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Posts Tagged ‘Jesse S. Somer’

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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Recently, I stumbled upon ‘Post of the week’ as we all do on our blogging travels. That is, we stumble around endlessly searching for good writing. For that’s what this blogging journey is, isn’t it? We traverse through the ‘human mind ether’ searching for people’s words on the screen; people’s words that hopefully will connect with our own way of seeing the world. Where you go, you never know, and the kinds of people you’re relating to, you’ve really no idea – except for one tiny aspect of their personality which for some strange reason you believe you can relate to. I read some weird blogs on occasion, but I don’t judge them…It’s just so interesting to see how many different ways human beings interact with their mind-borne realities. ‘Post of the Week’ is a very new venture that intends to highlight great writing out in the Blogosphere by bloggers that otherwise mightn’t be getting much recognition.

So far there’s been three winners (one per week), and I was able to access two of the posts…that’s the thing with the Internet and technology – it doesn’t always work for us now does it? Still, it’s in its infancy…the blogosphere needs to be toilet-trained. Both posts I read were quite powerful forms of online writing. I can’t say that they’re the type of reading that I usually search out for, but they were enlightening nonetheless. At dervala.net the author wrote a post called ‘Against depression’ that gave some real insight into what having the disease of depression is like. There were some interesting links throughout the narrative, one of which went to a summary of a book about depression in Japan called, ‘Shutting out the Sun’ by Michael Zielenziger that caught my eye, as I’m quite interested in Japanese culture.

The other winning post I read came from the Overnight Editor, and was called ‘The 000-999 of London’. It’s a down and dirty social-realism genre/stream of consciousness look into a contemporary life that is led by chemicals/alcohol into multiple parallel universes of London. It’s interesting stuff.

I think this kind of site will grow a lot and be a really good place to find out about great blog writing, as its mission is to do just that. It’s making me realise that many more bloggers are indeed actually ‘real’ writers (But what is a real writer?), and that we could be on the cusp of a whole new way of interaction in our world. Through writing, we are meeting others, sharing opinions and ideas, and probably most importantly, inspiring each other’s creativity by expressing what we have to say in a style all our own, and by seeing the magic of how other people put words on their own ‘page’. The Blogosphere is an actual place (Not virtual!) where our collective social consciousness is being fed by each and every individual mind that chooses to participate in discussion.

Could the future ‘classic’ writers be the bloggers of today?

Jesse S. Somer wonders how many bloggers also aspire to be considered ‘writers’.

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Yesterday I had quite a new experience as a blogger and I’m wondering how I feel about it. Friends of mine wanted me to try out some new software on my blog, and they’d said it would be simple and easy. It wasn’t. You see, I may have a blog, but that doesn’t mean I know too much about technology – in particular computer programming, code, etc. I have a blog so I can write about my thoughts; I don’t want to have to spend too much time figuring out how things work – I just want to be able to spend my time (which I believe is quite valuable no matter who you are) doing the things I enjoy. My friends are computer programmer – types who just can’t seem to understand this distinction. They think that ‘serious bloggers’ should all have web-developing skills and that all it takes is a bit of curiosity to figure things out like pasting some Java code into your blog. Sorry. I disagree.

Bloggers want to write. They are passionate about what they write and because in modern society we often have busy lives, they like to blog any chance they can get – that is of course assuming they’ve got something new they feel they want to share with the world. I don’t know about other bloggers, but from my research and reading of hundreds or even thousands of blog posts since I started the MiContent Blog, I’ve made one simple discovery – or at least a hypothesis. Bloggers are normal people. Bloggers are mothers and fathers, business people, hobbyists, sports lovers, political enthusiasts; you name it, when it comes to bloggers, there’s room for every kind of person on the globe – and that is how it has evolved. A recent comment on this blog mentioned that no two bloggers are alike. How true, how true this is.

I think sometimes the people (the very small fraction of the one billion people currently on the Internet, or 55 million bloggers) who create information technologies often have a little trouble seeing outside the technological box that has become their place of existence. They use html and Java code so regularly that it has become a language for them, just like learning Japanese has been for me. However, I don’t make the assumption that anyone else wants to learn Japanese, and rightly so, for when I mention that I’ve been learning the language people are often greatly surprised or impressed. They know or imagine learning a second language as being extremely difficult. Science has even dictated that one needs to develop a certain part of the brain for language in order to speak in multiple tongues.

