December 23, 2004

What Journalists Can Learn From Bloggers

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Steve Outing at Poynter Online writes on what bloggers and traditional journalists can teach one another.

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Bacon’s to enter blog monitoring arena: apparently only journalists run credible blogs

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Bacon’s Information, an International communications firm, has announced it will introduce blog content written by “credible” blogs in its MediaSource’s Premium Research module and track “credible” blog coverage in the Monitoring module to help clients determine the possible impact on business decisions and company reputations.

“The news cycle for a story sometimes originates from a blog and can on occasion find its way into the mainstream media,” says Ruth McFarland, Senior Vice President and Publisher for Bacon’s in a moment of profound and original wisdom.

In an attempt to reach out to the Blogosphere, McFarland defined bloggers credible only if they are really journalists moonlighting as bloggers.
“With today’s information overload from often irrelevant or dubious sources, our aim is to help our clients by filtering the communications clutter. Bacon’s will therefore focus on blogs run by reputable, credible professionals. Initially, these will be blogs of active journalists”. said McFarland.

McFarland did not discuss whether non-journalists could possibly write a credible blog, or whether ex-journalists would be considered as non-dubious or relevant.

Bacon’s will inaugurate its coverage of blogs run by journalists in January 2005.

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Lycos announced their most popular Blog topics of 2004

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Lycos has announced a list of the most popular blog topics of 2004, based Tripod and Angelfire member blogs on Lycos.

The Top Five Blog Topics, Based on Tripod and Angelfire Member Blogs, of 2004 are:
1) Entertainment
2) Personal Journals
3) Education
4) Health/Fitness/Parenting/Babies/Pregnancy
5) Politics

The two most popular blogs on Lycos in 2004, based on traffic to the blog, include the following:
· http://captainhoof.tripod.com/blog/, non-fiction site written by Hollywood insider, Rance, who provides all the latest behind the scenes gossip from the world of TV, film and music.
· http://blubberybastard.tripod.com/blog/, a fiction site, and soon to be published book by St. Martin’s press, detailing the story of Gus Openshaw’s revenge against the whale that killed his wife and child, and left Gus with one arm.

“While many Tripod and Angelfire members use their blogs to publicize the events in their own lives, as well as the lives of celebrities, a number of educators have turned to blogging as a method to share class notes, assignments, and to even accept answers from students,” said Jamie Riehle, group product manager of web publishing for Lycos. “Several instructors use blogs to facilitate on-line student discussions, capitalizing on the interactive nature of the blog.”

“Similarly, many mothers, or mothers-to-be, are using blogs as a way to share information, tips and photos of their children with others,” Riehle added. “The integration of the Tripod and Angelfire photo albums into the blog tool has made it easy to share baby photos with friends and family around the corner, or around the world.”

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December 22, 2004

Little People Rise Up in 2004

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Mark Glaser at OJR looks at the year that was and the year ahead in an interesting peice including some Q&A’s with some well known bloggers.

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The Top 10 interesting people in the Blogosphere in 2004

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Before making our predictions for 2005, we revisit 2004 in a list of the Top 10 interesting people in the Blogosphere in 2004.

1. John Hinderaker and Scott Johnson, Powerline
Who are we to argue the Time Magazine’s recipients of Blog of the Year? Having played an important part in propagating Rathergate, they still managed to stay humble: “We’ve been having such a good time writing together on the site… to not only to see it come to fruition but to be recognized for it by an institution like Time is just beyond belief.”

2. Dave Winer, Scripting News
Dave is often referred to as the god of blogging, and although often mistakenly credited with creating the format, his role in the 1990s with Userland software and the creation of RSS helped pave the way for the Blogosphere we know today. Winer is also widely known for his role as the creator and convenor of BloggerCon conferences. Although writing an eclectic blog of thoughts, travels and other titbits, his site is still one of the most widely viewed blogs on the net.

