Ebook writing - How do I do that?

Ebook writing can be a very profitable business if you know how to go about it. Once your ebook gets out online and people start finding out about it, you can start making money while you sleep - literally. However before you can start making money you will first need to do some research to find out exactly what type of e-book can make you the most money as well as what niche you can target.

I would suggest that you visit various forums, such as Yahoo answers, wiki answers, etc and search for questions within you niche. Find out what people are asking about the most. For instance if you want to target the weight loss niche you will search for weight loss related questions and answers. You will see questions such as "which exercises will help me reduce my belly fat?" etc. This should give you a good idea of exactly how well your book will do.

Visit various websites and take a look at the various products written about weight loss. See what they are saying and whether or not they are answering the questions that you found on those forums. Your task is not to mimic their books but to write a much better book.

Make a list of the topics you plan to cover and decide just how many pages you plan to cover those topics under. When writing make sure that you try to reduce fluff as much as possible. Your goal here is to give people good solid information that they can use to reduce their weight. If you do this successfully you will have no problem selling thousands of copies of your ebooks.

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10 Golden Rules of Social Networking

By Aliza Sherman

So here are my 10 Golden Rules of Social Media to embrace, debate, pass around and refine. Have at it.

1. Respect the Spirit of the ‘Net. Since 1995, I’ve been writing about and talking about what I call the “Spirit of the ‘Net.” The Internet was not meant for marketing and selling but for communication and connection to people and information. Understanding this, even today, can flip your marketing and selling strategy on its head, but you’ll have far more success respecting the spirit of the ‘Net, rather than throwing money at hard-sell tactics.

2. Listen. In the ’90s, the Golden Rule of posting to a Usenet Newsgroup or other online community was to listen first before speaking. Listening thoughtfully gives you a better sense of not only what people are saying but also how they are feeling. In virtual spaces where there are no visual cues, good listening skills become a powerful asset. Listening also helps you map out your current social media footprint and measure your marketing campaigns over time. The key to successful social media marketing is listening.

3. Add Value. Enter any online conversation with the aim of adding value. Before posting a message as a new participant in a forum, ask yourself: How is this providing value to the conversation? To the community? In some circles, talking about your product or service can be considered valuable, but in most, it is unwelcome and intrusive.

4. Respond. From the early days of setting up the first web presences for clients such as Origins and Dr. Atkins, my company outlined the importance of timely responses to any feedback or queries generated from those sites. The burden of response can be great, but it can be lessened by using the right tools and crowdsourcing answers. A quick response is more important than ever, and thanks to search tools, alert apps and other services, it is possible to achieve. Don’t be a dam in a conversation flow.

5. Do Good Things. Back in the ’90s, a mentor and dear friend — Jerry Colonna — talked about “doing well by doing good,” sparking in me the confidence to build a successful business with an underlying mission to help others. Doing good things can really help you to succeed in social media, too. Just do a Google search for Social Media for Social Good to see the power of this movement. This goes beyond adding value online. It means fundamentally changing your business model from a single bottom line — profit — to a triple bottom line — people, planet, profit — and then perpetuating this social responsibility to all you do in business, including online marketing and selling. I’m working with a financial client right now who truly believes in doing good. My client’s messages and conversations around social good are getting much more traction than the regular financial messages.

6. Share the Wealth. When I used to talk about the Internet around the world, one key tenet I repeated almost every time was to share the wealth. “If you’ve got it, share it, spread it around,” I’d say, but I wasn’t only talking about money. I was talking about time, information and knowledge. In social media, sharing is the fuel of the conversation engine.

7. Give Kudos. Social media works when you are generous. There is nothing wrong with self-promotion, but things really take off when you give others praise or a moment in the spotlight. The rise of retweeting — real retweeting, not spammy retweeting — shows how far giving credit to others can go in social spaces.

8. Don’t Spam. And speaking of spam, there is also an ugly surge of spamming in social media, today’s equivalent of unscrupulous email marketers who inundated our email boxes with garbage and left a bad taste in our mouths for email marketing. On Twitter, I’m finding it a daily chore to delete people I’m following who send out spam messages, but I just don’t have the time, interest or bandwidth to tolerate the “Get Lots of Followers on Autopilot” spam.

