Search Terms of Endearment: 2013

Today I combed through the statistics on my website from the past year. Among other things, I saw which blog post got the most hits in 2012. I saw which period of 2012 had the most traffic (not surprisingly, mid-September to mid-October, during the CBRM election). And I saw what percentage of visitors to my website arrived via Facebook (50%), via Google (40%), and via Twitter (7%). (The remainder arrived via links on other websites.)

But the most fun was seeing the actual keywords people searched on Google, before ending up on my website. Of course, most of the search terms made perfect sense, and I’m glad they found me!

“mike targett”

“cape breton + web design”

“cbrm district 5 candidates”

Other search terms included the names of colleagues and clients — names that  appear in my portfolio. The names of friends and acquaintances popped up as well — names that appear in comments, for example, and in mentions throughout my website. (I wonder if they were just Googling themselves. Not that I’m judging!)

Some searches can be explained easily enough, based on the keywords, but I wonder if the context was right? Did the person find what they were really looking for when they searched:

“how david beats goliath – what does it mean”

“kids flying kites on a grassy hill”

“sean casey cartoons”

“fuzzy’s fries”

“galerie uli schaarschmidt”

“cbrm property tax revenue”

Some search terms don’t show up all together in any one particular blog post. But the keywords are nonetheless scattered across multiple blog posts. If so, there’s a chance Google could have found them all together on an archive page. Archives are where every blog post on a particular theme (for example, “internet”, or “climate change”, or “coal mining”) is collected and indexed on a separate page. Not terribly helpful for some searches, and it might not have answered your question. (I’ve since fixed it for search.) But anyway, still good questions!

“day care to send child occasionally in sydney ns”
(How did they make out, I wonder?)

“top 20 employers in cape breton creative digital media”
(20 is a lot, but here’s a start.)

“where can i find a speech on youth out-migration”
(Here’s one. Here’s another.)

Some searches made me simultaneously despair and awed at the power of the Internet:

“save the world from climate change”
(Search = ‘climate change’)

And some searches made me wish I could find out who was behind them:

“cape breton collective identity”

Now there’s something to blog about.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year

How I Met Your Mom: for Zadie, Shepard & Felix

vcecU1y - Imgur

Tech Community in Sydney

Moore’s law predicts that the performance of microchips will increase exponentially over time. A variation seems to be governing the life-cycle of Atlantic Canada tech startups:

  • March 2011 — Salesforce (San Francisco, California) buys social media monitoring company Radian6 (New Brunswick).
  • July 2012 — Salesforce buys co-browsing innovators GoInstant (Halifax/Cape Breton).
  • January 2013 (???) — Salesforce buys LeadSift (Halifax), which mines social media data to generate sales for companies.

One of LeadSift’s angel investors is Jevon MacDonald, CEO of GoInstant. This is how it’s supposed to be. See the full story: via @innovacorp

Is the rate at which Atlantic Canada startups are moving from innovation to acquisition accelerating? And if so, is it a bubble? Or a positive trend? ‘Entrevestor Intelligence’ thinks it’s just the beginning.

The Tech Community in Greater Sydney

From Entrevestor Intelligence [pdf], sponsored by NSBI.

When co-browsing startup GoInstant sold out for more than $70 million this year, one detail that was lost in the hoopla was the fact that its technology was conceived and pioneered in Sydney, Cape Breton.

The company came together in late 2010 when Sydney-based programmers Gavin Uhma, Kirk MacPhee and David Kim showed up at one of the TecSocials organized by Robert Pelley, the Innovacorp Investment Manager based in Cape Breton.

The featured speaker that night was the agency’s Entrepreneur-in-Residence Jevon MacDonald, who was amazed when Uhma, MacPhee and Kim told him about the project they were working on – a co-browsing system that would allow people at different computers to work on the same screen…

The fact is that there is a community of tech talent in the former industrial hub that is exceeded in the province only by Halifax.MeConsider the case of eLearning company MediaSpark, which is developing GoVenture World, a massive multi-player online game that will train budding entrepreneurs in what it’s really like to start and grow your own business. The company has 17 employees, of whom 16 are in Sydney, including its entire development team.

As well as talent, Sydney-based companies have found capital needed for their businesses. Techlink Entertainment, which develops responsible gambling systems and products, has raised $5.5 million in VC investment and $6 million in loans from Nova Scotia Business Inc. World Health Outcomes and Marcato Digital Solutions have also raised VC funding, while MediaSpark received investment from what CEO Mathew Georghiou calls ‘quasi-venture capitalists’.

The tech community in industrial Cape Breton is as varied as you’d find in other centres, ranging from the healthcare systems developed by Corrine McIsaac at Health Outcomes Worldwide to the geological samples analysis software of Celtic Coring Systems.

One area of strength is developing technical applications for cultural industries – no doubt a happy byproduct of the rich artistic tradition of the area.

MediaSpark is a publisher of eBooks used around the world, while Marcato Digital has developed administrative systems for musicians and festivals. A newcomer to the space, TixCamp, is now developing software that can help concert organizers assess demand for specific acts.

Attention Span of the Internet

“The biggest fallacy of writing on the web is the idea that there is unlimited space,” says GigaOM founder Om Malik on his blog. “The true limitation of the Internet is attention.”

And when all you have is a “minute and a half of someone’s attention,” it takes a great deal of creativity to make a persuasive argument, tell a compelling story, or deliver a factual news piece.

But the obverse is also true: in a world of 90-second attention spans, it takes an even greater deal of creativity to grab hold of that attention and not let go!

