Spammer’s nice try

Spam comments often take the form of praise towards the unsuspecting blogger.

The goal is to have the comment published so that readers might follow the link to a sales website.

I thought this was a particularly flattering attempt (until the last sentence) although it was posted on Utterance’s report on Bear Gryll’s Christian faith so not sure what ‘problem’ is being ‘brought to light’.

‘Can I simply say what a comfort to uncover a person that truly knows what they’re talking about online. You actually understand how to bring a problem to light and make it important. More people must check this out and understand this side of the story. I was surprised you’re not more popular because you most certainly possess the gift.’

I’m hoping this feedback leads to even stronger expressions of heartfelt admiration….

Meyer, Warren, Lucado out-tweet Gaga, Perry and Kardashian

The New York Times has used social media compilation tool Storify to show that spiritual leaders such as Joyce Meyer or Max Lucado receive massively greater response from followers to their tweets than celebrities such as Lady Gaga or Kim Kardashian.

While celebrities have far more followers, there is very little interaction with their messages while for the ‘spiritual leaders’ with less followers (but still large numbers) there is often strong engagement with the messages they deliver through Twitter.

Perhaps this says something about why people  follow Rhiannon and other celebrities in comparison to Rick Warren and the ‘spiritual leaders’ group. Or perhaps it is about the content of their respective tweets – Trivia vs transformation?

And if Twitter and Storify are new to you, this is a helpful insight into how both platforms are being used across the planet to connect and influence. See Storify here:

[View the story “Comparing responses to spiritual leaders’ and Twitter celebrities’ tweets” on Storify]

PS> Dear WordPress, please introduce a Storify embed option. Thank you.

Dear 2012, it’s nice to meet you

Dear 2012,

We haven’t met yet. My name is Utterance and I’m a blog. Sorry I haven’t said hello earlier but it has taken a touch of insomnia from my mate Pete to get things going this year. Um, that’s you isn’t it. This year that is. Well look, I’ve never talked to a year before so if I get a bit muddled, please forgive me.

Anyway, we have a bit in common, me (Utterance) and you (2012). Being a new year, as you are, you’d be interested to know that I pretty much began when my mate Pete made a New Year’s Resolution involving your colleague 2010. This was that Pete would write a new post on me every day during 2010.

Well he managed 266 posts which is not bad, I think 2010 was pleased, and he reflected on this here. He kept going in your other colleague, 2011, and I had my busiest ever day on August 17, 2011 when nearly 700 people dropped by to read my account of Kate Bracks winning Masterchef. Strangely enough, my most popular post of all time is to do with food as well, with 8632 people dropping in on MasterChef’s seven sins; God’s endless forgiveness.

Sorry to say there appears to be no such resolution this you, as here it is your 11th and we’ve only just met. But I’m sure we’ll get better acquainted as the year, sorry, as you progress and to help I’ll give you a bit more background.

As a blog I’m rather hard to define, deliberately so I think, which is a bit like my writer who has never been comfortable in a box, sometimes to his detriment. You know you can get further sometimes just by fitting in but he’s one of those early sixties babies who was never quite Boomer, never quite Buster and then had three Gen Y kids and so it’s all over the place.

I’m quite reflective at times, possibly a bit sentimental and even a little regretful. Please 2012, give me a slap around the ears if I go to far down that path.

I love the news – bit of the old printers’ ink in the blood  – well that would be his blood I guess as technically blogs have bytes and hits and posts but not so much of blood. But yes he was and is a journalist so there’s a newsiness to myself.

I especially like spotting God in the headlines, little signs of faith and the divine that manage to emerge in the daily dust of the world’s happenings. That’s why I might talk about Tim Tebow or job ads or Ayrton Senna or buggity, buggity, buggity or the Amazing Race.

Sydney’s a favourite, this great sprawling city of broad beaches, tense traffic, drive by shootings and colourful characters. And the occasional dead body, rainbow or pedestrian poem.

And if I try and get a little wise, a little insightful, bear with me, this too will surely pass.