9. Be Real. Authenticity is the secret ingredient behind any good and valuable social media marketing campaign. If you know your audience, locate them online, listen, add value, respond, refrain from spamming and just be yourself, you’ll have far better and more long-lasting positive results than if you try to be someone — or something — you’re not.

10. Collaborate. Before you dive into social media for marketing and selling, take a look at who is out there and who is doing it well. How can you work with them, instead of trying to muscle your way into the space with all of your dollars? Those will often be dollars wasted because people can feel that push and recoil from the hard sell, blog about your misstep, sign petitions to boycott your company, you name it. If you put your money in places where it can do good while generating goodwill for your brand, you’ll be much more likely to get a positive result from social media.

Social media tools are only that — tools. The real energy, spirit and power of social media is people. We are social media.

from blog webworker daily

Aliza Sherman: Aliza is an author, freelance writer, blogger and Internet strategist who has been online since 1989 and working in “new media” since the early 90s. As a Web pioneer, she started the first woman-owned full-service Internet company in NYC, Cybergrrl, Inc., and has spent most of her time online ever since. Aliza is the Entrepreneur Mom blogger on WorkItMom.com and the Women at Work columnist at WomenEntrepreneur.com. A serial blogger, her “business” blog is Rants and Raves. Follow Aliza on Twitter at @alizasherman.

Hummingbird - the Deluxe Twitter Application -Yea deluxe but its costs- forget it!

It costs nearly $200!

Honestly if you you're just starting with Twitter - or playing with Twitter - or checking out the potential of Twitter -start with the free applications. Save your money

Use apps like Twitter Karma , Tweetsum and Flash Tweet. I did.

But then as your Twitter follower group grows, past 100, past 500, past 1,000 - those applications start to become unwieldy. They have trouble processing the large number of followers - and after about 3,000 they really don't work. Hey they're free, what do you want?

But maybe you are starting to "get' the power of twitter:

See the post - Why Twitter matters - here ; - http://tinyurl.com/r47mjh

0r the post Twitter the most effective B2B tchnnel out there - here - http://tinyurl.com/cqaccv.

And you think - ' you know this free little 140 character deal is powerful - and I needc to take it seriously.I need a following, a list, a targeted list I can work with" - maybe you think that. Maybe - and if you do...

Then, then you need serious tools that handle pro stuff

A tool like hummingbird.

Then Hummingbird makes sense.

It works for large numbers, it targets and its adaptable

( Oh -And its all the other stuff they say about it - the good stuff they say about it I mean.)

So try it. Click the link - download, take the trial.
You'll appreciate its precision. You will.

But if Twitter is a pastime and fun - take the free apps I highly recommend them.


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How To Get Everything You Want In 24 Hours-NOT

From John Reese Blog

Have you ever seen the Hugh Grant movie, About A Boy?

If you haven’t seen it you should rent it because it’s a great movie. But if you have seen it then you’ll recognize the following quote from Grant’s character “Will”…

I find the key is to think of a day as units of time, each unit consisting of no more than thirty minutes. Full hours can be a little bit intimidating and most activities take about half an hour. Taking a bath: one unit, watching countdown: one unit, web-based research: two units, exercising: three units, having my hair carefully disheveled: four units. It’s amazing how the day fills up, and I often wonder, to be absolutely honest, if I’d ever have time for a job; how do people cram them in?

I’ll admit the title of this post is a bit misleading. It reads like you can get everything you want “in under 24 hours” but that’s not what I mean by it. I used this title to not only get your attention but to demonstrate the POWER of this statement if you fully grasp it.

In order for you to accomplish anything in life you have to learn the power of INCREMENTAL SUCCESS. Let me explain how it works…

It doesn’t matter what you want to accomplish… making a million dollars, losing 50 pounds, learning to speak French, etc. In order for you to accomplish what it is that you want you MUST achieve your goal incrementally. There’s no other way for it to happen - it’s IMPOSSIBLE.

