Some Random Observations

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People still read books. I started on Nudge: Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth, and Happiness not long ago. I’m about a fifth of the way through, and I’ve already added “Choice architecture” to my list of concepts to study more, and I’m looking more carefully at the choices I make.

Seeing a lot of intriguing search patents published by Yahoo over the past few months, and that’s made me sad. I don’t know if they will end up in the graveyard of unfulfilled intellectual property, or migrate to Redmond, Washington, with Microsoft taking over Yahoo’s search results.

My favorite baseball team is in first place in their division after more than a decade straight of losing seasons (Go Reds!). Part of the reason for their winning comes from a few trades that have turned out better than expected, and part comes from an improved minor league system. I can’t help thinking of that as I watch Yahoo search engineers move to Microsoft or begin startups of their own. Also wondering if the Yahoo/Bing search merger has helped to make Google stronger. Especially when observing things like Yahoo’s Chief Scientist of Search choosing to join Google instead of Bing.

Seeing too many Search Engine Optimization tools that include keyword density calculators. Please stop.

My town holds its 16th annual Children and Pets Parade tomorrow morning. If you bring your dog or cat or other pet, you can march your pet down Main Street. Children in the parade are encouraged to be on wheels, whether strollers, bikes, wagons, scooters, tricycles, carts – anything without a motor. The mix of pets and kids on wheels is more fun to watch than fireworks.

Google’s webspam chief, Matt Cutts, made a post a couple of days ago on Webspam projects in 2010?, soliciting suggestions for what his readers might like to see Google focus upon to reduce webspam. Have you, or will you join the discussion? I have a few ideas in mind, myself.

I’m continuously puzzled by my State and Local governments’ failure to use the Web more intelligently. Public notices in my newspaper about hearings and solicitations for public commentary tell people to call or email to receive documents about proposed government actions. Not sure why they don’t publish a URL leading directly to those documents online, but they never do.

Sometimes I find myself saying under my breath, “140 characters isn’t enough,” when responding to a question on Twitter. Usually, it is though, in spite of my grumblings.

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30 thoughts on “Some Random Observations”

  1. Twitter may seem limiting, but it’s only temporarily so. Break up tweets. I’m guessing from the substance of your posts that RTs and wide dissemination are not your aim – so the impairment 140 characters causes should not be an issue.

  2. Hi Ross,

    Thanks. I don’t mind retweets and twitter conversations that help spread ideas, but sometimes when someone asks you a question that might be better answered with a few thousand words, I find myself wondering if the twitter’s SMS-based limitations of 140 characters or a handful of tweets is responsible. Thankfully, you can always link to something longer, if necessary, or as you note, chain a few tweets together as a reply.

    I just sometimes feel when tweeting like I’m writing a haiku or sonnet, counting characters instead of syllables.

  3. I’m a SEO for yacht, car logistics and transportation companies. Love Facebook and Twitter…
    There are a couple of ways you can tweet longer than 140 ch.
    2. The other option is installing the twitter app on your facebook pages and make facebook status update your twitter status… longer tweets will be automatically shortlinked.

    I personally like creative and long tweets, with some humor and twists.
    For yacht exports and auto shipping network, these two options have result great tools for copywriting.

  4. yes i understand where you are coming from, twitter is good for just having a quick chat which your friends and other people on a brief subject but it gets irritating using it for writing a long detailed piece of writing or if you are tryin to fully explain a point. However just imagine if there was no limit each post would be a stupid length lol

    Nice Post, Thanks :)

  5. I am sure the children will really enjoy the parade!

    And yes, sometimes 140 characters is really not enough however, rules are rules and amazingly people try their very best to say everything they can in 140 chars and it works, well, sometimes. That is challenging and tough!

    Thank you Juan for sharing those ideas, will definitely try it.

  6. Hi Juan,

    Thanks for the suggestions. For some reason, I really find myself compelled to try to use only 140 characters. I’ve cheated sometimes and used more than one tweet, but I try no to.

  7. Hi manybl,

    Thank you. I guess the character limitation is part of the charm of Twitter. If there wasn’t a limitation, it might be a lot more like Friendfeed or Google buzz.

  8. Hi Andrew.

    I’ve found myself spending more time writing 140 characters for twitter than I sometimes spend on 3-4 paragraphs in a blog post. :)

  9. There is a Twitter tool that allows you to reply in more than 140 characters, I can’t remember what it’s called though so I guess that renders my comment pretty useless unless someone else can help out…? Heh

  10. I have to agree with manybl. If you want to have a Q&A, I would suggest linking to a forum or a blog or something along those lines where you don’t have to get stuck with the 140 character limit.

  11. Hi Tristan,

    It’s not a question of choosing to have a Q&A as much as it is that sometimes people tweet questions at you, and the appropriate place to respond remains twitter rather than creating a new blog post, or starting a forum thread somewhere.

  12. Bill I have been reading you blog for about 8 months now and love it! Had no idea you were a REDS Fan. I grew up in Cincy and it’s nice to watch some good baseball again!

  13. You could turn off javascript to get a tweet of about 250 characters ;) Sorry more concerned about the World Cup right now than baseball. Just trying to make sure that I do not offend my Uruguyan relatives with my support of Germany.

    Now choice architecture sounds interesting. I need to check into that idea. How do you see it applying to web design?

  14. 140 is too little. Maybe some day someone will invent blogs that allow more than this. Seriously, twitter is confusing. How is it that by constricting technology twitter is seen as revolutionary?

