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Interview with Martin Reed — Just Chat, Female Forum, and Community Spark founder

Discussion in 'Articles' started by Medora, Jan 10, 2011.

  1. Medora The New Architect

    Martin Reed is an online community builder, which means that he specializes in starting, growing, and maintaining communities on the Internet, whether they exist on message boards, chat rooms, blogs, or other web applications that allow groups of people to interact and forge relationships. In 2000, Mr. Reed started his experiment in online community building with an ambitious project: the website with chat rooms—and later also general discussion forum—Just Chat, which fast approaches 500,000 posts. Even more revealing about the size of said community is that the chat rooms have seen up to 600 active users at once, and there were over 14,000 email pen pal participants when that service was connected to the forum. Besides Justchat.co.uk, Mr. Reed also started Femaleforum.com in 2008 (“my biggest project to date,” he said at the time) and the blog Communityspark.com in 2009. Another community Mr. Reed manages, Soapforum.co.uk, was purchased in 2006 and quickly revitalized.

    Apart from managing his communities and writing content for them, Mr. Reed also works privately with clients in starting or reinvigorating communities. His talent and experience is responsible for his invitation to speak at the INFORTE seminar in Finland, and to the New York City Department of Education. In addition, he has been interviewed by the British Broadcasting Corporation and other notable publications with a worldwide audience.

    I know Mr. Reed has been through plenty of interviews already, so I would like to start out with questions about the man that I believe have not been asked, at least frequently. Next, I want to use my experience as a fellow forum administrator to get his perspective on several issues pertaining to forums and the communities they support. Finally, I will end with a few miscellaneous, light weight questions just for fun. Before I start, though, I should mention that this interview was conducted via email, as it would best allow for Mr. Reed, who is undoubtedly a very busy man, to take his time and answer as well as he would like.

    Without further distraction, here is the interview.

    Kevin Malone: Thank you for granting me this interview, Mr. Reed. To begin, it is my understanding that you write a lot of content for your communities, and your blog Communityspark.com alone must take up a lot of your time in content building. That in mind, a popular topic of discussion among content builders is how to keep pace without sacrificing quality. In other words, you want to produce quality content, but you do not want to take too long doing so, or your readers may leave (as you said in your article, “Why visitor retention is crucial to your success”: “do you really expect people to return to your site to read content that hasn’t been changed since their last visit?”).

    What are a few of the tactics and practices you have adopted to help you with the writing process? For example, do you pre-write a lot, keep a lot of notes, or assign certain hours of the day exclusively for writing? Maybe you even already have a list of topics you have wanted to talk about for some time, but have yet to get to? Also, do you have anyone helping you write content for the CMS at FemaleForum.com, or for your blog? If yes, how well has that worked out for you, and what did you do to ensure it would?

    Martin Reed: Writing an article for Community Spark does take time. It's a bit different from most blogs in that I tend to write full length articles rather than just quick snippets. This means I don't post particularly often - I probably average one new article each month. That works for Community Spark - it keeps my work on the radar and the longer articles differentiate my blog from those of others.

    That being said, it does frustrate me sometimes when I want to write something that lies in between a full article and a Tweet in length. For that reason, I'll soon be dividing Community Spark into two sections - the full length articles, posted every few weeks alongside community building snippets - short, pithy posts that are posted far more regularly.

    When it comes to forums and more 'traditional' online communities, it's far more important to ensure there's fresh content. When a new member joins a community they'll be fine responding to older content at first. if they come back and nobody has responded to what they've written, or they see no new posts to dig into, they'll return far less frequently.

    As for tips, here are some:

    For forums:

    Give two or three members you trust the additional responsibility of 'content creators'. Give them the task of posting new content to the community on a regular basis.

    Reward members that create content - draw attention to the content. Thank members. Commend them, and invite more of the same.

    If someone starts a discussion and you think of a member who might find it interesting, drop them a line and encourage them to get involved. Sometimes you need to nudge members into action.

    For blogs:

    If you struggle with inspiration, sign up to Google Alerts with your keywords. You'll never be short of an idea for a story.

    I outsource the writing for Female Forum. It took me about a year to find a writer who was professional and reliable - at times this seemed to be an impossible task, but we got there in the end.

