Wednesday, December 31, 2003

Blogger named in Top Ten list

The Nielson Netratings, according to the BBC Online, has placed Blogger as the 10th most influential blog in 2003.

Placed at #1 is Google. Now, if Google could just acquire #2-#9 it could carry the whole Top Ten.

2004 predictions

I'm sure this won't be the only blog we do picking up on predictions for the blogging world. One interesting prediction is from Wi-Fi Planet which repeats a rumor that Google intends to link it's Blogger software with a Friendster like engine.

The word around the industry is that Google will hook its Blogger software to a Friendster-type network (via an acquisition?) to tap into the ever-more-connected, open-standard-driven computing world.

They also see 2004 as being a "truly-connected world of online journals, Web collaboration and personals networking."

Monday, December 29, 2003

Advice from veteran bloggers

Here's a new year's resolution for you: follow some advice from nine of the Web's most important blogs.

NetGuideWeb has collected advice from some of the top bloggers that is a must read for new and even for experienced bloggers. Here's a sample:

The beauty of a personal site is that there are no editorial guidelines. If you wake up on Monday you may feel completely different from the way you will on Tuesday, and your posts should reflect this. Eventually you'll find your own voice and a style you're happy with, and if what you write is interesting and/or entertaining, then you'll find an audience organically. You won't have to try to impress.

Sunday, December 28, 2003

Is Paris Hilton Video a legitimate blog?

In choosing the sites for this week's Top Ten BlogSpot hosted sites, what should come up in the number 4 spot but a blog called Paris Hilton Video.

This site has come from nowhere. It wasn't even close to the running before this week, much less #4.

But it does demonstrate again how easy it is to manipulate Google. If you look at the site, the title to nearly every blog has Paris Hilton in it --even where it doesn't make sense to have her name in the title. Now, why would anyone want to use Blogger and BlogSpot to create a blog that has no Google PR and did not exist until December 5? Maybe it has something to do with the links to sites like "Paris Hilton Sex Tape." To create a porn site gateway, all you have to do is pick a heavily used search term and repeat the term in a blog over and over and over. Google eats it up and rates it the fourth highest BlogSpot site in the past seven days. This really calls Google's reliability into question yet again (remember Google bombing?)

We decided to disqualify Paris Hilton Video since it appears to us to be a doorway to porn sites, not a legitimate blog. What do you think? You can vote on whether you think the site should have been included in our weekly Top Ten by going HERE and then to the bottom of the page.

Saturday, December 27, 2003


Here's a new service for photoblogging. Buzznet allows you to upload digital photos to it's "photoblog community." The service is currently free.

What makes the site interesting is the ability to comment on the photos and to create galleries.

Posting can be done by email or from the Buzznet site. The free service limits you to 10 posts per day and 200 per month.

Wednesday, December 24, 2003

Lack of crackpot blogs

There are no end of crackpot sites on the Internet. If you don't think so, take a look at CrankDotNet for a good listing of the far-out (the biggest category is conspiracy). Once you have spent a few days looking at a sampling of crackpot sites, then you can take a look at some of the anti-crackpot sites. A good example is Operation Clambake which is an anti-Scientology site. You have to visit that site just to find out why Scientologists are so afraid of clams (click, click, click).

As John Dvorak points out, there don't seem to be that many crackpot blogs. I hasten to add: yet.

Dvorak notes: "The one odd thing I've noticed, though, is the relative lack of true crackpot blogs (and I don't mean Gnomegirl!). I know they are out there and the useful blogging software should invite true cranks and wackos like nothing before. Where is the abduction blog, for example? Or the time traveler blog?"

A possible exception is the blog-like Meta Tech which reports wacky news in a "for-real" setting --sort of like the National Equirer. If you want to find out if that tired feeling you've been experiencing lately is the result of reptiles mating with you while you sleep, take a quick look.

Speaking of really weird things, have you noticed that the Blogger spelling checker does not include blog, blogging or even blogger? Further, if you tell it to "learn" these words, it refuses? This is what (or reptiles mating with me) keeps me up at night.

Tuesday, December 23, 2003

Interesting blog

ihath is a touching blog that really gets to the fundamentals of things that are wrong with the world today. From someone who has lived in the places and experienced the conflicts caused by beliefs that one is not allowed to question, comes passages like this:

"I am not Muslim, not Christian, not Jewish", this I declare today, knowing full well what each word means. Not Sunni, not Shea'a or any other category. I believe that all religions should come with an expiration date. Valid for consumption until, beyond this date this religion will turn into poison if consumed. Since everybody is creating god in his on images anyway, I think that from now on I will create something that I like.

The style of this blog is to create long, comprehensive stories, rather than short journal-like blogs. The title of the blog that contains the quotation above is "How I lost my religion in the Holy Lands."

Not all blogs have literary merit and a true message. This one does. Highly recommended.

Blogs and political campaigns

Politics and the Internet used to be all about static Web Sites. These sites were pretty much nothing more than a political brochure. Then came the bulletin-board type political sites where people could post their opinions on political issues.

Blogs have changed all that. According to Common Dreams NewsCenter:

Every month, 250,000 people in hundreds of cities participate in meetups, local gatherings of political activists of every stripe who find each other online.

The result is a new form of intimacy between campaigns and their far-flung supporters, the creation of virtual political communities powered by people devoted to the candidates.

One of the most important aspects of the political blogs is the interaction between real people. Once this interaction takes place, there tends to be a sense of loyalty to the particular candidate. A real part of this has been meetups:

One of the most tangible results of the new wave of Internet organizing is the explosion of monthly meetups. Participants find each other through, an independent Web site originally designed to help connect the like-minded, whether they be Harry Potter fans or Chihuahua lovers.

The Dean campaign has taken things up a notch. Through "DeanSpace", local campaigns are given server space to create their own local blog pages. The main blog then features links to some of the best local blog postings. A fantastic idea that seems to be working extremely well.

Sunday, December 21, 2003

Top Site Awards

This week's Top Sites hosted on BlogSpot seems to be controlled by the Iraq bloggers. Forty percent of our winners on Blogger Forum are about Iraq.

One of the interesting Iraq sites (well, they're all interesting) is Beyond Northern Iraq. This blog is by Stuart Hughes who lost a leg to a landmine while covering Iraq for the BBC. One of his blog features is a Web camera. Stu's Webcam shows a small, brightly lit room with an unmade bed. Stu looks intense as he writes on his computer.

Of course, the bad thing about Webcams is they catch you doing whatever you are doing --even if it's wiping your nose with your shirt.

This just in: Stu responds and says: "I wasn't wiping my nose -- I was just scratching it!"

Friday, December 19, 2003

Call girl site gets best writing award

According to the UK edition of Internet Magazine, one of the winners of the British Blog Award by The Guardian is belle de jour, the diary of a London call girl. The site is hosted on BlogSpot and here's a sample of the award-winning writing:

As most transactions in my business are paid in cash I find myself at the bank rather often. I tend to use the same one at a similar time every day. Cashiers are naturally curious people who would have to be brain-dead not to wonder why I come in with rolls of bills several times a week and deposit into two accounts, one of which is not mine.

One day I presented the deposit details on the back of a slip the Boy had been sketching on. The cashier turned it over, looked at the drawing, and looked at me. "This is good. Did you do this?" she asked. "Yes, well, I'm a... cartoonist," I lied. Which is how the people at the bank came to believe that I draw for a living. Whether they took the next logical leap of questioning why any legitimate artist would demand payment in cash is unknown to me.

One advantage of this job is not being limited to the lunch hour for running errands. Therefore, I tend to go shopping in midafternoon. "Live close to here?" the grocer by the tube station asked one day, as I picked out apples and kiwifruit.

"Just around the corner," I said. "I work as a nanny." Which is blatantly unbelievable, as I never have children visibly in tow and, unless the Boy is staying over, am only buying for one. Still, he nodded, and now occasionally asks how the kids are doing.