So dear 2012, I hope we get along okay and catch up more than occasionally. For your part, could please slow down a little as it’s hard enough to find a moment without you being in a rush too, insomnia aside.

Oh, and as you are just at the beginning, here’s mine, it might help complete the picture of what I’m about.

Fare thee well and remember the advice I give everyone – breath, speak, breath and don’t forget to jump.

Much love
Utterance

PS Mr 2012, you can also follow my friend Pete on Twitter.
PPS Mr 2012, I’ve heard rumours that you are meant to be associated with the end of the world, something to do with Mayan calendars etc. Anyway, just to reassure you I have much higher hopes for you than that and in any case, the world won’t end until He says so.

Domain name change leaves readers searching…

 

A couple of weeks ago I took up the domain mapping option offered by WordPress for my blog. I had previously registered www.utterance.com.au with another company and was sending www.utterance.com.au to www.peterhallett.wordpress.com successfully and with no apparent loss of traffic.

To qualify for the new WordPress advertising option, AdWords, I switched domain mapping to WordPress and the hits have softened considerably. WordPress advises that it will redirect people to the new URL so I am left wondering if there is something else I need to do to reinvigorate visits to my blog.

I’m sure someone out there in WordPress space will have some wisdom for me. And for those who don’t know what I’m talking about, neither do I, mostly.

 

Saturday stream of consciousness

“Time’s a goon” says ageing rocker Bosco in Pulitzer prize-winning A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan and I gain some insight into the title and I realise that this book and A Sense of an Ending that won the Booker prize this year both tell stories about the passing of time and of lives and how the choices of, especially youth, but of other times, reverberate and get distorted and misremembered but are unerringly true in their effects. And why is it that there are never any people in these books who were innocent and naive and married for love and lived what they believed and remained faithful always and raised children and worked through tough times and never gave up believing or loving but sometimes, for a moment, they feel they may have missed something even though the really have it all but feel that confusion because the world they have to live in is so mistaken. And books that win prizes never, ever tell their story. Continue reading

‘Tasteful’ advertising to tempt WordPress bloggers

Almost quietly, WordPress announced this week that it would allow bloggers to have advertising on their WordPress hosted blogs. This news has been keenly anticipated by many bloggers and yet the announcement was brief and without fanfare, perhaps to avoid an immediate avalanche of uptake.

WordPress has, rightly, closely guarded the integrity and aesthetic of its platform and perhaps predictably, the move to allow advertising is being carefully controlled. At the same time, the announcement included  thinly veiled criticisms of competitors.

The 229 word post on the WordPress news blog, began:

“Over the years one of the most frequent requests on WordPress.com has been to allow bloggers to earn money from their blog through ads. We’ve resisted advertising so far because most of it we had seen wasn’t terribly tasteful, and it seemed like Google’s AdSense was the state-of-the-art, which was sad. You pour a lot of time and effort into your blog and you deserve better.”

The post explained that the advertising program would be called AdWords – not dissimilar to the maligned AdSense – and “beginning with our partnership with Federated Media we’re ready to start rolling out AdWords here on WordPress.com.” The word “beginning” suggests further advertising partners may come in the future, but Federated Media is it for now. Continue reading

Repentance baffles secular Australians

Repentance is a world rarely heard outside of a Christian or other religious gatherings and so it is no wonder Australian journalists have matched it with terms like ‘puzzling’, ‘scratching their heads’ and ‘bolt from the blue’ when reporting Papua New Guinea’s first Day of Repentance held today.

True, the public holiday for Repentance Day was announced in PNG with little fanfare or explanation and this has baffled reporters and some (mainly ex-pat) business owners.

But there is no doubt the very large majority of Christians in PNG know exactly what it’s about and many will have participated in prayer events held across PNG today.

Even the small Muslim sector of PNG society was in favour, with their leader’s only caution being that people should not think repentance is for only one day of the year.

