Saturday, April 29, 2006

the real power of blogs

My friends over at Blog Business Summit consistently pump out interesting posts relevant to blogology.

I try to read pretty much every post over there, and I post mostly comments that agree. But this time, I was unable to concur with the conclusion that the dreadful Morbid Stream Media (MSM) "blog" called Rising from Ruin was an elegant "blog that doesn't look like a blog".

"Blogs That Don't Look Like Blogs" by Teresa Valdez Klein speaks of the power of blogs. But the MSM, as expected, is portraying the ability of blogs to "touch" others with emotional responses and politically correct, weepy, "human interest" exploitations.

I have frequently discussed the so-called "power" of blogs, which lies not so much in the influence of blogs on society, as in the rapid transformation of the blogger herself.

To call a blog a "web site on steroids" is a very unfortunate and erroneous claim. For a blog is the very opposite.

A blog is a wimpy little, scaled-down, dumbed down, mini-web site.

The blog you adore because it can contain a textual rendition of something incessantly transitory within you...


...a bare bones skeleton, a minimized presence that acts as a type-enabled telephone, a slow chat room, a new and simplified way for people to interact on the web. But the New Super Blogs of Blogosphere 4.0 will be more complex, more interactive, and more beneficial to users.

A blog can indeed empower an individual or an organization.

Just having a blog seemingly indicates the possibility that you and your company sincerely wish to pose as desiring candid multi-vocal communication interactions with anybody who passes by, hopefully customers or peers.

Even though a blog can empower, there is no intrinsic power in a blog, in and of itself. The blog provides the platform, the stage on which you perform.

On it's own, a blog just sits there. Stupid. Uncaring. Irrelevant. A self-referencing [parenthetical footnote or] email the whole world can [hypothetically] read. A [potential] memo to the [disinterested rest of the] universe. But [as an empty shell of potentiometry]--nothing but blank, inactive software [without the blogger pondering out loud by scribbling within it].

It takes a blog author, a topic or mission, and a blog readership for any "power" to arise. Blogs are simply a tool of the Universal Democracy Revolution, the upheaval and destruction of The Powers That Pretend To Be.

Blogs empower you and me to have a global voice, to put our ideas on the web, and to engage in relevant, enlightening conversations with other bloggers and non-blogger readers.

I see MSM "blogs" as mostly miserable failures and not worth reading.

Here is my reply to this Blog Business Summit post...


While I generally agree with your posts, I have to differ on this Rising from the Ruins "blog".

Aside from the MSM feeding frenzy regarding Hurricane Katrina, and the incessant reports on rebuilding a bunch of doomed and decadent cities, building in a flood zone that will be repeatedly devasted as weather patterns continue to increase in violence, this MSNBC blog is cold and barren.

I saw no personality, no human warmth, no author/journalist names, no sense of a real and authentic human presence, ironically enough.

The MSM has once again taken a "human interest" angle and made it lifeless, dull, morose. Which is why I hatefully call it the Morbid Stream Media.

Rising from the Ruins, a "blog" that is opportunistically preying on the disaster of Hurricane Katrina, is not my idea of a great application of the blog platform.

A blog is a small web site that the average, non-technical person can fairly easily and quickly, create, publish to the web, compose, edit, update, maintain, enhance (with some technical training in HTML/CSS), and promote.

The custom-festooned New Super Blogs of Blogosphere 4.0 will be multi-media, multi-interactivity, hyper-personalized / ultra-focused Web 2.0 sites.


friendly blogocombat

Xian aka Christian and I, in a progess of pilgrimages, lazily and distractedly, in mostly jejune mode, debated MySpace, the treacherous social media platform that some refer to as blogs. In an upheaval of hermitages, we both explained and defended our pointed views. I: toilet. He: network.

In the end, it was my experience versus his experience.

So all I could do was paraphrase for verification, i.e., interpret him. "You defend MySpace ... as I ferociously defend Blogger/Blogspot."

What more could be said? While there is right and wrong, there is also ambivalence and contradiction. A tool can be dangerous, but useful, e.g. a chainsaw.

Friday, April 28, 2006

blogging, a bodily function

Blogging, as a bodily function, transforms, in both positive and negative ways, the blogger.

Your body is what blogs. You blog with your eyes, hands, shoulders, head, spine, and other pieces of your physicality.


Yes, if you insist, your mind is there too, somewhere, possibly, in some cases.

But what really comes through is raw instinct flowing through language, expressed through your body's blogging behaviors, words inscribed by flesh (to enter and embody other flesh on the receiving end of the communication), and transferred to the screen via typing and computer commands, a material pounding and sliding and clicking, that speeds electronic messages through physical conduits to hubs and nets, eventually registering its ethereal substance in another person's physical eyes.

Blog discipline grows and groans within you, as the blog proceeds to take its self-installed place as a penultimate limb, a digital incarnation of a portion of you, while the physical you nods in placid agreement.

And your blog becomes a bodily function, something that seems as natural as nourishing or relieving yourself. Some blogs may exist as behaviors for nourishment or relief, but this is not recommended. The rude and common objects your blog may be exposed to, and pick up, in the form of harsh comments, tend to make a blog unsuitable for psychic gratification.

Monday, April 24, 2006

mind art blogging

Mind Art Blogging is using a blog to project, to a global audience, the deep structures and focal points of your personality, purpose, and products. Since the blog is simply the canvas on which is painted the accumulated sum of the composed parts, the blog, in itself, cannot be wounded or derailed. It moves forward, time-sliding toward the target you see inside.

There can be no surrender or sundering blog from blog mission. The stage is set like steel in concrete. You are using a blog to succeed, your blog shall succeed, and there is no turning back. You see blogging as an art that you intend to master.

You notice that posts take shape in mind, and as mind begins to spew forth blog posts, a new and alien discipline has been introduced into your life. The blogging regimen of one post per day, on average, begins to set in motion an eruption that moves inscription to a seminal advantage.

You used to think and talk a lot. Now you think and type a lot. It's called blogging, and you know it has an uncanny power over you, even as it empowers something in you that departs from what it once held that it knew.

A mind art blog is a construction that, while facing the public, and open to reader input, has no external nourishment channels. You carefully modulate the root message as it undergoes the vicissitudes of the day, with your mental aim acting as your only viceroy.

In effect, your blog is a private expedition into wild and largely unknown territory.

If we consider our blog to be an integral, undifferentiated part of us, an arm of unfleshly action, a perplexed probe striking out beyond our human-physical location, we still grope in partial blindness.

But if we construe our blog as a tooled detachment, a drifting communication machine that represents only a limited abstraction, a sealed gesture unlocked by light from a communal sun, and thus, can hear a thud and not imagine it to be the sound of a guest leaving in amplified futility, we can rest at ease and carry on, even when the striving is greatly intensified by flames and foibles.

Your blog is a work of communicative art that you assign to accomplish a sporadic series of tasks. It is not obligated to mirror you in perfect detail or with any grandiose design of future fabrication. All a blog can do is be a space upon which to impress a scene that was you when you were there.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

7 signs that you should STOP blogging

(1) You're posting only boring, trivial, personal crap...and your writing style is dull as you do it.

(2) You're so desperate for attention, so sleazy, and so post nude photos of yourself.

(3) You post inflammatory posts just for shock value (hoping to attract readers), with titles like "Microsoft Sucks", "I'm sick of Google", "Outing myself as a _________", or "I'd kill myself but that would please too many of you morons".

(4) You decide to try to copy the eccentric or idiosyncratic business models of Post Secret, Weblogsinc., Federated Media Publishing, Boing Boing, Doc Searls, Seth Godin, PhotoMatt, or other successful, inimitable bloggers and ventures.

(5) You exploit vulnerable infants for selfish purposes, by relentlessly posting their photos, and even information about where you live and where your kids go to school, church, play, or shopping...with no regard for their safety and privacy.

