Posts Tagged ‘Technorati’

So you think you’ll write a blog eh? Currently Technorati tracks around 57 million of these online journals, and they can’t even find them all. However, after trawling the depths of the Blogging Ocean, a question has slowly arisen to the surface of my mind like a blue whale coming up for air after a lengthy connoisseur’s session of krill degustation. How long will you survive? On my travels it’s not unusual to find ancient blogs sitting, hulking bulks of metal skeleton rusting away in the salty seas of eternity. Why do people quit writing so easily? Or am I wrong? Was their battle to stay with their blog reminiscent of Hemingway’s ‘The Old Man and the Sea’, except in this instance, neither guts or stamina were enough to pull that giant fish in, ropes burning into the skin of your back, thoughts craving for the written page on screen.

This post was inspired by a comment recently received at another MiContent post, ‘Why comment on someone else’s blog?‘ Many of us find it hard, or even question the validity of, writing comments on another’s blog. Writing anything can be hard for so many reasons. Add in the fact that in the Blogosphere anyone and everyone can read what you’re saying, and couple that with the fact that no matter how passionate you are about a topic, once you’ve attained a readership, there’s true pressure to produce more content. I’ve seen blogs that have stuck it out on the high seas for 6 years or more, full steam ahead, with no hint of hesitation or loss of focus, and I’m sure for some (possibly a rare few) it’s not an issue. Blogging has become life, a source of inspiration, an outlet for creativity, and a medium for everyday interaction. These accomplished writers/bloggers would cry out in agony if anyone tried to take their source of lifeblood away.

What about the rest of us, the so-called average ‘normal’ citizens of the Earth (Sadly, I cannot put myself in this category, as for many reasons I’m just too insanely weird!)? Why does blogging take courage and staying power? The answer is simple, or at least it seems simple after my personal experience in the area. For years I wrote 2 article posts a week in a blog at M6.Net. This wasn’t much of an issue. These days I write at least several posts a week, and I have to tell you that the really popular bloggers are the same. There’s also a special class who (maybe though obsession, but possibly as a result of hardcore passion and dedication) must blog everyday. Some of these ‘Bionic Bloggers’ may be paid to do it (a genuine driver of impetus), but others do it because they have to.

No matter how passionate you are about your topic of dedication, you will find days where you need a breather. Writing for months and even years about fly fishing, or the human genome can take the natural flow out of the most avid practitioner, and what if no one is commenting or relating to you on the subject? I’m sure you’ve heard the saying. ‘I love you to death.’ That’s what many bloggers unwittingly do with their blogs, slowly and subtly becoming the killers themselves. So what’s the answer to this newfound dilemma for the Internet web journal writer of the 21st century? It’s guts and stamina, my friends, guts and stamina. Oh yeah, a hint of balance with the rest of your life won’t go astray either. One reason all those blogs died may have been somewhat related to the sudden realisation that all the other important passions and loves in life had been neglected too long. A myopic quest for a giant fish can leave behind a tired, lost, and worn-out soul.

Jesse S. Somer is on a quest for a different kind of fish…one that can fit in a kettle.

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I’ve had some problems in the past with being too critical of others and myself, so I’ve been working at being more tolerant and compassionate. However, when it comes to reviewing blogs one has to put on the cap of the critic and tell the story of how you really think it goes. Thus far on Blogspoke I’ve mainly written quite positive reviews, choosing to steer away from negativity as I feel it usually does no good for the world. Today though, I wish to express my mixed feelings about a certain popular blog written by a movie/TV star named Zach Braff. Check out http://www.zachbraff.com/.

Now don’t get me wrong, I think Braff is quite a good actor. If you don’t know of his name offhand, he was in the popular film ‘Garden State’ (I liked the scene where his Grandma sews him a shirt out of excess material from her new curtains.), and plays a lead role in the TV series ‘Scrubs’ (My Mum watches it every week). The thing is, Zach Braff’s blog is quite popular, and to tell you the truth, I don’t think its popularity has anything to do with blogging.

