ambivalent imbroglio home

« March 09, 2004 | Main | March 11, 2004 »

March 10, 2004

RefSearch and Refer

Ask and you shall recieve. Thanks to Rick Klau for showing me how he does that cool Google trick. The secret is MT-RefSearch, which automagically detects when someone is coming to your site through a search engine, then runs a search on your site based on the terms that person had originally searched for. Confused? If it works, you should be able to search for "imbroglio," click the "ambivalent imbroglio" link on the Google results page, and see what I'm talking about. It doesn't seem to work yet if the search result directs you to an individual archive page (e.g., this search), but maybe that's the way it's supposed to be?

(If you'd like to install MT-RefSearch yourself and find the links to the files broken on the page above, try downloading them from here.)

Kill Refer Spam
Dean Allen's Refer is a cool little script to track who has visited your site, but it's been recording all kinds of crazy and unwanted spam traffic. Luckily, other people who know a lot more than I do are as annoyed by this as I am, so they've written a fix. I installed it a few days ago and it's cut all that junk to nearly zero. Thank you.

BTW, Dean Allen has just released the "gamma" version of Text Pattern, a new content management system. Looks pretty cool. Thanks to The Menagerie, I also learned recently of another content management option called Geeklog, which offers a very cool threaded comments feature. Is there a way to make MT do that? Also see this cool stats page that generates all kinds of useful info about a blog, like how many links it contains (and which are most popular) and the most popular posts (both by views and comments). Very very cool. The Calendar and "Poll Booth" functionality also looks very cool. And it doesn't look like any of this requires a plugin or tweaking -- it's built in to Geeklog. Definitely worth a serious look...

And speaking of alternatives to MT (not that I'm really looking), does anyone use WordPress?

Future Tweaks
Rick Klau has also implemented or discussed several other cool blog features I may implement someday when I don't have so much to do, including: A sidebar reviews blog (perhaps to replace the largely useless "ai booklist" sidebar), a MT-managed blogroll (this is also a good tutorial for how to include a blog w/in a blog on MT), and SmartyPants (which gives you "smart" punctuation; I thought I had this installed, but it looks like not). Of course, the MT Plugin Directory lists a huge number of other fun things you can do with MT, but MT 3.0 should be here soon and it might come with some of these tweaks built in.

I also keep forgetting to reformat the archives/individual entry pages so that trackbacks and comments will show up on the same page as the post. So much to play with, so little time. Which reminds me, even though there really aren't that many bloggers in the bigger scheme of things blogs might still ruin your social life. Perhaps we should all be careful, apparently they're infectious.

Posted 08:27 AM | meta-blogging

Ego for President

Over the weekend, CNN ran an edition of "CNN Presents" called True Believers: Life Inside the Dean Campaign. The title says a lot about what the program was trying to convey, suggesting perhaps that the Dean campaign was some kind of cult or something. In other words, the goal was not to spin the campaign in a positive way. It wasn't overtly negative, either, though.

So what was it? This reaction from Mike Walsh boils it down pretty well, although instead of calling it "The Rise and Fall of Howard Dean as Seen Through the Eyes of Joe Trippi," I think I would have called it "If Not for Trippi's Ego." That's what I was thinking as I watched it—if not for Trippi's ego, maybe the campaign would have been better prepared to react quickly and positively to adversity in Iowa. But it wasn't just ego, it was also management style (of which ego can be a big part)—Trippi comes off as such a force and a personality and so temperamental and moody that people seemed reluctant to tell him when they had bad news or to have serious and frank conversations with him about doubts they may have had. If people waited to discuss or deal with bad news or doubts until they became too large to ignore, by then it was far too late.

That's at least one potential version of what happened in Iowa and New Hampshire—the campaign refused to see/admit/discuss its loss of support, and once the problem became too big to ignore, it was so bad that there wasn't anything anyone could do. But then, looking back at how the campaign handled "the scream," I'm not sure what more anyone could have done.

At any rate, I certainly don't blame Trippi for the fact that Dean didn't get the nomination. In fact, there's no doubt Trippi was a (if not the) decisive factor in taking Dean "from asterisk to frontrunner." In the end, the Dean campaign was not about Dean, but it wasn't about Trippi either. As Trippi said: It's the people, stupid. But while Trippi has the vision, it does seem likely that that vision needs to be coupled with some disciplined management in order to be most effective. Was it Dean's responsibility to provide that discipline (either personally or in the form of a strong assistant for Trippi)? Perhaps. As I've said before, I look forward to the book(s) about the campaign in the hope that some insider(s) can offer some better perspective on what happened.

Best line from "True Believers": In the meltdown between Iowa and New Hampshire, Trippi retreated from the campaign trail and "hunkered down" in Burlington. As things got worse, he just wanted to "not think about anything Dean for a while" (that's a paraphrase) so he went to see "LOTR: The Return of the King." When he got back, he seemed in slightly better spirits and joked that the Dean campaign was like the final battle in the movie: "Certain death? Small chance of success? What are we waiting for!?"

Of course, in "The Return of the King" (which I just saw last night for the first time—yay spring break!), the good guys won. Now why can't real life be more like the movies?

FWIW: Change for America, Trippi's new blog, talks about the show here and here, while Blog for America talks about it here and here.

Posted 07:18 AM | election 2004

about   ∞     ∞   archives   ∞   links   ∞   rss
This template highly modified from The Style Monkey.