Context Is Credibility

I’ve written before about the importance of context; and ranted too about “stolen” images used, uncredited etc., at Tumblr and other sites. I’ve tweeted and posted at Facebook about my hatred of such things. Others have taken a far more direct and pointed-tongued approach (NWS) regarding the issue. But Sarah Werner‘s It’s History, Not A Viral Feed is the most direct and well-articulated article — complete with excellent resources.

— A. History (@AhistoricalPics) January 24, 2014


Research On Content Curation Online

big mouth promotions logoAt Scoop.It I posted (or “re-scooped”) to several of my curated topics a link to a research study entitled Sharing the Loves: Understanding the How and Why of Online Content Curation. Robin Good  of Content Curation World breaks the findings down thus:

a) what people curate as relevant is not generally among the top ranked results according to popular metrics. Good stuff is not the same as what is considered normally popular or authoritative stuff.

b) content curation allows a community to synchronize around specific issues and subjects (as anticipated by Clay Shirky)

c) better and more appreciated curation is of the “structured” kind, providing additional info, meta-data and categorization.

d) curators that are highly appreciated are characterized by consistent activity and by a variety of interests (or viewpoints under the same theme) that they are capable to cover.

This is rather my experience; however, I usually explain it to my clients this way:

a) You can be doing an excellent job, but never receive the recognition, popularity, or traffic you deserve.That doesn’t mean you won’t be appreciated greatly by the smaller group of people who do find/read your curated works.

b) No matter the popularity of your curation, you can build and have conversations — but remember, community cultivation not only requires additional time, but a different skill set.

c) If you’re going to do it, do it well. Use tools, such as labels and tags, and *always* provide context as well as proper credits and links.

d) Consistent activity is nearly as important as showing some personality along with your knowledge. Your topic may be narrowly focused, but offer additional topics and information about you personally (not just professionally) so that people get a sense of you.

More on curation here.

Blogging Death Knells Are Premature & Passe

This sort of “blogging is dead, especially for business” thinking as shared in Beyond Blogging: 13 Content Marketing Opportunities for Ecommerce by Linda Bustos drives me nuts:

Remember when business blogging was really big? You know, 2007-ish, before Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram came and stole all that consumer attention span.

The death of Google Reader may just be one more signal that blogging is passe, at least as a marketing tool for commercial products.

Only 25% of the 85 retail blogs we tracked in 2007 are still actively updated today. That’s a 75% abandonment rate.

So if blogging’s dead, what content marketing opportunities remain for ecommerce?

First of all, the majority of the sites listed rely on content produced elsewhere to fill them — not only curation sites, like Pinterest & Scoop.It, but social media sites, like Facebook & Twitter (which are also blogging or micro-blogging), as well. Without blogs and websites creating content, what is there to curate or share? And, in fact, at least half of the 13 “opportunities” Bustos lists are actions (content, curation) performed at blogs; many are actually dependent upon blogs specifically for content, and at least three of them (Infographics, Newsletter/email, QRated content) require blogs or websites to make them work.

Premature_Burial_VaultIf The Future is based on blogging, how can it be dead?

Secondly, there are major issues with the subject of blog abandonment rate claims. Blogs, like the static sites before them, have always had high abandonment rates. Since 2004, Technorati’s State of the Blogosphere has been examining such things as the supposed “death” of blogs — and the more the death rumor waves rolled in, they rolled back out again as more data put the rumors out to sea. Sure, blogs are abandoned. Blogging has made it super easy for the code-ignorant to self-publish — come on in, the water’s fine! And, like so many self-directed activities, such ease has allowed them to self-perish just as easily. Any one of those reasons can just as easily be applied to curating or “Facebooking”.  (But, by the way, did you do any digging to see why that 75% of retail blogs were abandoned? Are the companies still around? Have multiple blogs been combined? Have blogs been rolled into retail sites? Have they simply been “guest blogging” at other sites, or using Facebook Pages?)

Beneath all of this, however, is the fundamental issue of what blogging is.

I’ve long contended that blogging is a method of publishing; it’s the software, the mechanism, the platform. In that case, Facebook, Twitter, etc. are platforms for blogging. Platforms which are far more controlled by others than the single stand-alone sites which Bustos & others call blogs and are trying to declare dead.  But to say “blogging is dead” is a more than premature; it’s just plain not true.

You can split-hairs over what blogging is or isn’t, which platforms, software, distribution methods etc. are trending now and where it might go tomorrow, but whatever you call it, people will be creating and many of them will opt to control their creations as well. (…Well, many of us will do our best to try to control as best we can in this Digital Wild West. And for many of us, that means our own sites and even our own servers. Because as we are learning more every day, sites and platforms come & go every single day. And censorship is a threat. Wise folks who value their creations know that using another party’s service/site/platform has plenty of risks.)

Whether the blogging/self-publishing mechanism changes is not really an issue, for as technology advances it certainly will change. But the creation of content itself will remain. And (hopefully!) we will always have individuals involved who will opt to retain their roles of both creator and publisher, i.e. their own blogs and sites (whatever they’ll be called), for which the curators, sharers, etc. should be most thankful.

Image Credits: Wikipedia

Calling All Former Snip.It Users & Future Content Curators!

As mentioned in my interview with Scoop.It’s Guillaume Decugis, Scoop.It has been working on a way for those of us abandoned by Snip.It to upload the exported data. Earlier this week, I beta tested the new import feature — and it works quite well!

As you can see, there were some topics or categories in common, so I will have to work a bit to resort and even delete both individual links and entire topics. (Because I specifically worked to make sure that my feminist topic at Scoop.It was different from my feminist collection at Snip.It, I have to check each link before I hit delete — however, Scoop.It’s system has always let you know if you’ve scooped a link before, so it goes faster than you think!)

Amazingly, all of my collections uploaded — giving me more collection or topics than Scoop.It previously allowed! And it’s not just for former Snip.It users either now.

For the month of February, Scoop.It is “lifting the topic creation limit: for free!” That means, even if you were not a member of, whether you were a Scoop.It user or not, you can get an unlimited number of topics to curate at Scoop.It!

Again, this is only for the month of February (2013). (Which works out pretty good for users who have to download their export file of collections and snips by the 21st of the month.)

Here’s How You Do It

Step One: If you were a Snip.It user, and haven’t already done so, go here to export and save what you’ve snipped using the “Export To HTML” download button.

Step Two: If you are not already a Scoop.It member, join now.

Step Three: Once you are a Scoop.It member, contact Ally Greer at Introduce yourself as a former Snip.It user and request the account option to import Snip.It collections.

Step Four: When the option has been activated, login to Scoop.It, use the drop-down menu beneath your name and click on the Settings option.

Step Five: In settings, look for the Snip.It Import tab; click it and you’ll see where to upload your Snip.It export file.

What’s very cool, is they have progress bars to show you how it’s all going. For those with many collections and thousands of links, it goes faster than you think — especially when you can see that it is working!

Pretty easy and fabulous, right?

A few of the links, very few percentage wise, did not upload the images. But with Scoop.It, you can always edit your scoop, including uploading your own image. So if that bothers you, you can fix it.

First, click the Edit button…

Then the Edit Image button to upload the image.

Once you join Scoop.It, let me know. (You can follow my topics or just leave a comment here with a link to you at Scoop.It; whatever works for you.)

And if you have any problems, contact Ally; she’s always there to help. Really!

PS If you are new to curating, don’t have any file to import, or are an existing Scoop.It member who just wants more topics (for free!), you can still take advantage of the free love at Scoop.It this month. All you have to do is ask for more topics by sending an email to Again, details here.

The Scoop On Content Curation & Scoop.It

Once Snip.It pulled the plug on the content curation site, thereby pulling the rug out from under the feet of content curators like myself, I began speaking with the fine folks at Scoop.It.

As always, Community Manager Ally Greer was there with more than kind, supportive words but with some action too. Thanks to her, and the other responsive folks at Scoop.It, there will be some great news coming from my now favorite curation site soon. (Hint: They are working on a way for the exported Snip.It file to be uploaded to Scoop.It; details to follow, so stay tuned!)

Meanwhile, I wanted to talk about why why many had not been using the site – like myself, had not been as dedicated to Scoop.It. After all, while many are scrambling to move their online curation, the same reasons why they hadn’t used Scoop.It before may very well still apply, right? And what better way to discuss this than with Guillaume Decugis, Co-founder and CEO of Scoop.It.

Thanks so much for making the time to discuss this with me, Guillaume.

Decugis: Thank you for giving us this opportunity to communicate with you as we try to find users a solution to migrate their topics to

You might not feel that way after I shoot some hard questions at you! Here’s the first one:

The problem, comparatively, with Scoop.It vs. Snip.It, was the limited number of collections or topics. Many of us had 20 or more collections, and even the business plan has a limit of 15. Can you explain Scoop.It’s reasoning for limiting the number of topics?

Decugis: In the very early phases of private beta, we were confronted with a very simple problem: some people were doing domain squatting on urls without actually using them to curate content. topic urls are unique and it works really well with our topic-centric model: we’re not just about curating content but we also strongly believe that we offer better discovery capabilities to our users by having this model where you curate, discover and follow topics. Making urls unique encourages users to be specific on the niches they cover. So preventing domain squatting was one pragmatic reason to implement topic limitation.

What we discovered since then is that even though we fully understand that some people might want to do more than these limits, this limitation actually forced them to focus on what they felt was essential — one of the objectives of content curation. Content curation in general, and in particular, is biased towards quality vs. quantity after all. We’re not saying you can’t have both, and there are exceptions, but so far the scheme has been working pretty well even though that’s of course something we might revisit at some point.

Of course, paying is also a concern. We obviously feel the pain of “free that can go away” (despite millions of dollars Yahoo! paid), but paid service sites also disappear… Can we be assured Scoop.It won’t vanish? Or at least not in a matter of minutes, without warning?

Decugis: First of all, we’re not forcing anyone to pay: is a free service and will always remain free. Free users are very valuable to us as they help the brand awareness by bringing qualified traffic to the platform. Thanks to them we grew from 0 to 7 million monthly since our launch. So everyone is welcome to use as much as they want for free. Premium plans are here to add value to professionals who want more from or businesses and companies who want to use content curation as part of their content strategy.

