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Its been a while since my last Blog post and the truth is I haven’t been inspired enough to write another post. It was easy enough to start but to keep your blog alive & kicking is something else.

Then I came across these two stories in the New York Times and, well its a Sunday and I really don’t want to be another statistic in the graveyard of blogs, so …

According to the NYT article entitled ‘Blogs falling in an empty forest” 95% of the 133 million blogs (wow thats a huge number of blogs & thats in 2008) are essentially dead or abandoned. These are blogs that did not post anything in 120 days or more.

Reading the article I get the sense that most people just tire of posting especially when they don’t have many readers. Some people also have great expectations of getting a gazillion readers and making money off advertisements. However, only the most popular blogs ever get enough advertising dollars to actually make blogging monetarily rewarding like Techcrunch or Gizmodo. Many rely on special interest posting but according to the second article on NYT, Get the Tech Scuttlebutt!, rumors seems to be the big thing in attracting readership. Thats human nature I guess.

So the lessons for creating a great blog and avoiding the Blog Graveyard are:

1) Find a niche in which there is a large group of interested readers (technology, politics, sports, cars),

2) Write interesting articles that are unique and differentiated from your competitors

3) Keep your blog updated; and most importantly;

4) Make sure you are very well networked within the industry so that you can find the best rumors & make sure occasionally some of those rumors come true. (Note: If every one of the rumors are just that, rumors, then you will be denounced as nothing more than lying to get readers & into the graveyard you’ll go).

So if you’ll excuse me, I just heard a rumor & have to check it out for you …

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Hello everyone, I am back! Its been 10 weeks since my last post. My friends Dash & Prem have been the only ones to constantly bug me about not posting, thanks guys, I appreciate this.

Since I was quite busy during this period, I thought I’d use the quiet period as an experiment, to determine if a Blog stays alive or dies if the Blogger does nothing. I am happy to note that the experiment was a success. Despite not posting anything (cartoons don’t count really) the Blog continued to attract readers.

My last post was on 27th January 2009 and that coincidentally was my Blog’s busiest day. It was my post on “A future fortune in video ads”. Obviously that interested quite a lot of readers.

My weekly viewership chart is given below and as can be seen the worst week had 62 views and the best 160. This is despite not having any posts. In fact I’ve had 1,762 unique views since I started the Blog.

Ok, ok this is not like the most popular Blog in Bloggersphere, but hey, I don’t even know 1,762 people but now that many people know me, must count for something right?

The most interesting discovery I made is that the use of tags is like super, super important if you want to get readers on to your Blog. My most read post was “Web2.0 and the Nature of Man” which had 630 views. The main reason for this was that I tagged it with ‘Maslows Hierarchy of Needs’, which is the main reasoning behind the article. Guess what, most people came to the article because a Google search for MHON brought them there. So if you want to capture Google traffic, use popolar or iconic words or terms & you will be highly placed on Google.

Blogging is definitely a great medium to promote yourself and share your ideas. Once your Blog is on the www, and you have a reasonable number of posts, visitors will keep coming back.

I declare my experiment a success. Now I just have to get off my butt and start writing again…. 8)

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Researchers at Oxford University have compiled a list of the top 10 most irritating phrases or expressions that people use in everyday language.

‘With all due respect’ to Oxford, ‘it is not rocket science’ to say that these phrases are the most irritating. While I ‘absolutely’ agree with them that some of the phrases are indeed irritating, ‘I personally’ do use a few of these phrases. This is not a ‘fairly unique’ finding although I agree that ’24/7′, ‘at this moment in time’, somewhere in the world someone is using one of these phrases. While ‘it’s a nightmare’ for linguists, ‘at the end of the day’, I am sure you’ll agree that there are phrases that ‘shouldn’t of’ been included in the list.

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Actually it should be the nature of Mankind/Womankind, this is not a gender based article. This article is about why Web2.0 is such an ‘in’ thing these days.

What is Web2.0 anyway? At its basic psychological level it is essentially a means of achieving a sense of community, of belonging to a tribe or group and of contributing to the group and having the group contribute to you. Whether its Facebook or MySpace, Twitter, Digg, Flickr, YouTube or any other form of Web2.0 initiative, it is about achieving the following 2 things:

1) The need for belonging, including affection, love or just being part of a group or groups. It is about sharing what you do, who you are, who you are friends with, your job, your travels, your family, etc. In return your friends, family, colleagues and even some strangers share their lives with you. You share pictures of your holidays, children, events or even what you happen to be doing at a moment in time (I am having a BBQ with my family). This is what we do in tribes, we become part of it and share our lives.

2) The second thing we do is seek some form of esteem. So we post things about ourselves and our friends say, ‘well done Sam’ or we do something and others say ‘thats cool Sarah’. You seek the respect of others and then do the same for them. Rarely do you find members of your tribe in your Facebook putting you down. In fact when that happens they would be deleted from your Facebook (i.e. kicked out of your ‘virtual tribe’).

If this sounds familiar then you are right. Its the 3rd and 4th level of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs as shown below.

In the first 2 levels we seek food, clothing, health and shelter. Perhaps thats what Web1.0 was. It was about creating websites, doing the business of e-Commerce, providing information and just meeting the basic levels of technology. Once we achieved that it was then that visionaries sought to move to the next level creating the ‘social’ part of the social Internet (Social networking, sharing etc.).

So what would Web3.0 be? If we follow Maslow’s Hierarchy then the 5th level is the need for ‘Self Actualisation’. Maslow describes self-actualization as a person’s need to be and do that which the person was “born to do.” “A musician must make music, an artist must paint, and a poet must write.” In Eastern philosophy this can be the achievement of Nirvana or enlightenment. Its about reaching the highest pinnacle of ‘being’ of ultimate happiness.

