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Webmaster Mindshare

Back in the day, some folks at Microsoft used the term "developer mindshare" in the now-infamous "Halloween Memo" - Microsoft was operating (rightly, I think) under the assumption that they would dominate the software universe in proportion to its domination of the thoughts of software developers. (Perhaps this helps explain the oft-lamented complexity of Microsoft's APIs and programming models - and the fact that Microsoft have lost a large portion of developer mindshare in recent years, contributing to its market decline.) Make no mistake, Microsoft wanted developers to think about Microsoft APIs and SDKs during every waking moment.

This is analogous to the grocery store/supermarket model: retailers have only so much space on the shelf for products in any given category - so, if you are a dominant brand, you can displace competing products by making your packaging larger - in effect, pushing competitors off the shelf.

I've heard stories about a large company that was late in delivering several key SKUs during one critical quarter, and needed a way to blunt the financial impact of those missed deliverables.

The 'solution' was to increase the size of the packaging of existing SKUs - from a slim, DVD-case sized box more than adequate to contain the diskette, four-page manual and warranty card, to a huge box the size of a 1 lb. package of Ritz crackers!

In effect, the company decided to ship more air with their current SKUs. And, since the company was a major player, it had no problem ensuring that the SKUs would be on the shelf, displacing the competitors. If the company was to suffer that quarter, so would the competitors.

This is the true meaning of mindshare - more space occupied by a set of technologies or related information, less space for competing thoughts, technologies, solutions, etc.

Webmaster Mindshare

Here's a term that hasn't been used as far as I can see - webmaster mindshare - which I use to describe the amount of time dedicated to the following subjects:

  • Which technology should I use? LAMP, IIS, ASP.Net, etc
  • SEO subjects - trying to improve your site's rankings on various search engines
  • Website statistics (Alexa, Google PageRank, etc.)
  • Gaining traffic
  • Google AdSense Revenue stats

For example, how much time do you spend every day checking Alexa stats, AdSense ad revenue, website statisticts, etc?

Posts like this on (free membership required) offer a prime example of the darker side of the "Google dance" - Google sneezes, webmasters all over the world catch cold. It seems like every time Google changes something about their system, there's this huge dance as webslingers all over the world try to figure out why their traffic is down, their ad revenue drops, or their ad campaigns stop working. (To google's credit, they tell webmasters to stop worrying about their algorithms and just build a good site with quality content for real visitors, but it's hard to ignore sudden and precipitous drops in visitor traffic and rankings, if they happen through no action on your part.)

Every minute spent on these tasks can be a distraction from productive work: building site content, adding new features, and the like. Or building a competing technology.