social software

Affiliate marketing gone wild

The War To Sell You A Mattress Is An Internet Nightmare

This is an incredible piece by David Zax on affiliate marketing in the online mattress sales world.

For me, the bottom line is, any site that makes money from affiliate links loses objective credibility in reviewing the products its making money linking to.

If I review mattresses and also make money linking you to various mattress companies, I can easily be influenced by one mattress company offering a bigger payout for each sale I send their way.

And, this is not small money: a number of these mattress review sites are making over a $1 million a year in affiliate payouts.

This is an incredible story, read until the end, it will blow your mind.

Tip: if you are doing research online on a product you want to buy and follow a link from a review site to, say, Amazon or the company selling the product, look closely at the URL in your browser and you can see the affiliate link clearly. If you want to support the reviewer (the linker), buy with that link, if not, change the link.

Note: This site does not take part in affiliate marketing. The link below to Jason Kottke’s site does not generate income for me or him, it is simply an acknowledgement that I read about the Fast Company article at his site and followed a link from his site to the actual article. I try to acknowledge sources as I can.

[via Kottke.org]

John Oliver on online harassment

Another amazing rant from John Oliver, this time on revenge porn, online harassment of women, and more.

The larger issue of cyberbullying is a huge problem and it will be interesting to watch what companies like Facebook and Twitter do about it over time, not to mention what individual states and the US government does about it, if anything.

Is Netflix about to drop DVDs (again)?

Let me preface this by saying I love Netflix: I love the process, I love the depth of their DVD library, I love their new streaming content, and coupled with AppleTV it’s a great service. When Netflix works right it’s one of the best services out there.

That said, in the past year they’ve been moving toward demoting their DVD service and it looks like they’re working on a way to drop it without causing as much of a stir as they did the last time they tried this (remember Qwikster?).

For a detailed history: Wikipedia: Netflix.

On their web site, the DVD queue is now a separate list and that part of their web site is at dvd.netflix.com.

When I called Netflix to report a problem getting DVDs in my queue I first got connected to someone from the streaming end, then I waited with muzak while they transferred me to the DVD end. This seems to point to the idea that they are less concerned with the DVD service than they have been in the past.

When I told Netflix about slow service they pointed to the US Post Office and it may be true that the Post Office is responsible for the slowness but its not responsible for the web site and the support phone tree. Something is going on.

One thing that’s happened in the past year is the US Post Office’s various services have changed, consolidated, and gotten worse. I love the Post Office and use it a lot but it doesn’t take heavy use to see that either they’re being starved by a Congress who won’t adequately fund them, and/or, they’re simply not a well run organization, or most probably, a bit of both.

In the old days (mid year last) the DVD disc turn around for Netflix was almost overnight for me. That has slid to a week or more.

Netflix says they’re working with the Post Office to resolve this but my guess is Reed Hastings (CEO) who tried to dump DVDs before and undid the change because of universal negative user feedback now has the cover to dump DVDs and I think he’s gearing up to do it.

This would be a shame because Netflix does not offer the depth in their streaming service that they do through DVDs. This is partly because the internet is feeling the strain of so much streaming, and partly because distribution agreements don’t allow streaming of all content.

If Netflix is going to offer a service, it ought to work correctly or they should fix it, and if they can’t fix it then drop it. This slowly cutting off the oxygen to the DVD service is a bad idea. Netflix has great content, but in my mind, the process is at least part of their product.

Has concern with popularity peaked?

After reading that some teens are dropping off of Instagram and other social networks and are using Apple’s AirDrop I asked my thirteen year old granddaughter about this. She’s done the same: she’s dumped Instagram and all social networking sites where she was extremely popular and is now just using AirDrop with her closest friends.

Tapping concern with popularity is a piece of almost all social software: Flickr, Facebook, Twitter, Tumbler, WordPress and all of the rest of the connected content management systems have lots of social tools that aren’t necessarily essential for there use, but seem to exhibit an assumption on the part of the designers that we’ll want to use them to increase our popularity.