No company can ever say “we’ll be here forever”. However, I think free Web services without any implemented business models are likely to be much more vulnerable which is why it’s been very important to us to launch publicly only until we had a good idea what our business model would be. We had close to a year of private beta (yes, we took our time…) but this was very important to us to understand how the balance between free and paying users would work, what people or businesses would be ready to pay for and at what price. We can’t say the current model is perfect, nor that there won’t be any changes. But a bit more than 1 year after our public launch, we’re very happy with the revenue we’re generating, the number and growth rate of our paying customers and, more importantly, their strong loyalty to their premium plans and the low churn rate we’re observing. In the long run, profitability is the only thing that can guarantee any company’s survival and while growth has been our main focus, having a sound business model has been one of our other priorities from day 1.

The last thing I want to say about this is that we view as an open platform: we offer multiple interfaces with social networks but also blog platforms like WordPress or Tumblr as well as RSS feeds and an open API. This provides multiple export capabilities for our users’ curated content and we’ll enable even more in the future. We think the value we build as a company is in our active and growing community – not in locking up our users in a proprietary platform.

I know beggars can’t be choosers, but is there a way former folks could get a discount on services?

Decugis: Though we’re happy for Ramy and the team at and wish them the best in their integration with Yahoo!, we feel sad about the service shutting down. We didn’t plan to do anything specific, but some users like yourself have asked us whether they could import their collections to and we’re investigating that. We don’t plan to offer a discount on premium plans, but we’re looking at what we can do to welcome users who want to join our community while obviously being fair to our existing users. Stay tuned.

I can’t thank you enough for your time, Guillaume. Hopefully this will address the concerns and potential fears of people who are considering using

As for me, my final thoughts are this: Scoop.It may be forcing us all to limit or tighten up our topics of interest (which does have both its pluses and minuses), even when you pay to play — but they’ve always had their strong points that can’t be refuted.

One, they’ve always had the best means of connecting and disseminating curated content to social media sites and blogs.

Two, they’ve always had the best method of suggesting content to a curator. In fact, they may be the only curation site to offer that option — which has proven to draw in members who may not even curate, but read and watch. Turning lurking subscribers into participating, engaged members is not to be undervalued.

Three, as you can see with this interview, the folks at are readily available to discuss issues, concerns, and suggestions.

As Guillaume Decugis and I have both said, stay tuned!

Snip.It Snaps

Today, just hours after I tweeted how much I loved the site, Snip.It was purchased by Yahoo. That’s good news for Ramy Adeeb and crew, but it leaves those of us who were fans of the site without the space for curation. Personally, despite being mentioned in the Snip.It Hall Of Fame, I feel as others do: tossed aside. Even with all the beta testing etc. I worked with Adeeb and others on, I found out after the site was “shuttered”. All my work there nothing but a downloadable file to upload at a short-list of bookmarking sites — which is nothing like content curation at all, and Adeeb and crew know it.

Personal whining aside, the worst of all this is the BIG business mistake of it all.

Handing things this way means Adeeb, Snip.It, and Yahoo alike all miss out on the good will and future adoption of whatever Yahoo plans to do with Snip.It. Instead of keeping all of us who loved the site in the loop and even in the game — waiting to kill services until after there was the new place for us to participate, this action has rather insured that we won’t give a flying fig about whatever the new service or site is about.

You can’t blame the likely death of Snip.It’s potent new life as part of Yahoo completely on Yahoo — even if there’s a history lesson in that. No, you have to blame the folks at Snip.It for devaluing users so much that we there couldn’t be a “Snip.It’s closed, sign up and merge your account at the new Snit.It.Yahoo” link for us to follow.

Tossing aside Snip.It users like they did, means that I myself have a bunch of orphaned users or followers of my own. That leaves a bad taste in my mouth. And one I’m not likely to forget. Even if someone from the old or new Snip.It comes-a-calling, asking me to adopt the new site.

What Kind Of Curation Site Should You Use?

No doubt about it, content curation is growing. If all the news stories about it wasn’t convincing enough, the number of clients asking me about curation would! Here’s a simple little primer on the two major types of curation sites — and a decision tree I made to assist clients.

Pinterest, LoveIt, and the like are image-based eye-candy. At best, this type of curation is like a great store window; it might just lure a lookie-loo inside (to the original site) for a sale. At worst, this type of curation is content theft (allowing curators to garner the traffic and exposure at the expense of the creator of the image, product, etc.), or is just a bunch of spam links sent out in numbers large enough that even a tiny percent is hoped to garner a sale or conversion. (Please don’t do either of those worst-case scenarios!)

Snip.It, Scoop.It, and the like are article-based brain-candy. Images from the sites themselves are generally used, but the focus is the articles. The best of these sites (which most definitely includes those named) aim to not only avoid content theft but to get readers to actually read the content at the original site by not allowing entire articles to just be reposted.

Neither type of content creation site is better than the other; your goals ought to dictate which type of curation site you use. This is where the decision tree will help you. Click the image for a larger view of the content curation site decision tree.

Curation Is The New Black; But Will It Get In The Black?

There’s a lot of talk about content curation; but is anyone making money?

I’m sure some are making a few bucks… But big profits? So far, probably not. Will it? Let’s take a look…

When it comes to potentially profiting from curating online, there are three main groups:

1) Software/site creators — those who have built, hoping the people come. These folks have invested time and money in the venture adventure, and some of them are charging for their services. Much like those charging for blogging software and/or hosting, it remains to be seen whether or not curators will pay for such services — and in enough numbers to pay for the developer investment.

2) Companies and individuals selling the products, services, and content being created. So far, this is the group seeing the greatest rewards. While numbers and margins are murky, it’s clear from the investment and funding dollars that big business believes (or hopes) curation will be the future of brand and product promotion.

3) Curators themselves. This group is last on the list for two reasons. First, they are the base on which this whole business is built; without them, no one is paying for curation sites/software or curating the products, brands, and ideas that corporations are counting on. And second, curators are apparently last on the list in terms of consideration.

Despite the fundamental importance of curators, they currently have relatively no means of making money from curating.

By and large, there are no spots for advertising on content curation sites. Not only are there no means by which the curators themselves may edit pages to place advertising, but the curation sites themselves are without their own advertising, so there’s no option for profit sharing between curation site and individual curators. This doesn’t necessarily preclude the possibility of curators being bought. Other than, perhaps, the difficulty in contacting a curator, what’s to stop a curator from accepting payolla, putting a dollar value on a “curated” link like many bloggers do with paid posts?

If you think this lack of built-in monetization will keep curators honest in their curation — that they’ll do it for the pure passion and love of it all, you are naive. Curation is a commitment. Without the prospect of money, only a few diehards and crazies (such as myself) will bother to curate and then it will be as time and inclination allows. That is not the steady stream of “superhero” curation that enthusiasts are predicting.

Without advertising options, how are are content curators are going to make money? In order to make money directly from curating (i.e. curators are not merely pushing their own products, services, and/or sites that they have monetized), it will need to be because people are going to pay for curated content, because companies are going to pay for curators to push profits for them (via payolla or paid curator/marketing positions), or some combination of the two.

But will people really pay?

So far the evidence says, “No.”

Curation really isn’t anything new. Curation is, if not exactly the same, a lot like blogging; and we all know blogging isn’t a sure-fired, self-supporting, money-making activity. Not that it necessarily should be. I mean, some guy’s playlist isn’t necessarily equal to that of a radio station DJ — and it’s not just a matter of audience numbers either. Quality and importance — perceived or real — also matter. The low barrier of entry to self-publishing and self-producing comes at a cost to the entire media marketplace. Value perception (heavy on the “values” for the growing confirmation bias tendencies) is ironically at the heart of this supply and demand issue of this new Information Age. For example, how many mixed tapes have you actually purchased?

Image via 123 Stock Photos.



Facts & Questions on Blogging, Curating & Collecting

How Much Data In A Minute?

I’ve been getting a lot of “What the heck is curating?” questions, largely in response to my request for votes (“Likes”) on a topic I’m curating at Snip.It, but also because, despite what Forbes has to say about it going mainstream, content curation is a rather “new” thing. I had thought I’d done a rather good job of defining content curation here, but either I haven’t or people haven’t read that post. But that’s OK too, because it gives me a chance to go into a bit more detail.

Content curation is to magazine and newspaper publication what blogging has been to writing or journalism: A digital-age means of self-publishing which is primarily based on platforms (software or code) available to anyone with access to the Internet.

The big names in blogging platforms or publishing software are WordPress, Blogger, Typepad, etc. In content curation, you have Pinterest, Scoop.It, and, my favorite, Snip.It (RIP). These content curation platforms are not the first; but like Facebook, which improved (and capitalized) upon the early social networking sites which came before it, these three curation sites are emerging as the top dogs. (Also like Facebook, these content curation sites have social networking aspects — and they do connect to social media, including Facebook at Twitter.) And it’s merely a matter of time before you somehow become involved with content curation sites; be it by curating, subscribing/reading, or, as some forecast, using curated content topics as your search engine.

But what does that mean? How is that really different from blogging? And why on earth would we need another means of adding to information overload?

Firstly, information overload is a myth. Humans have always had far more information and media available then it can devour. (So as not to get too far astray, I’ll send you here for more details on that.) Even if the push of media makes it seem worse, such technological shifts in our relationships to information are, as James Gleick, author of The Information: A History, A Theory, A Flood, “part of the evolution of the species.” The true problem is, or remains, that of how an individual human can find what he wants or separate the good from the bad, i.e. a filter.

And that’s where content curation comes in.

Content curation is the process of sorting, arranging, and publishing information that already exists. Like any collector or museum curator, content curators identify and define their topics, select which items to include (and often how they are displayed), while providing the context, annotations, and proper credits which not only assist their readers but identify themselves as more than interested but invested; a leader or an authority.

Content curators are being dubbed “superheroes” (by Steve Rosenbaum, author of Curation Nation: How to Win in a World Where Consumers are Creators, and others) because content curators are saving humans everywhere from the skill and drudgery of finding and filtering themselves. Rosenbaum even says that people will pay “for clarity, authority, context, and speed” of finely calibrated filters.

If this all sounds a lot like what you (or others) do as a blogger, it just may be. Many bloggers spend their time selecting what they consider the best of what other people have created on the web and post it at their own sites, just like a magazine or newspaper. Or they provide a mix of this along with writing or otherwise creating their own content.  Not to split hairs, but curation involves less creation and more searching and sifting; curation’s more a matter of focused filtering than it is writing.

