This show was recorded live at Wordcamp Raleigh with guests Steve Mortiboy, Aaron Jorbin, Damond Nollan, and Nina East with some great contributions from audience members too.
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SitePoint Podcast #114: Wordcamp Raleigh Part 1 (MP3, 51:11, 49.6MB)
Live show transcript.
Patrick: Well hello and welcome to the SitePoint Podcast live from WordCamp Raleigh 2011 in Raleigh, North Carolina. This is year two, it’s also the end of the world, so if this is how you spend your last day I like the podcast but this is not the best way. So, we’re glad to have you, we’re glad to have you with us nonetheless as we count down the minutes, and we have a fun show today, lots of prizes, we have lots of good guests coming on as the two hours on air from 1:00 to 3:00 p.m., and we’re back because it was a success last year, it went really well, we had a great in-person audience, we had a great online audience, the shows were received well when they were released online, so I think we’re definitely glad to be back this year. And before we get started and start bringing up our first guest we should go ahead and introduce ourselves, I think I’ll start; my name is Patrick O’Keefe, I run the iFroggy network, a network of websites covering various interests. I’ve been managing online communities for 11 years and I write and speak about that and obviously co-host the SitePoint Podcast with —
Stephan: Stephan Segraves, I’m a large scale applications developer for school districts and I blog occasionally.
Brad: I’m Brad Williams, one of the founders of Webdev Studios, I’ve written a couple books on WordPress, Professional WordPress, Professional WordPress Plugin Development.
Patrick: Excellent. And obviously we’d like to thank everyone who played a part in having us here today from the organizing team led by Steve Mortiboy and everyone involved with WordCamp Raleigh, the venue, thank you for running up and giving the stage up here, I appreciate that and will thank everyone a little later in the show. But I think before we bring up our first guest we have one note which is there is a bowl on that table over there, now that bowl is not for prizes, that bowl is if you want to come on stage and be a guest, if you have a startup, you have a fun product you’d like to tell people about this podcast is downloaded thousands of times a week, so we have an audience that we’d definitely love to have you on and have you speak to; no matter what your business is, no matter what your skill set is we’d love to talk with you, so if you have any interest in that please write your name on one of the pieces of paper next to that bowl and drop it in, and at the end of each hour we’re going to pull one person on stage, so be ready, it’s not that nerve-wracking but be ready to come on stage if you put your name in that bowl. So, we’re going to pull like I said two people on during the whole show so please feel free to put your name in that bowl at any time and we’d love to have you on as a guest. Now we’ll go ahead and bring on our first guest, Steve Mortiboy, who I just mentioned a second ago is the co-organizer of WordCamp Raleigh and the project manager of Semper Fi Web Design, makers of the All in One SEO Pack Plugin, Steve, welcome to the show (applause).
Steve: Thank you.
Patrick: Thank you for having us. Steve works hard to put on this event for everyone to enjoy and we appreciate that. So, Steve, you know the only time I talk with you is when we’re doing WordCamp Raleigh it seems like, so what do you do when you’re not organizing this conference?
Steve: Oh, wow. Well, I work for Michael Tolbert’s company Semper Fi Web Design, I’m effectively the Chief Operating Officer there, I run all of the sales, all of the client management and client relations, service delivery as well as product development and project management for that. So, Semper Fi is a web development company that specializes purely in WordPress, we’re best known for the All in One SEO Pack of course, it has 7.7, 7.8 million downloads to date I think, so we do all that plus client projects plus a bunch of other plugins.
Patrick: And we’ll be giving a copy of the All in One SEO Pack Pro Version away here today during the podcast. So what’s different from last year with you or with the conference, what’s different from — it’s almost to the day, I mean the conference last year was May 21-22 I believe and this year is 21 to 22 moving to stay on the weekend, so anything different this year?
Steve: Not so much, we took the lessons that we learned from last year, we took all of the feedback that we got from our speakers, our sponsors, our vendors as well as all of our attendees who were invited to respond to a questionnaire post, WordCamp, and we took that feedback and we tried to improve on what we did last year. I hope that’s worked; we’ve certainly been a lot better organized this year in terms of on the day, we learned a lot from last year the mistakes we made on the day, we were newbies to this, we’d never done a conference or an event like that before so we were kind of learning as we went along. This year I’d like to say it was easier, and certainly part of the preparation was easier and a lot of this was rinse and repeat, the stress level was still something.
Stephan: So coming into this year what were you excited about?
Patrick: What was something that happened that you were like ‘well that’s going to be great’?
Steve: I think, again, we were excited about putting on a schedule that we knew attendees would want to show up for, and it was one of the things we took pride in ourselves in last year was getting great speakers and putting on a really fantastic schedule for users, our users and developers, so that’s what we wanted to do again this year, and working with Michael and Craig is always a pleasure, they have so many contacts in the community. This year we actually had a lot of speakers come to us and say hey I heard it was really good last year can I speak.
Patrick: Right; and you had to turn some away.
Steve: And we had to turn a couple away.
Patrick: (Laughs) I know of at least a couple myself.
Stephan: And we’re about halfway through the day so how’s it going so far?
Steve: It’s been going very well, yeah, I haven’t heard many complaints. So we had a little bit of Internet issues this morning that’s kind of (inaudible) problems of anything like this, but so far I think everyone’s been enjoying themselves and the usual fantastic draw, all of our speakers have had a good time and had good audiences, good participation.
Brad: So why exactly did you ask us back (laughter)? After last year I mean why would you want us back?
Steve: Well, so I got to know Patrick really online, I didn’t meet him until WordCamp, and it was something unique for WordCamp Raleigh, something we said hey we could be the first live SitePoint Podcast. And I think we had so much feedback last year that people said this was fantastic, we really enjoyed this live SitePoint Podcast, it just made sense we had to have you back; I would have got down on my knees and begged you guys to come back (laughter).
