Rebecca Blood (rebeccablood) Wed 14 May 03 20:19
I have a list, but I'd be interested in hearing votes from others before I post it here. Anyone?
Sean Harding (sharding) Wed 14 May 03 21:47
Some people who pop to my mind would be Dave Winer, Glenn Reynolds (Instapundit) and Ben & Mena Trott (Movable Type). All celebrities for different reasons. The Trotts are the only ones I really care to read anything from, and they rarely blog.
Christian Crumlish (xian) Wed 14 May 03 23:36
I actually started sketching out a set of playing cards with 52 popular bloggers. I was trying to map the suits to MT users, Blogger users, Radio users, and warbloggers (I know, it makes no sense), but the MT suit was way overrepresented. I think the Well's own Cory Doctorow has to be on the short list. A lot of the old-school A List is still around and kicking. The truth though is that there are a lot of spheres within spheres and satellites and unconnected worlds too. Chris Pirillo has a huge following. Anil is tremendously influential. Oliver Willis seems to get a lot of flow. Burningbird gets the mice chattering. Dan Gillmor and Doc Searls command a lot of respect. Joshua Michah Marshall (TalkingPointsMemo.com) may be the most effective journo-blogger of the left. The Reverse Cowgirl seems to get about 6000 hits a day lately. My own favorites change frequently. I like the Gawker but I miss Capital Influx. I've burned out on "Dive Into" Mark Pilgrim but I can't get enough of Stavros the Wonderchicken. Of course Jon just asked for the one biggest. I think it's probably Instapundit.
Sean Harding (sharding) Wed 14 May 03 23:45
Who is Oliver Willis (URL)?
Christian Crumlish (xian) Wed 14 May 03 23:52
http://oliverwillis.com/ "Like Kryptonite to Stupid" but he's mostly political (and cheesecake), Sean, so I doubt he's up your alley. He was featured on that weird PBS "On the Media" segment on the blogosphere (along with Glenn Reynolds, Meghan (sp?) McArdle (sp?) of Assymetric Information (I think it is) and Anil Dash (http://dashes.com/anil/).
Rebecca Blood (rebeccablood) Thu 15 May 03 09:39
Within each cluster there are little celebrities. But thinking about those people who are known in numerous clusters, or who might even be known by non-bloggers, this is my short list. In the beginning, it was Dave Winer and Cameron Barrett would have to be the best known of the webloggers. Dave had written for wired and had been maintaining his site since 1997; Cameron was featured in a news article when he was fired for stories posted on his website, and had gained quite a bit of visibility as a result. Dave is still very well known; Cameron just started posting again after taking a hiatus to travel. Next, it was Ev Williams and Meg Hourihan, the co-founders of Blogger, without question. The press couldn't stop writing about Blogger for a while, and everyone who used their product seemed to revere them. In the present day, I'd say Cory Doctorow and Glenn Reynolds would be the best known names, not just in the weblog community, but I'd vote on them as the people most likely to be known by people who aren't themselves maintaining weblogs. Jason Kottke is one of the best known bloggers among bloggers, but I don't have a strong sense of whether or not his name extends into the world outside of ours. I think those are the big three right now. I don't include Chris Pirillo or Wil Wheaton, just because their fame is largely a result of their television shows, rather than from their activities online. But of course, they're probably better known than any of the "pure bloggers." I make a distinction between people who have started a weblog in order to *extend* their media presence (any journalist, author, or television personality who now has a weblog), and those who have achieved notoriety in large part *because* of their weblog, even if their weblogs have been instrumental in propelling them to a larger media presence.
Michael C. Berch (mcb) Thu 15 May 03 10:08
Leaving aside the "A List" type bloggers for a moment: what do you recommend as the best ways for a brand new author, not known in media circles, to get his/her blog read? There seems to be a huge competition for eyeballs out there, and it's a bit bewildering for a newbie.
