Posts from Weblogs

Feature Friday: disqus.com/home/

This is a risky post since I am not sure this feature has been rolled out to everyone. But I have it and so does the Gotham Gal, so I am hoping its rolled out to everyone here at AVC.

For the past few months, Disqus has been iterating on a service for regular commenters. It has been in each user’s dashboard at Disqus.com, but recently they moved it to disqus.com/home.

The idea is essentially to showcase all of the great content that is carrying a disqus powered comment stream to regular disqus users. This should drive more discussions, more discovery, and more activity for both publishers/bloggers and commenters. It should drive the discussion more broadly.

I do not think Disqus is finished iterating on this and of course it needs to be on more than the web in an age where half or more of all of our activity is on mobile. But I think its starting to come together nicely and thought I would highlight it today on feature friday.

Check it out and let us know what you think.

Embedding Getty Images

A few years ago the senior team at Getty Images asked me to attend a strategy session they were having. I came and talked about open platforms and how they create more reach, engagement, and ultimately value. They thanked me and asked me if there was an image in their library that I wanted a print of. I chose this image of Roy Hibbert and Steph Curry when they played against each other in the NCAA Midwest Finals in 2008.

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As an aside, the CEO of Getty, Jonathan Klein, who is a friend of mine, asked me “are you sure that’s the photo you want?” He mentioned that there are photos of Presidents, Generals, Movie Stars, and many major historical moments in their library. I told him I was sure. He got the photo signed by Roy and it hangs in my son’s bedroom. We love Roy and Steph. It’s a shared thing we have between us. This print remains my favorite gift I’ve ever gotten for a speaking gig.

Note that this photo is watermarked. I did a screenshot of the photo from Getty’s website. That’s what bloggers do when they want to showcase a photo they find on the web. But it is not what is ideal. What is ideal is to get some embed code from the website and post it legally and cleanly.

Well Getty Images has made exactly such a thing available for many of the photos in their library. Sadly not that one of Roy and Steph, yet.

But this one, from the same game, is now available for embedding.

All I did was find the image, click on the embed icon, grab the code, and place it here. Easy, simple, awesome.

Getty has done a big and important thing here. They have opened up their platform. This will lead to reach, engagement, and, I believe, more value for them in the future. Well done Getty.

Fun Feature Friday: Featured Comments

Some of you may have noticed that Disqus rolled out a feature for publishers/bloggers sometime in the past ten days. It is called Featured Comment and it allows me to feature a comment above the comment box. I’ve done it once or twice and Daniel did it once on my blog without me knowing as a way to roll it out here.

This is a feature I’ve wanted for a long long time. There are awesome comments here every day. The best you can do is get upvoted to the top of the thread. Now you can get some more recognition by having it featured. I would love it if a blogger could opt to have the featured comment get onto the main page and above the comments link. That would be even more recognition.

So we are going to have some fun with this feature today. I can feature and un-feature a comment. So I will start doing that today as the comments roll in. I don’t have a ton of free time on my calendar today but I plan to try to feature a few of the best comments for a few hours at a time throughout the day. Feel free to comment about anything you want. This should be fun.

Feature Friday: Tech Circle and Editorial Assistant

Some of you noticed that Zemanta Tech Circle did not make the cut in the new AVC redesign. That’s sort of true and sort of not true.

Zemanta’s oldest product, the one that got me to invest in the company, is a compose window assistant that they now call Editorial Assistant.

On Typepad, I used a broswer plugin to get Editorial Assistant. On WordPress.org, it’s available as a WordPress plugin.

So the way I am bringing back tech circles as a default feed in my Editorial Assistant. You will see thumbnails at the end of the post with related links.

Most of the time, they will be tech circles bloggers with related content. Occasionally I will mix in other bloggers if their related content is highly relevant.

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The New AVC

As I promised to do months ago, we have moved AVC from Typepad to WordPress.org. We is Nathan Bowers with some direction from me. We also did a redesign which you are all seeing in action. The goal of the redesign was to optimize for mobile, clean up the page, and make the content and comments front and center and eliminate everything else. The only widget that survived was the usv.com widget which is now placed between today’s post and yesterday’s post.

We moved search back to Google site search because it simply works better for me. And I am sure I search AVC more than anyone else. We’ve added a table of contents for MBA Mondays to the Archive section and improved that a bit too. I made some changes to the About page, and Subscribe Via Email is no longer buried so deep it’s remarkable that anyone ever found it.

AVC is now just one column. That works best for mobile and mobile will soon be the way most of you access AVC. We’ve also eliminated the <div> element that made Disqus work poorly on mobile for all of you. I’m sorry it took me so long to fix that.

I am sure there are some things that aren’t working right. Please let us know what they are in the comments and we will fix them. And I am sure many of you will dislike the redesign. Feel free to tell us that too, although I don’t expect we will fix that.

I have wanted to move off of Typepad for many years. I was hesitant for a whole host of reasons, a few valid and most not. I am really happy to have finally made the move and now I can work with an open source CMS that has plugins galore and is evolving and improving constantly. It was long overdue. I want to thank Nathan for making this move easy on me and getting it done.