So why do software developers presume that the average everyday blogger wants anything to do with writing, copying, or pasting computer language code? For them it may seem simple and easy; they speak the language fluently. All it takes is a bit of ‘curiosity’ and reading/research/tweaking with things…but for me, and I presume for most bloggers who simply want to write – they don’t want to have anything to do with the codes behind the technology. What do you think? Do you think all people on the Internet should know how to use computer languages? I think it is definitely near-sighted and presumptuous to believe so. If we want to know this stuff, we’ll go study it at school. For now, we want to blog – and we want it to be a simple and easy process.

I’ve seen blogging grandmas out there. Do these tech-people really think Granny wants to have to learn anything even slightly complex or new just to write, put photos up, and communicate with the world? No way, and guess what? I don’t really want to either. Leave that to the tech-heads…us normal humans need things to be simple and easy. We’ve got enough on our plates in this modern, contemporary life as it is. Web developing and blogging are two totally different games. Hey, honestly I’m a little proud I even attempted to work with code…in the past whenever I saw the stuff I got itchy and nervous.

Jesse S. Somer says leave computer code for the developers. Bloggers just want to blog.

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Do we really need to hear the voices of every single human being? If everyone gets a blog, is that such a good thing? These are a couple questions that have come up in discussion in recent times on this blog, and I feel it’s about time we get to the bottom of it. If everybody’s spending their time writing a blog, will there be anyone left to read them? Why do you want to write or read blogs anyway? If you’re writing for readers or comments/interaction, will your writing become obsolete and lost in a sea of human voices crying out to be heard? What kind of voices are we going to hear?

Going deeper, how many people do you meet that you don’t really relate to, or even get along with? The answer is ‘a lot’! Why do you think most people only have a small group of human beings they call their closest friends, all others automatically thrown into categories like housemates, colleagues, team mates, acquaintances, and associates? We don’t like all people. Well, it’s not that we don’t like all people – but we don’t understand or comprehend many of the behaviours that others exhibit. As soon as someone else shows a certain trait that grates against our belief system, we decide that we’d rather not spend as much time being around them. So, what about blogging? Does this mean the Internet is going to become an endless quagmire of people we don’t relate to getting clicked on and visited when we do Google searches on any specific topic?

Everyone’s a writer now. Great! Smell my sarcasm. How many books are already at the bookstore? Do we really need more writers spilling their guts into the pot of human communication? When you go to a bookstore how often do you walk around looking at authors you’ve never heard of, or writers who write about subjects you’ve no interest in at all? All the time, and sometimes you walk out of that shop with nothing. You’ve found nothing worth reading…in a bookstore! So what happens when we get every brain on the planet trying to tell us a story? Chaos! Can you imagine looking for blogs about motorcycles for instance? How many freaking blogs are you going to have to go through to get the type of blog you like to read? By the time you get there, you’ve got no energy left to read…that is of course if you ever get there.

You wanted to know about old German motorcycle engine cylinders, all you found were pictures of scantily-clad women on Harley Davidson choppers with photos of mean-looking tattoo beast-men staring at you through your monitor, daring you to come near their bike or woman. It all sounds like a pain in the buttocks to me. I thought blogging would give a voice to the minorities and individuals of the world. It sounds like if they ever did finally get a blog, no one would be able to find it for the forest of ‘Average Joe’ blogs pervading the Blogosphere. I don’t want to have to read about people’s everyday lives…you might?

In the days before writing, most wisdom was passed down orally by elders who had lived long lives, and because they were sensible they held high positions in the tribe. Younger people didn’t bother speaking much, especially at important ceremonies – they wouldn’t know what to say anyway! Those were stories worth hearing. How many stories expressed by people we don’t really relate with and who don’t really have much knowledge about anything are we going to have to wade through to get through to the worthy information? Sounds like a world with too many bloggers, too many writers, too many voices and not enough readers or time to relate with anyone.

Just as a dog isn’t allowed to crap in the park, humans shouldn’t be allowed to talk bullshit in the Blogosphere.

Jesse S. Somer isn’t jive talkin’. He’s tellin’ it the way it is.