  15. Hi Geoff,

    Thanks. If you can recall the one you’re thinking of, please let me know.

    My father made sure that I had a baseball glove on one hand by the time I was 4 or so. It stuck. Haven’t tried the Wii yet, though.

  16. Hi Adam,

    Thank you – glad to hear that you’re enjoying the blog. My family lived in Cincinnati for seven years when I was growing up, and we got a chance to see a few reds games. We were there for the Big Red Machine, and I played in the same little league as Bobby Tolan’s son. My sister was in some classes with Sparky Anderson’s daughter. It’s good to see the Red’s winning again, even though they just hit a rough patch with the Phillies the last few games – I was really excited about how well their rookie pitchers handled that series in spite of those losses.

  17. Hi Frank,

    I didn’t know that turning javascript off would expand the length of a tweet. Interesting.

    I imagine watching Germany and Uruguay play each other was both a source of pride and conflicted emotions. Both respresented themselves pretty well in the tournament.

    Choice architecture can apply in every decision you make that can impact how someone might use your site, from the audiences that you choose to focus upon, to which products or services you display and how you display themm and in other ways.

    In one of the initial scenerios described in the book, a person who is in charge of food service in Chicago’s K-12 schools experiments with how the set up of cafeterias can impact the choices that students make when they buy lunch. The cafeterias can be set up a number of ways, such as having the healthiest foods first, the most expensive first, and so on. The different orders that the foods are placed in can have a considerable impact upon which foods the children choose for lunch.

  18. Hi James,

    There are other microblogging services now that do allow for more characters.

    One of the benefits, possibly, of twitter’s limited characters is that it enables a large amount of people to interact in a meaningful manner without requiring that they use lots of words. I do think there’s a place for that. There are just some times when I wish I had a few more characters available to me.

  19. I am no longer surprised or amazed by what our gov’t does or doesn’t do. Next to them, i get most frustrated with the local schools that don’t take advantage of these new communication channels

  20. Hi Bill,

    Schools could and should use the Web more wisely. Hopefully as younger teachers and administrators, who have had the web as more of a part of their daily lives, start moving into positions where they can make decisions about things like their school websites, we’ll start seeing those sites used more effectively.

  21. As a Cards fan, my ears perked up with your analogy between the Reds and Yahoo. Jocketty has the Reds in a good place with a lot of talent in the pipeline but I’m not sure one can say the same for Yahoo. Patent filings are a long way from the technologies making it to the big leagues. I fear for Yahoo mainly because of their slowness to evolve and take advantage of technologies they already possess. Google did not invent the concept underlying Adwords. That technology was pioneered by (later changed to Overture), which Yahoo bought. Yahoo should have dominated that technology long before Google was even a major player in the game. Yahoo pipes was another very cool technology that just languished. I hope Reds fair better than Yahoo … but not fair so well as to defeat my Cards. BTW, what’s up with Jocketty’s ex-Cardinal fetish? Rolen, Cairo, Springer and now Edmonds.

  22. Hi jjray7,

    I’ll confess that the baseball analogy is something I’ve been considering a lot after reading Moneyball a couple of months ago.

    Great series going on right now between the Reds and the Cards, and it looks like the division title may come down to a race between the two teams. The Reds have spent a lot of effort under Walt Jocketty in building a stronger and deeper farm system that may bring the Reds some success for years to come. Jocketty’s time with the Cardinals brought them players, mostly through trades, who have helped that team become as strong as it is now. I tend to focus more on the Reds than the Cards in terms of trades, scouting approaches, minor league player development, and so on, but I like the way that Walt Jocketty has approached putting together a team.

    Yahoo has seemed like a rudderless ship at times, that hasn’t always taken advantage of the talent that they have, or the opportunities in front of them. I have seen some great patent filings from them, from some very knowledgeable and talented search engineers. Kind of funny to see a baseball analogy in Brad Garlinghouse’s Peanut Butter Manifesto, about Yahoo’s business strategy back in 2006:

    There’s a reason why a centerfielder and a left fielder have clear areas of ownership. Pursuing die (sic) same ball repeatedly results in either collisions or dropped balls. Knowing that someone else is pursuing the ball and hoping to avoid that collision – we have become timid in our pursuit. Again, the ball drops.

    I think Yahoo addressed some issues that internal memo focused upon, but the direction they are taking still seems hazy. I see statements from Yahoo over time that they are a search company, that they aren’t a search company, that they are a search company, that they are having Microsoft take over their search. Yahoo will serve search results from Bing, but we don’t know how much they may or may not change those results. There’s a migration of search engineers from Yahoo to Bing as part of the deal, but we don’t know who or why. What happens to the intellectual property developed by Yahoo over the years, such as their many patents? Is there a plan in place?

    Both the Reds and the Cards derived a lot of benefits from having someone like Walt Jocketty running things, and putting in place a vision of how to develop a team so that it could have the potential to win. Yahoo doesn’t seem to be able to put together such a vision.

    It is funny that there are so many ex-Cardinals on the Reds these days, and Jason Isringhausen is sitting at AAA, possibly to join the major league team at some point. Then again, there are a number of ex-Reds on the Cards right now, too – Felipe Lopez, Jason Larue, Ryan Franklin, Kyle Lohse, and Dennys Reyes. :)

    Good luck to the Cards for the rest of the season – I’m hoping the Reds edge them out.

  23. Hi Eric,

    I do that sometimes, too. But I think the constraints of Twitter, and it’s limitations actually help to make us a little more creative. That’s not a bad thing. :)

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