Do you ignore the news reports about online predators who seek children to kidnap, torture, rape, prostitute, mutilate, kill, and cannibalize?

You think you're magically immune from these deviants, because you're on some mystical path that makes the Universe grant you special favors?

Then you're more insane than I thought you were.

(6) You begin to publish posts you know are stupid, worthless, unhelpful...just so you can display yet another in the infinite series of photos of YOURSELF! (ugh!!!)

If you must look at yourself so much, why not take up permanent residence in a hall of mirrors?

When a blog is full of photos of the blogger, we can't help but wonder when the blogger will get a life and do something beside gaze lovingly at their own unremarkable flesh.

(7) Your blog degenerates from a business or marketing blog, to a blog about one of your hobbies, or how you're building a new home, or ...and you seriously think that's okay, because "anything goes" in the blogosphere.


If you're guilty of any of these heinous crimes against the blogosphere...

...then, please, do everybody a big fat favor, and give it up.

Stop blogging, take up stamp collecting, and delete your lousy blog. It's just wasting our time and diluting the blogosphere with pointless drivel.


[Inspired by the wit and wisdom of the Harry Potter Assassination Squad, a secret blogging cabal funded and fostered by the New Reformed Insane Blog Media Network.]

blog rocket

Your blog is like a rocket. You climb inside it and blast off. Where do you hope to go? What is your blog rocket pointed at? What is your intended destination?

Product sales? Ad revenue? Fame? Fortune? Industry leadership? Friendship? Romance? Book deals? Recording contracts? A blog media network that a MSM corporation will pay millions to acquire?

If your blog is merely a platform for self-obsessed blabbering, you won't get anywhere.

Great authors, artists, musicians, and poets did not create material that dealt only and endlessly with themselves. Sure, their feelings and ideas and experiences were in their creativity and their productions. But there was more.

A great blog has to deal with more than a movie you saw, or what you ate for dinner today, or why you hate your step-mother.

No famous author wrote only multiple volumes of autobiography. No popular musician composed only songs about himself. No genius artist painted only self-portraits.

Blogs, to be effective, must break out of the shell of self-obsession. You can quote other bloggers, link to external online sources, incorporate non-myopic elements. Blogs can contain, not just your private musings and mundane details, but universal appeal and global vision.

If all you care about, and blog about, is you...don't be shocked if few people read or post comments at your blog. If you invited a friend over for coffee, and they never asked how you were doing, never spoke of anything except their trivial personal crap...I'm sure you'd find them extremely boring.

Your blog really is like a rocket. Like a rocket, your blog could potentially shoot off into the sky and take you somewhere that's worth arriving at. But a rocket can't be directed at itself.

Your business blog can be used as a vehicle to contain and convey items that genuinely benefit people. You could explain your company and sharing with your audience an abundance of fascinating historical facts, bizarre anecdotes, interesting processes and ingredients.

Your personal blog could communicate lessons you've learned in life, valuable insights gained, or how-to tips pertaining to your skills, profession, or hobbies.

But if your blog merely mirrors your moods and meanderings, it's doomed.

What is your blog pointed at? Where is your blog rocket taking you?

Friday, April 21, 2006

The sand monster likes Nuclear Forehead

I just received in the mail today: the first CD by Nuclear Forehead, entitled "What it is!!", courtesy of Dave Gershman.

This is so good, even the sand monster (see photo above) likes it a lot. So you know it's worth:

(1) selling your arab-oil guzzling, terrorist-funding, unpatriotic SUV ...

(2) grabbing the smelly cash ...

... then (3) rushing out to the Nuclear Forehead site to order your copy right now.

Tracks: Intro, Nuclear Forehead, Paranoid Vision, Avalanche Lake, Three Mile Island, An Adventure, Spontaneous Human Combustion, Butter is Lipgloss, Invisible Man, Pompeii, Leaf on a Tree (Maybe I'll Change My Mind), Peroxide Brain Damage, Mel, Traffic Jam, Outtro, Lunar Radiation.

Make and host your web page with Google Page Creator

In what seems to be a Web Page version of Google's Blogger/Blogspot service, Google now offers a free web hosting and creation service called Google Page Creator.


Google Page Creator is a free online tool that makes it easy for anyone to create and publish useful, attractive web pages in just minutes.

  • No technical knowledge required.
    Build high-quality web pages without having to learn HTML or use complex software.
  • What you see is what you'll get.
    Edit your pages right in your browser, seeing exactly how your finished product will look every step along the way.
  • Don't worry about hosting.
    Your web pages will live on your own site at
Google Page Creator is a Google Labs project, and is still in an early testing phase. If you're interested in taking it for a test drive, login with your Gmail account to begin making pages. If you don't have a Gmail account and you have a mobile phone, you can sign up here.


Frankly, I'm happy to see this new Google offering, but I'm somewhat underwhelmed. I think the templates are not that attractive. I'll reserve my full usability review for a later date. Go check it out and see what you can do.

I discovered this via John Battelle Search Blog, his post: "Google News".

Google...on the rampage again with non-stop innovation.


Thursday, April 20, 2006

Google Keyword Tool suggests meta tags

Google now has a public, or "external", version of their Keyword Tool. It was originally available only to Adwords users to help them attract traffic to their sites.

The Google Keyword Tool will generate suggested keywords to plug into your blog template's meta tags and into your blog text.

Keywords in text are what search engines seek in a web page, or a blog post, for results page ranking.

Meta tags
in template code are what identify your entire site (blog) as a location of information on specific topics related to the keywords.

If you want more blog readers, or more hits on your blog ads, you need to be using keywords in your blog posts, and in your template meta tags.

EDIT UPDATE: There is some controversy about meta tags. Google no longer uses them for PageRank.

Why? Because of keyword stuffing, where people were loading keywords into the meta tag code, like:

"blog, blog content, blog posts, blog psychosis, blog conference, blogger, blogging, blogology, blogs, blogosphere, blogophile...[etc.]" on and on and on... a vain attempt to boost their blog's search engine results page ranking.

SEO experts say that what really counts with Google and some other search engines are naturally occuring keywords in your blog, and incoming links from authoritative sites (Boing Boing, Doc Searls, Photo Matt, etc.).

Still, I think it's a good idea to use meta tags in your blog template code, because some search engines still analyze that meta data to determine what your blog is about. Also, it forces you to think rigorously about what your blog focus is.

SearchEngineWatch meta tags example ... shows you exactly how meta tags should look in your blog template.

As you write a post, be aware that people browsing the web will use search engines to find information on topics, so you need to use hot keywords now and then. Keywords should naturally occur in your writing, without your thinking or planning.

For example, if you have a blog about topic X, but lately you've been off on various tangents, blogging about topic Y and Z, then your keyword density is suffering, being diluted with words that are not related to the main thrust of your blog and your personal expertise or obsession.

However, don't artificially, in a contrived manner, sprinkle these keywords in your posts, just to boost search engine results page rank. That's called spamdexing, and search engines will penalize and ignore your blog for such amateurish (or scam artist) tactics.


Our system generates keywords based on the words found on the webpage you provided. Typically, the best URL to use would be your destination URL, ensuring that our system returns keywords that reflect your business or service.

Also, our system will only generate additional keywords based on existing text on the page; therefore, words within images or other non-text formats won't be recognized. You may also find that your webpage keyword results don't necessarily include words found on the webpage provided. This is because our system takes the words found on your webpage and generates additional words related to those keywords.

To generate keywords based on a webpage URL, click the Site-Related Keywords tab on the Keyword Tool page and enter the URL in the box provided.


Give it a try. You might find some suggested keywords you had not thought of yet.

blogging makes you beautiful

Blogging makes you beautiful, because it frees your heart and mind.

Blogging makes you beautiful, because you raise your voice against information hegemony.

Blogging makes you beautiful, because you add your self-generated content to the web.

Blogging makes you beautiful, because your spirituality and ethics are displayed.

