Category Archives: Conferences

Blogs with Balls, June 13, NYC

I was in New York on June 13 with NESN, visiting the Blogs With Balls conference, which is a conference for people involved in both blogging and sports.  The conference is still in its infancy, with an attendance of around 250, and it was held in the basement of Stout, which wasn’t all bad, since the Guinness 250 lunch started around 11:30. Rockin’ good times.

The conference was an eclectic mix ranging from CEO’s of blog networks like YardBarker and SBNation to individual bloggers who have taken the leap from corporate life to the risky world of independent blogging.  Conference topics ranged from leveraging social media and working with content networks, to getting down to business with making money with your blog.  I especially enjoyed Kathleen Hessert‘s discussion about how Sports Media Challenge proposed Twitter to Shaq, and not only did he embrace the technology, but his Tweets now have a circulation larger than the daily circulation of the New York Times.  Simply astounding.

Three Things You Need to Know

My largest takeaways from the conference:

  • Become a portal.  If your site can be the start of a discussion, you can increase users and traffic exponentially.
  • Join a blog network.  If you haven’t considered it, joining a blog network can be a tremendous benefit to your traffic.  I’m going to get into more detail on this in a future post (I’m reading “ProBlogger” right now…)
  • Integrate related industry content gracefully.

Become a Content Ninja

I’d like to get into a bit more detail on that last one.  It seems to me that there are a lot of large blog sites out there that do one of the two following items, and do them well, and lead their category or niche because of it:

  1. Offer original content.
  2. Offer aggregate content.

It also seems that the tendency of companies that already do one is to stick with that one, and not designate much focus to the other.  What I heard resoundingly at this conference is that if you can master both, and do it with a little flair, you can likely top your niche or category.  The trick is finding enough original content to come up with, and being tech-savvy enough to incorporate the aggregate content.  Of course, there are new web services like Yahoo! Pipes that are making this easier to accomplish practically daily.

Definitely Check it Out

Overall, this was an extremely beneficial experience, and I would recommend it to anyone in the New York area who has an interest in sports on the web.  Definitely check it out next time around.  They’re supposedly going to post video from the show on the BWB site, so keep an eye on it over the coming weeks.


SXSW and jQuery

So right about now I’m wishing that if I could be anywhere, it would be at SXSW (South by Southwest).  For those of you who don’t know, its about the coolest festival on the planet.  And I don’t know from experience, just from colleagues and coworkers and podcasts and industry moguls giving me an earful.

In addition to being a hotspot for web design, SXSW boasts an impressive musical lineup each year, and this year I’ll be disappointed that I’ve missed The Everyday Visuals, Madi Diaz, and the undisputable heavyweight of soul, Miss Erykah Badu.

I’ve been hearing about it for weeks, from Paul Boag blabbering about it on his Boagworld podcast, to having to postpone projects with colleagues who are attending, to CSS guru Eric Meyer tweeting, “If you’re not going to SXSW, tweet like you’re there.  Nobody will know the difference.”  Yeah, that almost makes up for not being able to attend.

But alas, I am not one to linger, and the time spent here at home has given me the opportunity to start exploring jQuery, which was recommended to me by Alex King, famed author of the WordPress Popularity Contest plugin, and another item that Paul Boag has been going on endlessly about for months now.  I finally broke down and downloaded the library and started playing with it.

From my first impressions, Paul has reason to be going on endlessly.  It seems that the potential of what a web designer or developer can accomplish with the JavaScript library is in fact endless.  The first item that caught my eye was the fact that on the jQuery homepage they offer the expanded, developer version of the library, along with the compressed, production version.  I was immediately reminded of the hours I’ve spent testing the best method to minify, compress and serve my Prototype and Scriptaculous libraries.  jQuery does this for me?  Fantastic.

Second, I was really impressed with the quality and quantity of documentation.  Compared to Prototype, jQuery blows it out of the water in terms of a working online manual.  I think I’ve officially moved the “Prototype and” book to the back of my “must read” list.  I’ve actually read the first half of it already, but it was cryptic and would have required re-reading on my part to fully absorb the material.  jQuery is the complete opposite.  There are video tutorials explaning the beginner steps.  Video tutorials.

The last thing about jQuery that really hooked me was the ease with which a web designer can pick up the library.  A lot of the arguments you pass to the library are the same as in CSS.  So if you’re looking for a div with the id of conference, you pass (“#conference”) as the argument.

It seems like its going to be really easy to quickly get up to speed with the library, and that it has a lot of power in terms of what you can do with it.  If you’re interested, check out the jQuery site, the jQuery UI site, as well as some of the video tutorials. Really, really, really cool stuff.