Sometimes I get so busy; I just don’t know what to do with myself. I mean this literally folks, because keeping an eye on my regular 9-5 (7 nowadays) as a Marketing Director, keeping up to date with my online businesses, and trying to fit the beautiful Mrs. Rumblepup into my waking hours, especially after she smacks me upside the head for not “paying attention to her emotionally,” made me put my underwear over my pants this morning. It’s embarrassing to say the least, but certainly a bright spot of comedic entertainment for the aforementioned Mrs. Pup.
So that’s why I find it so utterly incredible how the man known to WebProWorld as Mike can actually take the time to answer a few of the rumblepup’s questions. I mean, as if being the Admin. for WPW isn’t enough, he’s managing editor for ALL of the behemoth IEntry network publications and the Director of Operations for IEntry as well. Have you ever seen the vastness of these websites? Just WebProNews is gigantic enough, but then you start digging in and you find hundreds of sites that are just as vast, you start to pray for the guy. I mean, this isn’t just content where talking about here. It’s hundreds of writers, thousands of articles, an ocean of information that Mike has to…um…
So before I got a headache, and my eyes started to spin in my head, I tried to find the simplest profile on him that I could.
What did I find? Just this. Just…
It seems simple until your brain starts wrapping around the concept. So I stopped when my ears started to bleed. I know busy cats, but this cat is the one of the busiest, and one of the most sought after speakers and web experts there are. He knows his caca, and when we recently crossed passed at WPW, I put my pants on over my underwear, sucked in my gut, threw out my chest, and as a man of courage and guts…begged on my knees for him to answer just a few questions.
He said yes.
I got him a set of rumblepup underwear as a gift. Hope he appreciates the humor.
rumblepup: So Mike, any clothing problems like mine to deal with?
Mike: Socks seem to be the bane of my existence. I can never find matching socks in the morning. If I find a pair one of them will have a hole in it or something – despite the fact that I’d already thrown it away (many times). I sometimes suspect that holey socks haunt be from beyond the trash, abducting my matching pairs and generally causing me torment and anguish.
rumblepup: When did you first discover the web? How long was before you knew you wanted to be involved in it?
Mike: I discovered what I guess we’d call the web back in about 1993-94 while in college at the University of Kentucky. Back then; the mezzanine floor of Patterson Office Tower was home to a few hundred monochrome terminals you would have to go use for your Computer Science work. I remember quite vividly wondering around there trying to find an open station amidst those I referred to as ‘the lost’. The numberless horde of ‘computer people’ bathing in the green glow of their MUDs and binging on caffeine.
It still kinda makes my skin crawl. You’d go in and see the same people in the same chairs (with the same clothes on) for days at a time. Very disturbing. At that point I really didn’t want much of anything to do with it, it would be a few more years before that would change.
I guess in the end it was probably games that kindled my interest in the web. I have always been a huge video game junky (no doubt the reason why the guys on the mezzanine creeped me out so much). The Internet became a means to frag for me more than anything long about 1996 when I started playing Quake. I was instantly and completely addicted to having a fast paced, highly competitive environment available 24/7. My subsequent interest in websites, forums and ebusiness grew from much the same interests. It doesn’t get much more fast paced and competitive than ebusiness.
rumblepup: How is it you came to join IEntry? What was if first like back in 2000?
Mike: It was actually a lot like it is today, just smaller. There weren’t as many of us, we were in a smaller office and we were working with (a lot) less content, sites and titles. It was still very much a team effort kind of thing though, and that is still very much a part of the day-to-day in 2006. A lot of us wear a lot of hats. Everybody just does what he or she is able to do. We have a lot of talented, knowledgeable folks running around.
rumblepup: In a nutshell, other than the obvious Admin responsibilities as WPW, what is it that you do? Do you have fun? What’s it like working for such a vast network? As the one of the boss men, do you get to smack people around?
Mike: Aside from the forum, I manage to keep busy with any number of things. I handle all of the hiring for non-sales staff. I field calls like inquiries, requests for interviews, press releases etc. I schedule and plan coverage of conferences. Most of the time when someone has an issue or question regarding some aspect of our network, I’ll be the one to deal with that. We have a lot of people focused on our content, but I will typically review content/subject matter on sites and newsletters. Lately, I’ve been focusing a lot on working concepts and some content for our videos. I keep tabs on subscription rates on our newsletters, rss feeds and the forum. I don’t know, I do whatever needs doing that I can do. I usually manage to stay busy. Last week for example, I helped one of our sales people teach a client how to copy and paste. The fun never ends.
As for working for such a vast network… well, it’s fun. My normal day is seldom the same as yesterday. There are so many things going on at any given time, there’s really no shortage of things to become involved in. We always have some cool little projects going on whether they are internal or for public use (like the videos). We have some pretty neat stuff in the works right now that I’m expecting a lot of people will find handy. More info soon on that one.
Slapping people around? Nah. I have a yardstick on my desk that is +10 vs. ennui, but I seldom ever have to use it. On the contrary, most of the time I’m probably the one needing slapped for doing something dumb.
rumblepup: I’m sure that from your position, you definitely get a MACRO (big, for the philistines in the audience) view of the web world. Just from WPW alone, I’m sure you’ve seen flying past your screen a plethora of information on design, search, technology and marketing, and adding to that, attending and presenting at every major convention and meeting for search and related web technologies, the BIG PICTURE must literally SPLAT on your face on a daily basis. How do keep from being overwhelmed by information? Do you ever get to take a micro view on a particular subject?
