Originally published at Now Is A Long Time Too. You can comment here or there.

Something I fervently wish existed is a standard “unsubscribe” method for mailing lists - both discussion and broadcast. Something that an email client could hook into, in order to display a great big “unsubscribe” button in the interface.

I’ve been cleaning up a few mailboxes during the early part of the new year, and looking at email tactics for our own marketing efforts. It’s becoming clear that the plethora of unsub methods is not a good thing. Some systems just want you to click on a link. Others want you to click on a link, then fill in an email address and hit submit. Some want one of the above, and then they send you an email which you reply to, or further still, click on another link in to fully opt-out. Some have a range of tickboxes about remaining on their alert list rather than their newsletter list, and so on, and so forth.

An awful lot of people resort to hitting the “report spam” button instead of making their way through the maze, and that doesn’t help anyone. The trouble is that with at least one major newsletter out there, I tried for months to unsubscribe - and eventually had to mark the thing as spam to stop it appearing.

I assume there are technical issues with introducing an unsubscribe standard - so what are they? Is there a way to get around them?

gothwalk: (Default)
( Oct. 19th, 2007 02:24 pm)

Originally published at Now Is A Long Time Too. You can comment here or there.

We’ve some server down time in work, so I’m clearing off tabs I’ve had open for a while, meaning to record them someplace.

I have Design Melt Down on my sidebar, but I’d like to draw your attention to it now as well - it’s a site that looks for trends in web design. There’s some fascinating stuff there; I’m particularly enamoured of the Ornate Backgrounds.

Serious Eats is a well-designed, well-written food blog, focussed on New York. Quite apart from its content, I really like the design and layout - the multi-column, content-filled footer fascinates me, and makes me want to rip apart several of my sites and redesign them. In fact, I might just do that…

Originally published at Now Is A Long Time Too. You can comment here or there.

I’ve had this conversation a few times recently with various people, and I figured I’d get it written down. I don’t like podcasts. This is not because I have some concealed Luddite tendencies, nor because I’m looking for something popular to dislike and be controversial over.

Putting it simply, podcasts are slow, irritating, and inconvenient - a step backward from the efficiency of text. No, I don’t like radio either.

Slow: I can read way faster than anyone can talk. I can read the transcript of a podcast in less than a quarter of the time it takes to listen to it, and that assumes the speakers aren’t stopping to hem, haw and um their way through a conversation. My time is valuable to me - give me the transcript.

Irritating: With at least one podcast I listened to a while back - and this was a twenty-something Irish male - if you removed the word “like” from the stream, it would have been about half as long. Other accents can be difficult to understand, or just plain unpleasant, and people who are perfectly well able to express themselves in text end up incomprehensible in speech. Sound quality isn’t always what it might be, and having to listen very carefully to make out what someone is saying is, well, an irritation.

Inconvenient: First, I have to get the podcasts onto some piece of equipment where I can hear them. Since listening to voice takes a huge amount of my attention, I can’t do that in work, and I usually have better things to do at home, so it has to be something portable. I have a small MP3 player, but the rigmarole of downloading the file and transferring it to the player and so on is tiresome. Then, unless I actually am concentrating all the time, I miss bits. I can’t just look back up the page; I have to rewind a bit, and hope I got the right spot. Neither can I easily flick forward through the bits I’m not interested in. “45 minutes in” is no use unless I can see a timer, and my MP3 player doesn’t have one. For that matter, finding 45 minutes in on Winamp involves messing with a slider.

So, in essence: give me writing, dammit. Sound is for conversation and music.

Originally published at Now Is A Long Time Too. You can comment here or there.

There’s a truly magnificent map of the internet made and posted by Information Architects in Japan. The people who like the modified Tube maps should go look at this.

It fascinates me, though, that they’re actually using the thing:

In house, we use it as a consulting tool. It has helped us exploring, defining and explaining the Internet strategy and positioning of all of our clients since we first introduced it in January. Each website on the map stands as a (more or less) successful paradigm for an interactive brand, design or business model. In order to position yourself, you need to know your place on this map.

That’s a very cool way to approach the idea of positioning.

Originally published at Now Is A Long Time Too. You can comment here or there.

There’s a lot of talk across the ‘net in the last couple of weeks concerning Facebook. An article from Read/WriteWeb, Is Facebook worth the hype? queries, well, just that.

