Sunday, July 31, 2005

Blogs and women as decor


blogs and women as decor Posted by Picasa




Blogs and
Women as Decor




Lady bloggers: are they typically different from gentlemen bloggers?

Let's consider one angle of this topic, a topic that is of increasing interest to the blogosphere.

Not "are males and females inherently different", but in what ways do women differ from men when it comes to blogs and blogging?

Not "what is feminine blogging?", nor "what makes a blog masculine?" -- as though there were blogging qualities and aspects that are necessarily tied naturally to one gender or the other.

This is a discussion going on over at Vaspers the Grate.


Sexualized Barrier
to Female Blogging?


One thing that inhibits the acceptance of female blogs is:

men and women are not comfortable
with women as authority figures.

This may be an unconscious attitude,
not an articulated bias.

Western social values still place
prettiness or beauty, overt
sexuality, and seductiveness as
highly regarded attributes...

...for women.

Intelligence, competence, teamwork
are *often* (not always)

on a lower value level in
American business offices...

...for female workers.

I imagine its a slightly
different story in
factories and construction.

In hard physical labor,
prettiness might be nice,
but it could interfere,
be dangerously distracting.

But I could be wrong.

This childish, foolish,
superficial attitude of
American businessmen
could have its exact
equivalent in labor jobs.


Does it apply to blogs?

While a photo of the blog author is a nice, personalizing, humanizing enhancement of any blog...


...could a photo of a beautiful blogger be playing into the archaic, and generally counter-productive, patriarchal system of optical pleasure?

Would a female blog gain in credibility and authoritativeness, if no photo of the blogger is displayed?

Would a photo of the lady blogger be more, or less, effective in generating traffic and loyal readership, if the photo is a "glamour" shot? With overt sexuality? Even enticing?


A Female Socio-linguist Speaks

Let's look at these brief excerpts from Talking From 9 to 5 by Deborah Tannen, Ph.D. (William & Morrow, NY, 1994)




[QUOTE]


A very different. and more troublesome, kind of tension was described to me by a woman who observed that some men like to have what she called "decorative women" around them. Such men tend to hire women they find attractive, regardless of their abilities.

According to her, the presence of women whose abilities are not up to those of the others, and who are extremely attractive, can throw an office into disarray. (p. 270)

[snip]

Another physician told me that when she placed an advertisement that said "physician seeking office assistant," one after another young woman appeared wearing low-cut blouses and minute skirts.

When they discovered that the physician interviewing them was female, they became uncomfortable, and during the interviews tugged at the necks of their blouses and hems of their skirts, trying to cover themselves up.

She learned to avoid this embarrassing situation by advertising "Woman physician seeks office assistant." (p. 271)

[snip]

The value of "decorative women" in a work environment is institutionalized in some countries.

For example, Japanese businessmen often hire pretty young women simply to stand around while they do business. (p. 271)

[snip]

Women office workers are commonly called "flowers of the workplace." (p. 272)


[END QUOTE]


[signed] Steven Streight aka Vaspers the Grate


:^|

Peer into the art mirror


peer into the mirror of art and transmute its reflective surfaces Posted by Picasa


Peer Poem

peer into the mirror of art
and transmute its
reflective surfaces

balanced by bevels
the silvering comes
as a shock that rebounds,
drives back
the repulsion field,
until all you see is
what's not yet there

that's the art:
what's not yet seen

what you bring
to the silvering
and mirroring
you find within

auto-receptivity acquires substance
from what's best left unsaid

then recycles its residue build-up
in new forms of artistic expression

with blogs as reservoired regions
to burst in explosive overflow



ART MIRROR

you can improve your blogging
by repeated exposures to art

art in all its manifestations:

musical
literary
photographic
auditory
architectural
natural
astrophysical
infinitesimal
philosophical
cultural
pictorial

Look at paintings.
Hike through woods.
Listen to music.
Read some poems.
Rub a sculpture.
Touch a flower.
Smell a rock.
Taste a delicacy.


Meditate on, and try your hand at, styles that are considered "difficult", "controversial", "avant garde", or "new".

Try to intuitively sense why the artist used that medium, that style, that genre, that system, that material, those colors, that structure.

Best advice to a new blogger:

read classic literature
to improve your writing,

not just other blogs.

Learn and incorporate aspects
of universally acknowledged geniuses.



Read and Learn

There's a lot a blogger could learn from:

Jean Rhys
Edith Wharton
Jane Austin
Katherine Mansfield
Dorothy Parker
Doris Lessing
Mary Shelley
Shirley Jackson
Pearl S. Buck
Dorothy Sayers
Colette
Katherine Anne Porter



Accumulate selected energies and mannerisms of the best, play with their forms and substance, assimilate what you like, and watch yourself get better.

The mind is known by the company it keeps.

Saturday, July 30, 2005

blogs and writing skills




What writing skills are needed to be a good blogger?

It depends on the type of blog, goal and purpose of blog, audience of blog, and personality of blogger.

Personal blogs typically need a very casual, intimate, and friendly tone of voice.

A business blog generally needs to be more formal, objective, and serious in tone.

But perhaps we could formulate some basic blog writing requirements that apply to most blogs.




12 Vital Writing Skills
for Bloggers:


1. Brevity: ability to write briefly, succinctly, not verbose, not too wordy, not beating around the bush, but: getting right to the point.

On target. Communicates with economy of verbage. Quickly. Efficiently.

2.
Clarity: write exactly what you mean, with words, definitions, and references your readers will understand, trust as credible, and be already familiar with.

Be as simple as possible, unless there's a good reason to use veiled speech.

Convoluted or otherwise deliberately garbled or over-intentionalized messages have a use. As in metaphysical whisper-transmissions that would be dangerous for average people to flippantly or casually mis-apply, if this message were rendered directly, or more literally.

Be sure to explain any words or concepts you think some readers, especially of other languages, might not understand well.

3.
Honesty: be true to your self, don't pretend to be something you're not, say exactly what you really think, not what you think others will want to hear.

4.
Fast Readability: write so your stressed-out, rushed readers, users in a hurry, fans with other things to do today, can quickly get the facts and opinions you want to convey...

...with appropriate heads, subheads, listed items, bold, italics, colored type, spacing between paragraphs, short paragraphing.

5.
Personality: write in your own authentic style, write like you talk, write like you think, use all your individualistic mannerisms and catch-phrases.

Quote your own slogans and slang.

Just relax and let your distinct tastes and experiences flow forth autocratically and idiosyncratically.

6.
Spontaneity: let your writing flow naturally, without censoring or suppressing, rush like a river, gushing out of you non-stop, not worring about anything, feeling every word ooze out like toothpaste...

then go get a cup of coffee, come back, and look at it...

start revising, adding, deleting, consolidating, referencing, footnoting, asterisking, listing, numbering, separating, paragraphing, subheading, clarifying, expanding, contracting, hyperlinking.

7.
Authority: when you state a known fact, a firm belief, an opinion, an idea, be sure to present it powerfully. Not timidly. Not apologetically, unless it's in sarcastic self-effacement (one-downing).

Provide valid credentials, training, range of experience, references, etc. to support your position.

8.
Variety: try jazzing things up, doing the unexpected, be mysterious.

Maybe produce a series of comical posts to lighten things up while remaining in your general topic area.

Post photos and art. Try drawing and captioning a cartoon.

Do an audioblog, podcast, videoblog.

Explain RSS, how to select or switch a blog template, or your experience with Internet 2 to your audience.

Ask your readers for their insights and opinions. Do you regularly encourage feedback? Or do you just assume that simply having a Contact page is sufficient?

Select a topic that's obscure or difficult, or do research on a question you've had, hunt for oddities, seek the bizarre.

Shock and amuse, don't just blabber on and on about the same old crap all the time.

9.
Controversy: be brave and tackle some topic that people are arguing heatedly about, or come up with your own topic that you think will stir up some debate.

Rock the boat, defy the status quo, be contrarian, rise up out of the mainstream.

Concentrate on a neglected aspect of a thing, and make a big fuss about it.

Challenge the accepted viewpoints and prevailing trends.

10.
Philosophy: sprinkle deeply pondered phenomenonological insights, or epistemological questions into your posts.

Take something more seriously than average people do.

Radically and unflinchingly question the very roots of your industry, hobby, or profession, think of things others have not covered sufficiently.

Ask "Why?" and "What For" and "Who Says?" and "Why Not?"

11.
Creativity: try to present things in a unique and unusual way, experiment with poetry or a scholarly style, play with extremes, read other fine literature and learn new techniques, improve your descriptive writing or your emotional responsiveness.

