Talking to Anvil Media’s Kent Lewis

I managed to have a lengthy conversation last evening with Kent Lewis of Anvil Media at PDX MindShare. Kent and I had met a few times before, but had never had an extended conversation until now.

I left the conversation inspired, energetic and feeling like Kent and I were kindred spirits with our views on business and the world.

Kent has tremendous integrity. He believes in a world of abundance and that being giving back to your community, you get your contribution back tenfold.

I couldn’t have been more impressed and am grateful that I got to know him better.

Helvetica Film DVD Pre-Order Available

An entire documentary on typography and the most influential typeface of the last century: Helvetica. I’m in heaven. And now the Helvetica Film DVD is available for pre-order with release scheduled for November 6th.

I missed the documentary when it came to Portland so the DVD will be my first chance to see it. I just need to decide between the basic DVD and the deluxe edition which includes a c-print still from the film and an actual piece of Helvetica metal type. How cool is that?

links for 2007-08-15

Who Remembers These Things?

I’ve been trying to find the RSS feeds on Facebook that TechCrunch wrote about earlier today when I was prompted by Facebook with a requirement to add a security question. Here is a screenshot of what I saw:


Who remembers the name of their first stuffed animal? The time you were born, not the year. My third grade teacher had a Japanese last name that I can’t remember how to spell. Too bad it wasn’t my fourth grade teacher who I liked much less, but whose name is simple to spell. Least favorite nickname? Uh… First kiss? Well, she was cute. I remember that much.

Maybe this is just a sign that I’m getting too old, but the only question from the list that I felt confident answering is my mother’s maiden name, and maybe I’ll give her a call just to be safe. :-)

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A Group Is Its Own Worst Enemy

Joel on Software points to a great article by Clay Shirky on why a Group is its Own Worst Enemy. Joel points out that that he was rediscovering something about social software that Clay had documented 4 years ago.  Similarly, I can’t believe I hadn’t found Clay’s article before.

The article captures the challenges of building online communities and the need to provide structures for those communities better than anything else I’ve read. There are a lot of articles that will describe the things you need to do to be successful in building online community, but this is the first article I’ve read that makes a compelling, rational argument for why groups of people are so likely to fail and how you can’t separate the technology from the social structure.

I can’t recommend this article enough. Great stuff for anyone trying to build community online.

YUI Compressor, Web Site Speed

Via Ajaxian I learned the Yahoo has released a new javascript compressor that reduces file sizes 18%. Compression of web site code is something that too many web site developers ignore.

A few years ago, our CTO and I read Andrew King’s Speed Up Your Site book and became consumed with improving performance of our customer web sites. We decreased download time for one site by 75%. These changes prevented us from hitting our network capacity long enough to move to a new hosting facility where we weren’t constrained by bandwidth.

What amazes me is how frequently developers ignore the simple things that can be done to speed up their web applications. Most web servers contain options to supply their content in gzipped form. This option alone can save tremendous time for users and bandwidth costs for companies.

I have a short list of books that I wish everyone who develops online would take the time to read. Speed Up Your Site is near the top of that list.

P.S. I was pleased to find that my new hosting environment appears to be using gzip by default. The home page would be 19K uncompressed, but is delivered to the browser as a 4K gzipped file.

links for 2007-08-14

2008 Promises to be a Big Year for Social Media

Jeremiah Owyang’s blog linked to an article from Lewis PR indicating that 2008 will be a big year for social media adoption. In particular:

Over 90 per cent of marketing departments are planning to launch a social media campaign in 2008, despite the fact that over a third are yet to use social tools in their organisation.

This is consistent with my experiences with clients this year. There is a lot of interest in participating in social media, but little understanding of what this would mean for organizations.

Awareness of the impact of social networking and in particular viral marketing has reached the point where people are asking for it, but their expectations are that they can simply add it to their site without the associated work to nurture the network and community.

There is already a lot of opportunity to help businesses understand how to participate in social media, and it looks like we’re going to have more of these conversations for the foreseeable future.

New Design, Infrastructure, ISP

I’ve finally found time to upgrade this site. The previous articles and materials will be eventually ported over and there is still much work to be done. That said, I’m pleased with the site and grateful to be working with WordPress on my personal site after installing it for so many customers over the past three years.

With this site launch, I’m also one step closer to shuttering my personal hosting operation. Over seven years ago, I set out to learn what it would be like take to host a web site and maintain a server. At the time, it was also prohibitively expensive to host a personal site in a professional web environment.

I built a server, installed debian, and set it up as my router, firewall, and web server. Through the years I replaced the hardware, purchased uninterruptible power supplies, attempted RAID configurations, and fretted whenever I left town that my server would go down.

No longer. Last December all of the email accounts I hosted for family and friend were moved to I’ve been very pleased with the service and the price.

Now, this web site is being hosted at MediaTemple. MediaTemple is more expensive than some of the other low-end providers, but the peace of mind of a reliable and scalable environment is worth it.

So no more worries about hosting and maintaining a server. I can focus on what I love to do: Learn, work and play on the web and mostly sharing what I’ve discovered.