Taking a quick security break…

There will be a slight lack of posting at the moment as I scurry around updating various security measures due to WordPress exploit currently doing the rounds.

It momentarily affected www.140char.com, but was removed pretty swiftly, and before I continue with normal posting I just want to take some time to make sure that all of my other sites are as secure as they can possibly be.

Here are some details from Godaddy (Who I’ve got various sites hosted with, and who were very helpful in this situation)

Here’s what happens if your site is comprimised, and how you can spot it.

And here’s a handy tool to be able to remove some of the offending script if you’re affected.

And obviously if you’re not affected at the moment, now is a good time to run a back-up of everything, ensure all passwords for your hosting and admin log-ins are secure, and ensure you’re running the latest updates of WordPress and all plug-ins you might be using (And disable any that you aren’t).

Meanwhile all of my sites will resume normal service once they’ve been locked down like Fort Knox…

Not sure how to monetise your eyeballs?

While newspaper and magazine owners are still trying to decide whether or not they should aim for eyeballs or paywalls, there are several other companies who are happy to take up the challenge.

For instance, online social media publisher Mashable has signed a deal to syndicate content to Thursday editions of Metro in the U.S. Mashable founder Pete Cashmore is already a regular on CNN in the U.S, and Mashable and CNN. Plus Mashable has partnered with CNN for the Mashable Media Summit 2010.

It’s interesting to see that mainstream publications and online publications are increasingly merging, but the ‘digital natives’ seem less worried and more sure that they’ve already got the monetisation aspect under control.

One reason is that by the time the likes of Mashable and Techcrunch have reached their current scale, they have already had to answer the questions of how to fund an online business. But as they grew from relatively humble beginnings, they’ve tackled it as they’ve grown without having to worry about legacy systems and overheads.

And by the same token, if you look at the staffing levels – Mashable lists 20 staff, and Techcrunch lists 21.

Compare that to the epic lists of staff at most magazines, for example, and you can see a big contrast.  There are print magazines run by smaller teams, but none that have the scale of the leading blogs (Or at least what started out as blogs).

So how do you produce so much content with a small team across all our properties? Simple, count the guest posts and the open offers to submit work to the likes of Mashable and Techcrunch.

Then consider a quote from the 2010 PPA Conference from the Chief Executive of Future Publishing, Stevie Spring:

“Advertisers are scared of the prospect of seeing their ads next to user-generated content. This won’t change. All it takes is one bad example to put brands off.”

That’s why sites which benefit from user-generated content are filtering and curating that content to get value out of it. There’s a reason why there are successful businesses based around user-generated content, but 4Chan isn’t one of them.

My new project is now live…

Well, after a few late Christmas nights (But surprisingly few), I now have another digital project.

Having spent years creating content and working for a variety of big and small publishers, it felt odd not having an least one working demonstration of how I’d propose digital publishing can work. Since switching to marketing full time as a career, and the seemingly indefinite hiatus with has afflicted Disposable Media since I left,  I’d had an idea nagging at me for a while for a new site.

It’s a fairly simple idea, hopefully serving an audience which I’m hoping is passionate enough to embrace it and also show how it can become a profitable small scale business.

OnlineRaceDriver.com

It’s called OnlineRaceDriver.com and the plan is to serve the huge group of people out there who put a lot of time and effort into enjoying their online racing on consoles and PCs. Some like videogames, some like cars, and some are even professional racers or keen amateurs who fancy unwinding with some less risky motorsport.

It’s joined 140char.com and this site as part of my miniscule publishing empire. The plan is to overhaul 140char shortly, redesigning and refocussing it. And I’m more motivated than ever, as OnlineRaceDriver has already got two great collaborators involved with potentially another joining us, and meanwhile I’ve also got a great collaborator on 140Char.

So I’m now working hard to balance an incredibly exciting and demanding day job at Absolute Radio, the demans of a young family, and three websites – and once 140char.com is complete, I’m thinking it’s time for a makeover here as well.

That should keep me busy for most of 2010!

Incidentally, if you’re interested in possibly contributing to any of the three sites, whether it’s content, design or development, let me know… Follow the About link above for my contact details…

Oh, and if you happen to like the look and feel of OnlineRaceDriver, then you’ll be please to know it’s based extensively on the Metro Theme from Studiopress (affiliate links). It’s cost effective, really easy to work with, and they’ve got some really nice alternatives on their site. And if I couldn’t break it yet, you know it’s got to be pretty good!

