Posts tagged Making

Making Customer Support Part Of Your SEO Program

There’s been a lot of discussion around breaking down silos within marketing departments, and columnist Casie Gillette notes the benefits of breaking down inter-departmental barriers as well.

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Making Customer Support Part Of Your SEO Program – Search Engine Land

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Making Customer Support Part Of Your SEO Program
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Your support team can be a key factor in both your overall marketing program and your SEO program in particular. Keeping an open line of communication between the two departments can result in better content, links, and more customers. Here's how: …

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Are You Making Social Media Contribute to Your SEO? by @searchrook

We have been hearing it for years now. Google refused to comment on it and digital marketers keep speculating the “Does it, or doesn’t it?” question from every possible angle. The general consensus has been that social media does, to some extent, affect search rankings for a URL or brand page. All of Google’s reluctance to feature other social networks has finally buckled with the official inclusion of Facebook, Twitter, and other social networks in their Knowledge Graph. Google and other search engines out there purportedly pick up on “social signals” that emanate from links popular on social media, i.e. […]

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SearchCap: Making Your Website Evergreen, Bing Upgrades Safe Search & No More Credit Cards For Adwords Customers

Below is what happened in search today, as reported on Search Engine Land and from other places across the web.

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Making Android Apps Just Got Easier: Android Studio Officially Debuts

To make building apps easier, Google just released the first official version of its Android Studio development environment for Android developers.

Android Studio improves on Eclipse, the previous Android software tool, in some significant ways—in part by offering simpler startup, a intelligent code editing and more options for “building” apps from the underlying code. The new environment is built on a popular Java tool, the IntelliJ IDEA (Community Edition) Java development environment, and offers both cosmetic and analytical improvements over its predecessor.

Google launched a preview version of Android Studio last year at its I/O summer conference. The software-making and testing tools were hailed as a leap forward for Android development at the time, so the the full, stable release ought to give app makers plenty to work with. 

Features include a first-run setup wizard, sample importing and code templates, emulators and a “User Interface Design,” which lets developers preview Android Layouts in various screen sizes, languages and API versions (see our API explainer).  

In the announcement, Android product manager Jamal Eason wrote: 

Similar to the Chrome release channels, Android Studio will continue to receive updates on four different release channels: Stable, Beta, Dev, Canary. Canary builds are at the bleeding edge of development, while the stable release is fully tested. With this range of release channels you can choose how quickly you want to get the latest features for Android Studio.

If you used the developer preview, note that this release offers several bug fixes and improvements, among them version 1.0 of the Gradle plugin for app building. “The communication between Android Studio and the Gradle plugin is now stable,” added Eason, “and updating one will not require updating the other.” 

For more details or to download Android Studio, visit the developer portal

Lead photo by Ash Kyd

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Let’s All Save These Historic Works Of Feminist Game Making From Obscurity

Editor’s Note: This was originally published by our partners at Kill Screen.

In the midst of the “pink games” boom of the mid ’90s, a female-targeted CD-ROM emerged that appeared to treat its audience with a little more respect than usual.

Chop-Suey, co-created by Theresa Duncan and Monica Gesue (with narration by then-unknown author David Sedaris), explored the quirky everyday life of a midwestern girl. The vibrantly colored personal narrative even snagged Entertainment Weekly‘s 1995 CD-ROM of the Year award. The win stood out in the usually male-dominated list as a representation of what critic Jenn Frank called, “the criminally underrepresented: that is, the wild imagination of some girl aged 7 to 12.”

For more stories about video games and culture, follow@killscreen on Twitter.

Before her death in 2007, Duncan went on to create two other acclaimed and distinctly female CD-ROM adventures: Smarty in 1996, and Zero Zero in 1997. After less than two decades, these strong early examples of female-oriented game spaces and game making are slipping into obscurity, disappearing from minds as effectively as CD-ROM drives are disappearing from the newest laptop models.

That’s why Rhizome, a NYC-based nonprofit digital arts organization, has taken to Kickstarter to raise the funds they need to preserve these important artifacts. As Rhizome curator Michael Connor explains, the organization’s interest and investment in preserving Theresa’s work is double-fold. “They are an excellent example of the lyrical possibilities of the CD-ROM and important, overlooked works by women,” Conner said. “And I also want people, especially girls, to be able to explore and enjoy them again.”

‘Wonderfully unconventional interactions’

Connor and the Rhizome team have been working closely with Duncan’s family members, friends  and fans in order to deepen their already evident reverence for the work.