One PNG blogger was pleased with the introduction of repentance day and discusses why it could be so useful on the basis that repentance means a change of mind. Nothing new can be done unless there is first a change in our thinking… good advice for any nation.

It’s interesting to consider that increasingly secular Australia is surrounded by many strongly religious nations. PNG, East Timor, Indonesia and many of the Pacific nations have strongly religious orientations.

An overflow of this has been seen in the prayers, songs of praise and statements of faith that have mixed with the outpouring of grief outside the home where 11 Tongan family members were killed  by a fire earlier this week.

Our prayers are with them.

 

 

 

Logos leads the way in innovative use of the Internet

20110620-100852.jpg One of the world’ leading leadership and business authors, Seth Goddin has highlighted an innovative book pricing mechanism used by Logos, a Bible software company.

In Goddin’s most recent blog post, titled Coordination, he discusses a new more collaborative approach to internet business, made possible by technology and cited Logos’ Community Pricing strategy as an example.

According to the Logos website, “Community Pricing offers some amazing deals on classic works in the field of biblical and theological studies. Thousands of Logos users have gotten books for less than the price of a latte or a gallon of gas (which is around $3.00 in Bellingham, Washington).”

Community Pricing works by online customers indicating on a graph how much they would be willing to pay for a specific title. At some point in the process enough customers and a high enough price cover production costs and the book can be released.

Logos explains it this way: “If it costs $4,000 to produce an electronic edition of a book, the costs can be covered by 4 people paying $1,000 each or by 1,000 people paying $4 each. The more likely scenario, though, is that no one wants to pay $1,000 and there aren’t 1,000 people interested in the title, even at $4. But there may be 200 people who would pay $20 each.

“Community Pricing is about finding the lowest price that covers the production costs.”

Customers bids are tracked on an online graph to provide some guidance as to how to bid and when a price is set, it is the lowest possible price which is paid by all bidders, even if they bid higher.

It is another example of how the book industry specifically and retail in general is changing due to digital communication.

Godson loves the approach because it eliminates waste and allows customers to collaborate with the supplier.
It is great to see a Christian company at the forefront of change.

Two giants rise leaving us to rise up

On April 26, outstanding Greek-Australian preacher, evangelist and teacher, Con Stamos, died after a three-year battle with cancer.

Always larger than life, Con’s outstanding ministry reached many areas of Australia, notably the Aboriginal communities of northern Australia and the eclectic residents of inner city Sydney.

In a letter to friends written in early March, Con acknowledged the seriousness of his condition but was far from subdued:

‘Time is God’s domain. Mine is to live this life to the fullest.’

On April 27,  Rev David Wilkinson, the founding pastor of Times Square Church in New York City and author of the well-known book The Cross and the Switchblade, posted a blog titled When All Means Fail.

As if writing for Con and his family, he had this to say: Continue reading

Where to with Utterance?

So, I’ve had a very long case of writer’s block. More writer’s coma than block. More writer’s near-death experience than coma. More…

Anyway, I’m just searching for that sweet-spot of an idea for what to do next. Don’t tell me, I’ll get it eventually.

In the meantime, it did spark my interest that the 7pm Project discussed falling church attendances tonight. Tellingly, they quoted no hard statistics, quoted a minister from a denomination with famously declining membership due to its abandonment of faith, and quoted an atheist who is too young to have any idea if there is a God or not because he hasn’t lived long enough to have a single conviction tested. Or so it seemed to me.

Host Carrie Bickmore admitted her mother had dragged her along to Hillsong, Steve Price had the usual hackneyed response about churches and money and Hughesy said that if it makes people happy and gives them good values then what’s the problem. The too-young-to-know atheist pondered what would happen without the community  that religion provides, but failed to give an alternative.

Oh, and by the way, on a different note, I’m reading my first Ernest Hemingway book, Death in the Afternoon, which is non-fiction and about bullfighting… well, it was the only Hemingway available at Leichhardt Library – but already I’ve gained a few insights into his approach to writing, which may or may not be a good thing.