A look at Backfence

Stowe Boyd, over at /Message, takes a look at Backfence, the new home of Dan Gillmor.

Backfence’s intent is to bring blogging into local communities and provide those authors with the opportunity to report on local news and information. Presently, Backfence is reporting from five local communities, in Maryland, Virginia, and California.

Unlike Boyd’s home of Reston, Virginia, my current home and past homes are not listed. I did take a look, however, at Bethesda, Maryland, near my old home of Ellicott City, Maryland.

I found several new posts from the last 2-3 days, most of which appear to be written by authors other than staff members, which is an encouraging sign for the hyperlocal blogging movement. I’m looking forward to their future growth – when is Minneapolis, Minnesota coming?

Michelle Malkin launches Hot Air

Conservative blogger Michelle Malkin announced the launch of Hot Air, a videoblogging news broadcast site:

I’m excited to introduce you today to Hot Air–a conservative Internet broadcast network I founded with a team of multi-talented bloggers.

Internet video is booming. Apple’€™s iTunes store has sold a gazillion videos since its debut. YouTube gets more traffic than the New York Times web site. And politically-oriented web video is on the rise…

Initially, Hot Air will consist of a few relatively well-known conservative bloggers posting both on a text-only group blog as well as the flash powered videoblog segments. Initial traffic appears to be strong, with several comments and trackbacks on the posts.

Will videoblogging be successful?

Clearly, videoblogging has worked well for sites like Rocketboom. The challenge will be to see if Malkin and crew can pull this off or not. Videoblogging requires a far different style than blogging the old-school way.. scripting, voice quality, and a sharp editor are just a few of the things that will come into play as they reach for success with Hot Air.

Malkin, however, does have a certain allure about her that may make this a successful medium for her and her partners. The current featured clip on the site seems to come off relatively well for the site being new.. it will be fun to watch how this evolves over the next few months…

Passenger writes of man attempting to open a door on an aircraft

Yesterday, as some may be aware, a man threatening about a bomb was subdued by passengers on a flight that was diverted to Denver.

A passenger who was apparantly on Flight 735 yesterday wrote about his experience on Flyertalk.com:

I was in 3C on Flight 735 and saw everything that happend….and it was A LOT scarier to all of us in first than the news is reporting.

Situation started after meal was served and “Chronicles of Narnia had been on for about an hour (never will watch that movie without thinking about this flight). An hispanic man walked up to first, kind of shuffling with a hanging head and a slack expression. I looked up when he walked by, thought he looked weird but not weird enough to worry about. I went back to the movie and the next thing I know I hear our flight attendant yelling, “No sir, Stop that Sir!” and then “get away from there”! The passenger in 2D stated he could see that the guy had indeed been able to move the handle on the main exit door all the way over and that he could see the inner door lifting and moving a bit. The flight attendant rushed forward to push back on the door trying to close it. It was at that moment that some pretty cool guys in 1B, 1C stood up grabbed the guy and had him in want I think was considered a choke hold. 1D, another big guy (all 3 men who helped to subdue the man were a good size fortunately) was also helping to hold the guy down.

This is another great example of how blogs, or a forum in this case, can provide better context and a more interesting story than the mainstream media can produce.

Russell Beattie waves goodbye

Uber-blogger, A-List Blogger, and Yahoo employee Russell Beattie says goodbye to blogging:

Well, I think it’s time to put this weblog to bed.

Yep, after four years and almost 3,000 posts I’ve decided to close up the Notebook. There’s lots of reasons, but generally this is a continuation of the full-reset I started back in January. At first I was actually thinking about just transitioning to a more of a weekly blog where I write less frequently and was sort of cleaning everything up with that in mind. But then I just decided that I really needed a break, and that I’d really much rather start from scratch at another URL some other time when I’m ready to write again. Lot less pressure that way to do something new later on, and a lot easier to get out of the habit of posting daily now.

Beattie is probably best known for his ongoing coverage of the mobile & wireless industry over the last four years. Over time, his efforts spun off into a series of meetings focused on mobility dubbed MobileMonday. These meetings have become quite popular in Silicon Valley.

Beattie follows a long line of A-Listers that have left or threatened to leave in recent years, including Dave Winer and Mark Pilgrim – though Pilgrim has started posting again recently.

MSNBC takes the lead on Technorati’s Top 100

Bloggers Blog reports that MSNBC, a news site, mind you, not a blog.. has taken the lead on Technorati’s Top 100.

This is just one report of screwy behavior from Technorati’s Top 100 that we’ve seen reported this weekend.

Publishing 2.0 carries an indepth report with some interesting discoveries:

First, Dave Winer is gone. That’€™s right ‘€” Scripting News is no longer a top 100 blog.

So what knocked him off? Personal blogs by young Asian women, most of them on MSN Spaces

Publishing 2.0 points out that many Asian blogs are now in the Top 100, displacing some blogs like Winer’s for the first time.

And, of course, Those Bastards is rejoicing in the fact that Dave Winer’s Scripting News is no longer in the Top 100:

I’m sure Dave’s on the phone right now screaming at David Sifry demanding they fake the numbers to get him back on. Now if Technorati could stop fucking with my last updated date, David would avoid being a Bastard of the Blog.

