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I had already written multiple Twitter bots by this time so I decided to just use some of my existing code to poll Twitter’s search API. Essentially, the “documents” I mentioned above were actually tweets containing the terms “book” or “books.” Two and a half days later I had a working prototype that could generate a book recommendation from a given tweet. It was at this time that I added steps 5 and 6:

Tag URLs returned from Amazon’s ItemSearch with an affiliate ID; and Reply to the tweeting user with their new book suggestion

Four months later and I had generated over $7,000 in sales for Amazon with over $400 commission for myself.

(via How I Made Money Spamming Twitter with Contextual Book Suggestions – charleshooper.net)

Read this is you are determined to build a Twitter keyword spambot. The author throttled the amount of tweets, recorded usernames so he wouldn’t annoy the same person twice and generally did his best to build a relevant spambot with good etiquette.

Link

Top 10 overused buzzwords in LinkedIn Profiles in the USA – 2010

  1. Extensive experience
  2. Innovative
  3. Motivated
  4. Results-oriented
  5. Dynamic
  6. Proven track record
  7. Team player
  8. Fast-paced
  9. Problem solver
  10. Entrepreneurial

(via blog.linkedin.com)

I am a highly motivated team player with extensive experience producing innovative, dynamic, fast paced and results-oriented work. As an innovative problem solver with a proven track record and a dynamic entrepreneurial streak, you will soon discover that I am basically the all singing, all dancing crap of the world.

Job please!

Humble Indie Bundle 2

It’s Humble Indie Bundle time again. This time the bundle has five indie games on offer: Braid, Cortex Command, Machinarium, Osmos and Revenge of the Titans. You really can’t beat the deal:

Pay what you want. If you bought these five games separately, it would cost around $85 but we’re letting you set the price!

All of the games work great on Mac, Windows, and Linux.

We don’t use DRM. When you buy these games, they are yours. Feel free to play them without an internet connection, back them up, and install them on all of your Macs and PCs freely. There is no time-limit on your downloads.

You can support charity. Choose exactly how your purchase money is divided: Between the game developers, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, or the Child’s Play Charity. Also, if you like this deal, a tip to the Humble Bundle itself would be much appreciated!

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An interesting Time article about Shawn ‘Napster’ Fanning, DVD Jon, Justin ‘WinAmp’ Frankel, Bram ‘BitTorrent’ Cohen and the entertainment industry apocalypse that never happened.

It turns out that there is something that can compete with free: easy. Napster, Gnutella and BitTorrent never attained the user-friendliness that Apple products have, and nobody vets the content on file-sharing networks, so while the number of files on offer is enormous, the files are rotten with ads, porn, spyware and other garbage. When Jobs offered us the easy way out, we took it. Freedom is overrated, apparently — at least where digital media are concerned.

via The Men Who Stole the World – time.com

No such thing as bad publicity – for SEO

A fascinating story about a scumbag sales operation, DecorMyEyes.com, who leaned that a link is a link, and Google doesn’t care if it’s a good review or a scathing rant – so why make the effort to give good service?

“Hello, My name is Stanley with DecorMyEyes.com,” the post began. “I just wanted to let you guys know that the more replies you people post, the more business and the more hits and sales I get. My goal is NEGATIVE advertisement.”

It’s all part of a sales strategy, he said. Online chatter about DecorMyEyes, even furious online chatter, pushed the site higher in Google search results, which led to greater sales. He closed with a sardonic expression of gratitude: “I never had the amount of traffic I have now since my 1st complaint. I am in heaven.”

[...]

The strange part is that Google is intimately familiar with the rage inspired by DecorMyEyes. If you type the company’s name in a Google Shopping search, you’ll see a collection of more than 300 reviews, many of them arias sung in the key of livid.

[...]

In short, a Google side stage — Google Shopping — is now hosting a marathon reading of DecorMyEyes horror stories. But those tales aren’t even hinted at in the company’s premier arena, its main search page.

“It’s fair to say,” Mr. Sullivan concludes, “that this is a failure on Google’s part.”

via For DecorMyEyes, Bad Publicity Is a Good Thing – nytimes.com

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How to make half a million dollars with a virtual asteroid

Many people might balk at the idea of paying even a dollar for virtual cow in a game like Farmville. But Jon Jacobs has just sold a virtual space station he’s spent the past five years managing for a whopping $635,000 in total, making over half a million dollars. Who would devote so much time and investment into something that doesn’t exist in the real world?

via Meet The Man Who Just Made A Half Million From The Sale Of Virtual Property – blogs.forbes.com

Hmm, maybe I’m going about this all wrong…

Lekki: Marketing old mobiles

Lëkki is a French company specializing in “revamped” mobile phones from the 1990s, reinvigorated with bright new paint jobs.

via Anyone Want A Retro Mobile? – retrothing.com

This is a brilliant marketing idea.

  1. Find scrapheap tech.
  2. Apply cosmetic improvements, slick packaging and lifestyle marketing.
  3. Sell to retro geeks, eco nerds, design hipsters and luddites.
  4. Profit.

Or: Reinvent refuse, recycle!

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Link

Playbutton is a wonderful idea that would make music collectable again and give artists back the ability to sell an album experience instead of just letting people cherry-pick individual tracks. Music piracy would still be pretty straightforward, but this idea taps into the desire to own and display something that represents what you love. They could be pretty cheap too and – so long as the audio quality is good – be a huge hit.

