Thursday, June 28, 2007

Get your blog displayed in search results pages

Healia, where I'm interning for the summer, has just rolled out an interesting program called Healia Links. The idea's pretty simple: bloggers display the Healia search widget on their blogs, and in return, Healia displays a rotating link to participating blogs in its search results pages.

I'm not aware of any other search engine -- or any other site, for that matter -- doing something quite like this.

If you're a blogger or site owner, you should give it a shot. Note that in order for Healia to display a link to your blog, your content must meet the editorial guidelines. You don't need to be a healthcare blogger per se, but your blog can't have offensive content, ad link directories, defamatory language, etc. More information available in the terms of agreement, accessible through the program description page.

The search widget looks like this:

As an experiment, use the widget above to try a comparative search between Healia and Google on a junk-results prone search term, like, say, "diet pills."


Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Drumming again, a decade later

Over a decade ago, back in college, I drummed with a few bands. We played Nirvana and Pavement covers and it was lots of fun.

I didn't really do much drumming after that until just recently, after the end of this past school year. I've taken up drumming with a CCR cover band called Revival Revival. It's an absolute blast! We just had our first show,
at a house party, and we'll be doing more shows throughout the summer.

Drumming with a fun-focused cover band is markedly different from anything I was up to during my first year of grad school. It's a refreshing diversion, actually -- a nice way to take a vacation from school for the next few months.


Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Linkalicious: 6/26/07

Last summer I was consuming so much new information about internet trends that I often just compiled it all in link-filled blog posts. Happily, I've resumed my news-consuming ways, so I'm going to kick off linkalicious posts again for the summer. I wonder what I missed over the past nine months...


Tuesday, June 19, 2007

And my internship starts off with a bang

On my second morning with my internship at Healia, the press release came out: Healia has been acquired by the media and marketing firm Meredith.

Considering the fact that Meredith is 105 years old and Healia is younger by a century plus, it's an interesting convergence. (I'll refrain from MBA-speak.) The two companies are clearly very different, and yet the acquisition makes sense: each offers something that the other needs. A stalwart of the traditional media world, Meredith needs a way to keep its customer base from defecting to new online competitors. Healia offers an award-winning product, and needs a way to develop awareness in its target customers.

For my part, I'm already seeing why an internship is such a crucial part of the full-time MBA educational experience. Just two days in, and I've already learned a lot.

Moreover, being involved with a forward-looking search engine is, for me, very fun. Musing over the future of internet has been a pastime of mine for a while now, and now I get to keep geeking out on this subject - at work? Lucky me. :)


Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Pondering product placement

I was recently discussing Knocked Up with a friend. We both agreed that it paled in comparison with The 40 Year Old Virgin (a film that left me exhausted from two hours of continuous laughter). But what really bothered my friend about Knocked Up was all the product placement.

Product placement? I told him that I didn't recall any. He reminded me of the scene with Ravenswood wine, and about how the E! Network is featured prominently throughout. One blogger comments:

The overflow of product placement makes the head spin. Occasionally, the characters even turn their chests forward, the better for us to see the labels on their designer/thrift t-shirts.
None of this distracted me as I watched the film. So perhaps I have become completely inured to integrative advertising techniques (or my mind was mush a few days after finishing the academic quarter). Truth be told, if it's sufficiently subtle (which I'd argue is the case with Knocked Up), product placement doesn't really bother me. What do I mean by sufficiently subtle? Well, not this.

How about you? Think back to the films you've seen over the past few years. Has the product placement seemed excessive to you?

Is there too much product placement in current films?
Yes - much too much.
Well...there's a little too much.
It's ok as is. I wouldn't want to see any more, though.
Nah. There could be a bit more and it wouldn't bother me.
No!! Spanish TV doesn't even sound excessive to me. free polls


A futile quest for advice

Reviewing my site traffic log this morning, I noticed that someone in Alabama chanced across a tiny post I wrote that links to the "ulimate rejection letter." Their search string? Rejection letter wording. Mysteriously, my post appears in the first page of Google results.

I can only guess as to the drama underlying this anonymous Alabaman's search for advice on penning a rejection letter. It's a shame my post wasn't of more assistance.


Monday, June 11, 2007

World without oil

I've taken advantage of my recent wide-open schedule to catch up on my favorite podcasts, which was a frequent pastime of mine last summer. My curiosity was piqued by a recent Future Tense podcast that describes World Without Oil -- an alternate reality game (or ARG) in which participants collectively imagine how we'd all cope with a major spike in oil prices.

Participants describe how a significant oil shortage would prompt them to work closer to home, and how proximity would play an important role in relationships: you spend more time with friends in your immediate neighborhood.

It's true; that's what car-free living is like. I should know, as I haven't owned a car for a full decade. I've always worked at jobs that are easily accessible via walking or public transit. And I tend to spend most of my social time with friends who are within walking distance. Not owning a vehicle: the thought is anathema to so many Americans. But I can say from experience that it's really not that big of a deal, particularly in a city with a functional public transit system, like Seattle.


Saturday, June 09, 2007

June 9: A look back

It's always interesting to look back through the journals I faithfully kept as a kid (I stopped in my mid-20s) and see what I was up to on this day in previous years. Often on this day, I was either just settling into (or about to start) a new chapter in my life.

In 1985, I was getting ready to go pick berries for the summer, as many kids used to do in rural Washington and Oregon:

Today was the last day of school. I wonder who will be my teacher in 6th grade? I am going to pick strawberries at Curt Maberry's this year.
In 1992, I was getting ready to travel to Washington D.C. for the summer, where I worked as a software tester with my uncle.
I packed, bought a road atlas, and our family played Scrabble.
In 1998, I had just moved into a house with roommates in Seattle's Central District, and I was selling flowers and berries down at Pike Place Market:
I like selling raspberries alright -- nothing to wrap, like the tulips. But if I'm not able to get at least four days a week from this job, I'm looking for another. I came home tonight and relaxed and had corn-on-the-cob. Kari inspired me; she always eats this. And it's only 30 cents per cob at the closest Vietnamese market (just blocks away). Decorated my room tonight with some framed Chinese pictures.


Friday, June 08, 2007

Blogging lapses and shifts in digital identity

I've been done with the school year for a week now. My internship doesn't kick off until next Friday, so I've been luxuriating in what feels like a vast expanse of free time. Directed by my whims, I've been walking around my neighborhood, watching great films (I highly recommend The Lives of Others), and spending leisurely swaths of time in local coffeeshops. As for the Wall St Journal that appears in my building lobby every morning -- I'm actually reading it now, rather than just glancing at it.

I've also been spending plenty of time in bed. That's where I'm at right now!

With all this free time, why the almost-month-long lapse in this blog? I've been following blogs for six years now, and the blogging lapse is a common phenomenon. Bloggers go on hiatus for a spell, and then invariably return with an apologetic post: life's been busy.

But I don't think this is why blogging lapses occur. Trust me, one can always find time to blog. :) Rather, I think it's a matter of uncertainty about how to go about constructing one's digital identity. Blogging allows people to build an online representation -- a Googleable self that is traceable by anyone around the world, presumably for a very long time to come. It's a pretty exciting opportunity, particularly for narcissists such as myself.

I've stepped back from blogging recently simply because I've been processing the changes I've gone through over the past year. As this round of processing comes to a close (I feel this happening soon), my blogging will kick off again. It's like an internal tectonic shift is going on. In a good way. Ok, perhaps not the best metaphor.

Along these lines of thought, check out this interesting article. It explores the question: what motivates Second Life users to select avatars that bear no resemblance to their real-life selves? Perhaps a better question is: when you have no limits on how you can appear in a virtual world, why pick an avatar that exactly resembles yourself (which is basically what I did in SL)?

As a recent WSJ article describes (subscription required, but you can see the video here), this really may be a generational issue. Today's teenagers and early-twentysomethings are much more comfortable with their digital selves than us older folks. We oldsters cautiously try and put our best face forward, whereas the younguns accept the very public nature of the internet and just express themselves.

An overgeneralization, to be sure, but it's clear that things are changing.