Read classic poetry, drama, and novels. Let the literary giants influence you, incorporate aspects of their styles. Or create a style that's a reaction against a style you wish to parody or condemn.

12.
Tenacity: hang in there, no matter what.

Keep writing, don't give up, don't let flamers or trolls make you upset. Stay positive and dedicated to continual improvement.

Focus more on your progress as a thinker and writer, than on who is pleased and who is not pleased with your blog.

Forget audience numbers and grind away at perfection and completeness, however you define them for your blog.

Do your best in the writing of your blog, and sooner or later, quality readers will discover it...and gradually will become loyal and commenting fans of it.


[signed] Vaspers the Grate aka Steven Streight

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

rotten Chrysler tv commercials


Re: rotten Chrysler tv commercials



This is a post that would've been published at my old, discontinued Streight Site Systems site, since it deals with general advertising, and not blogs in particular. But I felt like putting it here, because this concerns marketing wisdom and business ethics.


How horrible are those new Chrysler television commercials?

They suck really really bad, from many angles.

But then again, automobile advertising is easily among the most brain dead advertising in the universe. It's been like this as long as I can remember.

Evil Car Commercials

It's unethical, malicious, and insane to show idiots driving cars at high speed, dangerously, threatening the lives and well being of passengers, children, and other drivers.

I guess the mediocre, unimaginative twerps making these lousy commercials have been playing Grand Theft Auto and other sick racing car video games until their brains spilled out their ears.

People under 40 won't know nor care who Lee Iacoocoo is.

He's no hero or legend in my mind. He's a ridiculous schmuck who got the U.S. government to use our tax dollars to bail out a bankrupt loser company making shoddy, gas guzzling, Arab-oil dependent automobiles.

What's Wrong

Here's what wrong with the new commercials:

(1.) Lee says the most important thing is "the deal".

Bullshit you silly old geezer. The most important thing is a superior product and great after-sale customer service.

(2.) Lee is presented as a person who will command respect.

I have nothing but loathing for the jerk. Nuff sd.

(3.) Lee and "George Castanza" are both no longer considered "hip" or popular.

How many sitcoms and movies has Jason Alexander bombed miserably in? I saw him on a late night talk show...and all he talked about was bowel problems, diarrhea or constipation or some other private, best left unsaid ailment. On and on he blabbered until I wanted to vomit in his shoes.


My comment posted on the Ad Rants
article "New Iacocca Chrysler commercial not a hit"



Lee I-Want-A-Coca is a schmuck who got taxpayer money to bail out a loser company.

Screw him and his "If you can find a better car, buy it" idiot line.

We have found way better cars, Lee, and we are buying them, in case you haven't noticed.

"Buy my product. Why? Because I make it." is not smart advertising, but this is what most commercials are really saying behind the dancing girls, meat and sex, old rock music, and bad acting.

"If you can find a better [____]...buy it" is probably the stupidest line ever.

No creativity to it. No marketing logic. No consumer psychology. Nothing.

Written, [very likely,] by a coke head alcoholic who just barely made the copy deadline. The creative director should be tortured on C SPAN for the whole world to see.


Please, no more stupid car commercials!


[signed] Steven Streight aka Vaspers the Grate

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

What is a blogologist?



What is a blogologist?


You're looking at one right now.

I mean, at his writings and his blog.

Honestly, I feel that every blogger is a blogologist to some degree.


When I call myself a "blogologist", I'm not claiming any privileged position or authority...


except that my opinions are based on spending approximately 15 hours a day struggling to understand blogs, to create blogs for myself and my clients, and to perfect my own blogging technique.

In one sense, as a qualified analyst, I attempt to exert a strong and beneficial influence on the blogosphere.

But in another sense, as an open-minded investigator, I feel I'm always learning more, and adjusting my theories accordingly.



Here's my current definition of the word:

"blogologist" = someone who studies blogs, bloggers, blogging, and the blogosphere, making recommendations based on this analysis. It helps immensely if the person also is a blogger, but is not absolutely required.

Studies blogs: visits blogs and ponders the design, goals, type of blog (personal, academic, scientific, marketing, business, military, political, social, religious, etc.), functions (comments, trackback, RSS, sidebar badges, blogrolls, etc.), and content (text, photos, audio, video, art, etc.).

Studies bloggers: ponders personalities, writing styles, conference reports, conventions, books, reactions to flamers, speed of response to posted comments, topics chosen to blog about, etc.

Studies blogging: including benefits and dangers, time spent on blog, personal or professional/organizational goals.

Studies blogosphere: including number of blogs existing, categories of blogs (true vs. pseudo, benevolent vs. malicious, serious vs. comical, sincere vs. parody, exoteric vs. esoteric, ethical vs. sleazy, etc.).

An academic blog I just discovered, and am starting to enjoy, is Rhetorica.

The writing, though more professorial than mine, is combative, sarcastic at times, and not excessively "diplomatic" , nor is it sickeningly "tolerant and inoffensive".

He lets it rip.

Rhetorica is the blog of Andrew R. Cline, PhD., Assistant Professor of Journalism, Missouri State University.

Professor Cline is more of a blog advocate than a blogologist, as he explains in the quote below.



[QUOTE]



I, (no) blogologist...

http://rhetorica.net/archives/002378

While some of the best bloggers are academics, the weblog form has yet to spark much interest in academia as a venue for publishing research or criticism.

That's to be expected.

What's been interesting for me, however, is how much I've had to defend the form as a venue for public dissemination of my academic thinking.

But, then, many academics, working under the pressure of publish-or-perish, are loathe to engage the public with work that's unlikely to count toward tenure.

And some are just loathe to engage the public for any reason at all.

I've used this weblog, quite obviously, as a way to write public criticism and public notes to myself about my research interests.

And as a former journalist, I like the pressure this weblog helps me put on myself to write every day.

And again, quite obviously, I've used weblogs to teach. I'll be continuing that trend at Southwest Missouri State University in the fall for my JRN270 Introduction to Journalism and MED581 Issues in Media Ethics classes.

What I have not done is become a "blogologist"--an academic who studies blogs as a form of communication, i.e. interpersonal, public, or something else.


[END QUOTE]


Notice the astute observation that "...some are just loathe to engage the public for any reason at all."

This is what's wrong with pushing blogs at arrogant businesses and corporations. Many of them have no interest in starting candid, transparent, authentic conversations with customers...and no amount of pleading and coaxing will change their misanthropic orientation.


[signed] Steven Streight aka Vaspers the Grate

Monday, July 25, 2005

It's my bloggy and I'll cry if I want to.



Who do I think I am...

...to say such things?


I get that all the time.

It's okay. I'm a patient type of person, due largely to being a gardener, a web usability analyst, and a web-metaphysician.

As a gardener, I wait tranquilly for the plants to bud and blossom.

As a web usability analyst, I peacefully examine client and potential client sites, looking for problems to fix.

As a web-metaphysician, I calmly deposit digital energy generators to transform violence and fear into joy and compassion.


"Yeah, sure, whatever--but...

what gives you the right to
say such inflammatory
things all the time?"



(1.) I say provocative things about blogs.

Why? Because I'm a blogologist.

I've been spending 10 to 20 hours a day researching, creating, and improving blogs. My own and those of clients and friends, and basically anybody who asks for help.


(2.) I say hateful things about malicious blogs, deceptive blogs, and unethical blog practices.

Why? Because I don't want innocent users to be harmed, and I don't want what happened with junk mail, telemarketing annoyances, mail order fraud, boring television programs and infomercials, and FM corporate radio mediocrity to happen to the blogosphere.


(3.) I say hateful things about oppressive religions, intolerant atheisms, and corrupt governments.

Why? Because I'm living in a country built on revolution, metaphysical upheaval, questioning authority, free speech, intellectual anarchy, and aggressive actions against tyrants and genociders. USA 1776.



Now...why do you say what you say in your blog?

Post a comment, if you dare, or email me, if you care.

I'm all ears, er, I mean, all eyes.


[signed] Steven All Eyes Streight aka Whimpers the Grape

Sunday, July 24, 2005

Blogs Must Be Two Way Conversations



The unilateral, one way communication blog is a pseudo blog, in most cases. Except for link logs that are just providing pre-surfed web suggested URLs. Or blogs that for some reason cannot find an effective way to prevent or delete comment spam.

Why would a blog author NOT want to hear from readers?

Why would an organization think they can shout or preach at customers, members, the public via a blog? People really are sick of that.

I'm offended by religious sermons.

Congregations want to speak out, give their testimony, issue a praise report, make a prayer request, issue warnings, ask questions, report news, reveal what they've learned in their meditations and study. The falsely "exalted" servant called the pastor, priest, or spiritual mentor isn't the only one receiving illumination.

I'm offended by professors who lecture while students merely take notes or passively listen.

Students want to challenge, question, contribute to the learning process. The tenured professor does not have all the answers, and is probably wrong or not current about many things.


I've been advocating two-way conversations, enabling blog comments, encouraging readers to email you, for quite a while.

Blogs are a simple, easy, fast way to build relationships with customers and colleagues.

Readers should feel free to scold, question, anger, joke with, tease, compliment, and illuminate blog authors.

It's nice that many lurkers (non-interactive, silent, unknown users) read blogs.

But when a comment is posted or an email received, the blogger feels like he or she is connecting with others.

Blog authors want to know they are delighting, helping, provoking, informing, coaching, challenging, inspiring, enlightening other people.

Bloggers may have to say unpleasant or shocking things now and then. All types of material may enter the blog via the blog author's experiences, observations, insights.

I'm going to shut up now, and let a better mind speak on this subject, to drive the point home to you, gentle reader...


{QUOTE]

People didn't come to the internet for more of this featureless, characterless crap. They came for less. They came because they were bored silly by sterile vanilla one-size-fits-all commercial media.

They came because they were hungry for something entirely else. And we found it: each other.

The net enables people to speak, not just to listen.

[snip]

This new empowerment of the audience is intrinsic to internet technology. It's not something extra or something that can be taken away. It comes with the territory.

[snip]

People gravitate toward websites that feed their curiosity, that speak to their passions, their genuine interests. And in this process new micromarkets are just now emerging. Thousands of them.

They are coalescing around voice: around people who are articulate, entertaining, knowledgeable, and informative.

[snip]

Instead of pitching products, corporate communications must seed conversations that become the basis for further community discourse.

Effective communications will not come from traditional PR and marketing mouthpieces, but from employees spanning the corporation--real people with real passions, real enthusiasm.

In contrast, one-way product pitches will fail to connect with genuine market interests. They will fall on deaf ears.


Christopher Locke
GONZO MARKETING, p. 100, 101

[END QUOTE]





[signed] Steven Streight aka Vaspers the Grate

- = +

Saturday, July 23, 2005

Fearless Blogging: omeka na huria



Fearless blogging is found in Jacob George's blog: omeka na huria.

http://omekanahuria.blogspot.com


What does "omeka na huria" mean?


It's translated by the blogger as "speak out and freedom of action". This is a core values of blogging type blog par excellance.

I'm honored and delighted that Blog Core Values is on his blogroll.

On his blog Jacob George says, "...I'm no academic or scholar. These writings come from an ordinary Singaporean who has lived here all his life".

His humble, yet highly intelligent, pro-democracy, pro-free thought, Islamic Reformist orientation is quite refreshing and bold, considering his environment and situation.

Jacob George has two other blogs:

Amnesty International Singapore

http://amnestysingapore.blogspot.com

Committee To Protect Bloggers (Singapore)
http://cpbsingapore.blogspot.com

Look at a sample post from omeka na huria...


[QUOTE]

Blogging's potential for S'pore politics not fully realised


July 19, 2005 Tuesday

by Jacob George


Singapore bloggers had their first conference on 16 July 2005 (Sat).

Before I proceed, let me just say that it was good that this conference and get together took place.

There are many different types of blogs discussing many different issues and I support that. People want to write about what they want to and it's their right. Their freedom of expression.

Now to get to what I have to say.

The South China Morning Post (SCMP), in a report dated 18 July 2005, about the conference and blogging in Singapore in general, wrote "But in Singapore, writing online political commentary can be like walking through a minefield."

The report then quoted Wendy Cheng aka Xiaxue, one of Singapore's most popular bloggers, as saying "Citizens are scared. No one wants to find trouble," and "But she avoids political expression.

"I wouldn't mention anything about the government. It's in quite close proximity," she said." {I have re-produced the full SCMP report after my post--JG}

Most Singapore bloggers write about lifestyle issues or what I would call "safe issues".

Of course, there are those who are anonymous who talk about Singapore politics and government.

That's the thing...they are anonymous because they do not want to get into any trouble with the ruling party government and/or it's related agencies and departments.

Of course, there are other reasons why one chooses to remain anonymous. Clearly there are advantages in being anonymous.

Those bloggers who use their actual names, like Ms Cheng, rather not write about such things.

Instead they stick to "safe issues".

These issues can be about one's pet hamster; a lost digi-cam; teenage angst; sexual frustrations and practically anything under the sun. Except for political expression.

Anonymous bloggers who write about Singapore politics and government do contribute to political expression. There's no doubt about that.

But, it would also be good to see more Singaporeans, who blog using their actual names and photos, come out and express themselves on issues of politics and human rights in Singapore.

Just remember this: The PAP government has to be afraid of you and not you afraid of them 'cos We Put the Former in Power.

We can write as concerned citizens. As concerned citizens, born and raised here, we have as much a stake in Singapore's continued development as those people in power.

[END QUOTE]


Way to go Jacob, my blogspot brother.

I say the same thing: government must fear the people, and the people should never fear any government.

The Ukraine oppressed citizens discovered this: "government" is nothing but a bunch of schmucks working in offices. Block the offices, clog the streets of the capitol, government grinds to a halt.

If the tanks start rolling, just get the military to see your freedom point of view. Not too hard to do, since governments usually treat military personnel like crap. How many soldiers are sick and disabled, with little treatment or financial assistance?

Dictatorial, oppressive, corrupt governments can be taken down by the citizens, often in a non-violent manner. This is starting to happen, and tyrants everywhere are nervous, worried, and thus, making stupid, self-defeating decisions.

We bloggers in America and the Western nations must remember our brother and sister bloggers in other countries. Some are risking their lives and fortunes when they blog. Reminds me of our American Revolution forefathers and foremothers, what they sacrificed for our freedom.

"Blog and Die" or "Blog and Be Imprisoned" is what some governments proclaim. And those governments are about to collapse from bad karma. I love it.

Jacob George and all the Islamic Reform bloggers: I salute you.



[signed] Steven Streight aka Vaspers the Grate

web usability and gardening



Web usability and gardening?

It's the Contemplative Garden Hoe.

http://www.contemplativegardenhoe.blogspot.com

My journal of gardening observations and insights, with applications to websites and blogs.

Why not?

I do it because...because I can.


[signed] Steven Streight aka Vaspers the Grate

:^)

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Your blog best of list




Does your blog have a best of list in the sidebar?

A list of priority posts a new visitor ought to read?

Seriously consider using one.

I've seen personal journal blogs have a list of "How It All Began" posts that let visitors understand the origins or context of the blog.

Don't expect the reverse chronological display of posts to be a good guide to your blog. Visitors simply read your latest writing first.

But your real works of genius, humor, or vision may be buried in the dark chambers of your archives...somewhere.

According to Rok Hrastnik of Marketing Studies.net, blogs need to orient new visitors quickly.

I've been advocating better web site orientations for a long time now, and especially for a certain client of mine, who has a sprawling, rich content web site.

The moment any new visitor lands on your site, it must be clear what kind of web site they're on (blog: interactive comments driven site), what the purpose, theme, or subject matter is, and what can be done there (downloads, merchandise, surveys, polls, podcasts, video, etc.)

Every blog needs a "Best Of", "Most Popular", or "Must Read" list.

I've been using such lists as "Some Controversial Posts" and "Guest Contributor Posts". I've also experimented with "Read These First" for Blog Core Values, and some other listings.

In his "#1 Mistake Most Blogs Do" post at Marketing Studies

http://www.marketingstudies.net/blogs/
diary/archive/000298.html

Rok says this...

[QUOTE]

There are millions of blogs already, but really few people have the time to watch more than a few daily.

But if they come back just once a week, they can be quickly overwhelmed with the amount of new content.

That's why it's crucial to provide a "best of", a helping hand to guide your readers to the "must-read" content you publish.

[END QUOTE]


If your blog deals with a specialty area of research or study, like blogology, web usability, web design, information architecture, etc., a list of posts that explain the basics, the fundamental ideas and practices, the definitions of terms used, might be helpful to readers.


Think about a special list of orientation posts to display in your sidebar.


Anything you do to help users understand you, the purpose of your blog, and what can be discovered or accomplished at your blog, will make your blog more valuable and enjoyable to readers.


[signed] Steven Streight aka Vaspers the Grate

Perfect Blogging



Perfect Blogging takes time, practice, patience.

Perfect Blogging develops slowly, eventually, triumphantly.

Perfect Blogging uses unique voice, pleasant personality, aggressive posting.

Perfect Blogging includes relevant content, robust enthusiasm, radiant design.

Perfect Blogging is often funny, always interesting, sometimes life-altering.

Perfect Blogging: mirror-centric, multi-mediated, mass democracy mentality.



And now....

In spite of explosions and impulsions...


Perfect Blogging is Your Perfect Right.

Perfect Blogging is here, there, where you live the most: in your heart.


[signed] Steven Streight aka Vaspers the Grate

Hateful Happy Bloggers



Wanted:

bold, brash, brazen

belligerant bespectacled

big-mouthed bloated beatitudinal

bloggers...for blogocombat against

Hateful Happy Bloggers.




Digital diplomat dorks.


Hateful Happy Bloggers.






Who cares about negative comments?


Who cares about being accused of

negative blogging?


Who cares about imbecilic critique?


Who cares about their
hateful happy bloggerisms?


You know, the kind who try to shame you for speaking your mind directly, aggressively, and honestly, even harshly and hastily.

You know, the kind who try to guilt trip you for being you.

You know, the unphilosophic flutterers, flutter by butterflies with wasp stingers, dragonfly harmlessness, and moth-like fabric-delicacy gluttony.


Hateful Happy Bloggers




They scold you for "flaming", "baiting", "trolling", or otherwise being authentic, spontaneous, and sincerely opposed to their pet theories.

Scold you for defaming.

Scold for re-naming.

For blaming.

Gaming.





Happy Hateful Bloggers

Delirious with judgmentalism.

Ponderous with uppity-tivity.


The clogosphere is cliqueing with unclickable clackers like these.






(photo: alex preiss)




- = +

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Mystic Bourgeoisie: beyond Cluetrain and Gonzo




Mystic Bourgeoisie is a new book-blog by Christopher Locke. A blog about a book, a blog that will become a book, a book that's evolving out of a blog.


http://mysticbourgeoisie.blogspot.com


I love the fact that it's a brother blogspot blog, but I have great misgivings about the "bourgeoisie" part of the title of both book and blog. This is one of the hardest words to spell in the Frenchified English language.


Christopher Locke, aka Rage Boy, operates two blogs:

* Chief Blogging Officer

* Entropy Gradient Reversals ("the zine for discerning internet surrealists")

Chris is one of the co-authors of the classic revolutionary seminal webonomics theory text The Cluetrain Manifesto. Another book of his, Gonzo Marketing, is one of my biggest influences and inspirations.

Christopher Locke, Jakob Nielsen, Jacques Derrida, Emmanuel Levinas, Jacques Lacan, Seth Godin, Tom Peters, John C. Dvorak, Evan Williams, Nick Usborne, Robert Scoble, Mac Swift, Paul Woodhouse, John Hagel III and Arthur G. Armstrong, these are among the super special, heavy duty, hardcore role models and gurus of Vaspers the Grate.

Here's a tiny taste of Gonzo Marketing...


[QUOTE]

"From an internet perspective, web micromarkets don't think of themselves as markets at all, but rather as nascent communities of interest. They tend to gravitate around articulate, knowledgeable, entertaining voices--individuals or groups driven by a passion to communicate their views." (p. 13)

"Companies talk about branding products, but what mass marketing is really about is branding people--stamping product impressions onto as many forebrains as possible as many times a day as possible. The product is boring? No problem. Get a bigger hammer to drive the message home." (p. 27)

"There has to be some sense of going over the edge, taking a leap into the unknown, going against all those internal alarms that pose as instincts but are really just paranoid defense mechanisms....To speak from the heart is to become who we truly are, and that's always risky, or at least surprising. If I strategize my speech, anticipating what I think you want me to say, things may go more smoothly on the surface....But we haven't really met." (p.32)

"As networking replaces broadcasting, communication must become richer and more interesting--not just louder and more insistent. It must have character, invite participation. Must differentiate itself from the plethora of uncommunicative corporate blather..." (p. 120)


Gonzo Marketing (Perseus Publishing, 2001)
Christopher Locke

[END QUOTE]

Gonzo Marketing is one of my favorite marketing books, right up there with Seth Godin's Free Prize Inside and Al Ries and Jack Trout's Marketing Warfare and Positioning: The Battle for Your Mind.

For some reason, he's been engaging in blogo-combat against the occult New Age movement, examining the pseudo-scientific roots of its practices, the watered down faux philosophies of its ideals, and the brainwashed frenzies of its proponents.

While I appreciate Christopher's zeal and intentions, I find it hard to psyche myself up to rail against the hoaxes and hucksters of the New Age.

Like morbidly boring Harold Potter, I find it all so irrational, medieval, and superstitious, I just ignore it.

However, this new book-blog may prove to be interesting, and will definitely be stamped by Locke's unique, flambouyant, confrontational writing style.


Monday, July 18, 2005

Deeper Into Blogs with Dave Winer



I have been deconstructing blogs by various means.

I've analyzed their components, purposes, and attributes.

I've stripped one down to almost unrecognizable format, calling it an "unblog" in the genuine sense.

And I've closely inspected definitions of different blog functionalities and features.

One of the most effective ways to deconstruct an object is to penetrate its depths by analyzing, or systematically commenting upon, a colleagues' analysis: resulting in a double analysis.

Let's closely examine some excerpts from one of Dave Winer's essays.


"What makes a weblog a weblog?"
Dave Winer
Weblogs at Harvard Law
May 23, 2003

http://blogs.law.harvard.edu/
whatMakesAWeblogAWeblog


[QUOTE...with running Commentary]


Key point: On my weblog no one can change what I wrote. In contrast, having written for professional publications, pros have to prepare for their writing being interfered with.

Sometimes you submit right at the copy-edit deadline. Or you write exactly the required number of words so nothing can be cut. But in the end, the words that appear are an amalgam of what your organization thought should be said on the subject you're addressing.

Weblogs are unique in that only a weblog gives you a publication where your ideas can stand alone without interference.


[STREIGHT: Not entirely correct. Not "only a weblog...", because a webzine, discussion list, online forum, chat room, web site, personal home page, and other digital media also enable you to publish content free from editorial control.]


It gives the public writer a kind of relaxation not available in other forms.

That might mean that in some sense the "quality" of the writing is different, but I would not say lower, assuming the purpose of writing is to inform, not to impress.

I would choose a few spelling or grammatical errors over factual errors.

[snip]

Technically, what is a weblog?

[snip]

A weblog is a hierarchy of text, images, media objects, and data, arranged chronologically, that can be viewed in an HTML browser.

[STREIGHT: This is looking at a weblog as a done deal, as you stare at it. But this does not address how it differs from a conventional web site or other online content platform.

It leaves out the speed and ease with which non-technical users can create, maintain, and utilize a blog. It omits the distinctly interactive advantage of user comments and blogger replies to the comments. It glides over the unique atomic unit of the blogosphere being the permalinked post, rather than the web page.]


There's a little more to say.

[STREIGHT: I beg to differ.]

The center of the hierarchy, in some sense, is a sequence of weblog "posts" -- explained below -- that forms the index of the weblog, that link to all the content in sequence.

What is a weblog post?

A weblog post has three basic attributes: title, link, and description.

All are optional. Some weblogs only have descriptions. Others always have all three. On my own weblog, Scripting News, all items have descriptions, a few have titles, and most have links, some have several links. Generally, a title cannot contain markup, but the description can.

Most weblog tools require titles. Manila is fairly unique in not requiring them. The tradeoff is simplicity vs flexibility. It's simpler from a user interface standpoint to require the presence of all three basic attributes, but writers can find this limiting.


[STREIGHT: Ah, but limits are the mother of invention. Why any writer would not want to put a title on a post is beyond me. Unless the post is really not an essay, but rather just a brief text containing a link. Then the blog is more of a link log.]


If one of the basic attributes is optional it's the link. In that case, the title of the post is often linked to a permalink for the item (see below).

Most weblog posts are short, a paragraph or two.

Some weblog tools provide for longer articles or stories, often by including a place for a summary in the form for a weblog post. If available, there should also be an option for only including the summary in the RSS feed for the weblog.

Archives and permalinks.

The home page of the weblog displays the current items, as configured by the editor. The posts scroll through the home page.

Some weblogs show you the last 15 posts or the last 7 days; no matter what, eventually the item will scroll off the home page, but it will be permanently stored on an archive page.

When people point to a specific post, they link to the archived version, the permanent one, using a permalink. The permalink is often displayed as a pound sign (#); sometimes it's the link from the time of a post.

It tells others how to point to the item. It's a good idea to include a permalink if you want others to be able to point to your posts.

[STREIGHT: In other words, a permalink acts as a direct, or "deep" link to a specific post. If you are quoting or discussing a blog post, you should also provide a hypertext link to it. Always link to the specific post itself, and never just the blog's main index page, which practice requires users to search the blog's archives to find the specific post being referenced.]



[snip]

Comments.

A post might link to a popup window containing reader comments and responses from the author. Three bits of information are generally requested from each commenter, and are optionally retained in a cookie sent back to the reader, but not generally retained by the weblog software: name, email address, and website url (usually a weblog).

[STREIGHT: This barren commentary on comments deserves a comment. The ability of users to quickly and easily publish remarks, questions, recommended links, and other textual content to a blog is one of the main things that make blogs revolutionary.]

Calendar.

The home page and each archive page of the weblog usually displays a calendar, in the familiar format, that allows the reader to easily locate the archive pages by time.

All dates but the one currently being viewed are linked; the current page is displayed in bold, or a different color, basically with some visual attribute that makes it stand out. Movable Type has a way of displaying a calendar in full-screen mode where you can see the titles of the individual posts on each day.

[STREIGHT: Actually, this post page calendar is not all that common in blogs. They represent "blind navigation". The date of a post tells you nothing about the content, topic, title. Not sure what the point is.]

Categories.

A post can be categorized or placed in a department. There's a way to view all the posts in a given category, and the RSS rendering indicates what categories a post is in using the category element.

[STREIGHT: Listen up bloggers. We need to do more of this post categorization. It's very refreshing to see a blog with good post archive categories.

For example, I'm generally going to be interested only in posts that deal with blogs. So I'll look for the "blog" or "blogging" archive category, then scan the list of post titles on that topic.

I hate it when I go to a blog, and I know the author has written many essays on blogs, but I can't find them. Site search engines are often non-existent, or not helpful.]


Edit This Page button.

When you're looking at a bit of text that needs to be changed, assuming you have editorial permission to edit it, how many steps do you have to take to edit it, and how much memorization is required?

Some weblog software makes this trivially simple, every bit of editable text has a button nearby that allows the author to modify it in three steps, click the button, make the changes, save the changes.


Templates.

The posts are rendered through a set of templates where the designer (often the same person as the writer) decides how the standard item elements are to be rendered on the page.

There may be a post-level template, a day-level template, an overall template for the page, a template for the home page, or other templates.

The rendering features, the separation of content from presentation, are the core of what makes a weblog system a content management system.


[STREIGHT: And this ease of simplified content management is another aspect that makes the blog revolutionary.]



[snip]


Syndication.

An RSS feed is available for the weblog, so people who use news aggregators can subscribe to the weblog. If the weblog has categories or departments each has its own RSS feed.

Pings.

When the weblog updates, the weblog system automatically pings Weblogs.Com, subject to a preference. Some weblog software can be configured to ping other change-aggregators such as blo.gs.

Trackback.

When a post links to a post on another weblog that supports Trackback it can ping the other weblog to notify it that it has been referred to. In this way each post can serve as a collection point for posts on a given topic.


[STREIGHT: My personal inclination is to skip trackbacks. I never check what blogs have written a post about the post I'm reading at another blog. Often, the trackback post is not very substantial.]


Notification via email or IM.

Some weblog software can automatically notify editors [i.e., the blogger, blog author] or community members [e.g., in a group or team blog] if new posts, pictures, media objects, articles, or comments have been posted.

To date, no software can do this over instant messaging, although it would be relatively easy to implement.

Plug-in architecture.

Some weblog tools define a way for developers to add plug-ins. Movable Type allows plug-ins written in Perl, Manila allows plug-ins written in UserTalk; Radio allows "tools" written in UserTalk.

API Support.

Many weblog tools implement some kind of programming interface, making it possible for external tools written in any programming or scripting language to automate repetitive operations, or to integrate the weblog tool with other software, or to provide rich editing tools for creating and editing weblog posts. Most of these APIs are available in XML-RPC, some are also available in SOAP 1.1.

Mailto.

It's possible to send an email message to to the author of a post without knowing the email address of the user.


[STREIGHT: This is a reference to what is called "web mail" or "hidden email" or a "contact form". You fill out a comment-like form and your message is sent to the blog author. This is done to eliminate spam email.]

[snip]

Referrer tracking.

Some weblog software automatically tracks the client browser's referer attribute so that authors can easily see where the hits are coming from.

[snip]



Stories.

Consider a weblog that includes longer articles (like this one) linked into the home page.

[snip]

Pictures.

The Web can display text and pictures, so good weblog software not only can store and display pictures for you, but has convenient facilities for combining them into sequences and to display them for readers of the site.

Media objects include various Microsoft file formats (Word, Excel, PowerPoint), Macromedia and Apple movies, PDF, downloadable applications -- basically any type of data that might be included with a weblog post, or as an RSS enclosure.

[snip]


Blogroll.

Weblogs often have a blogroll, linking to sites that the author thinks are interesting, informative, or useful. The blogroll is where you can see the political relationships between this weblog and other elements of the weblog community. Blogrolls are often stored and shared in OPML, and edited with an outliner.

Hierarchy browser.

Using OPML as the format for describing hierarchies, Manila and compatible tools make it possible to author Yahoo-like directories with a compatible outliner.

Slide shows.

Similar to the Hierarchy browser feature, but for displaying PowerPoint-like presentations.


[END QUOTE]



{signed} Steven Streight aka Vaspers the Grate


+ = -

Saturday, July 16, 2005

Online Use Restrictions



Online Use Restrictions?

Ever think about it?

Do you ever check the Terms of Use, FAQ, Content Republishing Policy, whatever they call it, pages of a site?

You should.

Be careful about copy and pasting content from other web sites or blogs onto your blog or web site.

Some internet resources are very protective of their content, some may be tempted to say, "needlessly paranoid", or "excessively self-impressed".

Or, to be fair, they may have had some serious problems in the past. If so, they should explain specifically why their stringent policies are enforced.

Most normal bloggers seem to be of the opinion that you may copy and paste quotations or even entire posts, and put this content on your blog.

If you post an entire essay or post, along with proper credits and links back to them, they often express the wish that you'll add your own thoughts, running commentary, or introduction and conclusion, to their content.

Why?

So then, you're not just lifting their content to deposit in your blog, like you're a brain dead content bandit.

You're interacting with their content: enriching, criticizing, reinforcing, clarifying, questioning, or negating it.

This adds interest to the original post.

The author, if normal and not paranoid or psychotic-hostile, will greet any decent, non-vulgar interaction as a compliment, or an interesting challenge.

[However, if the blogger throws a hissy fit, a temper tantrum, over your being "harsh" or questioning their posted content, what a crybaby, out of touch with the rough and tumble world of blogs and forums.]

Just be sure to display, in your reblog post, author's name, affiliation, URL to post content is taken from, and date of post content is taken from.

An email to the source, the blogger, author is also nice. Put on subject line: "Using your post in my blog" or similar. Direct, simple, clear.

Also indicate that you will modify or delete your post if the author is not happy with it. This is being very diplomatic.

Sometimes they will request specific URLs to add to the post, if they have multiple sites and are really gung ho into promotion. Or will request you insert a sentence or paragraph of biographical details.

Be nice, and grant their request.

Gain a reputation of being an online lady or digital gentleman.

Legally, if the requirements for using their content are more restrictive, you must comply.


For Example (from a real FAQ of a respected internet source online):




[QUOTE]


Which forms of content reproduction require permission?

Any other reproduction of [web site]'s content requires permission from us and some forms of reproduction will require you to pay a licensing fee.

This includes:-

* Use of [web site name]'s content in advertisements or promotions

* Use of [web site name]'s trademarks or logos (excluding award logos)

* Use of quotes, excerpts or full text of [web site name]'s reviews, articles, or features

* [web site name] does not allow the reposting of its online content (including video, audio, text, graphics, layout, and code) on a Web site or public discussion board except in the case of a specific licensing agreement.


[END QUOTE]


I don't like this. Reblogging, as an astute commenter to my blogs has stated, is the life blood of the blogosphere, and comments are its breath.


I have to pay and get a licensing deal, just to quote some content from your site's post on my blog?

This is not how the blogosphere works. I wonder if they're just paranoid, or simply solving past problems, of which I know nothing?

I just don't like this policy.

So, what say ye?

What do you think of such restrictions of online use, or "reblogging" content from other sites?

You'll never see me enact any of these schemes.

Copy and paste my content all you want, if you want, when you want.

Just follow the "normal blogger" guidelines already detailed above.



[signed] Steven Streight aka Vaspers the Grate



:^)

Friday, July 15, 2005

From Blog to Slow Chat Room




Turning a blog into a slow chat room is easy.

Just engage the blogger, or another commenter, in a conversation, and keep it going for all eternity, forever and ever and ever, to the furthest point, and far beyond.

If your comments log looks like this displayed below, you may have yourself a transformation from weblog to slow chat room.

(Slow because of delays between posted comments and replies to comments, not occuring in real time.)



[The Red Couch blog
of Shel Israel and Robert Scoble]



Recent Comments



* Steven Streight aka Vaspers the Grate on Ch 8-Non-English Speaking Blogs
* shel on Ch 8—Non-English Speaking Blogs
* Steven Streight aka Vaspers the Grate on Ch 8-Non-English Speaking Blogs
* shel on Ch 8—Non-English Speaking Blogs
* Steven Streight aka Vaspers the Grate on Ch 8-Non-English Speaking Blogs
* shel on Ch 8—Non-English Speaking Blogs
* Steven Streight aka Vaspers the Grate on Ch 8-Non-English Speaking Blogs
* shel on Ch 8—Non-English Speaking Blogs
* Steven Streight aka Vaspers the Grate on Ch 8-Non-English Speaking Blogs
* shel on Ch 8—Non-English Speaking Blogs
* Steven Streight aka Vaspers the Grate on Ch 8-Non-English Speaking Blogs
* shel on Ch 8—Non-English Speaking Blogs
* Steven Streight aka Vaspers the Grate on Ch 8-Non-English Speaking Blogs
* shel on Ch 8—Non-English Speaking Blogs
* Steven Streight aka Vaspers the Grate on Ch 8-Non-English Speaking Blogs
* shel on Ch 8—Non-English Speaking Blogs
* Steven Streight aka Vaspers the Grate on Ch 8-Non-English Speaking Blogs
* shel on Ch 8—Non-English Speaking Blogs
* Steven Streight aka Vaspers the Grate on Ch 8-Non-English Speaking Blogs
* shel on Ch 8—Non-English Speaking Blogs
* Steven Streight aka Vaspers the Grate on Ch 8-Non-English Speaking Blogs
* shel on Ch 8—Non-English Speaking Blogs
* Steven Streight aka Vaspers the Grate on Ch 8-Non-English Speaking Blogs
* shel on Ch 8—Non-English Speaking Blogs
* Steven Streight aka Vaspers the Grate on Chapter 10--Doing it Wrong
* Steven Streight aka Vaspers the Grate on Ch 8—Non-English Speaking Blogs
* Steven Streight aka Vaspers the Grate on Ch 8—Non-English Speaking Blogs
* blackjack on Corporate Blog Tip #6 (add comments)
* Jozef Imrich on Chapter 10--Doing it Wrong
* shel on Ch 8—Non-English Speaking Blogs
* Steven Streight aka Vaspers the Grate on Ch 8—Non-English Speaking Blogs
* Steven Streight aka Vaspers the Grate on Speaker for Hire!
* Steven Streight aka Vaspers the Grate on Corporate Blog Tip #11 (Use your referer log)



A little blog humor to lighten up the crowd. It's a tough one tonight, as the stand up comics say. Get them laughing, and you've got them. Which is why I never laugh at any jokes in any lectures, sermons, diatribes, speeches, etc. Not giving in that easy, can't win me over so spuriously.


[signed] Steven Streight aka Vaspers the Grate

:^)

Yahoo Email Sucks



Yahoo email account: I can't access it, can't get to inbox, can't read, can't reply.

Many discussion lists, contacts, etc. all impossible to connect to.

Send email to my Gmail address from now on.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Blogs are Anti-terrorism




Blogs are anti-terrorism.


How so?

Simple.

Blogs are about free expression, free practice of religion, free speech, free thinking.


["Blogs", "bloggers", etc., in this essay refers to Ideals, not necessarily all instances or examples of them.]


Blogs are authored by many women, who terrorists seek to keep as uneducated baby machines.

Blogs are open to comments, interaction, reasoned debate, respect for differing viewpoints.

Blogs represent bravery, fearless posting of opinions.

Blogs represent questioning authority and traditions.

Blogs pave the road to mutual understanding of ethnic, religious, economic, racial, cultural diversity.




Comments are Democracy & Liberty


Blog comments, the reader's interaction with the blog author, are an open forum.

Anybody can post comments at this blog, as long as they're not comment spam, abusive, or vulgar-pervert speech.


Blog comments are *NOT* labeled:


"Muslim comments only, no Christian comments allowed"

"Atheist comments only, no religionist comments"

"Male comments only"

"White Protestant American comments only"

"Agreements only, no criticisms"

"Demopublican comments only, no Republicrats"

"Aggressive comments only, no wimps"



Blog Authors are Diverse and Tolerant



Blog authors are judged by the quality of ideas or entertainment value, not color of skin, philosophical creed, or national origin.

Blogs represent the democratization of web content, not the tyranny of governmental or corporate control.

Blogs are individuals reaching out to others in compassion, criticism, or comedy.

Blogs are about thinking independently of institutions and traditions.

Blogs are about self-realization, self-expression, and self-transcendance.

Blogs are about not covering your face with towels and sheets, and your womenfolk with hot, heavy crap that you as a male wouldn't wear.

(When men dress normal, but force women to dress abnormal, the men are ugly, hateful, phobic, insecure assholes. I don't care what religion they claim to follow.

Even some American Protestant wanker denomination frauds force women to wear dresses only, never slacks. But the guys wear whatever they want.

I am offended by all dress codes, except in prisons. That's what a dress code is: a garment prison, a straightjacket made by the insane for the exploited.)



Many bloggers are displaying a photo and a profile ("about me"), so audiences connect with a real, genuine person.

No hiding. No disguising. No anonymous. No false identity. No irrelevant fictional characters. No cowardly coverings.

The blogger: warts and all, as is said.


In all these ways, and more I'm sure you could think of...

...blogs are anti-terrorism.


[signed] Steven Streight aka Vaspers the Grate


:^]

How to Use More of Your Brain




How to use more of your brain?


You --really_want_to-- know?



It's not easy.

Okay, that scared off all the lazies.



It's not complex.

Alright, that angered the self-reflexive tortured artists.



It's not popular.

Good, that alienated the mediocre.



It's not normal.

Yes, there go the cowards.



10 Simple Steps
to Using More of
Your Brain...



All you have to do is \stretch/ your brain.


All one need do is /focus\ the mind.



Law of Brain Expansion



Unused areas of the brain

are activated

by perceiving, thinking

and doing new things.




Your instructors will be:

the New

the Different

the Bizarre

the Difficult

the Uncomfortable

the Scary

and the Unknown.


Your classroom will be
The Universe and All It Contains,
including mysterious laws and
regions of your own psyche.



1. Think more.

Reduce passive, brain dead soaking up of entertainment, gamesplaying, gossip, mindless trash culture, Hollywood shenanigans, who-dunnit murder mysteries.

Avoid dumbed down entertainment, sponsored sports, broadcast news, popular culture, established traditions, mainstream trends, peer-pressured opinions.

Seek the innovative, controversial, ground-breaking, emergent, radical.

Ask yourself questions. Conduct a silent self-interview. Auto-encapsulate yourself.

Wonder about things you've never stopped to consider.

Why is the universe so vast?

Why is there something rather than nothing?

Is nothingness possible, perhaps 589 trillions years into the future, once the human race learns how to wipe out the entire cosmos?

What are your goals? Priorities? Spiritual beliefs? Favorite films?


2. Read difficult books.

Derrida, Blanchot, Lacan, Levi-Strauss, Mallarme, Rilke, Proust, Hegel, Bible, Koran, Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, Galileo, Hawking, Einstein.


3. Have stranger adventures.

Go to a restaurant in a part of town you've never been in, in a different economic class or ethnic mix.

Stop doing the same things in the same places with the same people.

Deliberately take a new route, visit a new blog, try writing a poem, take homemade chocolate chip cookies to a neighbor you don't know yet.


4. Learn a new skill.

Tackle RSS, HTML, ASP, PHP, XML.

Buy a graphics program (PhotoShop, Poser, Paint Shop Pro) and start creating photo manipulations or digital art.

Start a blog. Upload photos or art to your blog. Take swimming or diving lessons. Plant a garden. Join a bird-watcher group. Discover how to deconstruct a text. Become an email message writing expert.


5. Look at art.

Something happens in the brain chemically and electronically when viewing art.

Find the best, wildest, most exciting art on the web or in galleries, books, or magazines (Art Forum, Art in America, Flash)...and stare at it.

Try to figure out how it was done. Note your emotional response. Try to do something similar or as a reaction against it.


