Thursday, June 30, 2005


odeo, evan williams, beta, by invitation

Here's what Evan Williams, creator of Blogger and now Odeo podcasting service, has to say on the re(cent) re{lease} of beta Odeo to inv_ited subscribers.

(I_am_one of the 11,000 invited to test Odeo beta, and this is a very exciting project to be on.)

Odeo is 'Listen. Sync. Create.' po'd[cas-ting.


Monday, June 27, 2005

Mmm, dogfood

Scoble is giving me crap for not eating my own dogfood, because I'm making podcast tools and don't have a podcast. Two responses:

1) The biggest part of Odeo, and what we've spent the most time on, and what we're releasing first, is the directory and subscription piece, of which I am a daily user.

2) You're right, I need a podcast. I've created several things, but they're not publicly available. I'm a very big believer in eating the dogfood. I'm just the CEO, but everyone in the company should do it.

Lastly, you don't have to know me to and get a personal invite to Odeo. We sent 11,000 out so far to people who signed up on the site. (We're not sending any more at the moment, cuz we're busing processing feedback and fixing things.)

posted by Ev. at 6/27/2005


Also see:

How Odeo Evan Williams

New York Times article on Odeo

Odeo Podcast Service
by Phillip Torrone

Odeo flickr photos

[signed] Steven Streight aka Vaspers the Grate

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Coming Soon: Shun List of Spam Friendly Blogs

This is my Final Warning to All Bloggers: remove the comment spam and trackback spam on your blogs.

If you don't, here's what will happen...

You and your blog will be put on a "Shun List" of Spam Friendly-User Hostile Blogs.

I will post a list of lazy, stupid bloggers who permit Comment Spam and Trackback spam to sit in their blogs, whom I have warned and complained to--yet they do nothing.

I repeat:

Your blog will be listed as a Spam Friendly-User Hostile Blog.

I will destroy your reputation, your credibility, your business.

You asked for ignoring pleas to remove the spam.

Spam is Bad, you idiot!

How many times do I have to say this?....

...comment spam and trackback spam
will quickly destroy your credibility
and drive traffic away from your blog.

You must be brain dead, or a criminal yourself,
if you don't monitor your blogs for this crap.

Here's the Scenario

(1.) You google a word, or get a Gmail alert, or see an interesting blog in some blogroll, or otherwise decide to check out a blog.

(2.) You visit the blog.

(3.) You're thrilled with how cool it is. Informative. Authoritative. Helpful.

(4.) A particular post catches your eye. Interesting.

(5.) You feel you have something of value to contribute to the post.

(6.) You click-select the Post A Comment function.

(7.) Suddenly the previous comments appear above the comment text entry box.

(8.) COMMENT SPAM--pornographic, pharmaceutical, other con artist or dubious or malicious remarks, with URLs attached to lure you to a malicious site--like a spyware, Trojan, virus attaching site--or simply a site trying to sell you dubious items.

(9.) You post a comment: "Please remove this comment spam above this comment."

(10.) You email the blogger and politely inform him or her about the problem.

(11.) Blogger ignores both your comment posted and your email.

(12.) RESULT: the scumbags win again.

No Excuses for Blog Spam

I'm damn sick and tired of corporate BS and stupid bloggers.

I don't want to hear any more excuses as to why you don't have time to clean up your blog.

Then quit blogging and delete your blogs from the blogosphere, you fool.

You are putting blog visitors at risk. Comment spam and trackback spam can destroy computers and networks. It boosts the search engine ranking of malicious sites.

I'm tired of explaining all this shit to retards.

Screw you if you permit spam to sit on your blog.

I don't care who you think you are.

You had better figure out how to prevent and/or delete spam from your blogs.

There are blacklists, whitelists, captchas, email notifications of comments posted (so you can see in your inbox what all the comments are, and can quickly go to the blog and delete them), comment moderation with delayed comment posting, many other methods. Some cost nothing.

Have a nice day.

It may be one of your last nice days ever.

I will post a list of blogs and bloggers who allow comment spam and trackback spam to remain on their blogs...and who display sleazy sponsored links.

I will post this list, and circulate the list throughout the blogosphere, and post it at the highest traffic and most influential blogs.

Consider yourself warned.

[signed] Steven Streight aka Vaspers the Grate


Google Earth: your 3D interface with the planet

"earth at night" from Google Earth

Being an fanatic Googlephile, I must command you now to check this out please: Google Earth--your 3D Interface with the planet you live on.

I have prophesied that soon people will interact with the External World via blogs and personal computers. We will be able to change, modify, do things to the "real world" while poking at our laptops, wrist puters, puter medallions, and PCs.

The negative side is stupid "virtual hunting" where you mercilessly, needlessly, barbarically kill an innocent brother or sister animal via your computer linked to a rifle in some other location. Idiotic senseless violence.

But positive manipulations will also be forthcoming.

This prophecy of mine regarding External World Interaction via Personal/Wearable Computers... coming true with all the force and velocity of an astral nuclear locomotive.

This is so exciting, I'm just copying and pasting the material from:

Google Earth

[NOTE: The response has been so great, the server had to take a breather.]


Google Earth – Explore, Search and Discover

Want to know more about a specific location? Dive right in -- Google Earth combines satellite imagery, maps and the power of Google Search to put the world’s geographic information at your fingertips.

Fly from space to your neighborhood.

Type in an address and zoom right in.

Search for schools, parks, restaurants, and hotels.

Get driving directions.

Tilt and rotate the view to see 3D terrain and buildings.

Save and share your searches and favorites. Even add your own annotations.

Google Earth products [ product comparison chart ]
Google Earth

Google Earth puts a planet's worth of imagery and other geographic information right on your desktop.

View exotic locales like Maui and Paris as well as points of interest such as local restaurants, hospitals, schools, and more.

• Get Google Earth (it's free)
• Learn more

Google Earth Plus

Google Earth Plus is an optional upgrade adding GPS device support, the ability to import spreadsheets, drawing tools and better printing.

Google Earth Pro

For professional and commercial uses, Google Earth Pro is the ultimate research, presentation and collaboration tool for location information.

Google Earth Enterprise Solutions are also available for on-site deployment of custom Google Earth databases in your enterprise.


[signed] Steven Streight aka Vaspers the Grate

Take the MIT Weblog Survey

the MIT logo

Take the MIT Blog Survey, if you operate a blog.

By taking this survey, the Backbone Media corporate blog survey, my email micro-surveys (should you be lucky enough to receive them every few months), you help the blogosphere.

You do love the beloved blogosphere, don't you? You should.

It, or at least major portions of it, loves you.

I love MIT. When I was living in New York City, working on Wall Street, at Scholastic, and at Grey Advertising, my best friend, Bennett Theissen and I bought OCTOBER Magazine all the time.

OCTOBER is a culture analysis publication of MIT, and our favorite issue was "Television" devoted to a seminar by French post-structuralist psycho-therapist philosopher Jacques Lacan.

I don't know what that has to do with the survey, but take it anyway. I did. It's very innovative. You'll learn something, for sure, plus help others understand blogs and bloggers. And you get a nifty sidebar badge for your blog.

Someone please help me. I think I'm a Sidebar Badge Addict.



About the Survey

This is a general social survey of the greater weblog community being conducted at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Our goal is to help understand the way that weblogs are affecting the way we communicate with each other. Specifically we are interested in issues of demographics, communication behaviors, experience with weblogs and other technology, and the meaning of various types of social links within the blogosphere.

The survey takes about 15 minutes to complete, and we are asking anyone with a weblog to participate. The larger the sample of individuals we can get, the better our picture of the community will be.
Survey Sample

In addition to those webloggers that choose to help us voluntarily, we have also randomly selected 5000 weblogs to act as a representative sample of the greater weblog community. If you received an email which said you were selected, you are part of this group, and your responses are ever so important to us. If you received an email in error, we apologize. We realize the amount of spam that exists in the world, and if these emails were an inconvenience in any way, we can't be sorry enough.

Everyone who maintains a weblog is welcome (and encouraged) to take the survey. Results for both sample pools (invited and self-added) will be collected and analyzed. Your responses are extremely important to us, and we thank you greatly for your time!


Now...go take the survey.

Then post your MIT Blog Survey sidebar badge on your blog. If you don't know how to do that, email me. I'll gladly explain.

[signed] Steven Streight aka Vaspers the Grate

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Email Spam Killers: Gmail and Yahoo

filters that kick spam butt

Spam email in my inbox is practically non-existent.

Both Gmail (Google) and Yahoo email accounts have quarantined (isolated and put into a special, restricted location) about 98% of all spam.

Gmail puts spam in the Spam folder.

Yahoo puts spam in the Bulk folder.

This makes it so much easier to Select All and Delete the spam messages.

Very rarely does a valid, wanted, expected message end up in these folders. And almost never does a spam message end up in my (valid message) inbox.

And most of the spam is PayPal and Ebay phishing con jobs, software "deals", or random meaningless junk--no porn, sex products, or other vile garbage. Those messages, if I am targeted for them, don't even make it to my account.

It's pretty amazing news...and it's refreshing to blog about some good news for a change. I want to express my appreciation for the filter makers at both companies. Awesome job, guys and ladies!

[signed] Steven Streight aka Vaspers the Grate

The Listen Phone: Blogs Without Comments

The Listen Phone: Blogs Without Comments

How would you like it if everytime the phone rang, you could listen to a voice on the other end, but could not speak and be heard by the party phoning you?

Imagine a telephone, a Listen Phone, with only a speaker emitting the sound of another's voice. No mouthpiece to talk into.

This is the blog without comments enabled.

This is the unilateral blog demanding users to passively absorb information.

With interactive blogs, blogs that enable users to post comments, blogs that allow readers to provide immediate feedback...

...information is becoming defined as active participation in, rather than submissive reception of, a given message.

There may be valid applications of a non-interactive blog, for example, in situations where information is updated, but no user input is appropriate. Cases in which it's important to know what was the latest addition, but no questions or replies from users are important to the users or the authors of the content.

But it's very hard, at least for me, to think of such applications.

In most cases that I am aware of,
an inability to post comments seems
to suggest that such a blog

is just a

Listen Phone.

The Listen Phone type blog:

1. user input is not valued
2. user reaction is not welcome
3. user needs for clarification are not vital
4. user desire to communicate to author is shunned
5. user expertise is not wanted
6. user opinions are not esteemed
7. user feelings are of no interest
8. author errors are not to be mentioned
9. author faults are not to be pointed out
10. author content is superior to user ideas
11. author wisdom is complete without user input
12. author confidence is shakey
13. author authority is to be unquestioned
14. author accountability is not operative
15. author isolation from readership is optimized
16. author-user interaction is feared due to possibility of negative comments which might also lower author esteem in the eyes of other readers

[NOTE: I got the idea of a Listen Phone from Evan Williams who suggests, according to Corporate Blogging Info blog, that podcasts should be much shorter and be delivered via telephone. This Podcast Listen Phone makes sense, but not the Commentless Blog.]

[signed] Steven Streight aka Vaspers the Grate


Be Provocative or Passionate

be provocative or passionate

Bloggers must be provocative or passionate, or they'll be ignored.

Lipsticking, has an interesting interview with Andy Wibbels of Easy Bake Weblogs.

Andy makes a great point when he says he advises client to be either provocative or passionate.

I don't see how you can be passionate without being provocative, but I always have to open my big blog mouth...and add my two cents to everything in the universe.


One of my favorite quotes is from Nick Usborne, in his book NET WORDS: Creating High-impact Online Copy (p. 40):

"...the Internet was built on and thrives on the strong voices of its participants. Online you need to have a strong character in order to stand out from the crowd.

The Net is vast community of voices--articulate, witty, ridiculous, and loud. So character counts for something.

Being blah guarantees that you'll never be heard. The mistake many businesses make online is that they display the same caution as they do in the offline world."

Now, with that as an introduction, let's look at a slice of that interview at Lipsticking...



We notice you write short, terse notes that invite comment. How is this working out for you? What do you have to say to bloggers who don't enable comments?


It is funny: the snarkier I get the more that people like it.

It is sort of in my nature to be a sarcastic wiseass and I find myself writing not just to inform but to entertain - like when I blogged marketing tips from a gay leather convention.

Another example was my screed about autoposting software that rips off other people's content feeds -- I wrote how I thought it was like dumping sewage in a public pool. My readers loved it and I'm still getting comments three weeks later.

There's a real need for saying what everyone else is thinking and people really gather around that spirit. That's what has really caused blogs to break through.

I find the more I tap into that Ranty McRantyPants spirit the more engaging the conversation.

I often tell clients to be either provocative or passionate.

The internet can be such a cold medium, it takes that kind of warmth or heat to push through and get people to respond.

Slay a sacred cow, say what isn't being said.

If you aren't going to be honest or have a personality, then just go back to schlepping sterile press releases.

I think bloggers that don't use comments are weenies.

I know there's comment spam and all that jazz but there's so many options available to combat that. I think a blog without comments isn't truly a blog (and I know I'll catch hell for saying that).

If you have a blog without comments you're basically just using a blog for the content management features - not to truly forging a conversation or relationship. Sure the neo-Nazi's might show up but you can always delete comments.

[END QUOTE--bolding and extra paragraphing added for emphasis]

Just thought you'd like to have a guided glimpse into hard-core blogging. Not for cowards or insecure wimps is the rough and tumble world of the blogosphere: blogs as sphere of influence.

[signed] Steven Streight aka Vaspers the Grate


Monday, June 27, 2005

business world: brain dead about blogs

less than clueless: corporations, PR firms, ad agencies

Why is business brain dead about blogs?

Teenagers and avid hobbyists comprehend what corporations are still in the dark about.

This is crazy.

I don't mean to pick on any company in particular here.

It's a universal quagmire of misunderstanding and misapplication, with very few exceptions.

I'm starting to become more cynical than ever about businesses in general, and the PR and advertising firms that supposedly help them "communicate".

I think they resist blogging because they cannot sign off on the 9 Core Values of Blogging.

They, most or many corporations, not all, but the majority, cannot be candid, honest, friendly, attentive, sincere, kind, altruistic, humble, passionate, or helpful.

And they dread "negative comments". Cowardly attitude, huh? They only want to hear praise, not critique. Yet the executives are quick to harshly criticize the front line workers and staff. This ought not be.

One of the largest PR firms in the world is Burson-Marsteller. They are a good example of what I'm talking about, but again, I'm not singling them out due to them being the worst. They are not the worst, they are merely typical of the widespread problem.

Here's what Lisa Poulson of Burson-Marsteller had to say recently in "What Do Corporations Want?" of May 2005 in Guide Wire:


....During the panel, we talked a bit about why corporations are reticent to move into the blogosphere. In the interest of fostering mutual understanding, here are three things companies worry about:

--Liability – in our litigious business environment, any public utterance by any corporate representative is fair game for a combative lawyer. This is no small concern. Open-minded in-house lawyers and persistent corporate PR people are working it out one conference call at a time, but this struggle will take place at every corporation.

--Love – companies are filled with people, and no person likes to see the product they make, the policy they create or the opinions they share lambasted in public by a sharp-tongued blogger. If it’s the blogosphere vs. THE MAN, people at corporations know they’re battling a stereotype, and that’s daunting.

--Scaling – the blogosphere is about conversations. No corporation has the staff to conduct quality 1:1 conversations with everyone in the blogosphere who may want to communicate with them. They don’t know how much energy and commitment quality participation in the blogosphere will take; jumping in half-way may be worse than not jumping in at all . . .

