Summary of eHow Articles for January

A list of the thrilling and educational how to articles I wrote at eHow this month. And tulips! More . . .

Yellow Tulips

One of the gifts I received for Christmas was a jar with three tulip bulbs in water. They were sprouting by January and bloomed in a few days. This is the first day they opened, eventually all three bloomed. In addition to watching the flowers grow this January, I wrote these articles at eHow.

Useful Links: real-time web

Examples of the real-time web in action and places to watch during the inauguration for real-time news. More . . .

Sorry, Google, You Missed the Real-Time Web at ReadWriteWeb points out,

In case you missed it, this live streaming mashup of the plane that crashed in the Hudson River yesterday did what no media company could do. It is the future of media — crude, simple, and missing loads of things we would want, yes, but new media always show up that way.

My first glimpse of the plane crash was on Twitter. The mashup ReadWriteWeb mentioned was made using storytir. Storytir will pull in tweets, RSS, Facebook updates and all sorts of content and display it like the example in the story from ReadWriteWeb. Storytir seems worth checking out.

With the inauguration coming, the new experience of a real-time web will hit many people in the face for the first time in a big way tomorrow. A few real-time suggestions from me for the event  include National Public Radio’s (NPR)  already running Inauguration Report which is pulling in #inaug09 and #dctrip09 tagged posts to Twitter, Flickr, and YouTube. The Flickr stream for photos tagged “inauguration” is already available. Great photos.

This is raw, unedited, unpolished reality. It’s one of the ways media is changing.

Watch for my post tomorrow on BlogHer with many more suggestions for watching the inauguration in real time.

The Best Job in the World: Going Viral

Absolutely everybody wants to get paid $100,000 to live for six months on Australia’s Hamilton Island in the Great Barrier Reef and be the island caretaker. It’s the best job in the world. How did the job manage to go viral and become a sensation? More . . .

Absolutely everybody wants to get paid $100,000 to live for six months on Australia’s Hamilton Island in the Great Barrier Reef and be the island caretaker. It’s the best job in the world.

It sounds so easy. Keep an eye on the pool, stroll on the beach, write a weekly blog post, live in a beautiful three bedroom house/office, and make money doing it. You do have to be able to write in English, swim, and be over 18. Not the skills you normally see on a resume, but requirements, nevertheless.

So many people are willing to drop everything and go down under for 6 months that the number of applicants crashed the site. There are only 35 days left to apply at this web site, if you’re interested.

Island Reef Job web page

Finding BonggaMom’s I’ve Found My Dream Job expresses the desire to run away to a beautiful isle with sandy beaches and rolling surf, but tempers it with a dose of reality:

I suppose asking the kids to get themselves to school by themselves for 6 months is a bit unreasonable. Oh, well.

That’s my thought, too. It sounds like heaven, but who can leave everything behind and run away to paradise? Apparently a lot of people. Outnumbered 2 to 1: Fine, I’ll get a J-O-B summarizes the emotional pull of this job quite well.

So, let me get this right. You are going to pay me for something that I currently do now for free? I can live on an island paradise as opposed to the frozen tundra wasteland I currently call home? I can wear flip flops and sarongs as opposed to layers of sweats and college sweatshirts with an outer layer of blanket?

image of Hamilton island from

This image of Hamilton Island came from The Best Job in the World web site. Which brings me to the brilliance of the Tourism Queensland team that put this site and this job together. Raise your hands now—had you considered a vacation at Hamilton Island before hearing about this job? No? Well, what about after reading about the job, looking through the web site’s luscious photos of decadent irresponsibility and worry-free living like the one above? Is Hamilton Island on your list of places to visit now? If you said yes, then Tourism Queensland has done its job.

The job went viral. It was a sensation on Twitter, as you can see in this image.

a few tweets about the island caretaker job

The job was world news everywhere like this story from CNN.

I don’t think merely filling the job was the goal. I think the unspoken goal was to bring attention to Hamilton Island as a vacation destination. If the cost of the job and the nicely done website brings returns on the investment with tourist dollars, then the goal is achieved.