You Can Turn Off Comments, But You Can’t Turn Off Discussions

I saw this on usv.com today:

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Popular Science has decided to turn off comments. They aren’t the first and they won’t be the last.

As Adrian says in the usv comments:

Let’s face it – dropping comments on PopSci isn’t going to stifle societal debate. There are more than enough places online to debate the impacts of science.

There are so many places on the web to talk about stuff. There are the blog communities, like AVC and many others, and there are the link sharing communities like Reddit, Hacker News, and USV.com.

The web (and increasibly mobile) is a great place to talk about stuff that matters to you. It always has been and it always will be. Some publishers will foster those conversations on their own domains. Some will let the conversations happen elsewhere. I am not particularly concerned about who does what.

I am concerned that we keep talking and I am not the least bit worried that we will continue to do that.

Lightweight Engagement Gestures

I was on vacation with my friend John and he asked me how I used the favorite button on Twitter. I told him it is a way to tell people that I’ve seen the tweet when I do not want to reply.

I use it in two primary ways. To signal that I saw and liked a tweet. And to signal that I saw a tweet to the person who sent it. The two are different only in that in the second case, I probably did not like the tweet but I still wanted to acknowledge it.

I really like super lightweight engagement gestures. I am bombarded by stuff coming at me all the time. So if I can acknoweledge something publicly without having to do much work, I get a huge amount of value from that.

Bumping on usv.com and upvoting on disqus are like that too. Because the identity of the bumber and the upvoter are on display publicly, they are an efficient way to signal that you saw it and liked it.

I am going to try to upvote more on disqus. As I reply less and less in the comments, I need to upvote more and more. I will make an effort to do that.

A New Look For usv.com

A few weeks ago, Nick came into my office and asked if I thought we could get more engagement out of the new usv.com.  He felt that we’d succeeded on the transition from a blog to a link blog, but we had not succeeded in really stimulating discussions at the new usv.com. He had some ideas on how to address that and we batted them around. I encouraged him to follow his instincts.

He then posted this thread on usv.com and got a ton of feedback on it. And so for the past few weeks, he’s been iterating on the usv.com front page. This past Monday, Nick and Brian did some more work, came up with the “cards” thing and Nick was excited. For the past few days, I’ve been encouraging him to “ship it.” He did that last night.Check it out.

For those of you who did not click on that link, here is what it looks like:

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The big changes are:

- Infinite scroll. This is something I’ve wanted since day one. I am so happy.

- All posts on the front page. No posts hidden behind the new tab anymore.

- Posts are bracketed by days. So each day you can come and see everything that was posted on the previous day to make sure you didn’t miss anything.

- Posts are inside a “card” that shows the poster, tags, comments, bumps, the link, and for the most popular posts, a blurb from the poster about the link.

- The left and right columns have been switched.

- Search is now prominently featured at the top. Yesssss.

So that’s it. I’ve been using this new UI for the past two weeks and I can’t imagine using the old one anymore. I like it way better. I hope you all do too.

Tumblr

I read this in an analyst report published on Yahoo! yesterday:

We believe Tumblr is an underappreciated asset with fast growing user base and engagement levels. We think Tumblr may actually be capable of creating as much value as Yahoo! core.

It’s not clear to me how much value the “Yahoo! core” has so it is not possible to put a number on this statement. But it is telling.

I have been using Tumblr every day for almost seven years now. USV invested in Tumblr in the fall of 2007 and we ceased being investors last year when Tumblr was sold to Yahoo! in May.

I still use Tumblr every day. I think it keeps getting better and better. My feed today is incredible. As it was yesterday and the day before.

The magic of Tumblr is that it sits between Twitter (short form) and WordPress (long form) and fills a gap in the world of blogging that nobody else has managed to capture. There are elements of Facebook and Instagram in it as well. So it’s a lot like all of these apps but in the end it is like nothing else. It has a soul and pulse and a vibe that other social apps don’t have. At times, it is simply magic.

When Tumblr was sold to Yahoo! a lot of people thought that spelled the end of Tumblr. I was not particulalry worried because I knew that David was committed to sticking around and Yahoo! was committed to leaving Tumblr alone. Nine plus months later, I think we can all say that to date the marriage has worked out well for the Tumblr users. The product has never been better and it feels as alive today as it did when I first logged in almost seven years ago.

So I agree with Carlos (the analyst who wrote the line I opened this post with). Tumblr is underappreicated. It always has been. But not by me. I love Tumblr.

Humans Of New York

I have a new favorite blog and I thought I’d share it with all of you.

I found it via the Gotham Gal’s blog (which in and of itself is kind of embarassing. We sleep together and I found this via her blog).

It’s called Humans Of New York. I follow it on Tumblr.

Every day I get two to five posts. Each post is a picture of a new yorker or two. And something that was said by the subject of the photo.

It’s like riding the subway, but even better. You get to see all kinds of people and learn a little bit about them.

Sometimes it is sad.

Sometimes it is funny.

Sometimes it is upsetting.

Sometimes it makes you smile.

But rarely does Humans Of New York fail to make me feel something.

And that is great art at work. And that is Tumblr at work. Tumblr is great art and so is Humans Of New York. I love both of them.