“I love the sounds and smells that weave through the writing,” Connor said. “The wacko humor and the bulletproof cultural sophistication, the sense of a rich community of collaborators and an absolutely unique central vision.” 

See also: What World of Warcraft Borrowed From FarmVille

After recently re-playing Chop Suey with someone who was very close to Duncan, Connor found himself discovering even more wonderfully unconventional interactions. In a scene where the two main girls are at a picnic, for example, he learned that if a you pick up the X-ray glasses from a picnic table in the game, you can see the adults’ underwear through their clothes. “It’s really funny, and it feels like an imaginative take on a very real and normal scene from a little girl’s life,” Conner said. “There’s a lot of joy in that scene. If you click on the pickle, it will sing you a song about how it’s OK if you don’t like it, while [game characters] Aunt Vera and Ned dance to tunes on the AM radio.”

One of Rhizome’s core principles is the digital preservation of these kind of seminal but out-of-date computer-based art, a pursuit too often overlooked. As curator, Connor is adamant in his belief that “the general inaccessibility of legacy works of digital art is impoverishing our culture and holding us all back,” and that Duncan’s “project is one small effort to address this.” 

For Conner, the most urgent questions we face as a society in terms of the future of digital preservation “will be less technical and more philosophical. What do we want to preserve, and why? What are the consequences of preserving something that was only ever intended to be used/circulated in a specific context? What might we want to forget?”

For software-based work like Duncan’s, Rhizome is using “Emulation as Service,” in the hopes that a modern browser-based system will make her as accessible to a new audience. Rhizome’s digital conservator Dragan Espenschied is also working on developing a program called Colloq, a data recording system which can preserve interactions with cloud-based services like social media.

Video Games Before Their Time

Possibly the most disheartening aspect of Rhizome’s campaign is just how needed and unconventional Duncan’s work proves to be, even now, after all the time we had to improve the industry’s attitude toward young female players. As a young game enthusiast in the mid-’00’s, I remember having zero options other than to play the games that either alienated me by ignoring my demographic or were just flat-out patronizing. 

See also: Sweden’s Sexism Test For Games Is A Great Idea

When you’re little, you don’t have the words to describe your sense of dissatisfaction, but the hole remains there just the same. With a decade more of distance, the rise of smaller-scale games (like Nina Freeman’s work) have begun to fill that hole for me. But the problem remains the same: a new generation of young girls who must still feel as equally starved for relevant game worlds as the generation from two decades ago.

As Rhizome’s Kickstarter campaign most aptly puts it, “video game culture is at its best when it supports the narration and elaboration through play of a diversity of experiences. Unfortunately, as it was when Duncan made these games, this truth continues to be contested. So it remains essential that these games be widely known and played—not for the sake of the history of gaming, but for its future.”

More From Kill Screen:

For more stories about video games and culture, follow@killscreen on Twitter.

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Thanksgiving Recipes: Searches Peak Thanksgiving Day, Making November Biggest Month For Recipe Queries

‘Tis the season for too many cooks in the kitchen, and many of them started searching for Thanksgiving Day recipes all the way back in September. According to Google Trends, every holiday results in a spike for recipe search queries, but Thanksgiving drives the largest volume of recipe…

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Job No. 1 In Open Source: Making Sure Others Can Understand Your Code

It’s convenient to believe that the only thing that matters in open source development is code. But communicating about that code is just as important, if not more so. 

Small wonder, then, that New Relic’s Andy Lester puts “strong writing ability” at the top of his list of “8 essential traits of a great open source contributor.” It’s not merely a matter of marketing a project to would-be contributor. It’s primarily about getting along and inviting the right kind of contributions. 

Speaking Clearly About Code

While I’ve pointed out the importance of hiring exceptional writers to help craft and articulate meaningful stories about why a product matters, the reality is that strong writing skills matter just as much for developers as for marketers. In part this is a matter of developers doing a better job of marketing their projects to rally contributors, but it’s actually much more fundamental. 

See also: Why Open Source Is Becoming A Big Developer-Recruiting Tool

As Martin Fowler declares, “Any fool can write code that a computer can understand. Good programmers write code that humans can understand.”

But it’s not just the code that needs to be clear. The conversations around the code need to be even clearer, as Lester writes:

Almost everything done in open source is done through the written word. Documentation, bug reports, discussion of implementation—everything is written out and your message must be easily understood. Lots of people can code, not as many of them can clearly communicate what they’ve done. No one contributes only code to a project. Code must be documented, and patches contributed to the project should include a summary description of what’s been done. Without clear explanations of your actions and their intent, the chances of your code being accepted into the project are greatly diminished.