No one makes a million dollars without making $1 first. No one loses 50 pounds without losing 1 pound first. And no one becomes fluent in French without learning how to say “bonjour” first.

So now that we’ve established that accomplishing anything you want must come through incremental progress, then you realize that success is created by a series of smaller accomplishments that add up to the final goal.

The next thing for you to understand is the process of TIME UNITS.

Just as the character in About A Boy managed his entire life, you need to understand how time is applied towards incremental progress for ANYTHING you want to accomplish.

The main unit of time in our lives is THE DAY. That 24-hour period that repeats again and again until one day we die. It’s what we live our lives by. Every day is an important day and in order to accomplish everything you want in your life you must account for each and every day.

Do you know why the kiss of death in trying to accomplish anything in life is the old mantra of I’ll start on it tomorrow?

And you know exactly what I’m talking about. You have that product you want to create. The one that will make you more money. Or that new blog to set up. Or that affiliate marketing campaign to put together. Yet somehow you easily convince yourself, “I’ll start on it tomorrow.” And you lose yet another day of your life that you’ll never get back where you made ZERO INCREMENTAL PROGRESS.

When we are living any given day it’s so easy to put things off. It’s so easy to procrastinate. It’s so easy to convince ourselves that tomorrow we’ll start going to the gym. Tomorrow we’ll start eating healthier. Tomorrow we’ll do some writing that we’ve been putting off. Tomorrow we’ll start studying Japanese.

Tomorrow. Tomorrow. Tomorrow.

Well, there’s a reason why most people don’t accomplish that much. There’s a reason why it seems like WEEKS or even MONTHS go by and you haven’t accomplished things you know in your heart you really want yet you haven’t made any progress towards them at all.

It’s because it’s so easy to put things off until tomorrow.

So Here’s What You Need To Understand…

This is exactly what changed my life when I was struggling as an entrepreneur and really helped me break-through to finally building wealth for myself…

If you are trying to accomplish anything, in this case growing your income, you must do something every single day towards accomplishing your goal. Let me repeat that…


It doesn’t matter how big or how small this effort has to be. It just has to be SOMETHING. So every day that passes in your life you will incrementally be closer to getting everything you want. It’s a simple, yet powerful concept.

If you want to lose weight, for example, then just walk 1/2 mile each day. Not a mile. Not 5 miles. 1/2 mile. If you walk 1/2 mile each day that’s like walking 3.5 miles a week. Walking 3.5 miles seems pretty far to most people. But 1/2 mile is nothing. Yet you get the same net result from walking 3.5 miles whether you accomplish it in one day or one week.

Almost anything worth accomplishing in life seems BIG when we look at it from “Step 1.” Everything requires incremental progress. And most things require MANY steps to reach the finish line.

When we are faced with everything we must do to accomplish any goal it often seems so overwhelming that it’s much easier to just put off starting it until another day. And that day often becomes a week, a month, a year, or more often than not… NEVER.

If you want to grow your business you must be taking action every single day that contributes towards your goal. This doesn’t mean checking your email more, or looking at stats more, or “doing research” (i.e. surfing sites all day) it means putting in the work towards creating that product, or doing some writing for an article or blog post, or making a video you’ve been wanting to make, or setting up a site and testing some Adwords, etc. etc.

Stop letting a single day go by when you aren’t making at least SOME incremental progress towards ALL your goals and it is IMPOSSIBLE that it won’t change your life for the better.

Even if it’s just a small step each day. Because that’s a step you’ll never have to do again and you’ll be even closer to accomplishing your goal.

John Reese Income .com

Please make sure and follow me on Twitter!


Affliate Marketing - is is any good- for you?

When you are thinking of becoming an affiliate marketer, one of the first steps that you can take, is getting the information. You need to find out the basics, and find out requirements before you jump in. People fail a lot of the time when attempting new business ventures, simply because they do no homework before they jump in, and wonder why they end up failing a good amount of the time.

Affiliate marketing is a hard road to navigate, with its explosive success comes the rampant and always evolving scams. Anytime a successful business strategy is discovered, and begins enjoying success, people will always take advantage and try and set up shop to catch new people un aware and steal their hard earned money.