Patrick: Now! We didn’t ask for — no, I’m just kidding, we didn’t ask for enough, no.
Brad: So as we prepared for the show would you say you got enough emails from Patrick?
Stephan: Because we did.
Steve: I think the last count was 122 (laughter).
Patrick: We’ll post the final count online after the conference. So, Steve Mortiboy, where can people find you online?
Steve: They can find me at Semper Fi Web Design or Stevemortiboy.com.
Patrick: And on Twitter?
Steve: Twitter @wpsmort.
Patrick: Excellent. Well, thank you Steve, thank you for joining us today and thank you again for having us (applause).
Steve: Thank you.
Patrick: So I think we are ready to bring on our next guest, and I should say with the interviews we’re going to ask some questions, we’re going to talk to people, but we’re also going to introduce a story to discuss with most of our guests, a news story, a news topic, something we can discuss up here on the panel and with them that relates to their expertise or their interests as well. So our next guest is Aaron Jorbin, Aaron is a web developer for Clearspring where he works on AddThis which is a highly popular bookmarking and sharing service, and his personal website is Aaron.jorb.in, and Aaron thank you for joining us (applause).
Stephan: We’ll start off with AddThis, AddThis bills itself as the (inaudible) bookmarking and sharing service, what type of numbers are we talking about?
Aaron: We are talking some very large numbers, we have seven to nine million domains that we’re on, we process 2.5 billion views a day so we have a lot of data. Our data team is fond of saying that if it takes one millisecond to process every piece of data it would take us 29 days to process everyday for the data.
Stephan: That’s a lot of data.
Aaron: Yeah (laughter).
Stephan: And what sort of work have you done with AddThis? What’s your role?
Aaron: So I’ve worked on a lot of our analytic products, I work on BU, analytics that enable publishers to see how people are clicking and sharing links from their sites, and you can break that down by what coutry people are in, break it down and just get to know what people are interested in. We also because our reach we know a lot about different users and so we know what users are also sharing, what users are also clicking on, so we give you an idea of are your users are interested in, you know, cars; you might write about technology but find out you have a lot of people that come to your site that share your content that are very interested in automobiles, well maybe that’s an opportunity for you to do some sort of cross promotion. Maybe you find out — for some reason my site, which I primarily write about technology on, a lot of people are interested in health and beauty, and I’ve yet to figure out exactly how I can reach these people or reason why someone would be coming to my site.
Patrick: It’s the beard, right?
Aaron: It must be the beard.
Brad: What sets AddThis apart from some of the other sharing services like ShareThis or some of the others?
Aaron: Well, one thing that we do that is really great is that all the services are personalized for the users, and so if you use AddThis and you decide to share to a somewhat niche social network we’ll remember that you shared to Gabbr and know that next time show you Gabbr as that’s something that you’re interested in. If you never use Facebook, if you are an anti-Facebook person, well, after you’ve shared to a few different services you won’t see Facebook, it won’t be there; for publishers that means that when users are coming they’re seeing the services that they’re actually wanting to share. A share site such as Reddit is going to bring in a ton of traffic, there’s one service, Leap Box, which is a somewhat smaller service, but shares to that that are an exorbitant amount of clicks, and if you go to Addthis.com we have the services directory, it’ll actually show you all sorts of very cool stats about the services.
Stephan: Very cool.
Brad: So, yeah, you posted a couple months ago about how you reached your one-year milestone of contributing to WordPress which I thought was great.
Aaron: Thank you.
Brad: So I’m curious how is contributing to WordPress, a large open source project in general, how’s that helping your professional career?
Aaron: Oh, it has made me an amazing developer. I would not be as good of a developer as I am if I didn’t contribute to open source than I do specifically to WordPress. I can write a patch and I’m going to add a bunch of very smart people, the entire core team, looking at that and deciding is that the right way to solve this problem, you know, and getting the eyes on my code that I’m writing and getting feedback on, well, you didn’t consider this edge case or you solved it but maybe there’s a better way, maybe there’s a bigger underlying problem that works for Infanity.com, and again from that and from working with the community in WordPress is tremendously amazing.
Brad: Yeah, so let’s dive into a quick news story.
Patrick: You don’t know what’s coming, we haven’t told you in advance, don’t act like you know, just kidding.
Brad: So after three years of development HTML5’s spec it’s been announced that it’s last call for comments, so officially they’re basically saying we’re going to wrap up and make it official, so do you do HTML5 development currently, I mean are you happy with the spec as it is, I mean do you think it’s going to be a good viable option for the future of web development?
Aaron: So I do think it’s a good spec, there’s a lot of stuff in it that makes me very excited. I work a lot with Canvass which is one of the portions of it, who here knows what Canvass is? Alright, so Canvass allows you to —
Patrick: One person, thank you, sir, don’t worry it won’t all be this techie.
Aaron: There are a lot of fun things that are happening with Canvass, so who here know Angry Birds?
Aaron: Everyone? Alright.
Patrick: I do know what it is even though I haven’t played it, thank you Michael Render.
Aaron: So if you go in Chrome to Chrome.angrybirds.com you can see an example of what Canvass can do, you can play Angry Birds the same as on an iPad, the same as on an iPhone or an Android device in your browser and it’s all browser native, you don’t have to install any extra plugins, it is the browser doing it. And that’s the thing with HTML5, I mean that that’s the — I heard on HTML5 is that its code worker doesn’t work in IE (laughter). And so until browsers are really supporting a lot of these features it’s hard for large web apps to really take advantage of that. If you look at like the history API which is a really cool tool to allow a developer to manipulate what like is in the history, so if you’re using an Ajax application it’s completely changing the state of what’s going on, and if you want to be able to add something to the history, well, not every browser that supports that and, you know, until every browser supports that it’s going to be a lot harder for developers to truly take advantage of it.
