Commanding Chaos for Coworking, Open Source and Creative Communities

November 2008 Posts

Peter Hirshberg on TV and the web - TED Talks

Sun, 11/23/2008 - 08:38 -- rprice

Just a few minutes after I wrote my most recent "Internet killed TV" rant, I see this more well-informed and context-rich talk about the very same subject, complete with references to Marshall Mcluhan.

From Peter Hirshberg on TV and the web | Video on

In this absorbing look at emerging media and tech history, Peter Hirshberg shares some crucial lessons from Silicon Valley and explains why the web is so much more than "better TV."

A Silicon Valley executive, entrepreneur and marketing specialist, Peter Hirshberg might just be the definitive voice on how new technology affects business and culture. Full bio and more links


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YouTube Has Replaced MTV

Sun, 11/23/2008 - 06:16 -- rprice

It's official - crappy reality TV has been replaced by reality, captured on your Flip™ brand camera!

You tube held their first ever awards show - YouTube Live, complete with Discovery Channel stars, pop (and anti-pop) music, ukuleles, breakdancers, vulgarity and lots more, all in a familiar MTV Music Awards-style format.

Now that YouTube has peaked, it's time for some of the verticals and startups to try again. A few years ago, all you heard about was Yet Another Video Site popping up every 5 minutes. Now I fully expect cable networks, magazines, radio stations, and companies none of us have heard of to adopt similar tactics -- most will fail, but a few will succeed, and we can stop subscribing to cable TV, because crappy entertainment, gossip, infinite programming and cheesey awards shows have now arrived on the internet too!

I expect also (more like hope) that there will be lots of directory services and lowest-common-denominator channels showing up, like the TV Guide of the web, the Home Shopping Channel (I guess SlickDeals and the like have gotten us part-way there), the religious video, and what have you.

One reason why we don't see more cable networks rushing to put all their content online in its full form is the on-demand nature of it all. If you want to watch the Sopranos, you're forced to watch what comes on a few minutes before and after, perhaps the entire show, and for HBO, especially the commercials for their other original programming and the movies of the month. This was an important way to hook the viewer into coming back.

However, DVRs and Tivo have killed that for people who don't care about watching it in real time, so why do prime-time schedules even matter any longer? Everyone made a big deal about Barack Obama breaking in to the World Series for his 30 minute commercial, but weren't people watching it on Tivo a few hours later, or the next day?

In the future, there will not be any possible way to grab the attention of that many people at once, unless we have another 9/11 (knock on wood). I don't even have to watch the Superbowl any longer, I can catch all the commercials on YouTube the next morning.

What do we do now?


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WordPress Plugins that stand the Test of Time

Mon, 11/17/2008 - 18:24 -- rprice

I've been engaging in a personal project recently to get all my OLD wordpress sites upgraded to 2.6 and on the latest versions of plugins and such. This has helped me notice that there are things I'd like to do with the software that it doesn't do by itself, either because of 3rd party services or for SEO reasons.

One thing: I wouldn't create a new WP site without the amazing K2 theme. Just get it. You'll thank me later. No price tag, just CSS and some awesome AJAX, plus plugin integration and an alternate sidebar manager. The theme that kicks WordPress into high gear.

Here are 10 plugins I probably wouldn't deploy wordpress without:

  1. FeedBurner FeedSmith - If you use FB, this is a no-brainer
  2. Flare Smith - Eric Marden's excellent FeedBurner stats and FeedFlare plugin. No more copy and pasting javascript
  3. K2 Hook Up - Every site has those couple of places where you need to paste some javascript for tracking or ads, and K2 provides hooks into all of them. This plugin exposes those to blog admins. Another Xentek creation.
  4. Related Posts - I don't think this is in active development anymore. I have no complaints, though. A great reason to have K2 and K2 Hook Up.
  5. Landing Sites - Let's get real. Not all visitors hit your site from the home page. When people reach your site via a search engine, this plugin helps you display some helpful pointers to what they might have ACTUALLY been looking for. Useful for very old blog posts. Another great reason for K2 Hook Up.
  6. All in One SEO - This is a very recent addition to my list, but something that is sorely needed if you pay attention to your Google Webmaster reports, and you're concerned about how your blog shows up in SERPs (when it shows up in search engines). This plugin is actually pretty brainless, but powerful at the same time.
  7. Google XML Sitemap - Again with this one, as soon as I started paying attention to Webmaster Tools, the sitemap stuff was jumping out at me, and I felt the need to address it.
  8. Secure Accessible Contact Form - Websites don't exist without contact forms. That's a statement. However, spam and usability can get in the way. This plugin leaves nothing to the imagination, and apparently it's blocked 17 spam on this blog. Go team.
  9. FeedWordPress - For planet-style sites or other syndicated sites, this plugin has tons of options but works pretty well out of the box. Integrates with your built-in Blogroll and Categories, too. As I remember, installation is gummy, but this plugin is still an essential part of my toolkit.
  10. Akismet - I would have stopped blogging a long time ago if I had to put up with the thousands of spam comments I get on a weekly basis. Wordpress must be an easy target, because the spam rolls in, and it never stops. Ever. Install this plugin no matter what. Requires an API Key from

This is not an exhaustive list of every plugin I use or endorse, just 10 you should know about, or some that are too essential to pass by.

Honorable mention goes to the built-in WP Widgets - without those babies, life would be hard. K2's sidebar manager actually approaches a new level of sophistication with widgets, and I often wish I were running K2 on this site. Either way, you're getting the chance to display lots of dynamic stuff that lives near the content, without needing to be the content itself.

Lately I'm a Drupal guy, but I still think WordPress has its place in my day-to-day, especially for a blog like this, or when you miss the days of 5-minute setups.

These plugins all (except FeedWordPress) get first priority on every WordPress site I configure for myself, clients or friends. I have donated to several of these developers' tip jars, and I hope that by writing this post, I can do something just as good as loose change in the virtual hat.


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A New Identity Costs $20 (at iStockPhoto, at least)

Sun, 11/02/2008 - 02:53 -- rprice

Given my new employment situation, I need to have a new identity. After a couple of hours of cruising a stock illustration library, a couple of clicks in an open-source image editor, and an edit from a friend, we have a product:

I may yet try to work in the statement "Drupal? Easy.", but this was the version I saved out for the web. I'm sure you'll all get to see the paper copy one of these days.


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