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September 21, 2005

Blook Beta Blur

The first forty-eight hours post the beta launch of the blook hackoff.com have been a blur.  Life on the Internet was always fast but Web 2.0 even more so.

The Launch

Hackoffcardsm2 The books on promoting books say that you’re supposed to start with your friends, your country club, stuff like that.  Closest thing to an “affinity group” I belong to is the VoIP industry with whom Mary and I spent seven fun years.  So we decided to launch with a promotion at VON, the industry’s leading tradeshow.  Idea was we would reach a few thousand of our old friends by imprinting on the hotel room keys attendees which would be getting when they checked in at Boston hotels.

Show started Monday so we knew people would be checking in Sunday night and getting the keys.  So we had the site ready and working on Saturday and started telling a few people at a time about it so that we’d get some test load.  All of a sudden usage spiked while we were still making last minute tweaks.  Quick.  Lock everything down!  Fortunately nothing crashed.

What we should’ve realized after doing it so many times ourselves is that the people who actually put on the show and the people who have booths to set up come on Saturday.  When they checked in, they got their room keys.  When they got their room keys, they tried the URL.  Then they blogged or emailed abut what they saw.  Ready or not, we were open for business.

By Sunday, as I blogged here, a number of prominent blogs now mentioned hackoff.com and we got thousands of page views.  Monday even more.  Hundreds of people signed up for subscriptions (free) in the day before we had even planned to be live and the list keeps growing as the ripples spread in the vast pond that is the blogosphere.  We have good reviews, bad reviews, short reviews, long reviews, and lots of mentions and speculation.

First Crash

We tagged all the mentions and reviews we could find and tagged them with del.icio.us so they would show up in the sidebar of hackoff.com as blogrolls.  That worked well until publisher Kelly Evans woke up at three in the morning to find a blog that said our site was down.  Actually it was just unbearably slow (not much difference) because the automated process we put together to develop RSS feeds from tags and image them in our sidebar broke, perhaps because of the load of references to hackoff.com.  Had to suspend the  blogrolls temporarily but will have them back up soon.

First Spam

Eve Gross is the Director of Marketing at fictional hackoff.com.  Her email address – eveg@hackoff.com – is on the press release announcing the death of CEO Larry Lazard.  She has already been offered many interesting opportunities to benefit from fortunes smuggled out of Iraq, have body parts (male and female) enlarged or reduced, and help with her erectile disfunction (sic) problems. The real world is interacting with the fictional world which is emulating the real world.

Porn Filters

At least one would-be reader and possibly others are being blocked by corporate anti-pornography filters. This is not because of the content of the blook but because the URL www.hackoff.com belonged to a porn site before we bought it. I would appreciate hearing from anyone who is having a similar problem. And would like to know if this has stopped anybody from receiving email updates (episode 2 should be arriving today at the latest for those who subscribed to email delivery).


I put a definition of blook in wiktionary carefully citing the three ways the word has been used historically.  When I went to post a wikipedia entry, I found this already there:

A blook is a book serialized on a blog site. Readers can subscribe to a blook with RSS feed, tag it, comment on it etc. The concept of blooks is new so will indubitably change and grow. Blooks are believed to be pioneered by Tom Evslin.”

Of course, there’s no telling what this entry will say tomorrow since this is a wiki.

Other Reader Feedback

A reader named “cybaea” created a poll in the discussion forum on “whodunit”.  I didn’t even know that could be done!

Readers are making the blook better.  Comments range from grammatical errors to style points to factual mistakes.


Got a request from BBC radio for an interview on “what is a blook?” (it already has a British pronunciation which is different from my NY American). They wanted to do the interview via Skype “for quality reasons!”.  I was glad to do that, connected to the Internet from my hotel room in Boston via Verizon’s 1xEVDO service, and talked blooks on live radio for five minutes.  Didn’t realize until I finished that 9:45 PM ET is hardly prime time in the UK.  My interview is about 40 minutes into this show.

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