Because content curation is expected to be based on such focused filtering, it begins far more based on topic selection. This is much different from blogging, where bloggers are often advised to “just begin” and let their voice and interests accumulate over time to eventually reveal a primary theme. Perhaps the best way to ascertain the difference is to consider this in terms of collecting styles.

Some collectors just collect what they like as they stumble into it. In fact, many collectors, including myself, began this way; letting their collections evolve until a definition or purpose seems to reveal itself. …Sometimes, collectors just keep piling up stuff, no matter what it is. Even if this isn’t hoarding, it’s not-so-much of a purposeful pursuit. But professional curators, those who manage collections for museums or other organizations, and serious collectors, they maintain a specific focus.  And rather than stumbling into items, they continually seek for specific items. The definition dictates the curation — and everything from funding to their continued employment is based on how well their collection meets the collection’s definition.

While blogging success may be thought of in many different ways, the success of content curation lies in how well you define, search/research, and stick to your subject.

Image Credits: Data Never Sleeps infographic via Domo

Curating For You; Vote For Me

[This post has been sitting in “draft” format for so long, I’m actually embarrassed! Perhaps it sat so long because I’m too embarrassed to toot my own horn?]

If you follow some of my other blogs, you know that I’ve added “content curation” or online collecting to my blogging activities. My favorite site to do this is Snip.It — and not just because I earned an Honorable Mention for my Vintage Living Today For A Future Tormorrow collection in their Earth Day contest. *wink*

Now Snip.It has a History Contest:

Make a collection all about your favorite period in history (anything from The Enlightenment to Pre-colonial America to Gen X) for the chance to win a new iPad loaded with goodies from Inkling. We’ll evaluate the collections based on depth and range of sources (dig deep!), your captions, and Facebook likes.

You can enter a collection and snip into it anytime between now and when we choose a winner on Tuesday, June 19th.

More details here.

Whether you enter or not, please visit my Herstory collection — and if you like it, please hit the Facebook “Like” button and even subscribe. Thanks!

Fashion Matters. A Lot In This Economy, Apparently.

It was pretty obvious to me when Amazon, Google, and eBay invested in the fashion sector, that fashion was going to surpass the e-commerce success of books, music, and videos.

Data, analysis and insights publisher on digital marketing, media and commerceeMarketer is predicting that the fashion apparel and accessories sector is expected to grow 20% to $40.9 billion this year (up from $34.2 billion in 2011), while books, music, and video are only expected to grow by 18% this year (to $20.4 billion). The figures are for the US:

If you’d like to make money (or even more money) via fashion affiliate programs, get my white paper.

Working The Knowledge Graph

As I’ve said before, “Search engines are based on programs or algorithms which do their best to interpret what a searcher wants and, attempting to replicate human understanding, gives it to them based on the text or written content it can find.”

So Google’s announcement of, Google’s Knowledge Graph, a major shift in the way it looks at searches, focusing on trying to “think” even more like a human, i.e. less in keywords and phrases.

The Knowledge Graph enables you to search for things, people or places that Google knows about—landmarks, celebrities, cities, sports teams, buildings, geographical features, movies, celestial objects, works of art and more—and instantly get information that’s relevant to your query. This is a critical first step towards building the next generation of search, which taps into the collective intelligence of the web and understands the world a bit more like people do.

More at Mashable, where the funky infographic came from.

Things I Learned At and About Tumblr

Tumblr Logo
Tumblr has a bad rep in the blogosphere; it’s notorious for its members taking the content of others without crediting it. But clients have asked or stated that they should “be on it,” and so to be fair, I spent some serious time (about 11 months) using Tumblr — under various niches and topics.

These are some of the things I learned about the site.

Tumblr is far more social network or community oriented than a standard “blog”; or maybe it’s more accurate to say that Tumblr is more of an intense microcosm of blogging. The posts are shorter, more rapid, more plentiful — mainly because nothing is actually created there. Instead it’s based on reposting what others have created around the Internet, and then reposted and reposted over at Tumblr, in and out of the interconnected social circles of followers.

Tumblr is so based on the notion of regurgitating the posts and reposts of others, that the only real way to keep up is to stay logged in to Tumblr and sit at your dashboard, where you can see all the reposts of those you follow go by. For this reason, it has an addicting quality. But the price of such a glut of rehashed stuff is the need for more speed — people clicking repost as fast as they can, more stuff flying at you.

That can be a time waster, but let’s look at the more important things in terms of promoting your business, your site, your writing.

Tumblr is incredibly image oriented. Text posts and links are virtually ignored. Even when the photo you post has text or a link, these are seldom what makes a post popular i.e. reposted. In fact, your text and link have at least a 60% chance of being removed by the person reposting it. And link click-through rates, even when the link is the image credit (i.e. clicking the photo to get a larger version), are much lower than at regular blogs and websites — including in the adult area.

That is the number on reason why using Tumblr to market your site or business is ineffective.

The popularity of a post is reposting. “Likes” do very little for you (since they are a one-click thing not requiring them to leave the dashboard, they are just a way for a user to more quickly add their “note” to a post).

Readers, followers, etc. are numbers that don’t matter as much as the long string of “notes” (the list of people who reposted and liked the post). This is obviously increased by the number of people following you; but as long as your post is reposted by someone and reaches another circle of users, your post will go on and on, showing up on your dashboard over and over again. But, if no one is clicking the links, visiting your store etc., then so what?

Tumblr is also not the best way to have conversations with your customers or your target market either.

Comments are not actually built into the system (though you can add DISQUS) and conversations are discouraged in general. You can send a message via the “ask me” feature, but if you answer it, it’s published at your Tumblr — and the one who asked or commented does not get a notice of it. So unless they are logged in, are following you, and see it on their dashboard, how will they know you replied? And in order to continue the conversation, one of you will have to go back to the “ask” and start again. It’s incredibly awkward.

Tumblr is also a rather closed community in the sense that anonymous (non-Tumblr users) are clearly second class citizens. In your Tumblr settings, you can allow or disallow anonymous to “ask” questions, but unless they say, “Hi, it’s Susan,” or otherwise identify themselves, you won’t know who it is because Tumblr either recognizes a logged in user or labels them anonymous.

While the rest of the Internet is trying to engage readers across platforms, regardless of whether or not they are an official user/subscriber, Tumblr and, more importantly, Tumblr users deride and mock the “anons.”

That’s a closed community.

And now we get to the issue of what most irks people about Tumblr…

Contrary to what most of us were taught, having something unique to say or offer is not important at Tumblr. In fact, unless you are a big wig at Tumblr, your original content is likely to go completely unappreciated. People prefer to repost what the cool kids repost rather than be the person who finds unique or new things. These are the majority of the users at Tumblr.

The other group of users is a smaller group, but they are far too often those with larger followings. These are the folks who like to pose as the news makers, the creators, taking credit for what they found with the omission of where they found it, who owns it, etc. — and they are to blame for Tumblr’s poor reputation, even if the majority users are guilty of perpetuating it with all the reposts.

Some blame the ease of Tumblr’s reposting and sharing widget are to blame for this, but if people were truly lazy and using Tumblr as it is, nearly every image raped from a site would have a link crediting where it was found (and, one hopes, more information on original source, etc.). But these people take great efforts to right-click-save an image, then upload it to Tumblr — never crediting the photographer, scanner, or image owner.

This is a malicious act. It’s done on purpose. It requires more effort than the one or two click of the Tumblr Bookmarklet sharing widget — and it’s done so they can act as if they put the time in on something they didn’t. Often times, once they’ve saved the image on their computer, they’ll even go so far as to remove copyright and URL information before uploading and posting to Tumblr.

The number of people who post that they’re “going home to scan more photos of X” — and then perform image searches for such photos and scans are astonishing. Those of us who spend the time scanning know what our scans look like — where there’s a wrinkle on the page, tanning, if we included text or not, etc.

All of this would be the silly poser stuff of teenagers — if it weren’t so infuriating. Because the bottom line is, there are many big bloggers out there who are so popular because they find and credit the cool stuff; they are like antique dealers who are adored by collectors with less time.

As if this weren’t bad enough, many Tumblr users take great pride in expressing their indifference and defiance regarding copyright and intellectual property. Sidebars and profiles are filled with “I find stuff lots of places and if you’re one of the credit nazis, don’t follow me” and similar statements that I gather are supposed to appear as cool non-conformist, punk-rebellious, barbs at The Man. Unfortunately, the Internet is not The Man; so the ones they hurt are the ones who create the content — artists, photographers, dedicated folks who scan antique and vintage works, etc.

No, Tumblr is not a good way to market your product, your website, etc.

Yeah, this post is so not going to make me popular at Tumblr. But what am I going to miss? Even more of my content going out and about uncredited?

I have since deleted my old test accounts at Tumblr. But I do retain a personal account there for two reasons:

One, a few ethical people I met there only post at Tumblr and so I can keep up with them

Two, sometimes logging in and scrolling the Tumblr dashboard provides some good leads on cool stuff. Such a stream of photos can provide a quick way to see things — but it’s deceptive in the sense that once I spy something cool, I’ll have to put a lot of work in to searching for the images. (For that I use TinEye; a detailed account of how and why to use it is here — the site is NWS.)

And when I do use it, it can be a tremendously frustrating time suck because so much uncredited stuff is coming at you so fast.

So overall, I do not recommend Tumblr as an effective way to market yourself or your blog; but it has its entertainment value and can be useful if you don’t invest too much time in it.

UP to the DL: Blog Tours & Marketing Services


UP to the DL

U.P. to the D.L. is the dynamic duo of Deanna Dahlsad & Laura Brown, two wordy grrls who met 10 years ago as columnists at (the now defunct)

Of course, both had been writing and promoting online (and off) long before that time, so the slow demise of one site didn’t keep them from continuing to do what they do — or being friends. *wink*

Our latest joint projects are Inherited Values and Ululating Undulating Ungulate. (If you visit the sites and are interested in joining us there, please check out the “about” pages!)

Because of our years of experience in the Internet trenches, we’ve long been individually helping other writers, bloggers, artists, sellers, and entrepreneurs start-up or increase their online presence; now we’ve joined forces, offering you our firsthand knowledge and experience.

We offer specialized services, such as:

Bloggers, you have brands too, so any of these services can be tailored to suit you!

You can keep up with U.P. to the D.L. by following us at Twitter and you may contact us at

A detailed FAQ of services can be found here.