I’ve been using Facebook for about a week now. I’ve made contact with people I hadn’t heard from in over ten years. Some of my less technically-minded older friends are using it with as much enthusiasm as the kids who can’t remember not having email.

The Read/WriteWeb article essentially questions two things; the stickiness of Facebook and the monetisation.  It notes that (according to the people who run MySpace) MySpace handily beats all comers in nearly every metric: visitors, page views, stickiness, etc.

What’s stickiness? AdServer Solutions says it’s “A performance metric based on the ability of a web site to hold a visitor’s attention. A web site’s stickiness is average duration per user session or per unique visitor.”

MySpace is “sticky” in those terms precisely because it’s badly designed, badly put together, and hard to navigate. Most MySpace profiles look like they were ripped directly from GeoCities around 1997. You have to spend a long time on MySpace because getting to the information you want takes time. On Facebook, by contrast, the information you want is there on the homepage, and a few clicks gets you pretty much everything else necessary. Facebook’s design is better, cleaner, and more usable, and over time, that is going to make a difference.

As for monetisation, well… Facebook’s ad placement is, putting it kindly, sub-optimal. They’re currently using untargetted ads, placed low on the left-hand side of pages. Once they start to target ads based on what’s in user’s profiles (and why they’re not doing this already is a mystery to me), and place the things a bit better, their advertising benefits are going to rocket.

In my opinion, MySpace’s days are numbered, and Facebook will win out - at least until the next big thing.

Originally published at Now Is A Long Time Too. You can comment here or there.

So, a wee while ago, Google bought Doubleclick. As the rest of the market realises what’s happening, there’ve been howls of indignation, and the amusing notion of Microsoft complaining that that’s anti-competitive. The Financial Times, however, first took a while to notice, and then produced this article, which has got to be closing on award level for incoherency and poor research. For incoherency, I give you:

Google plans to acquire the oddly named Doubleclick - most web adverts land you in an online casino with one or sometimes zero clicks - for $3.1bn.

and for poor research or perhaps complete loss of contact with reality:

The real questions are why Google wants to be in advertising, and whether agencies such as WPP should be worried. Google is good at wacky stunts and has unusual office furniture, both advertising staples, but its laid-back computer engineers probably lack the necessary lunching skills.

That’s a hangover-written article if ever I saw one, and the editor must have still been drunk.

Originally published at Now Is A Long Time Too. You can comment here or there.

It fascinates me when people that I’ve known, respected - and in this case, worked for - start doing such a prosaic thing as blogging. Nevertheless, Chris Horn, the CEO of Iona Technologies, where my working life got off to a running start, now has a blog. Anyone who has encountered him knows he’s pretty articulate, and that comes across very well in his writing. He’s dealing mostly with issues in the software industry, and also with aspects of travel, books, and Iona’s business dealings. Well worth reading.

gothwalk: (Default)
( Jul. 12th, 2006 02:21 pm)

Originally published at Now Is A Long Time Too. You can comment here or there.

I just came across a truly excellent post titled A Nerd In A Cave, which explains a great deal about geek space, both physical and mental.

Originally published at Now Is A Long Time Too. You can comment here or there.

So I posted an article on dukestreet.org this morning, and stuck it on digg.com for purposes of experimentantion. The very first response is from some guy who buried it, with the comment “Buried because I don’t want competition.” How peculiar. I assume he’s talking about competition on the auction house, rather than on his website.
If any of you use digg, feel free to push this one up. If it looks useful, I’m considering putting “digg this” links on the site.

Originally published at Now Is A Long Time Too. You can comment here or there.

As I write, a page on The Wizard of Duke Street is coming up as the number one result for searches on “doctor who doomsday” on google. Being as this is currently the hottest rumour in the Doctor Who world, this pleases me immensely. That link is spoilerific, mind.

gothwalk: (Default)
( Jun. 7th, 2006 10:36 pm)

Originally published at Now Is A Long Time Too. You can comment here or there.

Jaron Lanier wrote a piece in last week’s Edge, titled Digital Maoism, bemoaning the state of authority of collective works on the internet. He’s provoked quite a response.

Originally published at Now Is A Long Time Too. You can comment here or there.

