Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Does My Lack of a Head in My Twitter Avatar Make Me Less Trustworthy?

Why not, another poll. It refers to my avatar on Twitter.



Should I Run Ugly Google Ads Here?

I used to run Google ads on this blog before I really started devoting my time to posting. I took the ads down because

  1. they are ugly,
  2. I don't need the income, and
  3. the income would only be a few bucks if anything, since I only get a hundred visitors a day here.

What do you think I should do at this point? Leave things the way they are? Or do you think I should put some ads up and try to make some money?



Sunday, January 18, 2009

What is the One Word Brand Game and How Does It Work?

The One Word Brand Game is an ongoing tag cloud formation project exploring the phenomenon of "personal brands".

How Do You Play?

1. Make sure you have a Twitter account. (Sign up here.)
2. Tweet a personal brand for yourself or a friend in one word and tag it #onewordbrand.

Two Examples:
  • If entering for yourself: Righteous #onewordbrand 
  • If entering for a friend: @TwitterUserFriend = Bunnies #onewordbrand
3. Repeat early and often.

Simple as that. You have to include the hashtag #onewordbrand. You do not have to send the tweet to me, unless you want to. I do enjoy getting tweeted at. Just make sure you tag your entry #onewordbrand so I can find the results. Don't overthink it. Just type it in. You're not going to die, I swear to Bob.

Some frequently asked questions:

1. "What are you going to do with the results?"

I will manually go through all the data and create a tag cloud out of the results. I will make the tag cloud will be available for anyone to embed anywhere as a widget. The tag cloud will look something like the following but much bigger:

created at TagCrowd.com

The bigger, darker terms represent more occurrences of the word; the smaller, lighter terms represent less frequent occurences. 

2. "Um, why are you doing this"?

Many reasons:

Games are awesome and participating in this fun project is easy!

Tag clouds are awesome and a great way to visualize massive amounts of data!

 It will be interesting to see and share what the Twittersphere thinks of itself, how common or rare certain personal brands are, and so on.

"Personal branding" is all the rage these days and a topic of great debate. Some people say personal branding is insulting to the human race, as we are not brands, we are people, for cripe sake. Others say personal branding is a necessary evil in this day and age. Others actually enjoy the process of personal branding. I myself am a mix of the latter two, and I suspect many of my readers are too. (What do you think about personal branding in general? Drop a comment and let our friends know how you feel.) 

Your answer here. Why do you think this could be an interesting project? What would you get out of the data? 

3. "I do not believe in branding myself. Let others speak for me."

How about you speak for others then? Enter a One Word Brand for as many Twitter friends as you wish, in the form of: 

@YourFriend=Contagious #onewordbrand 

4. "How many times can I enter?"

You may enter the One Word Brand project an infinite amount of times. In fact, it helps the project to spread virally if you enter as many of your friends as you feel comfortable with. 

5. "Won't multiple entries mess up the data?"

Yes and no. Yes, because it allows more active participants to inject their own creativity into the mix, leaving others underrepresented. No, because continued participation will lead to greater viral spread, which in theory will overpower any one person's ability to dominate. 

6. Can I use compound words, made-up words, etc.?

Yes, yes, and yes. And yes. 

7. "What is the "#" symbol for, how do you use it, and why do you want me to use it?"

The "#" symbol is called a hashtag symbol. Whatever word or phrase appears directly after the "#" symbol is automatically converted into a link to a Twitter search for that word or phrase. For example, when your Tweet contains #onewordbrand, Twitter users can click on #onewordbrand in your tweet to see all tweets containing the keyword "onewordbrand". In fact, it is how I will be gathering all data for the One Word Brand project. That is why you must tag your entry #onewordbrand. 

8. What is the deadline?

I originally imposed a 24-hour deadline, but the implications for this project are bigger than I originally guessed. The deadline is never. Keep entering brands for yourself and your friends, and keep retweeting the news about the project, so we can all learn as much as possible. The tag cloud will be updated accordingly for time to time.

That's about it.

Enter as often as you like, for yourself and your friends, and I will keep you apprised. Make sure you tag your entry #onewordbrand. (Did I repeat myself enough times for this to finally stick?)