The most familiar sort of Blog Tour is the Book Blog Tour, which is the virtual version of yesteryear’s book tour. At UP to the DL, we don’t limit the idea to only books — you can use blog tours to promote anything, any product or service, including, simply, yourself.

This virtual version of a promotional tour isn’t so bad; it’s cheaper, less frustrating than traveling, and, as Arielle Ford (former book publicist, literary agent and the author of seven books) says at The Huffington Post, you “essentially spend the day in your bathrobe while interacting with your readers and fans and selling books.”

However, if you aren’t familiar with all the details involved, virtual tours can become real nightmares!

Organizing a Blog Promotional Tour involves:

  • Identifying potential hosts — that will reach your target audience
  • Contacting potential hosts
  • Making the pitch, helping sort through the options with hosts
  • Scheduling the tour and individual host actions
  • Answering technical questions and concerns of hosts
  • Performing the check-ups and follow-ups necessary to ensure a good tour
  • Proper timing of it all!

And, if you are an organized person with enough time to do all of this, do you know what things are most vital to a successful tour?

  • Do you really know how to identify your target market and evaluate which of the millions of blogs, podcasts, zines, newsletters, etc. are honestly able to reach them?
  • Do you know how to anticipate, avoid and over-come host/blogger concerns?
  • If you have a limited number of products (or none at all) to give-away for reviews and contests, do you know what other tour options you can offer — some of which are even more likely to garner the results you desire?
  • Do you know what sort of tour events or activities will help you more increase cash flow, which are designed for long-term, how to maximize long tail results — and which ones you really need?
  • Once you have secured hosts that will reach your target market, do you know how to best capture the attention of your potential readers or customers?
  • Do you know what sorts of posts and tour activities will positively (or negatively) affect things such as PageRank (PR) and Search Engine Optimization (SEO)?
  • Are you aware of and know how to address the legal and ethical issues in virtual tours?
  • Do you know how to create promotional tours which will get bloggers excited to participate — and their readers converting to sales?

We do.

We’ve been writing, reading and buying online for over a decade. We know, as press, readers, and consumers what bores & what soars.

We know what pitches get, well, pitched via that delete button. We each have over a decade of networking with other bloggers, building relationships and contacts to ensure results.

We know what sorts of things discredit you, harm the reputation of you and your product or service. We will organize your online event so as to maximize your sales and your personal brand.

Hire U.P. to the D.L. as your blog tour coordinators and liaisons; we’ll maximize your presence and sales.

We know how to identify the online conversations and communities where your audience is congregating — and we know how to ethically participate in those relevant conversations so that you, your products, services, and brands are engaging with your customers and potential customers.

Blog Tour Package Rates:

(Details on what each blog tour includes are listed here; information on the process is also outlined here.)

One Week Basic Blog Tour: One week of blog tour events, including Tweets and other social networking site promotion for just $150.

Two Week Basic Blog Tour: Two weeks of blog tour events, including Tweets and other social networking site promotion for only $289.

Select & reserve your Basic Blog Tour package:


Basic Blog Tour


U.P to the D.L. does not guarantee a specific number of hosts on your basic blog tour, however, our goal is to get at least one host per day of the tour.

For more information, please see our list of tips for authors and promoters.

The Soft Blog Tour: This tour is our specialty; we’ve been doing it for years, nearly unnoticed — and that’s by design.

Unlike traditional blog book tours, the soft tour is designed to go without the pomp and circumstance of the usual blog tour. There’s no set time frame, no tour link round-up or announcements, as this tour is designed to look and feel more organic. It best suits the needs of clients who’d rather avoid the promotional look of tours and for bloggers who, for their own reasons, do not wish to appear as part of an organized tour.

The same rules and tasks of basic blog tours apply, only the posts are published over a longer period of time, rather than as a timely event, and for this tour only we do guarantee a minimum of blog posts.

The fee for a Soft Blog Tour with a minimum of 5 posts is $500.

The fee for a Soft Blog Tour with a minimum of 10 posts is $900.

Select & start your Soft Blog Tour package:

Soft Blog Tour

We reserve the right to refuse to offer our services at any time to anyone, or any product, book, service or brand, deemed objectionable.


We offer a number of services in brand management and online support; experienced assistance for newbies and start-ups, those expanding their online presence, and established folks with limited staffing and budgets.

Marketing Consultation:

Marketing consultations & one-on-one tutoring are now available here.

Website Reviews:

Wondering if your website, store, or blog is ready for a Blog Tour or other promotional efforts? Get a review! More than a “Pass” or “Fail” test, we’ll give you tips on how to improve what you’ve got. One of us will review your site for $9; each of us will provide our own review for $16.


Website Review


Individualized & Customized Services Upon Request:Looking for some help editing your press release, proof reading your website, drafting your bio, assessing your press kit? Have “just one quick question” you want us to answer, or some information you want us to suss out? Need a longer blog tour time period? Rather than tutoring, would you prefer to have us set up your new and/or connect your existing blog, social media profiles, pages, etc.? Have some other virtual assistant needs? Looking for some other service that’s not listed here? Want to “bundle” a few packages at a better price? Contact us about your needs.

Yes, we offer these and other services for bloggers too!

After all, you’ve got a brand too!

If you’re wondering why your site isn’t getting pitches for reviews, blog tours, links, ads, etc., let U.P. to the D.L. help get you to the next level with our services.

Disclaimer: We reserve the right to refuse to offer our services at any time to anyone, or any product, book, service, or brand, deemed objectionable.


What makes your blog tour services different from other blog book tour services?
What niches or genres do you cover?
What does a blog tour include?
How, exactly, does this blog tour work? What’s the process like? How personalized is it?
Are bloggers paid to participate in the blog tour?
What if I want Laura or Deanna to host a tour at one of their blogs… Will that be a conflict of interest or against their No Payola policy?
What’s expected of a blog tour host?
Why host a tour? What’s in it for bloggers?
I’m interested in hosting blog tours. How do I get on your list of contacts?
Do you offer long-term exclusive management?
What publishing platforms, content management software, and other “tech stuff” can you help with?
What social network(s) do you recommend?
Do you do web design?
What’s your privacy policy?
What makes your blog tour services different from other blog book tour services?
Frankly, our experience — which we could go on and on about. But the bottom line is this: We know how to turn ideas, products, services, brands into stories that will garner interest and yield results. 

Some specific features and benefits are:

Content: Because we know written content is king, our focus is on the written content or text of the tour. (After all, people type text into search engines to be found, and brands battle over keywords!) As a result — and to achieve the best results — we:

  • Do not allow canned Q&A. This is not only boring for readers who may be avid readers/followers of multiple host sites (both in terms of redundancy and lack of the individual personality each host site offers), but duplicate content is disliked by Google and other search engines which, upon finding it, will penalize both host sites.
  • We don’t waste any of our time or your money on any specialized graphics, trailers or other gizmos in our blog tour packages. Fancy graphics can be fun, but we’re after results here. If/when individual tour hosts are inspired to create images, videos, podcasts or other audio and visuals as part of their host blog tour post, that’s great — and, in fact, a much more preferred way for them to interact with their readers than offering them canned promotional schtick.

Availability: Like you, we are able to juggle multiple tasks and projects, including multiple blog tours running at the same time professionally and effectively. This means there is more freedom and flexibility in scheduling your tour.

(However, also like you, we do have our limitations! So please contact us as soon as possible to reserve your optimal promotional dates.)

What niches or genres do you cover?
We have a vast network of friends, associates and cohorts all along the Internet, but our specialty niches are: 

  • Arts, Crafts, Photography
  • Beauty, Fashion, Shopping
  • Collecting, Antiques, Vintage
  • Family, Parenting, Special Needs, Mommy Sites
  • Health, Sexuality (from Informative to Risque and, yes, even frank Mature Adult sites)
  • Hobbies, Handmade, DIY
  • Home, Interior Design, Housekeeping, Cooking
  • Relationships, Dating
  • Social Issues, Politics, History
  • Women, Gender, Feminism
  • Writing, Publishing, Media

Yes, we know book bloggers, and, yes, we can help with fiction genres. We find the best results include tour stops at other sites based on your readership’s demographic interests.

What does a blog tour include?
Each blog tour is unique and tailored to the client’s needs, but each tour stop will include: 

  • Subject to relevancy of who/what the tour is promoting, an image of the product, book, company logo, photo of the expert, etc.
  • Links to client’s website, blog, shop etc.
  • A minimum of 350 words (250 if the post is accompanying a host produced podcast, video, etc.)
  • Participation in social media sites by Deanna, Laura, and/or U.P. to the D.L., as appropriate.

Also, at the end of the tour, U.P. to the D.L. will post an official blog tour page with the client’s bio &/or product information (including appropriate site links) as well as listing and linking to each stop (or post) on the tour along with the home page of the host.

How, exactly, does this blog tour work? What’s the process like? How personalized is it?
This might be business, but we also know this is a very personal experience! 

Once we receive your payment, the process begins by having you answer a few questions about you, your promotional interests, your availability preferences (participation and interviews), product availability (for reviews and contests), and your desired time frame. Once we’ve evaluated you and your brand needs, we’ll begin our work in tailoring a tour to fit you.

Next, will begin the process of identifying and contacting the appropriate potential hosts for your tour. As hosts and dates are confirmed, we will communicate them to you, along with any necessary participation on your part (including sending items for review, scheduling interview time, etc.).

As tour posts are published, we’ll send you the links.

At the end of the tour, we’ll send you a link to the official blog tour’s page along with our specific tips on how to continue to utilize the virtual tour.

Absolutely not — this is not advertising; paying for any PR coverage is unethical. 

Our fee is for organizing, coordinating, and communicating regarding the blog tour event itself.

What if I want Laura or Deanna to host a tour at one of their blogs… Will that be a conflict of interest or against their No Payola policy?
To avoid any conflict of interest issues, neither Deanna nor Laura will host a tour at one of their own personal blogs. However, as each will be aware of and following along with the blog tours, if they are interested in the subject or are sparked by an idea presented in tour conversations, they retain the right to publish their thoughts at their own sites after the official event has concluded.
Why host a tour? What’s in it for bloggers?
Simply put: for the content. 

Like any magazine or newspaper, radio or television host, bloggers need stories to tell, guests to interview, topics for conversation, etc. in order to entertain, enlighten, and/or educate their audience. There are many (often unseen and unknown) activities involved in blogging and many bloggers relish the idea of interesting relevant subjects and experts brought to their attention.

