My Favorite Web Sites Are The Ones I Visit The Least

Recently, I had the realization that my favorite Web sites were the ones I visited the least.  The first thing I do when I find a Web site that I want to visit again is look for an RSS feed.  If I find one, chances are I won’t come to the Web site again for a while.  If the Web site doesn’t have an RSS feed, I’ll forget about it and the site will miss out on some traffic.

My RSS reader has become one of my information or lifestyle hubs.  For me, there are others that I use daily.  My mobile phone and my television are all places where I expect to be able to receive all of my various feeds of information.  They are my viewports into the world.

We are moving away from this idea of having to view a Web site to view Web content.  The thing is… this is so radical.   Web content creators need to realize that they’re going to have to give up a lot of control if they want to be successful.

The content you put online is going to be viewed out of the context of which it was initially created.

This is all part of the reason why I’m so into the idea of widgets.  It’s an easier way for users to aggregate your Web content or Web application… much easier then trying to explain RSS to someone.

For example, the popular online chat application Meebo received 84% of it’s traffic through it’s widget.

Going back in time…

This week has been kind of crazy.  At the Library of Congress, we made 3000+ photos available on Flickr and the level of positive and warm responses has exceeded all of our wildest expectations.

It’s been thrilling to watch as people from around the world have gone back in time to the early and mid 1900s and gotten to know eras of decades ago.

Also… it’s been rewarding to see in some instances these photos are starting to spark creativity and discussion in the folks that have enjoyed them.

Well, I look forward to seeing what the future of this project will hold.

Here is a sample of some of my favorite photos from the Library of Congress sets that were made available on Flickr:
Fruit stand

School children

Baseball player holding a camera

John Coston Presenting on Web Accessibility at Refresh DC This Thursday

This Thursday my buddy John Coston is going to be giving a talk on Web Accessibility at Refresh DC.  The event is going to be held at the  Greater Washington Board of Trade (map) 1725 I Street NW, Suite 200 Washington, DC 20006.

Make sure you’re there.

I’m joining Clearspring as the Developer Community Manager

For a little over a year now, i’ve been working for the government contractor CACI International as a full-time on-site contractor supporting the Library of Congress.

Well… at the end of the month, I’ll be starting a new chapter of my life.  I have accepted the position of Developer Community Manager at Clearspring, a widget and social application platform startup company in Tysons Corner, Virginia.

I’ll still be based out of Washington DC but I’ll be traveling across the country, talking to developers about widgets, talking about Clearspring’s platform, and trying to understand how the process of creating widgets and social applications can be made easier.  I’ll be picking up from the work of Clearpsring’s very own widget rockstar Will Meyer who has moved over to the engineering team.

You can expect me to do quite a bit of on the job blogging and online video.  I’ll be working to develop some of my own bad ass widgets and social apps.  I’m going to be attending quite a few user group meetings and conferences all across the country. It should be a lot of fun.

I look forward to getting out there, talking with, and getting to know as many of you as possible.  If you see me, please introduce yourself.

I’ll truly miss all of the heroes I’ve gotten to know at the Library of Congress. This is an extraordinary place with an extraordinary mission.  I know that regardless where I am in my life I’ll be an advocate and cheerleader for the Library of Congress and all that it sets out to accomplish.

Threadless – Who would have thought you could build an online community around t-shirts

I realize that according to some I may be a little bit late to the game on this one but I’ve just gotten into the online t-shirt community Threadless.

I just bought my very first Threadless t-shirt, “When Dinosaurs Ruled The Earth.”  I had so much fun and love the shirt enough that I’ll probably end up buying more.

The way it works is people submit t-shirt designs to Threadless and other users vote and comment on the designs.  The Threadless staff will choose some designs, print them, and compensate the designer.

There are a limited number  of the t-shirts printed and some of the more popular ones will sell out quickly which makes them just as much limited edition works of art as t-shirts.

Threadless is its just so much fun.