When you are researching affiliate programs, and attempting to find one that is right for you, you will need to ensure that you know how to protect yourself. Be fully aware of what each program is promising you, and be sure you have research each program online to see what the general response is to it. People will not hesitate to leave feedback no matter if it is positive or negative. When you are researching websites you also have to beware the source, and get multiple sources of information. Relying on a single source of information can run you the risk of uncovering another scam in itself. Some companies will go around the internet and post hundreds and occasionally thousands of positive reviews in an attempt to sway people that may be attempting to research the nature of the company.

If you are investing your resources, time, and money in a new program, you may find that there is not a whole lot of feedback available and at that point you will simply have to make a judgement call. You will need to analyze the pros, cons, promises and methods that the program employs, and ensure that it lines up with what you want to get out of your online business.

People every day will lock onto affiliate marketing as a new career path because of the many positives it can provide should you become successful in it. It allows you to become your own boss, earn more pocket money, provides you with more time to yourself to do things you might be missing out on in your normal 9-5 job environment, and just allows you to be proud of yourself.

Affiliate marketing may seem like a lazy way to do things to the casual observer, but it takes an incredible amount of thought and action, and needs to be executed properly to succeed. You reap what you sow!

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Eye tracking study reveals 12 website tactics

From Direct Creative Blog

Eye tracking studies have revealed valuable information about how people read and interact with websites. One study, Eyetrack III, published a summary of their eye tracking results for news sites.

While this is just one eye tracking study focused on a particular type of site, I think there are instructive nuggets here for any informational website.

In no particular order, here are 12 results I found particularly interesting.

1.Headlines draw eyes before pictures. This might be surprising for some people since the trend has been to add photos and graphics specifically to draw the eye. Even I have been adding more photos to my blog to spice it up a bit.

But the participants in this study looked at headlines, especially in the upper left of the page, before they looked at photos when they landed on a page. So you can’t rely on eye candy to make up for poor headlines.

2. People scan the first couple words of a headline. Yes, long headlines can work. But this study suggests that people scan the first few words before deciding whether to continue reading.

This means you should front-load your headlines with the most interesting and provocative words. It’s also an argument for getting your keywords up front in headlines.

3. People scan the left side of a list of headlines. This is related to the previous point. When presented with a list of headlines or links, people will scan down the left side, looking at the first couple words, to find something they’re interested in. They don’t necessarily read each line beginning to end.

The implication is the same as before. Get your most mind catching words up front.

4. Your headline must grab attention in less than 1 second. Online readers are grazers. They move fast and nibble. If you want to hook them into spending time reading about something, you have to catch their attention very, very fast.

No nonsense. No meandering copy. No “throat clearing” to fill space. You have to get to the point instantly.

5. Smaller type promotes closer reading. This makes sense because smaller type is harder to read. So, to read it, you have to really focus. Larger type promotes scanning rather than reading.

Be careful with this one. No one is suggesting you shrink your web type to make it barely legible. I think the takeaway is to avoid making your type too big if you want close reading and avoid making it too small if you want to communicate rapidly.

6. Navigation at the top of the page works best. I find this interesting from a design point of view since many sites now use side navigation. I take this one with grain of salt, since the study also shows that side navigation can work fine.

The point may be that anything at the top of a page will be seen immediately. And since top navigation must be simple because of space limits, top navigation is probably much simpler to use.

7. Short paragraphs encourage reading. No surprise here. Even in print this is true. Big blocks of type look imposing and difficult, like reading a Faulkner novel where a paragraph goes on seemingly forever.

In online writing as in most ad writing, you have to forget normal paragraph development. Breaks should be logical, but they’re organized into a flow of ideas rather than distinct paragraphs.

8. Introductory paragraphs enjoy high readership. Just to be clear, an intro paragraph is a content summary that appears after the headline and before the main text. It’s common in some news writing. I’ve also used it in print ads which are designed in the form of an article, often called an “advertorial.”

The downside is that while intros get read, this study says they don’t affect readership of the main text. Maybe they help improve comprehension. The study doesn’t say.