Also, the buzz about a blog tour offers the opportunity for host blogs to generate additional traffic from links, tweets, etc. as well as finding other bloggers in their niches to network with.

What’s expected of a blog tour host?
As each tour and each tour stop is unique, some specifics may change, but generally speaking, your post must include: 

  • Image(s) of the product, book, company logo, photo of the expert, etc.
  • Links to client site(s) (Please note: hosts are forbidden to use “no follow” links)
  • A minimum of 350 words (250 if the post is accompanying a host produced podcast, video, etc.)

You do not need to mention or link to U.P. to the D.L. or the official blog tour page. (Although we do recommend you visit the page after the tour to visit other blogs which may be in your niche and therefore might be excellent sites/persons to add to your own network).

And, most importantly, post when promised and follow our ethics rules.

I’m interested in hosting blog tours. How do I get on your list of contacts?
Simply contact us at, providing us with your name, site URL, and any additional information you think would be relevant and we’ll review your site and contact you regarding our decision as soon as possible.
Do you offer long-term exclusive management?
At this time, our services are non-exclusive.
What publishing platforms, content management software, and other “tech stuff” can you help with?
We are experienced in WordPress (including WPMU and BuddyPress), Blogger, Movable Type, Drupal, Tumblr, Blog Talk Radio, as well as standard HTML and CSS.
What social network(s) do you recommend?
It really depends upon your business, brand, personality and time constraints. We are experienced with Twitter, FaceBook, Stumble Upon, Delicious, Flickr, LinkedIn, Tumblr, MySpace, Friendster, Ryze, and Ning as well as many smaller, more specialized communities and networks.
Do you do web design? Do you create logos and graphics?
We are not web designers, but we can, in most cases, personalize or tweak templates and we can refer you to good programmers and designers. 

We can also tutor in the basics in graphic software, such as Photoshop and Gimp so that you can create most things you need by yourself.

What’s your privacy policy?
Client and host names, conversational details, services used, etc. are all confidential. Other than information on blog tour pages, as stated, will be made public. Contact information is only released as necessary in order to facilitate tours, interviews, items sent via the mail, etc. Otherwise, unless you opt to provide a testimonial, your information is never shared or sold. Ever.


Really? Another bio? Writing bios is the one thing that prevents me from activating all the domain names in my possession. It certainly isn’t a lack of names for websites or an inability to talk endlessly…

Anywhooo, here’s the short story:

I’ve been writing, selling, and working on the web since 1997 (more info below), which has led to many successes, including wonderful personal and working relationships. The latter had me form Big Mouth Promotions; ironically a quiet, under-the-radar, marketing service I started when helping others for free became too time consuming to be so kind about. I’ve been purposefully quiet about my professional services so as not to distract me from my primary passions of blogging, but now the cycle of need is, apparently, high again, and so I’ve teamed up with Laura in a more official way, opening U.P. to the D.L. to provide the experienced “insider secrets” we use on our content focused and driven websites.

You may find and follow me at Twitter and FaceBook. Feel free to contact me at

Resume-esque Info:Education:

Graduate of Alverno College, dual degree in Professional Communications and Business Management — with a minor in Social Science.

Sales & Marketing Experience:

Various work in sales, marketing, buying, direct sales, direct mail, retail department and specialty shoppe management, winning numerous individual and district sales awards.

Several years of work in the non-profit sector, community relations, fund raising, etc.


Along with my own personal sites/blogs/projects, I’ve been:

  • A paid columnist @
  • Greeting card writer and blogger for No Evil Productions
  • A paid columnist/blogger @
  • Various paid work in both print and web publications, under numerous pen names

I’ve also been lucky enough to sit at The Cool Kids’ Table a number of times, with posts/articles featured at BoingBoing and other top sites.

Web & Social Media:

Presenter at the Association of Midwest Museums (AMM) and Mountain-Plains Museums Association (MPMA) Joint Annual Conference, 2008 Museums & Web 2.0: Slaying Dragons or Titlting at Windmills? Blogs, YouTube, MySpace – Using Social Networks for Museums.

Presenter at the 2010, and been asked to return again to the 2011, Bookmark Collectors Virtual Convention; my sessions are best (loosely) described as being focused on the importance of sharing your hobby, your passion, and how to do so on the Internet.

Consulting for Collectors Quest, No Evil Productions and numerous smaller clients via Big Mouth Promotions.

More about me than you likely wanted to know…

Along with liking to talk and collecting domain names, I collect many other things. It’s a vicious cycle, really. I find a neat thing to add to my collection and I want to blab about it. In order to make my blabbing more well-rounded, I research the collectible. From there, as my research and I segue into related topics and contexts, I not only find more items to collect, but I find myself wearing my marketing hat and start to think it might suit readers and other researchers better if I had a site tailored to that sort of thing… Should I start yet another site? If so, should I use one of my already held domain names — or the fabulous new one that just popped into my head?

Endless cycle.

(Which is why I know too-too much about starting, marketing and moving websites!)

My antiques, collectibles, and vintage themed sites are:

Items from my collection appear in such places as the Virtue, Vice, and Contraband: A History of Contraception in America exhibit at the Dittrick Medical History Center and Museum (at Case Western Reserve University) and The Hingham Shipyard Historical Exhibit.

If you still want to know more about me (and even my mom doesn’t want to know that much about me!), you can check my Google Profile and my other sites (along with their “about” pages) for more.


I started online in 1996, an IRC diva after I had taken a two-year Corporate Communications college course. The free style and creativity of web publishing appealed to me, long before weblogs became popular.

I started writing online in 1998. At first creating my own site, then a newsletter and then I branched out and wrote for online networks like HerPlanet, Suite101,, LockerGnome, and BackWash. During this time I became an editor with the Open Directory Project as well.

Along with running WordGrrls and my other sites (which can be found at ThatGrrl), I currently am an assistant to Bev Walton-Porter, host of the online radio show, Elemental Musings on BlogTalkRadio.

I can be found at Twitter and FaceBook. Feel free to contact me directly at

Skills and Qualifications:

  • Social media management: Twitter, Stumble Upon, Facebook, Flickr, LinkedIn, Tumblr, Delicious, and Ning.
  • Developed marketing, advertising, promotions, SEO campaigns for online networks.
  • Knowledge of HTML, CSS and web usability standards.
  • Copywriting, editing and proofreading. Strong verbal, oral and written communication skills.
  • Columnist, community manager and forum moderator.
  • Publishing with WordPress, Movable Type, Tumblr, Blogger and other content management software.
  • Working with a team to develop ontology and integrity of a web directory.
  • Using digital photography, image scanner, graphic software and cartoon drawing to illustrate online publications.
  • Location scout and digital photographer for two Ontario film makers.
  • Production and booking guests for a web radio show.

UP to the DL: We like stuff. We write about stuff. We do stuff. We like projects.

Blog Tour Tips For Authors & Promoters

The success of your virtual promotional tour is dependent upon several factors which you influence:

  • The number of books, products, gift certificates that you can provide for reviews, contests, etc.
  • The amount of your participation in the events (interviews, offers, comments you post, Tweets you make, etc.), communication with U.P. to the D.L. and hosts, as requested.
  • The strength and appeal of your book, product, service, brand, etc.
  • The performance and appeal of your website, blog, etc.
  • The number of response options you offer (newsletters to subscribe to, social sites you belong to for “following,” number and quality of sales outlets, etc.).
  • Your efforts in promoting the tour, via your own site,, etc..

Authors who have traditional publishers (i.e. not self-published works) should check with the publisher, as they may pay for the Blog Tour fee, all or in part, &/or copies of the book out of the book’s promotional or PR budget.

UP to the DL
(In fact, authors who are shopping their books should take heed; many publishers, large and small, require authors to include a marketing plan of the author’s promotional efforts and budget along with their manuscript submission.)

At UP to the DL, we also provide tips for our clients on how to make the most of a tour once it has officially ended.

Ethics In Virtual Book Tours & Other Blog Tours

Blog Tours
Blogging is a form of self-publishing — and it’s a beautiful thing; but it comes with its own set of responsibilities.

I personally don’t abide Paid Posts and proudly proclaim my No Payola status, but as those posts rather cover my sentiments, today I’ll focus on the ethics involved in Blog Tours — specifically in terms of the rules of UP to the DL Blog Tour Services.

These rules are based not only on the experiences we’ve had hosting blog tours, posting reviews, receiving pitches to promote this or that, but on fundamental ethics — good ol’ common sense. And these rules are designed to protect the integrity of bloggers, blog readers, consumers, and promoters alike.

Rule #1 It is not ethical to review something you’ve never used, read or otherwise employed; that’s fraud. Therefore, asking a person to commit a fraudulent act is unethical, at best.

Rule #2 It is unethical, to say the least, to insist a reviewer not publish or share a review that is not flattering. Such “reviews” are not reviews at all; reviews are to be thoughtful opinions, educated critiques, and, above all, honest. Individual hosts may, after reviewing the item and honestly disliking it, post their negative (but not hate-filled or personally attacking) review as they wish; or, they may wish to contact us for help regarding their conflicted responses and uncomfortable situations.

Rule #3 Follow-through on what you promise. Send your review copies, samples, contest prizes on time; publish your blog tour event as promised; get back to people as promised. In the rare cases where “life happens,” please contact U.P. to the D.L. as soon as possible to communicate and problem solve the situation.

Any and all persons who break these rules, are found to be guilty of such unethical behavior, will not be allowed to participate in any U.P. to the D.L. projects of any kind. Offenders may also find themselves the subject of unwanted press, with a public disclosure of their behavior.

I know these rules may sound more stern or even scary rather than inviting, but practicing these principles protects and respects the integrity of all involved! It is our expectation that everyone upholds these values and has a commitment to the rights of consumers and brands.

The Haves & The Have Not (Yet)s Of EBay

Recently eBay released this infographic based on information gathered by Hunch, a recent eBay acquisition, on “the core differences between people who have bought or sold something on eBay vs. those who haven’t yet.” The data is then split between those ho Have Used eBay and the eternally optimistic those who Haven’t Yet Used eBay.

Click To Enlarge Infographic

Aside from the marketing insight, I thought this would be worth noting here as the Haven’t Yet Used eBay people in this survey are 35% more likely to be female.

