Posts Tagged: Blog

The Slow Web Movement

Rebecca Blood wrote on “The Slow Web” today:

The Slow Web would be more like a book, retaining many of the elements of the Popular Web, but unhurried, re-considered, additive. Research would no longer be restricted to rapid responders. Conclusions would be intentionally postponed until sufficiently noodled-with. Writers could budget sufficient dream-time before setting pixel to page. Fresh thinking would no longer have to happen in real time.

Go read her article and the cinema post that inspired it.
I am only occasionally interested in blog posts, be it writing them or reading them, that are apart of the hyper-fast web, what has happened right now – usually if it about an earthquake that just happened or a revolution (like Iran last June). I particularly dislike the echo chamber of tech/mobile blog posts that happen within 30 minutes of a press release or a keynote from a company executive.
((yawn))
But blog posts that are written after one has considered the subject, looked at various sides, actually held the device in one’s hand, mused on events & filtered them through experience, thought about the repercussions, and then write an informed opinion piece – now that is good slow web.

Single Subject or Brand Blogs vs. Generalist Blogs

Amongst bloggers in recent years there has been a decline in single author generalist blogs, be they professional or personal, and an increase in single subject blogs. Amongst tech bloggers, there has been a great deal of single brand blogs.
As a generalist semi-profession, semi-personal, semi-photography, semi-commentary blogger, I am always amazed when a person can keep a regular single subject blog up for longer than 2-3 years. Most of the personal bloggers I know have burnt out and then gotten reinvigorated by looking at different facets of their lives or by moving on to new passions. But what is a single subject blogger or even worse a single brand blogger to do when they are burnt out on that subject or brand?
Dan Carter of WorldofNokia.co.uk decided to close his blog this week. Dan writes:

“After what has been a up and down 2 years I am announcing that World Of Nokia will be closing it’s doors for the final time on 5th June 2010 when the site will no longer be updated.
Both myself and Christian would like to thank you all for your support shown since day one and for everyone who has helped build the site up with comments, links or advertising,
Seeing as this is the final post I thought it only right to explain the reason behind the closing of the site and to be brutal its the fact Nokia have stopped being as creative as they once were not that long ago. The N95 was a modern masterpiece with the exception of the poor battery life but since then there has been a total lack in creativity
Nearly every phone launched until the new C/X series was a small update of the phone it was surpassing which itself was only a few months old (just how many versions of the 5800 and N95 did we really need??)

Over the past 2 years just concentrating on Nokia, all the phones ended up feeling pretty much the same due to the tired Symbian OS which only now on the new Symbian 3 due out in September has some chance of doing well. In fact when talking to Christian tonight about the Nokia N8 he said
“its too far off for me and runs Symbian which is putting me off”

In response, I commented:

“Dan,
May I make a recommendation? Keep the domain name, you never know what the future will bring AND don’t just put your writing effort into someone else’s site, but get your own blog and write about what you love right now.
With your own blog about whatever, there is no pressure to blog about a certain brand or even about mobile, but whatever you love.
Good luck!
smiles, jen ;o)”

All commentary about personal branding aside, I do think if one is a passionate person and is interested in observing the world around one or creating a space online, then having a string of single subject blogs or writing for a string of group or contribution blogs may end up being frustrating both for the blogger and their readers.
I will advocate my 2nd Law of the Internet in this case – “Own your Own Stuff”.
I encourage anyone who has graduated from or wants to graduation from occasional posting blogger.com or wordpress.com to get their own domain, of which does not have to be in your name but can be an idea or conceptual name, and then set up a self-hosted blog in that domain and blog. Blog about whatever.
If this week you want to blog about mobile and Nokia or Apple, then blog about it. If next week or month or year, you are super passionate about Peruvian butterflies, then pay your domain registry & hosting and keep blogging be it about Apple, butterflies, politics, relationships, brands, travel, underpants, or whatever.
Put own your own creativity and consolidate it into one place, and if you must use tech tricks such as tags, categories, and .htaccess files to drive the SEO traffic to your new generalist blog.
Why? As a gift to your regular readers. People subscribe by RSS or Google Reader or Feedburner, etc, and they will want to keep reading you. Treat your regulars well, give them a consistent RSS or Atom feed.
Also as a gift to yourself. Allowing your own intellectual and creative curiosity to grow and flourish by the ability to explore new ideas over time rather than be limited to a single subject or brand.
Earlier this year, James Burland, a creative from the UK that I admire greatly did all but shutter his “Nokia Creative” blog to move on to his “iPad Creative” blog. While I love James’ various passions for creating on the devices he is most excited about right now, I would love to see him for the long term not commit to a single brand, even if it drives more traffic in terms of SEO, but instead have one central blog of James’ thoughts on how to create with [_______insert name of device_______]. Otherwise in 5 years’ time, where will some of his best pieces be?
Ok, my inner Micki Krimmel will now argue to me that none of this matters to the reader, they don’t care and technology will solve the problems of aggregation of all of our content for the reader to find over time. Someone else may argue that in 5 years time, James won’t care about the iPad but will think his blog about it is a quaint relic of a different time.
Be that as it may, one of the great breakthroughs of the internet age is that if we want to, we can all be creative producers, so why not set up our own channel that is not dependent on one idea, subject, or brand, but instead a channel / blog / site that allows one to grow in one’s passions and creativity over time and still allows the readers to consistently follow and participate.
Dan, I hope you set up your own space that allows you to blog about whatever suits your fancy right now without apologies and allows those of us who read your writing to continue to follow you, even if it is sporadic.