When you go to Braff’s blog, right away you’re hit by the professional graphic design of his blog’s front page. Whoever designed it knew what they were doing. It’s even got cool little icons that move when you scroll your mouse over them, like an RSS blimp link that floats around and even has a shadow underneath it. Very inventive…but what are blogs about? I thought they were about content. Let’s look at Zach’s writing (I hope he doesn’t mind me talking about him on a first name basis). Well what have we got? Almost nothing. Yet each time he does splash a few words on the page telling readers how he’s sorry he hasn’t written in so long, or simply selling us on his new TV show or movie, he gets 500-1000 comments on each post. Why?

Braff was originally on the A-list at ‘Blogebrity’, that controversial list from a few years back that said ‘who was who’ in the Blogosphere. He currently ranks 2,720 out of over 55 million blogs on Technorati…Why is it so? He’s only posted 6 times (and a couple of them are 2-liners) since September 2006. I think I might’ve figured it out. I read some of the blog’s multitude of comments.

Unlike the ‘Dilbert Blog‘ whose creator Scott Adams-famous for his cartoon character, tells us what he thinks about the world, funny anecdotal stories, and never even mentions his work on the cartoon that made him famous, Braff’s blog seems to simply be a place for fans to tell him how great he is. He says a few lines about how awesome his new show will be, and literally bucket-loads of teenage sweethearts (I am assuming) tell him how much they like it, and how much they admire him. If you’re looking for interesting content and comments relating to it, this is definitely not the place to go.

So, is there anything wrong with this picture? I guess not. There aren’t any real rules to what a blog has to be like-it’s one of the newest forms of work/media/fun/hobby in the world today. No one said that blogs from famous people have to exhibit their personality. I just think it’s cool when they do. It’s nice to see the human face behind the red carpet façade.

Zach Braff may know how to act like a doctor on TV, but does that mean he can act like a blogger too?

Jesse S. Somer hasn’t got much of a pretty face or a fan base. However, the few comments on his blog have been related to the content.

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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.

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There are over 50 million blogs in the world, and this is only the beginning of the ‘Communicative revolution’. I got thinking recently about Blogrolls (those lists of links to other people’s blogs often found in a side column next to people’s journals). I was thinking about how if you took a look at my Blogroll, you’d get a little snapshot at what kind of person I am, by seeing what topics and styles of blog writing that I like to read. I decided to do a little experiment.

I went to Technorati’s (those people who try to track all the blogs in the world-sounds like a challenge doesn’t it?) Popular blog section (‘Top 100 Blogs’)  and I thought I’d pick a few random blogs out to see what, if anything, I could discover about their creators. I don’t want to come across as a typical brown-nose who wants to be noticed by the so-called ‘a-listers’, therefore improving my global ranking (something I’ve read is quite common, but not necessarily altruistic in intention that people do to get noticed). Not many people know about me now, but I hope to connect with others through honest and focussed content that people can relate to.

So, I took it upon myself to have a look at a couple blogs further down the list, still popular, but not ‘Superbloggers’…There are two ways in which Technorati rank the popularity of blogs, one is by how many other blogs have linked to the blog in question, and the other is by how many others have named that blog in their ‘Favourites’ section.

First randomly chosen Human blog: Xia Xue, ranked 97 in the world (with 5,063 links from 3,437 blogs). Ok, not a good choice…How does some ex-magazine columnist girl from Singapore get over 10,000 visits a day when she just talks about herself and the fashion products she’s been paid to try? She’s either sexy and all the guys like her, or she’s got some genuine connection to many young women out there in the Blogosphere…You’ve got me!? Her Blogroll is quite short compared to many I’ve seen, and it looks to be mainly filled with links to her close friends.

