March 27, 2007

Blogging Freedom of Speech: Can You Really Say Whatever You Want?

Copycense was incensed by the idea of journal publishing being compared to slavery, a claim made by Richard Smith, a member of the board of directors at the US Public Library of Science in a public speech recently. Their response was to condemn the reference.

The increasingly dark, dire imagery used to characterize issues within the digital content debate too often goes far beyond framing, spin, or public relations. Language like this is grossly unprofessional and personally indecent. Nothing in this debate is nearly as urgent or serious as terrorism, illegal drug trafficking, or slavery, and the people who insist on perpetuating this language should be censured. Enough is enough.

I have to say that this condemnation speaks loudly for much of the writing and creative license with words I find on many blogs today. Freedom of speech isn’t permission to just say anything and everything you want to say. Sure, you can say whatever you want, but there are consequences you must live with if others don’t like what you say, or the law disagrees with your right to say it.

The United States is living in a time when freedom of speech is persecuted from every angle by the government. It’s okay to be for the President or for the troupes, but let’s pound you into the ground if you are against the war. If you are against the war, you must be against the President. You are definitely against the troupes. They seem to forget that you can be for many things and against many things, and the connections do not have to connect.

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March 26, 2007

Performancing Metrics Unveiled

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David Krug announces over at Performancing.com that they have launched a totally new Performancing Metrics, which is a comprehensive analytics package geared towards bloggers of all kinds (that means whether you’re an A-lister, Z-lister, or whatever lister, as Lorelle defines here).

Performancing Metrics is a new and unique web analyzer that gives bloggers and smaller web sites a more personal understanding of their visitors. Many analyzers give good summaries, and Performancing Metrics is no different – but the similarities stop there. Performancing Metrics stands out with its refreshingly clean and simple interface, innovative features like Spy and RSS feeds, and an unrivaled per visitor level of detail. You also get real time stats, outbound link tracking, download tracking, and much much more.

Here’s what Performancing Metrics gives you:

By including just 2 lines of HTML code on your web site, juicy tidbits of information about every click by every visitor to your site are sent back to Performancing Metrics and logged to your account. This information includes the visitor’s IP address, geolocation, web browser, operating system, URL and page title, the date and time, and the referer (where they came from, e.g., Google). If a visitor comes from a search engine, we extract their search query so you can easily see visitor’s searches up front. (Most engines, including Google, Yahoo, MSN, AOL, Ask, Live, and others are supported). Performancing Metrics even works with visitors who have javascript disabled.

Performancing Metrics comes free for users with less than 1,000 pageviews per day, which would include most blogs. For users with higher traffic levels, premium packages are available starting from $1.99 per month or $14.99 per year. All new users get a 21-day free trial of the premium package.

Users also get the chance to earn a 20% commission on direct referrals, and 5% on second-level referrals.

More information about Performancing Metrics can be found on the About page. If you want to sign up, or if you already have a Performancing account, head on to pmetrics.performancing.com

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21Classes multi-user blogging application for the classroom

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21Publish, who provide software to allow groups to create their own shared blog platforms, has announced 21Classes, a multi-user blogging application specifically designed for creating classroom blog portals.

Hosted on 21Publish servers, teachers can set up a private blog platform for their students, with features including a class homepage to communicate with students, and independent but interconnected blog accounts.

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Wall Street Journal Online launches Deal Journal Blog

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The Wall Street Journal Online announced the launch of “Deal Journal“, an up-to-the-minute blog with take on deals and deal-makers. The Journal’s top M&A reporter Dennis Berman will lead the blog with former Bloomberg reporter Dana Cimilluca, with additional reporting from Journal reporters in New York, London and Hong Kong; editors from WSJ.com; and private equity reporters from Dow Jones Newswires.

“Deal news itself is quickly commoditized on the Web,” said Dennis Berman. “Where the Journal provides value is our insight, experience and intellect. Our collective observations on a given situation are what make all the difference – and we hope to deliver a bit of humor and entertainment, too.” The latest blog brings to 10 the free blogs that Wall Street Journal is offering.

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A-List Debate: Define Success First

There has been a lot of screaming and yelling, fussing and fighting, and whining over the issue of whether or not the A-List of bloggers exists and what it takes to be on such a list, emphasizing hard work and sticking to a plan.

Well, they are all wrong. On many points.

