Tag Archives: tagging

Unexpectedly Delicious

Ok, I’m feeling naive now, because  I hadn’t realised what a great portal Delicious is and how easily it helps you tap into the NetGeist.  I am annoyed with myself about this, because I’ve used Delicious for over a year now.

So – what is Delicious?  It’s a site that makes it easy to manage your bookmarks and favourites so you are never more than a couple of clicks from any link that you might want to go back to.  Suddenly moving from PC to PC doesn’t matter because your bookmarks are always there, even if you are a hot desker at by day or an internet cafe user by night or just a browser tart like me.

What’s new for me is just how good Delicious is as a portal into the web. For the last 18 months or so my start page has been Google News, so no wonder my surfing’s been dreary:  I’ve read more of the Daily Mail than is good for anyone.  (How do they get to be the main link for a story so often?)  Delicious is a much cooler way to tap into the NetGeist.  My favourite Favourite is Fresh Bookmarks, but there are others.  Fresh Bookmarks shows you what’s been bookmarked recently and by how many people.  And this is part of the power of Delicious:  it’s an automatic ranking system based on self-interest rather than altruism, so it works.

You use tags to sort out your bookmarks, and the collective tagging within Delicious forms what is sometimes called a Folksonomy.  For a while I found it hard to find links which had been tagged using the tags I use for my own bookmarks, but in fact that’s easily done using the Subscriptions feature, which gives you more control than an automated feature would.

The other thing that I hadn’t realised is how easy it is to discover who’s got a specific page or site bookmarked, like this blog for instance. (And a special Shout Out to Simon, here.  Hey! Simon! I said it was cool!).  I keep track of myself on Google and Technorati of course, and I’ve found at least 4 other Ben Warsops on Facebook, but it hadn’t occurred to me that anyone thinks I’m Delicious.

I do give myself credit for realising that Delicous lets other people take a look at what you’ve bookmarked.  Feel free to take a look at my bookmarks: you’ll find them rather serious, because I mark recipes and shoes and pages about SatNavs private, but that’s because my account is in my own name.

In summary: Delicious – so much cooler than I thought.


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Found for words

I’m always fascinated by word clouds.  When you run somone’s blog through one it’ll show the words they use not the tags they choose.  Word clouds are a reality check, an insight into an individual’s subconscious folksonomy.  

Here’s what I got when I ran this blog through Wordle.net

Ben's Wordle

Ben

I don’t remember saying Chichester or agriculture but I must have done.  And I’d no idea that I was so interested in time.

Ruthless blog-promotion – how long does it take?

It’s a fair cop.  I’ll hold my hand up to it: in these days of cyber-vetting I wanted anyone who googles me to find my professional persona.   The quickest way to make sure of that seemed to be to write a blog, but the days of “build it and they will come” are gone so you’ve got to put in some effort. 

“Quick” is a relative term of course, and this is the first time I’ve actively promoted a blog rather than allowed it to grow organically, and that has been time consuming bit.  If you are about to do this yourself, you might like to know how long it takes.

There are a whole bunch of ways to kick-start a blog, once you’ve got a blog to promote: 

  • content
    • links
    • tags and categories
  • people
    • networking
    • reputation
  • listings
    • blog directories
    • beauty contests

Content: 

You’ve got to have a blog to promote!  If your content is poor, the blog will fail.  Unfortunately it needs more than good content to succeed.

Links: put links in your posts.  Your blog is more useful and therefore more attractive; your stats will be more informative and that  tells you what your hot topics are.  Some of the people you link to will call by to see who is linking to them.  Your blog becomes a conversation rather than just a speech, and that helps the blog build up a reputation.

Tags and Categories: use them to label your blog.  Categories help people find their way round your blog, tags are useful for infrequent topics.  They both help people find similar blogs, and they help search engines find you.

Promoting to real people

Networking: put the word out among friends and colleagues and in the online places where you already hang out.  I’ve got links from my profiles in Facebook and Linked-In, I emailed some pals, I posted the site’s address in a few of the forums where I’m a regular and I added the link to my email signature. Not surprisingly, the first few comments were from folk who know me.  They know who they are, and the drinks are on me.  

Building a reputation: is a matter of getting out there and joining in. No, not hustling. Not spam.  Not “Cool site.  I link to you.”  Reading is more interesting than writing anyway, but I sometimes find it’s easy to let it fall by the wayside, so this is a discipline that has become a pleasure.   I use Google Reader to gather together the new posts in blogs I read regularly. 

Online Listings

Blog Directories: this is the arduous work of submitting your blog to blog directories, but it’s worth it.  A quick google produces a long list of directories, and then you just register with them and add a reciprocal link to your site.  I say “just”: this is time consuming but mindless.  The directories I’ve submitted this blog to are in the column on the right, but don’t take my word for it: google for the latest advice.   (Update:  Robert A Kearse has commented on this post and provided a link to the list of 300 or so active blog directories on his site – an extremely useful resource).

Beauty contests: is the term I’ve used for sites like Delicous, Stumble Upon and Digg where readers vote on their likes and dislikes.  I’m not convinced by the wisdom of crowds so I find this soul-destroying.  I’m not an active users of any of the sites and, stupidly, I’m not convinced that the people I want to read my blog will use them either.

Which brings me to the question of who is my reader?

Who are you, Reader?  

I fondly imagine that you are some other IT-like person and we are in a pub after work shooting the breeze.  But who knows?  I’m a little afraid to ask.  I’d love it if you came back again and again, subscribed to my feed, hung on my every keystroke, trembled when I posted, quivered as you read.  

In fact you were chasing a search term and will probably never come by again.  

It was nice…

… oh, you’ve gone…

So – how much time did this ruthless self-promotion take me?

Content

Creating content – up to an hour a post: the first draft is always longer.  Adding links, tags and categories is a matter of minutes or moments.

Look and feel – a couple of evenings messing about with WordPress Themes and widgets: this is so soothing that I still tinker with it every now and again.

Promoting to People

Networking – hardly any time at all: I mentioned it in passing and left it at that.

Reading and commenting – I set myself a target of between one and two hours every evening for two weeks and then a couple of hours once or twice a week thereafter. First of all you have to find the blogs, which is where all those blog directories finally prove their worth, but then it’s just a matter of subscribing. Reading and commenting is the fun bit though, where the web turns into a dialogue.

Online Listings

Blog directories and beauty contest sites – several evenings and a couple of weekends: dull but easy to multitask (I cooked food, watched tv, gossiped on MSN, listened to podcasts, stroked the cat and drank tea while I did it).

Is it worth it?  

What’s “worth it”?   At the quantitative end of the scale, I can tell you how many visitors I get but with a blog like this it’s not just numbers.  If I wanted numbers I’d put up pics of public people’s private parts, or cute pictures of cats with illiterate captions, such is the wisdom of crowds.  

I’m pleased that the blog is sparking conversations, and I enjoy the conversations it’s sparked.

I guess the acid test would be unsolicited job offers.  But now I’ve mentioned it, they wouldn’t be unsolicited.  

Damn.  

Should have thought of that.