Stephan: And part of what last call means is that they’re gonna start taking bugs I think tomorrow, Sunday. Have you found any bugs; have you seen any bugs in HTML5?
Aaron: In the spec I’ve not seen any bugs in the specs. There’s one thing I was reading that it is lacking a long descrip being defined in it and that’s probably about the only true concern that I’ve seen.
Stephan: But nothing glaring.
Stephan: That’s good because I mean some people are contending that it’s too early for HTML5 to be effective across, like you were saying, large applications; do you see it really moving into the mobile space more?
Aaron: Oh, it is going to power the mobile space, I mean any modern mobile phone and mobile browser takes advantage of everything that HTML5 has to offer. And mobile is becoming huge; I mean I’m probably one of the only people in this room who does not have a Smartphone.
Patrick: Wait, wait!
Aaron: I’m not? Alright! (Laughter).
Patrick: Yes! Thank you, thank you, sir, thank you, ten dollars a month, applause, thank you. Anyway.
Aaron: So that being said, you know I think a lot of people here, a lot of people listening are on Smartphones and are constantly using them, and from a development standpoint being able to build one mobile application versus having to build a native iPad application, a native iPhone application, a native Android application, a native Blackberry application, a native whatever is the next thing coming along application, like to be able to do that once and then it also works in a normal web environment as well, that’s huge.
Stephan: Cutting down dev time.
Aaron: Yeah, I mean it’s cutting dev time by four, which from a business standpoint that’s costs down by four.
Patrick: From a dev standpoint it cuts revenue down, no, I’m just kidding. Any final thoughts on that story?
Brad: No, I certainly agree, I think everyone’s really excited about HTML5 so it’s nice to kind of see that it’s getting to that point where it is going to be the official specs.
Patrick: Excellent, excellent. Well, thanks for the great discussion and where can people find you online?
Aaron: People can find me online at Aaron.jorb.in, they can follow me on Twitter @aaronjorbin, they can follow AddThis at @addthis on Twitter and Addthis.com, and we do have a WordPress plugin that I wrote the majority of and is great and I hope that everyone uses it.
Patrick: I do. Thank you, Aaron Jorbin.
Aaron: Thank you. (Applause)
Patrick: So before our next guest we have a trivia question here, the winner of this trivia question, or the correct answerer I should say, will receive a developer license for a Headway theme by Headway Themes worth about $264.00 as well as a copy of my book Managing Online Forums which is a practical guide to managing online forums, communities and social spaces, it’s the cheapest prize here today (laughter), so if you get stuck with it, whatever, paperweight, doorstop, whatever. So here’s how we’re going to do this, if you raise your hand and answer this question I will point to you and you have to answer it right then, if you pause, if you look down at your laptop I’m going to the next person, okay, so I’m going to ask the question and be ready to answer it. The question is: How many speakers here at WordCamp Raleigh 2011 spoke at last year’s edition of WordCamp Raleigh? Ma’am?
Audience Member: Seven
Patrick: That’s incorrect. Sir? You! The one who raised their hand!
Audience Member: Three.
Patrick: Wrong, higher. Ma’am.
Audience Member: Eight?
Patrick: Close. Ma’am?
Audience Member: Oh, nine.
Patrick: Correct, you are correct. Yes, and if you could give a business card or write your name and email on a slip of paper and give it to that gentleman right there, Steve, I will make sure you get the Headway Themes license as well. Thank you. Alright, so I think we can bring our next guest on a little early, he has a wedding to get to and is dressed to the nines and just the finest dressed gentleman here today.
Stephan: He makes us all look bad.
Patrick: His name is Damond Nollan, welcome Damon (applause). Damon is a friend of mine, that’s not why he’s on; he’s the IT manager at North Carolina Central University, a fine institution, and the host of Room 3026 Live which is a daily lunch hour podcast which will record its 275th episode on Monday, right?
Damond: Very good.
Patrick: Very Good, and you can be found online at Damondnollan.com. Damond, welcome to the show.
Damond: Thank you very much, thank you for having me. You guys look good out there too.
Patrick: It’s a pleasure to have you on, I met Damond at another conference here in South Carolina actually at the university called Social Media Business Forums, so that’s an example of great networking at conferences.
Brad: You said South Carolina or North Carolina?
Patrick: North, never south. So let’s talk about Room 3026. So what is it, you know, what I just said, and what is the show about?
Damond: Okay, well, I’ll tell you this, first of all I have Michael Render, he’s actually one of the hosts, he is a graphic designer at the university. But it started initially with us just being in the room talking about technology, we all sit in the same room and we talk all day long and that’s where it started, we said now wouldn’t it be great if I could just invite everybody into the room and talk with us? And that’s how it started, we just started saying hey let’s go onto this thing called BlogTalk Radio and let’s just start talking; if you go to the first episode and you’ll see how terrible it really was because it’s like Mike and I sitting up there like can you hear me now? Can you hear me now? How do I sound? Do I look good? And that’s how it started, but today we talk about technology, we talk about social media, we talk about games, movies, we talk about everything in between. And it’s a light show, it’s really fun, we laugh and joke; we had Patrick up there this week and we laughed and joked and we talked about the fact that he didn’t play Angry Birds.
Patrick: I haven’t played it once, not just don’t play it now.
Damond: Now he won’t play it because he said he has to protect his brand, right, (laughter) so yeah, so we had a good time and that’s pretty much what we do, it’s Monday through Friday from 1:00 to 2:00 p.m.
Patrick: And my, it’s not even like a protest, but my not playing the game almost lost us an attendee, I was threatened. Very cool, very cool. So, it’s a daily podcast five days a week and it’s been pretty regular, right?
Patrick: I imagine you take vacation, right?
Damond: Well, the great thing is it’s not just me, we have a team, Michael Render, we have Derek Brinson and we have other special guests that come on and will help host it from time to time, so you can still take a break and call in and that’s the great thing about what we’re doing is it’s not a one-man show, so you can take a break and it’ll still work.
