September 20, 2007

The World’s Oldest Blogger Is Actually …

Filed as News with 16 comments

While I thought that Donald Crowdis, a blogger living out of Toronto, aged 92, was the oldest blogger in the world, this isn’t actually so.  Rather, perhaps it should be addended that Mr. Crowdis is probably the world’s oldest blogger who continues to type for himself [although he hasn’t written a post in quite a few months due to family issues].

No, I recently discovered that there is an even *more* senior blogger living in Australia by the name of Olive Riley, who probably should be crowned as the world’s oldest blogger.  Mrs Riley, who is 108 years old, doesn’t quite write herself, but blogs with the help of a friend, Mike Rubbo.  And has been doing so for several months now.

In fact, its an awesome example of “elderblogging”, where she reminisces about things she did in her younger days, coupled with pictures *and* video.  One example is of her going to a bar that is actually older than her with Mike, talking about how they enjoyed a plate of oysters, how some local Australian mainstream media types don’t consider her a real blogger because she doesn’t actually type, and fielding a call from Jay Leno to appear on the tonight show.

Blogging doesn’t get any better more honest and fresh than this.  I got a kick out of it and I think you might too, so check out Mrs. Riley and ask yourself — does she *look* like she’s 108?

[via: Time Goes By]

i

Breaking Down The StumbleUpon Algorithm

Filed as Features with 8 comments

StumbleUpon is a tool that allows its users to discover web sites, videos, and pictures that have been previously found and labeled by other users. Its a lot of fun, and perhaps just as important, a great source of traffic for your blog.

But other than doing the obvious, such as becoming a member of StumbleUpon, finding “friends”, and otherwise rating sites and being a good Stumbler, what else can be done — and understood — about StumbleUpon to maximize your efforts?

read more

Tags:

i

WordPress Wednesday News: WordPress 2.3 Excitement and Plugins, International WordCamps, Security News, Upgrades, and Tons More

WordPress 2.3 is due next week and we’ve got a LOT of news on the new release. We’ve got WordCamps now in Australia, Germany, Israel, and Texas! New WordPress Plugins out for WordPress 2.3. More security news. A mandatory security release of WordPress was out last week. Have you upgraded? And the WordPress 2.3 Plugin Compatibility List is out and growing.

WordPress News

Update WordPress: WordPress 2.2.3 has been released and is a mandatory security release for the WordPress 2.2 line. You can download WordPress 2.2.3 in full, or update only the changed files for updating from WordPress 2.2.2 to 2.2.3 by Techtites or Viper007Bond.

WordPress 2.3: WordPress 2.3 is due September 24 and is still in beta testing. The latest beta versions are coming out hard and fast with a lot of fixes. Tags will be built-in, and new Plugins and utilities for importing different Tag Plugins are being released. Changes to the database will break some WordPress Plugins, so check the WordPress 2.3 Plugin Compatibility List. Here are some of the latest news about the upcoming release:
read more

Tags:

i

September 19, 2007

UK politician wins party’s blog of the year award

Filed as News with 2 comments

While US political blogging is very much on the radar, less is spoken about British political blogging. However, a Liberal Democrat activist, James Graham, has won the UK political party’s annual blog of the year award, winning the opportunity to interview party leader Sir Menzies Campbell.

James works for a non-governmental organisation, Unlock Democracy, said he was delighted to scoop the top prize. Perhaps not hugely prestigious, but surely an appropriate prize for a party political blogger.

“Generally I try to be independent but not unnecessarily critical of the party,” he said. “The Liberal Democrat blogging community is very much a community. It’s much more a sense of people getting together through their dialogue and the debate can be quite exciting at times.”

A ceremony took place in Brighton, with Mr Graham picking up a glass globe.

Will Howells, Liberal Democrat internet campaigns officer, said Mr Graham’s blog was “a very good mix of a bit of humour, while writing seriously about detailed policy issues in a very readable way.

“He’s not afraid of being independent from the party and he will slag off policy if he doesn’t agree with it. It’s the best example of Lib Dem blogging.”

Mr Howells said that there were now over 130 Liberal Democrat blogs.

“It’s a really good way of getting the views of members, activists and MPs across to other people in the party,” he said. “You can tell if there is a controversial announcement in the party because you get an immediate reaction from the blogs. MPs are seen as normal human beings, rather than away in Westminster going on junkets. We know what they are up to.”

(Via BBC News)

Tags: ,

i

If Your Blog Doesn’t Have Ads, Are You Evil?