Second randomly chosen Human blog: Buzz Machine, ranked 122 in the world (with 10,229 links from 3,059 blogs). This is a blog written by a Professor Jeff Jarvis who heads a graduate program in Interactive Journalism. Ok, if anyone knows about blogging it would be this guy. He’s got a very long list of archived posts on a wide range of subjects, mainly dealing with News and media. However, I could be wrong about this whole Blogroll thing, because he only has one link (I’ve seen other blogs with a hundred or more!) and it’s to his son’s blog at Wire Catcher. Is this strange, or a deliberate choice to prove something about his blog’s identity? His son has a longer Blogroll, generally linking to technological blogs (a very popular subject in the Blogosphere, could it be because computer geeks-I say this word in the nicest of ways-make up a huge majority of bloggers as they are already always sitting in front of their computers?)

The final randomly chosen blog was: Flagrant Disregard, ranked 120 on the planet with (6,287 links from 3,108 blogs). This is an interesting one. It’s a blog by a guy who mainly talks about and takes photos of his family. Why is it so popular? After reading a few posts I can see why. He’s an honest guy who’s talking about his life, and life is weird and fun if viewed from the right perspective. With the last few posts entitled, ‘The best deal in Lego’, ‘Does homework suck?’, and ‘Cell phones and customer service: it doesn’t have to be this difficult’, you can catch my drift about the general life topics that are attracting readers’ attention. Now, time to see his Blogroll. The only link list he has is called, ‘People who I actually know in Real Life actually weird enough to have blogs’, and it’s a short list.

Where does all this leave me? Are Blogrolls as important as I once believed? It seems that many popular bloggers don’t partake in this form of link exchange/favourites list. This experiment has somewhat dubiously shifted into why blogs are popular, without producing much of a Blogroll theory or hypothesis. Looking at this tiny subsection of popular bloggers, it’s not who you read that tells us who you are; it’s what you say…You are what you write! Right?!

Jesse S. Somer is a man with a new blog and a relatively short Blogroll. He’s hoping to read and write so that the words and links on the page represent him. Isn’t that the name of the game?

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Ok. Now this is what blogging is all about. I’m about to write my thoughts about another blogger’s post, where they themselves were commenting on another person’s blog. Hmmm…boring or interesting? The initial humorously titled blog post (by Richard MacManus) in this new game of opinion sharing can be found at: ‘Top ten reasons to give up blogging.’ It was written in the style of American TV presenter David Letterman’s ‘Top Ten Lists’ (I’m sure you’ve seen them one late night as you nibbled on some reheated pizza) who I personally don’t find to be as funny.

The second blogger who calls himself ‘The Jamoker’ wrote this response to the post: ‘Maybe it’s because tantric sex is better than blogging‘.  A few of his words on the subject sparked my interests about why blogging (like anything in life) can indeed become a boring activity.

“Yes, I think some people get bored with it. I think it becomes too much like work. To be done right, it has to be done daily. And, doing something every day becomes boring…it becomes too much like work. The appeal is lost. The “good times shared with others” is a fiction that only exists in the brochures and advertisements.

Without the good times, the interest wanes…

(For the record, there are 6 digits in my Technorati rank.)

Or, maybe people quit blogging because they start doing tantric sex.”

Blogging can be as boring as watching some old people play lawn bowls, or watching old reruns of ‘Beverly Hillbillies’ on TV, but it comes down to perspective. Maybe you don’t have to post everyday to have an effective medium of communication? The Jamoker says that it can become like work, but can’t work be fun if you’re doing something that genuinely interests you?

I’ve haven’t seen many brochures or advertisements expounding upon the good times brought about by blogging; blogging simply hasn’t been around that long. The reason that it has gotten so popular has been more through a ‘real’ need for this form of communication to exist. In essence, blogs have come to exist because we needed them. Tantric sex sounds like fun but if you’re writing about something that you love, I can’t see why that would ever be as boring as waiting for an airplane to take off on the runway, only to discover that someone forgot to put the oil cap back on the engine.

Jesse S. Somer is blogging, and he hasn’t been bored in a long time, not even in line at the supermarket (He likes looking at all the people’s faces and wondering what their ‘story’ is.)

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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’.

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