Questions? Drop a comment here. I will respond.


P.S. Don't forget to tag your entry #onewordbrand. Lova ya.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Today is International Thank a Woman Day!


UPDATE: Ha ha ha! I lost readership due to this post. Ha ha ha! Somebody give me a Purple Heart.

UPDATE: This post was partially responsible for a Twitter conversation that churned on for two hours and left some of us more confused than ever.

Confusion: That fragile state of mind in which evolution and devolution are equally likely.


Yeah, I'm declaring a Day. Granted it's not as if we don't have enough Days. There's International Day of Literacy, National Talk Like a Pirate Day, Doris Day Day, Zip-a-dee Doo-da Day, and Da-Dum Diddle-Diddle-Diddle Doo-Da Day.

We don't need another Day. But we do need to get slapped back to reality once in awhile, and if that means creating another Day, then here it is.

Today, January 17th, 2009 and every year hereafter, is International Thank a Woman Day!
Bring on the marching band.

Why and how come am I doing this? Am I some kinda softy? Some liberal? Perhaps there is a special someone, somewhere, maybe someone I am stalking, who I need to suck up to, seem more sweet and well-meaning, maybe? Yeah, that must be the case.

And really, what's the point? I mean, come on, "thank a woman"? Condescend much?

Yeah, well, here's the thing. Earlier today I assumed a Twitter profile to be a man, referring to its owner as "he". Turned out he was a she, so I excused myself for the assumption. She replied, saying,

It's ok! A lot of people think that over there. Sometimes there is an advantage (it's sad kinda.)

One small piece of evidence that it's still a man's world, even if your whole world fits inside Firefox 3. Yes, I know Carol Bartz is the new CEO of Yahoo. Obviously there are exceptions.

All I'm saying is Hi. You're either a man or a woman. You sometimes ignore women/fellow women. You sometimes forget women can move mountains with the best of them. So as a way of actively reminding yourself to do your part to level the playing field, just thank a woman. For anything, I don't care. Go out of your way to say thanks for something she did or does.

The whole point is to remind you not to ignore half the population. Just stick it on your calendar for next year. Simple as that. No big deal.

So for all you who think I'm some kind of creepy out-of-touch throwback to the heyday of the feminist movement, allow me to overcompensate:

  • Next post we will be talking about monster trucks and Rambo and the sports.
  • Maybe even have a "Thank a Man Day", just to make things even, because:
  • Men are so patient with all these skirts and their demands and their issues.

I trust I have correctly reclaimed my status as a "regular guy".

Please don't hurt me in the comments.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Operation: Twixicon Alpha: The Twictionary Papers

Here it is: The full list of twords invented by those who attended the first spontaneous Twictionary build in the history of Twitter. First, a few facts:

  • A few of these have already been invented prior to Twixicon Alpha, but I am quite confident this is the first time anyone has copyright the terms. So am I getting all legalistic on your collective ass? No. The whole point of this is to make connections and establish creative relationships that people actually care about. If you want to make money off any of the following twords, you have to follow, message, and ask permission from the Twitter user who coined it. And don't be boring. Think of the children.
  • Did you know there are Twitterers out there exclusively devoted to collecting new twords and saving them for posterity? Two I have found are @twitdictionary and @twittonary. Hit them up if you are into this kind of thing. Hit me up too: @willconley777.
  • We will likely create other games based on Twitter in the near future. When and where we don't know. These things just happen, you know? Stay tuned!

So now, the list. It is alternately hilarious, brilliant, deep, beautiful, cute, odd, contentious, insulting, pointless, useful, and of course twitastic. Enjoy:

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

The Top 13 Submissions from the World's First Twictionary Build

Last night a few of us spontaneously got together on Twitter and started spouting off new Twitter terms. Someone retweeted and suddenly our cozy little game of words turned into one helluva twitstorm. I struggled to log it all by retweet, and I think I caught every last submission.

Most of them were brilliant. Some were hilarious. Some were touching. Some Twitterers were especially prolific, while other simply strolled in all cool and dropped a gem into our laps before strolling back out.