9. Ad placement in the top and left positions works best. For anyone familiar with “heat maps,” this make sense. The eye tends to start in the upper left of a page. So an ad, or anything else, in that area will be noticed.

This is another one you have to be wary of. Ad blindness tends to happen when people get used to seeing ads in a particular place. So even the prime upper left area won’t work so well if you always put ads there.

10. People notice ads placed close to popular content. Obviously. This mimics the well-known idea in the offline world where ads are placed anywhere eyeballs point.

This is why ads right over a urinal work. Men look straight ahead, usually at a blank wall 12 inches from their face when standing at a urinal, so any reading material there will get read.

11. People read text ads more than graphic ads. Not everyone will agree with this one. But it makes sense if you consider that information is usually in the form of text. So people looking for information are looking for text, not pictures.

However, graphics can be useful for conveying information that is difficult to communicate in pure text, such as how something looks, mathematical information, before and after comparisons, etc. Which leads us to the last tactic.

12. Multimedia works better than text for unfamiliar or conceptual information. Reading relies on people having some understanding of the subject. The more familiar they are with the subject, the faster and easier reading is.

If you’re trying to describe a process, for example, a video or illustration conveys this information better than text.

Opportunity is all around you.

Extract from John Reese Blog


Right now the global economy is going through a rough time. And it may even get worse before it gets better. But in any situation, even during the Great Depression, there is always a massive amount of opportunity to build wealth - you just have to be willing to seize it.

Know this… Opportunity is all around you.

I recently had a great discussion with one of the top Internet marketers in the world, and someone who is a very close friend… Frank Kern. In this discussion I asked Frank this question…In your opinion, what’s the one major thing entrepreneurs should be doing right now?”

And his answer was simple… “Make offers.”

Frank hit it right on the head. If you want to make money, and lots of it, you have to be making offers. That is the one action that makes more money than anything else. Making offers.

Whether it’s creating your own new products to offer to your customers, or running a special discount offer, or even promoting someone else’s product where you get paid, making offers is what creates the cash.

Not fiddling with SEO. Not posting on Twitter all day. Not surfing Facebook. Not hanging out on discussion forums. And not spending countless hours of your time on research.

Now all of those things certainly have value, and some of them have a lot of value. But without making offers and selling stuff you aren’t going to make much money.

There is PLENTY of money for you to make right now. Don’t let this economic situation “fake you out” into thinking people aren’t buying stuff anymore. It couldn’t be further from the truth. You just need to ACTIVELY make offers if you want to make more money.

Are You Making Offers On A Regular Basis?

If you want to make more money that’s all you need to do. Make offers.

Frank Kern made it sound and seem so simple but it really does just come down to that.

Frank’s a super successful marketer because he has the gift of cutting out all the nonsense and just getting to the stuff that brings in the cash.

Frank recently helped, of all people, Tony Robbins with this exact “offers” stuff I’ve been talking about. Yes, Tony ‘Freakin’ Robbins. And it’s no surprise that Frank’s simple advice and plan made Tony a bunch of money that his company wasn’t making.

It was the ultimate no-brainer.


How to be a Super Affiliate

Many online marketers have a dream goal of becoming a super affiliate, a top affiliate marketer for one or more sellers of precuts and / or services being sold online. Here's a hot tip to achieving this goal: stay dedicated. Stay focused on your business, and it follows that you will reap more marketing rewards in the process. Because if you're determined enough, chances are, you're well on your way to success.

Other tips to help you on your way include keeping a careful tab on the changing face of the business that you are functioning within. It is useless to try to sell your customers an outdated product. Keep your eyes and ears open to keep track of these developments, in order to stay at the top of your game.

It is also useful to find a role model among your rivals. If you stick to a marketing plan of your own, you are likely to miss out on important techniques that others might be employing. Find the most successful affiliate marketing businessman, and keep an eye on how their business functions, you might be able to pick up on important tips and tricks, that you wouldn't otherwise have known about.

Affiliate marketing, aside from allowing you the freedom and flexibility that no job at an office can provide, is also a rather profitable business option. If you can outdo the competition, you can easily make your way straight to the top of the corporate ladder, and success.

Read more tips on how to become a super affiliate and take charge of your status. Be the same old, same old marketer doing what you continue to do. Or go the extra miles and be a super star.

Learn more about affiliate marketing today by visiting: http://www.squidoo.com/niche-affiliate-marketing-plan and bookmarking the link, and sharing it with your friends!

Is Clickbank good for Affiliate Marketing

What exactly is a Clickbank income and is this a better choice when it comes to affiliate marketing. New affiliate marketers are faced with a difficult decision... which affiliate program are they going to stick with? With so many out there, making a final choice could be overwhelming. That's why many new affiliate marketers decide to go with one of the most popular networks in the Internet world; ClickBank. Yet, is it worthy of its hype, especially when there are other networks that are just as promising?

Well, first off, unlike many other affiliate networks, ClickBank has a nearly flawless reputation. Not only have they never missed a payment, but they also have a very good rating with the Better Business Bureau. On top of that, almost every successful Internet marketer has worked with them at some point in their career and earned a substantial Clickbank income.

In addition, this network specializes in an area of retail that never loses its appeal... information. Only instead of promoting books, affiliates are expected to promote e-books and other virtual products. As a result, the market always stays fresh. This is especially the case if people promote Clickbank products that people are always searching... like romance or how to make money.

This affiliate network is also one of the few affiliate networks where you can actually promote your own product without paying exorbitant fees. So, if you decide you're bored with promoting other people's products, you can request that your product be added and make a different type of Clickbank income. No additional accounts are needed since all that information is available within your main account.

However, despite all these advantages, it's important to consider ClickBank's disadvantages too. And while admittedly there aren't many, the network does have a relatively weak reporting system. Also, they provide no technical assistance for publishers, who are expected to create and maintain their own websites. Consequently, if you know nothing about website design you might be at a loss when trying to sell products through the ClickBank network.

On the upside, this network is very easy for affiliates. Simply use their Marketplace to find a product of interest. From there, select the link that says Create Hoplink. ClickBank will automatically generate your unique affiliate link for that program. And you can test the link by performing a dummy purchase. If your affiliate ID is at the bottom of the purchase page, then everything is working properly and you should be making a Clickbank income in no time.

Consider too that ClickBank does not place strict limitations on its affiliates. You can do whatever you want to promote your links, just as long as everything remains legal. This means you don't have to feel guilty about email promotion or incentive marketing... methods that are normally shunned by traditional affiliate networks.

In conclusion, my overall consensus is that ClickBank is an excellent network for beginning affiliates. The tracking mechanism might be a bit discouraging, but other than that the interface is highly effective and user-friendly. And, most importantly, when you do make a sale, ClickBank will promptly send you a check in the mail.

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Wendy_Rahilly

Twitter Literacy

from a post by Howard Rheingold

One of my students asked me online why I use Twitter. I replied off the top of my head.

Openness - anyone can join, and anyone can follow anyone else (unless they restrict access to friends who request access).

Immediacy it is a rolling present. You wont get the sense of Twitter if you just check in once a week. You need to hang out for minutes and hours, every day, to get in the groove.

Variety - political or technical argument, gossip, scientific info, news flashes, poetry, social arrangements, classrooms, repartee, scholarly references, bantering with friends. And I'm in control of deciding how much of each flavor I want in my flow. I don't have to listen to noise, but filtering it out requires attention. You are responsible for whoever else's babble you are going to direct into your awareness.

Reciprocity - people give and ask freely for information they need (this doesn't necessarily scale or last forever, but right now its possible to tune your list - and to contribute to it and to include a high degree of reciprocation; more on this in a moment).

A channel to multiple publics - I'm a communicator and have a following that I want to grow and feed. I can get the word out about a new book or vlog post in seconds - and each of the people who follow me might also feed my memes to their own networks. I used to just paint. Now I document my painting at each stage of the process, upload pix to flickr or flicks to blip.tv, then drop a tinyurl into Twitter. Who needs a gallery or a distributor? You don't have to be a professional writer to think about publics. Anyone who publishes a blog knows that they are not simply broadcasting to a passive audience all blog readers can comment, can link back, can criticize and analyze, and in many instances, can join the blogger in some form of collective action in the physical world.

