled text disguises the origin of the email, hides the taboo words deep in the subject line, and makes the message seem to carry legitimate, if confusing text, in addition to the spectacularly bad video of Paris Hilton bouncing around in the dark.

From who?

By accident, some of the From lines have a Dickensian tone.  The Wall Street Journal's spam team noted

  • Convulsively F. Supplanting
  • Tabernacle C. Interface
  • Pigeonhole E. Eatery
  • Mayans F. Sedulous.

Note the middle initial, giving the name a spurious authenticity.  Here are some of my favorites from the last week or so:

  • Belshazzar O. Vulgarity
  • Pinch A. Appearing
  • Oars D. Stubbornness
  • Tenderfoots O. Blankets
  • Tusk I. Deletes
  • Avidity O. Pistillate
  • Puffin R. Residents
  • Chivalry E. Squashed
  • Personified O. Corollaries
  • Stowaways D. Highbrow
  • Indigestion P. Stodgy
  • Bighorn O. Noticeboard
  • Broth J. Flash
  • Effeminacy P. Editing

Clearly, these characters are not just your ordinary Bessie and Bob, who send so many messages out.

My impression is that the author is a vulgar highbrow, intellectual enough to grab words out of a thesaurus, but indifferent to the overtones, because of greed.  He clearly dislikes editors, even while cooking up little Flash animations for porn sites.

Subject lines from Roget

The subject lines have been designed to sound intriguing to an intellectual, while sneaking past filters that look for the two four-letter words beginning with f, and so on.

One programmer screwed up when assembling these strings, hoping to grab my first name and put that right into the subject line, to make it more personal.

Subject: Congratulations &firstname;

Another programmer let the secret out:

Subject: Random text, random money

By putting together any old random word with a word from the thesaurus entry for money, he hoped to get me to open that one.  But he was incompetent, or stoned, or both.

The other programmers had more luck with their algorithms. Imagine what these messages would be about, if they were real.

  • Subject: armhole conclave lateral
  • Subject: burial hypnosis collage
  • Subject: craved task
  • Subject: housing brainstems
  • Subject: Scientific Journal News: Medical Update
  • Subject: scuttling illiterate

Perhaps these programmers are just college students who scorn illiterates like us, who are going to be impressed with news from a scientific journal.  But I begin to see the truth showing through, with the collage that puts together burial and hypnosis: maybe they are going to put us into a trance, and kill us, by pasting together words and images in this Dada "method."

Body text by algorithms

To fool the filters that filter out email containing only a graphic, these geniuses have started pasting together strings of words that sound sensible, at least to a utility program.

One whole genre is made up of pairs and triads.  Here are some of my favorite neologisms:

  • quicksandplacetowel
  • carrotprophesy
  • agaveproducibleburr
  • chitonpelvicguillotine

More common are strings of words separated by space characters.

Most of these rambling discourses suggest that the writers need more monkeys in the mix.  The text is not that suggestive.  But here and there the randomizers happen on suggestive phrases:

  • Explosion blatz breakfasted crone angeline
  • scuba cruelty bishop barbaric bijection footbridge
  • gusset hilarious petrel sedimentary bookcase
  • analgesic bleed Montana disruptive hymn descant blissful avoid chief insomnia
  • copperhead fetid germinal bark creating mockup salvageable aeolian parameter
  • epileptic concerto faun
  • letter hell suddenly don't having glass left sometimes step

The fancier programmers borrow proper names and scientific terms, ruining the lyricism.  Others seem to rely on a word list designed for people reading English as a second language: most of the words are commonplace, and monosyllabic.

  • Two horse think
  • Small place home
  • sense parts less
  • race costs sun here work

Taking advantage of all the texts posted as ebooks, a few programmers ransack whole paragraphs from books of folk sayings about first love, and ignorant men, or novels with tangled pronouns and inchoate character development.

Rob had little confidence in the man's honor, but he was so eager to regain the tube that he decided to trust him.

Can you top these?

