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Posts Tagged ‘Blogosphere’

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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If you haven’t heard of Mena Trott, although she’s quite young (28-years-old), she is one of the most influential and innovative people to have taken part in the Blogosphere. As founder of leading blog software company Six Apart (Creators of Typepad, Movable Type, LiveJournal and Vox) there probably isn’t that much that she doesn’t know about blogging. That’s why it came as quite a surprise to me that when she did a TED Talk presentation she chose to focus on the magic of personalised blogs, as opposed to blogs relating to specific topics or communities. I mean, what’s so great about hearing some stranger’s everyday life stories?

In her talk Trott does touch on the positive power of some blogs in the community, referring to the incredibly fast updates people received from big media as well as independents concerning the hurricane situation in New Orleans. She also mentions Interplast, a group of blogging plastic surgeons who work to help disfigured people in developing nations. However, strangely enough she starts out her speech talking about the ‘scary’ power of blogs-using the Kryptonite bicycle lock story (bloggers discovered that a ballpoint pen could open locks, therefore the company was forced to recall their stock), as well as the infamous ‘Rathergate’ scandal where intense political bloggers discovered that falsified documents were used in the coverage of a mainstream media story. Trott seems to think that this invasive power some bloggers now have mightn’t be the best scenario for humankind. What do you think?

Trott takes a more ‘micro’ approach to the world of blogging (at least in this talk). She likes ‘people that just tell stories.’ She looks at personal blogs as a new form of human archive, a place to store our life stories for future generations. ‘Blogs are basically an evolution. They are a record of who you are; your persona.’ She tells stories about a day-to-day diary written by a man whose child was born prematurely, describing the emotional connection she felt to people she’d never really met. When the child was ill she could sympathise with the parents’ pain, and when it ended up being a healthy normal kid, she vicariously experienced the relief and joy that they felt.

As well as writing so that our great-grandchildren can know who we were, Mena emphasises about how blogs can be helpful for ourselves. She takes a photo of herself everyday and posts it on her personal blog which only a few people have access to. (She tells a story about how sometimes you don’t want too many people reading your ‘real’ personal stories. After cheekily complaining that her boyfriend wouldn’t ‘let’ her buy a banjo, she received all kinds of comments that took her words way out of context-some people saying that she should leave the ‘selfish bastard’.) She says the photo as well as the text can let you know exactly what you were doing in a day of your life. Capturing a moment in time, reflecting upon these visual cues, she feels that all kinds of revelations, memories, and new ideas can be born to help us in what we do today.

It’s interesting because at some points she almost seems to contradict herself, saying that blogs don’t have to be attacking and scary, that they can help people to open new dialogues and inspire helpful attitudes. Whereas at other points she says that she doesn’t want too many people reading her stories, preferring to only have close friends and family access her life online. A few questions for you: What do you think about this seemingly paradoxical situation? Do you think there are other reasons personal blogging is good or bad? Do you think topical blogs are more relevant to society’s needs? How many people do you want reading your personal life stories? Are we able to become more ‘open’ and helpful with others if we aren’t willing to let anyone and everyone read and comment on our blog posts? What kind of blogger are you?

If you write a personal blog, how many people would you like to have reading your life story?

Jesse S. Somer thinks when writing about a specific topic, you can integrate aspects of yourself in the story. Maybe there is a middle ground here…

Copyright MiContent.com.au

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I went to a website called ‘Bloghop’ to see what I could find out about Tag Clouds. For those of you who haven’t run into them yet, this is what a typical Tag Cloud looks like:

Tag Cloud

  a   adult   advertising   alternative   american   and   anime   art   articles   artist   asian   australia   best   black   blog   blogger   blogging   blogs   book   books   boy   brasil   brazil   bush   business   california   canada   cats   children   christian   city   college   comedy   commentary   computer   computers   conservative   cool   crazy   culture   current   cute   daily   dating   de   democrat   depression   design   development   diary   diet   digital   drugs   education   engine   england   english   entertainment   estate   events   family   fashion   female   fiction   film   florida   food   football   for   free   friends   fun   funny   games   gay   geek   girl   girls   god   health   help   high   history   home   hot   humor   humour   ideas   in   india   information   internet   iraq   jesus   journal   kids   law   lesbian   liberal   life   links   literature   london   loss   love   male   man   management   marketing   me   media   men   money   movie   movies   mp3   music   musica   new   news   nude   of   on   online   opinion   parenting   peace   personal   philippines   philosophy   photo   photography   photos   pics   pictures   poems   poetry   political   politics   pop   porn   punk   random   rant   rants   reading   real   relationships   religion   republican   review   reviews   rock   san   satire   school   science   search   seo   services   sex   sexy   shopping   site   social   software   spirituality   sports   stories   student   stuff   tech   technology   teen   television   texas   the   thoughts   tips   to   travel   tv   uk   university   video   videos   war   web   weblog   website   weight   weird   woman   women   work   world   writer   writing   york 

