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Archive for the ‘RSS Readers/Reading blogs’ Category

In the online realm, we as businesses want to know if people are reading our website text and articles. A lot of us are using tools like Google Analytics to see how many visitors we have, how long they are staying on the website, and what pages they are reading. However, I’ve always wondered if this is a truly accurate way of knowing how much of your articles are being read. Are people reading the first few lines and then speed-reading through the remaining paragraphs? Or, are they reading the first line and then skipping all the way to the conclusion?

Today I read an article (from start to finish – I don’t like to cut corners) at the Huffington Post entitled, ‘Scoopinion Tracks What You Read, Not What You Click (Yes, This Is A Test)’. It’s about a new Finnish start-up company that is attempting to create heat maps based on which content is being read on a website page. As a writer, this is a very interesting concept. There is now a chance we may be able to ascertain which parts of our writing are most effective; is it the quote at the end of the piece, the witty caption on the included image, or the controversial statement written to incite a reaction?

Man Reading MiContent Surrey Hills Content Writer

Human beings can become very engrossed in what they are reading. What kind of writing will attract the ‘right’ people to your website?

Admittedly, when I’m scanning the internet’s many blogs and News sources, there are a number of article types I don’t read through properly. But when it comes to our own businesses, we want to know what content is connecting with people on an intellectual or emotional level. If we can figure out the styles of writing our website visitors read most, we can then evolve our content further in order to maximise interaction and relevance.

Did you read through this entire post, or did you only read a few lines?

By Jesse S. Somer

Copyright MiContent.com.au

Thanks to applejan for the image!

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If your blogging experience is anything like mine has been, you might also be saying to yourself, ‘How do I really get to meet other bloggers of like-mind who have similar interests? I have found it to be pretty hard searching for blog topics using keywords at Google. The answer to this challenge may come down to an age-old process practiced for millennia: networking. ‘It’s not what you know, it’s who you know,’ is what my parents always said when it came to business or finding employment. Now I’m learning that it’s the same in the Blogosphere.

I have come across many well-written blogs in my travels. However, quite a large percentage of them remain relatively hidden under the radar, unknown to most of humanity. When blogging, it’s such a great feeling to know that people are reading your thoughts and ideas. It’s even better when they leave comments hoping to start a dialogue. After participating in these ‘relationships’ it can be quite disheartening to have to go through ‘quiet’ periods with little (if any) interaction. So, how do we find people who write about similar topics? From my recent experiences I’d have to say that this desired networking is being done at blogging communities or blogrings, of which I’ve written about previously: ‘Xanga Blogrings: An attempt to find others like you.

Though I wrote about these communities a while back, I thought I’d still try and make it on my own. I’ve spent a lot of timing searching for bloggers to relate with, not to mention commenting at other blogs to try and start ‘blog friendships’. It’s been hard. Just like real life, you can’t make someone want to know you. There has to be a point of connection; a reason why you feel like sharing each other’s space. You have to feel like you’re on the same ‘wavelength’. Recently I had a chat with a friend who said that he’d recently joined a blogging community of sorts called Zaadz. I checked out his new site and then did some research on how these communities work. It’s pretty cool and I really think that this has to be one of the main ways in which bloggers are ‘meeting’ each other on the Internet.

At Zaadz, you have to create a profile of yourself. There are several categories including Interests, Heroes, Teachers, Books, Music, and Movies in which you fill out. Your answers automatically become hyper-links. Let’s say that I put one of my interests as being ‘meditation’. After the word ‘meditation’ has become a hyperlink, when I click on it, it will take me to a page of ‘Zaadsters’ photographs who all listed ‘meditation’ as an interest. There you go: It’s an automatic connection. You already know that you have at least one common interest with a whole group of people. Cool. There’s also an awesome photo facility on Zaadz. Check it out, and check out the Zaadz philosophy on their Home page as well as the ‘thinkarete.themanifesto’ written by the site’s CEO, both of which contain inspiring ideas that make this community look worthy.

Recently I was sent an email from someone asking me to join the blogging community at Blogmemes. A while back I joined a website called Mybloglog, but I’d completely forgotten about it. It seems (I assume) that this blogger found my profile there (which has a cool little picture of MiContent on it) when searching for keywords relating to their interests. All I had to do was click on the link in my email and I was part of the community. Unbeknownst to me, Mybloglog has thousands of blogging communities within its one site.