This is the philosophy of Atavist, a digital publishing app for long-form writing and multimedia storytelling. And its goal — a world where there’s space for attention.

Cofounder and CEO Evan Ratcliff recently spoke at XOXO, an arts and technology festival in Portland, Oregon. It’s not your average conference presentation. Instead he employs a narrative style that evokes — and references — the very kinds of storytelling you find on Atavist.

It includes surveillance footage of a $150 million helicopter-assisted heist of a vault in Sweden; a 7-year old’s diary of her troubled childhood; Brian Wilson’s original recordings from the making of Smile; a graphic novel chronicling a young boy’s escape from slavery in Ethiopia to a job as a retail clerk in Long Island, New York; and the time Ratcliff tried to vanish, like people who fake their own death.

When Ratcliff gives presentations about Atavist at publishing conferences, the reaction is often cynical.

“The publishing industry assumes that there’s a relationship between size and editorial control; that in order to do things that are high quality, that involve great writers, you need editors, and to have editors you need a huge building on Park Avenue that has twenty floors.”

Maybe the biggest fallacy of writing not on the web is that there is a direct correlation between overhead and quality.

Seaweed and Sod B&B and Farm

A vacation in Cape Breton can change your life. Just ask Terri Shobbrook. In 2009, Terri and her partner Dave took a 3-week holiday in the East Coast. Six of those days were spent in Cape Breton, and within 3 months they had quit their jobs, pulled up stakes and moved their farm from Seaforth (Huron County), Ontario to Kempt Head, Cape Breton Island.

This place has a tendency to put a spell on people, and their story is actually a pretty familiar one. Except for what they brought with them: cats, dogs, llamas, several heritage varieties of chickens, Naragansett turkeys, Muskovy ducks, Cotswold sheep, Belgium mares and Percheron horses!

“Come for the sunset, Stay for breakfast” goes the slogan of the 100-acre organic farm and Bed & Breakfast that Terri now runs in Kempt Head. Terri’s also an avid photographer, so the website I made for her features a Facebook-like gallery at the top of every page to showcase her photography.

Nova Scotia Moves

New grant program, “Nova Scotia Moves”, supports community-led sustainable transportation initiatives. I’ll be applying to this grant for “Open Streets”.

…transforming downtown Sydney into a pedestrian-friendly centre of activity — by diverting motorized vehicles from Charlotte Street, and opening it up for people to walk, roll, stroll, play, shop and eat… Read more→

Interested in helping? Get in touch:

Papa, remembered

It’s ironic that today I remember my Papa for something he wanted to forget.

Every year around this time, until his death in 2006, he used to make his way down to the Pier legion for the ceremonies. But at home he almost never talked about the war. Except to say “there were things I don’t want to remember.”

He thought war was a racket — a way to keep the economy going. If he’d lived a few more years, he’d have predicted that the only way out of the global economic crisis was war. Then he would have added: “Mark my words.”

His medals weren’t hidden away, but they weren’t on display either.

Much of Papa’s time was spent in Italy. My dad remembers him talking once about moving through Italy until things were secure. Then his company got a leave and they all went to Rome and saw Pius XII. When my dad first met a pope, and then when I did (John Paul II on a trip to Rome when I was 11), Papa reminded us that he’d beaten us to it.

His army buddies threw him into a huge water cistern once. He almost drowned. They thought he could swim because he was from Cape Breton and lived near the ocean.

He did talk a little about the challenges of feeding so many troops. And, although he never had a driver’s licence at home, about the trucks in Italy and the difficulty of keeping them going under such circumstances.

On more than one occasion (usually very late, after he’d had a couple), he’d reminisce about good times in an Italian village that had been liberated. About local people feeding troops at their homes. About parties in town squares.

Then he’d remember one of his friends, who didn’t come home, and he’d drift off.

Lest he remember. Lest we forget.

Remembrance Day, November 11th, 2012.

Cape Breton Music Industry Cooperative @ Nova Scotia Music Week

CBMIC (Cape Breton Music Industry Cooperative)* is sending some musical ambassadors to the mainland for Nova Scotia Music Week 2012. The festival and conference runs ’til Sunday in Liverpool, NS. It features performances by Carmen Townsend, Carlton Stone, Breagh MacKinnon, Crowdis Bridge, Sprag Session, and Mary Jane Lamond & Wendy MacIsaac.**

With over a hundred artists performing throughout the weekend, CBMIC wanted to showcase its own. The mini website I made is designed to do just that. And it’s designed with conference delegates in mind. They’re likely travelling, and likely viewing the site on a mobile device. So the website is built to be “responsive”. Its layout changes based on the device it’s viewed on — smart phone, tablet, any mobile device, in addition to computer.

*CBMIC is a volunteer, not-for-profit organization developed to grow and support Cape Breton’s music industry. Want to learn more? Check out Albert Lionais’ IDEAS: Powered by Passion talk.

**To see a full list of Cape Breton talent attending NSMW, and the awards they’re nominated for, see the Cape Breton Post.

US Election / Date Night

Democracy Now, Twitter, Al Jazeera English, NPR, red wine

My wife, Ardelle, and I have been watching US presidential debates and election together since 2004. It’s the ‘date night’ equivalent of a leap-year birthday.

Mr. Paint

My uncle-in-law Hank Tomko is the owner of the Mr Paint store on George Street. He and his staff are the real deal. So in addition to high quality products, and the warm fuzzy feeling you get from shopping local, you get expert, professional service and advice. (I know from experience: we moved five times in the last eight years, and I painted four of those houses!)

The new website is based on one of 2012’s “Colour Trends”. It’ll get a fresh coat in 2013.