Asymmetry - very interesting, because nobody sees the same sample of the Twitter population. Few people follow exactly the same people who follow them. There is no social obligation to follow people simply because they follow me. I tell them that I follow people who inform or amuse me, and I hope to do the same for people who follow me.

A way to meet new people - it happens every day. Connecting with people who share interests has been the most powerful social driver of the Internet since day one. I follow people I donĂ¢€™t know otherwise but who share enthusiasm for educational technology, DIY video, online activism. creativity, social media, journalism, Burning Man and public art, teaching and learning, compost, Catalunya, the public sphere, mass collaboration, Amsterdam - the list is as long as my list of interests. Developing the ability to know how much attention and trust to devote to someone met online is a vitally important corollary skill. Personal learning networks are not a numbers game. They are a quality game.

A window on what is happening in multiple worlds, some of which I am familiar with, and others that are new to me.

Community-forming - Twitter is not a community, but it's an ecology in which communities can emerge. That's where the banal chit-chat comes in: idle talk about news, weather, and sports is a kind of social glue that can adhere the networks of trust and norms of reciprocity from which community and social capital can grow.

A platform for mass collaboration: I forgive the cute name of Twestival because this online charity event has raised over a quarter of a million dollars via Twitter, funding 55 clean water projects for 17,000 people in Ethiopia, Uganda, and India. If I wanted to tweet a request, I could offer another dozen examples.

Searchability - the ability to follow searches for phrases like "swine flu" or "Howard Rheingold" in real time provides a kind of ambient information radar on topics that interest me. Twitter users developed the convention of adding a tag with a hash sign in front of it like #hashtag that enable them to label specific topics and events. When I recently participated in a live discussion onstage, we projected in real time the tweets that included a hashtag for the event, an act that blended the people in the audience together with the people on the panel in a much more interactive way than standard Q&A sessions at the end of the panel. After years as a public speaker and panelist, I found it fascinating and useful to have a window on what my previously silent audience was thinking while I was talking. You have to be sure enough about what you are saying onstage to keep from being distracted or thrown by the realtime feedback. Backchannel twitterers have been to virtually mob speakers they felt were wasting their attention.

I still hang out on Twitter (I am found there as @hrheingold), but it's clear that many of the people I talk to about it just don't get why anyone wastes their time doing anything with the name "tweeting."So I tell them that to me, successful use of Twitter comes down to tuning and feeding. And by successful, I mean that I gain value - useful information, answers to questions, new friends and colleagues - and that the people who follow me gain value in the form of entertainment, useful information, and some kind of ongoing relationship with me.

To oversimplify, I think successful use of Twitter means knowing how to tune the network of people you follow, and how to feed the network of people who follow you.

You have to tune who you follow. I mix friends who I know IRL ("in real life") and whose whereabouts and doings interest me, people who are knowledgeable about a field that interests me, people who regularly produce URLs that prove useful, extraordinary educators, the few who are wise or funny. When I became interested in video, Drupal, and educational uses of technology and student-centric teaching, I looked for people who know about those subjects, and followed them. I learned from master educators on Twitter that growing and tuning a "personal learning network" of authoritative sources and credible co-learners is one of the strategies for success in a world of digital networks.

When it comes to feeding my network, that comes down to putting out the right mixture of personal tweets (while I don't really talk about what I had for lunch, the cycles of my garden, the plums falling from my tree, my obsession with compost and shoepainting do feature in my tweetstream), informational tidbits (when I find really great URLs, that's when Twitter is truly a "microblog" for me to share my find), self promotion (when I post a new video to my vlog share the URL - but I do NOT automatically post everything I blog on smartmobs.com), socializing, and answering questions. It's particularly important to respond to people who follow me and who send @hrheingold messages to my attention. I can't always respond to every single one, but I try. I also try to be a little entertaining once in a while, when something amuses me and I think it might amuse others.