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I’m feeling just a little bit weird right now. Yes, I know, I’ve always been a little bit weird, but today in particular I’m feeling exceptionally strange. Why, you ask? Of course, it’s because of a blog. I’ve just spent the last few hours being totally sucked in by Ze Frank at his blog. This is definitely not an ordinary blog. Come to think of it, I’ve never seen a blog constructed in this way. Oh man, it’s a super-strange place from a funked-up mind, but an intelligent mind nonetheless. Besides the written post aspect that usually accompanies blogs, there are a whole bunch of sections linking to other ‘work’ (a very happily debateable term for what he does I’m sure). He’s a busy guy. There’s a ‘Games’ section where you can play at being a Buddhist , Christian, or Atheist. Check them out, quite amusing to say in the least. There’s also a link to ‘The Show’, Ze Frank’s videoblog, which he updates 5 days a week-but he’s not just talking into a camera. There’s some real creativity going on here-music, film, and documentary being just a few aspects of his repertoire.

Ok, when it comes down to it, Ze is a master wordsmith who excels in the new sphere of the videoblog in an unparalleled fashion. If you want to know what the man is like, how he thinks, and how he relates to the world, you only need to have a quick view of some of his ‘popular shows’. I’ve spent some time going back through the video archives and there’s hardly a moment when I’m not astounded by his maniacal, yet coherent, and precise humour. Although Frank does spend a lot of time analysing American politics (not one of my favourite or passionate subjects) he disseminates ‘newsworthy’ information in such a way as to shed a quirky, ethereal, yet slightly pungent light on his chosen topics. In essence, he parodies or satirically evaluates general information that any one of us could find in the local paper, thus giving him a huge amount of information and an incredibly broad field of subject matter to cover, yet he can make a rotten pear taste as fresh as a pack of newly opened cigarettes.

The blog’s front page has different sections of content available under the category titles ‘Stuff Stuff’, ‘Educational Videos’ (I haven’t checked these out yet, but I anticipate trouble for the children of the future), ‘Participate’, ‘Interactive Toys’ (Oh God, these are pretty silly. Check out the one called ‘The Frog’), ‘Mini Things’, ‘Stuff to Read’, ‘Games’ (It looks like he actually created these.), ‘Stuff to Watch’, and ‘Other Stuff’. Hmmm…stuff. He then separates the page into 7 areas. One blank white space says, ‘this is the space where you imagine beautiful things. Each time you come here, try to imagine new shapes and colours. Then tell all of your friends how beautiful this part of the page is.’ Another space says, ‘I’m not sure what goes here yet, maybe a flower?’ You get my drift…the guy’s either missing some screws, or he’s got a couple extra bolts in the cerebellum department.

If you go to his actual blog link from his main site it’s called ‘Miss(ed) Manners’ and after posting ‘What I did over Christmas Vacation’ he became one of the hottest blogs on WordPress. So what did he do over the holiday period? He, his younger siblings, and his girlfriend, built a scale replica of the battle of ‘Helm’s Deep’ from the ‘Lord of the Rings’ ‘Two Towers’ novel, the second instalment in J.R.R Tolkein’s famous trilogy. Why is this so significant? It was built out of candy! Freak! No, I’m just jealous.

Ze Frank’s got a ‘thing’ for ducks. The one on the left looks genuinely amazed and friendly, while the duck on the right seems a little bit mischievous, don’t you think?

This posse of ducks definitely knows the cool part of town to hang out. Don’t mess with Ze’s friends. They too don’t put up with ‘small talk’ from the mouths of politicians or soapbox evangelists.

Jesse S. Somer went to Ze Frank’s blog and ‘The Show’ videoblog. He’ll never be the same.

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You may have caught this astounding story of Internet romance/superstardom/comedy at Wired Magazine’s blog recently in a post called, ‘Love Train: It was a fairy-tale romance, a very nerdy fairy-tale romance.’ Please, you must have a read of this. What blows me away (besides the multi-million dollar repercussions of writing one post at a community blogging/forum site) is how Train Man’s discussions online about what to do in terms of asking the ‘pretty girl’ out became a social/community venture for so many people online.

In listening to his fellow bloggers/forum participants’ advice (‘Get enough sleep, cut your nose hair, have breath mints, charge your cell phone, brush your teeth, take enough money, take a shower, and – in case of an emergency – wash your penis properly.’(Yeah, don’t forget that one buddy…) we can see a new form of human relationship taking place.

‘Remember: She’s only one girl. You have all 2Channel (The Japanese website) on your side!’ People are now putting faith in the opinions of fellow bloggers/humans that they’ve never met. So much so it seems, that we are now asking others-once deemed as ‘strangers’, for advice in the most personal arenas of life. Plus of course, people are generously offering their help and advice. (We aim to please, us humans.)

