Jamais Cascio, OpenTheFuture.com (cascio) Mon 4 Dec 06 08:32
So, recognizing that you're busy with your new job and undoubtedly don't have as much time for blog reading as you did in the past, what blogs do you still make a point of reading? You have a blogroll list at the DISPATCHES website, so I presume that you still read all of those religiously (*ahem*), but what else do you follow?
Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Mon 4 Dec 06 15:36
I apologize for coming so late to the conversation... Hal sent me a reminder but it didn't quite reach me. Jamais, you were commenting about the number of WorldChanging bloggers... there's currently 146, and we've been signing more everyday. It's a diverse bunch - some were already bloggers, others weren't, but just needed the right nudge to get into it. It's been fascinating to watch this blog network evolve. Suzanne, as you know, I'm into the stuff that's happening where politics intersects with social technology. Above you mentioned the potential for demogaugery, for persuasive bigots or corporate shills to win over a portion of the population and skew electoral results in some sectors." Don't you think, though, that the "post-broadcast" media environment makes that sort of thing much more difficult? I think about Rush Limbaugh guest hosting the Letterman show a few years ago... he couldn't function in an environment where there was an audience that could and would respond... I worry more that it'll be hard to find direction in a world where everybody's got a pointer. We sorta hoped that there would be a kind of emergent leadership facilitated in part by social software, but that's still just theory.
Jamais Cascio, OpenTheFuture.com (cascio) Mon 4 Dec 06 19:14
Alan M. Eshleman (doctore) Mon 4 Dec 06 21:03
Interesting about that average number of readers being = 1. Sadly, that's been my experience so far with http://talk.genesanddrugs.com/ Genes and drugs is a sponsored blog: I've was retained by the firm DNA Direct to create a blog that alerts physicians to developments in pharmacogenetics (a discipline that is defined on the site, if it's unfamiliar to you). I thought I'd at least get some action from trackbacks: Perhaps a complaint or two about introducing expensive technology while millions are uninsured or requests for clarification of something I may have written. So far no. A blog may not be the best medium for accomplishing this. OTOH, I do get dozens of comments each day offering drugs for sale, porno sites, and replica rolexes...
Sharon Lynne Fisher (slf) Tue 5 Dec 06 07:48
The discussion has helped inspire me to start my own: http://stateoftechnology.blogspot.com/
Gail Williams (gail) Tue 5 Dec 06 11:52
Sharon, may you be yet another stellar blogger to emerge from the WELL's community spaces. Be sure to use the WELL Blog Conference -- <blog.> -- to ask and share expertise, and also to get included on The WELL blogroll project.
Gail Williams (gail) Tue 5 Dec 06 11:58
Here's the group blog composed of WELL member blogs: http://wellblogs.e-scribe.com/ Ask about it in <blog.>
Sharon Brogan (sbmontana) Tue 5 Dec 06 12:12
Re: the 'one reader' dilemma -- we all begin with one reader. I don't expect -- and don't have -- a large readership, but I have about 130 readers-by-feed, and get about the same number of hits per day, and I think, for a rather quirky personal blog, that's a fair number. And my readers are great -- interesting and civil. Since I don't actually have a 'niche', I have to try hard to get new eyes on my blog, in hopes a pair here and there might like it. I suggest: -- Sign onto all the directories. It's tedious, and you may get few hits from any one of them -- but those hits may include a reader or two that sticks around. -- Participate in the blog carnivals that interest you. -- Participate in the blog 'memes' that interest you -- it may be something like Holidailies (http://www.holidailies.org/) which is happening now, or NaBloPoMo (http://www.fussy.org/nablopomo.html) which has just ended. Both of these have lots of bloggers involved, a few of which might be interested in what you are doing. -- If you do have a niche, exploit it. Let others in your field know what you are doing, by linking to them, by leaving comments on their sites, by emailing them in response to their own postings. If you are truly interested -- and interesting -- they are likely to reciprocate. -- And, seconding (gail), it doesn't hurt to participate in the <blog.> conference.
Sharon Lynne Fisher (slf) Tue 5 Dec 06 14:29
thanks Gail, I didn't know about that.
Jamais Cascio, OpenTheFuture.com (cascio) Tue 5 Dec 06 17:37
Suzanne's suggestions are 100% correct, but I would especially emphasize >>-- If you do have a niche, exploit it. Let others in your field know what you are doing, by linking to them, by leaving comments on their sites, by emailing them in response to their own postings. If you are truly interested -- and interesting -- they are likely to reciprocate.<< Don't just send email saying "link to me, please" or offering "link exchanges." Send email saying "what you wrote here [http://www.foo.foo/foo] really struck a nerve, and I responded here [http://www.myblog.foo/foo]," and mean it. Bloggers with traffic generally aren't opposed to linking to blogs without much traffic, but there has to be an organic connection, something meaningful and to the point. That said, the absolutely best way to jump start traffic is to submit something good to BoingBoing and have them select it for placement. Whether at WorldChanging.com or the much-smaller OpenTheFuture.com, I can always tell when there's a BoingBoing.net link. Again, Cory & Mark & David & Xeni aren't going to link to you because you ask nicely, but because you've sent in something that fits and one of them thinks is cool. Suzanne, I'd be interested in how you see the evolution --both recent and upcoming-- of what you've called "Blogistan," that broad society of bloggers.
