// Internet Duct Tape

Be My Friend (on social network sites)

Unless you’ve had your head in the sand (or *gasp* you aren’t obsessed with Internet culture), then you’ve noticed that we’re seeing more and more web service startups over the past few years. Last year I flamed the Bubble 2.0 soundly in “Web Too.Many.” Earlier this year I tried to get an idea of what websites people actually use by starting the What’s Your Web 2.0? meme.I think I’m past breaking when it comes to my attention span and the number of services that I use. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t some I heartily recommend. If you use some of these services as well, then please go ahead and “friend” me. And yes, there is a Facebook account in the list.


Software Hosting


  • Twitter – sharing, republishing
  • Tumblr – aggregating my online presence
  • Jaiku – sharing, republishing


These are sites that I used to use often, but I’ve given up on:

  • MyBlogLog – too much spam
  • Flickr – it’s easier to share photos with friends on Facebook
  • RottenTomatoes – it’s easier to share movie reviews with friends on Facebook
  • Technorati – never indexes me properly
  • Blogcritics – got some books, but they aren’t a very good source of traffic
  • LinkedIn – until the next time I’m looking for work
  • … more than I can possibly remember.

What got me thinking about this is trying out Pownce for the first time and seeing how horrible it is at re-discovering my friends.

I just sent out some invites to Kevin Rose’s Pownce to my FeedBurner subscribers. (Thanks for hooking me up, Adam)

Pownce First Impression

I’ve seen other complaints that the biggest problem of Pownce is “what do I do with it?” It’s probably the most powerful web-based instant messaging client out there.

I was very surprised that they Pownce doesn’t have an “import contacts from address book” feature. That is rapidly becoming the only way to easily import the list of your friends from one web app to another. I was trying out Blue Swarm the other day and they are using a very slick widget from Plaxo that does easy address book imports. All web startups should use this, since email address contacts are the only universal data format for identifying your friends on the web.

This is a perfect example of why the Facebook application experience is so powerful… signing up and maintaining a user account is the major barrier that prevents most web startups from gaining a massive user base. “Social” web sites have an even bigger barrier in that you have to move or re-find your network. Facebook apps allow for any application to have the same user account and social network.

Obviously I think it would be pretty awesome if that Plaxo contact importer also supported Facebook as well as Gmail, Hotmail, Outlook, and Yahoo.

What Others Have to Say

Scoble: “I see many of the same people in my friends list on Twitter, Jaiku, Facebook, and now Pownce. Pownce is growing faster than the other ones right now, though. 728 people have already added me on Pownce. I can’t take many more social networks.

Memoirs of a Bystander: “My question is this: Is there any value actually garnered from adding an obscenely large amount of random people as your friend on various social sites? Honestly, if a social networking site it meant to enhance you life through discovery of new interests, music, recommendations, etc…, is that easily done by wading through thousands of people?”

Mashable: “And it is this: on Pownce, you can send a message, or a file, or a song, or an event, to one person; or three of your friends; or only your family; or everyone.”

SocialHam: “Now more than ever Email seems to becoming a dead medium so can micro blogging sites fill in the gaps?”

JetPacked: “Can’t decide between pownce and twitter? This should help. Here’s how to post your pownces to twitter.”

Daily Grumble: “Social networking is a very difficult area for a new service to break into. How on earth are you going to persuade users of other, more established social networks to come to your service?”

Greg Verdino: “Are social media mavens living inside a bubble of our own making, artificially inflating the impact that most of these nascent technologies are having on the population in general, and ultimately getting our companies and our clients riled up over something that will, over time, turn out to be, well um, nothing?”

Electronic Civil Disobedience

Posted in Digg, Digital Culture, Technology by engtech on May 02, 2007

People are calling the Digg user revolt the “Internet story of the year.” The Digg community fixated on the 32-bit encryption key for HD-DVDs protests against the site owners giving in to potential censorship requests by HD-DVD producers (who are also advertisers on the site) and censoring stories that published the key. You can read more coverage (and screenshots) at Mathew Ingram, Deep Jive Interests or TechCrunch. I first heard the story break at Paris Lemon. WinExtra might have the best post about this.


Get RSS Updates when your Site is Submitted to Digg or Reddit (Yahoo Pipes)

Posted in Digg, IDT Labs Software Development, Reddit, Technology, Yahoo Pipes by engtech on March 28, 2007

I’ve put together an RSS widget that I like to call Social Site Submission Watchdog. It creates an RSS feed for when people submit your site to digg.com or reddit.com. The reddit results are tweaked so that they link to the voting page on reddit instead of the page on your site. The link title indicates which site the source is coming from. I’ve also created a Reddit-only version of the Pipe.

This is an essential tool for building a dashboard for your blog.

This is an essential way to keep track of your site so that you can prep a post for the potential wave of traffic heading towards it by doing things like adding a Digg This widget. It’s also a good way for a reader to keep track of specific sites they want to support.

digg reddit rss mashup yahoo pipes

Any feature requests? Leave a comment.

Digg Pipes

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See the full list of free software I have created.

You can get frequent updates about all of my new software, tools or blog themes by subscribing to IDT Labs by RSS or by email. Or you could just subscribe to my main blog, Internet Duct Tape.

