Real Geek Becomes Internet Rock Star

36 year old geek Jonathan Coulton got sick of coding, he wanted to sing instead. He was a typical geek – no doubt working in a dark cube decorated with action figures and empty pop cans.

His diet was full of caffeine and junk food. He didn’t shave (which hasn’t changed). Then he decided to follow his dream of being a rock star – albeit on his own terms.

Now he makes a living from his very plain blog, selling music and performing. More than he did programming. Notice his branding is true geek – it’s authentic and despite doing little actual marketing it’s working.

I’m afraid as I write this that it could start a revolt and we need programmers! The saving grace is most would never actually appear before a group of people, let alone a team meeting.

Pilgrim’s Picks for February 27 – On the Road Edition

As you know, I’m currently in Santa Clara getting ready to speak at Danny Sullivan’s SMX West. While I’m busy being busy, I’ll leave you with these items that caught my eye.

Don’t worry, our other fabulous writers will be along later to fill in the blanks. :-)

Zappos drops price protection and overnight shipping

Zappos has decided that it wants to be known more for customer service than discount pricing. It is eliminating its free overnight shipping guarantee as well as a guarantee to refund 110% of the difference between its price and a lower competitor’s price.

If you are not familiar with Zappos, they sell shoes and other clothing and are one of the largest online retailers (#31 according to Internet Retailer ). They also own a few other sites such as 6pm.com which is more of a discount clothing store.

According to CEO Tony Hsieh, this policy change took place because the goal of Zappos is to be known more for customer service than low pricing.

I find this situation very interesting for several reasons.

Net Neutrality Conference for FCC

The FCC continues to investigate the allegedly “anti-Net-Neutral” actions of ISP (and cable co) Comcast. If you’ve missed this story so far, Comcast has terminated some P2P file sharing and allegedly impersonated its subscribers to do so (they send messages on BitTorrent telling each participant in a transfer that the other canceled the transfer). FCC Chairman Kevin Martin said last month that the FCC would investigate the reports.

At the time, Comcast said they would fully comply with the investigation, but since then, things have grown a little ugly. Comcast has provided information and testimony to the FCC, but they’ve also argued that the FCC has no right to enforce Net Neutrality.

Facebook Falling Off?

Is the honeymoon over for media darling Facebook? Well, yes and no. Hitwise today shows that Facebook’s market share is down, while their average time on site continues in its upward trend. However, Youth Trends‘ February report puts Facebook at the top of students’ list for the seventh straight quarter with 60% of males and 74% of females ranking it as their favorite site.

Hitwise’s Heather Dougherty (not to be confused with her UK coworker, Heather Hopkins) takes a look at Facebook’s popularity in the US, and the results are mixed:

One interesting point to note is that during recent peaks in traffic, the average visit time decreases, evidence that these spikes are being driven by less active users of Facebook.

Yahoo Tries to Get Some Buzz

It’s a day of new releases for Yahoo! As part of Search Marketing Expo West (SMX) in Santa Clara, CA they’ve announced some new initiatives to try to build some buzz for the company.

No doubt it’s been a rough go at Yahoo lately and good news is needed. Other stories coming from Yahoo seem more buzz-worthy, but here’s a preview of one new development from Yahoo.

Yahoo Buzz
Yahoo Buzz is the Yahoo version of Digg and other social voting sites. Not a lot new here except they’ll aggregate stories from 100 publishers. You can promote the buzzed stories to Digg and other sites like Facebook, Reddit and Stumbleupon. Oh, and it has a page rank of 6.

Join Me for an Online Reputation Management Webinar – Thurs Feb 28th

If you didn’t get to hear me discuss online reputation management at SES London and can’t make it out to SMX West this week, fear not! I’m doing an online webinar this Thursday at 1pm ET / 10am PT.

"7 Steps to a Stellar Online Reputation" is presented by the American Marketing Association and sponsored by Aquent. The online webinar will run for 45 minutes, followed by about 15 minutes of Q&A.

It’s the first time I’ve given this presentation and it includes many of the tactics shared in my new book Radically Transparent: Monitoring and Managing Reputations Online.

Some of the tactics I’ll cover include:

  • devising online media strategies and objectives that engage customers,
  • developing a monitoring system will work best for their company, and