Blogging makes you beautiful, because you expand your inner resources.

Blogging makes you beautiful, because it demands dedication, independent thinking, and persistence.

Blogging makes you beautiful, because you interact selflessly with comment posters and other bloggers.

Blogging makes you beautiful, because you're patient and calm toward those who flame and debate you.

Blogging makes you beautiful, because a blog is a thing of delicate wonder and profound majesty.

Blogging makes you beautiful, because you excercise self-restraint and good judgment.

Blogging makes you beautiful, because it requires you to be author, editor, publisher, webmaster, marketer, promoter, analyzer, photographer, artist, and networker.

Blogging makes you beautiful, because it makes you dream of total revolution.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Vaspers web usability discussion list

In my never-ending pursuit of new tech applications to offer you, I can now unveil an official Vaspers Web Usability Discussion List.

This discussion list is an email service that enables you to ask specific questions about your blog, web site, malware, CMS, RSS, podcasting, video blogging, or other web issues...and receive the input of web pros, successful bloggers, and usability specialists.

You can also help your fellow list members by providing answers, solutions, insights, or relevant anecdotes to those who pose questions, via this discussion list.

What happens is this: let's say you have a question about tweaking your blog template, so you can add links to your sidebar. You send an email message, with something like "RE: adding links to my sidebar" to the list. Your fellow list members, including myself, can then read your message, and respond to your question. The answer arrives in your email inbox.

It's simple, easy, and fast.

No using a search engine and hoping you typed in the best keywords, then rummaging through the search results for a hopefully reliable web page.

No fumbling around with an RSS/Atom reader.

No repeatedly visiting a blog to see if anyone replied to a question you posted as a comment.

No repeatedly visiting an online discussion forum, to see if anyone replied to your question posed as a topic thread.

A discussion list is a more direct and immediate way to get a problem solved or a question answered. Even if you don't have any pressing problems right now, you could learn a great deal by reading the messages others send in.

What's really great is this: you can tell what the question is about by the subject line. If you aren't interested in the question posed, or have no expertise or experience to share, you can simply delete the message.

I delete most messages from the discussion lists I subscribe to, but I've also learned a lot from the messages that I did read. Often I had a answer to share. Especially when the message was "RE: site check", meaning a person wanted a quick critique of a new site.

I've been using discussion lists for a couple of years and while they've been extremely helpful at times, I decided to try building my own list to see if I could improve the results. When you email a question to my list, I'll try to respond to every question, and hopefully others will also lend their advice to you.

This list will be helpful to the extent that I invite and obtain a good group of experts on web usability, blogging, social media, etc. I just got the list approved by the hosting company, so this is just a heads up that this new service has been born.

More details, and where to email your questions, will be forthcoming. Stay tuned.

photo above by:
Norbert, Kinderkram,
Dusseldorf, Germany

If you have any questions about the Vaspers Web Usability Discussion List, post a comment here.

If you wish to join now, just send an email, with "Subscribe" in the subject line, to:

vaspersthegrate-request [at] freelists [dot] org

blog meditation: 17 questions

(1) Does my blog have a specific purpose...or is it just random chatter?

(2) Do I seek to benefit others in my blog...or do I just blabber narcissistically, selfishly, egotistically?

(3) Am I using variety in my blog...or just posting the same old shit all the time?

(4) Can I improve my blog's design...or am I satisfied with a generic template?

(5) Do I encourage readers to post comments, by asking questions and making strong statements...or do I just expect people to read and move on, with no interaction?

(6) Do flaming, critical, negative comments upset me...or do I see them as just type on a screen?

(7) Am I using my sidebar to display permanent content: my profile, contact info, ads, RSS, custom search engines, books, feedrolls, blogroll...or am I doing nothing with it?

(8) Does my blog have a definite focus, so certain companies, with relevant products, might be interested in advertising on it...or is my blog too vague, too personal, or too chaotic?

(9) Have I done anything lately to make my blog grow, change, expand, improve, evolve...or do I just publish posts?

(10) Do I post comments at other blogs, as an active member of the blogosphere...or do I selfishly expect people to post comments at my blog, with no reciprocity?

(11) Does my blog use cheap gimmicks, like nudity or opportunistically inflammatory post titles ("screw Microsoft")...or do I try to attract readers with quality content and nice design?

(12) Could I display podcasts, videos, games, music MP3 links, or other fun/useful functions on my blog...or do I wish to keep it a simple, text only blog?

(13) Do I post comments at other blogs to enrich those blogs with my expertise or anecdotes...or do I just argue with the blogger and other commenters?

(14) Do I refrain from harshly criticizing a blogger I like...or do I just shoot off my mouth, with no consideration of the blogger's feelings?

(15) Do I write my blog carefully, and substantiate claims with links to reputable sources...or do I just dash off any old thing I feel like saying each day?

(16) Has my blog gotten better since I first started it...or is it stagnating in the same-o same-o condition?

(17) Do I actively seek to improve my blog design, CSS, and HTML skills...or do I not care about the technical aspects of web content management?

Now it's your turn.

What other questions should bloggers ask themselves?

Post a comment and let me know your opinion.


blogosphere status report April 2006

Dave Sifry's "State of the Blogosphere, April 2006 Part 1: On Blogosphere Growth" report is now online.

Did you know that almost half the blogs that are created are abandoned, contain no further posts, just 3 months after they're started?

Sifry posits this as a positive, by saying that 55% of blogs are still active after 3 months. But I see this as an indication that to be a hardcore blogger, one must have dedication and persistence. A 45% drop off rate is pretty bad. Who knows why almost half the bloggers quit?

Go read the whole interesting article. I display one of Sifry's charts, and the summary, here.


In summary:

  • Technorati now tracks over 35.3 Million blogs
  • The blogosphere is doubling in size every 6 months
  • It is now over 60 times bigger than it was 3 years ago
  • On average, a new weblog is created every second of every day
  • 19.4 million bloggers (55%) are still posting 3 months after their blogs are created
  • Technorati tracks about 1.2 Million new blog posts each day, about 50,000 per hour

anonymous business blogs = no credibility

I visited a blog, that I discovered at Chartreuse, called Blog Republic today.

The blog seems to focus on how to blog effectively and how to monetize a blog. Too bad that it violates one of the most important rules of blogging. There are some nice posts there: short, well written, solid advice, good post titles, no clutter.

My problem is that it's anonymous.

Anonymous = "an" (without) + "onomos" (name).

A blog with no name behind it. A murky mysterious presence. A Shadow Blogger.

I have no idea who is writing it. It calls itself a group blog, or a blog media network, but it's quite odd that the authors and editors are UNKNOWN...not revealed.

This anonymous aspect pretty much destroys all credibility for the blog. Why would a business blog like this wish to conceal who's involved with it? Why the darkness? What are they hiding from?

I tried to post a comment, but you have to register/login just to post a comment.

This is ridiculous. I will not give my personal information to an anonymous blog, a blog that won't give me any personal information about the blog author.

Blog Republic won't tell me who they are, but they want me to tell them who I am!

The anonymous nature of this blog violates one of the most important principles of blogging: being upfront and transparent about who the hell you are!

So how can you trust a blog, when the blogger/bloggers will not reveal who they are, and what their credentials or backgrounds are? You can't. This casts doubt and suspicion over the entire operation.

I display, in this blog, who I am, and how to contact me.

Now I'll let you in on a secret, that's not really a secret. In my Profile page, I say my location is Antarctica. Wishful thinking, a joke. But if you look at My BlogMap in my sidebar, you'll see that I live in Peoria. So I'm not being deceptive, just being comical about living in Antarctica.

I also make it very easy to contact me: email, Skype, Google Chat...and, best of all, via comments you post here.

People go to a blog to connect with another real person. You expect to interact with, or at least read the thoughts of, an actual, identifiable human being. Blogs at their best are a means of having a candid conversation with another person, whom you begin to know, by way of About Me, Profile, Bio, and continued reading of their posts.

