Archive: Posts about Blogosphere
March 29th, 2012, 1 Comment »
I try not to write these inward-looking, inside-baseball posts anymore, but I’ve been wondering about this one for a while. I know few people want to read blog posts about blogging, but throw me a bone.
Michael asks a question that I’ve been wondering about for a while: “should you close comments on older blog posts?”. This September, this blog will be ten years old (the site itself is a couple of years older). I’ve published roughly 5600 posts over that period. A handful of them remain–relative to the others–quite popular.
Why are they popular? Because they accidentally appear high in the results for related searches. For example, last year nearly 25,000 people searched for some variation of “worst baby name ever” and found this paltry post from 2005. It has 910 comments on it.
Lately, this longer piece about Freedom 55 Financial has attracted lots of comments. 5000 people visited it last year, and it’s up 286 comments, mostly of the highly incendiary variety. For search, the most popular post on my site remains this 2005 post about textual tattoos. Over its seven-year lifespan, nearly 750,000 people have viewed it, and 100 have commented.
Any site publisher or blogger has pages like this, where a long tail of visitors carries on and on and on. A page on Michael’s site, for example, has become host to a discussion of tax software. My favourite is probably this one where 101 commenters have shared their weird, creepy tales of sleep paralysis.
There’s over 40,000 comments in all. I wonder who has written more words on this site: me or all the commenters put together?
The deal I made with the Internet
When I started writing this site, what deal did I make with the Internet? When I say ‘the Internet’, I mean all the people who, in the ensuing decade, would visit and possibly comment on this site.
Did I, for example, guarantee that the information I published would remain timely and accurate? I hope not, because much of it is out of date and, in many cases, totally wrong. And some of the sites I linked to are gone. For very boring reasons, I’ve been revisiting some of the very oldest posts on this site. As part of that work, I’ve been sampling the links I’d published in 2002 and 2003. As of now, 48 of 74 old links are still live. Am I going to try to fix those other 26 links? Nope.
And what about the ad hoc communities that form around these unexpectedly evergreen blog posts? Advice is shared and debates rage without any input from me. Why wouldn’t I leave comments open?
The only reason might be comment spam. While Akismet does a fantastic job of killing 99% of spammy comments to this site. 99.93%, to be exact, which means that it’s handled about 2.2 million spammy comments since I installed it in 2006. That 0.07% still represents 10 or 15 spam comments that I have to manually remove every day. It’s less than five minutes of work, and not a burden at the moment.
Occasionally, a commenter thinks better of what they’ve written on this site, and emails and asks me to remove their messages. I’m usually happy to do this.
So, until I get busier or lazier, comments will remain open on all the blog posts on this site. Those ongoing discussions don’t particularly interest me, but nor do they feel like a burden.
1 Comment »
March 4th, 2009, 2 Comments »
At Northern Voice, Rob from Techvibes introduced me to Frank, who (I gather) created ZinePal. Here’s the elevator pitch on ZinePal:
Use zinepal.com to create your own magazines or zines for short. Select content from your favorite blogs, websites or RSS feeds and put it in your zine. zinepal.com creates an online version and a printable PDF. Then you print it and read it in your favorite coffee shop, e-mail it to your friends or just let them subscribe to your online zine feed.
There are bunch of these print-your-blog services out there, but what I liked about ZinePal was the sample Frank handed me. It was a two-page version of the recent posts from Kitsilano.ca (another of the aforementioned Rob’s projects). I snapped a photo:
Kitsilano.ca is a hyper-local blog, covering a particular neighbourhood of Vancouver. It’s easy to imagine that they could produce monthly “best of” editions of their blog using ZinePal, and distribute them to local businesses. They could replace the charming but goofy Coffee News (I recently took a photo of that publication as well). Local businesses could buy a combo advertising package, with their ads appearing both online and in the print edition. Briana from Tenth to Fraser (a blog about New Westminster) should check this out.
I created a quick ZinePal edition of my own site, picking entries that didn’t have embedded video. ZinePal provides a dedicated page for each, uh, zine, or here’s the direct link to the PDF. I didn’t go to the trouble of uploading a custom header or deploying a few other bells and whistles.
In an age of embedded audio, video and other Flash-powered widgets, ZinePal certainly isn’t for every site with an RSS feed. However, I do like the idea of extending a hyper-local blog’s audience into the offline world.
2 Comments »
January 16th, 2009, 1 Comment »
Just a brief note to point you at the awesome new blog, Superuseless Superpowers. I have infonesia about where I discovered it, but it’s awesome. Each useless power is described and illustrated. My favourite might be In-flight Flight:
Being able to soar through the air still won’t save you from recycled oxygen and endless stories from complete strangers. Known as the “Cabin Sparrow,” this so-called power lets you fly, but only within the confines of an airplane. At least you can leapfrog the beverage cart when explosive diarrhea strikes at 30,000 feet.
If you were looking for it, here’s evidence that there’s plenty of original blog ideas out there. And this one is ready-made for a dead tree version in 2010.