Everyone has a different mix of these elements, which is part of the charm of Twitter. My personal opinion is that I need to keep some personal element going, but not to overdo it. I am careful to not crank up the self-promotion too much. I don't ask questions often, but when I do, I always get a huge payoff. I needed an authoritative guide to Spanish-language online publications about social media for a course I was designing to be taught at the (online) Open University of Catalunya. I got five. In five minutes.

If it isn't fun, it won't be useful. If you don't put out, you don't get back. But you have to spend some time tuning and feeding if Twitter is going to be more than an idle amusement to you and your followers (and idle amusement is a perfectly legit use of the medium).


Why Twitter, as an Internet Tool - really Matters

A rave from TechCrunch

Simply put, we write about Twitter so often because right now, it matters. From news organizations to movie stars, from earthquakes to fires, from Facebook to Google — everyone seems to be talking about, to or with Twitter. In an era of mass communication, it is the latest medium. And it’s fundamentally changing the ways in which people interact with others using the web. What you may view as a stupidly simple service with no real point, I view as one of the few inspirational products in bleak times.

I would argue that Twitter works so well precisely because it’s so simple. It fools some people with its “What are you doing?” question that resides at the top of the page, but Twitter can pretty much be about whatever you want it to be about. That’s why it’s an absolutely brilliant platform for so many new startups to build on top of. And those startups are really the key. They’re what are keeping Twitter so hot right now. Every day, something new launches on top of Twitter; some get coverage, some don’t. Some are silly, some are smart, some might actually work. But overall, the level of activity around the platform is amazing.

And that activity, fuels growth and feeds the system full of its most important life-blood: Information. It’s this real-time information that is Twitter’s most valuable asset. And it’s information that Twitter will soon begin mining in more interesting ways with its search product — which should be useful to a lot of people. And it should lead to even more innovation and more startups.

Stop and think for a moment about any one startup that has had such an impact on other startups. There aren’t many, and there really hasn’t been one for a while. I suppose you could throw Facebook in there, and before that obviously Google. But really, there aren’t too many companies in general that are changing the ways others do things, the way Twitter is right now.

And that’s why I think it’s worth writing about so often. It’s not just about Twitter, the product, it’s also about Twitter, the idea. And Twitter, the catalyst of change. Twitter has shaken shit up in the industry. And it’s exciting as hell when a company does that, because the chaos bred out of that almost always leads to cool new things. And “cool new things” is what technology is and always has been about.

And if you’ve been paying attention, Twitter is hardly the only thing in technology to have gotten a lot of hype and draw complaints for getting too much coverage in the past few years. We saw it with Google, we saw it with Facebook, we saw it with the iPhone and then we saw it again with the App Store. What do all of these things share in common? They all shook shit up. They were all great products, all became very popular, and all caused industry shifts. Twitter is just the latest of these. But it won’t be the last.

When that something new comes along, we’ll be on it, covering it relentlessly too. Because these things matter, because we’re passionate about them and because the vast majority of readers do care.

from Techcrunch May 9th

Twitter - share thoughts, pics and now documents

Twitter is quickly turning into the media sharing platform of choice for many people, despite the fact that it,you know, doesn’t have any actual media sharing functionality. But a variety of services are popping up to fill the need, including countless Twitter-specific sites for sharing images, music, and video.

Today TwitDoc is launching what appears to be the first service for sharing documents over Twitter, bringing support for PDFs, Microsoft Office Documents, and a bunch of other file formats. The site has integrated with popular document sharing hub Scribd to make the process as painless as possible - it only takes around 20 seconds to send a document, and you don’t have to sign up to get started. To use the service, you enter your Twitter user name and password, choose the document or photo you’d like to send out, and add any text you’d like to include alongside the document’s link. Hit upload and you’re done.

It’s a handy tool, but I doubt it will reach the same level of popularity as TwitPic and its ilk - most people simply don’t have as many documents that they’d like to share with all of their Twitter followers. Still, it will definitely be helpful for sharing reports you find interesting, or scanned images that wouldn’t be readable if they were shrunk and compressed (which some image services do).