Here’s my slides from my talk at TIECon 2010. It was a really fun crowd, and they asked a lot of really smart questions!
Over the years, we’ve learned that a lot of people use slideshare for marketing their businesses. Those people have very specific feature needs: things like social analytics (who tweeted my document?) and custom channels (my profile has to convey my brand) and ad removal (self-explanatory ;->). Some enterprise users even need to be able to do things that would seem weird to a consumer, like turn comments off (the reasons for this are usually regulatory).
Today, we’ve announced an offering that makes SlideShare the most complete platform on the web for doing social media marketing. You can upload your documents, presentations, and videos, wrap them in a custom page with your own branding, get advanced analytics to find out who your viewers are and how they arrived on your pages, and track the conversation about your documents and videos on twitter and facebook. You can capture contact information (“leads”) using your documents, and you can view your raw traffic for more clues about who reads your documents and how they got there. We give you everything you need so you can not only use slideshare to reach a huge audience, but quantify the results of that effort to your own organization.
I’m working on a screencast that will show what these features look like … meanwhile check out this case study from Eric Ries for a behind-the-scenes look at how we “pivoted” towards the current offering, making plenty of mistakes along the way!
I’ve moved jonathanboutelle.com over to the amazon computing cloud (from pair.com, where it’s been hosted for the last 5 years). It was dead easy to make a system that keeps your data in safe, redundant storage … MUCH easier than it would be with a typical hosting company. To be blunt: I think that hosting an app in the cloud is probably much safer than doing it in your own data center.
My setup looks like this:
1) An ec2 small instance server, rented on the spot market (currently costing about 21$/month, 1/3rd of the retail price you’d pay amazon).
2) A 2GB “Elastic Block Store” volume on ec2 for saving the database files and wordpress application files (because if a cloud server goes away, you need to make sure your data doesn’t). The EBS volume is mounted to the EC2 box. It costs like 40 cents a month.
3) One “Elastic IP address” (to map a static IP address to the ec2 machine, which is necessary since it might disappear at any moment).
4) One “Security Group” configured to only let in http traffic from the broader internet (all other ports are blocked).
Both (2) and (3) might seem like overengineering for a simple blog. But they were so easy to set up that it didn’t matter. It was easy and cheap to “do the right thing” and set up a system that could survive the disappearance of the server (maybe with an hour of downtime as I fire up a new node and run a couple of scripts).
Cloud computing basically forces you to take the precautions that you really should be taking anyway, and provides infrastructure that make these precautions trivial to set up. And that means that your app is probably a lot safer in the cloud than it ever was on dedicated hardware!
SlideShare is down and has been down for the last several hours. Our dedicated hosting provider (ServePath) is experiencing catastrophic network problems. For a while we were able to keep the site live by pointing our DNS to specific servers that were available on the network: this strategy is no longer working (the paths that still work on the network are changing as ServePath technicians try to fix the problem).
My sincere apologies to all SlideShare users. We’ll be taking stock once this outage is resolved, and we’ll evaluate what to do long-term at that point. Right now there’s not much we can do besides wait for the network to get back online.
UPDATE: as of 7:45, we seem to be back in business! Doing the happy dance (and checking the servers every 5 minutes to make sure we can still get to them).
A few days ago, I simultaneously posted a question about source control structure to my blog and to LinkedIn Answers. My blog got one response. LinkedIn answers got, as of now, 14 extremely well-thought out answers (more are coming in every day). The quality of the answers is pretty remarkable, as is the fact that none of the people responding are people I know. They may be distantly connected to me on linked-in, but they aren’t on my contact list.
I’m super-impressed. While the app doesn’t have a friendly face (URLs are non-intuitive, information architecture is confusing, etc), this is an extremely valuable and practical result to get from a social app. I’ll definitely be posting more questions to LinkedIn! Answers are below the fold if you want to read them …
I want to do a few podcasts, and I want to be able to directly link to the mp3 files. Any ideas? Stuff that supports creative commons licensing is nice… other stuff is fine as well.