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Tim Ferris, Kevin Kelly and the DAO

I listented to a great interview this morning on the Tim Ferriss podcast with Kevin Kelly – a diverse and prolific thinker and doer – a west coast hippie who founded Wired Magazine, recently published a book on technological changes coming in the next 30 years, and in his spare time works on databasing the genome of every known species and documenting every language, dialect, and cultural tradition … amongst other things.
Kevin Kelly
Kevin Kelly

What is of particular interest – not from the interview, but from Kevin’s Google+ page – I saw a link to an organization called Dao. It’s fascinating to me for many reasons, not least of which is that despite their unique decentralized structure, and largely anonymous participants, they have recently raised $168 million in crowd-sourced funding.

Despite the DAO Organization’s apparent rough start, I believe this is a highly significant step in the evolution of startup business models. I don’t know exactly how or when to spend time working it in to a business model, but I believe that in one form or another what DAO is attempting to do represents a sleeping giant – a huge opportunity – the next big disruptive thing.

Consider the combination of:
These innovations were not available a decade ago, and over the coming decade will offer huge leverage for a small funded group with good ideas …
So this morning I went as far as renewing my PGP keys, installed a Key Manager, signed up for an account on Kraken, and moving through the process of getting my identity validated.
No doubt there will be more to come on this topic…

Reference Links:


Here’s my public key in case you have something super secret to send me ..
-----BEGIN PGP PUBLIC KEY BLOCK-----
Version: Keybase OpenPGP v1.0.0
Comment: https://keybase.io/crypto

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Adobe Illustrator Template for LinkedIn Company Page Images

Here’s an Illustrator CS template I made for LinkedIn company page images:
The three artboard dimensions comply with LinkedIn size requirements:

  • 646px x 220px banner
  • 100px x 60px company label
  • 50px x 50px logo

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Hope you enjoy this little time saver. Please provide comments below with any suggestions for improvement.

 

 

 

 

 

NameBench: Ten Minutes to a 30% Boost in Network Speed

OK, so this question is just a little bit geeky for a cocktail party, but I’ll ask anyway: are you sure that you are using the right DNS servers?

For a couple of years I thought I was in the know by specifying Google’s public DNS servers, 8.8.8.8 and 8.8.4.4. They are fast and very reliable, but after a little research I found a pair of local (NYC) DNS servers hosted by my Time Warner, my ISP. They offered a noticeable improvement, but I kept the Google servers in spots three and four.

And then today I came across NameBench, Google’s open source DNS benchmark utility. It took about 2 minutes to download, and five minutes to run, and three minutes to update my DNS settings. (That comes to ten minutes right.)

Did I mention it’s FREEEE?

From the site:

Are you a power-user with 5 minutes to spare? Do you want a faster internet experience?

Try out namebench. It hunts down the fastest DNS servers available for your computer to use. namebench runs a fair and thorough benchmark using your web browser history, tcpdump output, or standardized datasets in order to provide an individualized recommendation. namebench is completely free and does not modify your system in any way. This project began as a 20% project at Google.

namebench runs on Mac OS X, Windows, and UNIX, and is available with a graphical user interface as well as a command-line interface.

So take ten minutes to give it a try, and post your results below. Good luck.

NameBench

 

And the output of the test included this summary and the following performance graphs:

 

NameBench-output

NameBench-output2

Establishing Website Credibility

It is easy to take for granted how we subconsciously assess people for credibility every day. Think of your inner monologue when your phone rings and your caller ID identifies an unknown caller. You’re already on the defensive, and you hear something like this:

red-flag-50x50“Good morning Sir, this is Troy from American Financial Partners in Boca Raton…”

You’re probably not likely to listen to the next sentence. However, something like this next approach might trigger a completely different response.

green-flag-50x50“Good morning Mr Baier, this is Troy Stewart. Your accountant, Mel Weinberg, suggested I give you a call. I’m with American Financial Partners; we are a 90 year old wealth management firm owned by Warren Buffett…”

You’re probably going to give this person the benefit of the doubt, or at least continue to listen to what he has to say.

website credibility

What’s the difference? Credibility. The first caller sounds deceptive by omitting his last name. The name of the company – American Financial Partners – sounds conspicuously (maybe deceptively) generic. And Boca, for all its manicured beauty, is not famous for its business integrity.

But who is Simon Baier to speak authoritatively on the subject of credibility? Well, if you don’t believe me, I have some sources for third-party credibility of my own …The second call adds a few all-important credibility factors. Troy uses his last name, which, is not in itself a credibility indicator, but it keeps the listener listening. He immediately brings up a familiar name. Third-party endorsements are a powerful tool in establishing credibility. In essences he’s coat-tailing on the credibility of a trusted advisor, and implicitly saying “Mel trusts me to give me your number, so you should trust me” But Troy doesn’t end there; he also adds age credibility (We’re not a fly-by-night. We’ve withstood the test of time.) and for good measure, some additional credibility with the name of a known and respected personality who has attached their name to his company.

The Real Credibility Guru: BJ Fogg

The real expert on the subject of web credibility, B.J. Fogg (@bjfogg), Director of the Persuasive Technology Lab at Stanford University, and self described as “a psychologist who investigates how technology persuades people”. Fortune magazine profiled B.J. fog as one of the 10 New Gurus You Should Know, and “one of the most sought after thinkers in Silicon Valley”.