Amongst all the ensuing commercial chaos around this ‘Geek Love Story’, we are told that a book of the blogging forum’s threads has already sold over 1 million copies. I know Japanese people are a little bit different (not to be judgmental in any way), but could this be a trend for the future of all literature? Popular blogs transformed into books, posts becoming paper pages…Isn’t it strange how technology can flip back in on itself?

Would you read a book of made up of your favorite blog’s archive of posts? Or, can you imagine reading a beloved author’s next novel-online one post at a time? The online serial novel is born! Hmmm…It makes you think.

Could this be ‘Train Man’s future? Or is marriage too big a step for this comic-reading, anime-watching ‘Otaku’?

Jesse S. Somer didn’t meet his girlfriend on a train…it was at a Juice Bar. She made the most incredible Berry Blast Soy Smoothie you could ever imagine.

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I’m not joking.

If you’ve been blogging for awhile, you may have come to a realisation that it’s not quite as easy as you might’ve thought to get people to come and read your opinions, facts, and ideas. No matter how great your content is people first have to know about it. With over 50 million blogs and growing on planet Earth, not to mention all the other incredible aspects of the Internet that can take up one’s time, it’s no wonder that people just don’t know you exist. I like writing about the social and human side of blogging, what blogs can do for our evolution as an intelligent species. However, if you want to know about how to get readers or make even money from your blog, one place to go is Problogger. Now a small team of writers, but once a one person affair (Darren Rowse of Australia), Problogger has made quite a name for itself (Rated 69 on Technorati and growing daily) as the place to go for detailed information on how to get your blog out into the community.

With its tagline as ‘Make Money Online with Problogger Blog Tips’ you can see what part of the market this blog is aimed at, and with its current popularity and respectability it’s not hard to see that it’s been right on target in its mission to help people become popular, money-making bloggers. Darren Rowse makes a living from Problogger so he stands as direct evidence that his tips and beliefs about blogging work well. Most people want to make money, and as blogging is a new place/way of achieving some financial success, a lot of people are interested in hearing ways of ‘making it’ in the Blogosphere.

I can be a sceptic at times, and upon my first visit was actually a bit put off by Problogger’s very forward approach to money-making. A lot of people in this day-and-age want to tell us easy ways to ‘get-rich-quick’…we have to be very wary of con-artists and fraudulent gurus. However, refreshingly, Darren Rowse tells it like it is-making money from blogs is not easy. It will take you a lot of time and hard work, so if you’re not willing to roll up your sleeves and get ‘dirty’, don’t even bother trying to make a living from blogging. Of course my focus on blogging has always been more about the awesome new relationships, connections, interaction, and sharing of ideas and information that blogs have got to offer. To be part of this new social process you don’t need to have a focus on money…or do you? It’s a paradox. The only way people will know you exist is if you stand out from the crowd, attracting traffic, links, and comments. Thus, you have to become popular.

You’ve got to be known to interact with the world, and you’ve got to be known to make money from advertising etc. Therefore, you may as well make popularity your goal for all intensive purposes. Problogger has a huge archive of articles, but just on the front page you can find very useful boxes of popular linked posts in the areas of ‘Introduction Key Articles’ and the ‘Tips and Hints Toolbox’. In the introductory section there’s a great list (Mr. Rowse loves making numbered lists!) entitled ‘Lessons I’ve Learnt’, which is a huge fountain of knowledge derived from all of the Problogger’s previous experiences packed into 18 handy lessons. Read it. I’m not joking.

Another couple of cool links were the ones for ‘Top 20 posts at Problogger’ and from the ‘Tips and hints toolbox’, ‘Writing Content Tips’. Have a read and see if any questions jump out at you. Some of the tips he mentions involve going to a lot of different websites/social networking tools and getting set up at each. For some of us technophobes, this can all sound a little daunting at times. Still, one step at a time, and if your content and style are interesting, I can’t see why so many more of us can’t become ‘Pro Bloggers’. Do you think you can make it ‘Pro’?

Flying through the blue skies, this pro skateboarder is taking his skill to the limit. Can you do the same with your blog?

Jesse S. Somer is an amateur blogger (Darren Rowse had 1,500 posts after 1 year and still considered his blog to be a ‘baby’) who would like to connect more with others of similar interests. Anyone interested in the social effects of blogging?

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