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The topics discussed here grow out of the bread-and-butter issues that confront my consulting and software clients on a daily basis. We'll talk about prosaic stuff like Membership Management, Meetings and Events Management and Fundraising, broader ideas like security and software project management, and the social, cultural, and organizational issues that impact IT decision-making.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Monday Links

My friend Michelle Murraine took me to task for the presumption that all coders are male in the pronoun choice in my last post, How does a programmer spend his time? To atone, here's a set of links for this week, all from female bloggers.

Open API's.
Let's start with Michelle herself, who posted some comments on the NTEN-sponsored discussion of open API's last week to both the NetSquared site and her own blog. The on-line discussion brought together some of the larger software vendors in the non-profit space and a few very savvy users. API's - Application Program Interfaces - refer to an interface made available by one piece of software to allow other software programs to call its functions, manipulate its data, and so on. I'm convinced that open API's add immensley to a product's value and a vendor is a fool not to provide them: we provide SOAP-based APIs for our Members Only applications, so users can access the data and remote-control Members Only from their own web-based or desktop applications. Michelle's comments raise a lot of good questions about the meaning of openness in this context, the relationship between openness and price, and how security fits into the mix.

Code Like A Girl.
Speaking of programming and women, how could I not point in this post to by Kathy Sierra in her remarkable Creating Passionate Users blog? What does she mean by Girl Code? Kathy quotes from "Morton", who wrote in a comment on another blog.
'As for spending too much time on making the code look right down to the last indentation - my code has been called “girl code” for the same reason...' And there you have it. I think "girl code" is quite a compliment.
Kathy's point is that elegance in design -- down to how the code is typed -- plays an important role in making that code understandable when it needs to be looked at later, or by another developer. Code that "does the job" and is banged out as quickly as possible may end up costing more, when the time it takes to maintain it and enhance it later gets factored in. This really fits right into my post last Friday that talks about how programmer's actually spend their time. (I understand CafePress now has Code Like a Girl T-shirts available!)

Google Heaven: Search Engine Optimization
Nikki Pilkington runs a U.K. based Internet Marketing business, and often has some very nice articles posted there. Just today I got her newsletter pointing to this article on Search Engine Optimization. So often improving your position in Google seems like an arcane art that you can either ignore or spend a fortune on. Nikki gives us a list of ten clear directives for improving our website SEO, including great advice about link exchanges:
It's simple; a good linking campaign is like great sex. You take it slowly, make sure it's focused on great results, and choose your partners wisely. Jumping on anyone and everyone is rarely satisfactory.
In general, Nikki's advice is that there's no magic here: the more text-rich the site is, the simpler the navigation, and the more phrases you think people might search on actually occur on the site, the higher your ranking will climb.

Quick: Tell me what your organization does!
Beth Kanter is one of my favorite bloggers, in part because she so often does interviews of very interesting people in her postings. Recently she interviewed Laura Allen, who runs a consultancy called 15second pitch. If you've ever found yourself stumbling to explain what you do -- or what your non-profit stands for -- in a quick encounter at a meeting or a supermarket checkout line, a look at this interview might be useful. Laura's focus is on distilling the essence of what you do into a fifteen second speech. And you've got to find that essence first!

Blogging Basics for Women
Women have been quite forceful in claiming their space in the Blogosphere; perhaps the best known women's project in this space is Blogher. My friend Britt Bravo - a contributing editor to the site -- has just started a new blog with the sole purpose of providing technical assistance to women entering the world of blogging. With pieces on how to read blogs, how to set up a feed reader, and how to select a blogging platform, Blogging Basics for Women is turning into an ongoing university for those just entering this powerful new medium.

Britt - like Beth - is also a great interviewer. Scroll down her page on Blogher and read some of the "Solutionary Women" series of interviews with non-profit movers - like this one with Nola Brantly.


Comments on "Monday Links"


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (November 12, 2006 at 11:42 PM) : 

Hi Michael,

Laura is awesome. I got an hour of coaching from her = and she is fantastic. I needed her expertise .. and she is great. I highly recommend her.


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