What Do You Do When a Favorite Blog Goes South?

Recently, two of my favorite blogs have gone south. In other words, they have lost their bloggy way along the blogging path. One happens to be by a friend of mine so I called her up.

“What’s going on with your blog?”

“What do you mean?”

“Your blog posts are way off topic and it doesn’t sound like you any more. Is everything okay?”

“Everything is fine. I think everything is fine. It’s fine, isn’t it?”

What do I say. Can’t she see that she’s spent the past two years blogging about a specific subject, her writing fluid and powerful, keeping me interested and jazzed about her subject matter, returning often to bask in her wisdom, and now she’s babbling and not making any sense? Her posts are all over the map, with some fire and brimstone enthusiasm thrown in for color, but it all feels forced and desperate. Like part of the fire within her creative spirit has turned to ashes.

I miss her old sincere and honest self, the blogger who exposed herself as well as her thoughts in her writing. How do I tell her she’s lost her way without hurting her feelings. It’s clear she’s not ready to hear the truth.

The other blog is a professional one, one I’ve tracked for years, but lately it’s gone way off course with off-handed posts that appear to be more second thoughts rather than firsts, spelling and grammar errors unchecked, comment spam littering the comments, it’s wilting in the wind though it continues to generate a lot of content, just not a lot of quality.

I sent a concerned email to the blogger and the response was similar to my friend. “Everything is fine. Don’t you think we’re doing okay?”

No, I don’t. And you shouldn’t either.
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Choosing between Twitter, live blogging or fast publishing

I love it when bloggers write about conferences I cannot attend. Blogs and Twitter are my main resources to stay in touch with conferences such as the Web 2.0 Expo in San Fransisco last week. Bloggers take different approaches to cover conferences which all have their advantages and disadvantages. The main three approaches are using Twitter, live blogging tools or fast publishing.


Twitter is a useful tool to stay in touch with both conference organizers and attendees. Stay up-to-date with schedule changes, keynote transcriptions and videos and people in the room. Twitter is used more and more often by speakers to answer questions from the audience or from people who are not attending the conference. The downside of such interaction is that there are always people out there to get their 140 characters of fame and add a lot of noise to the signal.

One of my favorite uses of Twitter during conferences is a backchannel people can send their posts to. During the Next Web conference in Amsterdam a few weeks ago a backchannel was created where all posts that included #nextweb were posted. By following the backchannel you can get information from everyone actively participating in providing content from the conference.

Live blogging

CoverIt Live is one of the most popular tools used for live blogging. It provides an easy and instant way to provide your blog readers with the latest news without having to refresh the page:

Your commentary publishes in real time like an instant message. Our ‘one-click’ publishing lets you drop polls, videos, pictures, ads and audio clips as soon as they come to mind. Comments and questions from your readers instantly appear but you control what gets published.

It is an excellent solution for blog visitors if you are “live reading” the blog. However, for archival (and SEO) purposes I am not too fond of using such tools. For example, I wanted to check out Mashable’s post on Matt Mullenweg Announces Related Posts and Themes for Photo Bloggers. If you use an external service such as CoverIt Live the content is not actually a part of your blog but it is embedded into your blog from their server. The fact that your content is embedded has consequences for indexing and finding the content. Be aware when using such tools that your live coverage will not be indexed nor be part of your blog’s archive.

Fast publishing

This is my personal preferred method of blogging conferences and keeping up with conferences. At the Next Web Conference we covered the whole conference with only two people and took turns in covering the keynotes. After a thirty minute keynote we would have another thirty minutes to turn our notes into a blog post and publish it online. While thirty minutes to edit your notes is not much it provides you with just enough time to turn them into a coherent blog post.

Why do I prefer fast publishing over Twitter or live blogging? Your blog is not as good as its latest post, it is the archive that counts. Which is your preferred method?

Shutdown Day Returns. Will You Pull the Plug?

Last March the Internet went dark as Shutdown Day arrived. OK, not really. But about 50,000 people opted to leave technology behind to pursue other endeavors.

This year, the event is back, this time on Saturday, May 3.

It is obvious that without computers we would find our life extremely difficult, maybe even impossible. If they disappeared for just one day, would we be able to cope?