So, what is this huge clump of different-sized words/links all about? Well, for a scientific-type of definition you can check out Wikipedia’s entry on ‘Tag Clouds’, but I’ll try to explain things more simplistically. Tag Clouds can be used for any type of information, but as I’m only interested in blogs, that’s where I’m going to focus my attention. Look at the words in larger and bolder print, what have you got? ‘Blog, music, girl, politics, art, business, free, humour, life, love, movies, News, online, personal, sex, web, and writing.’ Is this what people at Bloghop.com who write blogs are interested in? The answer is relatively simple: Yes.

However, things aren’t that cut and dry in the Blogosphere. Bloghop.com is a blog community of sorts (one of many), and the idea of using Tag Clouds has been employed in the hope of bringing bloggers  together who write about similar interests there. Does it work? First of all, the larger words in the tag Cloud are the topics that people are writing about more. After someone finishes a post/entry they put down a list of keyword topics to tell potential visitors what subjects they’re writing about. The Tag Cloud I’ve used above doesn’t represent the whole blogging community (Technorati might be the place for that), but it does give us a rough idea about what people at this one blog community site are interested in today. I’m sure it changes often depending upon what is going on in the external world.

So, as far as we can surmise, ‘Blogs, Music, Girl, and Politics’ are the tags being used the most/being written about the most frequently. Hmmmm…Interesting. Is this site full of female, Ipod-wearing, politically aware bloggers? Probably not, but who can really tell? Does this Tag Cloud system really work for blogs? (Wikipedia mentions that it was first utilised on the Flickr photo-sharing site to describe what content lied within photographs. This of course was a hard task as pictures ‘speak a thousand words’…That’s a lot of tags per photo.) It’s a good attempt at bringing people together but I just don’t think it’s going to achieve what its creators intended without wasting valuable time, and causing some headaches along the way.

Why headaches? I’ll attempt to give you some insight.  If I write a post about, let’s say, how American political candidates are using blogs to try and win votes (Check out my favourite Texan detective-novelist-turned-governor-candidate’s blog at ‘kinkyfriedman.com’. I might just put the tag ‘politics’ after the post. Well, lots of people out there are writing about political issues. For some strange reason it’s a really popular area of interest for us humanoids. In this hypothetical situation I search other bloggers’ ‘politically-tagged’ posts and find like-minded individuals whose writing stimulates my interest as well as relating to my topic of choice.

No way, not a chance! First of all, there is such a high rate of so-called ‘political’ posts being written that the possibility of someone writing about something I will connect with is minimal, and the opportunity of finding it, next to negligible. Secondly, human beings are complex individuals; each one as different to the next as a Mac is to a PC, a carrot cake is to a chocolate roulade, a donkey is to a giraffe, as a Ferrari is to a 1970 Datsun…You get my gist. When one person’s mind decides to tag the word ‘Love’ they could be coming from a completely different mindset and topic, not to mention level of communicative ability.

For instance, a 13-year old girl listening to Spice Girls on her Ipod who has just run for her class presidency and written a blog post about how much she loves her poster of a giraffe in a Ferrari, is not going to relate to a post from some over-30-year old man listening to 60’s music on his beloved Mac Ibook, who has just written about Kinky Friedman’s Texan governor’s campaign while eating a piece of carrot cake and thinking about how much he can’t believe he loved his old long-lost material object: a 1970 Datsun. You go figure. I think the girl’s writing may also be filled with just a little bit too much complex, jargon-laced, esoteric, and verbose language for the ‘old guy’ to handle. What do you think?

All this causes people to waste their time and give themselves headaches. I don’t mean to sound judgmental or critical here, I’m just hoping that there’s a faster and more effective way of connecting to other bloggers out there with similar topic interests and styles of writing.

