"A unique, wry and often satirical look at the Internet, the modern age and life in general" (there is way too much search-engine competition for the phrase "incoherent ramblings")

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Burn your books, get your reading life back on track!

Reading re-Kindled
I've been wanting to remark on this for a while but haven't got round to looking into it properly - the new "Kindle" from Amazon (what kind of a name is that?!) Well, having read up on it a bit more, or at least Amazon's blurb I can say it has certainly caught my interest. What is the Kindle? In short, an e-book reader, one that initially retails at $399, which seems a bit steep given that they are probably looking to sell lots of titles on the back of it, titles downloadable via Amazon.com of course. In particular it features some kind of "electronic paper" display, which means no backlighting needed, and a good contrast and quality of print which can be compared to a "real" book. Also, claim Amazon, it is about the size, or smaller, than a "real" book.

How many books do you read? Do you read e-books? If you are an avid reader, you may well have disdained e-books until now as being "not like the real thing". If you don't read at all, why is that? Is it the lack of time?

I "got into" e-books about a year or two ago when I bought a Palm PDA and installed an e-book reader on it. I have never looked back. After the initial period of becoming accustomed to reading off a screen my reading habits were revolutionised. Suddenly I was carrying a "book" everywhere with me - lots of them in fact - and using those odd bits of spare time (waiting at the post office, riding on public transport) to read a few pages here, a few pages there. I must have read dozens and dozens of books since then, all in e-form. I am working through all those titles that I never thought I would ever get round to reading. Currently I am reading Asimov's entire works - perhaps I'll get round to reading some serious classics too!

Get your reading life back on track
Forget all that sentimentality about "curling up with a good book" (by which people usually mean a real, paper book) - if you want to get your reading life back on track you need something like Kindle, and Amazon should be patting themselves on the back for a great move.

I can think of only one main disadvantage with this system, and that is that the Kindle is a dedicated e-book reader and is therefore yet another gadget you have to carry around with you. I may well even stick to my Windows Smartphone for my e-book reading pleasure for now, even though it will probably ruin my eyes with its little screen! But whether you go with the Kindle or some other system, think about it - maybe it is time you burned your books and started reading again! And maybe e-books and Kindle are the way to make it happen.

P.S. The Kindle is currently sold out, according to the Amazon page (click picture above) and will not be available to ship before Christmas. High demand perhaps another hint that this is where the future is...

Blogrush - a trickle of targeted readers...

As Agloco dies a much-predicted death, my thoughts turn to Blogrush, another much-virally-publicised scheme, supposedly for "Driving a flood of targeted readers to your blog" by installing a sidebar widget which syndicates articles from related blogs in the widget, and in return syndicates your articles to other related blogs. Like a big, happy, network of blogs. It gained initial publicity by way of a referral scheme which promised even more torrents of visitors by way of a credits scheme, though was slightly more salubrious than Agloco in that it did not promise any money per se!

What happened?
It should have worked, I am still scratching my head to figure out why it has been such an abject failure. But the fact is, after TENS of thousands of impressions (i.e. syndications of my blog article links to other people's sites via the widgets) I have received a grand total of something like 7 visits through this channel. Are they just plain incompetent, is the widget not catchy enough (it would have to be positively repellent to give me a clickthrough of 0.01% - give or take), or was it all just a scam of some kind (hmm, let's run a failed business, cunning scheme!)?

I probably left the widget in prime position on my blog for longer than most. But now it's got to go, here and on my other blogs. I won't bother waiting for the announcement like I did with Agloco...

Monday, December 10, 2007

STOP PRESS! Agloco dies a death!

If anyone was in on the wild and crazy, make-money-to-surf Agloco scheme they would have received this email during the day:

We would like to update you on the status of AGLOCO's operations. We continue to believe in the AGLOCO concept, but our revenue is currently not sufficient to give Members a meaningful distribution. And though there are increases in membership, the resulting revenue is not enough to support operating costs. As a development team we are unable to continue to use our savings to fund the operations. If any Member would like to pursue continuing the operations of AGLOCO, you may contact us at agloco1@live.com.
Just in case you need my wise interpretation of this missive, it means - "the idea never worked, it was doomed from the beginning, Agloco has gone &^%&%-up".

The history
If you didn't know, we were told that Agloco was going to help us all make money online, just by installing a "viewbar" which showed ads while we surfed, the toolbar being programmed by poor underpaid Chinese workers in Shanghai. (well, that was my slightly biased take). The idea had MANY detractors from the beginning, but also had gazillions of people promoting it, not least the mighty John Chow - who will no doubt still defend his decision - indeed, there were people actually paying for major Adwords campaigns which were still running until about, ooh, 12 hours ago!!

Now it's all gone pear-shaped. I don't want to gloat, I kind of feel sorry for them. Maybe it was worth a try. But something stank about it from the very beginning.

We can discuss the reasons for the much-predicted death of Agloco, but one thing is for sure - there is still seemingly NO evidence that anyone will ever be "paid to surf" in "any meaningful way" to use their own expression...

Facebook: Take the money and RUN!!

I am not the first to notice this, but Facebook is becoming ANNOYING!

Yes, it is clever, darned clever, fiendishly effective at drawing you in - it ensures that unlike with MySpace you are basically in contact with people who are genuinely your friends, and who is going to refuse to click on a link that says, "Your friend xxxx has sent you a message..."?

But this viral vivacity could be its downfall. Things seem to have gone downhill since I wrote I scorn your Facebook "friendship" - I am now daily assailed with these messages of the type "Your friend XXX has...", and do you know what you most often get when you click on these? An invitation to install yet another application, which a friend of yours has installed, probably after being similarly prompted.

The main problem is that most applications upon installation also automatically tick your entire friend list and if you don't UNtick them, ALL your contacts also get an invitation to install the same application. And like I said, your friends will hardly refuse you...

This is out of order and it's got to stop. Facebook should return to the original reasons for its success - the creation of a genuine, consensual, fun social network. Either that, or TAKE THE MONEY AND RUN Facebook, because I am not the only one mumbling dissent. If Facebook continues on this path I can see it rapidly declining to the point where they'll be lucky to get tuppence ha'penny for it.

And my advice to you is - start pruning that friend list (hey, erm, what DOES happen if you delete a friend, does Facebook tell EVERYBODY, or can you do it, quiet-like?) and ignoring some of those notifications. And if you really must install yet another application, UNTICK all your friends before you do so! Facebook must be kept under control lest it mutate and die the death of an out-of-control virus...