An anonymous blog is acceptable if you're a woman who is being stalked, if you live in a repressive country, or if you're afraid your boss might fire you if he read your posts. But you lose the blog core values of Authenticity and Transparency.

Few people will wish to have a candid conversation...with an Unknown and Unknowable Entity.

Monday, April 17, 2006

passive trivia reader vs. active info seeker

Blogs that are just text, and especially those that are mere expressions of random opinions, are becoming increasingly irrelevant. With so many millions of blogs, users don't much care about some stranger's rantings and ravings, even about topics of great interest.

Bloggers must focus on the real value of their work. We must abandon the Passive Trivia Reader model, and accommodate the Active Information Seeker. If we think readers will repeatedly visit our blog, and hang on every word we type, we're sadly mistaken.

There's no novelty to blogs anymore. They're quickly assuming their rightful place as just another type of media. To say, "Visit my blog sometime", and expect that anyone will do it, is a vain hope. Why should they visit your blog? What value can readers find in it?

It used to be that companies would add "Visit us online at" or whatever, and anticipate a mad rush. These blase companies soon found out that you have to give users a good reason to visit a web site.

Why? Because most users already have too much to do online. To add a visit to your site, just to "check it out"? Not going to happen. Even if they know you and like you. Still not going to happen.

What attracts people
to a web site or blog?

* special "web-exclusive" offers, products, discounts
* valuable information
* practical ideas
* rare content that's hard to find elsewhere
* easy to understand how-to tips
* well-documented facts
* relevant quotes or statistics
* quality entertainment
* extremely funny anecdotes
* astonishing art
* incredible photos
* fascinating videos
* listenable podcasts
* unique personality shining through, that makes even mundane, trivial events seem comical or interesting.

I cannot stress often enough this fact, proven by user observation tests: web users and blog readers tend to be the exact opposite of the blog author.

What I mean is this...

After you publish your new post, you probably read it very slowly and carefully, admiring your genius thinking and perfect prose.

Your readers don't read your blog like you do.

Sometimes they don't even finish an entire rambling post. They often don't even follow your thoughts or arguments. They may totally misinterpret your meanings. A reader may stop reading part-way through...and post a hostile critique as a comment. They may even put words in your mouth that you never dreamed of saying.

20 Realities of
Typical Blog Readers:

People who visit your blog tend to be...

(1) in a hurry

(2) impatient

(3) distracted by television, work environment, phones calls, kids, cigarettes, music, etc.

(4) multi-tasking

(young people especially tend to eat, drink, watch TV, blog, and chat simultaneously)

(5) jaded, bored, hard to impress

(6) goal-oriented (specific purpose for visiting your blog)

(7) cynical

(8) skeptical

(9) absent-minded

(10) skimming/scanning (for relevant data or topics)

(11) preparing mentally for the next activity on their list

(12) expecting proof or anecdotal evidence

(13) fickle, disloyal

(14) easily offended

(15) repulsed by dense paragraphs and lengthy posts

(16) intolerant of multiple typos

(17) sensitive to inflammatory or unwarranted critique

(18) judgmental about personal faith, philosophy, or politics

(19) paradoxically attracted to controversy, confrontation, conflict

(20) quick to notice inconsistencies and faulty reasoning

CONCLUSION: Don't write or format your blog for a slow, patient, sympathetic blog reader. Expect your visitors to not be Passive Trivia Readers. They don't exist, aside from a tiny handful of ardent devotees. And even they can get their nose out of joint at ONE SINGLE SENTENCE they disagree with!

Write and format your blog for the vast majority of readers: the Active Info Seeker.

[ART at top of post = "Pastoral with Yellow Star" by David Salle]

ethical business leadership is mandatory

Business leadership must be based on ethical standards and moral principles, not profits and success at any cost.

Many times I have abandoned a client, due to lack of moral leadership. I have had clients who have tried to "pull something" on me, or on their customers.

When you see something shady, dubious, or outright wrong, you have to take a stand. If you see exploitation, unjust or unfair treatment, sadistic domination, it's time to leave.

You may not necessarily confront the executive, and you may not be able to do anything about the situation. But you can sever your alliance or employment with the questionable company or client.

"Every one of us should therefore be ever vigilant, watching for those who choose to lead others in immoral ways toward evil ends--or moral ways to evil ends, or immoral ways to good ends. This vigilance means that it is essential that you, as a constituent, demand to know what your leaders value....

One way to recognize moral leaders and to guard against immoral ones is to observe if they engage in learning the true needs and values of their constituents. If they are more intent on telling than on listening, it is likely that they are up to no good....

Respondents in our studies consistently favor honesty, competence, dependability, support, fairness, and caring. Leaders should bear this in mind--and constituents should be more willing to take a stand against those who would undermine these principles."

-- James M. Kouzes, chairman emeritus of the Tom Peters Company, executive fellow at the Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship at the Leavey School of Business, Santa Clara University.

Barry Z. Posner, dean of the Leavey School of Business and professor of leadership at Santa Clara University.

Credibility: How Leaders Gain and Lose It, Why People Demand It
(Jossey-Bass, A Wiley Imprint, 2003)
p. 66-67

It's important for corporations to not only comply with the new post-Enron government regulations, like the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, but also to realize that greed, paranoia, and deception are not success principles.

When workers are afraid to voice legitimate complaints, or to suggest improvements, a business is doomed.

The old tyrannical "Command and Control" style of leadership is dead. Business must engage in candid conversations with customers and with employees. Blogs, used correctly, represent one way to achieve transparency, honesty, and sincere relationship.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Happy Easter without eggs

Leaving behind the pagan fertility rites of egg, bunnies, and teeth-rot candy, I mean to wish everyone a politically incorrect Happy Easter 2006.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

YouTube usability errors on Blogger

Tonight I'm experimenting with YouTube embedded video players.

I decided to search for videos by some favorite bands: Caroliner, Atari Teenage Riot, Pavement, Joy Electric, Joy Division, the Fiery Furnaces.

Two very strange problems arose:

(1) Empty post templates.

After I successfully paste the video code into a new post template, title the post, and publish it, I cannot then go back and edit the post, as I can do with any other non-YouTube posts.

I can't remove the embedded player code, nor can I add any text to the post. The template appears empty. It's creepy and unprecedented.

(2) Deleted posts: not deleted.

[EDIT UPDATE: Sure enough, when I published this post, the Joy Electric/Joy Division post disappeared. Thus, it seems to have been a cache error.]

I made an error in the "i am made from the wires by Joy Electric" post. I pasted the video twice, and I also pasted in a video by Joy Division, "Shadowplay".

I wanted to have just one copy of the Joy Electric video, accompanied by the Joy Division video, for comparison purposes. I thought it was interesting that Ronnie Martin (Joy Electric) was gesticulating in an eccentric manner, since Ian Curtis (Joy Division) was famous for his strange movements on stage, influenced by the Japanese Noe puppet theatre, as seen in this video from 1978.

Due to problem #1, I was unable to delete the extra copy of the Joy Electric video. So I went to my Blogger Dashboard, and to Edit Posts, to Delete the post. Blogger message told me it was deleted. My Edit Posts page shows no "i am made from the wires" post.

But damn: there it is anyway. I can't get rid of it. Is this a local cache problem, or what?

[EDIT UPDATE #2: It now appears that Avant Browser cannot correctly Copy the embed code of YouTube.

I'll go back to Firefox, and try to embed those JE and JD videos in this post.]

Caroliner the Singing Bull live

baby c'mon by Stephen Malkmus of Pavement

i'm gonna run by The Fiery Furnaces

cut your hair by Pavement

sick to death by Atari Teenage Riot

most popular Swicki search terms

I have a custom search engine on this blog, in my sidebar. It's called Blog Revolution Search Engine and it's hosted by Eurekster/Swicki. I have to train it and promote my own posts, under relevant topics.

Due to my bizarre problem of the archive list not displaying on my sidebar, I must suggest you use my Blogger "search this blog" tool (top of blog) or my Swicki custom search engine (sidebar). Just type in whatever you want to know about.

(1) The Blogger "search this blog" tool only searches Vaspers the Grate.

(2) The Swicki custom search engine searches my sites and others, with emphasis on high quality sites like Micropersuasion, Scobleizer, Tom Peters!, Seth Godin, Gaping Void, Edelman, and Laura Ries' Origin of Brands.

Here are some of the most popular Swicki search keywords that people are entering into the text entry box, or clicking on in the tag cloud.

Most Popular
Search Terms
used on my
Blog Revolution
Search Engine

blog perfection: 57

blog secrets: 34

blog humor: 24

blogocombat: 23

blog history: 23

hardcore blogging: 23

blog tips: 23

blog neologisms: 22

blog content writing: 21

blog ethics: 19

New Super Blog: 18

triumphalist blogging: 15

New Reformed Insane Blog Media Network: 15

blog residue: 14

This information can help me determine what my readers are most interested in learning about or discussing.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Peoria Pundit list of tech bloggers

My fellow Peorian, Bill Dennis, runs a city-focus blog called Peoria Pundit.

I thought I had blogrolled him, but somehow he slipped through the cracks. Taken care of today. Left a comment on his post about Anonymous Bloggers. (link coming in a moment)


It turns out that “Jubal” is a guy named “Matt Cunningham,” who is very much a political insider. He runs two different consulting businesses, and blogs under his own name at a different site.

The article details incidents in which the Jubal praised and linked to Cunningham’s posts. It all strikes me as somewhat dishonest.

There can be good reasons to be an anonymous blogger. Loss of one job is one reason. This guy IS the boss though. He seems to be leveraging one blog to promote another, and in some cases, promoting potential clients under the guise of being a concerned citizen blogger.


I agree with Peoria Pundit (as usual). Inventing a fictional character, giving him a blog, then making him praise and link to you? Pathetic screwed up BS...from (gasp!!) a politician!

Here's the Peoria Pundit sidebar list of tech bloggers.

Tech Bloggers

12 blog content tips

(1) Write to help, inform, amuse, entertain, enlighten, warn, educate, provoke, encourage, exemplify, challenge, inspire.

(2) Write about topics currently causing a blogosphere buzz, only if you have substantial thinking or relevant links to contribute.

(3) Write about your own personal, independent viewpoints, rather than always quoting others.

(4) When you quote another blog or other online source, credit the source: get permission if necessary, use [QUOTE] and [END QUOTE] or similar device, like blockquotes, to separate the quote from your own text.

Always give quoted author name and title, date of quoted text, title of publication quote from which the quote is taken, and a hypertext link, a deep link, directly to the article from which the quote is derived.

(5) When you quote an long excerpt, or an entire article, from someone else, the protocol is to at least offer your own analysis, interpretation, or commentary on that material. Otherwise, it will look like you just paste other people's content into your blog, because you're stupid or lazy.

(6) Vary your post content, in terms of mood, style, length, titles, text formatting, links, seriousness vs. playfulness, critique vs. praise, photos/art vs. plain text, and topic selection.

(7) Use sidebar for (relatively) permanent content you think every visitor should see, like links to your other sites, or a blogroll, feedroll (Digg, Lockergnome, etc.), or badges for causes you believe in. It's not hard for non-technical bloggers to change and enhance the content of the sidebar. Many tutorials exist, and I'll personally instruct those who ask me.

(8) Format for speed. Studies show that web users--hurriedly, impatiently, distractedly--skim and scan, searching for relevant items. Web analysts call this "information foraging".

To facilitate information foraging, i.e., user discovery of relevant material on your blog, try using:

* short, pithy posts (unless the message cannot be short without suffering insufficiency)

* bold/italics

* text color/size

* copy chunking (breaking long blocks of text into bite-sized units)

* brief paragraphs

* bulleted, asterisked, or numbered lists

* friendly, personal, consultative tone (rather than harsh, cold, or domineering).

(9) Display a real, fallible, imperfect, down to earth, sympathetic, human presence to your readers. Admit mistakes. Apologize for offenses. Explain your reasons for confrontation and combat. Defend yourself calmly. Ponder reader critiques and flames. Cross out sentences that are invalid, inaccurate, poorly stated, or too rash.

(10) Do the opposite of corporate brochureware, i.e., static web sites, where the tone is stiff, "we"-oriented, and full of generic claims (awesome, revolutionary, best), vague benefits, unexplained features, stock/generic photos, and insincere hyperbole (exaggeration).

(11) Right after you publish a post, be sure to test all the links, in case you typed a URL incorrectly.

(12) Before you post anything, ask:

* "Why am I publishing this to the web for all to see?"

* "Is this tone going to make me sound arrogant, mean-spirited, vengeful, mentally unbalanced, or amateur?"

* "Am I just jumping on a bandwagon to be popular?"

* "Am I just trying to stir up controversy, with no proposed solution or remedy to the problem?"

* "Does my writing represent a unique, or carefully researched, point of view?"

* "Do I link to all the sources or examples that are required to make my essay complete and accurate?"

* "How does this contribute to the overall impression I'm trying to make upon readers?"

* "Is this sufficiently inflammatory to provoke people to wake up and take proper action?"

* "Is there a softer, but more universally appealing and effective, way to state my position?"

* "Am I toned down due to fear, cowardice, or approval-addiction?"

* "If this was posted by some one else, would I still consider it interesting and valuable?"

* "Is this post in alignment with the purpose of my blog?"

MySpace and the mall: dangers and deception


Marketing bloggers are telling us to "study" this "phenomenon" to understand why it's so popular and successful. Some say that businesses should pay attention to what's going on in MySpace. Maybe business can milk MySpace bloggers and networks for cash. I'm not interested.

I put MySpace in the category of crystal meth, Harry Potter, gangsta (criminal/misogynist) rap, game shows, and similar "popular" substances and events.

What's garbage to me may be treasure to you. But having had a blog on MySpace for a while (it's still there, but dormant), I know what I saw. Perversion. Depravity. Promiscuity. No thanks. Look at the ads. Look at the profile photos. Losers.

MySpace is not a blog platform. It's a dating service, organized by users, for users. It's heralded by the teens themselves as a "hook-up" site, a new, fast, and easy way to meet people. But are the people you "meet" really who and what they say they are?

I'm very opinionated about predators and parents who are negligent.

Let me end this rant with an anecdote from my own life.

Yesterday my wife went with her daughter, Kathy, and little boy, Andrew, to the mall. Andrew suddenly vanished. He had wandered off as Andrea and Kathy were shopping and talking, assuming that Andrew was tagging along nearby. He wasn't.

That's the first mistake, not being mindful.

So my wife goes looking for him, and spies him all the way outside the store, by the entrance, talking to a guy about 36 years old. Andrew is 6 years old. Andrew was wearing a Cardinals baseball team tee shirt. The old geezer was saying to Andrew, as my wife approached, "I really like that tee shirt you're wearing."

My wife yanked Andrew away and scolded him for wandering off and talking to a stranger. When she asked him what he would have done if that man had grabbed him, and rushed him off to his car, Andrew said, "I don't know."

Second mistake: not fully instructing the child, with "what if...?" scenarios, and practice sessions on how to shout for help, and inflict pain on the abductor, for a brief chance to escape.

Andrew didn't even know that he should scream "I'm being kidnapped! Help me! I don't know this person! I'm being kidnapped! My mom's in Famous Barr women's apparel, petite", kick, bite, and get away from the kidnapper!

If you're not alarmed at that, it proves you either don't care about child safety, or you pay no attention to Amber Alerts, Oprah, or Dateline.