Hi Newspapers – can I join the party?

Having spent a long time looking at, reading about, and experiencing firsthand the changes happening to print and digital mainstream media publishing, it’s a bit of a shock to find out I’ve gone down completely the wrong path.

Until now, I was siding with the view that complaining about Google ‘stealing’ the news and sending worthless visitors was more a sign of ineptitude and fear on the part of a traditional business model and industry which hasn’t radically changed in 100 years.

But then it struck me.

I write and publish content on two blogs.

That content is indexed by Google, even if I’m not a major contributor to Google News quite yet.

Google also supplies a lot of the advertising that appears on both my blogs.

Plus most of my blogging time is spent in Google Reader and Googlemail.

So that means if the newspapers can look for concessions from the Government, Google, Microsoft, and anywhere else they can think of, then so can I!

I can’t wait for the campaigning newspaper companies to get in touch and offer to help me as well. I might even get a call from Mr Murdoch himself.

And if cash isn’t forthcoming, I wouldn’t say no to a few links sending some more visitors my way… I don’t mind trying to make money from a much bigger pool of people…

Technorati completely misses the point with Twittorati

Technorati, the blog tracking service, has now launched Twittorati, which tracks the tweets of the Top 100 Blogs they track. Apparently the plan is to include more of the web’s ‘most influential voices’.

Oh dear.

I don’t care how influential the voices are, if they’re in subjects which are completely irrelevant to me, and if they’re all presented in a jumbled stream which I can’t filter.

Interestingly it’s based on technology provided by Muck Rack, which aggregates journalists on Twitter – which makes a little more sense, but is still far too general.

The entire point of Twitter is allowing me to filter who I read by letting me follow them. And by seeing what is influential via Trending Topics and Twitter Search.

Why is mainstream media still confused by the 80/20 rule?

A recent study by Purewire revealed that only around 20% of Twitter users are contributing to the service, with 80% having fewer than 10 followers, and 37.1% having no tweets – leading Techcrunch to suppose most people on Twitter are sheep.

Meanwhile the New York Times reports the shocking discovery that bloggers who assume it’s an easy way to get a book deal or give up their day job often get disillusioned and give up. The article quotes the 2008 Technorati State of the Blogosphere, with 7.4 million (5%)  of the 133 million blogs tracked by Technorati having been updated once in the last 120 days.

The most active 2% of Wikipedia users made 73.4% of edits in 2006 (including maintenance and administrative edits).

The iPhone OS had 8% of the smartphone market, but generated 43% of mobile web requests and 65% of html usage.

Are we noticing a pattern here?

I suspect around 20% of the people reading this post will be knowingly thinking of Vilfredo Pareto, who noticed that 20% of the people of Italy owneed 80% of the land back in 1909, which was then generalised by Joseph M Juran in 1941 into the Pareto Principle, as the common rule of thumb that 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes, i.e. a Power Law with a The Long Tail.

Internet access gives everyone the ability to self-publish – it doesn’t mean everyone will. Or entitle everyone to be able to make a good living out of it.

And more importantly…

Even if just 1% of bloggers, people uploading video to Youtube, or podcasters achieve sustainable fame and income – how does that compare to the number of aspiring writers, film directors or radio DJs who never even got published or broadcasted under the old model?

The Long Tail never said everyone would get rich – you can either try to rise up to the hit end by being one of the small percentage working harder, being smarter, and getting luckier – or you can aggregate the long tail by working harder, being smarter, and getting luckier, just as Google did with Adsense.

As usability godfather Jakob Nielsen broke it down in 2006: “In most online communities, 90% of users are lurkers who never contribute, 9% of users contribute a little, and 1% of users account for almost all the action.”

The internet doesn’t radically change that dynamic (although it’s definitely possible to move the figures slightly within a specific online community). What it does is hugely increases the numbers included in that 1%, and in that 9%, which has a bloody big impact on the 90%.