I was talking to graylion this evening about site optimisation for search engines, and I’ve been thinking about it since. The first and major purpose of SEO (search engine optimisation) is attract traffic. The next step is to attract good traffic. I’m finding that the more niche-oriented your site is, and the narrower your niche, the better quality traffic you’re going to get. Better quality for me, since I’m not selling anything, is when someone lands on the site, and hits more than one page (and ideally, heads out via the google ads, but I can’t easily directly measure that).

In Ranelagh has a pretty narrow niche to start, and this means that most people who hit it are already seeking information about Ranelagh. So they look at two or three, maybe as many as ten pages. dukestreet.org, on the other hand, hadn’t much of a niche until recently, and while it was seeing more traffic than In Ranelagh, it wasn’t good traffic. But as I’ve put up more and more articles on Doctor Who and MMORPGs, it’s beginning to find niches to work in, and the quality of traffic is going up.

I’ll be very interested to see what happens to the traffic on A Political Education as the search engines begin to direct people there - is it going to pick up lots of wide, poor quality traffic, or is it going to find niches to work in as well? I honestly don’t know at this stage.

gothwalk: (Default)
( May. 29th, 2006 02:36 pm)

Originally published at Now Is A Long Time Too. You can comment here or there.

Somewhere over the weekend, the concept of an ambient novel arrived in my mental lexicon. However, I’m not sure who mentioned it. I’ve checked the usual suspects - Cybermind, some of the more brilliant thinkers on my LJ friends list (two of whom are brother and sister, come to think of it), and so on, and I ain’t finding it. Web searches bring up only references to Digital Leatherette. Own up, who brought this to my attention? It’s following me around, nipping at my mental heels.

Originally published at Now Is A Long Time Too. You can comment here or there.

Heh. Apparently, according to Mary Ann Davidson, the British are natural hackers.

She claimed that the British are particularly good at hacking as they have “the perfect temperament to be hackers–technically skilled, slightly disrespectful of authority, and just a touch of criminal behavior.”

gothwalk: (Default)
( May. 28th, 2006 09:49 pm)

Originally published at Now Is A Long Time Too. You can comment here or there.

I created a bebo.com account this afternoon, more for curiousity than interest - gothwalk.bebo.com, if anyone’s interested - it’s a livejournal/myspace clone, pretty much. I was amused to find that there was a community on it for alumni of my secondary school, and stunned by the number of people in it. And then I started looking for people I know, and while I found a few, I’m seeing a definite pattern by graduation years. From 1995, three people. From 1996, two. 1997, five. 1998, twelve. 1999, seventeen. And then it explodes; from 2000 on, there’re more than forty per year. I’m guessing that’s when the internet took off in rural Ireland, then…

gothwalk: (Default)
( May. 4th, 2006 01:43 pm)

Originally published at Now Is A Long Time Too. You can comment here or there.

A bucketload of links from my lunchtime surfing, many from the excellent plasticbag.org:

NYT: Literary Letters, Lost in Cyberspace - on the problems faced by historians documenting this era, when people have stopped writing letters to one another.

On wanting to stop playing World of Warcraft - my interest is at a low ebb at the moment, driven down by tabletop gaming and web dev. The tide will rise again as the expansion gets closer, though.

For the attention of the bunny fans: The Essence of Rabbit.

gothwalk: (Default)
( May. 4th, 2006 10:34 am)

Originally published at Now Is A Long Time Too. You can comment here or there.

A most excellent set of tips for Google Calendar. I hadn’t realised that you could add national holidays to the calendar, and I’m even more pleased by the fact that I can add, say, Indian holidays as easily as Irish.

gothwalk: (Default)
( Apr. 23rd, 2006 11:06 pm)

Originally published at Now Is A Long Time Too. You can comment here or there.

Fall Down Six Times: An essay about possible futures.

In The Wake Blog: A collective manual for outliving civilisation.

Village Blog: More post-civilisation stuff. I can’t explain why I’m fascinated by this stuff. Maybe it’s because I’d probably get on okay if civilisation crashes.

And a sort of direct opposite: World Changing.

In like vein: Open The Future.

Finally, Warren Ellis is doing new and interesting stuff with Die Puny Humans - you’ll need to register to see it properly, though.

Originally published at Now Is A Long Time Too. You can comment here or there.

Wired magazine really seems to have dropped to tabloid levels. The latest thing that’s popped in my incoming feeds from them is the 10 Wackiest E-Commerce Sites. Being honest, they’re not even all that wacky, it’s just a round-up of sites selling stuff on the web.



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