Oculus, Facebook, Carmack, and Abrash

Oculus Rift DK2
Oculus Rift DK2

My first reaction, similar to that of most other developers who are working with the Oculus Rift, upon hearing of the Facebook acquisition of Oculus, was one of intense disappointment. It felt like our favourite band just sold out to a huge record label. Oculus was the embodiment of the VR industry itself: the scrappy little guy, fighting against all odds to prove to the world that he can do it.

All that changed this past week when it was announced that Facebook acquired Oculus.

Enough has been typed and said over the past week, with emotions ranging from “take our ball and go home” to “this is the best thing that could have happened to us.” After letting it settle, thinking about it, seeing John Carmack give his support, then Michael Abrash  leaving Valve to join the team, my feelings on it have completely changed. This change at Oculus is a big deal, in a good way. Oculus now has the best chance of making true VR a reality. They have the best team in the world and the biggest budget behind them to do it. Colour me excited.

Some web traffic data for my part-time video game blog

When I first started making websites, I went looking for web traffic data for other people’s websites in an attempt to set a sort of realistic goal post. I wanted to know: what sort of traffic is realistic for a site that’s just starting out? How will I know if the site is successful or popular? Unfortunately, there isn’t a lot of information available. So, for those that come after me, here’s what my video game site, GameBlaster64, has looked like traffic-wise since day one (January 20, 2011).

Traffic for gameblaster64
Click/tap for larger image

My site is not entirely popular, but it’s not barren, either. I post sporadically, maybe once every week on average. The content quality is good, though: all of the posts are original articles, not found anywhere else on the web. I’m always on-topic and share my posts on Facebook, Twitter, G+, and Stumbleupon. I don’t pay for traffic. All of this is organic.

Looking at the data, I find it interesting that although I have hundreds of articles, the ones about popular or trendy topics are right at the top of the popularity chart. Though it’s only one data point, my site’s traffic data seems to support the notion that following trends returns greater interest than long-tail but focused content, i.e., writing things about Minecraft is more popular than covering older/indie/non-mainstream titles or news, even if the latter is much more numerous in post count.

I do run ads from Google AdSense and make some money from Amazon affiliate links, but it’s not enough to quit my day job. Not even close. Still, it pays for our Minecraft server, which is professionally hosted in NYC by the amazing people at Nuclear Fallout. And, I get enjoyment from the creative outlet, covering the industry I love.

Spending Less Time At Facebook These Days

Facebook has recently changed the way it handles my news feed. Because of this, it’s likely that I’ll be reading it less and keeping it around just to post things and check up on to make sure I haven’t missed a message.

Here’s why: I don’t equate friendship with following.

When I’m your friend, I want to keep in touch, maybe hang out, and share something with you directly. I don’t want to see your thought stream.

Don’t take it personally because it isn’t personal. When I read stuff online, it’s usually news. I want to learn something new about the fields in which I am excited, not in which you are excited. If it’s not news, it’s an editorial on said fields. If it’s not an editorial, it’s a tweet from someone who might be generating the previous two examples.

I had spent the last 6-12 months whittling down my Facebook news feed to weed out most people’s/most page’s posts from showing up.  The little down arrow icon with the “Hide all from xyz” was my best friend.

Then, a week or so ago, all those settings got wiped in favour of a new “acquaintences” system where you specifically select which group you want to read from.

Here’s why it doesn’t work: I have no clue what people are going to say before they say it, so I have no idea who I would like to follow. But, once they’ve said it, I sure as hell know who I would like to unsubscribe from.

This doesn’t mean I don’t want to be their friend, it just means I don’t want to mix their stuff in with mine is all.

Enhanced by Zemanta

How to Network in a Web 2.0 World – Part 2.0

Note: This is a continuation of part 1 of How to Network in a Web 2.0 World. Please read the first blog post on the subject before proceeding with this one.

What’s Next?

Now that you’ve got profiles at the 3 most popular social networking websites, it’s time to put them to good use. To do that, we’re going to leverage the equalizing power of the Internet to gain access to high-profile people in the markets you’re selling your services to or working in. You will be amazed how accessible CEOs and other top-tier people are on services like Twitter and Facebook.

Your Brand

Branding is an entire industry by itself and far out of the scope of this blog post. However, we can tackle a small part of it to get you on your way. The easiest way to help brand yourself is to have a consistent image that you’re delivering to people who see you. This way, they will remember you and associate you with that image. Think Coca-cola and you likely think of a red sign with white text. Or Nintendo brings up imagery of Mario.

Be sure that your profile picture is the same across all of the social networking sites you’re a part of. This way, when people see a thumbnail of your profile pic, they will remember who you are and associate you with it.

Another trick is to always use the same nickname or handle on every service. For example, my handle is Rocky1138. If you search for Rocky1138 on Google or Yahoo or Bing you will see a lot of the websites I write on or tweets from Twitter.

