Cue The Future

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"I'm living in the future, so the present is my past" -Kayne West

68 People Like This…

Facebook Likes are the new audience interaction. More than 50 people liked my post on Facebook simplifying their Facebook Page management tools on the Involver blog, yet only one person commented.

Now, granted, this is also indicative of a few other factors, most importantly: the topic matter wasn’t very evocative, there was nothing to create a vibrant discussion. But I found it interesting how popular the “like” action was. It also made me wonder, how many people shared comments or discussions along with the articles (or would if they were prompted to do so).

I’d love to see next-generation blogging platforms (Echo, Disqus, Intense Debate) aggregate comments and discussions back from Facebook in a better fashion than they do today. Because none of these do a great job of this today, I’ve started using Facebook as the sole commenting system on this blog. I use Facebook Comments to do this. I’d love to see this plug-in work more natively with pre-existing comments or non-signed in users. It’s not perfect yet, but this plugin is definitely on the right track.

The ability to import Facebook comments into the WordPress database and vice-versa is listed as an upcoming feature. That feature is going to make switching to this plugin much easier for most bloggers.

Anyway, if you’re interested in learning more about Facebook’s new management tools for Facebook Pages, read about it on the Involver blog.

Meet the new Involver

It’s my great pleasure to unveil something we’ve been working on for the last little bit, 3 simple announcements from my company:
We announced this morning some really exciting news, parts of which have been previously unearthed by Venture Beat, Xconomy, and the WSJ. Involver has taken 8 Million dollars in additional financing from our investors, including Bessemer Venture Partners (BVP), Western Technology Investment, and Cervin Ventures. While we are currently profitable, this capital will help us more quickly meet ambitious goals for our products and our team. In fact we plan to hire 130 people, including 80 engineers, in the next 15 months.

Along with this endeavor, we’ve refreshed our brand. You can see our new wordmark below, it’s one of many aesthetic changes. I’d love to share more about this process later, and perhaps we’ll do so, but what’s important is that we now have a gorgeous site with way more product information, functionality, and other “about involver” stuff.  Go check it out.

Finally, we’re also announcing some pretty impressive growth numbers. We now serve over 100,000 customers, have deployed 200,000 applications and interact with over 325 Million fans. Our scale is unmatched in the industry and speaks volumes about the types of technical challenges we’re tackling. If you’re interested in helping us tackle those challenges and increase those numbers by two orders of magnitude, you should apply.

Cue the Future

In the interest of helping people understand me more effectively, I’ve changed the name of this blog to “Cue the Future,” which more aptly communicates what guides most of my efforts.

In my life, I’m focused on figuring out how innovation will improve our lives, and how we as a society can get there quickly and safely. I strive to be one of those innovators, as described by this O’Reilly quote:

So often, signs of the future are all around us, but it isn’t until much later that most of the world realizes their significance. Meanwhile, the innovators who are busy inventing that future live in a world of their own. They see and act on premises not yet apparent to others.

This name change has come on the heels of a lot of thought, including input from several friends, Steve Jobs and Mark Suster.  Read more about that process after the jump.

Read the rest of this entry »

How to easily change the domain name for your WordPress blog

I recently migrated my site to a new domain, and I took an interest in seeing how simply this could be done. Could I, for example, create a list of directions that accomplished everything I wanted out of the move without requiring technical skills to implement? Could I build the “wordpress migration for dummies” framework?

I was able to accomplish this goal through a little research and experimenting, and as such I’d like to republish my findings here in case it might be helpful to you someday (hi random Google readers from the future!).

I only had a few goals for my migration:

  1. Keep my current posts available at the new URL
  2. Automatically forward any traffic to my old URL to the new domain
  3. Have one canonical source for Search Engines in order to maintain good standing in Google.
  4. Never need to use a tool that I couldn’t explain to my grandma over the phone.

Here’s how I was able to complete my goals:

0. Export your blog content to an XML file (found under Tools>>Export). You should probably backup your database just to be safe.

1. Create a new, clean install of WordPress at the new domain name.

2. Go to Settings>>Privacy in the new install and set it so that Search Engines can’t find the new blog.

3. Install all plugins to new blog.

4. Copy all the settings from the old blog to the new blog. You do this by hand, but it generally takes less than 5-10 minutes. Make sure Permalinks get setup with the same structure.