I first started chewing on this in 2007 when I commented on the effect Flickr Explore was having on photographers that I followed there.

My biggest concern with Explore is that many Flickr users change the way they take and then process pictures on their computers in order to become more popular.

The New Yorker has a fascinating profile by Andrew Marantz on Emerson Spartz who is an expert on how to make web sites and memes go viral: The Virologist.

The way we view the world, the ultimate barometer of quality is: if it gets shared, it’s quality. If someone wants to toil in obscurity, if that makes them happy, that’s fine. Not everybody has to change the world.

I’ve never been able to fully explain why I think concern with popularity on the internet is a problem but reading this piece gave me a bit more to chew on. I still can’t explain it fully but I’m closing in on it.

I’m pretty sure that concern with popularity is part of human nature, but I’m also seeing the effect of 24/7 connectedness enabling that concern to the point where it gets in the way of creative work, and for some, life in general.

Has (over) concern with popularity peaked? Probably not, but here’s hoping it will soon.

Update on RSS

I started a post a few weeks ago after reading Dr. Dang’s piece: The RSS mess and his follow up piece: More RSS mess but I got distracted and never finished the post. These are excellent pieces of thinking and writing on the current state of RSS aggregators and clients post Google Reader.

Reading the good doctor’s two posts assured me that I’m not the only one still using RSS as my primary way to get updates from a variety of web sites I follow, and that not everyone has abandoned this excellent technology for the likes of Facebook and Twitter.

Even though this site is running on WordPress.com I’m not in the habit of using WordPress’ internal “Reader”, preferring to use ReadKit on my Mac and Reeder 2 for iOS (iPhone and iPad). I used to use Reeder for Mac and in writing this decided to download and test it again, we’ll see. I use Feedly as my cloud aggregator and for the most part this is all working well for me.

Since the Mac OS X.10 Yosemite upgrade, my entire computer including my RSS setup has become a bit more unstable but I’m pretty sure Apple is now releasing software with more bugs in it than in years past and this stuff will hopefully be cleaned up with a Yosemite update.

For me, RSS and my feed reader remain the most used and most important technology and application on my computer and on my iPad (Air 2), to a lesser extent on my iPhone (5S) simply because the screen is too small for me to follow things I want to read to their host web site.

Here’s a list of the various posts on RSS I’ve made here over many years:

Sharing photography online (or not)

Things I Learned After My Photo Hit #1 on Reddit, and Why I Probably Shouldn’t Have Posted It

Kris J B posted an interesting story at PetaPixel about the balance between posting images online freely and not posting for fear of theft. The comment thread is worth looking at as well as the detailed story.

I had a similar experience with this image which I described here.

In the end, I continue to post images to Flickr and post embed of them here, as well as allow my contacts on Flickr to embed my images elsewhere. Have I been ripped off? Absolutely. Do I care? Absolutely. Will it stop me from posting images online? No.

Minnesota man asked to leave Southwest flight after critical tweet

Minnesota man asked to leave Southwest flight after critical tweet

This is fascinating to me.

1. The gate agent was following the rules. Maybe a bit too rigidly but still, following the rules.

2. The guy must have used #southwest or something but someone at Southwest Airlines picked it up in real time and called the gate. Amazing.

Obviously everyone who publishes anything online, and Twitter is a publishing platform, needs to be careful of what they publish. I don’t know how many people were following this passenger but if he used a popular hashtag, like #southwest or whatever Southwest Airlines uses, his tweet might have been read by thousands if not tens of thousands of people very quickly.

I may be ignorant, but I tend to think that many on platforms like Twitter have no clue that their tweets might be read by a larger audience than the people who follow them. Between hashtags and retweets things can go viral very quickly.

Careful what you tweet.

Word Crimes

Weird Al Yankovic is on fire. Great stuff. Both my wife and I thought it was a tad fast but in fact, it’s the right speed for its intended audience.

You should never write words using numbers, unless you’re 7 or your name is Prince.

Listen up when I tell you this: I hope you never use quotation marks for ’emphasis.’