Today I went to my Mybloglog profile after doing a little searching around yesterday of bloggers that I was told had visited my blog, one of which had called themselves an ‘admirer’. Interesting. Today it seems that one of the bloggers I visited called BlogBloke has added me to his community at Techbloke. I don’t think I joined of my own volition. This could be a problem…shouldn’t I be the one to choose who I want to relate to? There’s also a means to ask others to be friends or contacts. If someone whose writing you like also likes your writing/content, they’ll agree to make a connection. I like this reciprocal approach.

This all seems pretty great but I have noticed that some people are part of hundreds of communities, let alone being friends with thousands of individual bloggers. This causes some suspicion on my behalf. What are the intentions of these ‘ultra-networkers’? It’s hard enough having a handful of friends in reality. I seriously doubt that anyone has time to consistently read thousands of blogs. Could this be a case of blog gold-digging or social-climbing? I’d like to communicate with a lot of people about subjects that interest me, but I don’t think I can relate to that many people. Then again, I can talk to just about any type of person when I ride the train.

Jesse S. Somer is going to go deeper into the Blogosphere by joining in blogging communities. Human beings are social creatures. Why did I ever think that my writing alone would create relationships?

Copyright MiContent.com.au

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Supposedly there are over 55 million blogs in the world, and this number is growing exponentially everyday. One would assume that with this massive amount of online journals that just about every topic known to humanity would have someone writing about it. This does not seem to be the case, and there could be many reasons for it. Here are a few of my theories on the matter: Firstly, blogging might still be so young that there’s no way all topics could have been covered thus far. Secondly, it seems the bulk of bloggers out there are writing about the same things, namely politics. Thirdly, and most importantly (I believe), if there are blogs on the subjects I’m interested in, Google doesn’t seem to be able to give them to me.

Let me give you an example. I’m interested in kung fu. I’ve been studying Tai Chi and Kung Fu for over 12 years. As I’ve been writing about blogs I like and don’t like, I thought I’d take the next obvious step and start searching for blogs that relate to all of my specific personal interests. So, I typed ‘Kung fu blogs’ into my Google search engine expecting to see a comprehensive list of martial arts bloggers come up. If you’ve tried similar searches you will know the result of my experience: almost nothing showed up. Google said that it had found 1,780,000 links with the words ‘kung fu blogs’ used on the World Wide Web. However, I was lucky to find a couple of actual blogs – and they were nothing to write home about – very average indeed.

With so many links out there, why did I end up feeling so discouraged and unfulfilled? The answer is quite simple – at least it seems to be. People say the words ‘kung fu’ and ‘blog’ all the time on the Internet … but hardly ever together; and hardly in the context that I’m looking for. People call themselves the ‘Kung Fu Monkey’ and then have no actual affiliation with martial arts whatsoever. Others love kung fu movies and so they make websites filled with long lists of the films they’ve seen and loved.

The result for me is a quagmire of disassociated terms. It’s like I’m sitting next to a black hole in space and all the verbal conversations of the Universe are flying space garbage going past my ears, quickly being sucked into nothingness (as ‘nothingness’ is actually about how relevant any of their meanings are to me). Oh of course there are some terms that I know, but they are so jumbled up and arbitrary in their expression that they may as well be gibberish spoken in a foreign tongue.

There’s something wrong with Google (and I assume other search engines). It gives you the text words that you’ve searched for, but it often doesn’t find you the MEANING that you desire. There has to be a better way for me to get the exact content that I need right at the top of my search query lists. I mean if you go even further, who’s to say that if there actually was a long list of kung fu blogs to read through that I’d even find the types of writing I can relate to and enjoy/learn from?

If I’m a mature-aged academic looking to read about the health benefits of kung fu, I’m not going to feel grateful if I have to search through pages and pages of teenagers talking about how cool it is to be able to do a flying side kick. Conversely, if I’m a woman looking to learn self-defence, I’m not going to be too enthused by reading blogs from guys talking about how great they were at the last form competition or belt-ranking ceremony.

We need to be able to easily find the exact content and writing style relating to the context of the terms that we’re searching for. In this instance, I would like to have read blogs from intelligent kung fu practitioners about different ways to improve one’s skills and training. If I could read blogs from masters or teachers that’d be even better. Are people not writing about this one tiny topic (I’m guessing kung fu is quite insignificant in terms of popularity when compared to video games, information technologies, and politics), or am I simply unable to find these bloggers with the current technologies available to me? Either way, it leaves a bad taste in my mouth when I spend my valuable time searching for knowledge, only to end up feeling lost, when at the start of my Internet blogging quest I was curious, confident, and filled with excited anticipation.