There are some interesting things to note — but what would be far more compelling, not to mention useful, would be to include information about shopping online in general (the Haven’t Yet Used eBay folks may just not shop online). But if they use Amazon, Etsy, TIAS, or other shopping sites or marketplaces that would say something else entirely. Perhaps the “non competitive” stance in the survey means those who Haven’t Yet Used eBay don’t like auction formats? (This is reinforced by the response of “31% more likely to never have attended a live auction.”) So why not take a look at less competitive purchasing environments?

What is most interesting, however, is that this data seems to confirm that those most likely to use eBay are those seeking unique items, such as antiques and vintage collectibles — while those who have not seem to be more likely to shop Walmart for a perceived “deal”. Why then would eBay continue to shift away from its target market and court sellers of last year’s navy blue sweaters, etc., when those shoppers clearly are not using eBay?

In many ways, the not yet used seem much more like a demographic stereotype of young women: single, shopping for clothing in bulk, but at low prices, (not investing in wardrobes), and who consider shopping a social experience, (eBay does not yet have a “lunch with the girls” option).

However, based on a few references to older musicians, the Today Show reference, etc., this group also indicates a more mature woman who was older at the advent of the Internet, has kept herself busy without it while raising children, etc., and now finds herself behind the technology curve — or just continuing happily without it.

In any case, I am reminded of a Dan Hess quote:

Retailers turn a profit by bringing in new merchandise and pushing self-purchase categories like lingerie, shoes and denim. Retailing is an event-oriented business. Look at any national holiday, retailers seize on it and find a way to market heavily and drive traffic.

No matter how you slice the Haven’t Yet Used eBay pie, you just can’t help but see that some sort of social event aspect is needed for eBay to make the “yet” in Haven’t Yet Used eBay more than a positive attitude.

This isn’t a new idea. Even though Buddy Shopping has come and gone, other social shopping sites continue to try. Usually these are communities devoted to a specific fashion passion, but there are sites like Kaboodle and ShopSquad which offer social connection with a bit of consumer reports — and sometimes a sale commission via affiliate programs. But I don’t see these things impacting eBay. This site has long a disconnection from any social connection. (I think they still require a separate login for the forums? …Can’t say for sure as I gave up on that long ago.)

Maybe I’m not the one to best address how to integrate a social component or event excitement at eBay… I’m on the Have Used eBay side of this infographic and, despite my criticisms, I continue to use the site as a buyer and a seller. Maybe they need to put in an Orange Julius.

Or maybe they should stop chasing the “Yet” and focus more on those of us who are there. Because they certainly have not been doing that.

Related: Read my other thoughts on eBay in this post at my other site: 2011: The Year In Antiques & Collectibles.

Your Best Tool For SEO (Or, Why Search Engines Are Your Friends)

I believe search engine optimization (SEO) is best and primarily served via the content you write. If you believe that, you may stop reading; but if you aren’t convinced…

People seek entertainment and information the same way online as they do in the real world: by asking questions. The only real difference is that a lack of complete sentence structure and punctuation won’t get in your way online. *wink*

You and I may differ wildly in terms of our demographics, interests, and needs (for example, perhaps you are a 20-something male interested in the latest tech gadget while I’m a 40-something female who may be looking up some obscure silent film actress), but we each end up doing the same thing. We each find ourselves at some search box, be it at a search engine, sales marketplace, or favored site, typing in text and clicking to get the results. Those words we typed are the questions we have; on the Internet, these queries are called “keywords.”

What Google and other search engines, including internal search engines on individual websites, try to do is provide the best possible answers to our questions, the most relevant information that matches our query. Search engines are based on programs or algorithms which do their best to interpret what a searcher wants and, attempting to replicate human understanding, gives it to them based on the text or written content it can find.

In trying to take the search as question and help the person find the answer, Google et al employs not just what you say about your site (meta tags, descriptions, folksonomy, etc.), but what your site actually says. In other words, it ‘reads’ your site.

Every word in every post and page.

Including your links out to other sites (because if you’re not having conversations with others, you might just be a mad mumbling fool talking to himself).

To check how much of authority or credibility a possible answer has, search engines also look to see not only who links to that page or post — but for what. And just how do those links get there? By people who read your content!

Ah, the power of the written word.

But it doesn’t end there.

Back to you and I as question seekers on the Internet…

After we’ve posed our questions and received a list of possible answers, we evaluate the responses to our questions.

We each use our own individual criteria for trustworthiness, we have different ideas of what’s funny or entertaining, etc., but we each sort through the options or answers provided to us and make determinations about what we find. And what do we questioning searchers use to evaluate the possible answers? We read the content.

First, we read the brief snippet of content shown with the link, as grabbed by the search engine; if that passes the mustard, we click and go on to read more of that page or post. If that’s what we seek, we likely read the whole post or page — maybe even reading more pages at the site, clicking what’s recommended there, etc. If it’s still not the answer we are seeking, we go back to the list of possible answers or try phrasing our question differently and begin our search for the truth all over again.

This is why written content is so important; what you write is how you are found and how your site is evaluated.

Believe it or not, search engines are our friends and partners in our quests, so there’s no point in trying to “beat” Google or any search engine with SEO tactics.

What’s the point in trying to divert those seeking information on silent film stars over to a site dedicated to tech gadgets — or vice versa? Annoyance?

You can give yourself a little nudge with some basic use of technology to assist in SEO; but frankly, your time is best spent on creating unique content that will address the needs and interests of the question seekers.

The PR Of PageRank

PageRank, or PR, is one of the most misunderstood metrics in the measurement of your website’s success.

What PageRank Is

PageRank is a whole number between 0 and 10 (i.e. PR0, PR3, etc.), with the most popular pages having a PageRank of 10, the least having a rank of 0. The ranking reflects a page’s popularity, primarily based on the number of links to it and the rank of those sites linking to it. (Words used in text links, the size of the page itself, the page’s content and words used in headlines, number of outbound links etc. are said to factor in as well) This rank is per page, not the entire site. So your site’s main page usually has a much higher rank than any other page or post on your site.

You can read the detailed history and description of PageRank, look at diagrams and calculations of Google’s PageRank Algorithm, but the basic premise is that PageRank is roughly based upon the quantity and quality of inbound links.

What Can PR Do? What Can You Do With PR?

Like Alexa, PageRank remains a popular or useful measuring device primarily because it’s free. It’s available to anyone, and can be used when calculating and negotiating ad rates, etc., and it can be one (of many) ways to calculate your site’s growth. You can check your site’s PR here. (It should be noted that the Goggle Toolbar PageRank value displayed is not the actual value Google uses;for some reason there is a lag in the Toolbar reflecting the actual rank information.)

Many people confuse PageRank with SEO. While the two are related in the sense that a page with higher PR is weighted higher in search engine algorithms (and, in cases of text links, the words in the link itself may help with higher search return placement or SERP), and webmasters and bloggers try to manipulate or “beat” the system, they are not synonymous.

People who were once banking on PR and those who financially speculate on SEO are now complaining and making predictions about PR.

They complain about the difficulty in trying to increase PR today compared to “back in the day.” But Google has always acknowledged the mathematical fact that increases in the number of websites and webpages (including blogs and blog posts) decreases the approximation of PageRank, creates resistance to climbing higher in rank. This is why older sites, even established sites that are no longer active, benefit from their age — even if they no longer receive new links in to them. So the explosive growth of blogs alone has created more friction in the uphill push for higher PageRank.

Others believe that PageRank, or at least the public sharing of the value, is going to be discontinued. The fact that PageRank is not included in Google’s Chrome browser confirms their suspicions. But Google has made a concerted effort to downplay RageRank. “[J]ust because it’s easy doesn’t mean it’s useful for you as a site owner,” pushing Google Analytics instead.

The Bottom Line

The truth is, the easy days of PR have been over for awhile now, but ignoring the importance of links to your site is done to the detriment of your own site. Not simply in terms of PR, but in terms of discovery by new readers.

Links coming into your site are votes of confidence and recommendations from other bloggers and websites. This was the basic principal behind PageRank, after all.

But perhaps even more importantly, links are access to your site. Every link is an open door. So even if you don’t use PR to monitor your site’s popularity, you should focus on getting links to your site.

Learning From The Washability Expert

Inside the pages of Modern Woman Magazine, A Magazine Published By The Ice Industry, (Volume 17, Number 1, 1948), an article on how to wash problem fabrics by Mrs. Jean Robinson, “Washability Expert, White King Soap Co.” This particular Mrs. Jean Robinson is somewhat lost to history, but I was reminded of a few things…

As a collector of vintage magazines, I am continually reminded that not much has changed in publishing over the years — and that most of this should be applied to publishing on the web, including blogging. Today’s example, the “washability expert” and her article.

While a title like Washability Expert seems as made-up as any user ID, it can only be assumed that Mrs. Robinson was employed by the soap company much the way many baking product companies had baking experts — experts who created more than just recipes or kitchen tips, but marketing material.

Every (good) recipe or tip produced was put to use cementing relationships with current consumers or cooking up relationships with new customers. Recipes and tips might be collected for publication in cookbooks and brochures, or they might be offered as informational articles to be published in newspapers and magazines — even, as with Mrs. Robinson’s, in corporate publications performing their own marketing efforts. And each was generally an opportunity for a press release too.

The questions were the same as now:

Are there enough recipes/tips for a publication? If so, is it good enough to sell? Or would it be of better use to offer it to customers for free? In either case, should offers be made via a special purchase, direct mail, etc., and is your offer worthy of a press release?

Would it be best to slowly compile and distribute the tips/recipes over time in your own publication, be the sole source for your knowledge? Or should you reach out to other publications, let them publish your wisdom and increase awareness about your products and services?

If and when you do want to share your knowledge(i.e. a guest blog post) to promote your company/site, how do you get them interested in doing so?

The one advantage larger companies had over today’s self-publishing is that Mrs. Jean Robinson and her ilk only had the responsibility of creating the tip, recipe, or article; someone else decided how to make the best use of it.

That’s probably the most markedly different thing about the low-barrier world of the Internet — it’s no longer good enough to just to be an expert, you have to know a lot about marketing too.

(Insert plug for my marketing and blog tour services here.)

Ignore Rude Emails “Offering Links Swaps”

How many times a week do you get the following email:

I’ve visited your website ( url ) and I was wondering
if it would be possible to get a link to my (my partner’s) website on it?