Having said all of this, the corporate PR people I’ve spoken with understand there is much to gain from participating.

The hurdles are significant however, and corporations need help crossing them. They need clear, thorough analysis of what’s going on in the blogopshere that impacts them.

They need sound guidance on policies. They need to study examples of corporations that successfully blog. They need to study examples of corporations who have made big fat mistakes. And they need to have this information presented to them by people who understand what life is like inside their organizations. Then they’ll get there.

--Lisa Poulson
Managing Director, Technology Practice
Burson-Marsteller San Francisco

Posted by Lisa Poulson at May 25, 2005 08:49 AM


If you know anything at all about business blogs, you already know these excuses are pathetic and not entirely true.

I looked at the Burson-Marsteller blog, e-fluentials.

It averages about 5 posts per month, roughly.

That's about one post per week. This big PR firm can't think of anything to post about more frequently than once a week? What's going on here?

The latest post in e-fluentials is recommending BLOGthenticity as a good business blog to emulate.

But BLOGthenticity's last post was June 13, a solid two weeks ago.

You can't have an effective blog with such sporadic and infrequent posting, especially when the blog is a Group/Academic blog. Multiple contributors can't contribute more often than this? Pathetic.

Friends, the sad and shocking truth is that blogs are exposing the deficiencies of American corporations, and the PR firms and ad agencies cannot seem to figure out how to effectively help them.

The corporations just cannot get used to the ideas of:

* speaking in a genuine compassionate voice to consumers

* hearing harsh criticism or difficult questions from consumers.

After all, many companies outsource the Customer Service functions. The companies are so out of touch with customers, it's ridiculous.

But by operating a blog, they can remedy the situation. It may be painful and humbling at first, but I think they can learn new skills. Why not?

There are so many good business and marketing blogs that are explaining how to use a business blog, why aren't businesses paying attention?

The Red Couch aka Naked Conversations is just one among many blogs that explain EVERYTHING...yet the corporations sit there with a dumbfounded look on their faces.


Very very strange.

What's your analysis, opinion, or reply to this?

your feedback makes the blogosphere go round Posted by Hello

[signed] Steven Streight aka Vaspers the Grate


Coax CEOs to Blog?

Coax CEOs to Blog? (photo: cahilus)

Want to coax CEOs to blog?

I don't. I feel it's somewhat demeaning to plead with business people, or anybody, to "get into blogging".

If you believe in a company, and want to help them establish better or more personal relations with consumers, fine.

But to attempt to push businesses into blogs: heaven help us. I don't really care if most businesses have a blog or not. There's something strange about the big promotional push to convince corporations to start blogs. Weird.

I don't get it.

Unless you want to sell that company the services of your brilliant "blog consulting" genius. LOL.

Or you have a Business Blog Book you need to sell to as many business people as possbile. Double LOL.

I can tell an individual person: "It's fun to blog. You ought to start one and try it. You could blog about your hobby, your struggles, your goals, your religion, your philosophy, your expertise, your social concerns, your political opinions, whatever you're passionate about."

For a CEO or business person to ask, "How could my company use a blog?" seems a bit "out of it". Blogs are not that mysterious anymore.

Business Week, Forbes, Wall Street Journal, The Guardian, USA Today, MSNBC, C-Span, CBS, ABC, New York Times, plenty of MSM and other media have discussed blogs. There are several good books on blogs, with many more coming, including mine.

So why is there such hype and even exaggeration, such inflated notions, about Business and Blogs, like they're a match made in heaven? They're not. No way.

Blogs are ideal for honest, authentic, enthusiastic people ONLY. Not boring, dry, dull people. Unless they're so dull, the dullness becomes fascinating.

(See The World's Dullest Blog in my blogroll).

At Robert Scoble and Shel Israel's blog The Red Couch/Naked Conversations, a blog devoted to writing a book about business blogs, there is a new post relevant to this topic:

"Ch 9 - Thorns in Roses"

posted by Shel Israel.

This post is very intelligent, exhaustive, and grandiose. Almost a One Post Pitch to businesses to blog. Admirable. Except...I don't fancy seeing every business having a blog.

Such phrases as these may be found in this well-written post:

"just take the plunge"

"people simply respond better to conversations than to shouted or contrived messages"

"blogs are faster and cheaper than any alternative for spreading word-of-mouth and they are more credible"

I agree with most of Shel's post. He is very smart and articulate. He kindly answers every email I plague him with. Very responsive and friendly fellow.

But I wonder about "more credible" and "faster".

I know some conversations I bow out of quickly. Some conversations bore me to tears. Conversations per se are not the final and ultimate answer to marketing. This seems a bit extreme to me. I also do not enjoy telephone conversations, I prefer email.

A blog has many attractive aspects and advantages...

...only IF it is a high traffic blog, has a reader audience that is your company's target consumer audience, and is very well-written.

You also have to enable comments, and respond to reader comments within the comment thread, and not just in a summarizing post.

I'll bet you know what's coming next.

My comment that I just posted to this post of Shel Israel.

[QUOTE: my comment posted at
The Red Couch/Naked Conversations]

This is nice, but don't you tire of coaxing businesses to blog?

I mean, lots of CEOs are just plain stupid. Greedy. Unresponsive. Arrogant. I don't want them to blog. I don't want them to do anything but study ethics and dig a ditch to get in touch with the real world.

This whole plea and analysis reminds me of trying to convince people 100 years ago to get a telephone.

To go into lengthy detailed explanations of What You Could Do With a Blog and Who Should NOT Blog and Why Business and Blogs are A Match Made in Heaven...

...nice, but rather tiresome.

It's like trying to sell them on Yellow Page ads or billboards.

Another point is your perspective seems to be always Business Blog.

Some CEOs could blog about other things, their hobbies, their favorite jokes, their gardens. Why do we always assume a blog has to be business-like, focused on customers, addressing the industry? This is old fashioned pragmatic bottomline blogging.

Why can't a CEO just be natural and post about personal interests, to appear more approachable, a regular guy, one of us?

I wonder about all this emphasis on the blog as a business tool.

Again, it reminds me of coaxing businesses to use postal mail to conduct sales presentations.

Result? Junk Mail.

Posted by: Steven Streight aka Vaspers the Grate | June 26, 2005 11:09 PM


your feedback makes the blogosphere go round Posted by Hello


Saturday, June 25, 2005

Another Reason Why I Sign My Posts

another reason why I sign posts (Vaspers the Grate)

I strongly suggest you sign your blog posts.

[EDIT-ADDITION]: ...and embed your blog URL in your name (in my case: my aka nickname, which is also the title of my primary, flagship blog). On Blogger, I embed the URL in my aka [also known as] by highlighting "Vaspers the Grate", then click-selecting the link icon (in the field above post text entry box: bold, italics, hyperlink, block quote, spell check, add image). Next, a popup text entry box appears, with "http://" pre-entered, and I just add the rest of the URL. "Vaspers the Grate" in my signature is now an embedded hypertext link.

It takes just a few more keystrokes, a few seconds.

But then, if someone copy and pastes one of your posts into their blog or web site, they may be so sloppy they'll forget to delete your signature, thus readers will see who actually wrote the post.

I don't mind, except they could at least intro it by saying "Here's a great article by [your name] at [your blog URL]". That's just netiquette, being appreciative and polite.

Just look at this brilliant article on 36 Ways to Enhance Blog Credibility:

This "osCOMMERCE" web site stole my entire article, posted it on their site, with no explanation, no comment, no introduction, as if they wrote it.


Yikes. Look at all that Vaspers the Grate imagery, hyperlinkage, and signage. This particular post happened to have big digital art specimens, so big and unscalable, they're breaking the layout of the site as viewed in my Firefox browser.


[signed] Steven Streight aka Vaspers the Grate


Aggressive Criticism: Dale Peck the Grate

aggressive criticism: Dale Peck the "Grate"

Aggressive criticism is the only really effective criticism.

But the trend of the world is the wimpy, weak, cowardly "don't upset or offend anybody" attitude.

This mushy, wishy-washy attitude is simply a lack of values masquerading as "tolerance" and "diplomacy".

Recall how many human monsters got away with heinous crimes, largely due to people either being dumb, not wanting to get involved, or dreading confrontation and conflict.

If blogs are about anything at all, they, the best ones, are about confrontation and conflict.

Friends, I will offend and upset anybody I think has it coming. I will attack and denounce anything I want. There's so much that is wrong, inept, stupid, mediocre, or evil in this world--and it deserves a sound thrashing.

Dale Peck, the literary critic and author has some qualities that I find in line with my approach.

dale peck (photo by robert birnbaum)

I was watching C-Span Booknotes this Saturday morning. Dale Peck was being interviewed. Fascinating.

One memorable quote (my awkward paraphrase): "People tend to read non-fiction like it's fiction, exclaiming 'It reads like a novel!' and they read fiction like it's non-fiction, defending fictional characters as if they were real, like soap opera characters."

When I heard Dale Peck say that, I start paying close attention. He was articulating thoughts that were vaguely floating in my mind.

So I googled his name and read some articles about Dale, soon discovering he is a "grate" like me. He trashes what he dislikes, and he explains well his vigorous, impolite, unnerving methodology. I think he's a genuine literary hero. I like him.

I agree: enormously stupid and stubborn ideas need aggressive criticism.

Sometimes the only way to dislodge a stupidity is to attack it harshly.

A strong and clever statement, a "zinger", can wake people up and open their eyes, while a soft, mild mannered, timid comment is ignored and dismissed.

Join me in an adventure of discovery: discovering Dale Peck "the Grate"!


From "Hatchet man" by Kate Kellaway
Sunday November 23, 2003
The Observer

Dale Peck is the scourge of literary America, laying into everyone from Julian Barnes to Don DeLillo. Is aggression a critical virtue, and should British reviewers follow his lead?

There is a new verb in the US: to Peck.

Or an old verb with a new meaning.

Dale Peck is a literary one man bandit - he trashes everything he reads.

Is this a dagger I see before me? Or a review by Dale Peck?

He specialises in opening lines such as: 'Rick Moody is the worst writer of his generation.'

No one is let off lightly: Philip Roth, Julian Barnes, Jim Crace - name an author and they have all been Pecked. He has published three novels himself and is hyperactively well read, with an eye for detail and a transparent personal agenda about what the contemporary novel ought to be (as close to his own as possible).


Reading his reviews, there is a sense that Peck's writing is motored by a rage that has little to do with literature.

There are clues in his biography. He grew up on Long Island, the son of an alcoholic plumber. His mother died in mysterious circumstances when he was three and he has put it on record that 'violence' may have had something to do with it.

When his father discovered his son was gay, he beat him up. Peck's father is important here, if only because his latest book is a 'memoir' about his father's childhood (What We Lost, published in February by Granta).

Dale Peck emerges as a fighter with the evangelical zeal of a Jehovah's Witness for whom the End of the Novel is Nigh.

He was educated at Drew University in New Jersey and took a creative writing course at Columbia. He was talent-spotted as a critic by James Wood, who commissioned him to write in the back pages of the New Republic, back pages that were to make front-page news.

Peck's admirers value him because of the scale of his ambitions as a critic.

There is an almost suicidal valour about seeing off so many writers with such assurance.

And Peck is as scathing about the fiction of the past as he is of the present.

The modernist tradition, he writes, 'began with the diarrhoeic flow of words that is Ulysses, continued on through the incomprehensible ramblings of late Faulkner and the sterile inventions of Nabokov, and then burst into full, foul life in the ridiculous dithering of Barth, Hawkes and Gaddis, and the reductive cardboard constructions of Barthelme, and the word-by-word wasting of a talent as formidable as Pynchon's; and finally broke apart like a cracked sidewalk beneath the weight of the stupid - just plain stupid - tomes of DeLillo'.

In a single sentence: class dismissed.

When I spoke to Peck in New York, he struck me as at once bellicose and vulnerable. He talks fast and breathlessly, as if still winded by the blow dealt him by modern writers.

You might reasonably object that to stick his head above the parapet is not brave, merely a way of achieving visibility. But I warmed to him.

He has no sense of self-preservation. 'I write for writers and I just want to say to them: wake up! It is a dream of mine that they will.'

When I ask whether he wouldn't rather use something more delicate than a hatchet, he says he doesn't see it as a clumsy instrument - no weapon is too sharp to carve up the modern novel, which he sees as 'a reactionary force in aesthetic terms, irrelevant in cultural terms'.

He goes on: 'Novels and memoirs are on a wrong course. They are either inward-gazing, solipsistic and impotent or unconscious and rarefied, written by recidivist realists who pretend the twentieth century didn't happen.'

A critic, he says 'must tell the truth. If something makes you hopping mad, you must be allowed to express it'.

But if he dislikes everything he reads, why read at all? Who does he like? Early Philip Roth and Virginia Woolf (strange bedfellows) miss the chop. So do Joan Didion and Toni Morrison. Though, he hastens to add, 'they all have their problems'.

When I ask him to characterise the US reviewing scene, he cheers up: 'I am not sure if you can print this. But they are a bunch of pussies. They are back-scratchers, afraid for their own careers - novelists reviewing their friends' works. It is very dishonest.'

Does he ever worry about the effect his reviews may have on writers? 'The truth is that if you can't hack a negative review, you shouldn't be writing at that particular level. I really do believe a novel is nothing more than a strongly expressed opinion and that you need to respond strongly and with vitality.'


I cheer you on Dale Peck.

What little I know about you is both inspiring and healing.

You now bear the Official Vaspers the Grate Seal of Approval.

Let's hope that more bloggers and writers and business people get some courage and shout out against what they feel is wrong, stupid, inept, mediocre, or evil.

Rage on, people! For the Light!

[signed] Steven Streight aka Vaspers the Grate

Friday, June 24, 2005

Is the Web Broken? (Part One)

is the web broken?

A web design guy complains of a "broken web". I think I agree, so far as designers often violate user expectations, deviate from established web norms, and force users to learn new skills at their sites, for no good reason.

It seems to smack of "I can design anything I want, and users will just have to adapt to me."

Desktop Applications vs. Web Services

Dirk Knemyer's article "Completely Rethinking the Web" (May 18, 2005) in Digital Web online magazine has a few interesting things to say, but he calls for more desktop applications to be installed on user computers, rather than more web services.

Let's just examine his opening arguments: the "four things".

I really don't understand his concept of the four things people want to do with the web: learn, feel, connect, trade.


This reminds me of the MTV influence, the web as a video arcade or a set of virtual experiential thrills. Boring concept.

Or could he be refering to pornography? I'm not sure, although porn is a big "thing" people use the web for, which he ignores. I don't approve, but it's a fact.

I never use the web to "Feel" anything, not even to "feel connected".

Have you ever turned on your computer to surf the web, or visit specific sites, in order to "feel" something?

Maybe I'm too mentally oriented, too much of conceptual person, too writerly.

But I don't feel anything at web sites, except neck or back pain from sitting too long. I've got a painful frozen shoulder from excessive computer usage. Is that "feeling"?

It Gets Weirder

In Dirk's even more mystifying article "There Are Only Four Things That People Do On The Web" (December 4, 2003) in Thread, he explains his theory a bit.

Only Four Things
People Do on the Web
(according to Dirk K.)

(1.) learn: obtain facts or news

(2.) feel: be "moved" (?) via entertainment, or being impressed by a new, beautiful, or surprising object.

(3.) connect: have a relationship with others online

(4.) trade: buy, sell, or exchange goods

I have been in conflict with Dirk and his buddy Andrei's weird web design ideas for over a year now. There seems to be a strong anti-usability orientation here that needs to be examined.

How can a person claim that the web is "broken" when they don't even know all the real reasons why people use the web?

When you do not test users, but just assume you know what they want and what they do on the web, you can fall deeper and deeper into error.

What People Really Use the Web For

Ask any random web users what they do on the web.

They'll tell you:

* send and receive email

* send and receive photo, art, or music files (file sharing)

* search for and read news items not found in the MSM

* visit porn sites

* play games, visit online casinos, etc.

* read web sites and blogs devoted to their specific interests

* conduct business at work

* visit chat rooms to express opinions or lurk and read opinions of others

* read user critiques of products, and shop for and order products

It seems that Dirk is focused on static corporate web sites.

He seems to not really understand the new web usage behaviors centered around blogs and wikis.

If we add blog and wiki behaviors into the mix, we get something like the following...

Web and Blog Usage Behaviors

(1.) self-expression

(2.) ideology propaganda

(3.) interaction with information/opinions presented by others

(4.) online community sense of devotion to a cause or interest

(5.) inspire or be inspired for social activism

(6.) project colloboration with other users

(7.) information accumulation (e.g., wikis, or The Red Couch blog soliciting comments and information from other bloggers, for a book on blogs)

(8.) experiment with art, photos, music, multi-media

(9.) download and share music and movie files

(10.) play games

My list is not as elegant as four simple words, but web usage is somewhat messy and is evolving rapidly.

Let's stop here.

In part 2, I'll quote some of Dirk's article on the "broken" web and give you my analysis of the situation.

My concern is that web and blog designers need to really KNOW what users want, and what users do, before they design anything.

Dirk does have some good points, which I'll discuss in Part Two.

vaspersthegrate [at] yahoo [dot] com Posted by Hello

[signed] Steven Streight aka Vaspers the Grate


Watch ABC Nightline tonight

Watch ABC Nightline tonight for non-partisan discussion of humanitarian assistance to Africa.

Here is the email message I received from the ONE campaign today:


Are Americans ready for a campaign in which they don't have to pick a side?

TONIGHT, Pat Robertson and George Clooney tell America on ABC's "Nightline": there is only ONE side in the fight against global AIDS and extreme poverty. They'll ask viewers to join in signing a letter to President Bush to support an unprecedented debt, aid and trade deal for the world's poorest people at the upcoming G8 summit on July 6.

Will you join them and sign the ONE letter to President Bush today?

It's a weekend of ONE on the airwaves: Sunday, Bono of U2 goes on NBC's "Meet the Press" to discuss the potential for a real breakthrough in the fight against poverty at the G8. And Bob Geldof appears on CBS's "Sunday Morning" to talk about the Live 8 concerts and what they can do to help President Bush reach an historic agreement to help those most in need around the world.

As ONE, ending global AIDS and extreme poverty is a fight we can win: ONE million Americans are wearing the white band. Over 215,000 Americans have already signed the ONE letter, and next week, the President is expected to make a speech outlining his plans for the G8. Ask President Bush today to take the biggest step forward that he possibly can to make poverty history:

Please ask 3 friends and family members sign the ONE letter to President Bush.

Be sure to catch George Clooney and Pat Robertson tonight at 11:35pm/10:35pm Central on ABC's "Nightline". No matter who you vote for, whether you go to a church or mosque, or if you live in Hollywood or the Heartland, millions of us agree that as ONE we can reach across divides of politics, religion and music and do something extraordinary, together.


The ONE Team

P.S. NEWS FLASH: You've already seen Nelson Mandela on ONE.ORG talking about what the G8 can do - and because of your overwhelming response, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is now making it possible for MILLIONS of people in the U.S., Canada, Germany, France, Italy, Japan and the UK to also hear his call to action - more news to come!

** As is always the case, please note breaking news may preempt these news programs.


[signed] Steven Streight aka Vaspers the Grate

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Live 8: popular uprising against suffering

Posted by Hello

Live 8 is a strike against poverty in Africa.

Blog-tracker Technorati is promoting participation in the Live 8 program of The Long Walk to Justice.

I have signed on to the proclamation requesting the G8 nations to:

* cancel debt

* double aid

* enpower trade justice

...for the world's poorest nations.

The governments have mismanaged the aid they have received, they are not doing enough to protect religious freedom and freedom of speech, but the populations are suffering while their governments mock them.

In one African nation, the current tyrant is bulldozing down houses of entire villages of suspected opposition.

BEYOND Live 8's Financial Remedy:

Therefore, I also privately demand:

the populace of any countries

exploited by rogue regimes,

the citizens must immediately

rise up against oppressors,

boycott and demonstrate against

the repressive political enslavement,

shut down the government offices,

clog the capital,

change the government

into an equal rights,

free speech democracy.

These rogue dictators have already

squandered massive amounts of aid,

and pouring more money into such regimes

will only increase the power of the tyrants.

[QUOTE from Technorati Live 8]

What is Live 8?

Live 8 is a series of concerts and events across the world which are being staged to highlight the problem of global poverty. It's a chance for ordinary people to call on world leaders at this year's G8 summit and tell them to put a stop to the needless deaths of 30,000 children every single day.

On 6th July 2005, the leaders of Great Britain, the USA, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and Russia will meet at Gleneagles in Scotland to talk about world affairs, including Africa. They will be presented with a workable plan to double aid, drop the debt and make trade laws fair.

The G8 summit is our opportunity to demand that the world's most influential leaders take action now.

Live 8 has organised concerts in Philadelpia, Berlin, London, Rome, Paris and Edinburgh, with 100 artists, a million spectators, two billion viewers and one message: Make Poverty History.



For more information, see:

Technorati Live 8

http://www.live8live. com


Group of 8


White Band Days

Show your support on July 1st,

by wearing a white band.

[signed] Steven Streight aka Vaspers the Grate


Without a Blog, You're a Caveman

without a blog, you're a caveman

Without a blog, you're a caveman.

Carvings, moldings, rot.

Cowering in the darkness of

fear of transparency,

loathing of authenticity,

mocking of integrity.

The Global Conversation

is taking place in blogs.

Also in other internet

and offline venues,

but chiefly in blogs.

Understand By Doing

Best way to "understand" what a blog is,

how you can use one successfully,

what the blogosphere is,

what comments are all about,

you must start your own blog.

You cannot grasp the blog

outside the blog.

Blogging must be experienced.

Only a blogger understands blogs,

and even then, in a partial, but

hopefully increasing manner.

And it could be one obscure

little blog, in the middle of

nowhere blogospherically,

that contains:

your sought-for solution

your needed insight

your substantiating facts

your opportunity to see anew

and you are so unfamiliar

with what a blog is

what a blog can be

what a blog will be

you miss it.

Blog is Beyond the Book

Casual authors write print material, such as books.

Dedicated authors now write blogs, daily postings ("chapters", "volumes", and even "articles" are words that don't fit in the blogosphere), daily challenges to the author's imagination and expertise, daily work, daily discipline.

A blog is an intensely personal, or personalized professional, work in progress, a chapter a day, an eternalized book, stretching out, like consciousness, forever: thus the Blog is Beyond the Book.


Monday, June 20, 2005

Information Utopia

Webs for World Progress logo 3 (photo: Brooke Martin)

["Information Utopia", a sample post from my new Webs for World Progress blog.]

An information utopia requires:

* secure, uninterrupted access

* protected technology investments

* system-service compatibility

* management of mixed environments

* web-based and internet empowered services

* guaranteed total failover to remote site for disaster/emergency recovery

* fast routes to good resources

* minimization of unguided web usage

* ease of foraging and editing information

* trusted site linking strategies

[signed] Webs for World Progress

- - - - -

Webs for World Progress blog birth

Webs for World Progress logo 2. Photo: Anita Patterson "window light"

webs for world progress logo 1

My new blog may be encountered at:

Webs for World Progress

Sunday, June 19, 2005

funny Vaspers The Grate ad: any of you ladies

Vaspers The Grate ad (photo: Jenny Wragg)

Webs for World Progress

webs for world progress VTG ad photo Leroy Skalstad

Webs for World Progress: Better Blogs for a Better World is an initiative to voluntarily associate with and encourage = continual improvement = in web information systems: web sites, wikis, and blogs. Posting comments at blogs to point out deviations from the 9 Blog Core Values, signing off the comment with: "Webs for World Progress".


Saturday, June 18, 2005

neo-blogging tip 004: inner silence

Neo-blogging Tip 004: Relax! (photo by V. Nyberg)

neoblogging tip 004:

drop into inner silence.

disappear into inner silence.

Where all chattering ceases.

Where new things begin, quietly at first.

Without, prior to, beyond words.



Tranquil. Soft. Smiling.



All calmed down inside.

Feeling at one with the blogosphere,

as you flow through it and it flows through you.

Imagine a reader you know, perhaps a frequent commentor.

Imagine what that specific reader might like, be amused by, or find enlightening.

Imagine that reader benefiting from some fact or principle you know.

Now write.


Happy to be alive.

With deep rivers of compassion

for your readers and this world

of illusions and light

in which we live.

Write to both express yourself,

your experiences, your wisdom.

And to help, inspire, cheer

others, visitors, readers.

Blog with

Compassion and

Mental Clarity.

Go beyond self

and inhabit the relation

you have with others.

Be their benefactor.

Be their guide.

In what you know

and what you love.

[signed] Steven Streight aka Vaspers the Grate


Thursday, June 16, 2005

Neo-blogging Tip 003: Strategy Shifting

PIC 0203 VN0104 by V. Nyberg

What you want is to be very transformative.

not _______________ or ever finding ______________ ... ________ ... ___


throw the competition

and the imitation

a curve ball invitation

to follow a new and disturbing lead.

Going nowhere and everywhere fast,

the road travels itself as it

sends you to sleep.

So you re-enter swiftly,

blogs bleeding and bleating into the wind,

broken and splattered, up you stand, to proclaim:



into the next entirety.

[signed] Steven Streight aka Vaspers the Grate

The view from there, or anywhere, says

the same and finalizing thing:

we cannot get here from there,

so we must have come

from somewhere else.

Every blogger

can now be...



Super Blogger 2005.

into the coptic cancelteria

[signed] Steven Streight aka Vaspers the Grate

panegyric Pyrrhic victories

panegyric Pyrrhic victories

From: Streight, Andrea
To: steven
Date: Jun 16, 2005 8:04 AM
Subject: hi husband
Reply | Reply to all | Forward | Print | Add sender to Contacts list | Trash this message | Report phishing | Show original

The guy next door is selling candles! He has a card table loaded with jars of candles. Good grief!!!

ReplyForwardInvite Andrea to Gmail

Steven Streight
to Andrea

More options 8:09 am (1 hour ago)

The more he sells, the more he'll have to hammer in his next home. To re-stock the store. The early bird nosies will sprawl around it, then fidget away down the road or sidewalk.

On 6/16/05, Streight, Andrea wrote:

The guy next door is selling candles! He has a card table loaded with jars of candles. Good grief!!!


Steven Streight
to Andrea

More options 8:12 am (1 hour ago)

Then I heard him say: "Ha ha yeah. I figure it'll be that much less we'll have to move." This was in apparent response to neighbor asking "Trying to sell, what, candles?"

- Show quoted text -

On 6/16/05, Steven Streight wrote:

The more he sells, the more he'll have to hammer in his next home. To re-stock the store. The early bird nosies will sprawl around it, then fidget away down the road or sidewalk.

On 6/16/05, Streight, Andrea wrote:

The guy next door is selling candles! He has a card table loaded with jars of candles. Good grief!!!


-----Original Message-----

From: Steven Streight
Sent: Thursday, June 16, 2005 8:12 AM
To: Streight, Andrea
Subject: Re: hi husband

Then I heard him say: "Ha ha yeah. I figure it'll be that much less we'll have to move." This was in apparent response to neighbor asking "Trying to sell, what, candles?"

On 6/16/05, Steven Streight wrote:

The more he sells, the more he'll have to hammer in his next home. To re-stock the store. The early bird nosies will sprawl around it, then fidget away down the road or sidewalk.

On 6/16/05, Streight, Andrea wrote:

The guy next door is selling candles! He has a card table loaded with jars of candles. Good grief!!!

Neo-blogging Tip 002: Media Blog

photo IMG_6154 by somadjinn aka Nick Ray

The New Super Blogs are media blogs.

Blogs will become jewel-encrusted.

We'll use blogs as info-tainment centers, recreation rooms, trophy panels, navigation launchpads, homes within a homepage, lanterns to spot-brighten dusty and cob-webby corners of our blogo-maniacal realm.

Media-enhancements will transform blogs into nightclubs, with readings from marginalia rather than music, but also music, and audio, and video, and assistive systems, and sporadic connectivity interplanetary data networks.

No longer is "all-text, all the time" a viable mode for blogging.

Blogs must at minimum contain visual-phonic accouterments.

The blog as the all-in-one web stop.

The blog as cyburbia, a way to get away from it all, while it all comes flowing to you.

Give your blog visitors more and more reasons to return.

Keep them guessing what could possibly come next, after all that.

Throw in some posts that are so strange and unexpected, your readers will have trouble believing they're in the right blog.

Make them think a guest blogger took over for a while, be unlike yourself, be something else, do something Other Than what you typically do. You'll keep readers' attention focused on the twists and turns, thus improving their powers of observation.

Make your blog an multi-faceted experience, and not just a journal, sales pitch, or textbook.

Do something that will shake up the blogospheric slumber.

Act and Be Awake.

[signed] Steven Streight aka Vaspers the Grate

Neo-blogging Tip 001

"king kamehameha parade" photo by alex preiss [at] hawaii [dot] rr [dot] com

Neo-blogging is a set of highly evolved, unconventional blogging practices and techniques.

For Neo-blogging Tip 001, consider how to use a blog as a personal communication platform with the blog author, bypassing traditional, but problematic, vehicles like email.

Blog as Hyper-email Alternative Message Platform

A blog can be used as a Hyper-email Alternative Message Platform.

By posting a comment at a person's blog you can command their attention, if only briefly, better than a regular email which must pass successfully through spam and virus filters.

And the blog author encountering unknown senders in their email inbox...

...this represents a third strike against an email.

Many emails are deleted due to no recognition of sender, and no perceived intimacy in subject line, no proof of actual acquaintance with sender.

But a blog post comment stands a much greater chance of connecting with the blog author.

A blog post comment stands a better chance of being responded to, right there in the comment thread under the post, or via a visit to your blog, with a reciprocal comment post, or via an email.

Be sure to leave your URL and/or non-harvestable email address so the blogger can contact you.

Now...try contacting someone, via a blog comment, that you have had no luck reaching via email.

Then post a comment here, or email me, to let me know how it worked for you


[signed] Steven Streight aka Vaspers the Grate

your feedback makes the blogosphere go round Posted by Hello


Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Blog That Ate My Brain?

the-blog-that-ate-my-brain image ... entitled "shop window"... (2001) by: hyperlux aka JP Kollhaj ... (Norway) www [dot] hyperlux [dot] no

The Blog That Ate My Brain?

If you love blogging, sometimes

sometimes it seems.

Sometimes, not all the time,

mind you, but at some certain times,

in the midst of what is clearly uncertainty,

if seems like it ate your brain.

it somes like it ate your brain.

I mean you can spend a lot of time

* doing research

* seeing topic ideas at other blogs

* formulating responses to posts at other blogs

* posting post-prep comments at other blogs,

prior to crystallizing the comments into

full-blown posts at your own blog

* writing, editing, revising, hyperlinking, and publishing new posts

* reading online and print material to stay on top of your field

* maintaining fast response to user comments on your blog

* reciprocally commenting on blogs of visitors who posted comments on your blog

* re-visiting other blogs on which you've posted comments, to read blog author or blog visitor responses to your comments

* thinking about what you've recently posted (was it too harsh? too light on hyperlinks? too combative? too soft? too preachy? too wimpy? too erudite? too simple? too much? not enough?)

* discussing what you've posted on your blog and other blogs with those who have no idea what you're talking about, don't know and don't care what a blog is, and who aren't even sure who you are to begin with and why you decided to start talking to them.

Like I keep repeating, blogging properly, frequently, authoritatively or entertainingly, non-boringly... can be hard work.

But after spending 15 hours doing all you need to do to publish a post that you're proud of, and you hope will benefit or amuse your readers... can pause and think, "I did it. That post is not too shabby. I like it. I think I expressed what I wanted to express. Now let's see what happens, if anything."

Remember the Lurkers,

who happen to be

the Majority of Your

Blog Readers.

Most readers will read your posts,

like them or hate them,

be enlightened or bored,

pacified or angered,

elated or depressed,

///....///...but will not tell you.

The last time I checked,

the statistic I read was:

less than 2% of internet users

post user-generated content,

such as blog comments.

So be sure you respond quickly

to those who post comments,

but also keep in mind the many

the much more, who are silent,

appreciating or fleeing.

Your lurkers are your silent partners.

Or innocent bystanders... they quietly watch your blog

eat away your brain.


[signed] Steven Streight aka Vaspers the Grate


Blog Sidebar Experiment--Part 1 now at BCV

I have completed Part 1 of my Blog Sidebar Experiment.

This is an examination of sidebar contents of 33 blogs.

Discover how various bloggers organize their "peripheral", "supplementary", "marginal" content...truly a deconstructionist viewing of what is "on the outskirts" or "separate from the main stage, where the posts reside".

If you have a blog, you may pick up some good ideas here, and some new blogs to add to your blogroll.

If you enjoy reading blogs, you may discover some new blogs to visit, post comments at, and bookmark as a favorite.

Worth a glance.

Now available at:

"Blog Sidebar Experiment--Part 1"

While you're there, be sure to check out:

"China Thinks It Can Censor Blogs"

"What You Owe Your Blog Readers"

"Writing vs. Talking (re: Derrida)"

"McCain-Feingold: Fear and Hatred of Blogs"

"My Secret Blogging Practices Revealed"

Fun for the whole family!

[signed] Steven Streight aka Vaspers the Grate


Monday, June 13, 2005

Bloggers are Forward Thinkers

"forward thinking"

Photo by hyperlux JP Kollhoj (Norway)

Let businesses puzzle their brains to death, endlessly asking "what is a blog?" and "how can I use a blog to generate good PR and increase sales?"

They might as well ask how they can use a spiral notebook.

Maybe CEOs and business leaders should scribble their thoughts into a spiral notebook first. That way, they can get used to transparency, honesty, and sincerity, without anyone flaming, baiting, or challenging them.

If you operate a blog, you're smarter than most CEOs and businesses.

If you operate a blog, you're ahead of the curve.

You're a Forward Thinker, moving into the future.

All these business people have to do is read a few well-written blogs to see the potential they offer.

What's the big deal? Why are they so sluggish, slow, backward in their thinking?

I predict that businesses will pass over blogs.

I predict that businesses will think "forming a candid, two-way conversation with customers" is not a good idea.

Think of how businesses use a telephone to increase sales: telemarketing. The telemarketers hype a product, and use hard sell tactics, sometimes deceptively, to gain an immediate purchase.

Think of how businesses use mail to increase sales: junk mail hyping a product, to gain an immediate purchase.

Think of how businesses use television to increase sales: tv commercials hyping a product, to gain an eventual purchase.

See the trend here?

Television as it currently exists is not interactive.

But mail and telephone are. Do you see any businesses using the interactive nature of telephones and postal mail to engage in candid conversations with customers?

Then why do we expect businesses to jump on the blog bandwagon?


Most businesses are not Forward Thinking.

Most businesses stare at the immediate bottom line down there at their feet, where they're planted like a frozen statue. Afraid to take risks, afraid of innovation, reluctant to implement drastic change or radical improvement.

It's funny, since blogs require no real financial investment or overhead costs, just a cataclysmic revolution in corporate culture.

Ah, there's the rub.

The 9 core values of blogging--how many companies really believe in and practice them?

Another big reason why businesses are so slow to get into blogging is due to a fear of, or a counter-productive attidude toward, change.

They resist change for various bad reasons, but largely because they also resist getting the workers involved in decision-makeing. They don't value worker input. They feel workers are slaves to be bossed around, not associates to include in planning and strategy meetings.

I applaud and cheer that tiny minority of Forward Thinking CEOs and businesses that are experimenting with blogs.

Someday, their competitors will curse the day they decided to "wait and see", to let the others make mistakes and work out exactly how to best use a blog.

The "wait and see" crowd are the Kings of Mediocrity, and mediocrity is its own punishment. The "wait and see" crowd are the cowards, the inept, the dullards and sluggard who impede progress.

When the telephone and the television were first invented, very few business people could see any value to them. They were considered to be merely toys, curiosities, frivolities. Sound familiar?

So blog on brother, blog on sister.

Know that as a blogger, you're a Forward Thinker.

You're way ahead of the ruling elite, the so-called managers, and the business school graduates.

You're the kind of pioneer that made America great, and can make any other nation great, too.

[signed] Steven Streight aka Vaspers the Grate

Document Contains No Data error message

I do what most users probably do when they see an Error Message appear in browser window.

I ignore it, and try again.

For example, I sometimes get an "Operation Timed Out" message.

This generally means there is too much traffic passing through the server. I get this when attempting to publish or re-publish a blog post via Blogger. So I just click-select "Republish Entire Blog" again, and it usually goes through.

A bit more disturbing is the "Document Contains No Data" error message. I get this when viewing a blog post I'm editing, right in the middle of editing it. I also see it when attempting to visit certain web sites or blogs.

Weird. "No Data"? Sounds serious, does it not?

Here's how to find out what error messages and other mysterious messages mean, if you don't have an internet or web design manual, like WEB DESIGN: The Complete Reference (by Thomas Powell).

Just do a search engine search on the phrase, enclosing it within double quotes ("document contains no data").

You'll typcially see search results listed that include comments people have made on various blogs, discussion forums, and such. You may also discover specific posts or online articles discussing what you searched for.

As a Mozilla/Firefox browser user, I click-selected the link to their "Knowledge Base" explanation of the error message "document contains no data".


mozillaZINE "Document Contains No Data"


Document contains no data

From MozillaZine Knowledge Base

This article applies to Firefox and Mozilla Suite.

Your browser displays "The document contains no data" error message? This article contains possible solutions to this problem.

* Make sure your firewall or antivirus software aren't blocking Firefox from accessing the web.

* This may be because of your proxy server, try disabling it if you can.

* This could be due to a problem with the cache. Clear your cache:

# Firefox: "Tools -> Options -> Privacy -> Cache".
# Mozilla Suite: "Edit -> Preferences -> Advanced -> Cache".

* Software known to cause problems:

# Peer Guardian, try switching it off or use an alternative product.
# Older versions of Panda Antivirus may be causing this. This is how to fix it (

* If you are still experiencing problems, check that you can access the website in other browsers. If you can't, it's probably a server problem.


I hope this example not only answers your questions about this particular Error Message, but also provides you with a way to find out what other messages and phenomena mean.