That’s the big lesson – a small number of people can get Wikipedia over 55 million U.S. visitors in a year, or create the fact that 20 hours of video are uploaded every minute (equivalent to Hollywood releasing 86,000 films every weekend!). It’s what got facebook to over 200 million users, and Twitter to over 32 million.

It doesn’t mean it’s all popular, or high quality.

It just means that most of mainstream media is likely to end up covered in content as if it went out in a desert sandstorm – and successful businesses need to figure out how to engage and build on that 1% or 20% which creates the value for everyone else.

Amazon’s Kindle – now available with TheWayoftheWeb

In case Amazon needs some help shifting a few more Kindles, I’ve done the kind thing and provided them with the content you can read here for free. And it’s available for a small fee after a 14 day trial.

Treat your Kindle to TheWayoftheWeb.

In all seriousness, I’m intrigued to see whether there’s a paying marketing for content available for free online, to see whether the Kindle obeys the law of mobile that content and services seem to generate money on those platforms more readily than via the web.

Plus I wanted to see how easy it was to sign up, given that Techcrunch has already experienced someone unofficially publishing their blog feed alongside their own.

And if it contributes a couple of bucks towards keeping my hosting going, then it’s a bonus!

Comment with your Twitter/Facebook profiles

I’ve finally started upgrading the back end of this blog to start tackling the increasingly important issue of connecting with the discussions posts can prompt in a myriad of places.

Whereas discussion was generally confined to the Comments section in days of old, now it can spring up on Twitter, Facebook, Friendfeed etc.

As a commenter, I’ve found Backtype to be useful for aggregating the comments I’ve made, but when it came to starting to tie it all together here, Disqus was an obvious, and easy choice to install and start using.

All of the comments made directly have now been imported into the new system, and I’ve added the ability to post with your Twitter and Facebook usernames, as well as importing discussion around a post from locations like Friendfeed. You can even post a video comment via Seesmic.

I’ve also installed a Disqus widget to show the Top Commenters, Recent Comments and Popular Comments, so you should see that start to hopefully fill out in the next few days in the right side bar.

In addition, I’ve also started combining my saved bookmarks by posting to both Diigo and Delicious, to provide some cloud-based backup and to see which is the best route for publishing any links I want to share – as well as looking at which plugins/widgets might be contributing to long loading times.

All aimed at providing a better service to you, the readers that make all this worthwhile, so let me know if there’s anything you’d suggest, or things you think I should definitely keep or get rid of!

Is Twitter destroying the link economy?

I’m in the process of collating various posts and search into the effect of Twitter on the link economy for a post later this week – but I want to include your views and comments.

It’s been sparked by a few things – including the the fact that despite receiving the same amount of traffic to both my blogs, and numerous Retweets, the ranking of them by various lists has gone down. And much of this seems to be due to a lower amount of inbound links as measured by Technorati and Yahoo.

In the grand scheme of things, the only reason measures of popularity are important for my personal blogs is it makes it easier for people to find them via search or relevant lists, allowing me to hopefully meet and interact with more people (I’m not aiming to build a media empire at the moment!).

But are you seeing the same things happening?

Do you wish Google/Technorati etc started counting Retweets as a metric of authority for a website?

Do you think the effect is proportional to the time you invest of social networks rather than interacting via blogs?

Does it matter to you?

No comment needed on NUJ comment

Happened across this post, via Antony Mayfield.

Regardless of the actual post, what really caught my eye was in the comments by Chris Wheal:

First:

‘Let me reiterate a principle of journalism: You contact the subject of a story and put the allegations to them before you publish.

Had you done so – contacted the NUJ or me, as you know I chair the Professional Training Committee – you’d have had an explanation.

The story would have been much less interesting. It would have been: Tired NUJ training chair, angered by poor journalistic standards on blogs, asks committee to engage with bloggers to try to raise standards.’

Followed by:

‘The NUJ believes that journalistic standards should apply across all media. If that sounds out of touch, and old-fashioned then sorry, I must be a dinosaur.

The NUJ fails to police those standards as well as it would like in the tabloid press due to the powerful media owners, weak industrial relations legislation, lack of a contractual right to refuse to do unethical stories and a host of other reasons.

The NUJ fails to maintain standards in blogs because bloggers themselves rejoice in having lower standards.‘ (emphasis mine).

I’m pretty sure I don’t need to add anything, except: