Posts Tagged ‘Wikipedia’

What is Creative Commons?

Thursday, January 17th, 2008

Creative Commons logoCopyright has gotten a whole lot blurrier with the Internet. Copyright is one of those things that used to be very cut and dry – someone would write something, it would be printed (on paper) and there would be a copyright notice on it. No one else was allowed to reprint that thing without permission or quote marks and an attribution. End of story.

But on the Web, things are much more hazy.

First of all, content is much harder to control. If you write and publish something (or take a photo or a video or record a podcast), it’s out there in all its digital glory for all to see – and copy. Sometimes it’s copied with the OK of the original creator, sometimes there is an attribution, and sometimes things are just stolen – total copyright infringement, difficult to prove, harder to enforce.

For example in the earlier days of the Web (early 2000s), a company that I worked for had a network of about 40 Web sites. Overnight, all of the sites were completely de-listed from Google. The reason? Some other company had, unbeknownst to us, stolen ALL OF THE CONTENT FROM ALL OF OUR SITES, and created duplicate sites based on that content. Google saw this as “duplicate content” and a “spam island,” and we were kicked out. We eventually got back in, but not after a whole world of trouble and difficulty and pain and anguish (you get the point).

So it is with this issue, this difficulty in mind, that the Creative Commons licenses came to be. To quote exactly from the Creative Commons site, this is what the license are:

“Creative Commons defines the spectrum of possibilities between full copyright — all rights reserved — and the public domain — no rights reserved. Our licenses help you keep your copyright while inviting certain uses of your work — a “some rights reserved” copyright.”

In my words, these licenses allow content providers on the Web to allow other people to use (or not use) their content based on a clear set of guidelines.

The following are the different Creative Commons licenses and how they are used. Again, I’m taking this straight from their Web site:

Attribution Non-commercial (by-nc)
by nc cc license logoThis license lets others remix, tweak, and build upon your work non-commercially, and although their new works must also acknowledge you and be non-commercial, they don’t have to license their derivative works on the same terms.

Attribution No Derivatives (by-nd)by nd cc license
This license allows for redistribution, commercial and non-commercial, as long as it is passed along unchanged and in whole, with credit to you.

Attribution Share Alike (by-sa)
This license lets others remix, tweak, and build upon your work even by sa cc licensefor commercial reasons, as long as they credit you and license their new creations under the identical terms. This license is often compared to open source software licenses. All new works based on yours will carry the same license, so any derivatives will also allow commercial use.

Attribution (by)
This license lets others distribute, remix, tweak, and build upon yoby cc licenseur work, even commercially, as long as they credit you for the original creation. This is the most accommodating of licenses offered, in terms of what others can do with your works licensed under Attribution.

For more information on Creative Commons, here’s the Wikipedia listing. Flickr’s explanation of the licenses is here.

What is SEO?

Tuesday, December 11th, 2007

SEOSearch engine optimization or SEO is the practice of trying to get your Web site to appear higher in a search engine’s organic search results for the keywords for which you want to be listed. The idea is that if someone is searching for a term that is related to your business, you want to be listed at the top of the search results page because that person will be more likely to click on your listing and come to your Web site. Organic search results are the “natural” search results, or the listings that are free. More about organic vs. paid listings below.

There are many factors that contribute to where sites are listed in organic search results – the combination of these factors is called the “algorithm.” Only some of these factors can be impacted with SEO tactics:

  • Domain name – If your keywords are listed in your URL, you’ll have a better chance of being ranked higher in the search results for those terms.
  • Duration - The longer your site has existed, the higher you’ll be ranked.
  • Content – If you have high-quality content on your Web site, and the content matches the keywords for which you’re trying to rank, you’ll have better luck getting listed. It’s also beneficial if your site has frequently updated content.
  • Metadata – This is data that allows you to describe your Web site with a title, description and keywords. Metadata sits behind the scenes on your Web page and plays a factor in organic search results.
  • Incoming links – If your site has a number of other sites pointing to it, the search algorithms will determine that it’s of higher value and will list it higher in the search results. You will get an even bigger benefit from incoming links if the text that links to you contains the keywords for which you’re trying to rank.

SEO may sound like a relatively simple concept, but there are SEO experts who execute these tactics full-time and trust me – it’s more complex and difficult than it sounds. This post is just meant to be a starting definition of the term, and not a how-to or training guide in any way. For that info, follow the resources links below.

One quick comment about organic vs. paid search listings: All the various search engines display both free and paid listings on their search results pages. For example, if you type the term “SEO” into Google, the results that you get back will be a combination of organic (or natural) search results and paid search results. The screenshot below has the paid search results areas circled in red.

SEO google search

Let me say again that SEO can be fairly complicated and I am just scratching the surface with this definition. I definitely recommend checking out some of these additional SEO resources:

What does 16th Letter mean?

Wednesday, December 5th, 2007

Hands down, the most frequent question I get about this blog is about its name and what 16th Letter means. I’m glad that everyone who asks thinks that it must mean something, but so far, no one has figured it out without me telling them. So here’s the scoop.

I love piI started a company this year called Pure Incubation. The naming process was difficult, but when Pure Incubation came up as an initial idea, part of the appeal of the name was that the initials are “PI” – like pi (or pie). The super-geeky part of me really liked some of the symbolically interesting things about naming a company after pi (the 3.14 version), if you read up on the listing in Wikipedia you’ll see what I mean, but here are the highlights:

  • Pi is related to math. I am not a big math-lover, so I like the irony.
  • Pi is “transcendental” – in math definition is too hard to explain, but its other definition is “surpassing all others” or “beyond common thought or experience.”
  • People often say that pi is infinite, but it isn’t – it’s “irrational.” This is another math term that means that a number can’t be written as the ratio of two integers – you cannot reach the end of trying to calculate the exact value of the number.
  • There were many people who worked extensively on calculating pi across many nations and cultures and centuries. The first was Archimedes around 250 B.C. Over the years, mathematicians from Greece, China, Babylonia, Egypt, India, Scotland, Germany and France dedicated their entire lives to working on the calculation. It was considered to be a great breakthrough in 1424 when a Persian calculated the number to 16 decimals. There was something so appealing about this number that people dedicated their lives to discovering more about it.
  • With the advent of computers, work on pi was revolutionized. In 1949, John von Neumann used ENIAC to compute 2,037 digits of pi – a calculation that took 70 hours. The current record (set in 2002) is pi calculated to 1,241,100,000,000 decimals.

That was likely more information than you ever wanted to know about pi.

After I figured out the company name, I needed to come up with a name for my blog. I wanted it to be related to Pure Incubation, but not tied so closely to it that it couldn’t stand alone. Finally, it dawned on me that pi is the 16th letter of the Greek alphabet.

Photo by jaqian

Globalization, the Internet & Montreal

Monday, September 24th, 2007

Montreal flagThis summer, my husband Chris and I took a vacation from our home north of Boston to Montreal. When we were preparing to go, I asked a number of people who had traveled there in the past if it would be a big deal that neither of us spoke French. They all told us that it would not be a problem, that everyone in Montreal speaks both French and English. They described the Canadian city as being “very European” but said it was accessible, that we wouldn’t have any trouble traveling there even with our complete lack of French-language comprehension.

After hearing their reassurances, I admit that I didn’t think that Montreal was going to be much different than the United States. So I was surprised when we got to the city. The language wasn’t a barrier, exactly, but it was a differentiator. Although everyone I spoke to in Montreal did speak English, it was usually evident that they all would prefer to be speaking French. Every street name, sign, menu and all the directions that we came across were in French (although sometimes there was an English translation). And there were other subtle issues that made us feel like we were away – the food, the fashions, and the intangible but definite feel of the town that was so, well, different.

For me, our experience in Montreal served to highlight how hard it is to “go global.” I don’t mean this in a technical sense, because it isn’t difficult to set up a Web site that will reach an international audience. What I’m referring to is the ability to create an experience on the Internet that feels local to an international audience. That is very difficult indeed.

Certainly this isn’t a new challenge, and there are some companies that have been working on their international Internet strategies for years. The Global by Design blog has a great analysis of  the top 10 global sites. This list is comprised of both Internet companies (Google and Wikipedia) as well as more old-school technology companies (Cisco Systems and Phillips).  Along with these leaders, there are a number of Web 2.0 companies that are beginning to effectively reach into global markets. Flickr, the community-based photo sharing site, offers eight language options along the footer of every page. The site also greets its users with a welcome in a different language every time they come (today my page says “Shalom 16thletter! Now you know how to greet people in Hebrew!”) in an effort to make the global community “feel” part of its users’ everyday experience. announced in late 2006 that it would be extending its site internationally, and they now offer international options as part of each users’ account settings to allow people to customize their local experience.

But even though most companies have globalization top-of-mind when building their sites, it is still a challenge in the details. In this post from Angela Randall on allfacebook – the unofficial facebook blog, she lists the subtle issues that make Facebook annoying for her to use in Australia. Her complaints include issues such as the seasons (which are different in the Southern hemisphere), states (international states aren’t included in Facebook) and study levels (Australia calls different levels by different terms than are used in the U.S.). All of these issues create enough dissonance for her to write, “Yeah, we know Facebook was developed in the US and has evolved from there but it’s time to extend some of the usability to international users.”

Ikea logoAnd another example that I would offer up is Ikea. The Swedish furniture retailer is perhaps one of the most successful global sites today – the company’s home page features a list of countries from which to choose to customize my Web experience, and they do a good job when I arrive at the United States version of the Web site. But in a subtle way, perhaps because of that initial global landing page or maybe because of the slightly different design style that is the signature of the company and permeates the site, I am constantly reminded that this is not a U.S. company. This leads to the feeling that I am not “at home” on the site. It isn’t 100% comfortable and familiar.

And this is the heart of the matter – what does it mean that I don’t feel at home on the site because it isn’t 100% comfortable? That feeling, that experience – it’s not quantifiable or measurable by any scientific methods or usability testing. And it is just this type of intangible that we have to get right in order to effectively “go global” on a local level. And it is also what makes the process so difficult.

~ Today’s view:

Million dollar domain names

Friday, September 21st, 2007

Million Dollar BillI compiled this list from a variety of sources. I tried to double-check them all, but I want to throw out a disclaimer that some may not be reliable. The information that’s available about domain name sales can be sketchy because many times the people who are doing the buying and selling don’t want to reveal information about their transactions because it can hurt them in future bargaining. So to the best of my knowledge, this is the most up-to-date list of domain names that have sold for millions of dollars. – $20+ million – (I can’t find a reliable source for this – the domain was for sale by at a silent auction in Amsterdam in May, but I can’t find a confirmation of who bought the domain or how much it went for. Rumors are more than $20 million)  - $12 million – $9.5 million – $7.5 million – $7.5 million – $7 million – $5.5 million – $5 million – $5.1 million – $5 million – $3.5 million -  $3.3 million – $3 million – $3 million – $3 million – $2.9 million – $2.75 million – $2.2 million$1.8 million – $1.5 million – $1.5 million  - $1.5 million – $1.4 million – $1.18 million – $1.12 million – $1 million – $1 million – $1 million – $957,937 – (This was the most expensive domain that I came across, so I thought I would include it)

Do you know of any others?


UPDATE: – $2.2 million$1 million$1.015 million – $2.6 million

~ Today’s view:

I used the following sources in compiling this blog post: Internet Marketing

Royal Pingdom

Unhandled Perception