Tools I Use - Zemanta

Image representing Zemanta as depicted in Crun...

Image by Zemanta via CrunchBase

It’s been a while since I wrote about the latest Web 2.0 or blogging tools that I use, and there are a bunch of new ones.  The latest and greatest Blog tool I’ve been using is Zemanta.

If you’ve been a regular follower of my blog you’ll have noticed the links in the bottom of my posts and a *Reblog* button.

I don’t remember who’s blog I first saw Zemanta on but I started using it a while ago and have really enjoyed the extra layer of information and ease it adds to my blogging.

I use Zemanta on all of my blogs, even the ones at HP, where I just coordinate the actual blog posting for some of our VP’s

The Zemanta Plugins

WLW Zemanta

I use a blog editor almost every time I write a blog post.  My editor of choice was originally Windows Live Writer but after a while I started using ScribeFire, especially for shorter posts.  When Zemanta first came out as a FireFox plugin, I would write my post in ScribeFire, save it as a draft in WordPress and then open WordPress and make a few final tweaks using Zemanta.  It was an extra step but I found it worth it.

But when Zemanta came out with a Windows Live Writer plugin this sealed the deal and brought me back to my once beloved Windows only blog editor (seriously it’s one of the main reasons I don’t completely switch to Linux for personal use).

Zemanta shows up in a right hand panel in WLW (see screen grab to the right). It offers links to Wikipedia, home pages and maps. It also makes it easy to add links to other related blog articles from around their network as well as Creative Commons images.  All of these are simple to use, just click on any object and Zemanta automatically embeds the object in your post. Very slick.

If you don’t use Windows Live Writer, besides the FireFox plugin they also have an Internet Explorer plugin.

I Love Links

Way back in the early dawn of blogging having a lot of links in your post (ones that didn’t just link to your own posts that is) was a good thing. It’s a rare post of mine that doesn’t have at least 5 links in it.  Oh sure your SEO’s out there will tell you that your giving up valuable Google juice, but who cares.

Zemanta makes it easy to add links to Wikipedia, as well as Amazon. If you have an affiliate account with Amazon it will even add the code needed into the link.  I especially love the related articles by Zemanta. I don’t know why but I really enjoy offering additional resources not related to my blog.

I Love Pictures

Over the last 6 months I have really tried to make more liberal use of photos. It just makes blogs more fun to read.  Zemanta makes this easy as well. Zemanta pulls in tons of images from Flickr and Wikipedia. If you have your own Flickr account it will even pull your photos into its suggestions.

Just Plain Cool

I had a chance to meet some of the Zemanta guys at BlogWorld, and then again at Defrag.

I found out that Zemanta originally started off as a service for matching related articles inside a large media company in Eastern Europe. They have recently received VC funding from Fred Wilson’s firm and continue to announce cool new partnerships with other cool Web 2.0 companies.

After talking with the guys it became obvious to me that besides just blogging there are a lot of applications inside the Enterprise, but I’m sure that’ll come later.

Zemanta is totally free. I’m not sure what their revenue model will be. It seems like some sort of freemium model will make the most sense or maybe they’ll enter the Enterprise sooner than later. Either way, I’m a big fan and I wish them the best of luck.

If you want to try Zemanta without having to download or install anything just hit the reblog button on the bottom of this post, go ahead you know you want to.

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I’m No Political Pundit but I Know the Power of the Web.

Nast cartoon

Image via Wikipedia

On two occasions here, on this blog, I’ve stepped way out of my comfort zone and made political predictions. They were both made on the same theory though. I’m a pretty good judge of people and their capabilities and I know how powerful the Web is.

Back in April of 2007 I made the claim that Idaho Republicans would lose a record number of elections in 2008. That prediction was made because of John Foster leaving his position at the Idaho Business Review where he revolutionized the paper’s Web presence and taking up the role as Executive Director for the Idaho Democratic Party.

Later in July of this year I had to *adjust* my prediction because John left his position at the Democratic party to head communications for Walt Minnick’s Congressional campaign. Walt was challenging Republican incumbent Bill Sali in one of the strongest Republican districts in one of the strongest Republican states.

I still held to my belief that with John’s capable hand guiding his communication and Web activities that Walt would win.  Minnick won by a few thousand votes. So I asked John: Just how right was I? - I like to hear other people tell me I’m right :)

Q - So how big of an impact do you realistically think the Web played in Walt Minnick’s win?

I think the web had a very big impact in Walt’s win. First, we used it extremely effectively for internal stuff - data, communications, organizing volunteers. And second, we used it effectively for making sure our message got out. The web allows you to do so much more than just ship out a press release. Any political operative who does not utilize all the tools at his/her disposal for creating the right kind of buzz (short or long-term) is committing political malpractice.

Q - Do you know how the Democrats across the state did?

As far as your prediction: We actually lost one seat in the legislature, which is quite good. Democrats usually lose five to 10 seats in presidential election years. So it wasn’t great or even good, but it wasn’t bad. But you throw Walt’s win into the mix and that trumps everything. I cannot begin to describe how big the win is. Historic.

So I’m not quite batting a thousand but not too bad for my first political predictions. Maybe I should quit while I’m ahead.

I would like to congratulate John on a well run campaign and thank him for taking the time to answer my questions.

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What if you don’t live in Silicon Valley?

Boise Downtown

Image via Wikipedia

Building Social Media Communities in the Real World.

Some of my astute readers (if I have any left) may have noticed that I haven’t posted here in almost a month. Don’t think that this means I haven’t been blogging.

OK and no I haven’t been blogging on my HP blog, Marketing Impressions. And no, I haven’t been contributing to the Conversations Matter blog (sorry Michael Brito).

But I still hold out that I’m not a slacker. I have been building a tech/social media community… in Boise, Idaho.

Many of you know that I am an Entrepreneur in Residence at Highway 12 Ventures. I of course still have my day job at HP. But you may not know (although you probably do) that I also run the TechBoise blog, hold monthly events as well as regular Boise area Tweetups.

Those of you who don’t live in a major tech sector no what I’m talking about when I say that Silicon Valley isn’t the *real world* (heck many of you who do live in SV know what I’m talking about).

When I started preaching Blogs and New Media Marketing in Boise, 4 long years ago, I was ahead of the market in California, and if you’re ahead of the market in California, you’re waaaay ahead of the market in Boise, Idaho.

When I first Joined Twitter, 2 years ago the only other person from Boise on Twitter that I knew of was Sarah Lewis. Today I follow hundreds of people from Boise and the surrounding area and in fact they are some of the most active Twitter users I know.

Smaller markets have a distinct advantage as well as a distinct disadvantage when it comes to building social media communities.

Smaller markets are easier to navigate

Smaller markets are more accessible. Want to talk to our mayor, local investors or local CEO’s? No problem. 99% of the time you can get a meeting with them with one simple introduction.

There are usually only two degrees of separation between anyone who’s anyone in second tier markets. Boise’s just not that big and people are more easy going.

Smaller markets have less critical mass

One of the problems smaller markets have is we just don’t have the sheer volume of tech savvy people that Silicon Valley, Seattle, Austin or Boston have.

We don’t have a Google or Microsoft in our areas. We don’t have hundreds of VC’s clamoring around us. We don’t have A-listers, or even B-listers.

But that’s ok with us, because we don’t have 2 hour long commutes. We’re friends (real life friends) with the other tech people in our community. And our one VC firm will meet with anyone who emails them.

My Advice for 2nd Tier Markets

So what do you do if you want to grow your tech/social media savvy community and you’re not in Silicon Valley?

What about those of you from other second tier markets? What do you do?

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