Would be nice to see a design with an iPod shuffle-like clip instead of a pin.

Tweetcarts: Can we have some of these in Cardiff?

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This is a brilliant idea – food trucks that move around and advertise their presence on Twitter! Examples from the states include @Whiffies (deep fried pies?), @kogibbq (Korean BBQ tacos, with over 74,000 followers!), the wonderful looking @RickshawTruck (dumplings), @DumplingStation (more dumplings) and @cremebruleecart (‘better living through dessert’). I’m sure there are others.

Can some dumpling chef start one of these in Cardiff please? (And if you do, try and think of some clever ways to use Foursquare / Gowalla / Facebook Places as well as Twitter.)

EDIT 19.09.2010: Our very own mobile Twitter entrepreneur @big_blue_bike just pointed out to me a brilliant variation of this from Copenhagen: A Coffee Bike!

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South East Wales Local Exchange Trading System

Update 2012.01.11: Since this post was written, SEWLETS have (wisely) rebranded as Cardiff Taffs Community Currency.

South East Wales Local Exchange Trading System

SEWLETS is all about getting back a sense of community spirit. As a group we exchange all kinds of goods and services with each other, using community credits. You might earn credits by painting a fence for a neighbour, then you could spend those credits getting computer help from someone else in the group. So the circle goes on, always helping people in our community. Our credits are called “Taffs”, and you should value them at about one pound each. LETS are already popular across the UK, including Bristol, Bath, Edinburgh and several areas of London. If you value community spirit then this will be just the thing for you!

via sewlets.org.uk

Discovered via a tweet from Guardian Cardiff, this is my first exposure to the idea of a Local Exchange Trading System. It reminded me of a great science fiction story I read years ago: “…And Then There Were None” by Eric Frank Russell. It’s the final story from a novel where a starship is visiting different human colonies in the hopes of establishing an empire…

The final planet, K22g, has developed an unusual social system. The population call themselves Gands (after Gandhi) and practice a form of classless, philosophically anarchic libertarianism, based on passive resistance (“Freedom – I won’t!” and “Myob!”); and a money-free gift economy based on barter and favour-exchange, using “obs” (obligations). To perform a service for somebody “lays an ob” on them; they can then “kill the ob” by returning the favor.[1]

via The Great Explosion – en.wikipedia.org

SEWLETS are using a Drupal plugin called Local Currencies for functionality:

Local Currencies (Complementary currencies) is an all-embracing and flexible package which includes a mutual credit engine, transaction forms and displays, including several views and blocks. It can be used as a digital back end for paper money projects, or to run an entire LETS or Timebank. With a little tweaking, it can manage currencies conforming to a wide range of designs.

via drupal.org

Interesting stuff. Sadly without signing up there’s no way to gauge how much of a community there is (the forums are certainly quiet). Some kind of dashboard on the front page (ideally showing a thriving community of people trading various skills) would make a huge difference. Maybe I’ll sign up when I have some free time and report back…

Follow SEWLETS on Twitter

Set music free

Musopen: Record and release free music without copyrights.

A group of classical music lovers have successfully appealed for funds to release copyright-free versions of symphonies by four famous composers. The money will pay for an orchestra to record the music on an “all rights basis”.

The project, Musopen, aims to deal with a problem caused by the way copyright laws work. Although the actual symphonies written by composers in, for example, the 19th century are long out of copyright, there is separate protection for every individual performance by an orchestra. That means that in most cases, the only recordings currently in the public domain are very old performances generally recorded with poor quality equipment and plagued with hiss and crackle.

via tech.blorge.com (via slashdot)

This is such a brilliant project, and another fantastic example of Kickstarter helping people make great ideas become a reality.

Want to make a living as a creator online? Find your ‘true fan’ number.

While some artists have discovered this path without calling it that, I think it is worth trying to formalize. The gist of 1,000 True Fans can be stated simply:

A creator, such as an artist, musician, photographer, craftsperson, performer, animator, designer, videomaker, or author – in other words, anyone producing works of art – needs to acquire only 1,000 True Fans to make a living.

A True Fan is defined as someone who will purchase anything and everything you produce. They will drive 200 miles to see you sing. They will buy the super deluxe re-issued hi-res box set of your stuff even though they have the low-res version. They have a Google Alert set for your name. They bookmark the eBay page where your out-of-print editions show up. They come to your openings. They have you sign their copies. They buy the t-shirt, and the mug, and the hat. They can’t wait till you issue your next work. They are true fans.

(via 1,000 True Fans – kk.org)

He goes on to explain that the number of ‘true fans’ may be different depending on what you want to do, how many people you work with and even where you live. Personally, I would drop the ‘1,000’ bit.

Anyway, I’ve heard this notion expressed before, I think in an interview with Jonathan Coulton. As someone who has been a passionate fan of several writers, artists and filmmakers I can totally believe in this model. You don’t have to buy into the notion that you either become a megastar or a failure. So long as you know you’re great at whatever it is you do, there should be a way to make a living out of it.

Doctor Who business jargon

Quote

“Weeping Angel” problem – an issue in a project (or similar) which is under control while someone is actively watching it but will go badly wrong the moment that no-one is observing/managing.

This great example of project management speak just got emailed around work, via Yammer: