Thursday, March 31, 2005

What is the Killer App for Blogs?

has the ideal been realized? Posted by Hello

I wonder: has the killer app for blogs been realized yet?

What implementation of blogging holds the greatest promise for the future?

I really don't think the perfect and ideal utilization of blogs is the digital diary.

Why? Because these are being abandoned, and the content in most cases is of little value or relevance to others. They are good therapy, personal expression outlets, but not the abode of great literary genius, in most cases.

Then, what is the killer app?

Is it citizen journalism? Especially, event blogging with moment-by-moment breaking news (tsumani, Iraq elections)?

Client and customer acquisition platforms?

More effective public relations, with non-press release, i.e., transparent, sincere, and altruistic, posts?

Political punditry?

The Rathergate, Lottgate, and other scandal exposes?

Grassroots political, social, and special cause advocacy?

Collaborative research?

Corporate intra-net type vehicle, in an easier to update, searchable archive, dated-entry format?

Group and team project blogs, where progress and debates can be efficiently followed and appended?

Support and traffic boosting for business web sites?

CEO humanization, the candid conversation with customers?

Sales and marketing applications we have yet to witness?

Will wikis and blogs merge into “blikis”?

I predict that cyborg-logs, “glogs”, may be in the running, with wearable computers enabling users to blog while they jog, perhaps even blog while they sleep (just kidding on that one!).

I think there will be more blogs turning into, with much editorial refinement, books. Publishers will find it easy to discover new writing talent, see the blogger’s writing style right there on the screen.

Thus, it’s important, IMHO, to buck the prevailing notion of “hurried, imperfect writing”, and craft well-written blogs, if you have any intention of a professional career of any sort, in any business or literary direction.

In short, the main question we must ask is definitely not “will blogging catch on and become mainstream?”

The question for us is rather: “How can I craft a killer blog, one that accomplishes my personal, corporate, or professional goals? The heck with what anybody else does.”

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

What is the Blog Revolution?

cataclysmic communication change Posted by Hello

Blogs are what web sites were supposed to be: instant, easy, inexpensive web publishing, with dynamic content and high interactivity.

Blogs represent a break-through in web content management and the universalization of online voice.

When you try to explain what a blog is, keep in mind the various types of blogs, aspects of blogging, and qualities of blogs that differentiate them from old fashioned communication vehicles.

Blogs are revolutionary because blogs are a radical departure from traditional publishing.

Blogs are having a cataclysmic impact on such outmoded practices as:

* elitist journalism
* ivory tower academics
* obscurantist private diary production
* myopic public relations
* command-and-control corporate leadership
* one-way broadcast advertising
* monolithic, univocal marketing.

Now everyone can enter the communication arena.

Now the common person can make his or her voice rise up to challenge, chide, and change the status quo.

Now citizen journalists, individual researchers, gregarious diarists, maverick CEOs, word-of-mouth consumer advocates, business entrepreneurs, and customer product reviewers have entered the fray…

…and are beginning to discredit, dislocate, and dispose of the hegemony of malevolent domination structures and antiquated public influence systems.

Suddenly, with the arrival of blogs, which themselves evolved with lightning speed, everything has made a quantum leap in terms of velocity, veracity, and volume.

Major aspects of the Blog Revolution:

(1.) Blogs can provide a candid conversation between business and a target autdience (customers, investors, suppliers, general public, etc.).

(2.) Blogs are what web sites were supposed to be: interactive (via comments and blog author response to comments, within the comment threads, not just in posts), dynamic (frequently updated), “up close and personal” (rather than cold and corporate-speaky).

(3.) Blogs are simple, fun, easy, effective, and addictive.

(4.) Blogs can be:

* online personal or professional journals
* interactive resumes and sample portfolios
* easy-access discussion forums
* “slow chat rooms”
* expanding and evolving textbooks
* user-input product catalogs
* collaborative project managagement platforms
* digital exhibition art galleries
* private or team-generated research archives.

There are many different ways to use a blog, depending on your goals, your industry, your target audience, your creativity, your business plan.

(5.) By commenting on other blogs, posting to your own blog, responding to comments on your blog, posting about other blogs and bloggers, joining group blogs and online communities, and engaging in email communications with other bloggers, you become a known, value-adding contributor to the blogosphere.

This is the Blog Revolution:

The grassroots reorganization of the web.

The peaceful, but aggressive overthrow of communication hegemony.

The tsunami of popular self-expression.

The transformation of corporate-customer conversation.

The devastation and death of the morbid stream media.

The resurrection and resurgence of the individual voice.

yours for vasperization,


Monday, March 28, 2005

Visit the Chandrasutra Blog

chandrasutra blog is noteworthy Posted by Hello

Chandra = moon

Sutra = narrative

Chandrasutra = a new blog discovery.

Go to for an interesting blog by an intelligent and very nice woman, my friend Mel.

We debated quite intensely on the issues contained in my post "You Are Not A Blog", and became good pals as a result.

Life is funny.

She has a recent post on email Subject lines, one of my big concerns. Check out this post at:

We have a ton of similar interests. She's almost a female version of me, in many respects.

Mel is interested, as I am, in Eastern spirituality, Buddhism, and yoga.

See her post "Hungry Ghosts" about "boga" or trendy, commercialized pseudo-yoga, at:

Friday, March 25, 2005

Spam Killers Club

sending unsolicited commercial email to digital hell Posted by Hello

Are you ready to be initiated?

Into the Spam Killers Club?

Yes? Great!

It's fun and not painful at all.

But please keep this ritual a closely guarded secret: it's only for those who deliberately discover, or fortuitously stumble upon, the Vaspers the Grate blog.

Okay. Here we go now...

Inititation Ritual
for the 2005
Spam Killers Club

First, log onto the internet.

Bring up your email inbox.

Sprinkle a bit of salt on the top of your head. (For dramatic symbolic value, and to make this really memorable.)

Place your right hand on your heart.

Place your left hand on the computer screen, as it displays your email inbox.

Repeat the following in a somber and grave tone of voice...

"Because my email inbox can contain email messages that are phishing (tempting me to provide financial account or sensitive private information...spam (tempting me to respond to commercial scams)...or viruses (tempting me to open a message with embedded malicious code, or an attachment with detrimental executable programs), I solemnly commit to these irrevocable vows, with the universe as my witness."

(1.) The Reluctance Vow:

"I will be extremely hesitant to open and read email from any person or organization I do not know."

"While there may be legitimate email marketing campaigns, I will refuse to respond to just about all messages from unknown senders."

"I will not even open messages from companies or people I know, if I am not expecting to hear from them, or something makes me doubt it is really them."

"For me to open any email, the Subject line must contain a private fact or interest of mine, that indicates a definite prior communication with the person, or would require some research to know about."

"Any stranger offering me pharmaceutical products, adult DVDs, mortgage loans, low interest loans, online gambling, opportunities to donate to good causes and tragedy relief efforts, domain names, sexual pleasure or enhancement products, or discount computer software, will always be considered a potential or actual spammer, con artist, or scumbag."

(Sorry to reputable businesses offering any of these products, but the con artists have poisoned the waters in which you float.)

(2.) The Email Address Secrecy Vow:

"I will NOT give my email address to banks, hospitals, insurance companies, investment firms, that way, I'll know the alleged emails from such entities is actually fake, a trick, a con, or a virus."

"Any bank, financial institution, or other business that requests me to update alleged account information now will always be considered to be a con artist phishing scammer, thus I will never open any emails with such Subject lines."

(3.) The Anti-Curiosity Vow:

"If I am tempted to investigate an email offer, if it intrigues me, and I'm dying to know what's going on here, I still will not open the email.
"Instead, I will do a search engine search on the phrase that intrigues me."

"That way, I'll see if other people are complaining about the phrase being a trick that unleashed a virus, or scammed them out of money, or was just plain dumb and worthless."

MEANING: When a spam or virus email is distributed, those who are dumber than you opened them, and now bitterly regret it.

You'll discover how dangerous or worthless a tempting email is, by typing the Subject line, or the From (sender) name into a search engine and seeing what results you get.

Often, by the time you receive the bad email, others will have also received it, and have issued warnings about it on blogs, web sites, discussion lists, etc.

(4.) The Mental Retaliation Vow:

"I will mentally abuse spam messages with caustic, mocking, ill-tempered comments to humiliate and harm the email sender...if only they could read my mind."

MEANING: Instead of thinking "Hmmm. It would be nice if this was true. Maybe it is. I guess I'll open this and find out what it's all about", you will now think: "This is bull, do they think I'm retarded or stupid? How dare these mindless scumbags send such utterly ignorant garbage to me?"

PURPOSE: This "mental humiliation" may seem silly, but it's not. It is good solid training for the mind and the mental reflexes. By talking trash to spam and virus emails, you overcome your tendency to trust, to tolerate, and to happily waltz into a hideous trap.

Congratulations. You're now an official member of the Spam Killers Club.

Memorize and periodically chant joyfully our motto:

"Death to spam...I delete with delight!"

REMEMBER: Before we delete, we have the enjoyable opportunity of humiliating the spam sender, mentally, by making fun of their stupidity, and their absurd spelling errors.

Just say, silently, in your mind, mentally, the most ugly and hateful things you can think of to the spammer. Like they were physically present, standing next to your computer, grinning and hoping.

Let's practice our new spam humiliation skills with some actual spam messages.

Spam Humiliation Practice Examples



Subject: Your Final Warning From eBay

SPAM KILLER Humiliation:

"Screw you. I don't have any eBay account. And even if I did have an eBay account, I wouldn't give them the time of day via email. I'd go directly to the eBay site."

"What warning? About what? How do I pose a threat to eBay?"

"You're not from eBay. You're just spoofing, pretending to be from eBay."

"If eBay, or any other company, wants to get ahold of me, they'll have to phone me or send me a postal letter."

"Here's your Final Warning: I delight in deleting you now."


From: Janine Spence

Subject: Re: Next weekend?

SPAM KILLER Humiliation:

"Screw you. My weekends belong to me and Michelob. Not to some stranger with a stupid name and no brains."

"What? I'm supposed to think something sexy or financially enriching could happen next weekend if I open this email? Who are you kidding?"

"Am I supposed to think you're a cousin, work associate, ex-girlfriend, or what...someone important I just forgot the name of? Yeah, right."

"RE: right now...I merrily delete you."



Subject: Get More Orders for Anything You Sell

SPAM KILLER Humiliation:

"Screw you. If you can help me get more orders, then why don't you know exactly what it is I sell...if I indeed do sell anything at all? Go do your homework, pimple-faced schoolboy, and shut up about all that more orders crap."

"How does it feel to be a rolling stupid, how does it feel to be deleted?"



Subject: Please reply to my private email.

SPAM KILLER Humiliation:

"Screw you. Now you listen to me: please respond to my public humiliation, my fist rammed into your face (mentally)."

"Your private email? What, is there now private email, semi-private email, and public email? Again: you're Very Stupid!"

"Deleting you feels so very good."


From: mrs. ola davids

Subject: business assistance

SPAM KILLER Humiliation:

"Sorry, stupid. I don't give business assistance to idiots who put the words 'business assistance' in the Subject line of an email. Too vague."

"You have business assistance for me...or I'm supposed to give it to you? You are pathetic, too fuzzy-minded for either possibility to be genuine. Nice try, loser."

"Who uses 'mrs.' in a From line anyway? Am I supposed to be more receptive to you because you claim to be wedded in holy matrimony? I hope you and your stupid alleged husband live stupidly together forever, amen."

"How dearly I love deleting you."


From: LaSalle Online Banking

Subject: LaSalle Online Banking-Urgent account verification!

SPAM KILLER Humiliation:

"I've got an Urgent message for you: Urgently flush your idiotic phishing scam down the nearest public or private toilet!!!! Verify it by a distinct flushing and gurgling sound!!!!! Thank you, stupid."

"Down the digital toilet you go, denounced and deleted."


From: BE777VUNIS

Subject: urgent please - Dear Friend, As you read this, I don't want you to feel sorry for me, because...

SPAM KILLER Humiliation:

"Hey mister three numbers in the middle of your phony name: I Delete You...because you so Stupid. You are not my friend. But yes indeed, I choose to feel sorry for you are so Stupid."

"I feel sorry I didn't delete you sooner, but I am just now checking my email."


From: Postmaster


SPAM KILLER Humiliation:

"This is tricky, but I refuse to automatically open this message. This is a common trick of virus senders. If my email to someone didn't arrive, so what? I'll check my Sent Messages file, and make sure the emails of the last few days were correctly addressed. If so, they must have reached the recipients. If someone's email client is no longer in service, that known person or organization will have to contact me to let me know. Thus, I delete this confidently."

"EMAIL OPENING FAILURE: I delete you without opening the message or the VIRUS attachment."

[NOTE: this virus email message tricked me. Luckily, while I stupidly opened the message, my Foxfire browser did not allow anything to infect my computer, and I did not open the attachment, which posed as my "message that was undeliverable".]


From: Vilma Sandoval

Subject: RE: last time

SPAM KILLER Humiliation:

"Yeah, you got that right. This IS the last time you will bother me. What a ridiculous Subject line. I'm supposed to fill in the blank: the last time we had sex, the last time I purchased DVDs from you, the last time we had a business meeting...? Very Stupid."

"Bye bye dumb-bird, down the delete hole you must go."


From: Lena Higgins

Subject: No man is rich enough to buy back his past (Oscar Wilde).

SPAM KILLER Humiliation:

"And no man or woman is stupid enought to open this email. You are the weakest stink. Goodbye."

"No action is more delightful, in regard to you, than deleting you now."


From: support@econ.con

Subject: iLLegall S0FTwareZ (bowditchery malnourishment)

SPAM KILLER Humiliation:

"Oh, you think deliberately misspelling some words will enable you to bypass my spam filters? Wrong. It's a dead giveaway that this IS spam. See ya, wouldn't want to be ya."

"Here comes your Legal Deletion: gone for good."


From: cheeper medicationz

Subject: [blank]

SPAM KILLER Humiliation:

"Another misspeller. And a brilliant move: a blank subject line. How unlike a real email message. You loser."

"A cheaper action I cannot imagine, it costs me nothing to delete you now."

Okay. Easy wasn't it?

You may now shake the salt out of your hair, but do it over a sink or basin.


(FREE TIP: Always put a nose on your emoticon smiley face. See above.)

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Broken Back Blogging

slowing down significantly Posted by Hello

I seem to have broken my back for the third time in a 15 year span, or at least injured it quite a bit.

My lower spine is too painful and weak for me to get into a car and go to the doctor. And I won't call an ambulence and go to the emergency room unless it gets really serious. Hospital staff wouldn't let me crawl up to a computer and get some work done.

Nobody probably ever knew that I was a disabled blogger, because I never talked about it. I have a permanent spinal disability that cannot be repaired. (I had one surgery, and one botched epidural steroid injection that caused panic attacks for a year). I also have a frozen shoulder.

And now I've damaged my lower spine again by walking too much and lifting too much weight. It's hard to know if I'm exercising too little or too much. Lately, too much.

So the only reason I'm putting this "personal detail" into a business blog is for business reasons: I can't post articles to my blogs, or comments on my friends' blogs, or respond to emails as rapidly as I used to.

Instead of spending 15 to 20 hours a day on the computer, I now spend that many minutes, if I'm lucky. But I will fight through the pain, crawl to the computer, and do a little work as often as I can.

No need to post sympathy comments or send sympathy emails, though probably one or two of my readers may be tempted to do so.

I just want people to not think that I've lost interest, or can't think of anything to bitch about regarding the blogosphere or web usability.

There are lots of ideas, warnings, and insights I want to share with everyone for free, but it might be not quite as prolific, if indeed it ever was "prolific".

I want to post articles on "ice cream truck" web sites, new email composition tips, how to safely and wisely include personal details in a business blog, fair use of copyright material in blogs, plus my thinking on anonymous blogs, tip jars, measuring the blogosphere, the future of blogging, and many other topics.

I'm very dizzy as I type and feel like I could pass out (faint) any minute. I've never felt like that before. Is it because I'm forced to spend most of my time in the boring, unproductive bed?

Not totally boring or unproductive though.

I'm reading, for the third time the tome Remembrance of Things Past by Marcel Proust.

Talk about writing that wouldn't work online: sometime a sentence will fill an entire page, with all the parenthetical statements and tangents. At the end of a sentence, I often forget how it began, so have to re-read it.

But I like Proust's obsessive detailing of scenery, his use of personality analogies, and his injection of art commentary and philosophical asides in the midst of soap opera type scenes.

I'm also reading books on sales, business, web design, and marketing.

I'm honored that through my stupidity in accidentally damaging my already damaged back, I'm now in the ranks of those who have suffering as a teacher and disciplinarian.

As the good and noble Gautama Buddha stated, "There is suffering", and not "I am suffering." To personalize it is to resist and amplify it. To objectify it is to welcome it and begin to intelligently modify it, make it serve ones own higher purposes.

Okay, enough personal detail blogging.

See ya later my friends.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Dangers of Personal Blogging

keep personal details out of your blog Posted by Hello

Due to the extreme distress caused by my post "You Are Not A Blog", in which I cautioned against putting personal details into a blog, especially a business blog, I have now written a sequel.

Hype machines are spewing forth how every individual and every organization must start a blog.

I agree. In fact, I have called blogs the mandatory interactive business cards of the 21st Century.

Blogs can, theoretically, provide a competitive edge to a company, when the blog is done right. (However, if done wrong, a blog can cause massive damage to a company.)

I've sung the praises of blogs ever since I gave Blogger a try and fell in love with it. I have aggressively promoted blogs to clients, friends, pastors, entrepreneurs, military organizations, you name it.

I wrote a post called "Blogging is Good For You." Writing daily or weekly blog entries can improve your writing and thinking skills. I like blogging as an activity.

I've described how blogs are helping to kill the evil monsters of Main Stream Media: "For Whom the Blog Tolls: Death of the MSM".

But now it's time for a word of caution, a warning.

Now it's time to explain the Dark Side of Blogging.

My preliminary research has provided me with three primary dangers of personal blogging. There are bound to be more hazards out there, but the big three are as follows...

3 Big Dangers of Personal Blogging

(1.) Alienating Employers

Seth Godin has recently published a post entitled "Blogging doesn't matter":

In Seth's post, he provides a link to the article "Ten Reasons Why Blogging Doesn't Matter" by Rui Carmo at Tao of Mac blog. Rui's post is a point by point commentary on "Ten Reasons Why Blogging Is Good For Your Career" by Tim Bray.

Rui discusses how a blog can hurt your chances for employment or promotion.

Here are some nice quotes to ponder:

"...organizations...will always promote the quiet, reliable guy over the noisy troublemaker, even if (s)he is merely outspoken."

"Getting noticed by having strong opinions is more likely to label you as a prima donna even before you step into a meeting room, be it for interviews or for decision-making."

"Valuable people are noticeable because they get things done, not because they make noises about what they're doing..."

"...most of the time what you've written about is not what they are looking for when they're evaluating you either as a prospective hire or for a promotion."

"...this hysteria about corporate blogs and blogging in business settings seems to be almost completely US-centric..."

Seth Godin and others are warning bloggers about reckless blabbering, grammar and punctuation errors, ill-conceived topics, vulgar language, poorly researched articles, lack of substantiating links, and other aspects that cause your blog to make you look bad.

Remember--the personal details you dump into your blog, whether personal blog or business blog, could come back to haunt you. Don't be paranoid or excessively self-censoring, but exercise some restraint and wisdom in what you reveal about yourself.

Ask yourself: Could this glimpse into my private life be misinterpreted? Could this personal detail be distasteful to certain types of people?

Could some people take this the wrong way, read into it more than I mean to convey?

If I rave about a movie in which drugs are glamorized, would a professional person consider me a possible drug user?

I just posted a seemingly justified rant against something that annoys me. But--could this rant cause others to see me as a potentially violent, unstable, immature person who cannot control his temper?

(2.) Attracting Stalkers

"...any personal information on the internet is going to be abused. When it comes to posting on the internet, it's like using heavy machinery. Make sure you have your wits about you."
Parry Aftab, NYC lawyer and Executive Director of
(Quoted in

"My advice to new bloggers is to be careful what you share. It can be dangerous."
Robyn Pollman
(Quoted in

There are stories of stalkers seeking blogs of local people, perverts and child molesters seeking photos of children to kidnap, harm and kill, and many other tragic consequences of posting personal information in blogs.

Are you a mom? Do you have a blog? Do you talk about your children in your blog? Most moms probably do. Do you post photos of your children? Do you tell their ages? Do you describe the toys and movies and restaurants they like? Have you revealed what school or daycare center or church they attend?

Are you crazy? You're giving child molesters and older males who prey on teenage girls exactly what their looking for. You're practically handing your children over to them.

You need to read this eye-opening article about the dangers of personal blogging:

"Risks abound in online journals, some turn to password protection"
by Ron Word, Associated Press Writer
(Not sure if it's oh zero, oh oh, or zero zero, dot html)

One woman mentioned she had a miscarriage, and then shuddered in horror as weird freaks made fun of her, and even saw this intimate revelation discussed on other web sites and blogs.

A woman who used her blog to express political opinions also disclosed what restaurant she was going to check out one night. When she arrived at the restaurant, she was confronted by angry blog readers who disagreed with her politics and wanted to hurt or harass her.

You have no idea who is reading all your personal details, nor what they intend to do with that private information. The consequences could be far different from what you expect.

You're nice and normal. You may think the blogosphere is populated with decent, ordinary people. You can't begin to fathom how evil, mentally sick, and horrible some blog readers can be.

Some personal diary bloggers have shut down their blogs and created password protected digital journals that only friends and family can access.

For example...

Ain't Too Proud to Blog


(3.) Enabling Identity Theft

Any personal details you provide on your blog can help an identity thief to assume your identity and ruin you financially, or worse.

Identity theft criminals go through garbage cans and dumpsters. What makes you think they won't comb through your blog, looking for what city you live in, what company you work for, what bank you happen to mention in passing (perhaps a complaint or a compliment), what church you attend, what companies you do business with...anything that can lead to eventually gaining sensitive private and financial information.

What details are you providing on your blog that could be used by identity thieves?

of Personal Details
in Blogs:

(1.) Personal details are often interesting only to you. To others, these facts are usually boring, trivial, trite. They can make readers think less of you as a person.

(2.) Personal details are usually irrelevant to the main purpose of your blog, especially a business, marketing, academic, or other serious topic blog.

(3.) Personal details can alienate an employer, who just doesn't like or agree with specific opinions, attitudes, or habits that you reveal.

(4.) Personal details can be easily misinterpreted and used against you. People may "read between the lines" or otherwise inflate what you reveal and blow things out of proportion.

(5.) Personal details about your family can lead to endangering family members.

(6.) Personal details, from a teenage girl for example, can entice male perverts and kidnappers to try to seduce the young female blogger into meeting them in some dark part of town.

(7.) Personal details about your lifestyle, habits, and haunts can be used by stalkers who don't like the opinions expressed on your blog, and wish to harm you physically.

(8.) Personal details can make you an easy target for identity theft.

Make your determination about how much and what kind of personal details to include in your blog by who you are, if you're a parent with children, the purpose of your blog, the kind of audience you're reaching or want to acquire, the industry you're in, how your employer feels about your blog or blogs in general, and how much at risk you think you may be.

blog personal details with great caution Posted by Hello

Thursday, March 10, 2005

You Are Not A Blog

You Are Not A Blog Posted by Hello

There appears to be some confusion as to what a blog really is.

The problem is that some bloggers think a blog is a means of self-expression, that a blog is a mirror that can reflect their moods and minutiae.

"Minutiae" means little unimportant details. Mundane trivia. Random drivel. Boring chatter. In short: self-expression for the sake of self-expression.

Some bloggers think they are a blog. They think whatever they are, this is what should go into their blogs. They are a blog and their blog is them. Wrong.

Blogs may have been perverted into exhibitionistic, narcissistic, monotonous accounts of feelings, opinions, and ideas.

But the "digital diary" or "online journal", composed of personal, private thoughts, self-expression, is not the original purpose or form of the blog.

The blog began as a web log. Log means list. A blog was originally just a list of web site URLs and other internet resources, with only enough commentary to clarify the nature or value of the listed items.

In the beginning, the blog was impersonal, cold, dry, unemotional. And this was good.

Original bloggers did not write about the movie they saw last night, their favorite music, or how they felt about anything. They were not seeking to reveal their inner selves or personal lives.

The early blogs were guides, not to the blogger's private thoughts and feelings, but to the online realm.

Here's an actual sample of one of the earliest blogs, the second blog usually cited after Tim Berners-Lee's "What's New" page at CERN, called "What's New" by Mark Andreessen, in June 1993 (initial excerpt, bold text is hyperlink):

June 17, 1993

A new server at MIT, containing lots of interesting information, is now up and running.

CNIDR (the Clearinghouse for Networked Information Discovery and Retrieval) now has a Web server (as well as a Gopher server and a WAIS directory of servers).


You didn't read an early blog to learn about the blogger authoring it.

You read an early blog to learn about what was available on a specific computer system or network, the internet, or the web.

What was true then is true now: you are not a blog.

You are not a worthy topic for a blog. You are interesting only to yourself, and even to that audience, only interesting intermittently.

None of the high traffic, high link popularity blogs are Vanity Blogs.

If your blog is all about you, your life, your interests, your opinions, it won't be read by very many people. Hardly anybody will care about it.

To be successful, a blog has to stick pretty closely with the original purpose.

A successful blog will have a strong, unique voice in it, but the blog will focus on something other than the blogger.

A successful blog will share information with others.

It will be personal primarily in the sense of "Here's what I discovered in my research" or "Here's what my opinion is about this topic, based on my long experience or technical training or professional expertise."

Original blogs attempted to fulfill William Gibson's prophetic assertion that
"...there'll be people who make a living pre-surfing it [the web] for you. There's a real need for that--otherwise it becomes this monster time-sink. You can just sit there forever. Looking. Looking. And maybe not finding anything. Seeing a lot of goofy stuff."

A blog is meant to be a pre-surfed portion of the web.

The blogger went out exploring the web and found these really great sites. Here are the URLs of these sites, with a brief description of what they are, what you can expect when you visit them, why you might want to visit them.

[Even this post is not bloggy enough. It needs more links in it. I'll return to this post and revise it, embed links in it, so I practice what I preach.]

Enabling users to post comments made blogs interactive, which took blogs out of the realm of bulletin boards and into the realm of discussion forums. Out of the realm of passive user viewing and into the realm of active user participation.

This is why television, church sermons, college lectures, conventional political campaigns, dictatorships, one-way broadcast advertising, radio programs, and even web sites are dying. They're largely or entirely uni-directional. They aren't interactive.

From now on, if it's not interactive, in most cases, it won't survive. Or it will be relegated to a marginal influence, a specialty curiosity, an archaic artifact.

There will probably always be some non-interactive entities like books, movies, music concerts, and spectator sports. But even these may eventually succumb to various forms of audience manipulation.

The masses will be demanding that everything be more participatory: from online resources to governments.

Tyranny is doomed. Democracy is triumphant. Blogs represent the democratic principle in knowledge proliferation.

With blogs, anyone with access to a computer, that is connected to the internet, can publish any material they want. Thanks to Evan Williams, Google, and Blogspot, anyone can operate a blog for free.

Blogs are reshaping the world we live in. Not web sites, not cell phones, not military power, not politicians, not movies, not music. The blog is the equalizer, the revolutionizer, the dangerous, radical kingdom-overthrower.

You are not a blog...

...but you can use a blog to impart information, improve your writing skills, increase your self-confidence, and inspire others to think independently of those who wish to oppress and manipulate them.

Blogs represent freedom of thought, equal opportunity to be heard, and the death of monolithic media monopolies.

Watch the mainstream media fall.

Watch the governments collapse.

Watch the people rise up in power.

[Rebecca's Pocket, "Weblogs: a History and Perspective", 7 September 2000]

Monday, March 07, 2005

Hop Into the Blog Bloat

...try not to make too small a splash! Posted by Hello

This verbose post will help you make a grand entrance into the bloat-o-sphere. What is this bloat-o-sphere? It's the sphere of blogs that has expanded hideously, and now you want to get in it, too.

This old buzzword, something you should consider arguing about, is “blog”, a shortened version of “weblog.”

The meaning is: a [pre-surfed] web list of relevant links, with brief or prolix commentary.

Blogs are the Next to the Last Big [paradoxical] Thing to hit the internet, after conventional web sites.

Blogs are a special kind of [hypothetical] mini-web site.

Blogs differ from traditional web sites by [theoretically] being more interactive, containing more user-generated content, being more intimate in tone, and more dynamic in nature, due to frequent updating (“posting”) by the blog author (“blogger”).

Blogs, that allow users to add comments, are a new, democratic, collaborative form of online content publishing.

Blogs that don't allow users to add comments are generally symptomatic of an old-fashioned uni-directional broadcast concept forcing its way into a new-fangled bi-polar communications medium.

Bi-directional blogs are para-revolutionary: they tear down the walls that separate site owners from site users.

Definitions of Blog

The English dictionary company Merriam-Webster has declared the word “blog” to be the 2004 Word of the Year. This ranking is based on online user lookups, that is, the number of times users have visited the Merriam-Webster web site to find the definition of “blog”.

I'm just glad the 2004 Word of the Year was not "bleg" or "blob".

(1) The Merriam-Webster definition is: “a web site that contains an online personal journal with reflections, comments, and often, hyperlinks provided by the writer.”

(2) My definition is: “a minimalistic, text-dominant web site that primarily contains frequent, chronologically ordered (most recent is first, i.e., at top of site main page), generally brief messages or articles (“posts”) by one or more authors, preferably with a comment posting function that enables user generated content to be added to each message posted by the blog author (“blogger”), and lists (“blogrolls”) lists of linked titles of other blogs and Web sites.

Creating a blog is easy if you know how, hard if you don't.

A blog and can increase good will and sales, by letting the public enter into a candid conversation with your company.

Lazy Steps to Creating
Your Very Own Blog!

1. Pick a topic

Take a long, leisurely time to decide what you’d enjoy discussing, ranting, or arguing about.

Might it be a hobby, recreational interest, career field, personal pursuit, historical interest, vocational skill, or domestic talent? Let's hope not.

Do you know a lot about something and want to share it with others? That might be a good topic for a blog.

Then again, if your discourse makes you sound like a Know It All, you should forget blogs and run for political office.

A blog can also be an embarrassing way to display your digital photos, digital art, fiction writing, poetry, and other activities in which you feel you have some talent or expertise.

If you have no talent, consider disabling user comments, unless you want to hear all about how bad you suck.

2. Create a title and URL

Choose a dumbed down title, like "All About Me.Com"

Be sure to invent one that'll be easy for idiots like me to remember, and that has spitting image relevance to your topic.

The URL (web address) should be the same as the blog title, but many bloggers have not followed this guideline.

For example, the poet Eleran has a poetry blog titled “Amid Rushes and Reeds” but the address is Although I find this confusing, it is common. Perhaps the blogger wanted to change the name of their blog, but not the web address.

3. Find a host

Many Internet Service Providers charge a monthly fee for blog hosting, and include sophisticated features.

But think: do I really need sophistication? Might that ruin my humble image?

I like Blogspot from Blogger/Google, which is free, easy to use, fast to update, reliable, and includes a variety of blog templates, Hello/Picasa digital image uploading, comment posting, email notifications of user comments, and many other free and valuable features.

4. Choose a template

Templates are pre-designed layouts that provide the visual structure for your blog.

Some ugly templates are easy to alter, in terms of colors, font size, blogrolls, and other tweaks.

Choose your template carefully. Try to imagine what your title and contents would look like in a particular template. If you have an impoverished imagination, skip this step.

If your template is ugly, try to make up for this fact by writing brilliant, long-winded essays instead of short posts.

Do you want side columns for your profile date (“About Me”), post archives, blogrolls (links to other blogs you recommend), advertisements (if you include any), and buttons for services such as blog directories? Why?

To gain a listing in blog directories, a reciprocal link, such as a graphic link to their site, is usually required on your blog.

Some blog hosts will allow you to change templates, but generally you’ll lose the modifications you made to it, including blogrolls and sidebar text.

Note: I advise against adding gimmicks or fringe features such as chatboxes, externally hosted, pop-up window type comment functionalities, site meters, hit counters, and calendars to a blog.

These add-ons can make the blog appear amateurish, and the price you pay for free add-ons may be pop-up advertisement proliferation, advertising the other services offered by the company.

5. Configure your settings

·Comment enabling (on, off, off for old posts only, registration required prior to posting, moderation, etc.)

·Format number of posts on the main page, the rest of the posts will be stored in your “archives”

·Archiving (by date, topic, or other category)

·Time/date stamp (what time zone you’re in, and how you want dates to appear). I recommend February 5, 2005 and not 01-05-2005 to avoid ambiguity.

·Distinct URL for each post (So you can promote an individual post by its URL. The first rule of blog promotion is to promote the individual posts, not the entire blog. More on this later.)

·Site feed (if you want users to be able to stay updated on new posts headlines via RSS feeds).

I've heard you can read posts in RSS, but not comments.

I don't understand RSS and don't have the inclination to try. Have at it, but don't say I didn't warn you. Did I warn you? I dunno.

·Email notification (the host will send you an email whenever a new comment is added by a user). This can help you monitor and eliminate comment spam.

6. Start posting

Most blogs contain short posts, usually one to six brief paragraphs.

It depends on what you want to accomplish, how much time you have to kill, and the interests of your readers.

Don’t be wordy (like Vaspers the Grate), but also don’t be afraid to fully cover a topic. Just be afraid of smart ass comments from the dufus brigade.

Users will read lengthy articles, as long as they are broken into short, two or three sentence paragraphs.

Ruthlessly chop dense texts into scannable chunks. Use numbered or bulleted lists whenever possible.

Develop a distinct “voice” so that you stand out from the millions of other blogs in the “blogosphere”, a collective term for all blogs.

When you hop into the blog bloat, try not to make too small of a splash.

You need a unique angle, a different twist, an unusual topic, content, slant, or presentation style.

Make sure there’s a reason why easily bored users should visit and regularly return to your blog.

Be creative. Use your enthusiasm, writing style, and subject matter knowledge to pull readers into your blog.

Just don't plant a tip jar anywhere, unless you Easter egg it.

The bloated blogosphere (7 million blogs) doesn’t need yet another “random trivial chatter about my mundane life” blog.

Frivolous vanity blogs merely decrease the overall value of the blogospheric network.

If you want a diary, consider: no one cares about you. Now, do you still want a diary?

Read other blogs in your topic category. Write about interesting posts you found in other blogs. Link to these blogs in your posts about them and in your blogroll. It's exciting to see your name and blog mentioned in another blog.

You start to feel connected and influential.

You max out your credit cards, buying things you can't afford to celebrate your newly acquired imaginary status in the bloatosphere.

Learn what makes the most popular blogs so popular. Study and compare. Is it the entertaining or helpful content? The outspoken and blunt writing style? The reliable links they provide to experts or support material? The odd facts and gizmos? The authoritative tone?

Popular blogs do many things right, and contain idiosycratic secret ingredients. I will reveal these aspects in my “Secrets of the Blogging Pros” book.

Successful blogs have a unique and bold personality behind the blog. Popular blogs consistently provide users with credible, relevant, ususual, and frequently updated content.

Remember: just because it’s online doesn’t mean anybody’s reading it.

Then again, having no comments on your posts doesn’t mean nobody is reading your blog. Only a tiny percentage of readers of online material bother to add comments.

Users may be shy, inarticulate, at a loss to know what to say, afraid that others may “flame” them (verbally attack them personally), or simply be too much in a rush to post a comment.

7. Start promoting

Promote individual posts you wrote, not the entire blog.

Once in a while, when appropriate, leave a comment like “I discuss further ramifications of this policy in my recent post, [URL deep linking to specific post]” Just don't overdo this, or you'll be accused of comment spamming, posting your URL just to drive traffic to your blog.

Identify the pupose of your blog.

Is it a sample portfolio of your writing, digital art, or professional expertise? Is it a means to build an online community? To spur impassioned comment and debate? To let customers enter into candid conversation with you? To counteract bad press? To learn from the marketplace? To attract book publishers? To gain new clients?

List your blog URL in blog directories. Users consult blog directories to find a blog on a specific topic. Submit your blog to some of the most popular search engines.

Submit your blog URL to Technorati (, Alexa ( Blog Street (, and other blog tracking services.