What’s all of this mean?

A couple things.. First, undoubtedly some of these results are legitimate. As Technorati becomes more adept at indexing and tracking blogs from MySpace and MSN Spaces, and other similar services, I expect to see new blogs in the Top 100. At the same time, Asian bloggers will continue to grow in number and begin to move even higher in the rankings.

This also points out that Technorati continues to have issues around capacity and technology. MSNBC isn’t a blog – it’s a news website – and clearly isn’t the #1 blog in the world. A good look at our own blog results show many links supposedly from the last few hours, but in reality are from mid-late 2005.

Technorati is a wonderful tool – I expect that Sifry and his team will continue to iron out issues and stabilize its data.

NYT examines MySpace

The New York Times takes a look at MySpace:

ALMOST on a lark, Chris DeWolfe bought the Internet address MySpace.com in 2002, figuring that it might be useful someday. At first, he used the site to peddle a motorized contraption, made in China and called an E-scooter, for $99….

The story goes on to discuss online advertising, the growth of MySpace, and it’s traffic compared to other internet sites.

Conservative Blogging in Boston?!

Today’s Boston Globe highlights the story of two North Shore twins who write a conservative political blog in Massachusetts, the bluest of the blue states:

The Margolis twins are blogging to you from an undisclosed location, somewhere on the North Shore. They would like to be more specific about the home base of their conservative political blog, hubpolitics.com, but they are a bit rattled these days.

Not long ago, Aaron Margolis posted a seemingly sensible proposal that, in light of the recent slaying of Imette St. Guillen, and the indictment of a bouncer at the bar where the Boston-born graduate student was last seen alive, bar owners be required to run background checks on security guards. The torrent of obscene replies they received included a violent threat and an unpleasant hint: ”You. . . are being surveyed.”

I lived near Boston for more than six years prior to making the move back to the midwest. It’s a great place to be.. if you’re a Democrat. I’m not.

The last two elections, I’ve supported George W. Bush, and displayed the election bumper sticker to boot. Amid a sea of Kerry/Edwards and Gore/Leiberman stickers, my small Honda Civic looked out of place – and the stickers led to many parking lot conversations that could only be described as “aggressive”.

Being the voice of dissent – even online where there’s some hint of anonymity available to you – can be a dangerous game to play. I applaud the courage and desire to affect change by the Margolis brothers.

John Gruber, of Daring Fireball, goes solo

John Gruber, the blogger behind Daring Fireball, has left his job with Joyent and begun writing Daring Fireball fulltime:

Two years ago, when I made tentative steps in this direction, it was like I put the idea out there and then poked it with a stick to see what happened. What I’€™m doing now is like jumping out of a plane with this idea as my parachute.


What I’€™ve concluded, though, is that if I want to make a full-time income from Daring Fireball, I need to just do it full-time. I.e. that it’€™s not going to work the other way around ‘€” to wait for the revenue to burgeon and then start putting full-time effort into it.

There’€™s nothing I want to do more than this. But even so, it has been an extraordinarily difficult decision to make, partly because I’€™m so prone to over-thinking that I sometimes have trouble deciding what to have for lunch, but mainly because there exists the very real possibility of failing in an excruciatingly public way.

Gruber is one of the few bloggers whose entire posts I read just about anytime he writes on any subject. He’s also a great MT plugin author.

As an avowed Mac geek, Gruber’s blog is one of the key blogs to read for all things related to Apple, their computers, their software, and just about any related topics. Daring Fireball also reaches out into many other topics, all of which Gruber handles with class and a great writing style that I only wish I could emulate.

If you’re like to support John’s work at Daring Fireball, visit his memberships page.

GM cracks open the door

GM Logo
A few days after I lamented the fact that so few Fortune 500 CEOs were blogging, Steve Rubel highlights a new blog at General Motors where it appears many GM Employees can blog:

The FYI Blog is about GM news and opinion, by GM employees and others. We look forward to hearing your ideas.

At first glance, the site appears to be predominantly written by more senior staff members at General Motors, such as this post by Sharon Morton from GM Communications:

We are the largest direct, corporate user of landfill gas in the United States. Landfill gas is generated by rotting garbage in landfills. Our decision to use it as an energy source is a win-win situation. It’€™s good for the environment and also is a good business decision.

I would characterize GM’s FYI Blogs as nothing more than a good start at this point. There’s much opportunity for blog posts here that are authentic and help “keep it real”, so to speak. Many of these posts still read like marketing literature…

What I really want to hear / read online is the voice of GM – the company is facing a serious financial and labor crisis with their losses in recent months – let’s hear someone talk honestly about that.

If I were a GM Employee right now, I would be worried as hell about the future of my corporation. And that’s what I’d be blogging about on my personal blog – so why not someone from GM’s Human Resources group talking about how they’re working to keep their best employees onboard – and how they’re handling morale. There’s probably some lessons to be learned about crisis management in their current situation as well.

There’s an opportunity being missed here – but I applaud GM for taking the first step towards more openness through blogging.