Jesse S. Somer wants to blog the blue skies of the Blogosphere without getting his head stuck in a tag cloud that has little to do with what he’s interested in.

Copyright MiContent.com.au

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If you’re writing a blog, you probably know what ‘writer’s block’ is all about. Whether writing is your profession or you just blog for fun, you’ll know about that feeling that arrives when you sit down at your desk with so much to ‘say’, but just don’t know where to begin. Our minds are so powerful; you can have tens of stories, narratives, and article ideas flowing at once. Come to think of it, sometimes you have so much information packed up there, when you finally sit down, your mind decides to shut down completely becoming a placid scene where the ocean and sky meet in the horizon melding into one huge blue blanket of emptiness.

As usual I decided to search the Blogosphere for ideas on different ways to write that might help you get that reluctant first word on the page/screen. After sailing through a few massive white cumulus clouds of Blogospheric literature, I came to shore at this blog post at Problogger: ‘20 Types of Blog Posts – Battling Bloggers Block‘. This is a blog written by a self-professed professional blogger who claims to make much of his daily bread by blogging. There seem to be a lot of these ‘get rich quick’ blogging schemers out there, and I don’t know if he’s just in it for cash, but I found this post to be quite enlightening. No matter what his intentions, he has helped his fellow species.

The ‘Problogger’ says that there are at least 20 types of formats in which you can write a blog post. He also intimates that using a mixture of these structures and styles will also keep readers more interested, as well as giving you numerous ways to ‘spark’ your fingers on the keyboard. By the way (on a quick tangent), after watching my girlfriend touch-type; I really think that it could be a worthwhile venture for any aspiring writers, more on that later. Here are a few of Problogger’s ‘types’ of posts that inspired me most with their creative and fun possibilities.

• ‘Lists – One of the easiest ways to write a post is to make a list. Posts with content like ‘The Top Ten ways to….’, ‘7 Reasons why….’ ‘ 5 Favorite…’, ‘53 mistakes that bloggers make when….’ are not only easy to write but are usually very popular with readers and with getting links from other bloggers.’

Geez, how easy is it to make a list about something? Let’s see, what’s the first topic that comes to mind? How about, ’15 ways to relax when your Word program suddenly and unexpectedly quits before saving.’ 1. Drink 4 liters of water so fast that your brain no longer recognizes the concept of ‘I’. 2. Run around in circles in the backyard 50 times while smiling at the Sun. And so on…

• ‘Hypothetical Posts – A ‘what if’ or hypothetical post can be quite fun. Pick a something that ‘could’ happen down the track in your industry and begin to unpack what the implications of it would be. ‘What if….Google and Yahoo merged?’ ‘What if …’’

What if by the year 3,000 A.D. human society dictates that every person on Earth (and other interstellar habitations) has to keep a blog about their own life? Is this a form of Orwellian ‘Big Brotherism’, or is it the ultimate means for all people to get an equal say?

• ‘Inspirational – Tell a story of success or paint a picture of ‘what could be’. People like to hear good news stories in their niche as it motivates them to persist with what they are doing. Find examples of success in your own experience or that of others and spread the word.’

There are several people whose blogs have become so popular that they’ve crossed over into other media. Check out Wikipedia’s ‘Blog’ entry, and maybe you’ll one day join their illustrious club.

Here are the other 17 types of posts listed: Instructional, Informational, Reviews, Interviews, Case Studies, Profiles, Link Posts, ‘Problem’ Posts, Contrasting Two Options, Rants, Research, Collation Posts, Critiques, Hypothetical Posts, Memes and Projects.

Read about these at the link and give a swift kung fu chop to your frustrating ‘Writer’s’ Block’ of hardwood doubt and suffering!

Jesse S. Somer loves it when he comes across a new blog that has some new and individual style or identity. Keep writing humanity, and don’t be afraid of breaking out of the mould of your previous self-styled structures.