3. Jason McCabe Calacanis, Weblogsinc.
After some initial scepticism from some (including the Blog Herald), Calacanis has gone on to make a quality network of blogs and bloggers creating cumulatively some of the best content in the Blogosphere. Although not quiet making the 100 blog target he set himself for 2004, the 75 odd blogs is a great achievement from a driven, committed blogger, who isn’t afraid of speaking up on matters of morals and ethics in business and on the internet.

4. Nick Denton, Gawker Media
It was difficult to decide whether to place Denton before or after Calacanis. Both have done amazing things in developing a corporate business model placed around quality, sponsor supported blogging, albeit in slightly different directions. Denton’s stable of blogs have come to dominate their targeted niches and provide a nation’s capital with more gossip than it can digest in one sitting.

5. Markos Moulitsas Zuniga, The Daily Kos
We may not have agreed with much of what he said, and his commentary on the deaths of a number of contractors in Iraq still remains a candidate for a “worst commentary on a blog” award, but Zuniga has raised the profile of the Blogosphere to new levels and is by all reports one of the highest earners from blogging on the planet. His leading role in the advocacy of the Kerry campaign catapulted him from relative obscurity to international stardom.

6. Jeff Jarvis: Buzz Machine
A long term player in the Blogosphere, Jarvis will be forever remembered as the Blogger who went the extra mile to break news. Whilst blogs have often been the recipients of inside gossip or the breakers of major news (Drudge and the Lewinsky Scandal) Jarvis showed the Blogosphere that major stories can be created with initiative and an application under Freedom of Information Laws when he broke the story in relation to the limited number of complainants to the US FCC.

7. Anil Dash: SixApart
The human face of the SixApart Empire that is always affable and pleasant to deal with. Anil shot to fame earlier as a blogger and writer, but has now gone onto bigger and better things as VP at the Californian based blogging firm.

8. Ana Marie Cox, Wonkette
If the award was for the most interest female blogger on the net, Cox would top the list. From “suburban housewife in Arlington, Virginia” to Washington DC’s leading gossip columnist, Cox did more than any person this year in bringing blogging from tech to water coolers.

9. Glenn Reynolds, Instapundit
The one, the only, the original pundit, Glenn continues to provide a daily dose of commentary that keeps the site at No. 2 on the Technorati’s greatest hits list.

10. Marc Canter: Marc’s Voice/ Marqui
The founder of Macromedia made headlines this year for possibly all the wrong reasons as the creator of the Marqui Cash for Comment program, which pays $800 USD per month and $50 per lead to talk about the Marqui CMS. You may not agree with the program, but he’s certainly made enough headlines to take in tenth position.

So that’s the 10 for this year. Just missing out were: Steve Rubel, Doc Searls, Arthur Chrenkoff, Hylton Jolliffe , Mark Glaser, any one of the employees at Six Apart, Evan Williams… The list can go on and on. There were many more that could have been included, and everyone is welcome to add their thoughts to the comments.
Merry Christmas!

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Microsoft Bloggers face Comment Spam rise

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eWeek is reporting that Microsoft Bloggers has been feeling the brunt of the recent surge in Comment Spam, with the company suggesting that comment moderation be turned on, and one Microsoft blogger moving to turn off commenting all together.

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SixApart releases MT 3.14 with flood fix

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SixApart has released MovableType 3.14 with a fix to the bug which led spam comments to still cause a load on Web servers and databases even when the comments were blocked from appearing on blogs, resulting in server shutdowns. Interestingly the company has moved to to have new weblogs default to having comment moderation enabled, a move that is likely to cause some consternation amongst free blogging speech advocates.

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Bloggers’ favourite blog?

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The Times Online is reporting an Intelliseek report that BoingBoing, the self-styled “Directory of Wonderful Things”, has laid claim to being the most esteemed title in cyberspace: the bloggers’ favourite blog. The finding matches with Technorati’s Top 100 which also currently hold BoingBoing in top spot.

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Understanding and Reading Blogs

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John C. Dvorak provides an solid guide titled Understanding and Reading a Blogs (for Newcomers) for those interested in how a blog works.

