I need your suggestions

I’ve just signed up for Seattle BarCamp, and am playing around with ideas for a session.

Guy Kawasaki always impresses me with the way he asks friends and readers for suggestions in situations like this. So I’m turning to you — my readers, browsers, lurkers and casual visitors. What should I unleash on my fellow campers? A few thoughts:

• Smart about tech, stupid about money
• Does your brain need your body?
• Post-SEO: Your site visitors are here — now what you do with them?
• Permission-based email marketing: One-night stand, or longterm relationship?
• (Your flash of brilliance here)

Email your vote or suggestions to karenwrites (at) gmail.com

Best in-town suggestion gets lunch, best out-of-town suggestion gets cookies, and if you’re going to BarCamp and would like to co-offer a session with me, you’re really in for a treat!

Digital détente

My 20-something friend (let’s call her Jayne) has quite a temper. The term “feisty” comes to mind. She’s articulate, she’s gutsy, and she rarely bites her tongue.

So, yes, she’s a born blogger.
For the past week or so I’ve been following her blog posts about the new upstairs neighbor in her apartment building. The woman’s noisy, and has two very noisy accoutrements: an African djembe drum and new and enthusiastic boyfriend — both of which she likes playing with late at night and early in the morning.
The racket is driving Jayne nuts. And Jayne is a girl who values her beauty sleep.
The apartment building in question is just a few blocks from my office, and I actually started listening for sirens after Jayne’s post in which she informed us she was going upstairs to confront the Loud Lady. (She’d already left a scathing, but apparently ineffective, note earlier in the week.)
What does this juicy story have to do with online social networking? Bear with me.
It turns out that Jayne never went upstairs, but the noise has mysteriously stopped. Jayne now suspects that the Loud Lady came across Jayne’s blog (which isn’t hard to find if you know her name). And, it gets better. Jayne Googled the Loud Lady and  found a MySpace page. It revealed so many details of the Loud Lady’s personal life that resonate with Jayne (I suspect a recently breakup of a long-term relationship is one of the shared elements) that Jayne’s now willing to cut the Loud Lady quite a bit of slack.
So, without exchanging a word, these two have apparently reached digital détente. Surely somebody out there is writing a sitcom and can use this script? Contact me if  you want me to send you along to Jayne. She never disappoints.

What’s next for blogging?

I overcame my aversion to vlogging and watched Darren Rowse’s post “5 Emerging Trends in Blogging.” It’s pure talking head interspersed with screenshots, but it’s packed with good observations and nicely organized.

As a long-time personal blogger, I’m discouraged by the increasing technological requirements of blogging (widgets, feeds, and elements that cut into the spontaneity of blogging, such as high quality video and audio) because many of my favorite blogs are strong personal voices with simple photo illustrations. But as a professional blogger, I’m fascinated by the developments Rowse notes in multi-person blogs and blogs integrated into other types of sites.

Giving out professional advice

When people come up to me at parties and say “I want to you look at my website and tell me what you think,” I view it as an opportunity to educate them about the costs/benefits of fussing with websites. Bottom line: As long as your site isn’t fluorescent pink type on a bright green background (a la MySpace) and doesn’t greet unwary visitors with loud music or disconcerting pictures of your recent medical procedure, you’re likely on the right track. If you’d like to make improvements, your best bet is to find a website of the same genre (blog, small business, family site, etc.) that you like, and then move your design in that direction.

You’d be surprised how much business I get from people who hear me handling these inquiries at social events.

My friend the Samurai Radiologist gets requests for professional advice all the time, of course, most of them from people with far more urgent concerns than the appearance of their websites. He’s devised some cutting-edge on-the-spot treatments using his handy iPhone.

Blogging for profit and visibility

Bloggers run the gamut—from writers who just love a personalized platform from which to hold forth to entrepreneurs who use blogging as a key promotional strategy for their businesses and causes.

The Seattle Weblogger Meetup attracts both types, and plenty of bloggers in between.

The first half hour of the monthly meetup (at Ralph’s Grocery and Deli in Belltown) focuses on a topic (this month it’s “Blogging for Profit and Visibility”) and the rest of evening is chat about everything from the state of local news reporting to online identity to the fine points of HTML coding. Ralph’s has wifi, so people bring along laptops and call up web pages to illustrate the discussions. You’re also likely to get a peek at some cutting edge tech gadgets.

Interested? The next meeting is May 21. Find out more.

We miss Molly

The tech mavens over at Backup Brain join the chorus asking Salon.com to drop tiresome shock jockess Camille Paglia, and refer to the late Molly Ivins’ 1991 Mother Jones article about Paglia.

I could care less whether (or where) Paglia goes, but was delighted to read the Ivins piece, which I’d missed on the first go-round. What magnificent writing! An inspiration to start off the week.

Election 2008 will be a landmark referendum

To my mind, the upcoming presidential election is less about the candidates than it is about the American voting (and non-voting) public.

I know that many people vehemently disagree with me when I say that all three of the presidential candidates would make quite decent chief executives. I can get a bit of traction for my stand when I point out that none of the three candidates is closely affiliated with a hidebound party structure. The good-old-boy Republications are putting on a stiff upper lip about McCain, while the career Democrats are maintaining fixed social smiles as they back either Obama or Clinton.

Oh, I like the discomfort of the party hacks.

To my view, all three of the candidates are decent people and seasoned public servants, perfectly willing and capable when it comes to doing the hard work required take the high road to the White House over the next six months.

The question is: Do the voters (and our neighbors the non-voters) want them to?

Or would the American public rather be entertained by six months of mud-slinging, mud-wrestling, and racist, sexist, and ageist trash talk? Be assured that the U.S. infotainment industry is just dying to do its worst if anyone shows the slightest interest. And the candidates will be sorely tempted to take the bait if that’s the only way to win the election.

The rest of the world is watching—not just to see if we can do better than Bush, but to see if we deserve better.