April 2006 Archives

Kew Gardens: a World Heritage site

Today Barbara and I visited Kew Gardens. From Sloane Square it was a short tube ride on the District line toward Richmond to the Kew Gardens tube stop. We walked through a small, but lovely town center bustling with people on thier Easter Monday outing to the Royal Botanical Gardens. I had not realized that Kew Gardens was a World Heritage site, but this garden was certainly worth the distiction with plants from every corner of the earth.

Windows Live ID Blog Launches

I wish these guys luck, replacing passport is an urgent requirement; passports performance is terrible.

Trevin Chow and his team launch their official Windows Live ID blog on MSN Spaces today. He describes what Windows Live ID and how it will affect current Passport users:
Windows Live ID is the upgrade/replacement for the Microsoft Passport service and is the identity and authentication gateway service for cross-device access to Microsoft online services, such as Windows Live, MSN, Office Live and Xbox Live. Is this the authentication service for the world? No :-) It's primarily designed for use with Microsoft online services and by Microsoft-affiliated close partners who integrate with Windows Live services to offer combined innovations to our mutual customers. We will continue to support the Passport user base of 300+ Million accounts and seamlessly upgrade these accounts to Windows Live IDs. Partners who have already implemented Passport are already compatible with Windows Live ID. [LiveSide]

I use feedblitz for two of my blogs, and I am very satisfied.  The other two services deserve investigation but feedblitz can be configured so that the overly orange branding is not intrusive.

A couple of months ago Mike Arrington posted a plea to the blogosphere for more email syndication services for blogs. Mike didn't like the overly orange branding of Feedblitz, but more to the point he noted that blogs still need email. Now I'm about as big an RSS advocate as you'll find on the Web, yet even I recognize that a lot of people don't use RSS - and until Microsoft embeds it into Outlook are unlikely to. I'm sure there are a number of people who would like to subscribe to my blog, but haven't done so because they're not interested in or intimidated by three letter acronyms and "news readers". Well email syndication is for those people - perhaps also for folks who don't like the information overload that RSS brings (it's still an issue in '06, despite the growing number of filter options).

Overview of the email syndication space

I agree with Mike that FeedBlitz is an eyesore. But it seems to be leading the pack currently in the 'blog email notification' space:

email notifications

Other such services I've found include:

I'm sure there are others, but my intention with this post isn't to do a Frank Gruber and compare a bunch of services. I'm really after the 'next generation' email notification service - and two apps have come across my virtual desk recently which look promising in that respect.

Zookoda - compelling feature set

Zookoda is an Australian company that offers a range of email notification services, primarily email newsletters and "recurring broadcasts". The Zookoda team describes it as "web-based email marketing application designed specifically for bloggers". The best thing about this service is its powerful set of functionality, together with its flexibility. For example: a lot of non-RSS readers may not want to receive notification of every single post from your blog, but a weekly email newsletter with all the highlights may be just what those users need. Zookoda enables that and it also has reporting, which is a key feature for a 'next gen' email notification service to offer and especially relevant to marketers.


I spoke to Zookoda co-founder Nick McNaughton and he told me their user uptake is going very well (he provided me with the figures to back that up, but asked me not to publish them). They have a lot of great development plans too, which again I can't divulge. But what he did say for public consumption is that Zookoda is aimed at "publishers who are blogging to a non-technical audience" - that's where he thinks the target market is. I also think it's useful for a blog like mine, which is technical but probably has a lot of readers who mainly want to keep track of media trends - or of me personally (e.g. family and friends) - and so are not necessarily RSS junkies. An email newsletter may help me attract more of those readers.

To get started with Zookoda, check out this tutorial. It's a fairly lengthy process to get an email newsletter up and running. I'm still working on it, so I haven't yet published mine. The Zookoda blog has case studies. 

Yutter - simple yet hits the spot

Another interesting new email notification service is yutter (weird names must be a prerequisite for these services!). Yutter is currently in beta and they're still working on advanced features like analytics and OPML support for importing/exporting.


What I like about Yutter, even at this very early stage, is that it's very simple to use and the interface is a joy to behold (unlike the much-maligned FeedBlitz). Also it's good to know that Yutter emails will be counted in my Feedburner stats.


Although it's early days for both Zookoda and Yutter, they look to be very promising email notification services for blogs. Zookoda has a compelling feature set and one which I anticipate a lot of uses for, but their challenge will be to create a simple interface for it all. Yutter is a simpler feature set, but so far I'm encouraged by the neat interface and RSS/Feedburner compatibility.

Watch this space! I'll update my progress on both of these services - and please feel free to comment on your experiences or if you know of other promising email syndication services.


Manage Knowledgement

There is an interesting discussion occuring about the social side of managing knowledge.  In fact, sharing experience is fundementally social.  Documents may encapsulate some insight, but it is not until it is discussed that it is meaningful. 

Ross Mayfield uses a new term for knowledge management to reflect his focus on the social side of knowledge, Manage Knowledgement (MK)

Manage Knowledgement is a way of describing KM that's backwards but works.  ...  With MK, through blogs and wikis, the principle activity is sharing, driven by social incentives.

There is definitely a social component to knowledge that we see every day in conversations wherever we go.  Tools that enable contribution and participation in discussions can enhance this social knowledge.  I particularly like Mayfield's comment that the sharing is driven by social incentives.  If there is no feedback, as in "traditional" KM systems, the social trigger many people have never gets pulled and interest wanes in using such systems. 

Luis Suarez is a little concerned about Mayfield's railing against old-school KM.  Mayfield suggests the old style of KM doesn't work - particularly the style that required us to fill in forms and subvert our normal work flows.  While that is an extreme view, there is some merit.  I frequently talk about personal vs corporate knowledge management to help create a conversation around the needs of the corporation and the individuals being asked to "do" knowledge management.

[Knowledge Jolt with Jack]


S9 I am writing a lot about art, music, and food lately, but it has been really affecting me.  My wife, Barbara, is a figurative painter.  Last night we went to an opening at the MPG gallery at 450 Harrison Ave and saw the work of a fine figurative painter, Jim Peters from Truro, MA.  His fugurative work is beautiful.

PIX16.jpg, originally uploaded by ralph.poole.

Brian Cassagnol and the Harriet Street Band rocked out at the Paradise Lounge tonight in Boston. I got a invitation to see the band with my friends from college, Steve Walker, his wife Gail, along with Willaim and Mary, Steve's kids. I don't go to rock clubs very often anymore, but I have lots of experience with the genre, having spent most of my youth at the Boston Tea Party, the Ark, and the Psychedelic Supermarket. Harriet Street rocked out, I loved the passion, the lyrics and the musicianship of this band. Check them out!  (BTW, sorry about the picture, it's from my cameraphone)

I had the good fortune to find a wonderful Peruvian restaurant in Washington DC this week and a was invited out to it two nights in a row!  Both nights I had exactly the same thing, and I was delighted.

El Chalan is a small restaurant that serves Peruvian specialties. On the first night, my colleague wanted to go for the ceviche, which he said was great, and it was, tangy and flavorful.  I had Peruvian paella and when I went back the next night, I had exactly the same thing; I enjoyed it so much.  The second night a friend from the World Bank, said that he knew a great local restaurant and took me to El Chalan again.  Since I enjoyed the meal so much the night before I eagerly said I would go again.

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