Saturday, February 17, 2007

Technorati: Control or Communication?
I'm going to get geeky for a few minutes...
Thanks to 2000 Bloggers, which included my Z-list blog merely because I asked them to, I've seen my Technorati ranking go from somewhere in the hundreds of thousands (which I am led to believe is bad) to somewhere in the thirty thousands (which I am led to believe is not great but not bad). I've had the number of blogs linking to me jump from zero to around 100. Some calls this "link baiting," and Mack Collier over at The Viral Garden has this to say about that:

Amy Gahran says that 'link-farms' such as the Z-List and 2000 Bloggers are wrong, because they game the system, and skew Technorati's 'Authority-Ranking' results. Yeah they do, but that was kinda the whole point, the system was wrong to begin with and needed to be skewed. Some A-Listers might not agree with me, but any site/blog etc that applies 'authority-ranking' to determine that the content I produce here is better than your content, simply because I have more links than you do, is not only wrong, but evil, and goes against everything that's right with blogging.

My sentiments exactly. I put it this way: I currently make no money from this blog. And it's worth $0.00. I call myself a z-list blogger because there's no letter past z. But that's really what it's all about, right? Sure, I like seeing my numbers fluctuate like they have been doing. But right now, my real support comes from new friends who have read this blog, established bloggers who post comments, and the number of visitors I see nightly through Google Analytics. The controversy over at Technorati, with them getting all bent out of shape because 2000 Bloggers has screwed with their precious rating system - it seems to me they're talking out of both sides of their mouth. On the one hand, this explosion of Web-based individually-created content is seen as democracy on steroids (in a good way). Everybody can have a blog! Sign up for Technorati - claim your blog! Do it today!

On the other hand, their decision to block link counts from "linkbaiting" sites... well, I'm reminded of Ned Beatty's discourse to Peter Finch in Network:

"It is the international system of currency which determines the vitality of life on this planet. THAT is the natural order of things today. THAT is the atomic and subatomic and galactic structure of things today. And YOU have meddled with the primal forces of nature. And YOU WILL ATONE. Am I getting through to you, Mr. Beale? You get up on your little 21-inch screen and howl about America, and democracy. There is no America; there is no democracy. There is only IBM, and ITT, and AT&T, and DuPont, Dow, Union Carbide, and Exxon. Those are the nations of the world today."

And Technorati.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Things Do Not Scamper In My Living Room
It seems I have a mouse. A rodent chewed a hole in one of the baseboards while I was gone and has been making like my place was Freedom of the Seas. And I'm on the fourth floor!

I spoke to my building manager, and he had the exterminator in.

The exterminator left a note... well, not actually a note. A modified post-it with printing on it. Kind of a form. So that no extra time can be taken in filling it out, I guess. It cheerily states:

DATE: 2/13/07
Treatment was performed for control of:
/_/ Roaches
/_/ Mice (this box was checked)
/_/ Ants
/_/ Rats

/_/ Other
The following area(s) were treated:
/_/ Kitchen (this box was checked, so I won't go into all the other areas, which weren't.)

Please be patient and allow the treatment time to achieve its maximum results.

It looks like the treatment consists of four sticky pads, in the four corners of my kitchen. When I saw these, I was first puzzled, then my head tried to wrap around what would actually transpire with these pads. I came up with two options:

1. The mouse would trample the pad, which would leave marks on his feet, which would then be visible on my carpet and lead me to where he is; or,
2. The mouse would get stuck on the pad, his fur get all matted with the sticky stuff, and he wouldn't be able to move - and I'd find him, looking up at me, knowing that I will bag him and toss him in the garbage in the alley. I can hear him now: "Yeah, sure, destroy me and everything I stand for. But remember, every time you see those mouse ears, or hear the Mickey Mouse Club March, or watch Gene Kelly dancing with Jerry the Mouse in Anchors Aweigh, think of my heritage, and the death you've sentenced me to."

From a customer service standpoint, I would have appreciated a little more advice on exactly how to handle the traps in my kitchen, if only to keep me from obsessing over How To Handle Finding The Mouse In Dire Straights At 6 AM On A Wednesday.
I'm Sorry, You're Mistaking Me For Someone Who Cares
It seems like I dig more and more detritus out of my postal mailbox daily. Real estate flyers, carpet cleaning coupons, solicitations from countless nonprofits. So it was with glee that I read Marc Sirkin's post "How the New Web Transforms Your Organization" at his "NPMarketing" blog. True, the title of the post doesn't quite hint at the gems to come... but down inside, past the Sheryl Crow picture, is his "sample of how any typical NPO might currently treat you." This is a clever and true accounting of how those newsletters we get in the mail fail to impress us, and keep returning in one form or another to continue in the same manner.

My favorite part: "A few weeks later, you get a direct mail piece from that same organization. It includes mailing labels, but you chuckle because the last time you sent a letter was NEVER. Everyone you know is on email and you pay your bills online."

Actually, I like the mailing labels. But I digress... Marc's piece made me think about a newsletter I receive from a former employer...

It arrives roughly every quarter, a glossy newsletter from a this large, national education organization. The newsletter tells me all about the programs going on, how many kids are keeping their heads and hearts in handy, healthy order, who's given big bucks lately.

Great. Marvelous. Wonderful. I find it hard to care.

See, I was an EMPLOYEE there. I was never a MEMBER. So the soft-sell tactic of keeping me informed on the organization's progress in the hopes that I would give mu-nay ($ - which I'm asked for in a separate mailing) not only doesn't work, it doesn't keep the publication alive in my condo for more than 30 seconds - it goes right into the trash.

I would tell my former employer to save the postage and remove me from the mailing list, as I have no intention of giving any money. But I have a retirement fund of some sort with them, which I'll start receiving at 65, and I don't want them to remove me from that list. Plus I also want to stay informed if anything happens to that pension.

A couple of years ago, some former colleagues put together a reunion of some of the organization's employees. Nothing fancy, just a pay-your-own-way dinner at a local restaurant, and a chance to catch up with people we hadn't seen in a long time. It was fun. We were engaging each other with stories of our times at the organization. Nobody spoke of the organization's mission, vision, guiding principles, etc.

If my former employer really wants to get closer to me, and THEN ask me for money, I need to be treated as a former employee, someone who worked for the company. They've mistakenly pegged me as an alumni of the program.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Living in DC
Whole Foods, P Street, yesterday. My groceries are all bagged, I've swiped my debit card through the debit card reader, and I opened my wallet to extract a twenty-dollar bill.
"Oh, and can you give me a ten and two fives for this?" I ask the young lady at the cash register.
She gives me a look like I've either asked her to discuss string theory or murder the person behind me.
"How are you going to pay for the groceries?" she asks.
"On my debit card," I say. "I just passed it through the reader."
"Oh," she says. She punches a couple of buttons on the register, takes my twenty, gives me the change, and hands me my receipt.

I guess I didn't realize I was being so... obtuse.