Why, Yes, There Have Been Some Changes Around These Parts

Mon 01.18.10 – If you are reading this on a feed/RSS/Atom, then you haven’t noticed anything unless you click through, but if you are reading this on the website then you can see that I have made some incremental changes.
The changes I have made have mostly been an attempt to improve the speed of the site for you, the reader, as YSlow and Google’s Webmaster have let me know that this site was a bit sluggish.
I have noticed the slowdown the last year, of which I believe have been a combination of more and more entries, the shared hosting that I have my sites on, and a few blogging software configuration issues.
Today, I did the following:
1) I reduced the Black Phoebe :: Ms. Jen index page to 6 entries rather than 12, as the home page is image heavy.
2) I combined some scripts and stylesheets, as well as eliminating a few that not currently being used but were legacy code bits.
3) I cleaned up the sidebars on the index and entry pages to reduce the http requests, as well as taking the Flickr Badge off the index page as it was causing a whole second of rendering time.
4) Plus a few other Movable Type template tweaks.
What I still need to do:
5) Combine as much of the javascript for the site, comments, and lightbox as possible into one script with out causing conflicts.
6) Figure out a better Movable Type to blackphoebe.mobi solution. The current one that I threw up in a day in January 2008 is slowing down the whole install.
Let me know if the site is faster for you and if the changes are good or not working. Thanks!

How to Change the Directory that Movable Type Uploads to When Using the Atom Protocol (Lifeblog, PixelPipe, etc)

I don’t know about you, but I have had a little list of blog upkeep items that have been on my to do list for ages, but haven’t had the time to research and then execute them. After thinking about a few of them for some time, oh like a couple of years, I decided recently to make a real paper list and make it happen.
Here are the things I wanted to do:
1) Figure out how to get thumbnails of images to appear in the excerpted version of this blog’s RSS and Atom feeds.
2) Think about how to keep the evil sploggers (spam bloggers who scrape feeds) at bay AND keep my regular feed readers happy with a good feed. I have had my private full feed for at least two years now & announce it frequently but folks who want a full feed didn’t know about it.
3) Even though Perl is not really my friend, I have wanted to figure out how to alter the Atom script for this blog so that when I use Lifeblog or PixelPipe to mobile blog from my camera phone to this blog that the photo will be uploaded into the file directory of my choice and not the default main blog directory.
A few weeks ago, I dedicated a few hours to attempting to bending the Atom and RSS feed templates to my will. Unfortunately, Movable Type 4.x is very dependent on the Asset Manager for knowing where the images are, and due to challenge #3, I was not able to fix #1 with any satisfaction, as all the fixes required the Asset Manager to know where all the images are and by default the Atom script uploads all assets/images to the main blog directory, which causes a messy main directory with my daily mobile blogging. To solve this, I have been manually moving images to a proper image directory and then updating the blog post later, thus the Asset Manager can’t keep up with me. Poor thing.
Persistent artist vs. computer program. Who is going to lose? In the long run, the program. Until I solved problem #3, problem #1 was a null point.
I solved #2 by resetting my public facing feeds to be a bit bigger excerpts that would show the images but would excerpt any article over a certain length. I use the .htaccess file to stop any lifting of images. And I still have the private complete feed for anyone who emails me and lets me know that they want the url.
Today, I decided to conquer the moblogging directory issue and attempt to make Perl bend to my will.

