Dear WordPress – Now that you own Intense Debate, please get Intense Debate Comments going at WordPress hosted blogs.


Problem:  Cannot install Intense Debate at WordPress hosted blogs

The internet is a funny place, usually interesting, always provocative, and often frustrating.     In typical internet fashion after learning about how nice it would be to have the  “Intense Debate” comment system here to manage my comments more effectively and allow comment folks to get more out of the blog I spend a half hour learning that it can’t be installed here because I’m hosted at WordPress.

This is a bit odd since (in the typical topsy turvy ironic online world) WordPress actually *owns* IntenseDebate.   They bought it last fall so I can hope they’ll provide support for it soon.    I’m always reluctant to nag the excellent folks at WordPress because they don’t make much if any money from the blogging portions of their massive online programs (they do pretty well with Akismet anti-spamming software and they have one of the world’s largest and in my opinion extremely valuable online footprints).

However I do want to note this for others and hopefully save them the agony of trying to figure out how to install IntenseDebate at a WordPress hosted blog, which as far as I can tell is currently impossible because it’s only available via plugin and plugins are not allowed at WordPress hosted blogs aka WP hosted blog.

Note that you can easily install the IntenseDebate plugin via instructions at IntenseDebate if you have a WordPress.org setup, which is using WordPress Content management software at other sites.    e.g.  Our technology news blog Technology Report is such an external WordPress setup via Godaddy hosting,  so I may try to set this up over there, but unfortunately Joe Duck  is where all the comment action tends to be so this is where we need IntenseDebate!

C’mon Matt Mullenweg, can’t we have an intense debate widget for this  or something?

Why Twitter matters … a lot. Clue = Soylent Green.


Twitter is moving into the mainstream faster than any major internet application in history, and is redefining  online behavior as we continue to  move away from “internet as information” and into the era of “internet as people”.

Obviously both information and socializing will play a huge role in online behavior for the duration, but like the ubiquitous and mysterious food source in the old Charleton Heston Movie, Soylent Green

solyentgreen

Twitter is especially  important because ….  “Twitter is People”.

Some Twitter enthusiasts wrongly suggest that Twitter is important because it is breaking a few bits and bytes of news in real time (e.g. Hudson Plane Crash, CA Plane Crash) or providing a platform for discussion of pressing social issues (e.g. Gaza War).    Meanwhile Twitter critics very foolishly point to the obvious about Twitter’s superficiality as if this was a defect.

Twitter is certainly largely superficial in terms of how people chit chat on the service, but this is the reason for it’s spectacular success.  Humans by nature – ie by millions of years of evolution – are not designed well for thoughtful, reasoned discourse.   Instead, for much of evolutionary history we were very UNintelligently designed by trial and error and random mutations to survive in sometimes hostile environments.     This makes us a short term, superficial socializing thinker more than a long term planner.    Sure, we sometimes  do that long term stuff but if there are any lessons we can derive from history  it is how poorly humanity has optimized our long term well being.    One need look no further than the ongoing global financial crisis, global terror threats, tribal disputes across Africa, or global religious intolerance to see how poorly we cope with situations that would probably respond well with even a modest level of long term, optimal  planning rather than the short term knee jerk nonsense that often stains our  local and international finance, politics, and social relationships.

Twitter’s simplicity and superficiality are exactly why it will continue to thrive, diving into mainstream use faster than you can Tweet  Ellen Degeneres, who yesterday challenged her viewers to become “followers” of her Twitter account.    Although her goal of a million followers was not realistic, Ellen rose from zero to over 110,000 followers in a single day – perhaps a Twitter record and certainly a demonstration of a significant convergence of Television and internet audiences.

As internet activity stabilizes I think we’ll see people relying more and more on Twitter as their socializing platform of choice.    There’s certainly room for many social networking sites,  but I think Facebook needs to worry that Twitter may diminish the time people spend at Facebook in favor of the simpler, more intuitive interactions at Twitter.     Twitter has done for social networking what Google did for Search – they created a super clean interface and made it extremely easy to participate, building a large and happy user base in a very short time.     Unlike Google, however, Twitter will continue to face challenges monetizing their success, for as we’ve learned from Facebook’s experiences with ads and advertising fiascos it is not nearly as easy to make money in social networking as in information searching.    I predict it never will be as easy and Twitter is likely to face some interesting challenges as they try to bridge the gap between user enthusiasm for Twitter and aversion to advertising.      However Twitter will be a spectacular success with even a fraction of Google’s adverising revenue, so I see them thriving for some time.