Don't send me the damned emails.  But if you are struck by a pungent phrase or two, excerpt those, and send me a note showing your poetic discoveries. Subject line: Poetry. Address: ThePrices@theprices.com.

Tuesday, November 25, 2003

Who consumes our information, anyway?


Today’s info consumer is an omnivore with a very big appetite, according to a new report by John Horrigan, of the Pew Internet and American Life Project.

Roughly two-thirds of the households in America have cable TV, a cell phone, and a home computer with an Internet connection for email and web browsing. Half have a DVD player. And DVD recorders are about to be hot items at Best Buy.

The majority of Americans, then, like to have a lot of info gadgets in the house, with many different sources of information. Contrary to Richard Saul Wurman’s hypothesis in his book, Information Anxiety, Horrigan finds that the more info people have, the less overwhelmed they feel. Being able to explore, manipulate, and control the flow makes people crave more info tools, and more ways to communicate with others.

In fact, most Americans feel more attached to their electronic sources than to newspapers and magazines. Only 19% said that it would be hard to give up their daily newspaper, and only 11% said it would be hard to give up magazines. Print is clearly losing its power in American homes, no matter how influential the Wall Street Journal may be in the clubrooms of the rich.

Horrigan identifies a “technology elite,” roughly 31% of the general population, who are leading the country in this direction, trying out the newest electronic gizmos, developing innovative uses for the information, swapping ideas in imaginative ways. Despite the general population’s appetite for information, most people trail the elites in hardware and usage, because of a lack of time, interest, or money.

If you are selling content over the Internet, then, the technology elite are your most eager, engaged, and active audiences. They spend the most, too.

Horrigan distinguishes four groups within the tech elite, each with its own interests, attitudes, and activities.

  • The Young Tech Elites: 6% of the US. Average age 22. Most engaged with interactivity on the Internet (downloading music, creating online content, participating in online groups, streaming audio or video). Spending for information goods and services averages $161 a month.
  • Older Wired Baby Boomers: 6% of the population. Average age: 52. Very active information gatherers, looking for news and work-related information. Very open to spending money online. $175 a month.
  • Wired Generation X’ers: 18% of the population. Average age: 36. Less online experience than the first two groups, but quick to embrace a wide range of information goods and services. Pursue interactivity. $169 a month.
  • Wired Senior Men. 1% of the population. Average age: 70. Have already been online for about ten years. Focus on information gathering, and online transactions such as shopping, bill paying, and handling finances. $124 a month.

All these groups are open to the idea of paying for online content. Already 13% of them have paid for such content, compared to 7% of the general population.

The early adopters, within the technology elite, are the group Horrigan calls the Young Tech Elites, and they clearly want active participation, with plenty of audio and video, but also a lot of exchanges on discussion boards, through email, and in chats. But all four groups expect to find a lot of information online, and feel at ease buying on the Web.

So growth areas for web writers and editors will probably be on sites related to music and video. Continuing moneymakers will be news and business information, particularly on sites that offer lots of interactivity. Print is becoming a sideline, or an after thought, still prestigious, but increasingly irrelevant for most people--in my opinion.

The report: Consumption of Information Goods and Services in the United States is at http://www.pewinternet.org/reports/pdfs/PIP_Info_Consumption.pdf

Friday, November 21, 2003

We're all buying more content online


People are paying more for online content than last year, with overall spending up 10%, according to a report from eMarketer.

How come?

  • A lot of free sites died out during the dot com crash, reducing the choices for consumers.
  • Online advertising slumped. So surviving sites had to figure out ways to charge for content—premier areas, sex classifieds, and, hold your breath, better information.
  • Plus, more folks are pouring onto the Web every day, and the percent who feel comfortable with buying online keeps going up.
  • With broadband connections surging, more folks are willing to pay for streaming video and audio. (63 million broadband users this year, compared with 99 million dial-ups. EMarketer predicts half and half by the end of 2005.

What does this mean for web writers and editors?