Mark Evans has written a few posts about how AdBlock Plus, an ad blocker for Firefox, is “evil.” He argues that readers who block online advertising are cutting off a major source of revenue for the sites they visit. The subject is worth considering in regards to blogging and priorities – to both your readers and advertisers.

I’d like to flip things around and critique “intrusive” online advertising – the main reason why ad blockers exist. I feel disrespected as a customer when I encounter ads that excessively waste my time or annoy me. Here’s a short list of “intrusive” advertising types with specific examples:

read more

Tags:

i

As A Blogger, What’s Your Price?

Over at the Silicon Alley Insider, Dan Fromer is sending out a general question: “Who wants a free hotel room in San Francisco during a wireless conference in exchange for listening to a business brief by a NYC-based mobile company?”

Which, of course, prompted me to start wondering what *your* price was as a blogger.

Marketing and advertising professionals recognize the power of blogging to communicate in all kinds of areas — and furthermore, recognize the power of some bloggers to promote real and honest dialogue about a given product or service. Some select bloggers, in particular, are media powerhouses in their own right, able to trigger massive amount of buzz.

And on the other hand, I think that its one thing to blog as part of a larger business, which is able to send you out to “cover” events, conferences, and the like; to have the benefit of a (small) per diem, and the ability to submit receipts to get reimbursed.

But what about the independent blogger? Because I think that most of us are not part of large media organizations with budgets to spend on, nor massively successful whose profits can easily cover the cost of

a) flying across the country / ocean

b) the price of a hotel

c) the cost of the conference

… not including other miscellaneous costs — like you know, eating.

I guess the main ethical dilemma is that by abstaining from any swag / goodies / free stuff, you’ll be able to maintain impartiality 100% of the time. Apparently that’s good reporters do, after all.

Furthermore, blogging is often regarded as a conduit for real emotions and real opinion unfettered by the usual marketing doublespeak.

So what’s a blogger to do?

read more

Tags:

i

September 18, 2007

Shiny Media goes to Roo for online video strategy

ROO Group, a global online video solutions for content providers, advertisers and websites, has partnered with the UK’s media publisher, Shiny Media, to launch three cutting- edge online TV channels, featuring technology, fashion and lifestyle content.

The video players will initially rollout across Shiny Media’s leading tech blogs including TechDigest.tv and ShinyShiny.tv as well as the award-winning fashion blogs CatwalkQueen.tv and Shoewawa.com. Within a short period of time, it is hoped the players will be extended across Shiny Media’s network of 40 blogs catering to an audience of 3.5 million unique visitors monthly.
The channels will offer exclusive news, reviews, interviews and more, created by Shiny Media’s in-house production team. These will be combined with a selection of ROO’s extensive video content. To date Shiny Media has used video sharing website YouTube for hosting the bulk of its video content. The ROO partnership will enable it to further explore the business potential in online TV.

Advertisers will be able to purchase pre-roll video ad formats and MPUs across the channels which will be sold by Shiny Media’s online advertising partner Unanimis. From launch Shiny Fashion TV will be sponsored by LG Mobile and the channel uniquely branded to reflect this. The company hopes to develop similar campaigns for the technology and lifestyle channels.

Tags:

i

Newsletter to Blog: Quoting, Referencing, Citing, and Not Copyright Violating

What do you stuff in your newsletters? Hmm? Is it only information about what your group or business is doing? Or do you throw in articles or information you find here and there along your information highway travels?

And how do you cite the information you include in your newsletter? Do you give credit where and when credit is due?

As we worked on the process of converting the newsletter into a blog, I stumbled across numerous articles included in the newsletter for tips, how to, techniques, and information written by people not members of the association. While some of this content was available for free use in print newsletters, not all of it was licensed for publishing on the web.

This brought up several issues.

  1. How to check to see what the licenses and copyright policies were for moving the content from print to web.
  2. How to get permissions to publish the content on the web (or whether or not to include it).
  3. How to cite the original source of the content if permissions allow it to be published on the blog.
  4. How to cite references, quotes, and other content properly for inclusion in the new blog in the future.
  5. What about all the photographs, images, and graphics use in the printed and emailed newsletter?

Everything Printed or Published is Copyrighted

This was a great opportunity to teach this team of business women about copyright law. Everything printed, published, recorded, or “fixed” in a permanent form is copyrighted. That’s the international law and standards, simplified.

This applies to words, photographs, graphics, images, audio, and other visual media.

This doesn’t mean that you can’t copy and use the content. It does mean you can use it under certain restrictions and guidelines. Here are some tips for dealing with potential copyright protected content when converting from a newsletter to a blog.