I am just about out of my gourd at the amount of linguistic talent we've got out here in Twitterland. Some of you people make me sick with pride.

The following are my 13 favorite Twitter words out of the 100-or-so we invented. (Why 13? I don't know, pumpkin, go ask your mother.) Each tword is accompanied by its definition and the Twitterer who submitted it. I selected these 13 for their wit, depth, complexity, humor, brassiness, appropriateness, obscurity, acoustic texture, cuteness or because I was the one who thought of it. Heh, heh. It's MY blog. MY blog. Mine. Nice blog... Oh and I also modified some of the submissions for the sake of fascist conformism.

The full list will follow with a juicy report today or tomorrow. You hear? Juicy. Don't even question it. Stay tuned, and remember: social media is all about taking the time and the consideration to think about the flesh-and-blood being on the other side of the string. SO DITCH YOUR AUTO-RESPONDERS ALREADY, for crying out loud murghle muff mf...break something...mrff mrf

13. TwitloadWhat someone with thousands of tweets must sift through

12. Tweener
Non-committal to any one side in a Twitter dialog

11. Twinge
What I get every time I scoop @guykawasaki on a news item

10. Twingle
What a particularly touching or suggestive tweet'll make you

9. Twance
An inability to take one’s eyes off Twitter
@AlanEggleston & @ElmerFudd

8. Twitic
Armchair or deskchair critic of all things Twitter and Web 2.0

7. Twaitress
Female waiting on the Fail Whale

6. Twax
To write more than 140 characters

5. Tward
Pronounced "toward"; the “@” symbol when used on Twitter
@perri_watson & @willconley777

4. Twixicon
Twitter lexicon

3. Twildren
The children of people who met on Twitter
@cara19 and @willconley777

2. Tweetcred
What many here don't have and might never

1. Twham!
A tweet from Emeril Legasse

Monday, January 12, 2009

Rizzn's Personal Blog: Barack Obama and His Blackberry [Legal Loopholes]

This might be my first re-blog ever. I promise not to make a habit of it. I just happen to dig what rizzn is saying here:

rizzn's personal blog: Barack Obama and his Blackberry [Legal Loopholes]

Posted using ShareThis

Sunday, January 11, 2009

How to Sync FriendFeed Comments to Disqus

As many readers know, I'm a fan of the Disqus. You don't f*** with the Disqus (see The Big Lebowsky). Disqus is a comment system you can use to replace and enhance your blog or website. It is supported by Blogger, WordPress, TypePad, Movable Type, Tumblr, and many open source content management systems (like Joomla and Ruby Rails). It is totally customizable. Using it, many of your comments around the web (and your blog visitors' comments) are saved in one convenient location at your Disqus profile.

I also use FriendFeed, a lifestreaming service. (I hate that term, lifestreaming. It seems to imply that I spend too much of my life online, never you mind if it's true.)

Well now you can make it so that all the comments you drop at FriendFeed are copied to your Disqus profile. Nice! How to do it? Just use the FriendFeed-to-Disqus Comment Sync:

1. Make sure you have a Disqus account and a FriendFeed account.

2. Go to https://ff2disqus.appspot.com/.
You will see a message stating you need an invite as FriendFeed-to-Disqus Comment Sync (FF2D) is still in private beta. All you need to get an invite is click the link provided. This will take you to the FriendFeed discussion room for FF2D. Drop a comment stating you would like to beta test the service.

2. Within a day or so they will send you an invite to join the FF2D discussion room on FriendFeed. Accept the invite and go to the FF2D room to find the secret link to instructions for syncing your FF comments with your Disqus comments.

And you're done. Done! Just. Done! So easy.

So what good is FF2D? I will tell you: Disqus is steadily becoming the preferred hosted comment aggregation service around the web. (That is, if you exclude BackType, which finds comments you post under your blog or website name and then puts them all in one place for everybody to spy on, woot.) With all your comments in one place, you now have even tighter reign over your Web activities around the Net.

Bottom line: For those who use FriendFeed and Disqus, FF2D further tightens your grip on your reputation.

The world is getting smaller. With FF2D it just shrunk even more. Now if Disqus and BackType got married, I think we would all be throwing rice.