Patrick: So then what is the key to running a regularly scheduled podcast like that and being successful at it and really sticking to it?
Damond: Number one I think because we put it out there early on that it’s Monday through Friday, right, so of course if you put it out there people expect you to show up, and there were a few times where I think we had a storm, I think we had a snowstorm, and the whole entire building, and we work over at North Carolina Central, so the whole building was closed, and we said well what are we going to do? And so the guys hold us — we hold each other accountable, you know hey first of all, and then we have some really loyal fans and guests and friends and family, and if you don’t do what you’re supposed to do they’re going to call you out. So, yeah, so that respect there I think is what keeps us going, and we have a lot of fun, I mean, again, it’s not a serious — like a serious news show or anything, we have a lot of fun, so you look forward to being there every single day.
Patrick: It is your lunch hour.
Damond: It is our lunch hour and we say that every time.
Patrick: Do you eat?
Damond: Well, we try, in between like news pieces we’re like, hmm, (smack, smack) okay your turn, and that’s why we rotate news stories; you read this one so I can chew.
Patrick: If someone’s on mute that means they’re chewing.
Stephan: You recently posted a video review of the square credit card reader for iPhone, iPad, Android; have you had a chance to use it much?
Damond: No, I want to spend some money on something, and I haven’t had a chance to do that just yet, but I am; first of all if you listen to the show you’ll realize that I am really stingy with my money, and so I got this tool because everyone’s talking about it and it was free, so you can’t go wrong with free.
Patrick: Speaking to the stinginess.
Damond: Exactly. So, but I have it just in case someone wants to pay me something, so I’m like do you want to pay me, great, I have this card reader in my pocket that I’d like to pull out. But, yeah, so I haven’t had a chance to play with it just yet but it looks really nifty, I mean just swiping cards and stuff that’s pretty cool.
Stephan: I haven’t had a chance to use it but I’ve seen people on the streets using it.
Damond: Oh, yeah?
Stephan: Yeah, that’s pretty sweet.
Patrick: Have you seen the video on the website they posted on the website of the gentleman with his lady and he’s like I’ll take that, may I swipe my card?
Damond: (Laughs) yeah, that would be nice.
Patrick: Stay thirsty my friends.
Damond: If anybody wants to swipe their card today I mean we can make that happen, I’ll gladly take your money, we’ll try it out together.
Patrick: And it may expand to Room 3028.
Damond: (Laughs) we need nice microphones, that’s what we need.
Brad: Big question: Why is your website not powered by WordPress?
Damond: Ooh! Okay, now I feel the laser eye grip of the audience.
Patrick: I like how we ask one guest about a sensitive question but we didn’t ask Damond about the WordPress question, and he’s okay.
Damond: Yeah, yeah, okay first of all I’m a blogger fan, I apologize; but understand this — but Mike Render, he works on WordPress, does that count? Derek and Mike both use WordPress, can I escape out of the room that’s the question. But I do use Blogger and Blogger’s free, and everything’s free, hosting and everything, so again going back to me being tight on my money that’s kind of where it was. But I do support — I do support it, you know, I let Mike play with it.
Patrick: You got started with it, right, is that sort of fair to say that you got started using it and now you feel more loyal and compelled and used to it.
Damond: Exactly what you said, yeah.
Stephan: Did the Blogger outage affect you?
Damond: It did affect me but understand that, and okay let me not start any fights up in here, right, but I will say this, I’m going to support Google and the fact is that they had a really great uptime 99.9% of the time so you can’t argue that. But this one outage, eh, what’s that, that’s nothing.
Patrick: Cool, so I think one thing I’ve noticed obviously from following you, and we talked about it on Monday, thanks for having me on, about Empire Avenue, and how you are using it a lot, and how many people are familiar with Empire Avenue? Okay, so Empire Avenue, and you’re kind of the man on this so correct me if this isn’t a good description, but it’s kind of like a stock market for social media personalities, you connect your accounts to it, they give you a stock price and your activity on those networks, your activity on Empire Avenue and how people buy and sell your stock impacts the stock price that you have; did I get it?
Damond: Perfect, that’s great.
Patrick: So, Damond’s been really active on Empire Avenue and is the CEO of the leadership index, correct?
Damond: (Laughs) Whoo hoo!
Patrick: And that is actually a big deal within the service because it is a main category, and you’re saying of all the people on the service have they announced the user count recently, I mean how many users are on it? It’s a lot of users, I’d like to say millions or hundreds of thousands..
Damond: Yeah, I don’t know the number; it’s a lot of people.
Patrick: Whatever, but he’s the most active user that categorized himself in this one, so he is very active with it, you’re talking a lot about it with Chris Pirillo on your show.
Damond: Yes, we had him on the show.
Patrick: So what is the value of Empire Avenue to you? What does it mean to you, why do you spend time with it?