Facebook Vanity URLs

When adjusting your profile on Facebook you are presented with the option of creating a “vanity URL,” which is a word you associate in the Facebook website address with your Facebook profile. This is an easy way to make your Facebook profile memorable to people. For example, my Facebook profile is located at https://www.facebook.com/webprogrammer. Whenever anyone goes to that link, it will take them to my Facebook profile. Pick a good Vanity URL such as your name or something easy to remember that you wouldn’t mind putting on your business cards.

Twitter

Twitter will connect you with very important people around the world and give you access to those who can hire you or contract your services in the future. An easy way to get hold of the best people in your industry is to use a website like WeFollow.

WeFollow will show you the top Twitter accounts in the world for a search term you type in. If you type in “php” you will get 1,602 people you can follow, including the #1 twitterer which is coincidentally the person that invented PHP. After using Twitter for a few weeks to build up a tweet history, spend a day and a half to follow the entire list of people in your search. If even half of them follow you in return, that’s still potentially hundreds of like-minded people that will be listening and watching your tweets.

I have gotten plenty of work from people who’ve been following me on Twitter and got in touch with me because of something I tweeted about. This is a great way to get work.

I hope this has helped moves you forward in networking in a web 2.0 world. There’s still plenty more we can do, so keep an eye out for part 3 on the horizon.

How to Network in a Web 2.0 World – Part 1

TwitterFox - Firefox Twitter Plugin

TwitterFox – Firefox Twitter Plugin

As a web developer my job is more than just programming code. I’m required to cut up graphics, keep up-to-date with web standards (CSS, XHTML, et al.), and build a reputation for myself in a way that many other workers in many other jobs simply aren’t required to do.

There has always been a need for every worker in every industry to maintain a good level of professionalism and efficiency in order to gain a good referral when looking for future employment, but with web developers this is amplified.

Why?

Everything about the web is social; we chat online, send E-Mails, play online games, receive world news instantly, and have public profiles on any number of social networking services – Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Orkut, and more.  There is competiton everywhere. Everyone is fighting each other for attention and recognition.

Who’s out there?

Computerworld suggests that 1 in 5 employers looks at prospective employees on social networking sites (Facebook, MySpace, and others) to determine if that person would be a good fit for their company. With numbers like that, you cannot afford to be reckless with regards to your online persona.

What can you do?

This first part of this article is designed to get you up to speed on a few techniques and sites that will help you build an online persona that future employers, when searching for you, will find.

I got my first programming gig because my employer found me on Google. The same could happen to you. Let’s make sure what they see shows you in the most positive light possible.

The Basics

The most important things you can do when creating an online profile is ensuring that your data is always accurate, timely, and professional. Always imagine that your boss can see everything you put online — because he/she can! Never let data grow stale. Always be adding, updating, and building.

To start, there are three websites you will need to create an account on. Those three are Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter. We’ll go through each briefly, but I always recommend that some time is spent with each one to get used to the features it offers.

Facebook

Website: https://www.facebook.com/

Who hasn’t heard of Facebook? Unless you’ve been living under a technological rock for the past few years, you’ve at least heard of this service. Facebook is a website where over 90 million people have created profiles that allow them to share photos and contact details, network, and meet friends.  Put simply: If you’re not on Facebook, who are you?

LinkedIn

Website: https://www.linkedin.com/

LinkedIn is Facebook’s older, more experienced cousin. This site’s specific purpose is to build an online resume and accomplishments list that other people in your industry can use to search and find you. While Facebook is geared to a more personal audience, LinkedIn is strictly for professionals. Over 35 million people have built online profiles already and there are more joining each day. Chances are someone you know or work with is on this site.

As you build your profile, consider it an online resume.  This will help to give you an idea of what it should look like to someone reading it.

A neat feature that LinkedIn has is the ability to search your E-Mail contacts for people on LinkedIn that you might know. This saves you the hassle of trying to build an initial network. From there, you can be introduced to people that they know and so on, building your network even larger.

Twitter

Website: https://www.twitter.com/

Ah, Twitter. You’ll either love it or hate it. I personally dislike this service, but I find myself using it every day. It is a uniquely simple but completely addicting service. The idea is called ‘micro-blogging‘, meaning that you send brief (140 letters or less) updates of what you’re doing or thinking and people can respond.  The photo at the top-right of this article shows a typical Twitter experience.

As you continue to update the world to your thoughts and work, people will begin to ‘follow’ you and they will get your tweets (the term for each update you put out). In turn, you can ‘follow’ their tweets.

The biggest draw of Twitter is that you can find and communicate with very high-profile people you may never normally have access to. Some top CEOs and other big-wigs are on here. If you communicate often enough and start to gather a following, you can find yourself in a conversation with people you never thought possible!

This ends part one of “How to Network in a Web 2.0 World.” Continue onto Part 2.0.