6. Discuss deep subjects.

Ask your friends, family, neighbors what their opinions are on infinity, eternity, heaven, hell, karma, angels, dreams, animal intelligence, nuclear power, herbal remedies, meditation for stress relief, human evolution, cloning, terrorism, nationalism, mind control cults, unethical business practices.


7. Respect other opinions.

Encourage others to think for themselves, form their own judgments, and speak their minds.

Ask your friends questions you've never asked them, about subjects you have no idea what their opinions could be.

Listen. Notice if opposing viewpoints have any redeeming qualities. Are you sure your opinions have no serious challengers?

Most people change certain aspects of, or entire, belief systems multiple times during their lives. No adult believes all they believed when they were a child or a teenager.


8. Make friends with aliens.

Are all your friends in your racial, economic, religious, political, vocational, gender, or professional class?

That's horrible then. You have no new stimulation intellectually, except random distortions via media.

Become close friends with aliens from other cultures, age groups, physical disabilities, mental handicaps, industries, spiritual orientations, nationalities, politics, philosophies.


9. Understand what you hate.

Take something that bothers you, angers you, or you have zero interest in. Try to discover first: why you don't like it. Then: what good qualities reside in it. Also: what you can gain from it or contribute to it.

Everybody hates something. That's what business is built on. You hate work, so you buy labor saving devices. You hate boredom, so you purchase home entertainment systems, or read blogs.

Force yourself to be controversial to your own self: investigate your "opposing party" or "antagonist", your polar opposite.

Not horrid evil, perversions, criminal acts, or sinister cults. Just a lifestyle or skill or belief you dislike or are bored by.

Enthusiasm, or at least more intelligent understanding, will result.


10. Ponder opposites & possibilities.

Interrogate items. What if this were much bigger? Super small? Round instead of square (like a web site or computer monitor). Why aren't books triangular? What if water wasn't wet? What if the universe is illusory, and all that exists is thought?

What would an ice phone be like? Good for spys? What could be made of ice but isn't? Can you mold steam into transitory art forms? Could I be the first steam artist?

What if I were black (white, Asian, Eskimo, Native American, Canadian)? How would I be different?

Is there a fire that can stop a fire? Can water be wetter? Can reading replace speaking? What if we all lived forever in indestructible bodies or as spirits?

What could I do to my blog that is totally different from what I'm now doing?

Could I try posting a ridiculously weird or super personal or oddly scholarly essay?

Post an image with no text?



Follow this path to increased brain power.



These simple tasks

E-X-P-A-N-D the brain.





[signed] Steven Streight aka Vaspers the Grate


:^|

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

What Web Pages Link to Your Blog?





What web pages link to your blog?

Here's how to find out.

Bloglines Citations tells you what web pages link to any URL.

Your blog, for example.


http://www.bloglines.com/citations

Home > Search > Pages linking to URL


So far, this is the best service I know of.


Be sure to begin your URL with the http: [forward slash] [forward slash]


Thanks to Robert Scoble at The Red Couch blog.

Robert and I have had some discussions about RSS and name/blog title search feeds. He says PubSub returns 10 times more results than Technorati. But I get lousy results from PubSub. I prefer Technorati searches on blog URLs and names.

Anybody got any other suggestions?


[signed] Steven Streight aka Vaspers the Grate


:^)

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

pseudo blogging




We've settled, you and I, in this site and over at Vaspers the Grate, what a blog is.

It's simply a platform for fast, easy web content publishing, consisting of reverse chronological posts from author and comments from readers, resulting in a two-way conversation with a micro-community.


Now we can ask, what is blogging?


What is genuine blogging and what is false, inappropriate, wrong blogging?


What is real blogging and what is pseudo blogging?


Basically false or pseudo blogging is simply a pretended real blogging.


Or, better: a non-blogging that poses as blogging.




Real Blogging:


1. actual, named, genuine author, with bio/about/profile

2. organization affiliation and contact info displayed

3. candid conversation of blogger with audience

4. blogger interaction with readers via email and comments

5. anecdotes, memories, feelings, questions, a humanized presence

6. no hidden agenda or ulterior motive

7. final destination, not merely an ecommerce or corporate site traffic driver

8. original writing (or "pre-surfed web" link logging)

9. honest, sincere passion for the topic, industry, and audience




Pseudo Blogging:


A link farm blog fails criterion 7, for it exists only to re-direct traffic to another site or sites, for search engine link popularity ranking boost.

A fictional character blog fails criterion 1 and 5, for it is an imaginary entity, with fantasy activities, dictated "opinions", controlled responses, and untrue stories about events that did not happen.

A blog without comments enabled or email displayed fails criteria 3 and 4.

A marcom-generated blog, a blog developed by a marketing communications team or consultant, with marketing staff ghost writing the posts and answering the reader comments, pretending to be the organization, CEO, or other representative fails criteria 1, 3, 4, 5, and probably 9.



A blogger for hire, pro blogger, or syndicated blogger...do they fail any criteria?


Consider this:

* to blog about news and topics relevant to the target audience, is this a real blog, if that's all it is?

* if readers post comments, they are then interacting, not with the company, but with a hired gun who is merely acting as a PR agent or a news aggregator.

* this then shifts the actual interactivity, conversational parameters: the organization sponsoring the blog remains distant from the consumers.


Is there a legitimate blogger for hire, pro blogger, or syndicated blogging scenario?


Or is this a pseudo, quasi, or partial blog?


What's your opinion about real vs. pseudo blogs?


Do you feel it's important to classify and define, at least for clarity and application of standards?





[signed] Steven Streight aka Vaspers the Grate

Blog Frenzy & Blog Dangers




Bad news for casual bloggers.

Personal blogging can be dangerous, in many ways.


I refer you to my own articles on the subject at Vaspers the Grate, "You are Not a Blog" and "Dangers of Personal Blogging".

I also plan to inspect, along with my readers, the following article:


"Bloggers Learn Price
of Telling Too Much
"


http://www.businessweek.com/ap/
financialnews/D8B7D9U00.htm?
campaign_id=apn_tech_down


The Associated Press/CHICAGO

By MARTHA IRVINE

AP National Writer

JUL. 8 3:33 P.M. ET


[QUOTE]w/{STREIGHT commentary}


Blogs are everywhere -- increasingly, the place where young people go to bare their souls, to vent, to gossip. And often they do so with unabashed fervor and little self-editing, posting their innermost thoughts for any number of Web surfers to see.


{STREIGHT: ...but also exposing their poetry, sock puppets, photos, digital art, political opinions, web usability insights, favorite music, videos, podcasts, etc.}



There is a freedom in it, as 23-year-old Allison Martin attests: "Since the people who read my blog are friends or acquaintances of mine, my philosophy is to be totally honest -- whether it's about how uncomfortable my panty hose are or my opinions about First Amendment law," says Martin, who lives in suburban Chicago and has been blogging for four years.


{STREIGHT: Like democracy itself, which has spawned both the worldwide web and the blog, there is freedom, with responsibility. Bloggers must be brave and smart simultaneously.

Personal bloggers have audiences of friends, family, lovers, classmates, work associates, neighbors, hairdresser, paper boy, milkman, and random surfers.

Some of the personal blogging is debate on concepts of art, politics, music, etc., not just confessional trivia blatherings, though that's nice too, and can even be very funny or eccentric, sometimes, in a personal, not a business, blog.}



Some are, however, finding that putting one's life online can have a price.


{STREIGHT: Just as, for corporations, putting one's company or business online, on the line, toeing the line, performing candidly in a highly interactive volatility of comments and cross-comments, reblogging and deblogging, link rot and 500 series server error codes, trackback spam and abusive trolling, this putting the company "out there" and "online" is full of risks that most businesses should not take.

Business who cannot hack this hostile, unpredictable, high-repercussion blogos-fearic environment should_not_blog.

But the few good corporations and other organizations may implement blogs with great accuracy and massive results.}




A few bloggers, for instance, have been fired for writing about work on personal online journals.



{STREIGHT: ...and for improper use of email, postal mail, office supplies, work associates of the other gender, alcohol abuse at company Christmas party, flirting with CEO's wife or concubine, etc.}


And Maya Marcel-Keyes, daughter of conservative politician Alan Keyes, discovered the trickiness of providing personal details online when her discussions on her blog about being a lesbian became an issue during her father's recent run for a U.S. Senate seat in Illinois (he made anti-gay statements during the campaign).


{STREIGHT: Again, not to be dismissive, but remember that the exact same precautions and considerations apply to email, telephone conversations, interoffice memos, issues posters in your cubicle, sayings on tee shirts and ball caps, postal mail, and public speaking, all forms of communications and relations. Not just the poor little no budget blog that gets all the blame lately. Along with it's nefarious money-waster brother, text messaging.}


Experts say such incidents belong to a growing trend in which frank outpourings online are causing personal and public dramas, often taking on a life they wouldn't have if the Web had not come along and turned individuals into publishers.