Amazing Web 1.0 App Allows for More Than 140 Characters!

It's called my blog.

(I realize I am in the middle of a five-part series about online fundraising sources for non-profits, so consider this the non-commercial break.)


UPDATE Jan. 12 2009 I no longer hate Twitter. Some good people convinced me to stay on, including but not limited to many of my old Twitter pals, but also plenty of new, quality ones sent my way by @Armano. I feel the need to iterate that I was serious about leaving. It's just, sometimes, well, I'm wrong.


After three months of giving Twitter the old college try, I've decided Twitter can go piss up a rope. It's not that Twitter isn't addictive or compelling. Many times I have spent hours on end tweeting, reading other people's tweets, clicking the links in said tweets, checking out the profile links for the many different Tweeple to see what my fellow Tweeple do when they are not tweeting, and of course twiddling around with all the different awesome Twitter apps du jour like TweetDeck, Twhirl, Twellow, and Twatter. (Yes, I made that last one up, but I'm sure someone will see this, invent a Twitter-based hooker hotline app by that name, and sell it for $1,200 on SitePoint all within 24 hours like Twlpy did.)

I witnessed some fascinating things unfold on Twitter. For example, I proudly watched as t-shirt model extraordinaire Jason Sadler embarked on his year-long expedition to wear a different branded t-shirt every day for a year.

Cried, as marketing visionary David Armano unleashed the philanthropic power of his network on an indigent mother of three, raising over $7,000 in less than 48 hours to help her escape an abusive relationship.

Laughed, as idiot blowhard blogosphere critic Loren Feldman (a.k.a. the Arrington Family's Lurch) systematically rendered his wildly successful vlog moot by deleting all the video files.

I also was privy to an unstoppable mudslide of boring, boring, boring spam from nameless finance experts, daily minutia from acquaintences, and obligatory reports like "I'm working" and "I'm tired".

Twanks, but no thanks. Hey, I can watch these people do their thing in other ways, like, oh, I don't know, on their blogs. With a blog, if you have something to say, you can say it in 140 characters or less, you can say it in a word, a whisper, you can say it in a novella or a Moby Dick, with a video or on an MP3, on a plane or even, yes, in a train.

You can do it all with a blog. And now they have these things called RSS readers whereby you can actually read all your favorite blogs in one convenient location! That is so neat! So useful, so not-limiting! So Web 1.0, and SO SUPERIOR to Twitter that I don't even know why I tried Twitter in the first place.

The power of the crowd, that's what got me. The crowd had convinced me that there was truly some value in being limited to 140 characters or less. I applied the same logic I had applied when, at my first church experience at the age of six, I loudly concluded of the belief in God, "Well Mom, if all these people think it's true, it must be true!" (I'll bet the other churchgoers just loved that.)

After all, the power of the crowd is what the Twitter spirit is all about, and it is growing FAST. Heck, right now is probably the worst time for me to quit, considering that in 2008 Twitter's membership grew 752% to a total of 4.5 million users.

Or maybe that means now is the best possible time. Who's with me? Can I get a witness? Drop some comments on my awesome blog.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Five Online Supplementary Funding Resources for Nonprofits - CardPartner

(Madison Scouts Drum and Bugle Corps)

This morning I began a five-part informational series about free online resources for nonprofits that are looking for some emergency funding during the Madoff Recession. That's right, I am going to go ahead and name this recession after Bernie Madoff, the $50 billion Ponzi scheme ripoff artist who single-handedly tanked so many of the nonprofits, even though he is hardly the one to blame for the economy as a whole. It's just that Bernie Madoff exemplifies everything that is just so darn beautiful about the deregulated market.

Now more than ever, we need solvent nonprofit organizations. If you are in nonprofit management, then tune in to this series, as I will be reviewing five prominent funding sources you can use right now--not just to save your organization from annihilation--but to shoot for the moon. (Why do anything halfway? I ask you.)

Last post, we covered GoodSearch, the Yahoo search engine that donates a penny to your organization each time one of your supporters performs a search. We now move on to CardPartner.