    Kevin Malone: On the “About” page of your blog, you said that you moved from the United Kingdom to the United States (specifically New York City) in 2008 to marry and live with the love of your life (congratulations, by the way). I imagine moving to the United States must have been a big change for you. Of course, whenever there is a great distance involved, there will always be a lot of adjusting to do, but what are a few things about the United States in particular that was new to you? How has it compared to life in the United Kingdom? Have you had opportunity and interest to travel across the United States?

    Martin Reed: Thank you! I'd visited the US a number of times before biting the bullet and moving there, so it wasn't completely alien to me. Of course, it was still a big change. The biggest challenge of moving to the United States was dealing with all the new brands and products, and not knowing where to buy certain things. My first grocery shop took me over two hours. I enjoy life here - I'm now in Oregon after spending time in New York, California and Hawaii. Hopefully people will soon start to understand my British accent - it makes telephone calls here somewhat difficult at times!

    Kevin Malone: Lucy Langdon interviewed you for Distilled.co.uk, and it is from that interview that I learned of your love for travel. Of course, I already read that you moved to New York City, but I did not know that you traveled to (and resided in) Australia and Canada. Have you traveled to any other countries? What countries (besides the ones you visited) are foremost on your must-visit list? What are a few areas inside the countries you have visited that left a great impression on you? For example, someone who visited the Bitterroot Valley in Montana may say that it left a big impression on him because, after seeing the surrounding seasonal, snow-capped Rockies, and then looking straight up, he finally understood why the residents there refer to the region as the “Big Sky.”

    Martin Reed: I love to travel. It's the best way to learn. I've visited many countries, including Brazil, Mexico, Iceland, New Zealand, Germany, Cyprus, Gambia, Tunisia, France... the list is quite long. I'd love to visit Japan - my dream would be to get a car for a few weeks and tour the entire country and just see what I see. Every place I visit leaves an impression on me in some way - often for very different (and personal) reasons.

    Kevin Malone: Is your freelance work as a community builder primarily how you earn an income?

    Martin Reed: No. I primarily earn income through the communities I build and manage. Consulting is more of a supplement to my income, but something I am just as passionate about.

    Kevin Malone: In 2008, you graduated from the University of Bedfordshire as a First Class Bachelor of Sciences with Honors degree in Internet and E-Business, and not long after left the United Kingdom for a new life in the United States. In the same year, you started an ambitious community, Femaleforum.com, and the next year created your blog, Communityspark.com. The vibe I am getting is that, if not more eventful than usual, 2008-9 were at least certainly not quiet years for you, and saw the creation of two of the three communities you founded. I mention this information because they were such recent events, and it has me thinking if any more upcoming personal online community projects are weighing heavily on your mind, or if your existing communities are the only ones (as if they did not demand enough time already) doing so for now? Along those lines, I recall you stating, in your 2008 review of Patrick O’Keefe’s Managing Online Forums, that you might write an eBook if you find the time. Have you had time to think about it? Also, were you thinking of making this hypothetical book like Mr. O’Keefe’s in that it is what one reviewer called “a 'from the trenches' view” instead of a “theoretical treatise”?

    Martin Reed: Community Spark actually came before Female Forum. That said, you're right - 2008/9 was quite a busy period. Female Forum is still the biggest project I've started simply because of its scope. I probably made a mistake in trying to make the site appeal to all women. I should have gone for something more focused. It was also my first foray into a content site/community combination - with editorial content alongside community content. Projects like this take time, but we're getting there. Some companies have even expressed an interest in acquiring Female Forum so I think that goes to show we're on the right track.

    My newest project is Insomnia Land. The site offers insomnia help forums and a regularly updated blog for insomniacs. This has become a real passion for me, and it's something I've kept relatively quiet for the past year or so I've been developing it. Insomniacs aren't treated well - they're often misunderstood and most advice consists of people trying to sell them something. We need to raise awareness of insomnia and offer people genuine support (with some fun thrown in, too) - that's what I hope Insomnia Land will achieve.

    The idea of writing a book is still in my head - it's more a case of finding the time to get it done than deciding whether writing one would be a good idea or not. I don't like writing about theories and statistics. Any book I write will contain advice, ideas and guidance in a very approachable way.

    Kevin Malone: Your popular email pen pal service has recently been given a domain separate from your Justchat.co.uk community. This decision seems to be contrary to what you advised when speaking to Miss Langdon, which is that, when several aspects of your community (e.g., blog, forum, and chat) share a niche and membership, it makes sense to keep them tied together, if it can be helped. Of course, since you moved the service, there must have been a major benefit to the decision that off-set losing integration with the community. Why have you moved the email pen pals to a new website?