Damond: Well, first of all I think initially, for those of you who have played you can nod your head if you know this, there is a really great analytics tool or stat tool that tells you how well you’re performing on all of your networks, so you’ve got Facebook, Twitter, your Facebook page, Flickr, YouTube, LinkedIn right, as your main ones, and it tells you just how successful you are in using them. So the first time I got up there I realized I don’t use LinkedIn that much, I don’t really do a lot with YouTube, and so I noticed that Facebook, I’m all on it, Twitter, I’m all over it, and then I said oh my goodness I have to be better because it’s not like all my friends are just in those two places, I’m able to get out and be more balanced, so that’s the first thing. The second thing that I really enjoy about it is that it taught me about being generous on all social networks, because typically I’m tight with money I just said that, right, I don’t like spending money, we did this thing it was called Expendable Loser and I want to give a big shout out to the X Bar, this was a group on Facebook, and also Social EMpire another great group, well what they did they said you got to spend your money on other people, so put your name in this list and start spending money, and I didn’t like that idea because I wanted to keep my money, but when I started spending this money on other people and buying shares or stock in other people I felt good, I said I kinda like this, and I started buying more. And then the great thing that happened is I started making friends with people I have no — I would normally have never spoke to, so that was the first benefit, I felt good, I met new people and then this really strange thing started to happen, people started to invest more in you. They weren’t the same people that I was investing in sometimes, it was just this good will of gosh you are a really nice guy maybe he’ll invest in me too, and so I did and it’s kind of built this cycle. The other thing it did too they have this thing called Speed Dating, and it’s not really about dating, it’s really about like bombing people’s love, and it’s really strange to me because you go to Facebook, right, and you sort of like, like, like, like, like, like, like, all the way down their wall, and I said that’s kind of dumb until somebody did it to me, and those little flags on the side go like, like, like, like, like, like, like, and I said oh I like this, I’m going to do some more of this! So I started like bombing everybody and so what it does it just creates this good will and everybody feels good. And I did one thing last night that was really fun, I started giving away, Oprah Winfrey fans know this, the Big Give, right, I gave like a hundred thousand dollars on Eves, I don’t won this, Eves, and I give it all away, but then the next morning I have another hundred thousand dollars just waiting for me in the door, which is great, I like this.
Patrick: Cool. So I don’t like to play devil’s advocate, today of all days (laughter), but let me just throw this out there, so do you feel that kind of — not to say that a like is some altruistic beautiful thing, right, but when I like things on Facebook it’s because I really like them, right, I’m not like bombing; does that kind of dilute or lower the value of kind of the social aspect of I actually ‘like’ this if you just ‘like’ everything? Is there advantage to that?
Damond: I thought that at first and that’s why I didn’t do it at first. I kind of said well I want to like stuff that I truly seriously just enjoy liking.
Patrick: Because you’ve been liking some stuff on my page and now I’m not sure.
Damond: No, I do like it.
Patrick: Do you really like me or do you like bomb me?
Damond: If I like bomb you that’s probably a good indication of just like bombing you.
Patrick: There hasn’t been any bombing.
Damond: (Laughs) no, I understand and I don’t do it all the time, I don’t like bomb all the time, but I think that it makes it lose, you start letting go of being tight and stingy with your liking, you know, like stuff, it’s okay; when you’re on Twitter and somebody says something that you like Retweet it, it’s okay, let go, quit being stingy. And that’s what I learned, I said you know what I can let — and if I can do something as simple as liking a page it doesn’t take anything to do that, it doesn’t take anything to retweet, right? But when you do that the other person feels good, they go wow somebody’s reading my stuff.
Patrick: Right. And you also have to be true to your audience too, right, if you retweet something that’s not you then you’re like —
Patrick: So just to distill this down, the benefits of Empire Avenue, it makes you feel good, but networking just like other social sites, networking, building your profile so that another site can build that brand online and also as kind of a grader for your performance on social networking as far as how well you’re doing on YouTube, Facebook, etcetera.
Damond: You got it.
Patrick: Well, then I have another one. So that’s kind of the personal benefits of it and there’s some business benefits on there; are businesses on Empire Avenue much yet and if not should they be or why should they be?
Damond: I think we are beginning to see quite a few brands jumping on board, like I know recently Xbox bought a few shares, Ford was up there, a lot of brands are now making over, you also have some people who are in my industry, you know you have — I talked about Chris Pirillo who’s doing awesome right now, he has like a $167.00 share price or something like that with huge dividend payouts, it’s awesome how well he’s doing. But attention over last month is all eyes are on this thing called Empire Avenue and it’s been going on since December of 2010, so it’s been out there for a while, over a year, let’s see, a year since they’ve been out there. So I’m just thinking wow if it’s — I mean in the last 30 days I’m hearing about and then all these other big brands are jumping on board and there is a business benefit to all this number one because you’re making connections and two because of statistics, which is awesome by the way, but there are a lot of really serious things that this is going to help you do, and it makes you overall in my opinion a better social networker, right, and that’s ultimately if you’re going to be on Twitter and Facebook and that’s what your job is going to be doing you need to be good at what you’re doing, it encourages you to put out good quality content because to increase your share price you have to put out good content that people are going to like and that they’re going to Retweet, and I can’t keep gaming the system to say hey I need for you to like my stuff, I have to genuinely put out some really good stuff.
Stephan: So you said earlier that you saw you were low on YouTube; did you just start putting out videos?
Damond: Did you see that square video that I put out?
Damond: That was because I knew I had to do some videos, yeah.
Patrick: Stephan just joined Empire Avenue last night. And the thing about it is when I joined, we talked about this, I was on earlier; if I had been active early I’d be a boss on there, no.
Damond: You’d be awesome (laughs).
Patrick: But no, so I just check in once in a while and buy stock in friends, but what I actually did with him is I bought his —
Damond: His IPO, yeah.
Patrick: Because that’s how I just loaded up on (inaudible), I just bought what I could before they even got on the service. So what is your ticker?
Damond: My ticker in case you want to find it is Empireavenue.comdln.
Patrick: My ticker’s iFroggy. Stephan?
Brad: I am not on it.
Damond: Yet. Yet. Yes, we’re going to get you.
Patrick: Brad was out late so he couldn’t get on Empire Avenue today. Excellent, so Damond where can people find you online besides Empire Avenue?
Damond: Well, Damond Nolan, Damondnolan.com is a great place; it has all the links to LinkedIn to Facebook to Twitter and everything else, so go to Damondnolan.com.
Patrick: Excellent. Well, you have a wedding to get to so we’ll let you get to it, thank you, Damond.
Damond: Thank you! (Applause).