1 Comment »
October 27th, 2008, 2 Comments »
Over the weekend, I gave a couple of talks at the Surrey International Writers Conference. First, I wanted to say that the conference was a really friendly and well-organized event. They treated us speakers really well, and I had a lot of fascinating conversations with interesting people. My only gripe–and it’s a minor one–is that it’s in a bleak corner of Surrey. My hotel room had a lovely view of the vast Walmart parking lot. But, they get 800 people to the event, so I imagine their options are limited for venues.
And I had no idea how big a deal this conference is in the publishing industry. I spoke to an agent from New York (there were plenty of Americans there from all over the country) who said it was one of the three conferences she attends every year. So, many thanks to kc dyer for inviting me to the event, and I hope she’ll have me back next year.
One of the talks I gave was ‘Blogging 101′. It’s a little shocking to me that I still get asked for this talk in 2008–I’ve been giving it for five years or so–but the room was pretty full.
During this talk, I like to run through setting up a WordPress blog, so that people can see how straightforward it is. To choose a topic for the blog, I asked for an unusual place and a type of food. Combining the two, I created a simple blog called Sushi in Vilnius. Vilnius is, in case you didn’t know, the capital of Lithuania. I wrote a quick sample post, and moved on to other bloggy stuff.
The next day, I checked my email, and somebody–a legitimate Lithuanian–had come by Sushi in Vilnius and left a comment:
You have tried Kabuki (DidÃƒÂ¾ioji 28)? Very good sushi. If not try Tokyo (Vienuolio 4). Sushi chef is from Japanese.
Their intent wasn’t to spam–it was to legitimately recommend some sushi restaurants. Hilarious, eh?
It provides a handy example for another lesson in a lot of my talks: the web is just getting more and more real time. Some of that is thanks to Twitter and camera phones, and some of it is thanks to search engines indexing new material in minutes and hours instead of days and weeks.
2 Comments »
August 4th, 2008, 2 Comments »
I’m organizing a little field trip this Wednesday night for a media preview of a Vancouver store opening. It’s the sort of store that would appeal to the geekily-inclined, and it’s got a couple of exciting wrinkles. I’ve invited some local bloggers, but we’ve got spots free for a couple more.
If that sounds appealing, send me an email and I can provide all the details.
I apologize for being obtuse, but I’d prefer not to disclose the details publicly, lest I scoop all of the journalists and bloggers in attendance.
UPDATE: I think I need to cut things off there. Thanks for your interest.
2 Comments »
July 26th, 2008, 7 Comments »
On Twitter, Jeremy linked to this well-written New York Times article by Kara Jesella about BlogHer. Entitled “Blogging’s Glass Ceiling” it emphasizes BlogHer’s strong community ties, appeal to marketers and and an imbalance of power and income among genders in the blogosphere:
These days, there is money to be made, fame to be earned and influence to be gained. And though women and men are creating blogs in roughly equal numbers, many women at the conference were becoming very Katie Couric about their belief that they are not taken as seriously as their male counterparts at, say, Daily Kos, a political blog site. Nor, they said, were they making much money, even though corporations seem to be making money from them.
I think Ms. Jesella misses a key point in making her case. The blogosphere is still pretty geeky (arguably, 8 of the 10 most popular blogs according to Technorati focus on technology), and interest in technology has tradition skewed toward men. So, you’d expect that the most money and fame would follow that topic area. I don’t mention this to refute her thesis, merely to suggest an important cause or symptom that she ignored (or had edited out of her piece).
I did, however, want to highlight the fact that this piece appeared in the ‘Fashion & Style’ section of the New York Times. If ever there was a way to reinforce the notion of BlogHer as a female ghetto, it’s to feature it alongside articles on ‘Dining & Wine’, ‘Home & Garden’ and ‘Weddings/Celebrations’.
7 Comments »
May 8th, 2008, Comments Off
My friend Gwendolyn recently started a food blog entitled Patent and the Pantry. She’s combining recipes with great photos of her concoctions. She brought a bunch of rosemary cashews when she came to visit us, and they were very tasty:
Rosemary Cashews have rapidly become my go-to hostess gift since I began making them a few years ago. They have been to book club and video nights, served as work snacks and traveled all the way to Malta as a small, homemade gift for friends hosting me there. (They were such a hit, we made a bastardized version for Canadian Thanksgiving, in which my friends invited 10 for turkey dinner by the pool.)
I love the play of salty and sweet and the hit of heat, combined with the herby woodiness of the rosemary. Plus theyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re ridiculously easy to make.
My only tip for Gwen is that she ought to host (and tag and add to groups) her photos on Flickr, and include links back to the appropriate blog posts in the description field. That will likely drive some traffic, given how attractive they are.
April 6th, 2008, 12 Comments »
A couple of years ago my wife Julie started a figure skating blog. She’s got a particular purpose in mind for this project: she wants to get media accreditation for the skating events at the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver.
One way to do this is to write the most popular figure skating blog in the world, according to Google. She currently sits in the #2 spot.
The goal is to get her up to the top spot, and I need your help. If you’re so inclined, please link to Julie’s blog with the phrase ‘figure skating blog‘. Collectively, we ought to be able to boost her up to the top spot, eh?
To entice you, she’s collected eight of the worst falls in figure skating (Digg that mofo, if you’re thus inclined). It’s, uh, not for the squeamish. My favourite is the hip check that Laetitia Hubert lays on Midori Ito.
12 Comments »