Not in a million years does a man compliment another person on their clothing, unless he has an ulterior reason. And even more rarely does a man compliment another man on his clothing. Still more unusual is a grown man complimenting a little child on the child's attire.

"Nice sweater" a guy says to a pretty lady, generally accompanied by a wish to see what's under the sweater. "Nice tie" she says, referring to what the tie is pointing to. Not in every case, mind you, but in a large percentage of cases, this is true. Ask any guy, any straight guy, I mean.

You may get angry with me now, and claim the 36 year old guy was merely a Cardinals fan, and meant no harm. Why was he talking to a little boy, who had clearly wandered away from his guardians? Not cool. Not smart. Not typical.

Stick your head in the sand, if you wish.

But all the mothers whose children are kidnapped, raped, tortured, and murdered, they all say, "I just could not believe this would ever happen to MY child. Things like that happen, it's true, but I could never expect it might happen to me or my family."

If you seriously think you're somehow immune, you're nuts.

MySpace is a dating service site that's crawling with deception and danger. Whatever "good" aspects it may have, it is like the local shopping mall, library, or public park. Good people go to these places for innocent purposes. But also: predators hang out there, looking for vulnerable victims.

Telling children and teens the facts is not enough. Watching news reports together is not enough. Dr. Phil and Oprah and Montel are not enough. Even Andy Rooney can't save us.

Parents need to look at what their children and teens are doing. Not to be domineering, tyrannical, or nosey. But to protect and to know exactly what's going on. It's not about "trust". It's about stupidity, negligence, and cluelessness. Ask any parent whose child was stolen and brutalized.

The MySpace frenzy reminds me of the China frenzy. I'm not buying it. They both suck.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

secret depths of blogging

Blogging is a tool, not cool. I mean, it's not cool to have a blog, any more than it's cool to have a home, car, furnace, television, library, garden, business card, or cell phone.

Blogging is a new form of talking, if by talking we mean opening something and letting something flow out.

Blogging is a new form of thinking, a way to get your mind into the other person's shoes, to wear those shoes mentally and walk around in them for a while. That seems to me to be why The Dullest Blog in the World shows shoes as its identifying, categorizing icon.

Blogging is a new form of laziness, as Chartreuse declares candiedly. It enables us to think we're accomplishing something, when usually, no matter how brilliant or amazing our posts, we're not. So we can console ourselves with "at least I published a breakthrough, insanely excellant post on my blog today", and be content with that, and do nothing else that day of any real merit or value.

Blogging is a new form of conversation, if we enable comments, and respond swiftly, completely, and politely (when all else fails) to reader comments.

Blogging is a new form of arguing. I don't think I need to bore you with the bellicose details of trollers, baiters, hazers, snarks, harshing, flamers, of blogger asbestos.

Blogging is a new form of smug self righteousness.

Blogging is a new form of combative freedom alliance.

Blogging is a new form of online journalism.

Blogging is a new form of personal networking and microphone slobbering.

Blogging is new form of typing. Words. Into. Space. The Digital Effluvium.

It all, all the words, it all goes somewhere. Into other eyes and minds perhaps, then into actions, embodied, then into nowhere, oblivion, forgetfulness. What residue remains behind, in you, in the universe, in society?

The Most Important Blogging Question =

What impact does your blog have on your own mind, life, social interactions, dreams?

Blogging is transitory, it cannot last, it's vulnerable to attack, server stalling, server unavailability, delete, blogger negligence, blogger burnout, mis-rendering, and mis-cache.

The so-called secret depths of blogging are contained in the comments. Posts are generally shabby blurted outbursts. It is the reaction of the Other, the user comment, the reader response, that makes the blog real, relevant, valuable: a record of interactive conversation.

While some posts may be so complete, perfect, and true that no comment is necessary, nay, even humanly possible, most blog posts cannot claim this high level of sophistication. I know mine sure don't and won't.

Blogging is scribbling, rarely transfers intact to print, is in the moment. Many bloggers write sloppily, merrily, unprofessionally, lackadaisically, unprintably.

Archives? What's that? Ancient, week old stuff? Who needs it?

From comments posted to "Questions with Chris Locke on Blogging"


# Martin Jensen Says:
January 19th, 2006 at 11:05

I’m also one of “Rageboy’s Kids.” I started out with the typical, personal blogs - essays, poems, commentary, etc. I had small kids then and couldn’t keep it up.

But a couple years later I found a “cause” and got the blogging itch again. It wasn’t about random thoughts or “musings” but rather a specific area of healthcare technology policy, directed towards a very small audience of people who had influence out of proportion to their number.

So the questions about “getting attention” and “most influential” are, to me, off the track. When I am pitching a position, I need to reach only a handful of people — decisionmakers, maybe, or more likely the people that are the centers of meme propogation (a la “Tipping Point”).

Sure it’s gratifying to see the stats that say somebody has read your most recent entry, but the really important thing is to see something happen, months later, that suggests you made a contribution to the discourse.

Your hit counter is never going to tell you whether what you wrote made a difference, but when a small chunk of reality starts to look like a reflection of some idea you had last year, then you know you lent your smidgen of weight to the right memetic lever…..

# v[s^P,e-rS Th' G)_r"A.t# Says:
April 12th, 2006 at 22:52

Blogging is typing words into space, the digital effluvium.

Talking is speaking words into air, the sonic medium.

Publishing print books is inscribing a line of ameliorization all over the beginning and end of a pulpy massacre of trees and terrasphere, to rot in drippings of unnatural tears.

Only remaining is Mind, which pens its noise on the fabric and sand of the universe, etching nothingness into nothing much, mnemonic mulch for the flowering of new ideas.

# Martin Jensen Says:
April 13th, 2006 at 09:20

Mulch happens.

# v[s^P,e-rS Th' G)_r Says:
April 13th, 2006 at 10:24

I’m currently running into so many server, template, cross-browser compat problems, I’m thinking of abandoning digital text altogether, and moving to music podcasts and video renditions on CMS platforms.

My main problem with blogs is they need to be more web sitey, while web sites need to be more bloggy, especially online newspapers, which rarely embed hyperlinks in editorial text and rarely have a normative comment function.

I think I’d rather make my computer sing for my supper, than lecture people and argue about random topics of faint concern. If I can just be insane enough to entertain as I teach, now that would be the music video blog revolution I could sink my ships into.


Tuesday, April 11, 2006

mark kostabi, blogocombat, art ecommerce

{{photo: "Automatic Painting" by Mark Kostabi}}

From "Ask Mark Kostobi" at Art Net.

[QUOTE 1: artistic blogocombat example]

Gee Mark,

With all your gushing about the new Mary Boone artists, you'd think she was paying you. Care to comment on even one artist in another stable? Most of Mary's new breed paint mediocre one-liners with cleverness substituting for true insight. Let 'em buy up, I say. We'll all be asking who was Damien or Inka soon enough!

Best regards, a true collector,

Thomas Brenn


I counted all the non-Mary Boone artists which I commented on in my previous two Artnet columns and the total was 46. Hardly the "not even one" that you wrongly accuse me of. Since you are a blatant liar your credibility for "true insight" was just shot out the window.

Your prediction of someday wondering "who was Damien or Inka" reminds me of what the critic Eleanor Heartney predicted about 12 years ago on national television after calling me "an art whore." She said, "in five years people will be saying, Mark who?"

Heartney, that's H-E-A-R-T-N-E-Y, she used to write for a major art magazine called Arts, that's A-R-T-S. Ask me what it feels like to have the last laugh. I assure you, my allegiance is to Damien and Inka, not Thomas Brenn.

[QUOTE 2: Kostabi's ecommerce advice on passion, focus, and selling art online]

Dear Mark,

At what point in one's career does quitting one's day job become a possibility? Is it monetary? Or will the answer one day shoot out of the sky, striking me like a bolt of lightning? How will I know, Mark?