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December 21, 2004

Choosing your English: the choice for new bloggers

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Duncan Riley> An issue which arises on occasion in my editing of The Blog Herald is my choice of English.
I’ve been told that I am illiterate, cannot spell, have just been plain corrected (Hi ed, typo here, might want to fixed) etc etc.. Now I’m not going to gaol (jail) for these indiscretions, it’s more of a reflection on the origin of this blog (and the occasional person I manage to annoy).

Now I know many readers (well US based ones anyway) will be scratching their heads saying “what the hell is he talking about”. Yes, there is more than one choice in English, and the choice you pursue is an important consideration when starting a blog in a globally diverse Blogosphere.

According to Microsoft Windows’ language settings, there are 13 country specific versions of English, including versions from Australia, Belize, Canada, Caribbean, Ireland, Jamaica, New Zealand, Philippines, South Africa, Trinidad, United Kingdom, United States and Zimbabwe. But don’t panic, because the regional variations can be narrowed down to two.

The Commonwealth countries (Australia, New Zealand, Belize, Canada, Caribbean, Ireland (well a Commonwealth country until the 1920’s), Jamaica, New Zealand, South Africa, Trinidad and Zimbabwe) basically follow the Queens English (United Kingdom), as do many countries in which English is commonly used but not provided with a separate heading, such as Singapore and Malaysia.

The United States sphere of influence extends to the Philippines and the United States itself. So essentially your style of English can be reduced to English (UK) or American (US). UK English is often referred to as “Global” in some software programs as well.

Still confused? What’s the difference? Cornerstones guide to Canadian English provides some good examples. Most common is the use of “re” instead of “er” (for example, Centre (UK) as opposed to Center (US) which is a pain to remember when html is in English (US)), the use of “s” instead of “z” (customise (UK) v customize (US)), “ce” instead of “se” (Defence (UK) v Defense (US), and a number of other examples which I wont revisit here.

The Blog Herald is essentially written in her Majesty’s English, albeit with an Australian flavour, to a predominately United State based audience, which in itself raises a few extra considerations.

Choosing one flavour/ flavor or mix and match?
From the outset, your choice of English should be considered in the planning of any new blog. Now if your American writing for American’s there isn’t really any choice, English (US) will be your choice of English. However for the rest of the world, its important to consider your target audience:

– Where is your target audience located
– Are you likely to attract international visitors
-Is your content likely to cause confusion due to your choice of English?

These should be considered before you start out. It should be noted that English (UK) writers are far more able to write in English (US) then vice versa (I know to drop the “u” from colour for example when writing in English (US)). This is not to say that US based writers should not consider this as well if targeting a particular audience outside the US. As the editor of the Blog Herald I made one mistake when I started this Blog, and if I were to start over again I would consider changing it, I wrote in English (UK) to an audience that is over 95% US based, and still continue to do so.

My suggestion therefore would be if writing for an American audience, write in English (US).

If writing for local audiences anywhere outside the US or the Phillipines write in English (UK). Why? because its the best known form of English in non-English speaking countries (many were former English colonies, or wish they had been) and is globally accepted at more outlets than Diners Club English (US).

Then there is the mix and match formula. I tend to write these days in some sort of bizarre mix and match of the two, although strictly speaking the combination tends to work this way:
Commentary, supporting commentary: English (UK)
Direct quotes: English (US)
I keep the original quotes in their original choice of English, which is why you’ll often see the use of “s” and “z” variations in the same post. Does it work? We’ll I dont get as many corrections these days, but then again I’m also not annoying as many people as well (Hi Mena!).

Whether to pursue a choice in English is strictly up to you. You can get away with writing in English (UK) for an English (US) audience, as most are able to understand both, although the occasional person will consider your work shoddy or sub-par. The most important consideration in planning a blog is being comfortable with how and what you write. For 99% of blogs this will be your natural written English. But when thinking big, it’s an important consideration in the blog planning jigsaw puzzle.

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