First, the myth that there is or isn’t an A-List of bloggers is silly. There have been such lists around since the first small group of bloggers looked around and realized they weren’t alone. There are all kinds of lists on the blogosphere which could be called “A-Lists”. There are top blogger lists, top post lists (Digg), top traffic sites (Alexa), annual who is who and who is the top lists, and other lists that promote the crème de la crème of blogs and bloggers based upon whatever criteria they decide defines success. The Blog Herald even listed the Top 10 Interesting People on the Blogosphere in 2005 as one of those lists. There are even top awards and honors to recognize those whose web designs suck. Such “whose who” lists have been around for ages as pointing fingers towards the “popular kids” is inherent in human society.

Second, I agree. It takes hard work, discipline, and a plan of action to get onto these lists, as it does to achieve anything. Trust me, even those on the Web Pages That Suck List worked hard to make their web design work so successfully bad.

None of this has to do with the true issue that lies behind this debate over the A-List achievers. The real point of the issue is:

What is success?

Without a clear definition, here is no absolute list of how-to steps anyone can write that will guarantee a place in any A-List, Z-List, or otherwise list.

Since all of these lists are just made up lists based upon a person or group’s criteria of the moment, let’s look at the issue of what the definition of a successful blogger is.

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Votes are in for first ever YouTube Video Awards… drum roll please…

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YouTube is rolling out the red carpet to celebrate the winners of the 2007 YouTube Video Awards.

“2006 was a groundbreaking year for YouTube, user-generated content, and entertaining online videos. With this in mind, we established the YouTube Video awards to recognize the ingenuity and achievements of our community,” said Jamie Byrne, head of product marketing for YouTube. “These individuals put the first stitches in the fabric of the YouTube community. Instead of seeing a way to share videos they saw an opportunity for worldwide visibility and through their success have changed the landscape of how a ‘star’ is defined.”

“It’s incredible how quickly and completely YouTube is changing culture and it’s a surreal honor to be part of something so great,” said Damian Kulash, front man of OK Go. “We can’t wait to get our trophy.”

The community has made their decisions and the 2007 YouTube Video Awards go to… drum roll please… read more

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Spring: The Season for Scientific Fun and Games!

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Spring Is Here! After too many dark, cold February days spent poring over seed catalogues and nearly 5 months worth of winter time-switching designed for no rational purpose I can think of other than to mess with our internal clocks and depress half the population with induced SAD [Seasonal Affective Disorder], it’s about time! But in case it’s still cold where you happen to be, thus you aren’t spending your so-called “free time” preparing your garden or listening to birds from a porch chair, there are some good science blog outings I can recommend in this installment.

Better yet, they switched to Daylight Savings three weeks early too. Now if we can just convince them to leave it alone we might find that human beings actually CAN handle the seasonal shortening and lengthening of daylight hours without induced economic productivity losses or suicidal tendencies.

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The Hardest Nail in China

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Over the past few days, a single post at Sina.com resulted in 7000 comments. Then, it was abruptly taken off the site. What was the post about, and how did it garner so many comments? Well, they were the thoughts of a man behind a human interest story that has gripped most of China, battling a classic David-and-Goliath fight that has received little international attention.

Here’s his story.

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March 25, 2007

Sudoku and Open Source Collaboration

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If you haven’t heard of Sudoku, then you must have been living under a rock the past couple of years. Sudoku is the numbers puzzle wherein you fill in the blanks on a 9×9 grid such that each column, each row, and each of the nine 3×3 boxes contains the digits 1 to 9. While the actual concept of the game was invented by an American, it is in Japan where the game first gained popular acclaim, after puzzle publisher Nikoli featured it in their monthly magazine in 1984. But the secret behind Sudoku’s popularity, according to Maki Kaji, co-founder of Nikoli, is a sort of open source collaboration.

The International Herald Tribune had a feature recently.

Nikoli’s secret, Kaji said, lay in a kind of democratization of puzzle invention. The company itself does not actually create many new puzzles — an American invented an earlier version of Sudoku, for example. Instead, Nikoli provides a forum for testing and perfecting them. About 50,000 readers of its main magazine submit ideas; the most promising are then printed by Nikoli to seek approval and feedback from other readers.

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March 23, 2007

Are You On Blogspot.com? You Might Just Win a Free Domain!

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Google Tutor thinks blogspot.com is not really a great place to be for a blogger, especially with the recent reports that at least three fourths of blogs on blogspot.com are splogs (spam blogs). So putting his money where his mouth is, The Tutor is giving away $10 each to six readers for the purchase of new domains. He will even help you set up your Blogger blog on your new domain. read more

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