They have some other cool t-shirts like “Everyone Poops”,  “Pickles are cucumbers soaked in evil”, The Internet Was Closed…” and many more.  These are all sold out and I’m hoping they’ll reprint them soon so I can grab them.

So go buy a t-shirt from Threadless… participate in the community.

Have you bought a t-shirt from Threadless?  Which one do you have?

So… what happened at CES this year?

I know the 2008 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) was in Las Vegas this last week but I’m not really sure what happened there. I’m not excited about anything.  My friends aren’t buzzing about anything that came out.

Apparently, Gizmodo pulled some stupid stunt…  but who cares.

Sounds like CES unveiled a bunch of really cool displays which I can’t afford or may not be available for 5 years… but doesn’t that happen every year?

Heh… I think Apple’s announcement of their Mac Pro update was more memorable and bigger news.   So… I guess I’ll to wait for Apple’s MacWorld this week to find out what I should get really excited about as far as consumer electronics.

Get your company’s username on social networks

So instead of just making sure you have your company’s domain name, you need to start thinking about whether you have your company’s username on major social networks.

Geico is learning a hard lesson.  A user on Twitter is holding their name for money.

Interested in purchasing this twitter? Contact me at without the underscore!

If Geico ever wanted to use a Twitter account to give company updates, they’d have to use a different name or buy it off the guy.

(Thanks Peter for the tip. )

Politweets – Monitor the Twitter Chatter About the Presidential Candidates


It’s been fun to watch as Twitter has gone from a fascination of a few to micro-publishing platform that is used around the world.  The simplicity of only having 140 characters to say what you want to say has really helped to increase adoption.

What some are starting to realize is that if you can analyze what comes out of Twitter you can get a sense of the latest buzz, people’s quick thoughts, and opinions.

Politweets is a Web application that tracks what people are saying on Twitter about the different 2008 presidential candidates.  So if I wrote on Twitter, “Obama is on CNN right now.” It’d appeare on Politweets.

The campaign of a savvy presidential candidate should be using a tool like Politweets to track what people are saying and buzzing about themselves.   What’d be cool is if they could filter or sort tweets by state so candidates could just see what people are saying or have said in just a place like New Hampshire or Nevada.

This app is created by the same Washington DC-based folks who did Twittertale, the app that tracks the latest twitters with dirty words.  I expect more great things from these guys.

The social wine site Cork’d just doesn’t fit my life


I have been playing with the social wine site Cork’d since right around day one.  Anything that brings wine together with Web 2.0 is great in my book but I have to say the site doesn’t fit or integrate well into my life.

I started off really strong using Cork’d.  I was reviewing wines, adding wines to my “shopping list”, and friending people.  But… alas alack… pretty quickly my level of activity went down dramatically.

I’d drink a glass of wine but by the time I got back to my computer to type in my review I would have forgotten all of my thoughts and review.  I started writing down my thoughts about wine in a little notebook but the thoughts never made there way from the notebook to Cork’d.

Only if I had some type of mobile computing device which allowed me to input data in a simple manner that also had Web access…. just happens that I along with a few others on the planet carry a mobile phone… and mine has Web access.

I think it’d be a completely different story for Cork’d if there were some type of mobile Web site I could access to type in quick thoughts about a wine I just tried.

I find myself taking photos of wine labels with my camera phone all the time.  What if you could take a photo of a wine label, type some thoughts, put it in a MMS message and send it to a service where it’d be store for later?  It seems like that’d be such a simple way of capturing my thoughts about a wine in a way that’d integrate well with my life.

Cork’d can tell me what wines my friends are drinking and even allows me to create a shopping list.  But in order to take the shopping list with you to the wine or grocery store, i’d have to print it off or write it down… that’s so 1995.  What if you could access the wine shopping list from your mobile phone?  Even better… what if your phone knew what wines were being sold or in stock at the store that you were going to and would adjust your shopping list accordingly.

Cork’d has SOOO much potential.  Wine is such a social object.  Someone’s review of the wine is another social object…. I just think that for a service like this the capture of explicit feedback needs to better integrate with my life.