    Martin Reed: I'd still offer Miss Langdon the same advice today. It's not a good idea to fragment your community - keep the features people use together and take advantage of your existing traffic. That's what I did with the email penpals service for a number of years. Over time, I found that people who used the epals section rarely used the rest of Just Chat, and vice-versa. The epals section of the site had an entirely different community feel, with a different culture and a different personality. It no longer made sense to force these communities together, so I made the decision to send epals off onto its own domain and Just Epals (http://www.justepals.com) was born.

    Kevin Malone: Miss Langdon asked how you would describe your role as a community builder, and you succinctly described it as “someone who facilitates the development of relationships.” Each person who manages a community has a different way of measuring progress and success, and he has every right to. However, when his members’ feelings rate low on his list of concerns, it opens the way to abuse or neglect of those feelings. For example, there are people who raise an online community on a message board for a short period of time before selling it for profit without notice, so that the members only find out when the new owner introduces himself. Relatedly, I am reminded of a forum administrator who went to someone at another forum for help in modifying his forum design, but it was not long after that help entailed hours of work that the administrator suddenly switched forum software, and did not seem at all concerned when the person who helped him expressed anger and disappointment (even going so far as to say that, if he were a member, he would have left).

    That in mind, would you class neglect on the part of the administrator to talk over important decisions with his community before making them the worst failing you often see from them? Besides talking over important decisions, are there other practices you would advise administrators to adopt in order to prevent abuse or neglect of members' feelings?

    Martin Reed: It depends on what you consider to be 'important decisions'. Different people will have their own opinions on what an important decision is. For some, changing forum categories would be an important decision. For others, deciding whether to move a profile picture from the left side of the page to the right side would be considered an important decision.

    I'd recommend that whenever possible, you consult the community before making any changes to how the community looks or functions. You should only consult the community if you're willing to listen to the community, though. Don't go through the motions when you've already made the decision. If you've already made the decision, go through with it. Don't patronize your members by consulting them if it's already a done deal.

    I wouldn't consider failing to consult members when it comes to decision making the worst mistake community managers make. The biggest mistakes I see are communities that have too many features and too many forum categories. Community managers all too often see growth and the number of members/posts as their main priority. That's the single biggest mistake you can make.

    Kevin Malone: It was easy enough to find out that Justchat.co.uk and Soapforum.co.uk were using phpBB, but it was difficult to find out what Femaleforum.com used. After spending a while researching, I found an article you submitted several months before you started Femaleforum.com, and which revealed what software you chose. As you know, the article in question is “Building a community: Choosing a CMS,” and the software you chose was ExpressionEngine. Just by reading the article mentioned in the previous sentence, it is clear that you spent a lot of time and thought in deciding on software. That said, even though you clearly did your research and decided when clear on what you wanted, I am still curious as to how your opinion of ExpressionEngine (as compared to the competitors) has changed (if at all) after having used it for over two years now?

    Martin Reed: I think ExpressionEngine was the right choice at the time. It's probably the most complicated piece of software I've used though (I don't have much knowledge when it comes to coding) - so whereas I can make many changes myself in phpBB and WordPress, I am almost entirely at the mercy of my EE coder when it comes to Female Forum.

    The biggest issue I faced was finding software that made displaying community content and editorial content easy and intuitive. EE fit the bill perfectly for this task. That being said, the forums are very basic (but they do all they need to do). Today, I'd probably use some kind of mash-up between WordPress and forum software such as IPB or Vanilla.

    Kevin Malone: Expanding on my previous question, it is interesting that, though Justchat.co.uk initially struck me as your most ambitious project, research made clear to me that the honor actually goes to Femaleforum.com. Along those lines, it is from reading the article mentioned above, and from a related one titled “Launching a new online community,” that I became amazed at how long term and extensive was the planning stage alone for the forum and the community it would support. Just for a start, there was the choosing of software, the careful acquisition of the right help for the custom coding, and then the drafting of a new layout. Am I correct in assuming that Femaleforum.com goes well beyond your other communities in the amount of effort that went into it? In other words, is it indeed your most ambitious project yet?