TechCrunch’s Erick has this

Knol Knows Ranking


Google’s new knol project features articles on any topic by anybody who cares to call themselves an expert.   The concept is really intriguing as it relates to bringing higher authority information online that will be vetted both by the author and by the community at large.

Search marketing guru Aaron Wall is one of the sharpest fellows in the SEO business and he’s been testing knol and has concerns about the results both in terms of outranking original material and copyright.

Aaron on knol

The SMX search folks – I think it was Danny Sullivan – have also been testing knol and also are suggesting knol material is ranking very well.     Google says they are not giving their own site preferential treatment, but I’m guessing what they mean is that they are applying the same rules to knol as other sites.    If, for example, those rules that are *applied equally to all sites* happen to include a high value for incoming links from Google sites or other knol pages, the knol content effectively has a big advantage, technically without any special treatment.

In terms of search strategy I think the rule here is to …. write some knol page for topics of interest to you or topics for which you want to improve your rank.      I expect knol to be a huge topic at the upcoming search conference  – SES San Jose.

Later:  Time to check out this knol thing by creating some content myself.    Here are listings I created for:

Beijing, China |     Blogs and Blogging

Buy before the rumor, sell before the news?


One of the really intriguing aspects of the blogOspheric chatterfest is how the big markets tend to react to rumors from key business related blogs.    When TechCrunch reported yesterday that talks between Microsoft and Yahoo had resumed Yahoo stock increased, only to fall after several other blogs reported the rumors as false or weak.

Although I have no reason to believe that Mike Arrington or Henry Blodget are trading options based on their market-moving blog reporting, I’m not at all clear it would be illegal for them to do so as long as they were reporting “real” rumors.

Henry answered at his blog that posting a false rumor to manipulate for investment purposes would likely be seen by SEC as a violation but this leaves a lot of gray areas open for an aggressive options trader/journalist. 

Here’s what I just asked Mike Arrington over at TechCrunch:
Mike just to set the record straight the ValleyWag poster “Mike Arrington”, who claims to have made 10k trading on Yahoo rumors, is fake … right?

More importantly I’m very interested in your views on legality/ethics of trading Yahoo options based on the rumor mill. Let’s say you heard a solid rumor that MS was about to offer $37 for Yahoo and Yahoo was going to sell. Could you legally trade on that before you posted it? One second after?

What if you emailed *me* right before you posted, I think I could legally trade based on current SEC rules, right?

P.S. What kind of Single Malt Scotch do you like? : )

Although I have no plans to manipulate any markets, it is reasonable to assume that if a market can be legally manipulated it *will be* manipulated, and soon. 

Yahoo adds an 8 billion dollar insult to the Microsoft Merger Madness


Yahoo’s not just turning down an internet king’s ransom for a Microsoft merger, but they even rejected a partial buyout from Microsoft that would have given them 35 per share for several of MY SHARES and also woud have added a cool billion or so to the bottom line in an MS advertising deal.

Kara Swisher has more details, and is looking great with a hip new hairdoo!

My guess is that rejecting this modifed Microsoft Merger offer will put a nail in the Yahoo board’s coffin. They had a case – albeit a weak one – that Yahoo unfettered with MS could have dug themselves out of a hole, but this makes it even more crystal clear that they weren’t even willing to do *anything* with Microsoft. I think that would suggest a level of corporate indifference to shareholders that is going to leave a lot of folks….well…..ticked.

Disclosure: long on YHOO

Online Abuse and Harassment: Where are the Rules?


I’m reposting from my WebGuild post about the Ariel Waldman case where she is accusing Twitter of failing to enforce their Terms of Service over a what Ariel says was a case of very bad harassment and abuse on Twitter:

Are there appropriate standards of conduct for social network communication or does anything go in the wild west of social networks, twitter, and blogging?

Ariel Waldman was the target of an online “stalker” who posted abusive comments about her via Twitter. She’s understandably upset about the harrassment and posted a long note about getting no satisfaction from Twitter despite responses including a call with the Twitter CEO, who seemed to feel the case fell outside of Twitter’s responsibility.