  • Free-to-Use: Free-to-Use typically means that while you are free to use this however you want, it may not mean you can just do whatever you want with the content. There may or may not be conditions on that use such as private and personal use, not commercial, not on sites with ads, not for resale, and must include link credit back to the source. Check the copyright policy or ask to determine what conditions they have on “free-to-use”.
  • Buy-to-Use: Content, including photographs, can be purchased for use, but what are the conditions of that purchase and use? Does it mean one time only in a specific usage? Or repeated usage in any way, shape, or form for as long as you both shall live? Find out the fine print before you buy so you use it properly, as a purchase agreement can be interpreted as a contract.
  • Which Usage Permitted? How is the content meant to be used? Is it only for print, within newsletters, or can it be published on the web as well? Some content may have restrictions on how and where you can use it. Just because you got permission to use it in a newsletter does not mean the content has permission to be published on the web.
  • If You Can’t Use It, Can You Link to It? If you cannot use the full content, you do have other options if you want to still point readers and members to the source. Under Copyright Fair Use guides, you may “quote” from a small portion of the content with a link citing the original source. This is commonly called “blockquoting”. Or, you can describe the content and include a link to direct readers to the source.
  • Copy-cat Plagiarism: On the web, as in real life, copy-cats, copiers, and plagiarist are not welcome. Plagiarists caught after the fact tend to reflect poorly on the entire parent organization, not just on the plagiarist. Don’t risk it.

Yes, it meant that all those cute cartoons, comics, graphics of working women, children, cats, and dogs, all had to be checked to see if they could be used on the web. Tedious, but if they wanted to use them, they had to check. Otherwise, they could not be used on their new blog.

Getting Permission to Publish Content on the Web

For this particular association, the non-original content on their newsletter came from a wide variety of resources. Flyers and brochures found at conferences, conventions, classes, and business training offices, online sources, books of all ages, and from other newsletter sources.

Online content can be easy to search for to find their copyright policy. It may say yes. Printed material, however, may involve looking for a policy statement in their copyright notice, or calling or email them for permission. The same applies to schools and training offices which provide educational material.

One such pamphlet the newsletter editor typed up and posted in their newsletter came from a training office. “They were handing them out free, so why can’t I publish this?”

Just because you picked it up for free doesn’t mean you have the right to publish the material. You have to have permission.

If you cannot get permission, then you have these options:

  • Don’t publish it.
  • Use a small quote or reference and give them credit. Do not use the whole thing.
  • Rewrite the whole thing in your words, citing them as your “inspiration” and source of material. Don’t just change the words. Write it as if it was new from the start.

Privatizing Content: What Can and Can’t Be Published Publicly

For content from their national headquarters, the original source made it clear that the information was for reprinting, but didn’t specify which media form. A phone call to the main office on another question concerning the blog brought this issue to the fore, causing a bit of distress and excitement.

The 70+ year old organization had only considered members publishing this information in printed or emailed newsletters, not publicly on the web. The group assumed that since it would be okay for print and email, why shouldn’t it be okay for the web?

It turned out it wasn’t okay for their new blog. The national headquarters owned the copyrights. Their intent was to allow this information to be disseminated to their members only through their individual chapters, not to the general public. If they wanted it on the web for anyone to read, they would publish it on their national association site. In other words, they didn’t want the information published on several hundred chapter newsletter blogs and websites, creating a ton of redundant web pages.

The newsletter editor said, “But if you won’t publish it on the national site, and we can’t publish it on our site, how are we going to get this information to our members?”

They said, “Print it or email it to them.”

I said, “This is a waste of time and technology.” The whole point of moving this particular newsletter to a blog format was to make it easy to access all the information in one format, saving time and money, not to mention a few trees.

An alternative to not publishing the content would be to publish it on the blog in a way that kept the viewers limited to only “subscribers”, to those given permission to login to the blog.

There were a lot of WordPress Plugins to try and they are still experimenting with their choices. These either restrict access to specific content or specific categories (or both).

How to Quote, Reference, and Cite Content Sources

Another lesson in basic blogging arrived with how to quote, reference and cite content sources, especially online sources, in the new blog.

To reference a link in a sentence, the newsletter editor had to rewrite the sentence to include a link.

In Top 10 Internet Home Business Ideas You Can Start and Run in Your Underwear, Wendy Piersall lists top business-at-home ideas to help you stay at home with your family while earning money.

To reference a quote from an online source, you can quote an excerpt from the content and then cite it in several ways.

To cite it with an introductory sentence, and then wrap the quote in the blockquote HTML tag, such as:

In Top 10 Internet Home Business Ideas You Can Start and Run in Your Underwear, Wendy Piersall lists top business-at-home ideas to help you stay at home with your family while earning money.