I’ll place a link back to you in X of my (topic or topics, usually unrelated) websites, your link will be placed exactly here:

http://whocares page rank 3
http://whateversville page rank 2
http://bumble-f page rank 2

If you agree, then please link to me using these details:

TITLE: (keyword stuffed)
URL: (a specific page on their SEO seeking domain)
DESCRIPTION: (more keyword stuffing)

Please don’t forget to send me the title of your website after you
place my link so I can do the same in less than 24 hours, otherwise you can delete my link from your site.


You can rest assured that these requests are 100% spam, no matter if they correctly contact you about one of your own sites. Here’s the proof:

1) These requests don’t even make sense because, generally speaking, my sites are so far off their topic they do not serve their best SEO manipulating interests. A human would recognize that.

2) The fact that they want you to go ahead and post a link to them first isn’t just rude (the one requesting should always place first and then notify, asking for notification of the recip), it’s them counting on a (however small) percentage of those emailed to place the link, giving their sites either a quick bit of juice &/or, counting on people forgetting to verify the promised link(s), giving them free un-reciprocated links.

Just delete and move along with your day.

Add Your Voice to NOW’s Call for Open Internet

Add Your Voice to NOW’s Call for Open Internet

Support the Internet Freedom Preservation Act!
take action

After taking action, please support our work.

The Internet has allowed NOW to connect like never before with members and allies, potential supporters, students and educators, government leaders and countless others who can help advance equality for all.

The Internet offers a platform for dialogue amongst feminists who might not otherwise have a chance to strategize together. It empowers women by providing them with information about their status, threats to their rights and opportunities for advancement. It presents a tool for democratic participation by allowing women’s rights advocates to easily petition their elected officials and keep tabs on their records.

Without a doubt, the women’s rights movement benefits immensely from the unprecedented power of an open and accessible Internet. But, can we rely on the big companies that bring us the Internet to preserve its open nature? The simple truth is: No, we can’t.

Action Needed:

Write to your Congress members today, and urge them to support the Internet Freedom Preservation Act of 2009 (H.R. 3458). This bill will make “Net Neutrality” — one of the guiding principles behind the open Internet — the law of the land. Take action NOW.


Every day, the Internet becomes more and more central to the way we communicate and access media content here in the United States and around the world. The big companies that deliver the Internet to us — like AT&T, Comcast and Verizon — stand to gain an enormous amount of revenue in the coming years, and they are looking for even more ways to pocket big bucks.

How exactly would they do that? By charging fees that would allow some websites and content to download via an exclusive fast lane, while those that can’t afford these fees are relegated to the slow lane. Some websites and applications would be blocked altogether, as the phone and cable companies decide which content and tools they want to offer us.

Take Action NOW!

In fact, this is already happening. AT&T censored streaming video from a Pearl Jam concert. Comcast has blocked Internet software, and Verizon prevented a reproductive rights group from sending text messages to people who had requested them. Clearly, public policy is needed to ensure that the big companies can not discriminate on the web by censoring and blocking information we need to advance the issues we care about.

The beauty of the Internet, and its great innovation over conventional, mainstream media, is that it is open to everyone. An unlimited amount of information is available at everyone’s fingertips when they access the web. Similarly, we can add our own content and voices to the web in a way that is not possible with radio, television and other traditional media.

But hundreds of lobbyists on Capitol Hill, employed by the telecommunications giants, are trying to change all that. Organizations like NOW could find their online efforts seriously impaired by this move to partition off (dare we say segregate?) the Internet.

Net Neutrality must become law to ensure that the Internet remains open to innovation, democratic participation, and a free exchange of ideas. The Internet Freedom Preservation Act is designed to ensure that this dynamic medium remains free from discrimination.

Don’t let big business turn the Internet into another version of cable TV. This is OUR Internet, and we can save it.

Take Action NOW!

take action and then donate

The Facts About Children, Sex, Predators & The Internet

Last year the Internet Safety Technical Task Force released the Enhancing Child Safety and Online Technologies, the Final Report of the Internet Safety Technical Task Force to the Multi-State Working Group on Social Networking of State Attorneys General of the United States, but I wouldn’t have heard of it if it weren’t for the recent article by Michael Castleman at Psychology Today:

Last year, the attorneys general of 49 states created the Internet Safety Technical Task Force to investigate sexual solicitation of children by molesters who troll for targets using sites popular with kids, among them, MySpace and Facebook. The 278-page report concluded that there’s no real problem.

The task force, led by Harvard researchers, looked at reams of scientific data dealing with online sexual predation and found that children and teens were rarely propositioned for sex by adults who made contact via the Internet. In the handful of cases that have been documented-and highly publicized-the researchers found that the victims, almost always older teenagers, were usually willing participants already at risk for exploitation because of family problems, substance abuse, or mental health issues.

The report concluded that MySpace and Facebook “do not appear to have increased minors’ overall risk of sexual solicitation.” The report said the biggest risk to kids using social networks was bullying by other kids.

“This study shows that online social networks are not bad neighborhoods on the Internet,” said John Cardillo, whose company tracks sex offenders. “Social networks are very much like real-world communities that are inhabited mostly by good people who are there for the right reasons.”

The bottom line is, the actual threat to children from sexual predators online is negligible.

So I’m guessing the reason I hadn’t heard of this before was that the findings, though incredibly clear, aren’t willing to be heard & accepted by the population at large. Instead of shouting from the rooftops that the internet is as safe a place as any for children, or even breathing a sign of relief, people would prefer far more salacious, fear-mongering headlines.

In truth, the actual Internet Safety Technical Task Force report says that, “Bullying and harassment, most often by peers, are the most frequent threats that minors face, both online and offline.” Which means parents should be paying a lot more attention to what their children are experiences (and dispensing) at school, with their friends, etc., than they should be about the invisible “they” known as internet boogie men.

From the report:

Much of the research based on law-enforcement cases involving Internet-related child exploitation predated the rise of social networks. This research found that cases typically involved post-pubescent youth who were aware that they were meeting an adult male for the purpose of engaging in sexual activity.

And if you think that’s only gotten worse because kids today are bombarded by internet porn, well, that’s just plain wrong too; from the report:

The Internet increases the availability of harmful, problematic and illegal content, but does not always increase minors’ exposure. Unwanted exposure to pornography does occur online, but those most likely to be exposed are those seeking it out, such as older male minors.

In other words, most kids ignore it, but those (mostly male) youths who want it go for it — just like those meeting with adults or others for sex. Because teens have sex drives, so you’d better be prepared to deal with the issue.

However, the report does not ignore the few times where child molesters have connected with youth online. It says that in the small number of cases, the internet was the first of several steps — the rest of which are no different than how “real world” hook-ups are made. So, if the sexual predator finds prey on the internet & the prey responds, the next step is telephone contact (right under their parents’ noses), followed by eventual meetings in person.

Here’s what the report suggests in terms of advice (I’ve bullet-pointed them, so they are easier to read):

Careful consideration should be given to what the data show about the actual risks to minors’ safety online and how best to address them, to constitutional rights, and to privacy and security concerns.

Parents and caregivers should:

  • educate themselves about the Internet and the ways in which their children use it, as well as about technology in general
  • explore and evaluate the effectiveness of available technological tools for their particular child and their family context, and adopt those tools as may be appropriate
  • be engaged and involved in their children’s Internet use
  • be conscious of the common risks youth face to help their children understand and navigate the technologies
  • be attentive to at-risk minors in their community and in their children’s peer group
  • and recognize when they need to seek help from others.

All of this, though, ignores the basic facts regarding child molestation: Most rapes, sexual assaults, and abuse is perpetuated by someone that the victim knows and trusts.

And I guess that’s the real reason I hadn’t heard of this report & its findings before; people still prefer to pretend they are safe at home, that the unknown danger is “other” and locked outside — or on the internet.

The Anti-Educational Antiques & Collectibles Education Article

On Sunday, I posted a review of sorts about an article titled People turn to education when times are tough, by Eric C. Rodenberg, which was published in Antique Week (February 2, 2009 edition). But that’s not all I have to say on the subject.

Also featured in that article was an interview with Joe Cohen, director of antiques classes for Florida’s Broward County Public Schools Adult Education Program.


(Discovering that Broward County website was not easy; Rodenberg’s article credit’s Cohen’s own site, — which is stupidly constructed in images & flash, so that while Cohen will likely not enjoy what I’m about to say, he should console himself that there’s some text pointing to his website which is in desperate need of being found due to it’s own lack of text.)

Anyway, Rodenberg believes that Cohen “may best be described as a ‘scholar’ of antiques.” Something which puzzles & frustrates me. As you’ll soon see.

You might want to get a beverage and settle in for this rant. Go ahead; I’ll be here when you get back.

antique-week-feb-2-2009After the blah-blah-blah of Cohen’s background and current instruction in the field, we get to this part, which concludes the article:

In large part, Cohen maintains he is responding to a very basic need — accurate information — which, he believes, is lacking withing the antique industry.

“Invariably, when anyone buys something from me they ask, ‘what is the story behind this,'” he says. “It’s just human nature — people want to know the story behind a relic they may buy. And, in the past, that’s just what the dealer and the auctioneer has given them, a story.”

Given the proper tools, Cohen believes the dealers and auctioneers can do better. And, sometimes he believes the “instant gratification” of receiving information from the Internet is detrimental to the trade.

“On my first class, I put a dot on the blackboard,” he says, “and I tell the class to consider that the three acres around them on the campus contain all the information in the world. Within that three acres is all that is known within the world. And the tiny dot represents all the information, in the world, that can be found on the Internet. From there, I put a pinpoint in the middle of the dot. That, I say, represents all the correct information that can be found on the Internet.”

Opening the mysteries of the antique world is not an event, he seems to say, but a process. It may be a process that repays those who are knowledgeable in many ways.

“I find the beauty of antiques in the art, history and the physical properties of any one piece,” he says. “And I believe you cannot make a good decision without that background … an educated consumer is the best consumer.”

And the most satisfied.

And here’s where I defend my beloved Internet.

Not just because I love & live on the Internet (if you cut me, do I not bleed in pixels?), but because there’s so much that’s just plain wrong in what Cohen believes.

So much wrong that I don’t know where to begin…

And let’s not ignore the irony of a man who believes in “accurate information” vs. “a story” yet offers no facts, data or information in support of his own theories — in fact, let’s begin there.

I can draw an over-simplified illustration as a visual framework for a hypothesis on a chalkboard. Really I can. But no matter how artistic &/or convincing the drawing is and no matter how much I fervently believe what I am describing, neither the chalk drawing nor my passion for my own point of view makes it true. I’d really like to see the statistical data or any information gleaned from actual research on the reliability of information on the Internet versus any other medium.