How did Tourism Queensland succeed in creating a viral sensation? I think these are some of the reasons:

  • they tapped into a universal desire (get away from it all and bask on a beach)
  • they came up with a hook—the best job in the world—that was guaranteed to grab attention
  • they tied it to a huge paycheck that is very attractive and feels very much like winning a huge sum for doing almost nothing. Something for nothing always attracts interest.
  • they packaged it beautifully in an attractive site with stunning visuals that emphasized the lure of paradise for both the job holder (and the potential tourist to Hamilton Island)
  • they made it easy to apply for the job. More importantly, it’s easy to learn more about the islands of the Great Barrier Reef and to find a vacation package to get you there.

Are you going to apply? Good luck if you do. If you don’t, perhaps you can still profit from a few ideas about what makes an idea worthy of going viral.

Cross posted at BlogHer.

What’s Hot?

What’s popular here and what’s popular right now at eHow? Here’s the lucky seven top links from both sites.

What’s popular here and what’s popular right now at eHow? It’s the big seven! First, the big traffic pullers on Web Teacher are:

And what is drawing interest on eHow these last few days? Those articles are:

Useful Links: Twitter Fan Wiki, State of the Web, and an off topic foray

Useful links, including the Twitter fan wiki, a short essay of mine, the results of the state of the web survey and a look at bold and italic.

Thanks to a tip from the fabulous Miraz, I discovered the Twitter Fan Wiki and its page of apps that work with Twitter. I was just reading in Macworld yesterday about the Twitterific app for the iPhone, but this page reveals many more choices.

The Gift is a story of mine, totally off topic and only for the incurably curious about me. Published at The Elder Storytelling Place.

A Blog Not Limited reflects on the results of the state of the Web 2008 survey. At a Blog Not Limited, we see,

What surprised me the most (in an entirely unpleasant way) were the findings for use of HTML elements:

Seventeen percent use <b>
Fifteen percent use <i>
Seriously? Someone please explain this to me.

I can explain why I occasionally use <b> and <i>. There are times when I need a presentational effect that does not involve emphasis or strong. I don’t want to give the impression that the marked up text should be more important or in any way distinct.  I just want a presentational effect that will be apparent to the majority of users and won’t confuse users with assistive software.

If I don’t have control over the CSS for a site, and I write for a lot of sites where I do not, then how can I achieve benign presentational effects like bold or italic without using <b> or <i>? Em and strong have semantic meaning that I may not want to attach to text. Therefore, I may resort to bold and italic for appearance sake.

Funny Tweets

Google alert picked up sale of my book on eBay India, blurb says ‘create sites accessible to the wildest range of visitors’ Wild, baby, wild

Read the whole conversation at Web Teacher.

My original tweet:
Google alert picked up sale of my book on eBay India, blurb says ‘create sites accessible to the wildest range of visitors’ Wild, baby, wild

dthomasdigital: @vdebolt: I knew your web designs were just wild.

@dthomasdigital Or maybe the book just makes the readers wild.

dthomasdigital @vdebolt: You might be on to something, book readers gone wild

@dthomasdigital New title: Mastering Integrated HTML and CSS Gone Wild!

dthomasdigital @vdebolt: I think I need that book…

@dthomasdigital It’s available on eBay India! LOL

dthomasdigital @vdebolt: I bet ebay India has some cool stuff.

Yeah, like my wild book.

Useful Links: Mega 2009 Conference List, Power Twitter

The Ultra-Mega 2009 conference list–80+ events to note from Susan Mernit’s blog is supposed to indicate her interests, but it’s a useful collection of events for the tech minded. With links.

Tech Crunch made Power Twitter sound like a great thing. I gave it a try. It works right in Firefox at your usual Twitter address. Two nice things I noticed immediately. First, it displays images that are posted at Flickr. And it translates the tinyurl into meaningful link text that can help you decide whether or not to click.

My page using Power Twitter
My page using Power Twitter

For example, above the image pulled in from Flickr you see a retweet of a post about new year’s resolutions with the URL give as readable link text. In addition to Flickr photos, it also displays YouTube video right there on the page. When you search on @username, you see not just the Tweets directed at that person, but also any post where their username is mentioned somewhere other than at the start of the Tweet. I’m sure it has more nice features, that’s just what I noticed in the first three minutes using it. Download Power Twitter add-on.