Apache Storm creator Nathan Marz echoes this, stressing the importance of well-written documentation:

[After announcing the project,] I spent the majority of my time writing documentation for Storm. This is the single most important thing I did for the project. I wrote about 12,000 words of carefully thought out documentation—tutorials, references, API docs, and so on. A lot of open source developers don’t realize how crucial docs are: people cannot use your software if they don’t understand it. Writing good documentation is painful and time-consuming, but absolutely essential.

That is an amazing statement. Many developers would think their job was done once they’d written the code. But it’s not. Not even close. The real work begins with documentation and continues with all the chatter on mailing lists and elsewhere that helps elucidate the how and why of an open-source project, something that Facebook’s open source chief James Pearce also calls out.

Speaking Kindly About Code

On the Internet, no one knows if you’re a dog, but everyone knows if you’re a jerk. This is especially true in tight-knit open-source communities, where collaboration is critical. 

See also: Want To Start An Open-Source Project? Here’s How

Of course there are plenty of examples of project leads that flame would-be contributors for half-baked or merely different ideas as to the right approach to an engineering problem. Linus Torvalds, for example, admits to a “metric s—load of [mistakes he’d] like to fix” related to “alienating users or developers” through “strong language” and abusive behavior.

But part of coding well is writing kindly, as Lester goes on to note:

The best contributors understand that the people at the other end of an email thread, or talking in IRC, or discussing a bug in a GitHub issue ticket, are also human beings who may not always have a lot of confidence in their skills and value. Great contributors nurture and bring forth the best work from others by being encouraging and helpful. 

This isn’t about mollycoddling newbies. It’s about nurturing newbies to help them become full-fledged contributors. Flaming someone is never the right response to bad code or even bad behavior.

Not if you want your code to get used, that is. Stack Overflow co-founder Joel Spolsky puts it this way:

The difference between a tolerable programmer and a great programmer is not how many programming languages they know, and it’s not whether they prefer Python or Java. It’s whether they can communicate their ideas. By persuading other people, they get leverage. By writing clear comments and technical specs, they let other programmers understand their code, which means other programmers can use and work with their code instead of rewriting it. Absent this, their code is worthless.

Pretty bold. Also true.

Get Used To Writing

It continues to surprise me how essential good writing is to developers, but also to other professionals. Astrophysicist Kirk Borne, for example, suggests that strong communication is critical to data science. It’s not enough to understand data and talk to machines; at some point you need to interact with humans.

As the world moves online, strong writing ability will become ever more important. So as much as we rightly worry about a decline in science and mathematics skills in education, we should be equally concerned by our ability to communicate about these topics. 

Just as business schools increasingly teach ethics, maybe computer science degrees should be awarded only after wading through a fair amount of Flannery O’Connor, Sylvia Plath and a creative writing class. Or five.

Lead photo of The Bell Jar by kristina

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Flickr Co-Founder Caterina Fake: Making Art And Technology Work Together

ReadWriteBuilders is a series of interviews with developers, designers and other architects of the programmable future.

Entrepreneur, designer and artist Caterina Fake was one of the early pioneers of the Web. She was one of the first online graphic designers and a blogger before people thought it was normal to post personal information online.

Fake has spent her career creating services that change the way we use the Web—photo-sharing service Flickr, acquired by Yahoo; decision-making website Hunch, acquired by eBay; and now Findery, an app for discovering art, history and notable destinations all around you.

Findery, available on the Web, iOS and Android, is for storytelling. People can add “notes” about certain locations—for instance, detailing some history of a particular building. That lets others who are traveling or just exploring their surroundings learn things that might not be in a guidebook.

“Notemaps,” or a string of notes on a similar topic, are also a way for users to share their journeys through photos, words, and location information. One notemap called “In Love” is a collection of stories about romantic journeys contributed by Findery users.

Fake said that all her businesses have something in common—they combine technology with art and community, and put the people first. And while there are now screens almost everywhere we look, Fake doesn’t want people to become lost in their technology, rather use the tools and devices to amplify the present world around them.

Now with notes in 196 countries and a recently launched Android app, Findery is hoping to become a new way for people to discover the community around them through photos, community and shared stories.

