An Absence Of Mirrors

This is the suggestion in the Daily Post today:

You wake up one morning to a world without mirrors. How does your life — from your everyday routines to your perception of yourself — change?

I don’t have to imagine this. It happened to me.

I spent a few days in Ofunato, a village on the north-east coast of Japan. I picked wasabi (horseradish) with the people with whom I stayed. It was great fun.

There’s wasn’t a mirror anywhere on the place. None in the bathrooms or the bedrooms.

There was, however, a small shard of a mirror on a shelf next to the sink in the barn. I spotted it after I had been there a few days and I assumed the shard of mirror was there so people could wipe away any mud from the fields if any got on their faces.

It had been a few days since I had seen my face. When I looked, I was shocked. Who the heck was this long-nosed, narrow-faced man staring back at me?

After a few days of talking to Japanese people, my face was strange to me.

I wondered how I looked to the people I was staying with.

I hadn’t seen another Westerner in the time I had been there.

Maybe I looked as strange to them as I had looked to myself.

Turning it around, how did I ‘see’ the Japanese people I was with?

Did I ‘see’ them in a certain way – without looking properly and without seeing – even when they were so different from one another.

Would I be less able to tell two Japanese people apart than another Japanese person would?

Revolving thoughts teaching me to think again.

A Good Year For Books

At the Guardian-sponsored Edinburgh International Book Festival this year, Tamara and I got to listen to among others:

Three authors talking about their illustrated children’s books;

Three political activists and their clandestine experiences in Syria;

A Guardian newspaper journalist telling Edward Snowden’s story;

A South Korean novelist talking about his novel about a North Korean ‘sleeper’ spy who had been in the South for twenty years and has to go back and doesn’t want to give up his comfortable life;

  • and many more.

A good year for books.

SEO You Can Do Now, Right This Minute

Am I the only one watching WordPress TV?

When I scroll down the list of sites I follow in WordPress.Com’s Reader, I see that such-and-such a post has 50 ‘likes’ and comments.

But poor old WordPress TV gets nothing.

It’s a free resource of videos of speakers at WordCamps worldwide explaining how to do things – SEO, e-commerce, design, security, and many other topics.

It’s aimed at self-hosted WordPress sites, but there is a lot that is completely relevant to sites, too.

This WordCamp video is Jon Henshaw talking about SEO. His talk gets more technical later on in the video but the early parts are easy things you and I can do now, this minute.

Of course he may not be the last word in SEO, but he runs Raven Tools – which is and internet marketing software company. His site, according to Alexa, is approximately #6,000 in the list of the top 30 million sites visited worldwide – so he must be doing something right.

This is what he says about the links on your home page and the links in your navigation menu.

He says every link is fighting every other link for space – so don’t confuse Google by cramming lots of links to other sites onto your page. That includes Twitter links and any other links you can think of.

Secondly, think of the keywords you want to be recognised for, and use those in the navigation menu.

Also, treat categories like navigation links and and keep the categories listed in the menu to just a few links.

That’s it. Five minute’s work to make your site less confusing to Google and more easily found for what you want to be found for.