Jennifer Seymour

Dear Jennifer,

You should have quit your day job yesterday. But today is not too late. All your time should be devoted to art and the things you love doing. But how is this possible when you must eat and pay rent?

In 1982 when I moved to New York as a totally unknown artist, I survived for a year and a half on 25 cent packages of Raman noodles and I was always late paying my $400 a month rent. Visitors to my tiny apartment observed that there were absolutely no signs of traditional domestic comfort, but my paintings covered all the walls. They knew I was totally focused.

I didn't have a "day job," which gives you a false sense of security. I spent all my time making art, visiting galleries and museums and figuring out ways to sell my drawings. Even for five dollars each if I had to. (That's 20 packs of Raman noodles! Twenty meals for a drawing that I made in 20 seconds.) I felt rich because wealth is a state of mind.

I visited the Met almost every day. My suggested donation was one cent and I was surrounded by all that great art and inspiration. I never felt cheap about my "penny to get in" because I know that one day I would donate a major painting. Five years later I gave a lecture at the Met in front of my painting, Requiem (1987), as it hung near Picasso's Portrait of Gertrude Stein and some Max Beckmann masterpieces. I donated Requiem through my then-dealer Ronald Feldman and a collector.

If eBay had existed in 1982 I would never have been late with the rent. You guys have it so much easier. Make 100 quick drawings one afternoon and sell them on eBay for $10 each. Hey, you might even get $100 for some of them. Since you're not famous yet, how will people know to look at your work on eBay? Write a clever description with lots of appealing words that will show up in many categories. Example: "Jennifer Seymour drawing, sexy angel with cat," or "Jennifer Seymour oil painting, portrait of Leonardo DiCaprio."

If you're a devoted, theoretical minimalist type instead of an ingratiating figurative painter, try, "Jennifer Seymour abstract painting, modern decorators dream." Soon you'll build a loyal following who won't be able to wait to get online every night after work and "see more Seymour."

[END QUOTES from "Ask Mark Kostabi"]

between blog anarchy and blog authority

I sit in a reserved seat that lies halfway between blog anarchy and blog authority.

What I mean is this: I proclaim guidelines and rules for effective blogging, and I at the same time believe in each blogger being multi-taskingly creative, charmingly idiosyncratic, and memorably eccentric.

You cannot "blog anyway you want" and expect to be interesting, effective, or popular. There are certain observations that exert some authoritative expertise in most blog applications.

Like what?

Like (1) generic templates makes you look unprofessional, technically deficient, or lazy. Or: (2) blog text should be short paragraphs, generally brief, and frequently posted. And: (3) personalize, customize, non-standardize your blog to make it memorable, sincere, and human.

Blog Business Summit, one of the best and most interesting business blogs I know of, states with great wisdom, in "Blog Dogma":

" of the problems with blog dogma is that the pundits don't have budgets, employees, or resources to manage. I always advise businesses to blog their own way, however it works for them."

One cannot argue with such sober statements, based on practical experience promoting products with blogs.

I might attempt to toss in this little footnote: IF it works for them. Not if they stubbornly refuse to listen to professional blogological advice, and arrogantly charge forward in their misguided delusions.

For example, Delusion #1: if the company wants to have a pseudo-blog, a blogoid object, by using a ghost writer, or by creating some irrelevant fictional character, who has spurious insight based on pretended discoveries during invented adventures.

Or another example, Delusion #2: if the CEO insists on publishing boring, press release, corporate fluffy, "we" oriented, domineering but unsubstantiated braggadocio, long-winded, dense paragraph, rambling posts to his blog.

[QUOTE: my comment posted to this BBS article]

The weblog is merely an infant technology that is going schizoid as business tries to do everything *but* be interactive, candid, and memorable in a blog.

With blog consultants making big claims, but not offering a single case study proof, and others trying, like Robert Scoble and Shel Israel, to verify and evangelize the Blog Revolution of Web Content Universalization, the Rise of Individual Unvarnished Voice, there really is no conflict.

This is, all of it, including me and you, lurching forward at the highest rate of adoption speed of any technology in the history of mankind.

The lowly mini-web with the ugly name, the blawwwg (ugh), little monstrosity, is bravely paving the way to Absolute Switched-On User Empowerment.

What's needed now is not a jumble of theoretical debate or shouting sincere slogans at each other...

...but, rather, the New Super Blog of Blogosphere 4.0, the multi media, hyper-interactive, mulit functional social media platform for Web 2.0 tech grandeur.


Monday, April 10, 2006

prophet motive

see his intensity of face, of facing the facade, way up or over there, somewhere you're not yet at? he brandishes the velvet flame, the violent healing crystal, the verses of truth text. and the orb pulsing near his right side is a fundament, a certainty. keys unscramble their hidden formulations in the wake of his grim stride, a certain glum determination, ferocity, a walking dart, talking somersault, a rocket flashing across your eyes.

Amazon SEO tips for Associates

Amazon dot com, one of the world's premier, pioneering, and popular ecommerce sites, has advice for new Associates, like me. I quote, with large omissions, the highlights or commands, of the text concerning Search Engine Optimization (SEO).

These are tips on how to attract and effectively inform web crawling spider, the search engine bots that accumulate web data for algorithmic ranking in a search results list of web pages relevant to a specific keyword or phrase submitted by a user.

Amazon > Associates Central > Tools & Other Resources >
Performance Tips > Optimize to Get the Most from Search Engines


Here are some specific things you can do to optimize your Web site:

* Get yourself a good domain name. [snip]

* Choose keyword-rich titles for your pages. [snip]

* Content content on your site. [snip]

* Leverage links. [snip]

* Avoid pitfalls. (Dynamic content on framed pages, hidden text, and irrelevant meta-data.)

* Be patient. Above all, remember to be patient! [snip]


website design inspiration?

In one of the web developer email discussion lists that I subscribe to, someone asked "What do you do for inspiration during a site re-design? what sites do you go to? do you have a list you could share?"

Sites mentioned thus far include:

CSS Play
Style Gala
Don't Meet Your Heroes
CSS Beauty
Web Pages That Suck

Someone mentioned that he goes to everything but web sites for inspiration. Another fellow proclaimed that he uses an old scrapbook of patches of color and material to inspire new design ideas.

Here's my contribution to the discussion:

I think we all have web sites we visit or vaguely recall, that influence us. Content quality, design, navigation, usability, credibility, frequent updating, relevance, astonishment...rarely are more than a few qualities exhibited in any one given site.

So I have one site that inspires me content-wise, another that is visually beautiful, another that has great, relevant functionalities, another that is simple and fast to use, etc.

Our greatest inspiration must come from users, not design theory or web aesthetics. Simplicity, ease of use, relevant content, frequent content, accurate content, reliable content, linked content, original content, scannable/skimmable content, behavioral familiarity, mission congruence, error recovery, logical navigation, enhanced interactivity, and extreme customization/user control configurations are all governed by user needs, limitations, and psychology.

Biggest inspiration should be this user reality: users are hurried, impatient, distracted, specific, hype-abhorent, aggressive, opinionated, peer-influenced, cynical, memory-impaired, anti-authoritarian, multitasking, and fickle.

Malcolm Gladwell blog and blogocombat

Malcolm Gladwell is the popular, immensely successful author of two bestselling business books, The Tipping Point and Blink.

Gladwell now has a blog, the Malcolm Gladwell blog, as Karen Ruby, who is good at finding new blogs by famous people, points out and to in her blog.

Now, my BUR (Basic Usability Review) of theMalcolm Gladwell blog: Great first impression. Clean, credible, easy to navigate and read. But how does the artistic dimension of this blog manage to inform me that I'm on the site of a highly influential and successful author? A man of ideas and innovation?

Malcolm Gladwell's blog could probably be more...

(1) Transparent! a little more current, honest, real. High school photo of a blogger is always a bad idea. Let them see you, as you now are, caught red-handed at being you, the non-hyperbole you, the average guy you, the genius in jeopardized brevity you, the what you really look like right now you.