    Martin Reed: Female Forum took a lot of research and planning. It was born after a conversation with my mother who didn't like iVillage as she found it too complicated. I wanted to build a website for women that had great content and members, but was extremely easy to use. I had to examine every aspect of the planning and really decide what we needed and what we didn't. The end result was a site that is almost barebones - it's content and a community. No flashy features, no complication. I'm always examining how to make the site easier to use, too. It'll be getting a facelift this year with that in mind.

    In terms of ambition, Insomnia Land is probably my biggest project. I want to change the way insomnia is perceived, and I want to end the sense of helplessness and isolation many insomniacs feel. It's a lofty goal, but one worth pursuing.

    Kevin Malone: While browsing Femaleforum.com, I noticed two features on the index page, and one on the registration page, which utilize your existing community and content to help foster a sense of community and entice guests to join. Starting with the registration page, I noticed something called the “5 Reasons to Join Female Forum,” a list of five reasons for registration, each given by a different member, and with a link at the top of the list leading to a topic where the guest may find more reasons given by members to register. Now, on the index page, I saw something above the forum listing called “Latest highlights,” which turns what would otherwise be a list of the latest threads into a summary of what your members are talking (or wondering) about, complete with strings of text that link to the relevant topics. Lastly, a feature near the bottom of the index page announces several new members whose user names are listed below (complete with links to their respective profiles), and then asks the members who are not so new the following question: “Why not send them a message, introduce yourself and welcome them to the community?”

    The reason I mention all these features is to ask a few questions, starting with this one: What inspired you to create each feature? Did you already think about adding these features when you were in the planning stage for your community? Were they among the features you wanted the coder you hired to implement, or did you add them on your own? Is the “Latest highlights” feature automatic, or must you manually edit it to account for the latest discussions?

    Martin Reed: These all came after the site went live. They came from sitting down and thinking, 'How can I make visitors want to register?', 'How can I make new members feel welcome' and 'How can I encourage more activity from existing members'.

    I knew that our members loved the Female Forum community, but I didn't know their exact reasons why, so I started a discussion topic in the forums asking members to tell me what they loved most about the community. I then used five of these and posted them on the registration page. They act as reassurance to the new potential member that they're making the right choice. Really they should be displayed before the registration page (or some different reasons should) to encourage them onto that page in the first place. I'll be addressing this issue with the facelift.

    The Latest Highlights section serves two purposes - it helps new members and visitors get a feel of what's going on in the community right now, and it gives existing members a 'call to action'. If they haven't checked out those discussions, they're now far more likely to (and hopefully contribute as well).

    The list of new members was more born out of frustration than anything. All forum software lists new members, number of members, number of posts, etc. I think this demeans a community in a way. Members are more than just numbers, but the information is often used by visitors to decide whether or not they want to join. I therefore kept these statistics, but gave them more of a purpose. Instead of just listing the newest members (does anyone care?) I invite others to personally welcome them and make them feel comfortable. Even if nobody does this, people that read it will hopefully see that our community is a little different, and goes the extra mile to make new members feel welcome.

    Kevin Malone: Going back to Justchat.co.uk, I am interested in your software choice: phpBB. Since you started the forum in 2000, the competition must have looked much different back then, or maybe the competition was not as strong. Nonetheless, you probably looked at alternatives, and determined that phpBB would be the best fit for your forum. Why did you choose phpBB? Was there an alternative that you came close to choosing instead? Have you ever considered converting software since settling with phpBB?

    Martin Reed: I chose phpBB because it was free and it was the most popular option out there - that's all there was to it. I doubt Just Chat will ever move away from phpBB - our members are used to the software and they know how to use it. Changing that would be inviting disaster.

    Today, if I were to launch a brand new forum I'd either go with IPB or Vanilla. I'm yet to use Vanilla, but I'm really eager to take advantage of its simplicity in a future project.

    Kevin Malone: In your article, “Launching a new online community,” you made it clear that you do not use paid posting service for your forums as a matter of principle. That being the case, I assume you are also against post-exchanges? Do you consider fake accounts unethical?

    Martin Reed: It's less of a principle than I think it's a waste of time. Your time would be better spent attracting members and encouraging activity than employing mercenaries. Fake accounts can be unethical if they're used to sell products or services. If your community is brand new and you want to ensure new members have people to talk to, I don't see the harm in temporarily using 'fake' accounts to generate some activity and buzz. I'd still say though, that instead of spending time building fake accounts and personas, you'd be better served reaching out to new members and building relationships with the ones you've got.