Patrick: One reminder, the bowl over there if you just came in you’ve seen the guests, it’s not hard, it’s easy to get up here and talk with us, talk about your business, talk about what you do online, that’s what we want to talk to you about so if you haven’t put in write your name on one of the cards and put it in that bowl, there are cards right next to it, we’re going to draw from that in just a few minutes assuming somebody actually put a card in there.
Brad: Get them in there.
Patrick: And then we’ll invite you to come up onstage and talk to us about what you do and what you’ve done online. So, again, this is the last chance for the first drawing, and with that we have a trivia question; do you want to take that Stephan?
Patrick: And if you answer it correctly you will receive a developer access license for Shopp which is a powerful ecommerce plugin for WordPress worth $299.00 and you will also receive a copy of a wonderful publication called Professional WordPress by Brad Williams, David Damstra and Hal Stern. Stephan?
Stephan: WordCamp Raleigh’s 2011 logo includes a lighthouse replacing what object that was included in the 2010 logo?
Audience Member: Airplane.
Stephan: That’s correct.
Patrick: Yeah, so Steve right there in the white shirt will give you a copy of the book, and if you write your name or give him a business card, or I know you, we’ll make sure you get that license to Shopp, thank you. And Steve could you bring over that bowl for me, thank you, we’re going to draw for our first audience guest, and hopefully people just didn’t disappoint us and there’s nothing in there. Oh okay, cool, mix that up, thank you, thank you, okay gonna put it down here and look at it, be ready to come on stage, you don’t have to if you don’t want to, we’ll pick it up, picking this up and bam, thank you Steve; Nina East. And she wrote some advertisements on here as well, I’ll go ahead and read those as she comes to the stage: ithemes.com, webdesign.com, allurethemes.com, hey I know those people, welcome to the SitePoint Podcast (applause). Thank you for entering, first and foremost, one of the three to be brave enough, please step up everyone else; so tell us about yourself, what do you do?
Nina: Well, the reason those are on there is I’m the marketing director for all three of those companies.
Patrick: Gotcha, say hi to Cory.
Nina: I will; he might be listening as we speak. So what do I do, well, it’s sort of a funny story of how I came to work for these companies, I do my own web design for clients mostly for smaller businesses and I use a lot of iThemes products and also that kind of marketing, and so one day I called up Cory and I said you know, Cory, your marketing sucks and you need to hire me to help you with that, so that’s sort of where that all started.
Patrick: He’s one of the small percentages of people that would work on probably.
Nina: (Laughs) well actually I think I said it more nicely; I said there’s some gaps in your marketing that I think could be filled.
Patrick: So obviously iThemes is a theme company Webdesign.com is training, correct? Web related training?
Nina: Yes, WordPress primarily, WordPress training and web design training.
Patrick: And Allure Themes is another theming —
Nina: It’s another theme company, yeah; iThemes is really —
Patrick: The overarching brand.
Nina: Yes, the overarching brand for Pluginbuddy.com, iThemes and Webdesign.com, and Allure Themes is a joint project we’re doing with Lisa Sabin Wilson the author of —
Patrick: Themes for women?
Nina: Yeah, themes with a feminine touch, yes, lots of pink.
Patrick: Very nice. So is your background, obviously you’re in marketing, but was it with design or technology or anything related to what iThemes does?
Nina: Oh gosh, no, no, my background is in education, I was a dean of students at a university so I had a lot of experience in leadership and trying to sell things to students like trying to sell them on programs that would be in their best interest but perhaps they weren’t interested in. So, no, I really didn’t have any background, I fell into WordPress like a lot of people I think sort of fell into it.
Stephan: So what got you started in WordPress then; were you working on a specific site or did you just –?
Nina: Yeah, I was starting one of my sites which is a website that does summaries of personal web books and it’s really geared toward women, and so I needed to be able to have that site up and running and be able to manage it myself because it needed to be a self sustaining business, I didn’t have a lot of capital put into it.
Stephan: So it was your entry into the WordPress world.
Nina: Yeah, and I took a course, I took a course with Bea Fields called Become a Blogging Maniac to learn some of the basics of it and discovered I took to it real naturally, WordPress, I mean it makes a lot of sense, right, so pretty easy to learn, it sort of evolved from there. I got excited sort of setting up people’s sites for them, just starting really basic setup which is what I love to do, like look at the big concept, what’s the idea, how do you want to market it, what do you want your site to do and then I can do the basic part of the setup, but I’m not actually the person to do a lot of the detailed customizing and stuff that I wouldn’t be familiar with.
Patrick: So you’re here obviously to represent iThemes. Have you tattooed a logo onto your arm it looks like?
Nina: Yes, I do, and I have one on my leg for a builder.
Patrick: Very well representing the brand. So are you local?
Nina: I am; from Chapel Hill.
Patrick: Cool, cool, so iThemes, the company, is it distributed around different locations?
Nina: We are mostly located in Oklahoma City, actually I just started working with them in November and since then we have doubled the number of employees that work with the company, we’re up to 20 now, so most of the guys, the developers, the people who really know what they’re doing, they’re all in Oklahoma City, and then the people who help other people know what they’re doing are located some internationally, our support team is primarily international except for the folks that are in the office, and Benjamin Bradley who is the instructor at Webdesign.com, the lead instructor, he is in northern Virginia. And we just started Justin Seeley who some of you probably know, he’s a trainer and he’s going to start working with Webdesign.com more on the design themes, he’s a Photoshop trainer.
Brad: So what’s it like working with the iThemes’ guys, I heard they’re all a little bit crazy?
Patrick: Yeah, I heard some awful stuff last night.
Nina: Oh, well, must have been after I left (laughs).
Patrick: It was from them. No, I’m just kidding.
Nina: You know what’s funny, they have got to be the nicest people I’ve ever worked with, and I came off some pretty negative business associations before I started working with iThemes, I had been pretty burned on doing any kind of partnerships with people, and I met Cory here last year, I mean I was already using their product.
Patrick: He was on the show last year.