Mike: My attention span probably maxes out at 3 to 5 seconds. As such, if I get out of an information overload situation, I start to get a little antsy. One of the things I am intently interested in is the concept(s) surrounding syndication online. As far as I’m concerned we won’t even recognize the web in 5 or 6 more years (maybe less).
Information is so much more available and accessible in real time now than it ever has been before thanks, in large part, to the concepts behind things like RSS, pingbacks, live bookmarking and tagging etc. The search engines we all rely on now, like Google, do a fair job of indexing things much like a phone book or yellow pages would. They organize data they crawl and do a fairly good job of returning a result if I’m looking for a shoe store or a video game retailer. But if I want to know if that shoe store has my size in blue – right now… or if the video game store has a new Nintendo game on the shelf – right now, the search engines as we know them aren’t really so hot.
It won’t be long before you can just ask your phone or (or other net-ready mobile device) those kinds of queries and get real time responses. That’ll be when the bricks and mortar folks really get to get into the whole Internet thing they’ve all been thinking about but either can’t understand or justify for whatever reason.
rumblepup: You’ve been involved with the web since 1998. I remember feeling both exuberance and a sense of exploration for those early years of the net, always wondering, what will it do next? (Remember grey backgrounds and exposed tables and little rubber ducky animated gifs?) Now, almost a decade later, the web is vastly different. Has the web fulfilled its early promises? What do you think is NEXT?
Mike: Well, I kind of touched on that in the last question. I think the NEXT big advancement will come in terms of proliferated data access on a scale that most of us can even now scarcely imagine. I’m not talking about 20 years from now either. Internet capable mobile devices are outselling pc and laptops by leaps and bounds. When using these devices, people aren’t looking to browse, or research so much. They are looking for answers relevant not in a general vague sense as in where are the Chinese restaurants in this town – they want to know where the good Chinese restaurant is in town and does it have any seats available NOW. That’s where I see things going.
rumblepup: WPW has certainly grown over the past few years. I joined in 2003. How has it been like seeing this forum grow, and what can you tell me about the future of WPW? Any particular plans we can know? How about a convention?
Mike: It’s been great watching the forum grow. I am very stats-oriented and the pace of growth for the forum has been very healthy. I do a lot of month to month and year to date comparisons.
For example, June 2006 was up about 34% from June 2005 in terms of unique visitors per day. So that’s solid growth – I like the unique visitor number when discussing web stats. Overall page traffic is too easily skewed by a hot issue or the extremes of your audience clicking tons of pages (or none) so I like the posting stats and unique visitors as more of an indicator of growth/health.
I have recently added a bunch of rss feeds to the forum. Those seem to be doing fairly well. I also expect the forum to play a role or be a component in one of the new launches we have coming up. As for a convention, it’s something we’ve kind of mulled over at various times in the past but we haven’t ever really gone past the point of just thinking ‘you know, we might could try a conference someday’. The logistics and time something like that would require are incredibly intimidating. There’s nothing worse than a bad conference (I’ve been to some).
rumblepup: WPW has healthy competition, WebMasterWorld, which Mr. Cutts often refers to, and SearchEngineWatch, former home of the esteemed Danny Sullivan. Is there a healthy, friendly competition between the three, or are you guys putting sugar into each others gas tanks? (They don’t call me rumblepup for nothing, just tell me when and who to hit.) Do you frequent any forums or portals outside of the IEntry network?
Mike: I don’t really look at it as a competitive situation at all. I look at forums more like neighborhoods. Some people hang out here, some people hang out there… I don’t really look at it as trying to win traffic or members away from other forums. We link liberally to both of them with some frequency as a matter of fact.
I swing by lots of forums, predominantly in a lurking capacity. I like Brett’s forum quite a lot, the PubCon is actually one of my favorite conferences. Of course, it could have something to do with the fact that he typically does them in some of my favorite cities like Boston and Las Vegas, but the conference itself is actually very good too.
I think SEW does a great job too. Losing Danny is a hit, no doubt, but he wasn’t the only thing they had going for them. Barry is always on top of things, Elisabeth’s posts are always good, and I always make it a point to read Nacho’s posts when possible, he always has an interesting take on things.
rumblepup: WPW boasts one of the longest threads I’ve ever seen, Is today today or tomorrow yesterday, started over three years ago. WTF? I mean, it definitely gives any thread on “all your base are belong to us” a run for its money, but wow! Any other famous threads you like to refer too?
Mike: That’s a strange thread… I certainly appreciate it for it’s longevity, but it’s age pales in comparison to the depth of its abstraction. I figure someday it’ll inspire it’s own mini-series on HBO or something.
rumblepup: If you, Danny Sullivan, Matt Cutts, Aaron Wall, Rand Fishkin, Greg Boser, Oilman, and Lee Odden, where stuck on a deserted island with no food or water, who would get eaten first?
Mike: Trick question. Matt Cutts could never be lost on a desert island. Google can find anything. I’m waiting for the Matt-o-matic instant Cutts locator API for Google Earth.
rumblepup: Now tell me a joke and say goodbye.
Mike: I don’t really know any good jokes…
…Oh wait, I got one for you: GoodMail.
rumblepup: ROFL!!! (And for those who don’t know, read up on it.) ]
Mike: See you later.