Rebecca Blood (rebeccablood) Thu 15 May 03 10:38
Participate in the community. Link generously to other weblogs, in your sidebar of links, highlighting their commentary, when you find it to be particularly insightful, and with "via" links. Comment thoughtfully on other people's sites. Write to the people you most admire, whether or not they are widely read. Answer questions they pose, send them links you think they might be interested in, complement them (genuinely on their site, or comment on a recent entry. Those are the basic strategies. I often highlight weblogs that are new to me, or that I think are doing good work, and you can do the same thing. Remember that we, as webloggers, amplify each others' voices by linking to each other. You don't want to do this indiscriminately, but if you do it selectively, your readers will learn that your recommendations are usually interesting to them, and they will follow the links. We don't have big media presences to cultivate. But if you send your 50 readers over to read someone else's site, you may double their traffic for that day. They certainly will come to see who is sending them traffic, if they keep track. They may not link back to you, but it isn't supposed to work that way. You are building an online presence, building goodwill, and extending the community. This isn't a zero-sum game. Most weblog readers are eager for other good weblogs to read. Oh, here's something else: when you link to another site, click that link yourself, several times for good measure. You can't count on your readers to necessarily give any link the attention it deserves, so announce your presence by clicking yourself. :) If you have a subject specific weblog, do all of that and participate in listservs and other community forums of like-minded people. If you can offer the community a service, that may boost your traffic (DiveIntoMark is the perfect example of this approach.) Oh, and these days, offer an RSS feed if your software allows it. It seems that many people rely on their trackers as personal update notifiers, and this is just one more way to be on their radar. Just syndicate the first few words of your posts if you're eager to have people actually visit your site. Weblog audiences tend to be small, but they tend to be loyal, and they will grow with time and persistence. I always tell people that it's better to have the *right* audience than a large audience. What I mean is that it's better to have a dozen people who can't wait to see what you have to say, than to have a thousand people who come take a look and leave, which, frankly, is the result of a big media mention. I've gained a small number of readers that way, I'm sure, but I have a very eclectic set of interests, and most who people who click through from an online article (not that many to begin with), take a look and never come back. I believe my readership has grown mostly by word of mouth. I will admit that I thought the book would boost my traffic dramatically, but that hasn't been at all the case. I get frustrated just like you do when I feel like my readership has stalled, but then it always jumps a little bit and I realize I'm on the slow and steady track.
Sean Harding (sharding) Thu 15 May 03 10:45
> Just syndicate the first few words of your posts if you're eager to have > people actually visit your site. There's a delicate balance to strike here. I find it frustrating if someone includes *too* little information in the RSS feed. There have been several sites that I've simply stopped reading completely for that reason. The feed didn't contain enough information to let me decide whether it was worth my while to go read the full entry, and there are very few sites on which I actually want to read every single entry. So, unless the site is truly exceptional, I'm not likely to bother for long with a site that gives me too little information in the RSS feed.
Rebecca Blood (rebeccablood) Thu 15 May 03 10:53
Oh, let me add: DON'T email anyone asking for a link. It puts people in an uncomfortable position if your site just isn't interesting to them, and it may make them resent you. If you think someone is doing good work, you may want to tell them so, or you can link to them. But it is annoying even to send another blogger frequent notification that you have just posted an entry they may be interested in--especially if you never or rarely link to them, or to other bloggers (and I see this a lot). My rule is that if any weblog asking for my attention doesn't link out to other weblogs, I won't link it no matter how good the entry. If you want to benefit *from* the community, I think you need to do your part *for* the community, too. Frankly, I ignore any request for links, and I'm starting to ignore the notes informing me that I may be interested in an entry someone has just posted. Especially repeat notifications, since that starts to feel like I'm regarded strictly as a traffic-building device.
Rebecca Blood (rebeccablood) Thu 15 May 03 10:58
> sean: There's a delicate balance to strike here. < Microcontent! It's an art. http://www.useit.com/alertbox/980906.html You'll want to subscribe to your own feed to see what seems to you to be effective use of the technology, and spend some time honing your own approach.
Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Thu 15 May 03 13:56
The Social Software Alliance got me thinking about this one: is there some extension of weblog technology that you're dying to see someone develop?