5. Goto Appearance>>Themes and select your design, customize however you set your old theme.

6. Goto Tools>>Import and import the file you exported in step one. When asked whether to include files, do so.

7. Goto your old blog, and download and activate the plugin, Redirection.

8. In your old blog, goto Tools>>Redirection and start setting up 301 redirects for your blog. This is made infinitely easier with the use of regular expressions, which is describe on the page linked in step 7.

Simply, what you want to do here is setup the source url with a simple regular expression that will find all your posts.  For me, this was /blog/(.*) then you want to check the RegEx box, and set the Target URL to a Regular expression that will pass through the original permalink URL. For me, this was http://cuethefuture.com/blog/$1 don’t forget to make sure the action is set to “redirect to URL.” Once you’ve set that, all your posts should be forwarded properly. Then just redirect the base url (i.e. redirect tylerwillis.net to cuethefuture.com) and any pages. If you have a predicatable URL structure here, you can use the regular expressions trick again.

9. In your old blog, goto Settings>>Privacy and make this site invisible to Search Engines.

10. In your new blog, oto Settings>>Privacy and make this site visible to Search Engines.

How blogging rewired my brain

On a recent vacation, I experienced a fit of “small thoughts.”

For a few hours, every few minutes my brain was coming up with somewhat interesting tidbits that were fun to mull around. These ideas were not earth shatteringly brilliant by any measure, but represented a small change in my understanding of some concept not key to my day-to-day life. If your having a hard time visualizing what this type of idea might look like, here’s a good example.

I normally would have shared these ideas digitally as I had them, but I had no access to electronics on this trip. I also knew I wouldn’t be returning to the ability to blog or tweet for a long period of time (~two weeks).

With these limitations, I became very aware of the effort required to document each of these ideas — because I couldn’t immediately use these thoughts, I found my natural inclination was to decrease their value in my head and use that as an excuse to not write them down.

Personal-publishing tools like Twitter and Blogs are powerful motivators — they increase the value of thought capture by making each thoughts value as a final product clear. This effect incentivizes bloggers to capture more of their thoughts and evaluate/prepare them for public scrutiny which improves their thinking, and that’s why I tend to value the thinking of people who actively publish, even if it’s for an audience of one.

####   Related:

* I wrote a post on Why I Blog, which could be updated with the thesis from this post.

* I think Twitter is interesting because it makes it easy to capture interesting and seemingly inconsequential ideas. Having that information captured is good for increasing global knowledge, but the main benefit is in the process of refinement for the original thinker. Publishing makes one think better.

* If we follow the path of innovation in personal publishing, it seems to be about allowing people the opportunity to capture smaller and smaller thoughts. Extrapolating this out, I’d be interested in consumer web technology that makes it easier to capture original thoughts that appear, at first glance, to be entirely mundane and uninteresting. Perhaps a tweet represents the smallest unique item of thought, but I doubt it. I have a feeling there is still a lot of opportunity in working directly with people’s thoughts, with voice, or with their habit of keeping diaries. I think the format that becomes the smallest unique captured thought should be called “Thoughtlets

* The global database of ideas represented in the public nodes of personal publishing efforts (posts/tweets/delicious saves/etc.) is helping people learn today. I can pay attention to more of a persons thinking than I ever could in the past, because more of their thinking is being captured and they are making more of it public.  However, I still have a limited number of people I can pay attention to. The real game changer will come with the rise of machine learning. When tomorrow’s supercomputers can pay attention to everyone’s thoughts — we will have really interesting opportunities, and robot apocalypse.

* One such opportunity: Intellectual reputation can be ranked fairly, based on the clarity, power and originality of your thinking. With a benchmark (how well did it improve the machines capability for thought), there will be less subjectivity in this ranking.

Chris Saad is an expert on Attention. I’d love to attend an event or a group of people thinking about the effect and future of attention. That would be fascinating.

* OhLife is a really interesting startup. I don’t think they have yet applied a “search for the thoughtlet” to their user experience, but i really like the idea of email based journaling.

About the Author

Tyler Willis is the Vice President of Business Development at Unified, which builds enterprise marketing technology for brands and agencies.

This blog is about how the future will affect technology, marketing, and the things we care about most. Learn more about Tyler.

Speaking

Tyler is a featured speaker and instructor for The American Marketing Association, and is a popular speaker on topics related to social marketing and how technology is changing our lives.

Recent engagements:
- South by Southwest
- American Marketing Association
- TMP Directional Marketing Client Summit

Email for Speaking Requests.

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Lightweight Update

I write infrequent (quarterly at most), semi-formal updates of what I'm doing and thinking.


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