Put those search engines to work, but also learn how to identify good results from irrelevant, nonsense, and dubious results links. That's another lesson for future post.

[signed] Steven Streight aka Vaspers the Grate

Sunday, June 12, 2005

note on "Super Sidebar Hacks #2: Adding Links"

This post was deleted because Blogger converted all my code examples into actual renderings, thinking I was coding the post.

So I have to redo the whole thing, using words like "forward slash" instead of the symbol.

This may be a lot of work, and may end up being a confusing document to read. My neck hurts. I'll try another stab at it tomorrow.


Saturday, June 11, 2005

Trackback Spam--delete it NOW


Trackback Spam is a vile, horrible attack on a blog, and on all the readers of a blog.

Trackback Spam, like Comment Spam, Trolling Comments, and Abusive Comments, becomes part of your blog, thus part of you, as a person.

All these examples of Cyber-Vandalism act like ads or banners on your blog. If you don't remove them, you are tacitly endorsing them.

Your credibility goes right down the proverbial toilet. Flush!


If you're lazy or stupid, and you leave any kind of spam on your blog, your readers will HATE you and STOP visiting your blog. And will tell others to stay away.

Wake up. This is serious.

Why will readers hate you, stop visiting your blog, and spread negative word of mouth about you?

Trackback Spam is Dangerous

Evil spammers will attack, not only your comments function, but also your trackback function.

They do this to promote their con artist, or spyware attaching, sites. It also boosts their link popularity and user hit ranking on search engines.

By leaving the spam as a blotch on your blog, you are unwittingly in league with the vile spammers.

Do you really want your readers to click-select a spam URL in a trackback, visit the spammer's web site or blog, and get a virus, Trojan horse, spyware, or adware...or their personal computer, or network?

These malware codes can infest and damage a company's network, since many blog readers visit blogs while at work. Think about this. Get some brains, please.

I've seen trackback spam at wonderful blogs...

...blogs I've now blacklisted as worthless danger zones.

ACTUAL EXAMPLE at one of my favorite blogs.

I won't embarrass the bloggers, by naming the blog I found this at, but here is actual Trackback Spam that I found there.

The first trackback entry seems legitimate, but opportunistic, thus I disapprove.

The rest is definitely irrelevant, possibly hazardous, trackback spam.

URLs have been stripped to protect you.


Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Corporate Blog Tip #6 (add comments):

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Trackback and Comment Spam is easy to detect.

It's always irrelevant, opportunistic, greedy, crazy, and aggressive.

If you post a comment, to alert the blogger to the spam, the spammers will retaliate by adding more.

As soon as the spam is posted, they succeed in boosting search engine ranks, in most cases.

Blogger Beware.

Show some compassion for your readers.

Delete this crap IMMEDIATELY.

Or you'll deserve the backlash you'll receive.

[signed] Steven Streight aka Vaspers the Grate


Today's Top Ten Technorati Search Terms

new Beta Technorati unveiled

At the new Beta Technorati

(Technorati provides a "World Live Web" search on blogs and on any keyword or phrase, and is a prominent blog tracker, presenting statistics and analyis on the blogosphere. An important resource. Register your blogs there today.)

Today's Top Ten Searches

1. Podcast
2. "Star Wars"
4. Terrorism
5. Knitting
7. "Jon Stewart"
8. News
9. "Web Video"
10. Politics

Be sure to check out all the new Technorati features in their recently unveiled Beta Version.

[signed] Steven Streight aka Vaspers the Grate


Thursday, June 09, 2005

Blog Definition & Future of Blogs--Part Two

blog definition and future, part 2

What is the definition of "blog"? What does the future hold for blogs?

I was curious about what some of my blogging friends had to say about this. So I sent an email micro-survey to them, and got quite a few interesting replies.

Here is the second batch of answers, by some of the highest traffic, most successful, and most respected bloggers in the blogosphere.

Thanks to all my blog allies for taking time from their busy schedules to reply to my emails.

I appreciate your willingness to share your insights with others.

_ _ _ _ _ _

Dave Taylor of The Intuitive Life Business Blog

(1.) What is your definition of a "blog"?

A blog isn't what everyone thinks it is.

In fact, on this very page, you have a pile of definitions of blogs that I disagree with.


Because everyone likes to focus on the *presentation* of information and blogs are really all about the *management* of information.

Here's what I mean: if you think that a blog is a web site characterized by frequent articles displayed in chronological order, typically with timestamps, a la a journal or diary, you're missing the forest for the trees.

Weblogs, instead, are just the facade that we see of considerably more powerful content management systems that really revolutionize the maintenance of Websites.

Look at it this way: if you're not using a blog to help manage your site, when was the last time you added any new content or revised an existing page?

When you do add content, do you make sure to link
it into all the other pages on your site, including your sitemap?

Sure, there are other software solutions for managing Web sites, but none
that are as flexible, easy, inexpensive, and SEO-friendly as weblogs.

(2.) What is the future of blogs?

Having said that, I think that blogs are going to go the way of the dinosaur, evolving from an animal we spot into the petroleum we use to fuel our journeys, without giving an iota of thought to the source of the petroleum.

It's not that blogs aren't cool and interesting, but just as geeks used to learn PostScript so they could work with printers and display systems and now...

...have no idea that PostScript is the underlying language of many devices, so we'll find that we can focus on our sites, how the information is displayed and how we utilize it for our needs.

After all, the bottom line is the same as it was before the blogging "phenomenon":

how do you find the best, most useful and valuable information on the Internet for any given question, problem or query?

Katherine Stone of Decent Marketing

(1.) What is your definition of a "blog"?

I guess my definition of a blog is a technologically-enabled worldwide conversation. That's what it is for me anyway.

Simply a way of chatting and sharing ideas with people I never would have met or been able to talk to otherwise about a subject that is of mutual interest.

(2.) What is the future of blogs?

As for the future of blogs, I think we'll continue to get millions and millions of them as people catch on to the trend. But most of those will become defunct fairly quickly as people realize they actually have to maintain them, and it can take quite a bit of time.

I also wonder whether more and more webmasters will lose business to blog hosters, if it turns out that people abandon their more static websites in favor of just having blogs.

Laura Ries of The Origin of Brands Blog

(1.) What is your definition of a "blog"?

A personal online journal.

(2.) What is the future of blogs?

Blogs will continue to influence pop culture. They ignite, fuel and influence the word of mouth marketing of brands, trends and scandals.

While traditional media (ie TV, Radio, Magazines, Newspapers) will continue to dominate pop culture, more reporters will also get story ideas from the world of blogging.

And bloggers will continue to write about what they see in the mass media.

Word of mouth is the most powerful and successful way to build brands.

Advertising continues its decline as a brand building tool.

Robert May of Business Pundit

(1.) What is your definition of a "blog"?

I don't think I really have a great definition. I would say a blog is a regularly updated thought diary.

(2.) What is the future of blogs?

The future of blogs is how others will use them. Blogging won't change significantly over the near future, but the technologies that mine them for data will.

Blogs are a deep source of unstructured personal thinking, and in many cases they are as honest as you can get.

That information could be very valuable once someone figures out how to
harness it.

Julia Hayden (Sgt. Mom) of The Daily Brief

(1.) What is your definition of a "blog"?

What is a blog? An on-line journal, frequently updated, of essays, comments and links.

(2.) What is the future of blogs?

Future of blogs? Some will go on very much as they have, but some of the more current-events blogs will move even more into being news and commentary providers.

Ernest Svenson of Ernie the Attorney

(1.) What is your definition of a "blog"?

Technically, it is a website that is easily updated with posts generally being placed in reverse chronological order.

Metaphorically, blogs are like the end of the fireworks show where lots of colorful explosions increase the passion and excitement of the crowd.

(2.) What is the future of blogs?

What is the future of humans finding new ways to trust each other and communicate from that standpoint? I don't know, but I'm looking forward to finding out.