    Kevin Malone: In an interview for Forumpromotion.net, Adrian Harris, who serves as Senior Operations Manager for Internet Brands (the company which owns vBulletin), described a few “marketing techniques for webmasters” that he considers effective, such as link exchanges with reputable websites, an active social media presence, and “frequently updated and high quality content”. Similarly, when I interviewed community builder Patrick O’Keefe, he talked about using “free and organic means of promotion” for his websites, such as “cross promotion” between his and other websites, signature and profile links, and partnerships. As for social media, Mr. O’Keefe has not tapped into it as extensively as he would like, but it is a notable referrer for several of his websites, and he has expressed interested in making better use of Facebook and Twitter. Finally, he repeated Mr. Harris’ chant of “content,” and followed that up by mentioning something called “inbound marketing.”

    That said, when talking about Femaleforum.com in your article, “Launching a new online community,” you mentioned your intention to formulate what you called a “promotional plan,” which would start with “promoting the site on my existing communities, and networking with other bloggers who target my new community’s audience.” How else have you promoted Femaleforum.com, and your other communities? Are there any ways of promotion that only recently attracted your interest, and that you are still hoping to use more effectively? In what important ways (if any) do your methods differ from those of Mr. Harris and Mr. O’Keefe?

    Martin Reed: Cross-promotion rarely works. Why do you want to send members of one of your communities away to another one? You don't really gain anything. That being said, I knew we had a large female audience on Just Chat that didn't always feel comfortable with the male members of the community. Therefore, Female Forum served a specific need for a specific demographic of Just Chat.

    Female Forum was promoted through Just Chat and for a short time through Google Adwords. Most of our members now come from the search engines - they see the value of our community and join. I don't pay to promote Female Forum anymore - and haven't done so for a long time. We publish great editorial content, continue to nurture a fantastic forum and let our offering speak for itself.

    Kevin Malone: Returning to what Mr. Harris said about “marketing techniques for webmasters,” he also implied that “promotion forums” (i.e., those forums built around the idea of providing community builders relevant “services” such as post- and registration-exchanges, and advertisements (such as links in other members’ signatures) on the promotion forum itself) are less conventional than the “marketing techniques” mentioned before my previous question. Nonetheless, as the promotion forum mentioned above alone suffices to show, there are a lot of people making use of promotion forums, and a great many are novice administrators who rely on the “services” provided therein. In the article mentioned above, you made the following relevant observation: “you cannot rely on one form of promotion to make your online community a success.” How else would you advise those novice administrators who rely on one form of promotion, are reluctant to try something new, and are uninformed about how to expand their promotion strategy?

    Martin Reed: Your best ideas will often come through experimentation. You should never stop experimenting. Some things will work, others will fail. If you don't try, you'll never know. If you don't try, your community will be just like everyone else's. You need to be different and you need to act different.

    Kevin Malone: People who are interested in, but new to, community building, may look upon the professionals in the field, such as yourself, and feel intimidated by what you have accomplished. Along these lines, a newcomer to any field may find it hard to believe that many of the teachers or professionals were just as intimidated as them, and had many stumbles along the way to their careers. As you were gaining experience and knowledge in community building, what are some of the mistakes you made? Also, what advice would you give someone who wants to make a career out of community building?

    Martin Reed: I bought a free web hosting site that had an active forum back in 2005. I didn't have a clue about hosting or the technical aspect of it. The site failed and the community failed. Don't start (or acquire) a community on a subject that you know nothing about, or that doesn't interest you. It's as simple as that.

    If you want to make a career out of community building, build a community. Don't apply for jobs without any success stories behind you.

    Kevin Malone: I do not know if you remember, but in response to your article titled “How to deal with bad apples in your community,” I responded to the point about banning by saying that a forum administrator should be weary of the ban button, but not afraid to use it. In turn, you responded to that point, and made it clear that you agree with it. However, what I do not know is if you believe that a ban should be reserved for the permanent removal of a member from your community, or if you think it an appropriate tool for temporary banishment meant to improve a member’s behavior?

    Martin Reed: It's impossible to ban someone from your community. Sure, you can 'ban' their account, but all they need to do is change IP address or email address (or both) and come back. Far better to attempt to resolve the problem in the first place. Sometimes banning someone simply encourages them to continue behaving badly and disrupting your community. It can become a badge of honour.