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NaBloPoMo 2009, Or November is The Month

NaBloPoMo is back!
November is the original and annual National Blog Posting Month and if you have been making excuses to yourself all year that you would like to get back in the swing of blog posting – here it is starting tomorrow only for 30 days – a good challenge.
For the last two years I have been on the 365 Blog Challenge to post every day, of which most of my posts end up being mobile photo blogged (mo-pho-blo), and on the months that I participate in NaBloPoMo I also attempt to post a text blog post every day.
Tomorrow I am going to start on the November NaBloPoMo and post a text/writing blog post every day for the month. Join me and all the others who are participating in NaBloPoMo and it doesn’t matter if you post text every day or a photo or a video or a combo of your choice, it is good fun!
Thanks to Mrs. Kennedy for thinking NaBloPoMo up and organizing it.

Tomorrow is Beautiful

The month of August was NaBloPoMo’s Tomorrow month and September will be NaBloPoMo’s Beautiful month.
While I was not so great about about blogging daily about tomorrow or the future, I can post a photo of beauty or write on the beautiful daily for September.
September starts Fire Season, a season of dry, brown land. A season of heat and smog. A season of fire and destruction of the landscape. A season of which beauty can be wrenched from?

Blogging: Is it Broadcasting or Publishing?

Andrew Sullivan asserts in the below video interview at the Aspen Ideas Festival that blogging is broadcasting. I think it is both and it depends on the writer/blogger in question. Sullivan’s style is that he broadcasts his piece as soon as possible from the time the idea or event happened and he broadcasts in his blog multiple times a day. Other bloggers, such as Geoff Manaugh of BLDBLG, publish a few times a week or once a day, in a longer, edited essay form – I would consider this publishing the blog post or some folks might call the longer, curated/edited essay form an article.

What about the moblogging that I do here? Would it be broadcasting via Sullivan’s definition or do I mobile publish because I tend to look for the best image or two of the day and only rarely do I moblog more than one or two images as they happen. The evening, a couple of weeks ago, that I went to dinner with Ernie, Jason, and George at Esperento in the Mission was more broadcasting or documenting as it happens, as I moblogged photos of two of the dishes we ate and two photos of the gentlemen, but most days, I do believe I am publishing.
I do agree with Sullivan that blogging is the most exciting thing to happen for writers, as well as artists and photographers, in many a decade.

Kindle Publishing

The nice folks at Amazon.com have opened up the ability for bloggers to add their blog to the Kindle-world. If you are a regular blogger and would like to have the various Kindle reader folk out there to able to download and read your blog on their Kindle’s, then go register at Kindle Publishing.
The nice folk at Six Apart alerted their Twitter followers about the new Kindle Publishing option for bloggers this afternoon:

Our friends at Amazon just launched Kindle Publishing for Blogs — list your blog in the Kindle store: http://kindlepublishing.amazon.com

Why is this exciting to me? Given that I am a big fan of reading, mobile devices and blogs, this is a perfectly easy way to make sure that one’s blog reaches what possibly may be a new audience or at the very least it makes current readers of one’s blog be able to read the blog anywhere on a mobile device at their convenience.
I signed up for Kindle Publishing this afternoon and within 20 minutes I had this blog, Black Phoebe :: Ms. Jen, and The Happy Tastebud signed up as Kindle subscriptions. And in another 20 minutes after that, I had the links to the Kindle subscriptions added to both blog’s sidebar Subscribe area right next to the links to Atom and RSS feeds.
It was easy. Amazon did not require anything of me that I had not already had accomplished (description, keywords, screen shot, masthead, etc). I did not have to recode my blog nor did I have to make a device specific app, like many have done for the iPhone, but all I had to do after filling in basic information was to give an RSS or Atom feed to Amazon.
Amazon allows you to see a preview of your content as the Kindle will display it to the reader and it is not optimized for a photoblog or for the design control addicts amongst us, as the photos are very low resolution and in black & white and the typography is serif and fairly large. Also, there is no control over layout. But all of this adds up to an impetuous for me to make sure that my content is compelling regardless of the device or machine that it is viewed on.
Whether anyone actually subscribes to my blog via the Kindle or not really doesn’t matter, what does matter is that Amazon is making a wide variety of publications available to their Kindle readership and Amazon is making it easy for bloggers and other content publishers to distribute their work, which is very exciting for the mobile and handheld device ecosystem.