February 21, 2009
What if during all of that time you spend on Facebook and using “the” Google (thanks, McCain) you were actually developing skills you could use in your career? What if you could actually earn credit by using them and the rest of the Internet even more than you do now? Well wipe the drool from your laptops and dream no longer, my friends (ibid, the Maverick). Michigan State University, always a forerunner in the field of communications, is once again ahead of the game with their latest course offering entitled, “New Media Drivers License.” Taught by leaders of the old and new schools of communications, Dr. Richard Cole and Ingenex CEO Derek Mehraban (sort of like the Butch and Sundance of cool teachers), NMDL takes you on a journey through what you thought you already knew and makes you realize you didn’t know much at all.
NMDL Instructors: Butch Cole & The Ingenex Kid
You’ll learn how to use social networks like Facebook and Twitter, search engines like Google and Yahoo, YouTube, blogs, and podcasts to advance yourself academically and professionally. This is one of those classes that you tell your friends that you’re taking and they can’t believe you’re actually getting credit for it. The only difference being you’re actually going to use every single thing you learn from Day 1 in class to your last day on the job…and love every minute of it. So what are you waiting for? Sign on, sign in, and sign up. Then again, if you don’t know how do to that yet, you need much more than a New Media Drivers License.
February 14, 2009
When I first heard about SEO, or Search Engine Optimization for long, a few years ago, I thought it was something only the super techie nerds were supposed to how to use and be concerned with…kind of like the finer points of Star Wars. I accepted it as something I knew existed, but needn’t worry myself with because I would never understand it…kind of like stem-cells and my ex-girlfriend (I’m actually starting to understand stem-cells). However, after recently delving a little deeper I realized after breaking it down, it’s not as scary as it sounds.
SEARCH: Well that’s just looking for something. I know how to do that.
ENGINE: Engines are what make things go…know that one too.
OPTIMIZATION: That’s all about getting the most of something with an -ATION at the end…three for three I am.
So when you add it all up, it’s all about getting the most out of the engine that does your searching. To give it a little structure, it’s simply maximizing the likelihood that your site will come up in the results of Google, Yahoo, and the like when people search for related terms. Whether your a small-time blogger or a retail juggernaut, SEO is all about implementing a strategy to make sure when people are looking for something that you happen to offer, it’s you they happen to find. Different SEO tools do different different things, but in the end it’s all about increasing the relevance of your site to search engines like Google through precise, targeted key words, searchable tags, related inbound links, and the structure and content of your actual site. Improve these areas accordingly and the volume and quality of traffic to your site will improve, your page rank will go up, and the process becomes cyclical…this is search engine optimization, and it is here to help.
Now consider that explanation the fun, quick cartoon version to give you lay folk an idea of what search engine optimization is all about…however, for the Mona Lisa of SEO explanations click on the old lady below to see what she’s smiling about.
January 22, 2009
For someone who considers them self fairly savvy in the ways of the Internet, I really don’t know too much about what Google can do for me outside of finding information on anything I could possibly imagine…oh and zooming in on any location on the planet (Google Earth). I occasionally use Google Docs, but that’s about it. I still don’t use Google Calendar, I just remember where I have to be. I don’t use Google Groups, just Facebook or mass texts/emails. I don’t even know what Google Analytics is (but I’m gonna find out, don’t worry).
This brings us to Google Reader. I had a vague idea of what it was all about. I knew that it essentially let you read what you wanted to read from all over the Internet in one place. That may sound like a simple explanation, but after checking it out, that’s really about what it boils down to…and I have to admit, IT’S FANTASTIC. As someone who tries to keep up with the news from around the world, sports (fantasy and reality), weather, various blogs, and a plethora of other things on a daily basis, Google Reader truly is a transformational tool. Instead of me trying to go into detail on the finer points of the application, here is a video that explains what Google Readers does and how to do it:
If that doesn’t get you excited, I don’t know what would. But seriously, instead of having to individually type in every URL for the site you want, or scrolling through all of your bookmarks, you can wake up, turn on, and tune in to everything you want to know from everywhere you want to get it. I would say its only drawback is that it does take a bit away from the personalities of each individual site, but it surely makes up for it in the amount of information it allows you to cover with it’s organization and time-saving ability.
Sometimes I like to check out the New York Times for the latest news and editorials, The Daily Beast to get a mix of news and entertainment, ESPN.COM for my sports, and so on and on and on. Instead of having to go to each site individually and not knowing if I’d missed anything or forgetting if I’d read something, Google Reader takes care of all of that for you in one place. I’ve already added several new sites to my daily consumption since I began regularly using Google Reader this week. I am a permanent fan and I already feel smarter for it.