Nina: Oh, was he, oh cool. Well, I wasn’t, sorry, but I met him last year and I was impressed with how nice he was; Matt Daniel was here who just got named our CEO.
Patrick: C level executive, hi Matt.
Nina: Yeah, Christine, so I met like a couple of the guys and they were just so nice, and I think that’s what gave me the courage to really approach Cory back in October and tell him he needed to hire me.
Patrick: Are there any iThemes people in the room, employees?
Nina: I have one, it’s Skyler Moore.
Patrick: I was like you don’t have to be that nice.
Nina: He’s one of our developers as well as on the support team.
Patrick: Cool, so where can people find you online?
Nina: Well, the easiest place is iThemes.com or if you’re interested in training go to Webdesign.com.
Patrick: And Basic Blog Setup?
Nina: Oh, Basic Blog Setup is my personal business that I do. And also I mean I do marketing to different companies, so yeah, if you need help with your company give me a call.
Patrick: Excellent. And one point I left out, I forgot to mention is we have prizes for our audience guests too, in this case a pro version of All in One SEO Pack and perhaps ironically Build Your Own Wicked WordPress Themes, a book by Alan Cole, Raena Jackson Armitage, Brandon R. Jones, and Jeffrey Wey, so Steve will give you the book and if you want I’ll keep this and make sure you get the other thing, the All in One SEO Pack, so thank you, thank you for coming on.
Nina: Thanks so much, yeah, bye, bye. (Applause)
Patrick: So we’re going to talk about a story, discuss it a little bit, and then if anyone has any thoughts we have a mic and we’d love to hear your thoughts on the story.
Stephan: Chime in.
Patrick: Amazon announced that they are now selling I believe it was they announced for every 100 print books Amazon is selling 105 books on the Amazon Kindle reading device. So how many people have a Kindle? Okay, okay. Far more than know what the Canvass tag is or whatever, so, but yeah, so like I said 105 Kindle books for every 100 print books they sell, so that’s the first time it’s happened where they’ve surpassed the printed book total and have people bought books just to view them on their Kindle or on the apps that Amazon makes available for the Kindle.
Stephan: Does anybody read Kindle books on their iPad or iPhone? And how many people still read print books, like live print books?
Patrick: But they had some interesting numbers on that, and I think what is interesting for web publishers on this story is that the Kindle isn’t just books, right, it’s subscriptions to magazines, to newspapers and to blogs, and so obviously blog subscriptions are not outselling books or they’d be announcing that, but, people are to subscribing to blogs on there, they’re subscribing to other forms of publications beyond just books. So if you are out there and you write a publication, you write a blog or you write some sort of online publication you can syndicate your content through the Kindle and it’s an additional revenue stream for people who pay a monthly fee to view your content on their Kindle, and I bet some it’s like I’d never do that; why would I want to view the blog content on there, I’ll subscribe via RSS or I’ll read it online, but there are people who will pay to have the information delivered their way. And so TechCrunch is on there, for example, if you go to the TechCrunch — if you view the TechCrunch listing they’re number one in their category; TechCrunch makes a lot of money so I’m sure it might not be a meaningful amount of money to them, but it’s padding their bottom line so I think it’s definitely an opportunity for web publishers as well to take advantage of that. And of course people who want to sell published books or go the traditional route, the Kindle’s an open kind of — it’s not an open platform but it’s open to anyone to submit their work and be a part of it.
Stephan: What surprises me about this is there’s a lot of speculation that Kindle wouldn’t be successful based on DRM; everybody was saying the DRM is gonna kill the Kindle and I don’t think we’ve seen that happen especially with the iPhone and iPad apps.
Brad: And how long has the Kindle been out, what, three years, four years?
Patrick: It’s been a while. I mean and that was just the first thing, I mean and part of the DRM thing is DRM, again, a controversial thing but I don’t view it as necessarily evil but the thing that Amazon has done to defuse that is to make the content available, like how can you really complain about DRM if you can go ahead and view it on those devices, I mean if you have the devices and you can view it on those devices I can see people who want to bring it up on this type of phone and be like wow, you know, that’s terrible, but you can’t read anything on here anyway, so yeah, I think they’ve kind of mitigated that by using DRM but also making it available.
Stephan: And for sharing, and they just announced the library they’re gonna have get the book from the library and return the book to the library on the Kindle. I see this as being a good tool.
Brad: Yeah, I mean as long as the Kindle can kind of do all of the things that a normal book would do as far as a digital device can, yeah, I mean I think that’s why it’s done so well. I don’t really read that many books.
Patrick: You just write books, you’ve written more books than you’ve actually read.
Brad: I read stuff on the computer still, you know, so.
Patrick: Written two books, read one.
Brad: But my fiancé has a Kindle and she absolutely loves it, I mean she uses it on a daily basis.
Patrick: And she’s not here is she? She’s outside, not in the room.
Brad: She’s working today, she’s working.
Stephan: Well, I mean the Kindle for me is — how many people know what Instapaper is? Okay, it’s an app where you put a bookmarklet in Chrome or whatever and you go to a long form story, click this link, it sends it to Instapaper and I just plug my Kindle in; I travel a lot, I plug it in, I get the stories I want to read, I don’t get to read on the computer, so to me it’s a timesaver, the Kindle’s a timesaver and that’s why I guess this isn’t very surprising to me.
Brad: And the price, I mean what is it like $120.00, $140.00 bucks; I mean it’s ridiculously cheap for what it is.
Stephan: Yeah, they’ve come down; it’s like $129.00 now, $114.00.
Patrick: You know and the funny thing about the Kindle killer is the iPad, right, people were coming out, they’re like iBooks, you know, Amazon’s going to do for the publishing industry what they did for the music industry, not Amazon, Apple, it’s going to do to the music industry and just dominate that space digitally with books because they’ve got this cool device, it’s color, why would anyone want a Kindle when you can have a color device, and yet that hasn’t really been proven as accurate and part of the reason that’s true is because Amazon has embraced those platforms, right, and said that’s cool, buy an iPad, you can still read our books on it.