    Kevin Malone: Upon recently re-reading your article, “How to deal with bad apples in your community,” I noticed a point I overlooked before, which is that you believe a ban should be private. In elaborating on that point, you said, “I don’t like it when I visit forums and see posts from members that have the word ‘Banned’ under their name. Just remove the posts that need to be removed, deactivate their username and move on.” The reason your belief that a ban should be private is of interest to me is that I was recently involved in a related discussion topic. In that discussion, I said that I do not bother to label a banned member, and that I never gave it much thought anyway since only two members were banned from my forum since it opened in 2004. Also, in regard to “deactivating” the account, it seems the software I use, vBulletin, does that automatically. Even so, for each of the two members I banned, an announcement was given the other members to let them know that a ban was handed out, and why.

    Nonetheless, there are several administrators who see public announcement of a ban as an issue of privacy; i.e., by announcing the ban, you are unfairly publicizing what happened to him, so it should be kept to staff. This objection is odd to me because, as my fellow admin (“Saint”) asked, “How is explaining the consequence of their entirely public conduct an invasion of privacy? That's like saying if somebody sees you get arrested, they're invading your privacy.” Where do you stand on this issue? Do you believe that a ban should be kept under wraps, or should the members be informed about it?

    Martin Reed: If you want to ban a member, why keep their account and posts in your community? Delete the account, delete the posts (or remove them from view). Move on. Why keep remnants of banned members littered throughout your community? They're a distraction and they're unnecessary. Having a forum full of 'banned' members doesn't create a good impression, either.

    Members are banned because your community rules/guidelines were broken. Simple as that. No further elaboration should be necessary. It's less of a privacy issue, and more one of not drawing attention to the kind of behaviour you don't want in your community.

    Kevin Malone: In a blog entry titled “The Dividing Line on Inflammatory Comments,” online community builder Richard Millington criticizes a case point by and about what Patrick O’Keefe calls “inflammatory comments” or comments that “make discussions personal and send them in a negative unproductive direction.” The case point Mr. Millington responded to, in this case, was about a fictional discussion in which somebody submits an opening post to say that he thinks Green Day is a great band, which prompts two responses, the first of which Mr. O’Keefe would consider acceptable or non-inflammatory (i.e., “I don’t care for them”), but not the second (i.e., “Green Day sucks”). “Most [inflammatory comments],” Mr. Millington begins, “spike emotions, increase activity, encourage interactions, solicit personal opinions and create interest” —in short, “all the things you should be trying to do.” He then adds that a line should be drawn at personal attacks (which should be removed), and that to not allow people to say Green Day “sucks,” but to allow people to say they are “great,” gives the impression of bias and the intent to suppress opinion.

    What is your stance on the role of “inflammatory comments” in a community? Where do you believe Mr. O’Keefe or Mr. Millington to be right or wrong?

    Martin Reed: They're both right. Community managers have different opinions and run communities differently. Some communities rely on 'inflammatory comments' and others frown upon them. Generally speaking, disagreements are a good thing in communities - they encourage debate. I would let arguments run unless they become abusive.

    Kevin Malone: Now for a change of pace: You mentioned getting your first computer in 1999. Do you remember any of the specs, or at least the model, of that computer? Does it still work? What software were you using (including the OS)?

    Martin Reed: It was a Daewoo PC running Windows XP. I bought it from Toys R Us! That's about all I remember about it! I run things on a black Macbook now.

    Kevin Malone: What in the tech world really gets on your nerves?

    Marin Reed: People thinking features are the key to building a successful online community. The opposite is true.

    Kevin Malone: If you did not have to worry about money, would you choose another profession, and if yes why?

    Martin Reed: I love what I do. I like the idea of being paid to travel the world, though - so maybe I'd travel to every country on the planet and document what I saw and what I experienced. That would be a good project!

    Kevin Malone: Besides managing your communities, what hobbies do you have?

    Martin Reed: I love to read - my wife bought me a Sony Reader about a year ago and I use it frequently! I also love the outdoors - hiking, kayaking and swimming are a few of my outdoor interests, hence the move to Oregon!

    Kevin Malone: Your blog gives people plenty of content to read. Are there any blogs you like to keep up with?

    Martin Reed: Lots. Here are just a few: Richard Millington's blog (http://www.feverbee.com/), Angela Connor (http://blog.angelaconnor.com), Patrick O'Keefe (http://www.managingcommunities.com/) and Engadget (http://www.engadget.com/)

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