Making Things Beautiful And Useful

Credit: <a href=”″>Joi Ito</a>

RW: Can you talk more about how you’ve been developing for the intersection of arts and technology? What inspires you to make that connection?

CF: I’m a liberal arts major. I studied art and I studied English. I almost went to grad school to study Renaissance literature. I was trained as an artist. I was trained as an oil painter. I’ve always had an affinity for it.

See also: The Art Of Technology And Vice Versa: Polyvore’s Jess Lee

I came out here as a recent college graduate. I had always had an interest in computers, and I’ve always been online—that was before 1994, before there was much activity online. I had been working as a painter in NYC as a fine artist, then I moved out here [to San Francisco] and I felt myself to be unemployable. But I had this skill in aesthetics that I could translate into Web design. I got into it really by accident.

I carried forward these tendencies I already have. I carried it into this new realm of technology and the Internet, and it became a career. I was a very early blogger also. I started in 1998, really early on, and that was a thriving community.

I always felt that was a very important part of the Internet, that people tell their stories, that there be a multiplicity of voices online and be an avenue for people to connect themselves. That’s really been something that we’ve focused on throughout all of my career. It’s been very effective for companies who build these types of communities that are arts related, and about storytelling.

Sketching Out An Online Vision

RW: Flickr was your first company, right? Can you talk about how you went from being a painter and designer to being a technical entrepreneur?

CF: In many ways it was being in the right place at the right time. 

I started doing CD-ROM educational title design. This was back in the days of CD-ROMs, before the Web really took off. I got really lucky because I was living in New York and had gotten a job as a temp in the IT department at Columbia University in early 1990s. And somebody showed me a Mosaic browser, right when it came out.

I had been online already and been very active in the bulletin-board days of the Internet. I was very attracted to and interested in all of this blooming technology. So I was in a good place at a good time. There was such a small community—there were so few people working in the industry at the time. It kind of felt like there were 300 people working in Web design at the time. I had spent time in online communities like The Well, and it just kind of evolved naturally from that.

I did Web design, I taught myself HTML and to write basic code, I published zines, I published a blog, and put up my own website. I was on Geocities. There were a lot of really wonderful, early online communities like that.

It was in ’95 that I joined Organic, one of the very first Web development shops. I took it from there. It wasn’t an obvious path. It was one of those things that if you just keep your mind open, you can look for opportunities around you.

But I don’t think my parents were very optimistic about my post-college opportunities.

RW: Did you set out to build an image sharing platform that just happened to become one of the most popular photo-sharing sites on the Web?

Credit: <a href=”″>Caterina Fake</a>

CF: We were hoping it would be successful, but we didn’t really have any idea how successful it would be. There’s a lot of work that went into it, a lot of luck that went into it, a lot of things happening with just the general forces of the Internet at the time. This was 10 years ago now, and the timing was just right.

It was kind of like, blogging was seen as this weird fringe behavior. “Why would you want to put a picture of yourself online? That’s so weird.” That was changing. Friendster had a lot to do with it. In the early days, getting people getting over that hump of having a profile of yourself online. It was kind of a new idea.

The year that we launched Flickr [in 2004]—it was the first year that the majority of smartphones were equipped with a digital camera. It was also the year that more than 50% percent of all households had broadband Internet, so you could actually download a photo. So that was a huge thing.

See also: LittleBits’Ayah Bdeir: Making Hardware As AHackable As Code

A lot of things happened around that time. Another thing is that the cost of storage had been falling year after year. It used to be very expensive to operate a server, and that was dropping. It was a perfect storm of different factors … that made it the perfect time for Flickr.

Looking at the current landscape, there are screens in everyone’s cars, in dashboards, on planes, the apple watch, google Glass, you can kind of see what’s going on is that people are no longer connected to, we still have all our phones, but we’re going to be liberated from our phones. And you know the sense of traveling with you is where things are going next.

RW: Do you think that perfect storm of factors helped with the virality of Flickr? Do you think it’s harder to go viral on the Internet now, 10 years later?

CF: In some ways, going viral is no longer the same kind of challenge it was. In some ways it’s harder, and in some ways it’s easier. 

There are all these different devices you have, and all these different contacts. The challenge has always been tapping your social network, those challenges have been made easier.

But then, there are many social networks, there are a lot more developments going on. There’s more noise—in that aspect, it’s harder.

Defining Findery

RW: Can you talk a little bit about why Findery is so unique and how you’re hoping people use the app?