2. CardPartner

That image you see up top is an affinity credit card designed by the Madison Scouts Drum and Bugle Corps through CardPartner.com, a free micro-affinity credit card program designed to help smaller non-profits raise supplementary funds. CardPartner is unique in that it is geared towards smaller nonprofits. Up until 2008, only the largest of nonprofits and charities could take part in an affinity program. Why? Short answer: high start-up costs.

CardPartner's approach is to instead allow organizations to upload their own credit card designs to the CardPartner website, and then use their online marketing toolkit to get the word out to existing supporters. Every aspect of the service is totally free because CardPartner gets paid by the bank.

(Reach Out and Read)

So what are the benefits? Simple. Each time one of your supporters applies and is approved for your organization's (beautiful, quirky, what-have-you) co-branded Visa Platinum credit card, your organization gets $50 from UMB upon first use of the card. After that your organization gets a percentage (30 basis points) on all retail purchases. One early adopter has already raised about $10,000 on card activations alone since mid-2008.

So what about the card itself? Is it the kind of thing you would want to foist off on your valuable supporters? Answer: It's a Visa Platinum. Need I say more? There are some extra perqs involved as well--my favorite is free lost luggage replacement--benefits which are exclusive to the CardPartner program.

A participating client organization recently said on the CardPartner Facebook Group:

"As the economy tightens, non-profits should cheer new sources of revenue like this. At the same time, it's a neat way for cardholders to leverage every purchase they make in support of a cause they love. A complete no-brainer all the way around."

(The Hope of Survivors)

The only problem I can see with the CardPartner program is that the image uploading process can be a little confusing if you don't know much about image formatting. That should not be a major problem, however, as the staff of this promising young start-up are very hands-on and willing to help over the phone. To date they have helped well over a hundred small nonprofit organizations. Yours could be next.

Questions? Good! Most of them are answered on the CardPartner website. Meantime, you can begin your application without committing to anything.

Next up in my five-part series about free online fundraising resources for nonprofits:

3. cMarket, the online charity auction site to end all online charity auction sites! Stay tuned.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Five Online Supplementary Funding Resources for Nonprofits - GoodSearch

Today I am releasing
a five-part series on supplementary funding resources for nonprofits. I can't think of a single reason why that would be a good idea.

Image: underthebutton.com

Yeah, I dunno, I just thought this would be a fun way to pass the time. Not that there's any urgency to the matter.

Bernie Madoff

It's like this. Nonprofits need help now, and they need to start getting creative. If you work for a nonprofit, why not start here and now?

This series will focus on online services that help nonprofits raise money, free of charge. All of them are easy to implement, but they vary as to the amount of funds they can raise. Some methods will make your organization a few bucks for a packet of printer paper; others can raise you thousands. In view of this blog's theme of social media, I chose only the services that use some form of the Social Web to raise money.

On the docket for review are GoodSearch, CardPartner, cMarket, eBay Giving Works, Google for Nonprofits, and Grassroots.org. Stay tuned all day (you can subscribe to my feed at the upper-right corner of this blog) as I review the five services one at a time. First up:

1. GoodSearch

Tell your supporters to use GoodSearch as their default search engine. GoodSearch is powered by the Yahoo search engine (which is almost identical to Google Search). Users simply go to goodsearch.com, select the name of any registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit from a drop-down menu, and then search the Web as normal. A penny is donated to the selected cause each time a search is completed. The resultant rewards come from a cut of the advertising dollars.

Not sure if your school or nonprofit is on GoodSearch? If you are a registered 501(c)(3), then you are in the database. Accidental ommissions do happen, however, so check the list to make sure. If you see a glaring omission of your organization, you can apply for approval using a simple form.

How effective can you expect GoodSearch to be? As effective as your promotional efforts. Hundreds of millions of searches are performed each day; you can take at least a few thousand of those and use the funds to buy office supplies. To promote the use of GoodSearch, use these promotions suggestions. There is also a free GoodSearch toolbar available, which your supporters can dowload for free and use it to "search and support" without having to go to the (slightly unattractive) GoodSearch homepage.

2. Tune in later today! Drop a line if you're following the series, and please feel free to opine or ask questions as we go along.