Blogging, especially business blogging, is the in thing these days; just about every business with an online presence is into it. It’s something that everybody is doing, and why not, after all a blog not only brings to a website an added sense of credibility, but also improves the brand awareness of your business and its products and services.
But, it must be remembered that blogging just for the heck of it, and because everybody is doing it, doesn’t work. It must be purposeful in order to succeed. To make you job a little easier, you need to keep a few business blogging tips in mind, to ensure that your blog is successful.
Even though we’re very progressive about web design, sometimes we do look back and have to admit that we kind of miss some of those outdated bits of online culture. Here’s a little list for those of you who want to wallow in nostalgia with us:
Gopher – Gopher was one of the old Internet protocols before the WWW. It imposed a much stricter hierarchy on content, which had to be placed in folders and indexed with a text menu. It only lasted from 1991 to 1993. here is a list of still-functioning Gopher servers – amongst others, Firefox has a Gopher protocol. And here is an Ars Technica writeup on what the Gopher-heads are up to now.
Web start-up guru Paul Graham recently talked about Why There Aren’t More Googles. The basic gist of it is that venture capitalists tend to be too conservative, investing in businesses that are based on already established revenue models. Nobody wants to bet on the new horse. But the most innovative start-ups are the ones that end up raking in a fortune!
But when most people think of the fairy-tale dream start-up story, they think of YouTube. Founded in February of 2005, sold to Google in November of 2006 for $1.65 billion USD. Start your site, and twenty-one months later, you’re a millionaire. Wouldn’t that be nice?
The difference is, it takes an innovative, forward-thinking company to recognize and acquire an innovative start-up. Google itself was an overnight success story, pushed through to greatness mostly by the sheer stubbornness of its founders. Having run that gauntlet themselves, they know how to recognize a good idea headed by a tough entrepreneur. This is a skill that Old Guard companies like Microsoft fail to grasp – so much so that bloggers all over the web are asking whether Microsoft is doomed, and has prompted Paul Graham himself to pronounce Microsoft dead.
Microsoft… dead. Imagine what a huge gap that would leave. Like the huge multinational banks in the United States which are getting bailed out during their economic turmoil, Microsoft seems almost too big to fail. If they did, there would not be another Microsoft. Their niche instead would rapidly be filled with the New Guard: smart, innovative, small companies that think fast and take risks… and know how to cooperate with the competition!
The original Myst was one controversial game. It broke ray-traced 3D graphics into the mainstream, became the reason for people to buy CD-ROMs when they first came out, and completely broke every expectation that people had about video games. To this day, the Myst series remains the ultimate accomplishment of creating an absorbing, immersive virtual world. But half the gamers out there today still say they hate it.
Now Cyan has announced their plans to open-source Myst-Online. This is becoming a cliche for projects that take too long to finish and lose momentum. Sometimes it’s the project’s salvation; getting the community involved and letting users take part in the process of shaping it takes care of those blind spots that the company missed, when they didn’t know what the users wanted. Sometimes it’s also the kiss of death; open source projects are harder to monetize and tend to die off after giving birth to their own successor.
3D gaming remains out of reach for the web. The best you can hope for is pre-rendered ray-traced scenes; a 3D first-person shooter even on the level of Half-Life just isn’t doable from a web browser. Even our best Flash, AJAX, and Java technology seems to be incapable of doing more than puzzle games and flat-map games. And before anybody says ‘Second Life’ or ‘Spore’ – that’s running on your PC, with a web connection to a server, same as any MMORPG. And it doesn’t have near the polygons.
We have to wait for computers to get more powerful, but whoops, right at the peak time for the market, computers are slimming down, into notebooks and UMPCs. So when, if ever?
Just in case you needed a reminder that the good times never last, there’s a Twitter spammer tool out there now. Like so many of these cases, it’s one person making the software, then dozens of gullible fools buy the software and believe that they can make money by spamming the world.
People always ask, “How do these idiots make money?” There’s your answer: they don’t. They pay money. At the end of the chain, perhaps all of the spam that has ever been sent in the history of mankind has only made one, single person any profit: the guy who made the spamming tools and sold them to a few suckers.
Anyway, look for trouble on the Twitter front. Which means more interoperability for malware and worms, which should be all over this like ants on a sugar cube soon. Bots – even the ones who infect PCs – have traditionally used IRC to communicate in a network and collect orders, but now they might have Twitter available, too.
Thank Heavens for web comics! Before them, comics were doomed to die a horrible death in the newspapers, where 75-year-old franchise-zombies hold on forever, getting moldier every year.
The web saved comics, end-of-story. For the web designer and developer audience, here are the essential web comics:
- XKCD – The webcomic that made webcomics famous. Also spawned 1000 stick-figure comic imitators. Which is silly, because the point of XKCD isn’t the drawing, but the brilliant scientist creator who thinks up those impossibly geeky jokes!
- Dilbert – The only newspaper comic to survive its time in print to be reborn online as fresh as ever. It helps that creator Scott Adams is still alive and well, unlike the creators of the franchise-zombies.
- Penny Arcade – Well, sometimes you have to take a break and not think about work! This comic is focused entirely on gaming and video game culture. It’s what web designers do in their off time anyway.
- User-Friendly – Founded in 1997! It can be said to be the oldest surviving web comic, and from day one it was about tech, geeks, “hackers” (it meant something else in the old days!) and development.
- Doomed to Obscurity – A new up-and-comer, but definitely worth watching. It’s been called both a modern successor to User-Friendly and “Dilbert without the dog,” but its humor is blaringly original, while having a focus sort of like the above four comics combined!
#1 – Have a Flash game. Adobe Flash is becoming increasingly easy to work with, and if you don’t want to shell out the big money for Adobe’s development suite, there’s even free open source Flash-building tools out there you can use – SWFTools, for instance. Flash games are easier than you’d think; you can just get a template for an established genre of game and customize it with your own graphics. Then submit it to Flash gaming sites, with a link back to your web business.
#2 – Make a Google gadget. Google has opened their gadget platform to the public, and even has a simple kit to get started. You can always compose a feed for your blog, a photo stream for your images, or a simple service like a calendar or a horoscope. Then your gadget can get published and be hosted on blogs, desktops, and user’s iGoogle pages.