The Lab’s Web Credibility Project provides the following ten guidelines for establishing credibility on a web site.

Web Site Credibility Guidelines

1. Make it easy to verify the accuracy of the information on your site.

You can build web site credibility by providing third-party support (citations, references, source material) for information you present, especially if you link to this evidence. Even if people don’t follow these links, you’ve shown confidence in your material.

2. Show that there’s a real organization behind your site.

Showing that your web site is for a legitimate organization will boost the site’s credibility. The easiest way to do this is by listing a physical address. Other features can also help, such as posting a photo of your offices or listing a membership with the chamber of commerce.

3. Highlight the expertise in your organization and in the content and services you provide.

Do you have experts on your team? Are your contributors or service providers authorities? Be sure to give their credentials. Are you affiliated with a respected organization? Make that clear. Conversely, don’t link to outside sites that are not credible. Your site becomes less credible by association.

4. Show that honest and trustworthy people stand behind your site.

The first part of this guideline is to show there are real people behind the site and in the organization. Next, find a way to convey their trustworthiness through images or text. For example, some sites post employee bios that tell about family or hobbies.

5. Make it easy to contact you.

A simple way to boost your site’s credibility is by making your contact information clear: phone number, physical address, and email address.

6. Design your site so it looks professional (or is appropriate for your purpose).

We find that people quickly evaluate a site by visual design alone. When designing your site, pay attention to layout, typography, images, consistency issues, and more. Of course, not all sites gain credibility by looking like IBM.com. The visual design should match the site’s purpose.

7. Make your site easy to use — and useful.

We’re squeezing two guidelines into one here. Our research shows that sites win credibility points by being both easy to use and useful. Some site operators forget about users when they cater to their own company’s ego or try to show the dazzling things they can do with web technology.

8. Update your site’s content often (at least show it’s been reviewed recently).

People assign more credibility to sites that show they have been recently updated or reviewed.

9. Use restraint with any promotional content (e.g., ads, offers).

If possible, avoid having ads on your site. If you must have ads, clearly distinguish the sponsored content from your own. Avoid pop-up ads, unless you don’t mind annoying users and losing credibility. As for writing style, try to be clear, direct, and sincere.

10. Avoid errors of all types, no matter how small they seem.

Typographical errors and broken links hurt a site’s credibility more than most people imagine. It’s also important to keep your site up and running.

Crazy Sexy Wellness

During  2008 and 2009 I worked with author and film maker Kris Carr and her crew to help expand her personal and professional brand to the web, and to support her off-line publicity campaigns.  I was initially contracted to help grow the business and worked with client to formulate a workable business model, and write a business plan. Later I helped monetize their high-traffic sites and forum.

  • Strategy/ Business Modeling
  • Financial Modeling
  • Competitive Analysis
  • Feasibility analysis
  • Ecommerce expansion
  • On-site advertising / Ad server implementation
  • Inbound traffic enhancement
  • Email marketing
  • Affiliate marketing
  • Social Media Marketing
  • WordPress plugin development
  • MailChimp API level customization

Google’s Brilliant Pricing Scheme

Have you ever wondered how Google determines pricing for Adwords advertisers?

They use a very clever pricing scheme that rewards advertisers financially for providing highly relevant ads for search users. The more relevant the ad (as measured by click-through rate) and the more relevant the landing page (I assume measured by time on site, or bounce rate) the lower the cost to the advertiser. It is an elegant mechanism to lookout for the interests of three different stakeholders simultaneously – Google users, Google advertisers, and … Google. All business should seek such harmony.

This video, hosted by Hal Varian, Google’s chief economist, provides an excellent explanation of pricing mechanism and the concepts of quality score, and ad rank.

Originally published June 2011

Personality Profiles

As much as we may dislike being categorized, personality type indicators such as Myers-Briggs can be good indicators of how an individual will best fit into a team. The theory goes that every individual’s personality can be measured on four different scales:

  1. Extroverted vs. Introverted : (E … I)
  2. Sensing vs. Intuition : (S … N)
  3. Thinking vs. Feeling : (T … F)
  4. Judging vs. Perceiving : (J … P)

An individual’s score falls at a point on a continuum between the two extremes of each measure, and a four letter type designation is assigned based on which side of the scale you fall.

The test is not used to determine right or wrong, but rather to gain insight as to fit with job or company cultural. Knowing the personality type for fellow team members makes it easier to interact effectively.

Although I’d love to be more decisive and extroverted, I’m happy to be in the company of fellow INTPs Lincoln, Einstein, Pascal, Descartes, Jung, Darwin, and Socrates. (… yes, and the Olsen Twins)

INTPs are logical, individualistic, reserved, and very curious individuals. They focus on ideas, theories and the explanation of how things work. They are especially adept at discussions and debate. They have the ability to focus intently on a subject, and they appreciate and respect intelligence in others.

I recently found an interesting site at http://www.mypersonality.info that offers the test for free, and even creates a personal page and badge. Here’s mine:

Click to view my Personality Profile page