CF: We’ve really tried to do a couple things: We thought that location-based services were really centered around ratings, reviews and recommendations. So really about “Where should I have dinner?” or “Show me what to do here.”

We wanted to get away from that sense of place.

See also: Foursquare CEO Dennis Crowley: How We’ll Tell You Where To Eat And What To Order

The thing we really want to try to do is bring out the meaning and history of a place. All other aspects of the place that don’t have to do with business transactions. Bringing a travel mindset local.

You know that famous slide with Steve Jobs, at the end of one of this last presentations, he was standing in front of a sign that said “Technology and Liberal Arts.” That’s kind of where we feel we are. Here’s the history of a place, here’s the sociology of a place, here’s what people are saying about this place. Here are people’s contributions.

That’s what we feel we’re really good at. If you look at the companies over the years that I have been either a founder or on a board or an investor in, like Flickr, Etsy, or Kickstarter, the great common thread in them is about creativity and telling stories.

Those are some of our particular strengths and what make us different from Yelp or other things.

What’s really interesting about technology in general, when we started this company, it was very clear that things were going to be on mobile, and that mobile was what we should be developing for. Now wearables are becoming a reality. Screens are now going to be in the dashboard of your car. Screens not even confined to your handheld device anymore.

We have this space that is really expanding to include all of these screens in places that are moving, in the back of a cab, or in front of you on the airplane. As you’re flying over Greenland, wouldn’t it be interesting to see, what’s this place like now? We are designing for all of these products that are just rolling out. So I’m super excited for us. We’re in a good position to be on all of these mobile screens.

Where Technology Meets Liberal Arts

Credit: <a href=”″>Robert Scoble</a>

RW: What were some of the most important lessons that you’ve learned after founding multiple startups? How are you applying them to Findery?

Things change constantly. I don’t think that any entrepreneur can keep doing the same thing over and over. You have to know what experience to carry forward, and what experience to leave behind.

I think one of the big challenges is actually cultivating beginners minds and making sure you’re still open to the world and continue to see new things. You can actually get jaded. You can stop seeing things that are new. You can start fearing failure. Those are the things an entrepreneur needs—an open mind and the ability to see the world with new eyes.

That’s the challenge of being an entrepreneur.

RW: How do you think Yahoo is running Flickr? Did you ever anticipate its current form?

CF: It’s funny. It’s like when your company has been acquired by another company, you can care for it for a certain amount of time, then you have to let go. You can compare it to NASA and the space shuttle. You can care for it as much as you can, then the rocket ship goes into outer space, and there it is.

I know exactly what I would do with Flickr right now, but I’m not running it anymore. So from my perspective, I’ve launched a rocket. You just have to hope that all of the stuff you put into it before it launched, works.

The thing that’s always been the strongest thing about Flickr is the community. So long as the people continue to be supported, that’s the important part.

RW: My editor Owen Thomas pointed to me about a blog post you wrote, the concept of Biz Dev 2.0. Is that something that’s translated over the years? Companies opening up their API and allowing other companies to build off it?

CF: Earlier in the conversation I was mentioning that being present on all these different platforms, being on dashboards or wearables, none of that would really be possible without an API.

That still holds true now more than ever. When we were developing products when I wrote that back in 2006, there were even fewer places that your data could appear. They’ve just multiplied. When we started Flickr, it was a pretty simple process. 

Since we’ve developed Findery, we started on the Web and mobile Web, and we had an iOS version, and now an Android version. It’s just multiplied. We were pretty much developing for a single platform 10 years ago, and you can’t do that anymore.

You can’t just be constrained to one. I think that that’s even more true than ever.

Being Present In The World

RW: So what’s next for Findery? What will success look like?

The Findery team

CF: One of the things that was really great is that we have an intern that said Findery changed her experience of the world. When she was walking, instead of looking down at her phone, she was being present to the world. Technology can remove us from the people and places around us—you can be going into some Internet world in the sky instead of being present where you’re standing.

If we’re successful, it seems like an irony for a technology company, but it would be to make people present in places where they are and the places around them

The people on the bus, or people walking down the street, the lines in the pavement and the weather, all the stuff that’s around you. Not be so involved in the virtual world. Which sounds very old-world now. That’s a term circa 1999. 

Lead image by nrkbeta; others by Joi Ito, Robert Scoble and Caterina Fake; Findery team photo courtesy of Findery

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Up Close @ SMX: Making Mobile SEO Perform For You – Design, Approach & Speed

Mobile SEO differs from desktop and its importance its growing rapidly.

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