Here’s an interesting thought. If you type ‘Kung Fu Blogs’ into Google after I make this post, there’s a good chance it will come up on the list of links (I did write the words ‘Kung Fu’ many times throughout this piece). If you were someone like me looking for ideas from teachers or masters, would you be satisfied with this link?

Jesse S. Somer is but a grasshopper in the world of kung fu. However, when it comes to his blogging experience, he knows exactly what he wants from the Blogosphere.

When searching for blogs I like, I often feel I’m only chasing after shadows of the ideas I hoped to find … and in the end, my hands come up empty.

Copyright MiContent.com.au

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I’ve just hooked myself up with a new RSS Reader. If you don’t know what an RSS Reader is, you can read this article I wrote a long time ago that might give you some basic insight into what a ‘Rich site summary’ or ‘really simple syndication’ is: ‘RSS is a Life Raft, Saving Us from a Sea of Useless Information’.

I don’t think anyone really knows which of these definitions the ‘right’ one is, but they both seem to fit well. To put it ‘really simply’, RSS is having a desktop program that (once your sites are chosen) automatically brings you the latest writings from bloggers, News sites etc. via feeds … What’s a feed? It’s a stream of information coming from a chosen site that will hopefully ‘feed’ your mind and make you more knowledgeable, and a wise human being. Hmmm. Well, that’s debatable – as one can subscribe to feeds from just about any blog or website. For example, if I want to get the new Garfield comic delivered straight to my ‘mailbox’ (They are a lot like an email system, and some are even integrated/configured together with your normal personal email), every time one is published – Bang! It’s there. The question is whether or not Garfield will feed my hunger for wisdom … I think the greater probability lies in that he will feed his fat gut with lasagne, while my mind stagnates and rots in its own slimy green ooze.

In my previous city of residence I used to work at an Internet company who was working on an RSS Reader. Subsequently I got to use the beta version and got my head around how these virtual ‘machines’ work. It’s been awhile since I’ve had one, and as I use a Mac I thought I’d have a look online for a free, easily downloadable RSS that was Mac compatible. I can’t say I found many that fit these requirements and so when I finally came across Shrook I grabbed it. Shrook’s nothing special, but it does the job. I can read new blog entries and News articles from all of my favourite sites that have feeds enabled (it seems not everyone out there does – why?!). I can also see photos and even watch videos (although that function hasn’t seemed to work very well as of yet). The only issue for me is the format. It’s non-adjustable, and the amount of space devoted to the actual written text is only about a third of the screen. Has anyone else had this problem? How are you supposed to read long articles and look at big photos when your total reading area is the size of an infant’s shoebox?

It looks like RSS Readers bring in their feeds in two different ways. One type is where you can see the whole text of each article, while the other is where you are only shown a small sample of a couple lines giving – you a taste of things to come if you click to go further. This type seems more practical to me because if you’re subscribing to multiple sites, and each is publishing multiple pages of new stories or articles on a regular basis, it gives you a chance to sort through them quickly, deleting any topics or stories that don’t pique your interest. We’ve only got so much time to devote to the pursuit of information gathering now don’t we?

So I’m wondering, ‘what kind of RSS Readers do you other people use?’ Are you happy with how they work? Can you imagine a better way to get to all the interesting subject matter that you desire? If you’re a blogger and you don’t have RSS feeds available for your readers, why? Are you crazy? I can’t believe some of my favourite blogs like Gaping Void: ‘Cartoons drawn on the backs of business cards’ don’t have RSS subscriptions; unless they do and it’s just not obvious enough for those whose brains aren’t able to utilise extra-sensory deduction.

If you’ve never used an RSS Reader and you like surfing the Internet for blogs and articles that relate to your interests or take you closer to reaching enlightenment, go and try one out. I think most of the popular ones would be downloadable from the Internet. I know some people who use Mozilla Thunderbird. How does it work? Please get back to me and tell me how your experience goes and whether or not it has made your life better, or conversely, turned your brain into even more of a puddle of oozing green slime.

Once again I’m out on the surface of the river of knowledge, using my staff to judge the depths of wisdom, and keeping my eyes open for sharp rocky obstacles.

Jesse S. Somer is back on the RSS life raft, searching for islands of interesting people and topics of conversation.

Copyright MiContent.com.au

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