Tuesday, April 28, 2009

unofficial blogs and their effect

Having read about the blog of http://ebayinkblog.com/, an unoffical blog of an Ebay staff member, it got me thinking about how unofficial company blogs can end up being the most useful source of company information to customers and employees alike.

So today, I found it quite strange to hear of reports that Carphone Warehouse has blocked access for some its staff to an unofficial blog. Now, this isn't just any old blog. Its one set up by the Communication Workers Union to update its members who work for Charles Dunstone (note to other unions: it also acts as a PR tool for the union and a source of useful information for journalists).

It seems that a few CPW sites (e.g. Preston & Irlam in Manchester) around the UK have had their access to the site blocked, as well as several others including Argos.com and Tesco.com.

From: http://carphoneworker.wordpress.com/
Once again, we have not been contacted by the company to explain why this might be. Indeed, we still have not received any written communication from the company explaining why they censored the site at Irlam, or why they decided to uncensor it.

Now, I know that the Carphone Warehouse doesn't particularly like blogs, but isn't this going a bit too far?

Monday, April 27, 2009

A license to nil

From Press 2.0 - Communications in a digital world

This is a warning I found some months ago above the photocopier in a client's office. Yes, you read that correctly, you can't photocopy anything from a newspaper of you will breach copyright of the Newspaper Licensing Agency:

So, what do the NLA do?

Is it me, or does that 'TLA' [three letter acronym] make them sound like a terrorist organisation?

Well, the NLA was set up in 1996 in the UK to manage and collect revenue from those who want to copy newspaper articles (or impose fines for those that have already done it).
However, if you read the article, understand it and rewrite the article in your own words, then that's ok isn't it?....
Hint: That's what one newspaper does when it reads an article its competitor has written and wants to make it seem like it also knew about the same story.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Why newspapers block Google

Newspapers are stopping their sites being indexed by Google in an effort to preserve their 'unique content'.

Yes, that's correct. They believe they have the monopoly on the facts they find & report and don't want the 'Big G' to find it, display it and link to them.

So why are they doing this? Well, they believe that a hyperlink from Google's news site isn't the same value as a user finding the content themselves..... http://thenoisychannel.com/2009/04/18/is-differentiated-content-enough-to-save-newspapers/

The arguement about what constitutes 'screen-scraping' and what is proper 'spidering & indexing' gets a little blurred here. But its not as if Google passes this information off as its own, instead it links to the newspaper site (albeit it does put up relevant paid adverts and make money from this)

Monday, April 20, 2009

Link value

Following on from my post last week about hyperlinks being the new currency, I read with part-amusement and part-interest this article from Mike Masnick on TechDirt about calculating the value of a hyperlink.

Mike explains how some links are more valuable than others (agreed) but then references Fred Wilson's article that personally passed links are more valuable than others.

Whilst I've no arguement that we need to look at the whole value of a hyperlink, I'm not convinced that the only difference is if ahyperlink has been referred between two people. What about: authority, SEO, immediate value, lifetime value, etc?

However, the link source (where people obtain their links from) could be an additonal parameter to measure, if that information is available.... food for thought thought?

Saturday, April 18, 2009

What does your grammar say about you?

Its quite funny that the BBC, in trying to encourage collaboration & community on bbc.co.uk, made a grammatical mistake today

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Believe your eyes - digital media influences

You hear so may stories these days about huge brands and life-changing things being influenced by digital media. However even the more mundane stuff is now being affected by online advertising.

In a report just published by 'Ad-ology Research', 42 per cent of US customers said they wereaffected by influences such as Internet sites and web search results
A significant minority of people are influenced by online marketing when they purchase contact lenses or spectacles,

Further information is available here: http://contactlenses.co.uk/contactlensesnews/article10598/digital-media-influences-contact-lens-buyers.html?catid=4&pageNo=1

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Hyperlinks are the new currency

The WWW was created to link from one document to another. Its no longer a case of "I link, therefore I am".

Now those links have a different purpose:

1. To help your SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) efforts
For example, Google measures in-bound links to your site as a good indication of your site's authority and therefore it ranks it accordingly. And the better the site linking to you, the greater its authority and therefore.... well, you get the picture.

2. To bring in revenue.
In this situation, there's no such thing as a bad hyperlink.
Yes, I know that initially seems like madness... but the more links that bring paying users/customers to your site, the better your revenue will be.
(Yes, I know that if they are in suspect places it affects your brand, but one hyperlink to enable a purchase does the same job as another... even Google has a hard job determining which links are paid ones...)
This is not something lost on (some of) the affiliate market... who, if left uncontrolled would plaster their hyperlinks anywhere that brought in money I'm sure.

Mr John Straw explains this in more detail here:

Friday, April 3, 2009

Preventing screen scraping

Following my recent posts on screen scraping, I've had various email discussions on the prevention of screen scraping. In other words how can sites prevent users or automated scripts taking their data, without punishing real users at the same time?

CAPTCHA's (Completely Automated Public Turing Test to Tell Computers and Humans Apart) are used to stop automated scripts pretending to be real people. Before anyone comments.. yes I am aware that CAPTCHAS can be broken/beaten, even ones by Google & Yahoo!

Rendering is a newer approach that is being used to defeat scripts/bots and is being used online e.g. by financial institutions, coupon and ticketing industries. By creating an image of the data a site can display the information which is easily readable by a user, but much harder by a machine....

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Wired magazine UK launch

If you read The Register's review of the magazine that makes a long awaited (well, by me for 2 months at least) re-appearance after 12 years you'd think again about buying the print copy.
It seems that at least some of the content in the taster edition is taken from past US issues.

But at least the new website seems well done, doesn't it? http://www.wired.co.uk/
Errrr... maybe, although I assume the blogs and other additonal content that the US version has are on their way soon? I hope so!