Rebecca Blood (rebeccablood) Thu 15 May 03 17:42
It seems that most of the things that can be automated on weblogs, have been automated. (You tool-users out there, feel free to correct me.) I think the next round of useful inventions will be focused on processing all the information weblogs are producing each day. Apart from the obvious stuff like Daypop and Blogdex and maybe Google searching weblogs, there's work being done now that I think falls under the category of the Semantic Web, although there are social implications, too. I'm thinking specifically of Friend of a Friend protocols http://rdfweb.org/foaf/ which will allow people to tag links to sites created by people they know, which will serve as a bit of a reputation management system. At least when you link to my site from a site you trust, you can be assured that I am a real person, and a female to boot, for example. I'm not sure how much information will be embedded in these tags, but it could leverage the current connection of links between sites to create a simple way to know how much to trust an unknown site. I'm also interested in tools that would alert me to news and posts about a set of subjects that interest me. Sort of like RSS and sort of like a Google news (or weblog) search, I suppose. But to log onto the Web and be able to ask--"Is there anything out there today about sustainability?" and have a list of likely candidates presented to me would be a handy thing. And I think my idea for a trackback browser plugin would be a great. I have no idea how it would work, but to go to any webpage and say "show me a list of all the pages that are linked to this page, most recent first" would do what trackback does, for the entire Web: make the conversations and connections between sites visible. Anyone else?
Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Thu 15 May 03 19:10
In my case... I'm trying to simplify. I just remade my weblog design without the marginal stuff, and I'm thinking about what I want to add back to the mix.
Michael C. Berch (mcb) Fri 16 May 03 00:12
Interesting stuff, thanks.
Rebecca Blood (rebeccablood) Fri 16 May 03 11:18
> jon: In my case... I'm trying to simplify. < It's easy to get carried away, isn't it? I'm continuously populating my sidebar with little bits of information, and then going through and stripping it down when it gets cluttered. This fad of putting links in the sidebar and longer pieces in the main body of the weblog is another manifestation of the same thing. I do think a weblog works best when its design highlights the text, rather than being cluttered up with a million distractions. But I'm one to talk: my sidebar has links to online charities, recent articles and appearances, and mini reviews of all the films I've seen. I can't get enough stuff into that sidebar.
Christian Crumlish (xian) Fri 16 May 03 15:43
i think at best it works like gardening. wide text columns and narrow gutters are just some of the architectural tricks that have stood the test of time (in this medium and others). after that we're talking personal expression and what zeldman calls "the indendent content creator" (finish that clause for brownie points), and so really it's do what you will shall be the extent of the law. gardening because you plant things that catch your fancy and weed the ones that have died on the vine or are running amok like kudzu. seasons change as do your fancies. the whole thing gets denser and more rich whether its waxing or waning, as long as you keep attending to and husbanding it. experiments, habits, sudden fits or destruction and reconception are common to both gardening and blogging. free association: an occasional blog by gardeners (disclaimer: i host it, know the writers extremely well): http://godetia.com/dirt/ sorry for rambling on. caught by a trope!
Cynthia Dyer-Bennet (cdb) Fri 16 May 03 15:52
I'd like to thank Rebecca Blood for joining us here in Inkwell.vue. It's hard to believe two weeks have gone by already. Rebecca, though Matthew Fox's discussion is now spotlighted on our web pages, you and Jon (and the other participants, of course) are more than welcome to continue this discussion for as long as you like.
Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Fri 16 May 03 16:09
andyp (aapark) Fri 16 May 03 17:19
Yes, thanks Cynthia for making this available.
Rebecca Blood (rebeccablood) Fri 16 May 03 21:11
Cynthia, Jon, and everyone in this thread, thank you so much for such a fun and thought-provoking conversation. some of these questions made me revisit some of the assumptions I've fallen into in the last year and a half, and for that I am extremely grateful. I will be leaving for Vienna on Tuesday for a week, and I'm not taking my computer--and my access here will run out at the end of the month. But I'm going to continue to check here at least once a day through Monday, and then when I get back. If there's anything you didn't get to ask, please do. It's a real pleasure to talk with such smart, thoughtful people.
Rebecca Blood (rebeccablood) Fri 16 May 03 21:13
xian, I think your gardening metaphor is very apt. I remember seeing one weblogger talk about going through his archives and weeding out links that no longer worked, tending his archives. :)
Christian Crumlish (xian) Sat 17 May 03 13:15
thanks for gracing us with your presence. knock 'em dead (or some suitably nonviolent equivalent metaphor) in Wien. and somebody get her a visiting scholar comp acct for at least a few more months (till she's thoroughly hooked, heh heh heh).
Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Sun 18 May 03 10:31
Have a great trip, Rebecca!
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