Category Archives: blogs

Soft Re-Launch

For those tuning in at home, yes, I’ve finally relaunched under WordPress, such as it is.

This all started back in 2007 because of the pending Blogger FTP cutoff.  They pulled that plug in 2010.  In between, and since, I’ve been playing with numerous versions of WordPress, themes and plug-ins.   I’ve finally gotten the site back to the original level of functionality, including all the old archives imported from Blogger, and even the hand-coded deep archives going back to December 2001.  I think that means that pretty much everything that was ever on this site is still here.  Although, going by my first post, there must have been a precursor, I just don’t remember what it was.    Fortunately or unfortunately the Internet Archive does remember.  Mmm  mm,  1996-licious.

In any case, we’re coming up on the 10-year anniversary of this blog as such.  Does it count when you’ve taken years off at a time?  Will there be a party?  Will I at least finally come up with a theme I like?  Stay tuned to find out.

On SNS Backlash and Opting Out

Following up on my post from yesterday, I was thinking about social networks in term of personal return on investment: for some of us there really isn’t any. It seems Dave Slusher has some of the same concerns, and cites a Scoble post for contributing to his opting out of the whole SNS thing. There’s wonderful symmetry here because it’s largely Scoble that got me even considering joining a SNS.

What I’ve decided is that SNS is a bad idea for me for the same reason it’s a good idea for Scoble. Scoble’s a pundit. His job is to connect to a lot of people, keep his eyes and ears open for the next new hotness, and then distribute that information via his various output channels. Nice work if you can get it. But it’s not my work. Trying to maintain even a single presence online for me is definitely more trouble than it’s “worth.” My ROI on this blog is certainly negative, both in the short term (hosting costs, opportunity costs for time spent on each post and tweak) and the long term (expressing my honest opinions will almost certainly cost me friends and business down the road, versus the relative safety of staying politely quiet or concentrating on a more traditional, less sincere “marketing strategy”).

From this perspective, if I join, I become basically a social network wage slave. I sacrifice my time, energy, privacy, etc. and contribute content to this “thing” that ultimately doesn’t benefit me, certainly not as much as it benefits the network itself, or power users in a certain niche, like Scoble. To be one of the mooing masses on a social network has exactly the same cost-benefit ratio of being a cow in any other sphere. The obvious argument against what I’m saying would be to contend that SNS is not a zero-sum game, that everyone gains and no one loses. I’m not buying it. Like Slusher, I don’t feel like there’s been one tangible benefit to me from SNS involvement, or for that matter from maintaining any kind of content-based online presence (most especially including this blog). And, like Slusher, I know there are a million better, more fulfilling things I could be doing with my time.

Desperation Blogging 101: Pick the Wrong Side and Dig In

After a post yesterday over at ectoplasmosis trying to drum up business for his SciFi Scanner blog, John Brownlee today goes directly to the copyblogger playbook and boldy digs in on the wrong side of a hot-button SF issue in order to boost traffic. The issue: is The Fifth Element any good?

Seriously? You want to debate The Fifth Element on its merits? Isn’t that sort of like debating ice cream on its merits?

To even have this gig Brownlee must know that The Fifth Element is on many a fan’s desert island disks list (including mine). It’s fun and it’s gorgeous (the whole thing, not just Mila), and the mythos-/technobabble is the best since Ghostbusters (in fact don’t both films refer to “slightly greasy” atomic particles?). And to borrow from Jorn Barger’s canon rating system, it’s got a high “escape” quotient (high payoff for effort). It’s not deep, but The Fifth Element is both highly watchable and easy to re-watch.

Basically, it’s broad-spectrum porn. Sit back, relax and enjoy.

Winzip for Wordsmiths

I’m a little shocked this still needs to be said, because it’s just about the only lesson I remember from every writing class I ever took. And I’m really shocked that a blog post about omitting needless words and writing clearly is so repetitive and fractured. But just so we’re clear: be concise.

Holy crap. Did we forget that great writers sweat over sentence structure and word choice? Read some Hemingway or Steinbeck whydontcha!