{STREIGHT: I think this drama, this life, would indeed have eventualized, via frank outpourings elsewhere, through some other, probably clumsier, non-inclusive means: text messaging, wikis, email, postal mail, skyping, podcasting, etc. The blog reigns supreme of all communications vehicles, due to comments, easy publishing, and being able to include everything else in an intimate manner: video, audio, games, polls, forums, photo, art, etc.}


Some also speculate that more scandalous blog entries -- especially those about partying and dating exploits -- will have ramifications down the road.


{STREIGHT: I"mm gllladdd I don't do any partying or dating exploits anymore, unless my wife tells me to, and I do it with her only.}


"I would bet that in the 2016 election, somebody's Facebook entry will come back to bite them," Steve Jones, head of the communications department at the University of Illinois at Chicago, says, referring to thefacebook.com, a networking site for college students and alumni that is something of a cross between a yearbook and a blog.

More traditional blog sites -- which allow easy creation of a Web site with text, photos and often music -- include Xanga, LiveJournal and MySpace.

And they've gotten more popular in recent years, especially among the younger set.


{STREIGHT: Thank you. I like being considered the younger set. Younger than what? Tyrannosaurus Rex?}


Surveys completed in recent months by the Pew Internet & American Life Project found that nearly a fifth of teens who have access to the Web have their own blogs. And 38 percent of teens say they read other people's blogs.


{STREIGHT: Lurkers! Say it like Seinfeld says, "Newman!"}



By comparison, about a tenth of adults have their own blogs and a quarter say they read other people's online journals.



{STREIGHT: Wish there was a statistic on how many post user-generated voluntary content: in other words: comments. Comment is blog cement.

Get that weirdness? -- "they read other people's online journals" ...

is like "they wear other people's underwear" or "they eat other people's vomit".}




Amanda Lenhart, a researcher at Pew who tracks young people's Internet habits, says she's increasingly hearing stories about the perils of posting the equivalent of a diary online.

{STREIGHT: Okay, now for the juicy stuff. The DANGERS, and I mean that seriously, of Personal Trivia Blogging. or Personal Earth-shattering Profundity Blogging.}

She heard from one man whose niece was a college student looking for a job. Out of curiosity, he typed his niece's name into a search engine and quickly found her blog, with a title that began "The Drunken Musings of ...."


{STREIGHT: Hey, cut the kid some slack. I bet her father wrote Kerouac, Ginsberg, or Dylan imitation poems or song lyrics, joint hanging out of his grin. At least it wasn't "The Drunken Stoned Pharmed Out Multiple Piercings Tattooed Lesbian Motorcycle Gangblogging Anarchist Environmentalist Communal Labor Rights Deconstructivist Musings of ...."}

"He wrote to her and said, 'You may want to think about taking this down,'" said Lenhart, chuckling.

Other times, the ease of posting unedited thoughts on the Web can be uglier, in part because of the speed with which the postings spread and multiply.


{STREIGHT: You never know who is avidly reading, recording, bizarro-ing, burrowing through, paralaxing, maxfactoring your blog at any given moment in past, present, or future. Careful what you say, how you say it, to whom it's said.}


That's what happened at a middle school in Michigan last fall, when principals started receiving complaints from parents about some students' blog postings on Xanga.


{STREIGHT: What on earth were these parents upset about? What blog postings worried or angered the parents? "Mom's taking Aunt Richard's Ativan and Stadol again, so I better hide my money and my stolen Ritalin"? What were the students blogging about that caused alarm? This is very intrinsic to the story. Intriguing.}


School officials couldn't do much about it.

But when the students found out they were being monitored, a few posted threatening comments aimed at an assistant principal -- and that led to some student suspensions.

"It was just a spiraling of downward emotions," says the school's principal. She spoke on the condition that she and her school not be identified, out of fear that being named would cause another Web frenzy.


{STREIGHT: Web frenzy! Oh, how I'd love to start one myself, a frenzy about Vaspers the Grate, or about Blog Core Values, or even Cosmos Blogmos. I love a frenzy.

The humble little blog! Causing a frenzy! Like Beatle
Mania or Elvis Hysteria. Blog Frenzy. Blog and Roll High School by the Blogmoans?}


"Kids just feed into to that and then more kids see it and so on," she says. "It's a negative power -- but it's still a power."


{STREIGHT: Look out, Blog Power is here. I agree. A blog is a power, better than any stupid Harry Potter stunts. Blog Power. Blog Revolution. Blog People vs Non-bloggers. yeah...}


Lenhart, the Pew researcher, likens blogs to the introduction of the telephone and the effect it had on teen's ability to communicate in the last century.

She agrees that the Web has "increased the scope" of young people's communication even more.

"But at the root of it, we're talking about behaviors middle-schoolers have engaged in through the millennia," Lenhart says. "The march of technology forward is hard, and it has consequences that we don't always see."

She says parents would be wise to familiarize themselves with online blogging sites and to pose questions to their children such as, "What is appropriate?" and "What is fair?" to post.


{STREIGHT: Hey parents: if your child already has a blog, it's too late for a crash course in ethics, civility, and etiquette. They're mimicking you and their peers and idols in their posts.}


It's also important to discuss the dangers of giving out personal information online.


{STREIGHT: Again, "too much information" anywhere, not just online. On the phone, in the postal mail, in a chat room, in magazine article, in a job interview, on a date, wherever.}


One Pew survey released this spring found that 79 percent of teens agreed that people their age aren't careful enough when giving out information about themselves online. And increasingly, Lenhart says, this applies to blogs.


{STREIGHT: Are blogs, then, the gateway drug? Once your thirteen or thirty year old child is addicted to blogging, what next? Text messaging? Podcasting? Vlogging? Glogging? Clinking? Trolling? Scam-baiting? Wiki-ing?}


Caitlin Hoistion, a 15-year-old in Neptune, N.J., says she knows people who go as far as posting their cell phone numbers on their blogs -- something she doesn't do. She also often shows her postings to her mom, which has helped her mom give her some space and privacy online.


{STREIGHT: Youth Hint--surest way to keep parents from prying into your blog is to force it on them, with digital art too abstract for their tastes, and photos of friends they don't like. Rants about music bands and fashion designers. Rants about not wanting to grow up and be like them. That'll do it.}


"That's not to say if I thought something dangerous was going on, I wouldn't ever spy on her," says her mother, Melissa Hoistion. "But she has given me no need to do so."


{STREIGHT: Parent Tip--by the time you figure out something dangerous is going on, it's always already too late. Think about it. I think you actually should read your children's blogs. And let them listen in on your phone conversations to your shrink, lawyer, and best friend.}


Many college students say they're learning to take precautions on their own.

John Malloy, a 19-year-old student at Centre College in Danville, Ky., has put a "friends lock" on his LiveJournal site so only people with a password he supplies can view it.

"A lot of times, my blog is among the first places I turn when I am angry or frustrated, and I am often quite unfair in my assessment of my situation in these posts," Malloy says. "Do I wish I hadn't posted? Of course. But I haven't actually gone as far to take posts down."

Instead he makes them "private" so only he can read them.

"I like to keep them to look back on," he says.

Meanwhile, Joseph Milliron, a 23-year-old college student in California, says he's become more cautious about posting photos online because people sometimes "borrow" them for their own sites.

It's just one trend that's made Milliron rethink what he includes in his blog.

"I know this very conspiracy theorist -- but I wouldn't put it past a clever criminal to warehouse different databases and wait 20 years when all the Internet youth's indiscretions can be used for surreptitious purposes," says the senior at California State Polytechnic University, Pomona, who's been blogging for about three years.

Martin, the 23-year-old blogger in suburban Chicago, agrees that blogs can "provide just one more avenue for a person to embarrass him or herself."

"They also make it easier for people to tell everyone what a jerk you are," says Martin, who'll be heading to graduate school in Virginia this fall.

Still, she thinks blogging is worth it -- to stay in touch with friends and to air her more creative work, including essays.

"I suppose in that way," she says, "I think of blogs as 'open mic nights' online."






[END OF ARTICLE and COMMENTARY]



------



On the Net:

A few blogging sites:

Xanga

http://www.xanga.com


LiveJournal

http://www.livejournal.com



Blogspot


http://www.blogspot.com

------

Martha Irvine is a national writer specializing in coverage of people in their 20s and younger. She can be reached at mirvine (at) ap (dot) org