I’m trying to get Twitter’s response to Ariel because I have a feeling there actions may hinge on a couple of twists that complicate what at first appears to be a clear cut case of putting free speech – which should be protected at great cost, above threat speech – which is a plague on the online world and should be harshly policed by the online and offline community including law enforcement.

The first issue is that Ariel blogs about some very “emotionally charged” topics with sexually charged language (though I saw no sign of what I would call abusive language in a quick scan of her blogs). However Twitter may be thinking that to censor comments about her or her topics while keeping Ariel’s own stuff online would not be in keeping with some sort of fairness standard (I agree this would be a weak argument based on Ariel’s description of the abuse).

The more relevant twist is that Ariel is the community manager of Pownce, a social microblogging site that is very much in direct competition with Twitter. Unless Ariel is certain that Pownce would handle this situation very differently from how Twitter is handling it she really needs to explain why this is calling out Twitter so powerfully rather than making more general statements about how the very lax online abuse standard are threatening the online social fabric.

This problem very powerfully emerged last year when Kathy Sierra, a prominent and excellent blogger, quit blogging entirely after several death threats against her. Although most of the community expressed outrage an alarming number of prominent bloggers suggested that free speech issues trumped the death threats, and came irresponsibly close to supporting what they seemed to see as the right of harrassers to threaten violence against others.

So it is important to make clear here that my personal view (which is not necessarily that of WebGuild) is that Twitter is wrong as are any social networks that allow harassment of community members. Whatever tiny advantages we might gain in free speech from an “anything goes” policy are washed away as debate is stifled under the threat of the virtual violence turning into real violence.

Update: Twitter Replies to Ariel

In their reply at GetSatisfaction, a customer resolution website, Twitter suggests that this case might be viewed differently by people if the comment stream was available. Presumably both Ariel and Twitter have a copy, so it should be published in the interests of fairness to everybody concerned.

Update 2:  Ariel’s Mom Checks in at her blog:

Mom Says:
May 22nd, 2008 at 10:31 pm

Yes, this is Ariel’s real mother. Those of you who are easily manipulated by media driven celebrity conspiracy theories or actually believe there is no such thing as integrity any longer will ignore this post. Too bad for you.

I am not here to comment on twitter, TOS, freedom of speech, the “sexiness” of ShakeWellBeforeUse or if Ariel is a c—. If I said she wasn’t, you wouldn’t believe me anyway.

I CAN attest to one thing. It IS a fact Ariel’s stalker has been after her for over 3 years beginning in her home town—before she had a high profile on the web. I have seen the physical evidence and know it to be threatening. Ariel did nothing to initiate this situation, the person in question is mentally unbalanced and deeply insecure. The person found out where she lived and made it known to her. Ariel has done everything within her power (talking to the person and friends of the person, police, legal advice, adjustment of lifestyle) to defuse the situation all to no avail. I had thought when she moved to the city, these attacks would end, but they have not. There is more than mere name calling going on. There is a history of vindictive harrassment. Whatever else you think about how she is handling it is your opinion, but she did NOT make this up.

Since I have known Ariel all her life I can tell you one thing. She plays by the rules. She does not manipulate people or situations for her own gain. And she is too smart to screw up her own reputation as a consultant in social media to try and play competing services against each other. All speculation on that account is ridiculous.

And Mom to Ariel: you could have told me you were going to blog this rather than let me randomly find out about it on my own.

Video Game Primer for Parents


This excellent PBS post from an MIT researcher debunks some of the mythology about gaming and youth, though to me he seemed a bit too quick to discount the growing body of research making connections between game violence and real world violence.  That said, few understand how there is NOT a large body of evidence to suggest gaming is “bad”.     More appropriate is the mantra “All Things in Moderation”.  I’d urge parents to simply keep in touch with the games your children play, and engage them about the content

As Grand Theft Auto smashes onto the scene, breaking records for one day sales (close to 200,000,000), it’s becoming clear that gaming is a key force in the online and offline world.    Parents would be well advised to learn a lot more about this so you can better understand forces that are driving your kids behavior and spending patterns as well as shaping popular culture and economics.    Gaming will soon surpass motion pictures as an entertainment revenue category.

Confused about Game Consoles and Platforms?   Read my son’s Video Games Guide