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Showing posts from October, 2013

Google Semantic Search: A Sea Change in SEO or Six Strategies to Increase Your Sales

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Over the last six months, Google has started to change the rules of the search game and page rankings for websites. It used to be that you could kick your site up in Google rankings and show on top, or near the top, by using Search Engine Optimization (SEO) techniques largely based on the clever peppering of your online posts with key words that were highly popular in searches. In short, with good SEO techniques, you could game the system.

No more.

Google has improved its search algorithms so that what matters now are not simply keywords but contentand authority. Their computers can even "see" pictures and recognize the content and they can make connections across the board, so that your online presence and brand will impact what you write and where it turns up in searches.

To understand what's happening, David Amerland's new book, "Google Semantic Search", is a must read.  He puts it in a nutshell: your search engine has become an "answer engine", …

German Bishops' Luxurious Lifestyle Taken to Task by Pope Francis

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German bishops drive in BMW, Audi and Mercedes luxury sedans while the Pope does not hesitate to ride around in an old Fiat. Episcopal residences in Germany exude power and luxury. Money is lavishly spent by the Church to maintain them. For example, €2 million on the rococo-style palace of the  Munich Archbishopric (the State of Bavaria donated another €6.5 million) and €10 million on a villa in Rome that serves as a guesthouse for the archdiocese. 

Meanwhile, the Pope, as we all know, has refused to live in the Papal apartments in the Vatican and has moved permanently to a simple room in the nearby Santa Marta guesthouse and shares his meals with other guests (for more, see Der Spiegel's article here).

The bishop of Limburg has recently shaken Germany when it was revealed that €31 million, six times as much as originally planned, had been spent on his palatial residence facing the cathedral:



Mmm...It goes to show that the Germans are really rich!

The Bishop of Limburg, age 52, a thin…

Should You Read "The Luminaries", the Winner of the Man Booker Prize? A Quick Review

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Surprise, the Man Booker Prize, Britain's most prestigious literary prize, has just been awarded to a New Zealand author, 28 years old, the youngest winner ever. "The Luminaries" is also the longest book ever, 832 pages, much bigger than any of the other shortlisted books (see picture above). 

This is Eleanor Catton's second novel, she took three years to write it. She has bewitched the writing community, will she now also bewitch readers?

The media is raving about this book hailed by the Booker Prize judges for "conjuring a world of greed and gold" (see articles below) - indeed, it is set in the last years of the New Zealand gold rush, in the 1860s. Bill Rohrbach who's reviewed it for The New York Times has come out with a lengthy laudatory piece (see here), saying in substance that in spite of the length, by the end, lo and behold, there is a "sliver that delivers". Indeed, he thought it was a lot of fun to read, like doing a "Charlotte …

The Globalization of Indifference: Who Cares About the Poor and Hungry?

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We waste one third of the food we produce and 842 million people, that's one person in every eight human beings, go to bed hungry every night. One in four children are stunted by malnutrition while almost 500 million people are obese (see this spot video).

That's the kind of world we live in. 

Yesterday, on the occasion of World Food Day, celebrated here in Rome at the headquarters of FAO, a United Nations specialized agency dedicated to food and agriculture, Pope Francis had these magnificent words to stigmatize our culture of waste and the lack of solidarity: "the globalization of indifference".

To waste food is like stealing from the poor, he said, and "homeless people dying on our streets is no longer news" (see the UK Telegraph's report on the Pope's address here). And you can visit the Pope's Facebook page here (and like it, I did!)

As he put it, we slowly "grow used to the suffering of the other, as if it were normal" (italics adde…

Angkor Wat: An Announced Disaster

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One of the major architectural gems in the world, Angkor Wat, a UNESCO World Heritage site, is falling apart. 

A recent documentary aired on ARTE rang the alarm (you can see it here, "Angkor Redécouvert", in French - if your country allows it, here in Italy, it can't be streamed, a real pity). 

Time is running out on the Khmer temples. Even the "better preserved" ones are threatened with collapse:

One speaks of "best preserved" in the sense that, unlike other temples, they retain most of their statues: during the civil war and Khmer Rouge control of the country in the 1970s and 1980s, the temples were stripped bare and statues routinely stolen and sold abroad.

Wikipedia will tell you that little damage was done to the temples in the course of that dark period, but this is not true at all. The stolen art was not some unimportant "post-Angkorian statues". Indeed, many were the real thing, as beautiful as the ones that French 19th century explorer…

Silicon Valley Rattled by Dave Eggers' New Book - A Quick Review of "The Circle"

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Dave Eggers, a wildly popular author and education activist, has come out with a new novel about the techie world of Internet, called The Circle. It has rocked Silicon Valley and won both high praise and furious criticism. 

The Internet titans, Google, Facebook, Amazon, Apple and others, the obvious targets of this book, have taken cover and are lying low, waiting for the storm to pass. Meanwhile the media and the blogosphere are unchained (see articles below); Goodreads in the two weeks since it's published has already given it 172 ratings and 52 reviews, many quite damning (see here); and Amazon has nominated it the "Best Book of the Month - October 2013", though so far it has only garnered 22 customer reviews (see here). 

Some say it reads like a modern-day George Orwell (one of my favorite authors), others bash it for a lack of subtlety and crass irony, others even accuse him of plagiarizing, and of course, the techies argue it's "less about Silicon Valley and…

How Self-Publishing Increases The Role of Traditional Publishers

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Is Big Publishing finally  reacting to the digital revolution? Conventional wisdom has it that traditional publishers are pitted against Amazon and that self-publishing is so successful that publishers are rapidly becoming superfluous. 

Markus Dohle, CEO of the biggest publishing house in the world, Penguin Random House, begs to differ. He has just told the Frankfurt Book Fair, the largest in the world, that:

1. cooperation with Amazon is essential: "Of course, we have to manage each other, on issues such as terms, but fundamentally, we are aligned."

2. self-publishing makes the role of publishers more important than ever: "people need orientation and guidance more than ever, and publishers can provide that."

Indeed, he sees "book discoverability" as the "the biggest challenge facing publishing", adding that a big publisher like Penguin Random House is "better placed on how to crack the code of discoverability, in a world where there are fewer…