Stream of unconsciousness:
I’m on a bus (technically, the “Silver Line”) heading into Boston. Now is when that EVDO 3G wireless would be handy, but the hotel evidently has Wi-Fi. I’m happy to say that the United flight was smooth, and I got a few hours of sleep. You always remember when your entire day is ruined because a flight is delayed or a plane is broken, but you never remember when the flight attendants are nice and the plane leaves on time. Kinda like forgetting to be thankful when you’re not sick, I guess.
Later: I’m really optimistic. Good omens so far:
- The change machine was broken, so I didn’t have my $1.25 exact change. The bus driver took a dollar and waved me on back.
- Daffodils are in bloom here. I love daffodils, but they’re already gone in California and Kentucky. I guess spring comes later in Boston.
- An airport employee was happily munching on tater tots. Someone called to her and by way of greeting, the woman said “You see me eating tater tots?” with a smile in her voice.
- Another person, a “T” employee kept me on track by pointing me to the E Green Line.
- Once I got into the hotel, four people said hello before I reached the check-in desk, and I only recognized two of them. So people are stopping me to say hi, which is nice.
And the best omen: wifi at the conference is free and everywhere! O frabjous day! I can watch sessions without being out of touch, and I can keep up on email/Bloglines.
I got checked in early and caught the tail end of Malcolm Gladwell (Blink? The Tipping Point? You know this man, yes?). He seemed to regret that search engines take a just-the-facts approach; this is a man who likes serendipity and seeing novel things. Given the choice of a search engine or the blogosphere, he said he’d take the blogosphere.
In the affiliate and mumble microsite mumble panel, ChrisR noted how appealing to emotions can increase sales. And he made the fine point that specific stuff often converts better than general stuff.
In the local panel, Baked Jake mentioned that DMV is the #8 most common local search on TrueLocal, and urged people not to forget government-related searches. Jake also mentioned that golf course searches have a great return-on-investment. Thai Tran from Google was on the panel, and mentioned how content can make it into Local Search on Google:
- yellow pages-type data
- data that site owners submit directly to Google
- crawling the web
Then we had the Google-sponsored luncheon. It was pretty cozy (maybe a couple hundred people or so?). I embarrassed Martinibuster into going out into the hallway to let people know about the luncheon. Some highlights:
- I briefly talked about things that had launched since the last WMW, such as Google Calendar, Google Finance, and Bigdaddy.
- I mentioned where to find/talk to Googlers at the conference. Google is speaking on 7-8 panels, so Googlers aren’t hard to find.
- Amanda and Vanessa gave a live demo of Sitemaps, including the recent robots.txt checker.
- My favorite part: Amanda deliberately typed “Disalow” in the robots.txt tool to show that 1) Google will still treat that correctly and 2) the checker tool will warn you about the typo. Several people in the audience thought it was an accidental typo until they realized Amanda did it on purpose. It’s interesting how uncomfortable people get when they believe a speaker is mistyping something.
Questions from the audience were all good, from “Can you break these stats down more for different countries/languages?” (Answer: we’ll pass that feedback on) to “Can I access sitemaps for my clients?” (Answer: yes. If you control the domain, you can verify a sitemap for both firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com. Then you could both access stats on that domain.) Aha: WebProNews covered the luncheon.
What else? The blogger/podcast/RSS session was really fun. Daron Babin, Amanda Watlington, and Greg Hartnett spoke, with Anne Kennedy moderating. Both Jeremy Zawodny and I were in the audience, so they pulled us up for the Q&A part of it. Some highlights:
- A nice lady mentioned that sometimes Google could return raw RSS or XML links in our search, and that looked ugly and didn’t help users much.
- I know Danny likes Feedburner, but I don’t use it because I feel a little weird about giving my RSS feeds over to someone else. Turns out that several people on the panel felt the same way. One solution that people mentioned was to keep the feeds as an internal link (e.g. feeds.zawodny.com), and then do a 302 over to Feedburner. That makes it easy to undo later if you want to take your feeds back in-house.
- At some point during the conversation above, I felt pretty dumb. I blog, but don’t really feel like a native blogger. When I started blogging, I did about a week of research, then I just picked WordPress, tweaked it a bit, and haven’t done much otherwise. Even my blog template is pretty vanilla, which is fine because I assume you’re reading me via a feed reader. That’s why I include the full text and pictures of my posts in my feeds. I don’t care very much about RSS/Atom/whatever, and I feel vaguely guilty about that. I sometimes feel that if I were a real blogger, I would dig through XML for fun.
- Daron mentioned the danger of chiclet inflation (“Add to MyYahoo”, “Add to Google Reader”, “Subscribe in Bloglines”, and so on) and that he uses a dropbox on webmasterradio.fm. I think he also said that he switched from Shoutcast to Icecast. Either that, or the other way around.
- I thought again that it might be fun to do a podcast, and again wished that there was a rock-solid/cheap/reliable/scalable place to dump 30-50 MB mp3s. Any recommendations?
Okay, moving on. I’d been talking to Mike Grehan about doing an interview for, oh, two years or so, and we finally got around to doing that. We ended up talking for 40-50 minutes and discussing lots of meaty topics such as the differences between IP delivery and cloaking. I hope he’ll put that audio up some time, and I also hope to see technical posts by Mike Grehan, Amanda Watlington, and Daron Babin about the type of audio set-up that they each have.
Then it was well after 4 p.m., and I realized that I was going to miss Gordon Hotchkiss’ thin-slicing search session with Ron Belanger. Hopefully someone else caught it and can fill me in. So instead, I hunkered in the hotel room and wrote this up.
Now comes the dilemma: it’s about 6pm. Should I go to the YPN party? They never sent me a YPN invite, but they invited me to their party. Or should I hang around in the hotel pub and chat SEO? Or should I try to sleep a little bit to prepare for that 9am Blogger panel? I’m mightly low on sleep after that red-eye flight.