Be part of one of the biggest global experiments ever to take place on the Internet. The idea behind Shutdown Day is to find out how many people can go without a computer for one whole day, and what will happen if we all participate!

I know what will happen…my blog traffic will drop. But the founders of the non-profit organization are thinking bigger than that.

Shutdown Day was founded with the sole purpose of spreading awareness about the pitfalls and dangers that lie in the excessive use of television, computers, and computing equipment like game boxes, cell phones, music players, online social websites, etc. that impinge on social space and interaction amongst our communities.

Want to take part in the second annual event? Pledge your allegiance to pulling the plug – at least for a day.

Tweet frees man from Egyptian Prison

Twitter may not have a business plan. But it is still really useful. Recently a graduate student from UC-Berkeley was arrested in Egypt along with his translator. Yet he managed to send tweets to his family and friends utilizing the social media service Twitter. Within hours his college had hired him a lawyer and helped free him after a protest.

Although the Twitter message helped him find contacts to get out of prison, James Buck, the Berkeley Grad Student says it was more the power of the network he had as an American that enabled him to be released so quickly.

Twitter, more than ever a social utility we can’t live without.

What Orphan Works Could Mean to Bloggers

The orphan works legislation, last seen in 2006, now has the attention of Congress again with two similar bills, one in the House and one in the Senate. These bills, should either of them pass, could have a drastic impact on copyright holders both within and outside of the United States.

But what should bloggers expect from this bill? How can Internet-based authors work to avoid having their work becoming “orphaned”?

The answer depends heavily on the kind of work you do and how much protection you want for it. However, what is clear is that at least some bloggers have a good reason to be concerned and should consider taking steps now to avoid a problem down the road. [Read more…]

Deal With the Devil: Week 2

Two weeks ago I blogged that, against YOUR advice, I would be offering my blogging services on a weekly basis to a larger media company – for free.

Here’s the latest update. Nine days ago I submitted an article to the company. And since then: silence.

My article has not appeared on their live site and I have not been updated as to when it would appear. In the meantime, I did not submit an article last week. I plan to hold back until the editor explains what their editorial process is. In hindsight, a question that I should have asked (or the company should have outlined) ahead of time.

Next time, I’ll be sure to find out:

– How in-depth will my piece be edited; content? length? spelling? etc.

– When I should expect to see the article posted.

– How stringent the issued word count is.

– Who I can contact if my main contact is out of the office.

– As estimate of traffic I should expect from my blog entry.

My goal with this series of posts is to help you make better decisions in similar situations. I also hope they’ll open the eyes of companies that pursue bloggers on what they should and shouldn’t do.

Darren Rowse’s Speed Posting: Great Reader Interaction or Lazy Content Pushing?

I’m intrigued by Darren Rowse’s 3 minute blog posts, dubbed speed posting. The idea is that he’s answering a reader question in 3 minutes and then pitches the question to his readers, interaction in the comments is awarded with the chance to win one of three ProBlogger Books.

I’m intrigued because I can’t decide whether it’s a nice touch and something that really benefits the readers, or a PR stunt for the book as well as a way to push out easy updates on the blog. I like to believe the former, but am having problems forgetting about the fact that more in-depth answers from Darren would be a lot more interesting to read.

[Read more…]

Hey Blogger: How Fast Do You Type?

Thankfully, being a proficient typist, has never been a job requirement my employer’s have sought from me. I’m almost embarrassed to admit this, but I clock in at about 60 words per minute.

I found this out at TypeRacer, an addictive ‘game’ that allows you to practice your typing (as if bloggers need any more!), challenge strangers and compete for the next Type Idol. OK, that last point is false, but the Website is surprisingly fun.

Registration is not required and players are asked to type along with a popular song lyric or famous quote. If you make an error, the words and text bar turn red and stay that way until you correct yourself.

When your score is revealed at the end, you are presented with an Amazon affiliate link, giving you a chance to buy the media associated with the text you typed.

A Facebook app is on the way.

I’m curious to know: How fast do you type? Does proficient blogging go hand-in-hand with typing skills? If so, I’m screwed! ;-)