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February 14, 2008

Blog Writing with Keyword Map Searches

Earlier this week, I introduced you to the search engine, with tips on how it can be used to brainstorm and research blog content. Today, I want to showcase the , a visual keyword map search engine.

KWMap is different as it graphically charts out relationships to your search term or phrase. It’s invaluable for exploring those relationships for brainstorming and research, giving you a new perspective on your search.
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February 12, 2008

Using Clusty For Blog Content and Research

Clusty logoGoogle is not the end all and be all of search engines. There are actually some better and more efficient search engines out there, and there are different types of search engines worthy of your attention. Especially when it comes to researching and writing blog content.

is a cluster search engine. Carnegie Mellon computer science researchers began researching search clusters in the 1990s and eventually brought the first “high-quality text clustering search engine” online through Vivisimo in 2000. The idea behind clustering is to gather related information into groups or folders, thus directing the searcher to more specific information rather than just a big list. The result eventually became Clusty.

Wikipedia describes cluster analysis as:
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February 11, 2008

Blogging the Olympic Games

Olympic Games Rings and torchWhen the international Olympic Games begin, everyone has an opinion on who will win, who should have won, and anything and everything Olympic. As the Olympic Games get closer, I thought I’d research some information to help you blog about the upcoming games in China.

There are a lot of stories and angles to be found on the Olympic Games, from historical perspectives and comparisons to personal interest stories such as the impact of the games on the communities in which they are held, and how the infrastructure and changes brought about by the games help or hinder the community years later. If you are looking for Olympic material for your blog, think about local human interest stories such as a community member who was in the Olympics or traveled to see the Olympics and get their inside story. The Olympics impacts everyone everywhere, so there is an Olympic story around every corner.

The official sites for the upcoming Olympic Games include:
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How Many Blogs Are There? Is Someone Still Counting?

The question of how many blogs are out there is currently buzzing in my e-mail inbox and in my (Dutch) feed list. Why do we even care about the total number of blogs? Carl Bialik from the The Wall Street Journal explained it as follows in 2005:

First, let’s step back and consider why we’re counting blogs at all. You no longer see articles that attempt to demonstrate the legitimacy of the Web by stating how many Web pages there are. But blogs are still in the process of entering mainstream consciousness, so numerical credibility is important; bloggers themselves cite the statistics a lot.

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February 4, 2008

Business owners give five reasons they believe their blogs fail

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The Blog Squad surveyed a number of business professionals who had abandoned or lost interest in their blogs, to find out the key reasons they felt the blog had failed.

The top five reasons given were:

1. Not enough comments were left by visitors

2. Not enough subscribers

3. No increase in traffic to their main website

4. Difficult to come up with fresh new content for the blog every week

5. Couldn’t work out how to promote products and services via the blog

The Blog Squad put such “failure” down to a lack of training in four key business blogging areas: Content, Outreach, Design, and Action. Yes, that does spell out CODA.

Denise Wakeman said, “Many professionals simply don’t know how to use the features of their blogging platform. Furthermore, they often struggle with what to write about on a business blog. So their posts are infrequent, their traffic stagnant, and they don’t convert readers to clients.”

They reckon that over half of all business blogs are abandoned within three months, and unsurprisingly they reckon they can train businesspeople to establish a more effective blog through teleseminar training this month.

More fundamental, as far as I’m concerned, is that blogging just isn’t for everyone.

While I believe that most businesses today benefit from a web presence, I don’t believe that they all need to blog.

If you’ve nothing to say, and you’re developing better customer relationships and conversions using more traditional methods, then don’t take resources away from that simply because “blogging” is the new buzzword.

Bear in mind, too, that there are plenty of “experts” around who’ll claim to fix your blog in four weeks. It’s not (usually) that simple.