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Five Ways to Fix Digg’s Comment System

Posted in Digg, Digital Culture, Technology by engtech on March 27, 2007

The Kathy Sierra story made Digg. Of course, the comments were to be expected. Robert Scoble is outraged by the comments (truly, there were some horrible ones there). MG@ParisLemon asks the question:

What role, if any, should Digg play in this? The comments could be a place for great discussions on the story, but usually they degrade into the musings of lunatics. When do comments stop being free speech and start being serious threats? These are the questions.


spikethevote.com (the anti-digg) goes for sale on ebay

Posted in Digg, Links, Technology by engtech on November 19, 2006

Social bookmarking sites can generate a lot of traffic for websites. Several services have been created for cheating the system, one of which is spikethevote.com (intended for cheating digg, del.icio.us and netscape). It never seemed to have gotten off the ground though. One week after it was supposed to start it’s “missions” the owner has put it up for sale on Ebay with a starting price of $1000.

Is that too much? I think so. The site has never really been proven and it only has 470 backlinks on Google, page rank of 0, and 60 links from blogs.

But the if you could successful cheat social networking sites regularly, you could easily make that money back and more.

UPDATE: Sold to Jim Messenger for $1,275.

Read more for screenshots of the Ebay sale.


Seo Blackhat on how to get Dugg, and a new web service for gaming Digg

Posted in Digg, Technology by engtech on October 02, 2006

For those of you who have never tried it out, SEO Blackhat is my favorite site for learning how to drive Internet traffic. This time he talks about how to get to the front page of Digg. And he proves his mettle by getting around 3000 diggs within the first day of the post. Looks like he’s done a new site design as well. This ties in nicely with my recent series about the Digg effect on my own blog.

I wish the blog comment spammers would read SEO Blackhat so they could learn how to drive traffic to their site effectively.

>> 10 Steps to Guarantee You Make the Digg Front Page


There’s also a breaking story about a new website called User/Submitter that seeks to match Digg users willing to pay $0.50 a click with content generators who are willing to pay $20 a submission + $1 a click. I think it’s well priced in the sense that most people wouldn’t be willing to spend that much on Digg submissions, which keeps the number of transactions down, which will keep this under the radar.

This service could be attractive to company that’s spent a good amount of cash on a viral marketing campaign (like shaveeverywhere) that hasn’t gone viral yet. How much are car companies spending on stupid campaigns like johnny.ca? Spending $1000-1500 on a web service like this is a much easier way to break the initial barrier when you’re waiting for your idea virus to find it’s audience.

(Obviously I’m not above the idea of companies spending money or giving swag to receive press on the Internet)

Will the service be easy to track? Only if people are Digging crap, and a lot of it. If they’re smart the User/Submitter[1] service will filter users so that the same people aren’t always digging the same stories — make the traffic look as natural as possible. If the user base is big enough and the pay submission sites aren’t complete crap then tracking down the pattern using algorithms should be very difficult.

However, what I think will really happen is that there’ll be enough people creating various bot accounts on User/Submitter[2] who will get caught, that will in turn create a ripple effect that can be followed.
I think the social engineering approach works a lot better for most people who want to get to the front of Digg. Know your audience, find the social site that targets that audience, and then build your link bait. Interesting that both of these stories are breaking on the same day. Probably unrelated, but I wouldn’t put it past Quadzilla…

>> Digg Blackmarket

>> Spam Digg for only $20 (inaccurate headline)

[1] And if they aren’t smart, then at least they can sell the domain name to an S&M service for tech professionals.

[2] Although the required Pay Pal account will knock out 90% of the idiots who will try to spam User/Submitter.

I Digg It – Week 2 (With more Trunk Monkey)

Posted in Digg, Statistics and Navel Gazing, Technology by engtech on September 30, 2006

Two weeks ago one of my posts made it to the front page of Digg, and it gave me a massive boost in traffic. Being a geek what I found more interesting than the tiny elation of “they like me, they really really like me!” was the bigger picture:

  • How did I get to the front page of Digg?
    • It was a howto on a subject a lot of people find interesting — synchronizing calendar/contact information.
    • It was already the #1 traffic generating post on my blog.
    • Started with lifehack.org, then lifehacker.com, then the front page of del.icio.us, then got picked up by one of the top posters on digg.
  • What is the significance in terms of back-links, increasing Google ranking, and increased page views over time?
    • Social networking sites can bring a massive amount of traffic in a short period of time, but what do they do to your long term traffic?


Startup Lessons – Viral and Scaling

Posted in Digg, Startups and Business, Technology, Web 2.0 and Social Media by engtech on September 22, 2006

In the Art of Distribution, Guy Kawasaki also covers distribution vs viral (you want both) and scaling which is a *huge* issue for start-ups.

A small case study on viral. I write an article about a web service called ScheduleWorld because it can do something I want to do: synchronize all my apps with Google Calendar. The owner and I were no way involved before I wrote about it. I wanted to do something, found his site by search, found it could do what I wanted, and wrote a guide about it as link bait for my blog.


I Digg It – Getting 35,000+ page views in a week

Posted in Digg, Statistics and Navel Gazing, Technology by engtech on September 22, 2006

(Pssst, there’s a part 2 to this article)

There’s some unwritten law of the Internet that after getting to the front page of Digg, you have to post the traffic stats or a band of unruly trunk monkeys will beat you down and make bongos out of your asscheeks.

Contrary to popular belief, I do not want that to happen. Here is my lame-ass traffic analysis based on the referrer logs that wordpress.com provides. I’ll post the original logs and the perl script at a later date.

Before this huge spike in traffic I was averaging around 1100-1200 views a day. The highest day of the spike was around 17,000 views. I’m sitting at around 3,000 views a day but I expect that to drop and average out at 1400-1500 a day.