nape fest (zorca) Tue 5 Dec 06 19:05
> what blogs do you still make a point of reading? My blogroll is still my favorite round of blogs. I do visit a number of others in a kind of irregular rotation. i like nick carr's roughtype blog (http://www.roughtype.com) for tech discussions. i love the make magazine blog (http://www.makezine.com/blog). I also can't seem to stay away from the sartorialist blog (http://thesartorialist.blogspot.com/) I'll think of a few more and post later. > I worry more that it'll be hard to find direction in a world where everybody's got a pointer. Jon's right, of course. And I didn't mean that blogs post a greater threat of demogaugery than other media. It is mediated, after all, by comments both on the blogs in question and on other blogs. But there is still the opportunity for strong personalities to win over weaker souls. Some of the followers of the political blogs quote the authors as though their words had been handed down from above. At their best, blogs encourage critical thinking. At their worst, they serve as low-hanging fruit for fruitbats. The problem you point out, the difficulty in finding direction in a world full of competing pointers, is very real. This is why sites like digg and delicious can help, but the plethora of information storming the net will require a good number of solutions before we're able to truly find the gems. Lots of room left for innovators to step up and become heros. >Suzanne, I'd be interested in how you see the evolution --both recent and upcoming-- of what you've called "Blogistan," that broad society of bloggers. Once again, I resort to numbers. In the beginning, fewer than ten years ago, a small cadre of individuals posted regularly to the first protoblogs. They were generally fairly geeky, the topics were often tech-related, and most were in the United States. It was almost like a closed club. Today, Technorati reports tracking more than 55 million blogs all around the globe. Blogging seems to span all age groups and socio-economic sectors. Harking back to something I talked about up above and in the book, I think that the phenomenon is tapping into some innate urge and wide adoption seems to follow the introduction of easier tools. At this point, if you can open a web browser, you can launch a blog and all those millions do just that. Meanwhile, cross-linking is still fairly nascent, partly because the tools for trackback and the like are still sort of arcane. I think the next stage will involve more and better intercommunication among blogs. Several here have noted that they don't get that many comments on their blogs. I think that may change as better tools and mechanisms enter the scene. The urge seems to not just be to publish but to engage in conversations. I think we're only beginning to get a glimpse of what this many-to-many world is going to look like.
Jamais Cascio, OpenTheFuture.com (cascio) Wed 6 Dec 06 04:41
I'm not sure I'd agree that the tools for cross-linking, particularly trackback, are necessarily "arcane" -- after all, most of the blogging systems will do that in a more-or-less automated fashion. The big problem, from my perspective, is spam. I have trackbacks shut down on Open the Future, shut down completely, simply because the ratio of spam trackbacks to legitimate trackbacks is ridiculous. The spam to legit ratio for comments is also pretty bad, but at least there I can use tools like captchas (the "type in the letters you see here in this hard to read graphic box" test) to block spambots. Since trackbacks are generally automated, such tools couldn't apply. Spam is, in my view, the Big Nasty Threat to much of what we do online. How have you dealt with it for your work, Suzanne? And other bloggers should definitely follow-up here, as well -- what works?
nape fest (zorca) Wed 6 Dec 06 12:40
I think trackback still stymies a lot of bloggers. But I agree that spam is a true stumbling block. I installed Akismet on the WordPress blogs and it really seems to be pretty good at capturing spam. A few sneak through into my main comments section, but I have the blogs set up so that I have to OK any comments before they go live and so at least the public doesn't have to deal with them. I'd love to hear how others are dealing with their spam. The whole phenomenon is like playing whack-a-mole!
Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Wed 6 Dec 06 12:51
I installed the Movable Type version of Akismet on my blog, and it was pretty efficient at catching spam. I had a whole different problem, which was that there was so much junk I literally couldn't delete it all without bogging down. Suspecting that has something to do with my use of the less robust Berkeley DB, I'm moving my blog to a different hosting environment and setting up a mysql back end. I've been thinking how much easier it is for new bloggers these days, with so many hosted services to absorb back-end headaches. What do you think of hosted services vs standalone blogs?
Call Out Research Hook #1 (kadrey) Wed 6 Dec 06 13:03
>hosted services vs standalone blogs can you describe the differences for those of us new to the game.
nape fest (zorca) Wed 6 Dec 06 13:14
I think the hosted services are great for anyone without access to their own webserver. Certainly, you have more control over the latter, but if it's a choice between no blog or one that's hosted by a service like blogger or wordpress.com, it's a really simple decision. What you generally give up is some degree of personalization of the template and some capabilities. It pays to comb through a blog hosting site's 'about' pages and do a few searches of blog comments using a service like Technorati or IceRocket to see what the latest developments are. All of these services are changing and updating, trying to keep up with the stand-alone products. One thing that I'd recommend is that you always own your own full domain name and make sure that any hosted services point to that URL. For instance, you should be pointing people to http://www.yourblogname.com, rather than http://yourblogname.blogspot.com. Not only is it easier for people to find you, if you should choose to move your blog from the hosting environment, you won't have to reprogram all the internal links! Most hosting environments provide a mechanism for this.