Is this already happening in Web2.0 maybe a Web2.5? If you can figure this out then maybe you’ll create the next great Big Big Thing in the Internet era.

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Gigaom, a Blog by Om Malik, is one I regularly read and this week he had an interesting one on what he learned this year especially while recovering from a heart attack. Made me think of the lessons I learnt this year, so here goes:

1. Analysts don’t know what the heck they are talking about, so why do we even bother to listen to them? Take the so called oil analysts. Early this year they were predicting that oil would rise from $30 to $100 and when it did they said it would rise to $200 with a whole lot of mumbo-jumbo about peak oil, shortages of oil, extremely high demand from China & India, etc. In a May 21, 2008 New York Times article,  Arjun N. Murti, the Goldman Sachs (where else) analyst who made these predictions was even called “An Oracle of Oil”. When oil hit its peak of $145, prices and economies collapsed because at $4.00 a gallon of oil US consumers (the world’s largest consumers) stopped using their cars and commodity prices were so high it affected consumer prices so badly that economies tanked. Of course Murti did not factor in the other crisis that was happening all around him, the credit crisis, real estate collapse and inflation. Of course many people believed that GS did this just to boost futures prices but no one can prove it. My question is where’s the Oracle today?

Then we have the commodities boom and the King here is none other than “Commodity Guru” Jim Rogers, the one time partner of George Soros. He was the biggest commodity bull and according to Fortune Magazine (June 2008) he predicted the commodities bull run in 1999! What, 1999? It only happened in 2007/8, a whole 8 years after his prediction. You can predict anything and sooner or later it will happen, that makes you a Guru? Well he did finally make chunks of money by literally talking up the commodities bull run earlier this year. He is counting his losses now but is still bullish on commodities. Let me say that Rogers is a great investor but only someone with his stature can make such predictions and people will believe it for 8 years before it comes true. Now there are oil analysts predicting $20 oil. Where do these guys crawl out from? All I can say is “never believe in analysts”.

2) In stock trading, Technical Analysis is superior to Fundamental Analysis. As some of you may already know, I sold out all my stocks (about 90% anyway) in August because I saw that the technicals were looking bad. You can predict a major correction using TA and it happened in early 2008 and again in July/August. Fundamentally, stocks in Asia still looked ok because most fundamental analysis is historic (backward looking) and not predictive (forward looking). Even future projected incomes is based on historical incomes, so its still inaccurate because it cannot take into account what can happen to not just companies but economies in the future. However, TA shows the behaviour of investors in the market and if many people are selling down then it would be unwise to stay in the market or worse yet to buy in. I will show you how TA works and why I sold down in this weekend’s article, so watch out for that. Can TA also predict when to buy into the market? Yes and I will save that for another article too (hahahaha…just a teaser to keep you coming back for more).

3) People never do the smart things in life. Let me give you some examples in business. Firstly Pseudo-Entrepreneurs (because they think they are Entrepreneurs but they are only business people not Entrepreneurs). Why are there so many copycat businesses? In the same place? Take the jagung (corn), or pomelo (a fruit) or goreng pisang (banana fritters) sellers along the highways or outstation roads. You can see literally a dozen guys selling the same thing along the same stretch of road. In the markets you will see tens of vegetable sellers, and you will see many similar restaurants selling the same things in the same place. How can they make money? Yes the will survive but only just. Why not sell something different? In technology we have literally hundreds of website developers, tens of accounting software builders and many more doing the same ‘ol thing. Can they ever make money or build something big? Never. Yet we see this all the time.

One thing that infuriates me is at the toll gates that dot KL. You will see long, long queues of cars lining up for 30 minutes to pay their toll in cash, yet if they have the electronic TAGs they can breeze through in seconds. Yes it costs a few dollars but its not expensive and the time and fuel saved will pay for it in just a couple of months. Still they line up. So are they dumb or what?

The bigger question is, if people are generally not clever, then anyone who is really smart should do very well indeed? Right? So all it takes in life and in business is just a bit of street smarts and you will do well. Think about it? Are you doing the smart thing, or are you being just plain dumb?

4) Life is too short, enjoy it because it does not wait for you! I came to this realisation when my 2nd brother had his first heart attack when he was around 45. He has had  2 more since. Then about 2 years ago my eldest brother had colon cancer & had an operation and chemotheraphy. This year he also discovered he has damaged his kidneys (probably caused by the chemo) and has only 40% usage of it. He may need dialysis if the doctors cannot contain the damage. Needless to say, life has not been the same for my brothers since their illnesses. I have also seen an old friend from my childhood die from a tumour in the brain and another friend from college (my junior) collapsed and died at the airport.  He was a workaholic.

I have since 2002 decided to slow down and enjoy life, family and friends. I do what I enjoy the most and although I may not make my millions I live vicariously by helping Entrepreneurs better themselves and hopefully make their millions. I have discovered there is more to life than money. Money is good, but hey health is better.

5) Family and Friends matter. Finally I have also learnt that F&F are crucial in enjoying life to the fullest. I cherish my family & friends. I spend time with them, especially my mother & my brothers. Never a week goes by without me seeing them unless I am abroad.

I may have learned a lot more this year, but these are the first things that come to mind, so I guess they are the most important.

Before I end this post let me repeat what Malik wrote at the end of his article, the wisdom of Mahatma Gandhi:

“Live as if you would die tomorrow, learn as if you would live forever.”

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