Update: I have a modern, blogging example of this: Jorn Barger’s blogging and writing are so concise as to be nearly uncompressible.

Update 2: It further occurs to me that there’s a term for uncompressible, unskimable text that distills only the essence of meaning: poetry.

The Real Problem with Corporate Transparency

Or maybe it’s a problem with trying to feign corporate transparency. In any case, it tends to demonstrate to the world the fact that some of your employees are particularly craven and one-dimensional, for example when this Google blogger puts her foot in her mouth up to her ribcage. And then recants, or retracts or CYAs or something. ZDNet has decent analysis.

Some of this woman’s statements are just so patently dumb that I still want to believe it’s a hoax. “…whether Mr. Moore wants to challenge the healthcare industry, advertising is a very democratic and effective way to participate in a public dialogue” Seriously? You mean as opposed to going out and interviewing people for a documentary on the topic?

This is why your CEO doesn’t want you blogging.

Call it the Dvorak Gambit

It the section called “Why Bold Works,” this blog post about why you should be bold in your (blog) statements goes on to say…
  • You become an expert. This will be a controversial assertion, most likely, but I’m speaking from experience. If you talk about the same topics as everyone else, but you say it in a bolder way, over time you will begin to be see (sic) as an expert on the topic. Not only will you get people talking about you and linking to you and Digging you, but your credibility will go up. People will start to call you a “productivity guru” or an “SEO expert” or a “fitness guru”.
  • This immediately made me think of John Dvorak, who for 20 years has literally used bold type to shout at his readership. He says the same things as every other technopundit, and he’s wrong just as often (probably more, though I’d argue he’s more often wrong for the right reasons, being something of a technoutopian), but since people only remember the positive–hey look, Dvorak was shouting this at us in 1998: genius!–he’s considered an expert by dint of his tone. Consider that if he was any other writer, and had chosen italics instead of bold, his editors would have beaten him about the head and neck with a red pencil and he would have come across as simply shrill (as opposed to a shrill expert).

    I wonder if the world is ready for an all-caps blog.

    By the way, I think copyblogger is a stupendously-smart blog, and I can’t manage to apply a single one of its recommendations in my blogging. I read what he says, consider it, and then feel like I need to take a shower and a Xanax. That would be blogging for the man! Man.

    Web 2.0 Eats Its Own

    If you’ve been waiting to find out what happens when big-name blogs collide in the most virtually violent fashion, you can now safely exhale. Uber-geek-cheerleader (is it sexist if you mean it flatteringly? Probably, and this becomes meaningful in a moment) Kathy Sierra and Chris “Clue Train Manifesto” Locke get into a comment troll-fueled feud over sexism and anonymous harassment on the Internet. Insults are exchanged, fingers are pointed, every skulking Gollum in the blogosphere shows up in the arena, death threats ensue, eventually the cops are called in and none other than Tim “I’m the only reason geeks ever meet in personO’Reilly has to broker a ceasefire. And one of the bloggers cancels speaking appearances, locks the doors and turns off her blog. Oh yeah, and it all comes to a head on April Fools’ Day, so maybe it’s all theater, you know, to “bring up an important issue.” You really have to hope so. But I doubt it. I mean, CNN bought it.

    And speaking of CNN, of course they end with a wonderfully unintentional ironic twist:

    Female Reporter: “Even Kathy Sierra, the target of these threats, says that freedom of speech is to be preserved… the alternative is to censor and that’s not the right solution…”

    Male Reporter: “How can you threaten the ‘Cute Kitty?'”

    Female Anchor: “Poor woman, so terrifying.”

    Way to elevate the level of discourse, CNN! You have truly fulfilled your journalistic charter by diffusing my fear and outrage and letting me fall right back into my comfortable prejudices about the place of women in our society. Sexism in the blogosphere? Nothing can touch TV news.

    Also, how creepy is it that CNN has these two bloggers, embroiled in a shitstorm of accusations of online harassment, sexual predation and death threats, meet for the first time in a generic hotel room! Internet, anonymity, sex, hotel room… yeah, that’s subtle.