Promote your blog URL in your letterhead, business cards, email signature, Web site, wiki, print brochures, catalogs, television/radio commercials, and any other marketing tools you use, including promotional products (swag).

8. Keep Your Blog “Alive”: Post Every Day or Twice a Week

Fresh content is key to return visitors and search engine ranking.

Most successful bloggers post at least twice a week.

Many bloggers add a new post every day.

Event blogs (blogs dedicated to a single current circumstance, like a political party convention or the tsunami tragedy) may post every few minutes during critical periods.

Old content gives the impression of an abandoned blog, a blog in which the author simply lost interest.

Is there a way to build a self-destruct mechanism in blog templates, so if there is no post within two weeks, it vanishes? There should be. Why don't you invent one?

Provide users with your credentials in a Bio or About Me page. If you claim to have published material, provide links to the documents. Credibility, not just content, is king in the online realm.

If your published articles suck, claim that someone else stole your online identity and published the garbage in your name, without your permission. That's what I always do. Sometimes it works.

The speed and simplicity of blogging are great, but anybody can do it. Thus, a blog is of questionable value, unless users have good reasons to trust the blogger.

Then again, even if they trust the blogger, it doesn't mean he or she knows what the heck they're talking about.

Did I tell you that I'm thinking of changing my aka to Leopold the Told?

Consider yourself told.

Sunday, March 06, 2005

How To Improve Your Blog

blogospheric purification zone Posted by Hello

I've visited over 250 blogs in the past two weeks.

I've been looking at the top ranked blogs according to Technorati, BlogStreet, and Daypop.

My purpose for these perusals is to determine if these popular blogs are good candidates for the Blog Pro Survey.

My decisions have been partly based on the usability and credibility characteristics of the blogs.

Most blogs pass these quality and integrity tests.

I'm also trying to make sure they're real blogs and not "pseudo-blogs" or "quasi-blogs"

For example: blog directories (like Blogarama), non-interactive information hubs (like Smoking Gun), or fee-based registration online communities (like Metafilter).

I also screen out any blog that uses excessive vulgarity, or is hateful to any spiritual, political, sexual, racial, national, or cultural group.

I will now share a few more blogging tips based on my observations of these top ranked blogs.

This is just a snack, an appetizer.

For the "whole meal deal", you'll have to buy my upcoming Secrets of the Blogging Pros book.

from Observations of
Over 250 Top Ranked Blogs:

(1.) Have an upfront "About Me" link.

Many blogs fail here. I'm in a hurry, as are most other users. We don't have the time or patience to hunt for Who You Are and How to Contact You.

There are over 8 million blogs to choose from.

So--make it quick and easy for users to determine who you are, and why they should pay attention to you.

Posting links to interviews and articles at other web sites is great, but not enough.

Don't drive people away from your blog just to check out your credentials, education, clients, and accomplishments.

Don't assume that people should already know who you are. That's arrogant and naive.

Realize that new users are entering the blogosphere every second, and many of them have no idea who anybody is.

Even seasoned blogging pros don't know all the important bloggers out there. Don't hide your light under a bushel.

Blogs that are anonymous, with no name or organization attached to them, I always automatically dismiss. They are creepy, suspicious, and possibly malicious.

I know some people don't want to disclose their name, because, for some reason, they don't want their employer knowing who the blog is authored by. Sorry. This is not a good reason in my opinion. I'm going to skip you.

I don't trust anonymous blogs, I never return to them, and I would never include them in any study or book.

As in any web site, or business, if you won't reveal who you are, and some easy way to contact you, you may be a fly-by-night con artist, or worse.

(2.) Have an upfront "Contact" link.

There are many blogs that mention an email policy, and speak of receiving emails from visitors, but I cannot for the life of me find their email address.

Am I supposed to guess what it is? This is not good.

I try checking the "About Me" page, the "Feedback" page, the bottom text links on the main page, all the sidebar elements, I hover my cursor over everything, but--no email address.

If you want to enable users to give you feedback on your ideas, to let you know how you're doing as a communicator, to alert you to problems or errors on your blog...

...then, make it easy for users to find your email address.

Or provide an on-site contact/feedback form, so users can send you web mail without knowing your actual email address.

Upfront, non-spammable email addresses, or web-based contact forms boost the interactivity and credibility of a blog.

CAUTION: don't display your email address in an easily harvestable style.

Use something like: steven [DOT] streight [AT] gmail [DOT] com

If you display your email address in the same manner as a person would type it, spambots will be able to capture it and put you on a spam or virus email list. Then that spammer will sell the list with your email address to other spammers.

(3.) Avoid "tip jars" and PayPal donation widgets.

I will not pay to read anybody's blog.

And I will not leave a blogger a "tip" like he or she is a waiter in a restaurant. This is contrary to the free exchange and dissemination of web information.

Does rampant commercialism have to invade even blogs?

It's called "blegging", using a blog to beg. I've seen it mostly on political blogs. Are the political bloggers merely imitating the politicians, trying to raise cash for their pet causes or their own pockets?

A typical "reason" bleggers give for blog begging is: "My blog is getting so many comments, they're consuming bandwidth. I have to upgrade to another server capable of hosting all the extra space needed."

So users have to pay for your success at attracting user comments? Ridiculous.

A function that enables users to send you money is a bad idea. It could be a turn off to many users, could make you look greedy, and could lower your credibility.

There's something about tip jars and PayPal donation widgets that seems desperate to me. It reminds me of panhandling. I'd rather buy them a sandwich and a cup of coffee, since I'm not sure what they'll do with the "tip" money.

You can have a free blog (like this one, at Blogspot), free templates, free hosting, free image uploading, free comments posting. You don't have to have any expenses related to blogging. So why ask for "tips"?

Some otherwise great blogs have tip jars. Even so, I advise strongly against "blegging."

(4.) Avoid turning your blog into a vending machine.

Filling your blog with ads promoting books, articles, reports, white papers, merchandise, etc. for sale is an odd thing to do on a blog.

If you have published books, by all means display images of them, with links to Amazon or other sales outlets.

But think twice about turning your blog into a shopping mall or a sales circus.

I'm not very impressed with sponsored links, product ads, and fund raising banners in blogs.

And I'm totally against IntelliTXT hypertext link ads, where the links in the editorial text, the different colored and underlined words, lead to irrelevant commercial sites.