Andrew Alden (alden) Wed 6 Dec 06 13:32
On About.com where I blog and write on geology, we all have Akismet despamming on our WordPress-based blogs and it works like a charm.
Sharon Brogan (sbmontana) Wed 6 Dec 06 15:02
I use TypePad -- a hosted site -- pay for it, and recommend it. I do sometimes have to deal with spam, but they catch most of it before I see it. There is lots -- total, if you want -- of control over templates, and pretty good support for newbies.
Marcy Sheiner (mmarquest) Wed 6 Dec 06 16:43
Okay, IJWTK: Am I the only one who feels inundated with reading material, online and off? How do you manage to read the newspaper, non-fiction books, novels several blogs, chat groups, and other websites of interest every day, which it sounds like a lot of people manage to do. I don't even have a full time job and I find it absolutely overwhelming. My New Yorkers pile up; the Sunday Times never gets finished, and forget my local paper! I'm so overloaded I tend to just skim through everything. I could honestly scream. I shouldda learned speed reading way back when I had time to learn new things.
Mecha-shiva! Mecha-shiva! (howard) Wed 6 Dec 06 17:46
Print is dead to me.
nape fest (zorca) Wed 6 Dec 06 18:13
Reading is fun! If it stops being fun, I'll just have to find a new hobby.
Jamais Cascio, OpenTheFuture.com (cascio) Wed 6 Dec 06 21:16
Reading is fun-damental! <kadrey>, I'm sure you picked up the difference between hosted and standalone blogs, but just for anyone else still a bit unclear: A hosted blog relies on a blogging service, such as blogger or typepad; this service provides the composition environment, hosts the content, and basically takes care of the nuts & bolts of blogging, letting you focus on the content. If you see a blog with a URL that is http://someblogname.typepad.com or someblogname.blogspot.com, it's on a hosted service. A standalone blog is essentially your own website, with blog server software running behind the scenes. Movable Type, WordPress and Drupal are different examples of standalone blog server tools. Generally speaking, you have to deal with configuring the blog, setting up the server, making sure the templates are to your liking, etc. The advantage of a hosted blog is not having to worry about the technical stuff; the disadvantage is that you're completely at the whim of a service that likely has literally hundreds of thousands of active blogs. Also, you have limited choices as to how your blog looks and what kinds of features it can offer. The advantage of a standlone blog is having absolute total control over every aspect of your blog's look, feel and content; the disadvantage is having absolute total control over every aspect of your blog's look, feel and content. As I discovered for myself a couple of weeks ago, one mistake while fiddling with a configuration file can leave you with naught but garbage on your blog's home page. On balance, if you're at all comfortable with the idea of editing configuration files and using FTP, the power of standalone blog tools makes them preferable, in my view. If terms like XML and FTP and SQL make you break out in hives, go for the hosted option. I absolutely agree with Suzanne's suggestion that you get your own domain to point at your hosted blog -- not only does it mean you don't have to fiddle with internal links if you change hosting service, you don't have to try to alert people who have been reading you at (e.g.) blogspot.com that you're now at typepad.com. You can fiddle with services to your heart's content, confident that your readers will always find you.
Sharon Brogan (sbmontana) Wed 6 Dec 06 21:19
I think that with TypePad's top service, you do have "absolute total control over every aspect of your blog's look, feel and content." And you pretty much have that at the middle level, too. I think you need to have geek skills -- or want to earn the stripes -- to go with a standalone. But then, I haven't tried it.
nape fest (zorca) Thu 7 Dec 06 10:44
Standalone blog apps like wordpress.org aren't that daunting to install and there are lots of templates that you can choose from. The ability to tweak via CSS is great for the geek set, but really anyone with access to a server can use one of the free standalones if they're so inclined. It's great the Typepad Pro lets you customize to a greater degree now. For those willing to pay the fees, it's a great solution. The bottom line is that what matters is the content of the blog. It's great if you can tweak down to the pixel level, which I couldn't resist doing on dispatchesfromblogistan.com, but in the end, it's the updated information that keeps people coming back.
Gail Williams (gail) Thu 7 Dec 06 11:00
One very cool thing about starting a blog on the main Wordpress site is that you can register a domain through them now, have it on the blog there, and also know that if you choose to move later you can take your content and go to any site that will host your domain. And even change to other blogging software at that time, they say. Here's the specs: http://wordpress.com/blog/2006/10/24/domain-mapping-registration/ I just had a look at Vox. Very nice integration with Flickr... that's the first thing I've seen elsewhere that I wanted in WordPress for my infrequent posts.
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