Copyright MiContent.com.au

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It is the year 2050. Everyone (all 12 billion of us) on our planet Earth have a voice that can be heard. Everyone has a blog. No, I’m not a science-fiction writer, and I’m not a prophet of things to come. I’m one single, simple human being, and you are hearing my prediction because you are reading this blog. This is the way of the future. Long gone are the days where individual’s opinions are lost amidst society’s one-to-many communication structure and the cacophony of silence created by those who wish to be heard above all others. The Internet and blogs specifically, to those who have partaken in this new culture may seem like old News, like an everyday normality. It is not. To most of humanity, blogs are babies without names, infants that have yet to learn how to speak or walk. Most are still unborn. This is the beginning of something very beautiful.

To quickly look at the human species, as if we had the ability to watch it evolving over its total time of existence, we can see that communication between people has gone through many stages. In the days of hunter and gatherer societies, tribes got together and any and every person had the right to speak their mind about a subject. Of course the elders who had more experience had more authority to speak on certain topics, but that was simply the way people learnt and shared knowledge.

Eventually (a long time later), the written word became a way for people to speak their opinions as well as prove and disprove facts and theories. People started to write books. What a phenomenon this was! We are still reading texts that are centuries old and getting inspired by these words from thinkers, some of whom mightn’t have even been able to share their ideas in the older word-of-mouth tradition (Fear of public speaking? Many writers aren’t the most extroverted…) Time marched onwards, people multiplied like rabbits with an endless supply of carrots. From villages, we moved to towns, then to cities, and now to mega-cities with up to 30 million of us living in close proximity.

Oh, we haven’t lost our voices as a collective. You can look at political and social revolutions throughout recent history where people of like mind have risen up and deposed their oppressors. It was once illegal for an African American to ride at the front of a bus in the U.S.A., just as it was once against the law for an Indian to pick up the salt that came from his or her own country. On the other hand as there are so many of us now, individual voices have long been suppressed simply because there hasn’t been a medium that we could use to connect with each other. We don’t want to connect with everyone, but it can sure feel lonely sometimes if you are surrounded by people who don’t seem to think like you, or who are interested in different aspects of life.

So this is where the blog comes into the picture. What a strange word this ‘blog’. I now wonder if ‘book’ was once considered a weird sounding term when it first came into general circulation. For those who have been reading and writing blogs for years (not even a blink in the eye of humanity’s lifetime) blogs are easily explainable, easily understood, and sit in their rightful place amongst the world. For the rest of us they are something strange, unknown, and even confusing in their concept. This is where the idea for ‘Blogspoke’ came from. Here is a blog for bloggers to share their thoughts about blogging, as well as a place for novices like myself to come and find out about what blogs can do for them.

The truth is blogs are giving individuals a voice that can be heard by other single minds. This has so many positive connotations that it is hard to comprehend or imagine the future outcomes of such a shift in our social communication process. Think about it: A planet with over 10 billion minds where all individuals have the ability to share an opinion, share knowledge, or connect with others of similar interests. Even if you can’t write, you can be heard through audio on a podcasting blog!

There are always many sides to looking at a subject, and I’ve already read from some bloggers who have grievances about how blogging is proceeding in its present structure. This is good. This is how we are going to discover the best way to do things as blogging gets bigger and used more and more by the masses. It is growing at an incredible rate let me tell you. ‘About 175,000 new weblogs are created each day, which means that on average, there are more than 2 blogs created each second of each day.’ (January 2004 to July 2006, Technorati). For me, the question arises from my sceptical side (It always sticks its head in!) on the issue of simply having so many voices to hear. How will we disseminate the ‘good’ from the ‘bad’ (Zen Buddhists don’t believe in duality, but go with me here) when it comes to all of this information? How will we get to hear/read what we need out there in the growing sea of words and ideas?

That’s what I hope this blog will help us to do: Be a place where we can come and share our opinions, facts, and comments on what we like and don’t like about this ‘blogosphere’ as it rapidly evolves. You have a voice like you’ve never had one before, it’s about time you told people what you think. If you don’t have a blog yet (as there are currently around 50 million this probably means you), I’d like to hear from you on why you are thinking of creating one and what you think it could do for you. What issues and challenges have you found or do you imagine might be involved in the process?

I thought this little recipe for ‘Blog’ I discovered at a blog post written by Chip Scanlan at Poynter might taste good. What do you think? Are there any herbs or spices that you think need to be added?

By Jesse S. Somer

Jesse S. Somer is blogging about blogs. He couldn’t have done it 20 years ago. As Bob Dylan sang, ‘The times they are a-changin’.

Copyright MiContent.com.au

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