Can anyone make money online? I do believe so. But not everyone WILL make money online, because as I have said before, making money on the internet takes a long time to learn, and most people give up because it can be extremely frustrating.

My one piece of advice for starting an internet home business is this :: Don’t expect to make any real money for 365 days (or so!) . Although I will add that service-based businesses tend to bring in revenue faster, I would still allow for a full year to replace your outside-the-home salary.

To include the citation within the blockquote, wrap the link source in a <cite> tag within the blockquote:

Can anyone make money online? I do believe so. But not everyone WILL make money online, because as I have said before, making money on the internet takes a long time to learn, and most people give up because it can be extremely frustrating.

Top 10 Internet Home Business Ideas You Can Start and Run in Your Underwear by Wendy Piersall

You can style the cite tag with CSS to make it italic, bold, or a smaller font, or just wrap it in a italic or bold HTML tag.

The citation must be close to the quote and infer that the quoted and referenced content comes from another source, not the post author.

Who Owns the Copyright of Our Newsletter to Blog Content?

Learning about copyrights and how much they had been violating the copyrights of others, the question came up as to who owns the copyrights of the material they were publishing, both in print, email, and through the new blog.

The content produced in this group’s newsletter has two options for copyrighting the content. They can decide that the content belongs to each individual contributor, leaving it up to them to protect and defend their copyrights in case of plagiarism and copyright violations, and help support them. Or they can write up a copyright policy that states that everything published on their newsletter and/or blog becomes the property of the group as copyright owners.

Either way, they needed to have a clear copyright policy which defined what their copyright licenses and usages were, and who owned what. Jonathan Bailey’s “Writing an Effective Plagiarism Warning” pointed to Alderman’s Copyright Notice Creator which helped them write a very basic copyright policy on their blog, which will evolve over time and usage.

Controlling Copyrighted Content

When the newsletter team decided to convert from print to blog, they had no idea how complicated and involved it would become. It wasn’t just a matter of technically transferring the content between mediums, it has become about changing policies and practices to become better journalists, writers, business women, and people.

The idea of protecting the rights of writers and artists who work hard to write and produce images and graphics in print and on the web became a very important lesson to these women, some of whom had fought for their own rights as working women for the past 50+ years.

In the next issue of this ongoing newsletter-to-blog conversion series, I’ll introduce you to a blogger’s best friend: the text editor.

Converting a Newsletter Into a Blog Series

Tags: , , ,

i

Best Way to Design Blog Network Blogs?

Filed as News with 6 comments

Over at Free WordPress Themes, I recently wrote a post about how to best design blogs within a blog network. I whipped up this article based on my experiences having been part of blog networks for the past couple of years. The options are:

  • A similar design across the entire network, with color scheme variants;
  • Entirely unique designs for each blog; or,
  • Unique design for each blog, with each with familiar elements that can identify the blog with others within the network.

Using a single design across many blogs can be a real cost-saver (do you know how much it costs to commission a really good WP theme design these days?). And you get to establish your branding in terms of design–since all your sites look the same, your readers will be quick to identify sites as belonging to you.

However, the tradeoff here is that your sites will lose their individuality. They will look like boilerplate dseigns stamped on blogs, just to make a forced fit. It’s sometimes awkward.

Then again, having entirely unique designs for each blog might make the network look non-cohesive and un-networked.

In my opinion, a good balance between individuality and similarity does the trick.

I’ve realized that it makes better sense to design and conceptualize each site uniquely, but keeping something in common across the network, to retain that familiar feel. (I know this sounds–and actually is–very non-technical.) This way, things don’t get boring because of that all-too-similar look and feel across an entire network of sites.

Having unique themes for each blog makes it exciting for readers and us editors and contributors alike. But keeping the familiarity is also the challenge, because we want each of our sites to be closely identified with the network.

Do you agree with me on this? Any design gurus out there who would like to pitch in their two cents’ worth?

Tags: , ,

i

September 17, 2007

Newsletter to Blog: Converting to Blog Posts Part II

As we proceeded with the conversion from newsletter to blog, I became more and more confident we’d made the right decision in manually transferring the data from the newsletter to the blog.

As covered in Part I of this section of the series, the newsletter team and editor learned “how to blog” while copying and pasting the content. It also helped to clean up all the things that would have needed cleaning anyway, going from Microsoft Word and Publisher, as well as “print”, into a blog.

The biggest challenge in the process came with the Treasurer’s Report. The team needed to be introduced to HTML tables.
read more

Tags: , , ,

i