A glimpse of the sun coming up.

Not a big boom in business right away. Most of the big content sites are, well, surviving, but you can’t expect a hiring frenzy within the next few months. Most of the money’s paying off old debts, eking out a few bonuses for execs, and beefing up the servers, for the high-speed customers who want to see out-takes of the Victoria’s Secret fashion show, or Jacko doing the perp walk.

And look where the growth is.

The biggest increases in spending for online content are in these areas:

  • Music and radio (148.8% increase over 2002,buoyed by 17 million tracks sold on Apple’s iTunes)
  • Personal growth and dieting (121.2%)
  • Personal ads and dating (48.3%)
  • Online gambling (24%).

Not a lot of writing and editing jobs in those areas, unless you have already worked in those fields before.

The increases for content that resembles traditional journalism are up a bit, which is mildly encouraging:

  • Sports 20.5%
  • Business to consumer and financial content 14.6%
  • General news 12%
  • Adult content 11.3%

Odd twists on the data: entertainment news is off by 10.4%, and something called research is down 13.2%.

Of course, since the beginning of the Web, folks have been paying a lot to satisfy their greed and lust , so the upticks in financial and adult content rise from a large base. In those areas, we’re seeing the kind of growth we might expect in industries that are, well, mature. So there are probably going to be a few more openings in sites that have three x’s in their names, or dollar signs in their emails subject lines.

If you want your own report, you can get it from eMarketer. $695 will get you 24 pages with 32 charts. Release date: December 3.

Summary of the report: http://www.emarketer.com/news/article.php?1002566&;trackref=edaily#article

A few more details, along with the pitch to buy: http://www.emarketer.com/products/report.php?content_on_dec03.


Friday, November 14, 2003

Blogging gets the attention of PR


Now blogging is getting big enough to attract PR flaks. When you focus on a particular obsession, hobby, or pet peeve, you show up in Google…and within a few days, you start getting pitches for “incredible” stories about “world-class enterprise-wide total solutions.”

B. L. Ochman, who hosts the I-PR list, advises PR folks how to get past the Delete button. Her advice gives you an idea how hot blogging is, and how clueless most PR folks are in the blogosphere. http://customers.mediamap.com/articles_1.asp


  • Address the blogger by name. Comment: My eyes glaze over when I get email starting “Dear Sir or Madam.” A blog is personal, for gosh sakes. But clearly the PR folks still think of leafleting every possible reporter, rather than talking to each one individually. They don’t get that the Web demands conversation, not lectures.
  • Don’t send a canned press release. Comment: The more press releases I get, the faster I can spot the standard all-purpose drown-em-all approach. If a blog is unique, why send a mass mailing?
  • Cut or reduce the jargon. She recommends running the text through Bullfighter, the b-s detector from Deloitte. http://www.dc.com/insights/bullfighter/index.asp
Examples of b-s detected by the Bullfighter:
  • "A value-added, leverageable global knowledge repository."
  • "Repurposeable, leading edge thoughtware that delivers results-driven value."
  •  "A future-proof asset that seamlessly empowers your mission critical enterprise communications."

Comment: Phrases like these emerge from all-day off-site meetings of the marketing team. Putting together the most popular terms on the white board, the group has glued together an all-purpose all-encompassing summary of the various benefits they want to communicate. Only problem: by the time all the details have been stripped out,t he generality stinks. And, naturally, none of these slogans sounds like something a human being would say.

So the PR and Marketing teams will have to work harder if they want to influence real bloggers.

How? Oh, by getting personal, writing to the individual, sounding like a real person.

Impossible, you say? Why, even journalists have managed it. Surely their cousins in Public Relations can turn the trick.

Monday, November 03, 2003

Is your site getting out of date?


Have you left out-of-date notices on your site? Pages that predict the Y2K bug is coming? Appeals to attend a party that took place in 2002?

We all do it. In this sense, websites are artifacts showing how far we got with a particular project before, well, pooping out. Never before have so many incomplete drafts been made public.