This is nothing other than tricking users into visiting external sites. Same as comment spam, only even more subtle and devious.

Hypertext links are, by established convention, supposed to take users to relevant information and support material.

E-books are of no interest to me whatsoever.

There's so much free information on the web, why pay for stuff you have to download and print out? I absolutely don't get it.

(5.) Let users post comments.

When a blog is a one-way broadcast station, it feels uncomfortable.

Some of my favorite blogs do not allow users to post comments, but I still read the blogs. I respect the bloggers, but I just don't understand their disabled comments policy.

Not allowing user comments is a risky venture.

You thereby shut down the interactivity of the blog, making it less warm and friendly. Many users will not return to a blog that doesn't allow them to post comments on posts.

Users will think: "Oh. Nice blog, but I have to be silent and just read it. This is not a normal blog. I can't react to what I read. I can't praise or question or criticize the text. I have to just read the posts, and keep my thoughts to myself."

Now that I've arrived at #115 on the BlogStreet Top 200 list, I am skipping any blog that doesn't let user post comments.

I'm at the point of thinking, "This alleged blog is just an ivory tower soap box pulpit machine. It is preaching at the blogosphere. It is a unidirectional megaphone, thus old-fashioned, and not hip to the online etiquette of interactivity."

Although some blogs that don't enable user comment posting will let users email a comment, this is a cold and distant way to incorporate user-generated content.

If a blogger is worried about comment spam, there are many ways to prevent or reduce comment spam. Disallowing user comments is the worse way to handle this serious problem.

(6.) Be careful with foul language and vulgar expressions.

When I see a lot of cuss words or dirty language in a blog, I assume that the blogger is either very angry or just has a filthy mouth.

Many times this coarse language detracts from the argument or the issue at hand.

I try to follow the principle that the best way to express anger is with clean, educated, intelligent language.

Some people will be offended at rampant foul language, and will consider the blogger to be ignorant, uncultured, or just repulsive.

While I don't mind an occasional bad word or phrase, excessive amounts turn me off.

(7.) State your purpose clearly and quickly.

Let users know what your blog is all about.

If your blog is "just about my life", you'd better be living a bizarre, dangerous, heroic, genius, impossible, insanely wealthy, tragically disabled, or otherwise extraordinary life.

Orient users to your mission, your subject matter, and your point of view.

Vague blogs that are just random personal musings are generally not very popular. There generally needs to be some expertise, or unique point of view, or special subject matter to hold the attention and interest of readers.

Heavy doses of personal drivel and mundane life details really tend to dilute the value of otherwise great blogs by smart, highly trained bloggers.

Believe it or not, most people are not going to care about what are your favorite movies, food, music, or books. Save that stuff for an "About Me" page, way down at the bottom of it.

Most people visiting your blog are probably going to care only about what you can teach them about a subject, or your comical personality, or your radical, unique perspective on various issues.

Sometimes satire and parody are not quickly understood, and may be mistakenly perceived to be the opposite of what's actually meant.

I've visited blogs that were clearly political, but it took me a while to figure out if they were liberal or conservative. Most are at one extreme or the other.

Yet with some political blogs, it's not immediately clear what position they are taking. Usually this is due to the user of satire, humor, or parody.

(8.) Forget SEO copy.

Now I've ruffled some feathers, I'm sure. I've just made a lot of enemies with this Grating statement.

I say that Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is vastly over-rated, and of dubious value. It is only one very small consideration in writing blog or web site content.

Blogs must be full of reliable, relevant, rare, radiant information. SEO will not help a mediocre blog with boring, off topic, poorly researched, or useless information.

Consider: would you sprinkle "keywords" into a suicide note, love poem, resignation letter, or any other important text document?

Oh, you may have in the back of your mind certain key words or phrases you do want to include. I've done this in complaint letters to organizations, when I wanted to use certain legal, technical, or business terms that might not come naturally to me.

In a recent complaint to a religious charity organization, which I caught turning a blind eye to daily, obsessive acts of perversion in their facility, I made sure to use the words "culpable", "unseemly", "due diligence", and "disingenuous".

And I'm not finished exposing and causing harm to the director of this organization yet.

However, to deliberately write blog posts filled with key words just to boost search engine ranking? Ridiculous. Disingenuous.

Consider also: if you boost search engine ranking, and people flock to your blog, then all they see are posts that don't say much, but have key words sprinkled into them, what will they think?

People will think your blog is of little value, that you use SEO keywords to trick people into visiting your blog, and that you are a waste of time. A fool.

Write your blog posts from your heart and your experience in whatever field you blog about. I'm not saying you should just ramble on about a topic without caring what technical terminology you use.

What I'm trying [clumsily] to convey is this: If you are well-versed in a given field, wouldn't you naturally be using lots of "keywords" (and a few "buzzwords" if necessary and natural) in your writing?

This is what I fail to understand about Search Engine Optimization: how can a post be improved *for users* by artificially inserting keywords into it? I don't care what anyone says, this sounds like it's wide open to spamdexing, in other words, spamming the search engine spiders with keywords.

I once revised a web site's text, with SEO considerations, but overwhelmingly with users in mind.

I turned dense blocks of text into scannable lists or shorter paragraphs. I turned "we" orientation into "you" orientation. I made the copy more powerful from a marketing viewpoint, and more user-friendly. I added lots of strong benefits copy and clarified product offerings.

The client rejected the whole content revision and retained the weak, fluffy, corporate-speak, feature-oriented copy. Why? Because an SEO guy had written it. The SE rank of this web site is not good. Nothing is really being accomplished by retaining the user-alienating SEO copy.

I, Vaspers the Grate, have never written a single blog post with keywords added to boost search engine ranking. I know of the SEO techniques, but don't bother to implement artificial keyword insertion.

Search engines don't necessarily direct good, qualified customers to you. They often send you merely curious people who typed in a keyword or phrase into a search engine, because they have no clue as to how to find good information or professionals in a field.

I'd rather have people coming to my blog from other blogs that blogroll me or post articles about me.


Check the Technorati, BlogStreet, and Daypop top blog lists, and visit the most popular blogs. See what you like or dislike about them. Try to guess what it is that makes them so popular and successful. Emulate their good points. Avoid their bad points.

Hurry. The book is nearing completion. Time is running out. Posted by Hello