If Cohen — or anyone else — is going to say that the self-publishing aspects of information presented on the Internet equates somehow to a general inferiority when compared to other forms of media, I’m going to, again, ask for proof — and then point to errors made in print. (Anyone else thinking of the fiasco that was A Million Little Pieces?)

Human error (and manipulation of the facts) runs as far back in history as humans themselves do.

In fact, as a researcher, I’ve run into this problem so often than I am loath to trust just one source — even when it’s a publication both from the time period being researched and one you should trust, like the manufacturer’s own catalog. They had printing errors (wrong stock numbers, missing models, good old typos, etc.) back then too, you know. And then, as now, if I’m reading a magazine or newspaper from 1950, who knows if they printed a retraction or correction in the next issue? (If I have the next issue, or access to a copy of it, you’d better believe I scour it for corrections and retractions — buried as they may be.) When reading second (or third, etc.) hand accounts, who knows how trustworthy anything is? Too many people have trouble understanding satire now; that’s probably always been a big issue…

Anyway, good researchers & journalists (professional or hobbyists) present and report their findings to the best of their ability, siting sources where they can, regardless of where the information is to be shared. The bottom line here: No method &/or means of the message’s delivery is inherently more (or less) likely to be rife with misinformation than another.

I’d think any scholar would know such a thing; conversely, I’d expect a person labeling another a “scholar,” to consider just what incongruous & unfounded things the person was saying prior to giving him or her that label. Yes, I’m speaking to you, Mr. Rodenberg, self-described “old newspaper man.”

I’m starting to wonder if anyone in this piece is interested in providing accurate information.

If Cohen’s reference to vast amounts of inaccurate information on the Internet was in regards to antique & collectibles sellers on the Internet, I again, ask for any data to that claim.  I haven’t even heard of any studies regarding fraud or inaccurate antique and collectible sales on the Internet vs. “brick ‘n’ mortar” shops.  “Bricks” don’t imply a more educated dealer than one found by “clicks.” (And, should you be at all alarmed about “bad sellers” on the Internet, please note that in the US, you’ve got fraud protection from the FBI — please see my article here — which is likely more coverage than you have with your local antique shop.)

On to the next point.

When it comes to the amount of information on antiques and collectibles available worldwide (the quantities of which, neither “real world” nor Internet, have been established) I would be very surprised if, at least in some areas, there wasn’t more of it available on the Internet. I don’t have any statistical data to back up such beliefs — but I am at least willing to provide a reasoning for them.

When it comes to media, books have been considered the least expensive when compared to film & television. Certainly, one can argue that other print publications are comparatively inexpensive as well. But in the age of the Internet, the Information Age, clearly digital pixels are even cheaper.

So while a more traditional (i.e. print) publisher may balk at publishing a work with such a small audience as say “magazines from the 1920s” — insisting that the work focus on a broader subject, such as magazines across several centuries — the author (dedicated researcher/obsessive collector) is literally free to publish on the Internet, where she will reach her audience, no matter what its percentage of total Internet readers.

In other words, works that wouldn’t be printed (or perhaps, with self-publishing books as a greater possibility than ever before, it’s more accurate to say such books wouldn’t be printed, marketed, and distributed), may be published on the Internet. Blogs immediately leap to mind, naturally, but there are many options. And with scanning and image uploading, these digital resources have no limits (save for the dedication of the person doing the work) on the quantity and quality of the illustrations, photos and digital image displays; something many publishers curtail for various (monetary, copyright permissions, etc.) reasons.

As a result, you can find blogs, pages, websites and entire communities dedicated to topics so tiny & obscure that you can’t find the information, let alone the visual representation, anywhere else.

Additionally, there’s the issue of access. Not all of us can get our hands on fragile old tomes & publications — not even the more modern copies on microfilm &/or microfiche. But here on the Internet we can see, share and communicate directly with one another — even correcting one another, as needed.

It’s not always about cheap “instant gratification,” buddy; it’s about access and collaboration. At least for those of us dedicated to our antiques and collectibles.

If Rodenberg was accurate in summarizing Cohen as saying that “opening the mysteries of the antique world is not an event, but a process,” then it was silly for either gentleman to ignore or diminish the value of both the hobbyist & the Internet in that process. The hobbyist, the amateur historian, the blogger, the passionate collector (however you identify yourself) and the Internet propel this process of opening the mysteries of the antique world.

If nothing else, we’re the ones who buy (subscribe) & read the very paper this damn article was published in.

Want more irony points? All this Internet-bashing was said in the guise of education — “an educated consumer is the best consumer” — yet they themselves are providing those consumers they reach with misleading information, if not complete mythinformation.

Consumer, beware indeed.

And now for the ultimate irony.

Years from now, when surviving (digital or print) copies of this issue of Antique Week article are discovered by future collectors, they will suffer from the false illusion that way back when, in 2009, the Internet was loaded with inaccurate information — that only a “pinpoint of chalk” of it was true.

They won’t (unless this post survives — and isn’t discounted by the researcher of the future!) know that neither Cohen nor Rodenberg had any basis in fact for saying such things. They won’t know that they were just two men stuck in their old thinking, promoting what they thought saved their own livelihoods: Cohen his classes and Rodenberg his “better than the Internet” paper reporting gig. So the researcher of the future may just go ahead and publish inaccurate information — in the most reliable & legitimate of publications of his time, yet.

(Huge sigh.)

If anyone here is just “telling stories” about antiques & collectibles, it’s these too men, Cohen and Rodenberg.

In “Internet Or Sex” Study People Miss The Point

Everyone is freaking out over that survey sponsored by Intel Corporation (& conducted by Harris Interactive) which said that “46 percent of women and 30 percent of men would rather go two weeks without sex than without Internet access.”

Other men wail & cry: “Men have always faced challenges when it comes to romance” says Don Clark at his Wall Street Journal blog. “Here’s a sign that technology may have raised another hurdle.”

Oh boo-frickin-hoo. Men have it soooo bad.


Judy Berman, at Salon’s Broadsheet blog, was a bit more accurate:

Listen: This has nothing to do with women’s low libidos, lack of interest in sex or prurient fascination with the World Wide Web. It isn’t even about preferring online life to in-the-flesh human contact. It is about how essential the Internet has become to the daily lives of Americans. Nothing I’ve read has mentioned whether the two weeks in question would include work-related Internet use, but if it did, anyone whose career requires a computer or BlackBerry would be likely to lose her job by choosing sex over e-mail. And even if the study did include a workplace exemption, think about how essential the Internet is to the personal lives of most Americans.

But few seem to see the facts for what they are.

The average American only has sex a few times a week.  Depending upon ‘who you are’, it could be as little as once or twice a week.  So you’re giving up 2-4 fucks versus everything we do on the internet? No contest.  Big deal; it’s a week or two.  Everyone’s had those kind of dry spells. Virtually every woman takes a week off now and then when she’s on the rag — if not ‘during’ then the PMS phase.  (If not by choice then by her limited appeal to a partner.)

As for the 16% difference between male and female responses in the Intel/Harrison study, there are several factors to consider:

Did any of the respondents consider masturbation sex?  With the Internet offering such a plethora of porn, the definition of ‘no sex’ in terms of does it include masturbation is very important.  If left to individual interpretation, who the hell knows what these people were actually choosing.

Were both men and women in the same categories (age group, marital status, etc.) — for as the Kinsey FAQ shows, there are differences in the frequency of sex.  If those who participated in the study were not having the same amount of sex, then obviously their answers would be different — apples to bushels of apples, so to speak.

Along with the quantity issue, what about the quality of their sex?  Who has trouble giving up mediocre or even bad sex?  For that matter, how many people are unhappy with their relationships in general? If those in the study were not in the same boat, the results compare apples to oranges — or apples to steak, even.

And if you had, say, a lot of single women, wouldn’t they choose the Internet and the possibility of finding someone over their perhaps non-existent sex lives?  That would easily throw the percentages by itself.

So I’m neither surprised to ‘discover’ how important the Internet is in our collective societal lives (I use it every damn day) nor, with this many study unknowns, how many of us would choose it over sex.

Search Engine Strengths

Let’s take a look at the widely excitable ecommerce community & the impact that search engines have…

Each year the ‘holiday numbers’ are big news in the web world. Proof that we exist, I suppose. Some sort of ‘I shop online, therefore I am’ sort of a thing. Legitimizing the strength & position of the internet, as both commonplace tool, and proper place for corporate entity. But aside from that, there is gold in those glittering holiday numbers, so let’s take a look:

According to Hitwise, an online competitive intelligence service, the market share of all U.S. visits to Shopping and Classifieds sites reached their highest weekly levels during the week ending Dec. 11, 2004, reaching 9.73%. This broke the prior record set Thanksgiving week 2004 (9.72%).

And these numbers are, in part, due to search engines.

Of that record setting high week, ending Dec 11, 2004, this is the percent of that traffic contributed by search engines to those shopping sites:

Google 4.26%

Yahoo! Search 2.24 %

MSN Search 0.54 %

“The holiday shopping frenzy is continuing strong on the Web, with search engines becoming ever more integrated,” said Bill Tancer, vice president of research, Hitwise. (And this here is the super important part: ) “While Google dominates overall referrals, it is important to note that the leading search engines vary in their strength to refer traffic to certain categories versus others. Marketers should carefully consider the nuances of each engine in order to maximize their search strategies.”

While all three of the big search engines contribute to the traffic (& therefore sales), they seem to do so differently.

While all three major search engines seem to send to the same categories* they have different areas of strength:

– Google sends a higher share of its downstream traffic to Books, Sports and Fitness, and Music.

– Yahoo! Search is stronger in sending its shopping referrals to Video and Games, Automotive and Classifieds.

– MSN Search sends a higher share of its shopping referrals to Apparel & Accessories, House & Garden and Appliances & Electronics.

What does this mean to you?

It means you may want to rethink your ad campaign on Google if you are in the video or gardening business.

Or it may make you think a bit more about the ‘why’ the numbers are that way. Perhaps the ‘kids’ are using Yahoo! (on their parents’ pc/ISP with those free Yahoo! email accounts), and so Yahoo’s audience is younger…

Who knows? Not me. Yet anyway. But you can bet I’ll be thinking about it!

* The top three downstream retail categories for the three major search engines were Rewards & Directories (mostly comparison shopping sites), Auctions, & Department Stores.