(2) Memorable! Blog looks ordinary, run of the mill, out of step with the prominence and genius of the blogger himself. Look at how Seth Godin brands his blog with a photo of himself. Tom Peters has a distinct blog.

This Gladwell blog could benefit greatly from a really artistic, untrendy, bizarre, experimental blog design, I see colors swirling or a tiny flash jumping from the name Malcolm Gladwell to a book or globe or group of heads, metaphysical oddness, something tilted strangely, outside the box, out of this non-flat world.

Tipping, tilted, blink, flashing: some non-obnoxious graphic or animated treatment of his two famous books, something happening in a non-distracting, non-amateurish manner. Example: Mark Kostabi reflective ripples.

(3) Personalized! Needs to be more eccentric, idiomatic, customized, individualized! Blog must be more deeply Malcolm Gladwell, bear his "stamp", to "deliver" an extraordinariness, a distinct and special entity, product, brand.

(4) Passionate! Needs to be more compelling, unique, memorable, with things like book blurbs or testimonials about Gladwell's books. This blog should be not just more thoughts of Gladwell, and channels for reader interaction with author, but also a vehicle to promote Gladwell and his products.

(5) Promotional! Why not have a blog-visitor only offer? A downloadable book for those who visit the blog, either free or for a small price. Fans like to have special, one of a kind artifacts. There are intense jealousies and ownership pride connected with special fan projects and offers

(6) Interactive! Show your passion for your audience by jumping into those 80+ comment threads and replying, within the comment thread itself, to reader comments.

Assume nobody ever heard of you, and build your blog to convey exactly who you are and why your blog is bookmark/feed worthy. Text links to feeds and other features are boring and need to be jazzed up visually.

(5) Technologically Advanced! While simplicity is key, we expect a little extra edge from our leading thinkers, when they publish a print book or an online blog.

A major business author like Gladwell deserves a top flight, New Super Blog, with Web 2.0 characteristics. A leading business thinker needs to have an astonishing business blog. You should look leading edge as you explain leading edge ideas.

Gladwell's blog might be improved with a more urban, or academic, or high tech appearance, accompanied by appropriate beta functionalities. An author who discusses innovation and creativity, this kind of author deserves a blog that is also innovative and creative.

Gladwell discusses social theory, psychology, commerce, sports, nature, strategy, mysticism, philosophy.

How well does the visual impression of this blog convey these aspects of his thought and writing? Could it work harder at presenting Gladwell and his ideas, his controversies?

Malcolm Gladwell engages in blogocombat!

I leave you with a strong encouragement to visit, bookmark, and subscribe to the feed syndication of the Malcolm Gladwell blog...and a sample of his thoughts on blogocombat, in which he talks about how he disagrees with a competitive business author, but still likes his books.

I excerpt only what I found relevant to this deconstructive tangent of how the blogocombat is conducted, skipping the irrelevance of the specific topic of debate. Notice how diplomatic, conjectural, and aggressive Gladwell is.

A fine example of gentlemanly blog clobbering!


"Thoughts on Freakonomics"
March 09, 2006


A number of people have asked me what I think of the bestselling book "Freakonomics" written by Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner.

On the front of the book, there is a glowing blurb by me which would suggest that I love it.

On the other hand, chapter four of Freakonomics is devoted to the question of why crime dropped so dramatically in America—and particularly New York—in the 1990’s, and in that chapter Dubner and Levitt reach a very different conclusion than I do in "The Tipping Point."

In fact, "Freakonomics" specially singles out for ridicule the theory of broken windows, which I suggest in the Tipping Point played a big role in New York City’s recovery.

So what gives? Why do I love a book so much, if it contradicts my own book? Have I renounced the theories I put forward in the Tipping Point?

I have two answers.

The first—obvious—point is that it is not necessary to agree with everything you read in a book to like that book. I have a number of problems with several chapters in Freakonomics, because I find the way in which economists approach problems occasionally frustrating. That being said, it’s very difficult to read Freakonomics and not find yourself saying "wow" every five minutes. I loved it.

Now for the long answer: what do I think of the substance of their crime argument? Is the Broken Windows theory central to the question of whether crime dropped, or isn’t it?

The Freakonomics argument starts off very much like the argument I make in The Tipping Point. The startling decline in crime in major American cities in the mid-1990’s is a mystery. No one predicted it. Everyone thought that high crime rates were a permanent feature of urban life. And the standard arguments to explain why crime falls don’t seem to work in this case.

[snip--text deleted]

Levitt’s argument (and for simplicity’s sake, I’ll refer to the argument from now on as Levitt’s) goes something like this (and keep in mind that I’m grossly simplifying it here).


Levitt makes it clear that he’s not passing judgment on this.


Is Levitt right that [snip]?

Levitt has a few critics, and he’s dealt with them pretty effectively, I think. (Check out There are some other technical critiques of his work from fellow economists, that, I have to confess, I can’t follow. My own response is chiefly that I find the argument incomplete.. For instance, [snip]


Why is this? I can think of some hypotheses. But they are just that: hypotheses. I would have been a lot happier with Freakonomics if the crime chapter had been twice as long—and spent more time explaining just what is so peculiar, in terms of crime rates, about births prevented by abortion.

But that’s a quibble. In the course of making his argument for the importance of abortion Levitt is also pretty dismissive of other, alternate, theories—especially the theory that I spend a lot of time on the Tipping Point, namely the broken windows idea.

It’s here, though, where I think Levitt’s argument is a bit unfair. Levitt concludes that there are three factors that matter the most in the crime drop—abortion, high rates of imprisonment of young men, and increased number of police officers. The last of these three factors he glosses over pretty quickly.

But I think that’s a mistake, because [snip]


In Freakonomics, Levitt pretends he has refuted the Broken Windows explanation. He hasn’t at all. In fact, to the extent that he concedes the huge role played by the expansion of police departments in the 1990’s, he tacitly supports the Broken Windows theory.

So why is he so anxious to discredit Broken Windows? One—understandable—explanation is that he makes his own argument more compelling by dismissing all other arguments. (I know all about this tactic. I do it all the time).

But a deeper explanation, I think, has to do with the difference between the perspective of economics and the perspective of psychology. Levitt is very interested in the root causes of behavior, in the kinds of incentives and circumstances that fundamentally shape the way human beings act. That’s the kind of thing that economists—particularly behavioral economists—think a lot about. And rightly so: who we are and how we behave is a product of forces and influences rooted in the histories and traditions and laws of the societies in which we belong.

But there’s a second dimension to crime, and that is the immediate contextual influences on human behavior.

If you talk to a police officer (or a psychologist) they’ll tell you what a "typical" murder looks like. It’s two men, drunk at a bar. They get in a fight. They step outside. One pulls a gun in anger and kills the other. You can prevent that homicide by creating a population of people who are less likely to get drunk and angry in bars. You can also prevent that homicide by decreasing the likelihood of either of those drunken men having a gun.

Police-work is concerned, necessarily, with this kind of immediate influence on behavior, and one of the things that having lots more police did was to make it possible to reduce the number of guns on the street that could end as a cause for a homicide. Drunken young men still fight in bars in New York City. But now they fight with fists—which are a lot safer.

Freakonomics is a book about deeply rooted influences on behavior, because it’s a book written by an economist. The Tipping Point is a book, by contrast, about the kinds of things that law enforcement types—and psychologists—worry about, because it was written by someone who is obsessed with psychology.

I prefer to think of Freakonomics not as contradicting my argument in Tipping Point, but as completing it.

One final point (just to complicate things even further). Since Tipping Point has come out, there have been a number of economists who have looked specifically at broken windows—and tried to test the theory directly. Some have found support for it. Others—particularly Bernard Harcourt at the University of Chicago—find it wanting.

If you crave a rigorous critique of broken windows, read Harcourt. He’s every bit as smart as Levitt.