Brad: And the actual screen itself, I mean you know you take an iPad outside and it’s really hard to work if it’s bright and sunny out, and the Kindle’s just like reading a book, I mean it’s really nice.
Patrick: Definitely. Does anyone have any thoughts on the Kindle, on anything we discussed up here, anything you’d like add, questions, thought?
Audience Member: Amazon’s making better deals with publishers than Mac is, that’s why.
Patrick: Right. Amazon is making better deal with publishers than Mac is, yeah, I don’t know what deals Apple is offering but I definitely can agree that — I definitely can understand why that would be the case.
Stephan: They’re giving you 70%, right, as a publisher on Kindle you’re getting 70% of the profits, I believe that’s what the number is, so for every dollar you get .70 cents, that’s much better than what I think Apple’s doing, I don’t know the numbers for Apple yet.
Audience Member: Apple is also forcing resellers — has forced resellers out of the market.
Stephan: So forced resellers for Apple for –?
Audience Member: I’m sorry, for book resellers. Reselling electronic books. Will Weedon posted about it on his blog recently. He had an experience with one he used, and they were requiring book resellers to only take a 30% profit, and started chanrging them 30%.
Patrick: Define a reseller in this conversation, what is that?
Audience Member: This is people that are going to the publishers and buying
Patrick: The rights?
Audience Member: the right and reselling them
Patrick: Okay, so they’re like buying the digital rights moreorless. Okay, so you have a company that’s buying the digital rights from the publisher and Apple is penalizing them by tacking on an extra surcharge.
Audience Member: Well, basically they’ve said if you’re going to have an independent book on the iPhone and the iPad, you’re only going to get this much, and then you’re going to pay us that much. I guess they were just getting the book on there until they had their own store ready.
Stephan: So they’re making it harder for people to publish.
Audience Member: Well, they basially toook the profit. They said you can profit 30%, and that model went on for a short while, and then they turned around and said ‘oh no, wait, you gonna have to pay us 30%’ so they pay all their profits
Audience Member: Yeah, rather than saying we are not going to let you do it any more.
Stephan: Thanks for the input.
Audience Member: Well, I just wanted to throw this out there because this is broadcast, it breaks my heart that some of the book sellers are doing so badly. I don’t if you heard about this, but about the same time as the Kindle thing was on the news I heard on NPR that several of our national book sellers are doing so poorly that one just called for bankrupcy and one is doing a serious restructuring, closing some stores, and I just want to say I love books. I want the book experince, and I don’t want that to go away, so all you publishers out there, thank you for putting electronics out there, but please don’t get rid of the books.
Patrick: Okay, to summarize the thoughts, she loves print books, right, you love print books and you’re sorry to see somebody’s going out of business, I can understand that, I mean Brad’s books are published.
Audience Member: You can’t go along with the Kindle.
Patrick: Well, you can, you can, but it’s a matter of taste, it’s a matter of taste, right, and the thing is like Brad’s written two books for Wiley which is a huge publishing house, I’ve written books for The American Management Association which is not as huge, but it’s still pretty big and has an office on Broadway, thank you, and you know I don’t think that when you think about the companies that are leaving, their books are still out there, right, I mean people are still self-publishing books, physical books, and I don’t think that will ever end, or no, wait, I don’t see that ending in my lifetime I suppose is what I’d want to say, ever is a long time, ever, well until the rapture, until 6:00 p.m. or whatever, (laughter) what a bold prediction; I don’t see it ending in the next three hours, bold prediction, no. We’ve got a last comment.
Audience Member: What’s changing is the structure of the way the publishing industry is operating, which has been to have the publisher control the printing, the copyright of the content, basically they sign an offer, they want to own everything on that book and they don’t pay a lot versus how much they rake in. SO they’ve been trying to keep a business model, that old business model alive that can’t compete against the cost cuts that are inherent in electronic publishing. So the way to survive is to brace electronic publishing and also to change the model of the way the publishing company operates.
Stephan: And they have to be able to attract writers now, too, because with the Kindle or with iPads you can self-publish, right, so they’re going to need to do more to attract a writer to their publishing house.
Audience Member: Yeah, but one of the things a publishing house gives you is good editors, excellent distribution, and marketing. Those are the 3 things a publishing house has traditionally given you, cos they’ve taken — There’s a lot of writers out there that have a great concept, but they write for crap, and I know as my wife’s a ghost writer she works with
Brad: Crap writers!
Audience Member: so she rewrites their stuff and makes it make sense and sound good.
Patrick: Yeah, so to summarize the point is that publishers are not adjusting, they’re holding on to their older ways, at least is the thought, and that they’re controlling too much where they’re losing in the competition against kind of the more open digital alternatives authors can go directly to. And it varies by publisher I think too as far as like the copyright because my publisher, the deal I signed is I own the book, I’m giving them the right to print it, giving them the right to distribute it; in the book it says copyright Patrick O’Keefe, so it doesn’t say copyright AMACOM, they actually registered the work with the copyright office in my name not in their name, so I don’t know how Brad’s book works with that, do you happen to know off the top of your head?
Brad: I’m pretty sure they own it.
Patrick: Okay, well it would be on the front page or whatever, yeah, very conscious of you to not be aware of your rights, no.
Brad: Yeah, I should probably look into that I guess.
Stephan: There’s various things like publisher rights.
Patrick: Yeah, right. Yeah, and some are doing it, some are not, to me it’s kind of business and I guess we’ll see who survives long term. And with that I think we’ll close out our first hour.
Theme music by Mike Mella.
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Louis joined SitePoint in 2009 as a technical editor, and has since moved over into a web developer role at Flippa. He enjoys hip-hop, spicy food, and all things geeky.