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January 28, 2008

Blogging May Change the Future of Publishing

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Grand Text Auto, a group blog about computer narrative, games, poetry and art, has recently launched an interesting blogging experiment that may take blogging and publishing to the next level. Noah Wardrip-Fruin is putting the manuscript of his upcoming book Expressive Processing, about digital fictions and computer games, online so that the Grand Text Auto community may participate in an open, blog-based peer review. The community is invited to give feedback on the work in the form of comments and/or trackbacks which in its turn may be picked up by the author.

It is the beginning of a more social and networked book.

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January 7, 2008

Nearly half of Americans creating own entertainment content, including blogs

The number of Americans creating their own online content to share with others is increasing, according to new survey figures.

Around 45% of those surveyed said that they regularly worked on their own web sites, blogs, photo albums, and music online, to share with everyone from family and friends, to peers, to total strangers.

Deloitte’s 2008 State of the Media Democracy marks a twelve point escalation from their Spring 2007 survey, and strongly suggests that such online activities are increasingly popular among more than just a niche of tech-savvy individuals.

“Mass digitization has created unheralded choice and desire for American consumers,” said Ed Moran, director of product innovation for Deloitte’s Technology, Media and Telecommunications group. “Now, more than ever, consumers have the independence to enjoy what they want, when they want it, and where they want it — but increasingly, they are also choosing to create content themselves, or re-working other people’s content.”

36% of respondents also viewed their mobile phone as an entertainment device, with it playing an increasingly important role not just in basic communications but also for photos, music, and games.

The continued move to mobile is likely to affect how and where blogs and other online media are both created and consumed.

The online survey was commissioned by Deloitte and conducted by Harrison Group, an independent research company, between October 25 and October 31, 2007. The survey polled 2,081 consumers between the ages of 13 and 75.

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December 19, 2007

Blogging Continues To Grow Amongst Teens, With Girls Leading The Way

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A recent Pew Internet Internet Poll (pdf) conducted via interviews amongst over 900 parent-child pairs in the United States had some interesting findings when it comes to social media usage and content generation.  One of them was an extension of previously known data, as in 2004 19% of teens were engaged in blogging, whereas now that number is up to 28%.

But there is a split in terms of the sexes.  35% of all online teenage girls were blogging compared to 20% of online teenage boys.  Furthermore, nearly all of the growth since 2004 in blogging amongst teenager has really been due to interest amongst girls: older girls blog more than boys of the same age (38% vs 18%), but younger girls are also blogging more than older boys as well (32% vs. 18%).

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December 3, 2007

Archiving Blogs and the Blogosphere

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As blogs are becoming a more mature medium, research into the history of blogs becomes even more relevant. Earlier this year an article by the Wall Street Journal celebrated the 10th anniversary of blogs with Jorn Barger’s Robot Wisdom as of December 23, 1997. Not only was the author of the article accused of getting the history wrong and re-writing history it also heated up the debate on what the first blog was.

As Rex Hammock points out there is no single history of blogs and argues that “everyone should write their own version of the history of blogging.” As blogging is a practice that has shaped itself over time it is nearly impossible to point to one single blog as “the first blog” in retrospect. Blogs evolved out of a practice that is still developing and shaping itself. The debate surrounding the article also showed how poorly the blogosphere is archived and how difficult it is to conduct research on the history of blogs.

As much as the blogosphere is focused on time, the web is oblivious to time.

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November 26, 2007

Does Your Blog Interface Influence How You Blog?

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There are many different ways to write a blog posts. Some people prefer a simple text editor, an offline blogging tool or simply the write post area of your blog software. There are so many tools available that it is a matter of trying to find the right one for your personal posting pattern.

I am still trying to find the perfect writing environment. I often use a no-nonsense simple text editor, or a program such as Dark Room (Windows) or WriteRoom (Mac) that provides me with a full-screen, semi-distraction free writing environment. But because these programs are so basic it means that I will have to manually insert all the links. Am I lazy? What about the oldskool bloggers that manually coded their whole blog?

Blog software spoiled me.

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