They clog search engines, embarass their creators, and frustrate visitors. But we all leave up old pages because we are focused always on the new.

Best to think of a web site as a process, not a finished product.

CNN has a funny piece on half-done, out-of-date, and abandoned web sites at:


Thursday, October 16, 2003

Tog on the magic of interface design


Rich Coulombre just sent me a link to a light article by the BBC, about Bruce Tognazzini, who anointed himself "the interface czar" back when we were at Apple. He and J.D. Eisenberg did amazing feats of interface design back on the Apple II, Apple III, and early Mac. It was always fun to go look at his latest invention, whirling around on his screen, while passers-by stopped to gawk over the cubicle wall.

In the BBC interview, Tog points out that interface designers are a little like magicians, pretending that something is happening, when actually nothing much is going on. He mentions the trashcan icon on the Apple desktop:

"At the time, we thought it was cool," he says.

The BBC explains the facts behind the magic: "When you drag a document into the trashcan, you are not really deleting it. All you are doing is deleting a pointer to the document. It is still somewhere on the hard drive. "

Tog is more amusing than the BBC, I think. See AskTog, his website: http://www.asktog.com/

Recent topic: It's Time We Got Respect, arguing that interface designers have only themselves to blame for their low place on the totem pole. http://www.asktog.com/columns/057ItsTimeWeGotRespect.html

Discussion at Interaction Architects: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/interactionarchitects/

If you haven't read Tog on Interface, get a copy today. It's funny, useful, and intriguing, with a lot of case studies showing how easy it is to guess wrong, when you anticipate what users will think, feel, or do. Included are outtakes from his email correspondence with developers. Typical topics:

  • The Holy Interface, or Command Keys Revisited
  • Making an Interface Articulate
  • Carl Jung and the Macintosh

Amazon link to Tog on Interface.

BBC article

October 8, 2003

On electronic outlining


Just put up an article on Innovation Tools, on electronic outlining. Chuck Frey organizes this site around mind mapping, and organizing information during brainstorming, and planning a document.

Outlining is a lot more useful, now that we can do it electronically, erasing, deleting, promoting, rearranging...on the fly. No more strait jacket, like in school. Today, outlining, as a process, helps us keep adding information to our organization as we go, without stopping at some point, and trying to follow the structure laid out in the outline. Outlining, I argue, is a process, not a product...and that helps us take advantage of the software, to make our structure better and better.

Wednesday, October 08, 2003

What's a blog?


Wondering what a blog is, really? Debbie Weil has put together 20 definitions of blogging at her site called WordBiz Report, at


Debbie adds links to good examples of each type of blog. Last definition of a blog: Something you don't want your mother to read. Her Mom wrote her: To my dismay I got into your blogs and I can't imagine what a smart and capable person like you is doing engaging in this infantile and boring activity. love, mom." See September 12, in http://www.debbieweil.com/archives/cat_blogging_for_business.html#000049

Debbie jokes that for some people a blog is just another thing to add your resume, citing her son, Tokyo Tim, at


Best tip: Seth Godin's blog. I really like Seth's book on unleashing idea viruses. Here he is day by day:


Best gif on the site: Seth Godin's head exploding on his blog.



Monday, October 06, 2003

Google tells you how many searches you've done today


The haiku poets at Google have come up with a new twist on frequent flier miles.

Soon to go public, a new counter.

Each time you come to Google, a counter will flip up, so you can tell how many searches you have done today. (Evidently, the counter stops at 100, so if you search more than every 14.4 minutes, you may break the bank.)

Just being tested on a few users, this cookie-counter should spark lots of competition for the honor of "most searching dude of the day." Chris Sherman, at SearchEngineWatch.com, reports on an advance look, and the FAQ (now removed, which answered the question "What do I win" with this koan:

"There is no winning. There is only self-awareness. The search is endless."

For the story:


© Copyright 2003 Jonathan Price.


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The Communication Circle
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