Blogging in 2004, who's right?

Who ya gonna believe? Some of the pundits who like to predict trends and where the world is going in the coming year seem to have a few disagreements. On the downside:

Stuff to avoid: Blogging's wave has already crested now that millions of online diarists are realizing that not that many people actually read this stuff.

On the upside:

But 2003 offered up much more than just an unhealthy fascination with blogs. We also obsessed over the proliferation of people with camera phones breaking spot news stories; the rise of Google and Google News; the soap opera at (AOL) Time Warner; the continued inroads of paid content; RSS feeds; massive online coverage of the war in Iraq; viruses, worms and spam overwhelming newsrooms; the struggle for independent news in Zimbabwe, China, Iran and Iraq; and political rhetoric and election coverage.

If I were to play Swami again for 2004, I'd say we will see an acceleration of many of these trends as online publications start to gain more solid financial footing. The watchwords for the industry are "cautious optimism."

Thursday, December 18, 2003

RSS rename contest

Is RSS not receiving the popularity it should because it is just another geek acronym? Amy Gahran thinks so and is sponsoring a contest to find a new name. Amy makes a good case for her cause:

Think about it: Popular interest wasn't aroused by "HTML," but by "the World Wide Web." Similarly, no one gets excited about "SMTP" or "POP," but "e-mail" has become ubiquitous and indispensable.

Here are a few entries in the contest:

Reader Service Syndication Wow, isn't that catchy? And so different from the other RSS.
Infopush Mmm.... that has possibilities.
Info Nugget List Kidding, right?
putin Russian presidents need to stay out of this.
gates Ditto for billionaires.
Purfeed And ditto for cat lovers.
efeed Got my vote.

How important is blogging?

We used to spend time trying to convince the rest of the world as to the importance and legitimacy of blogging. There are times lately when we wonder if the pendulum might be swinging too far in the other direction. That is, in the direction of attaching too much importance to blogs. Take this, for example from World on the Web:

Determined bloggers who sit at their computers all day have time and room to get stories started in a way beyond the interest or capacity of cable news networks. Newspapers and broadcasters can then push the stories, as they did early this year in rolling down a steep hill Sen. Trent Lott (R-Miss.), the majority leader accused of carrying concealed racism without a permit. (Democratic senators such as Robert Byrd of Virginia get a break here. And Democratic politicians such as Howard Dean, who has pressed for the Southern "bubba" vote, has used his own blog to good political effect.)

Tuesday, December 16, 2003

See Jennicam while you can

One of the oldest blog-type sites on the Internet is JenniCam. After seven years of displaying her day-to-day life on the Internet through her Web-cam, Jennifer Ringley is calling it quits as of December 31.

JenniCam's byline is "...Life, online..." Blogs can be innovative and an argument could be made that JenniCam is at least partially responsible for the popularity of the survivor type shows on television.

The Sacramento Bee has a nice article about Jennifer and the demise of her site:

"The journey to this end has certainly been noteworthy. Founded in 1996 -- when Ringley set up a single Web camera inside her Harrisburg, Pa., dorm room as part of a class project -- the site, which caught every aspect of Ringley's life, from studying, eating and sleeping to walking around in the nude, was an immediate hit and quickly launched the economics student into the pop-culture stratosphere."

Blogging and Google Bombing in 2004 trend

Euro RSCG Worldwide is a marketing communications agency that spots, analyzes and predicts trends. They have an interesting press release (Year in Prospect: 2004) that takes a look at several areas they predict will be trends for 2004. It looks like a common theme to many of the trends is "me." For example, the drop in married-couple families from around 80% in the fifties to around 50% today and the trend to give gifts to oneself rather than others.

Blogging is one of the trends they expect to continue:

"Blogging: 2003 was the year in which weblogging -- a.k.a. blogging -- really took hold, with an estimated 3 million sites worldwide. In 2004, we'll see more buzz marketing via blogs, as marketers figure out ways to use this new medium for their own means."

They also see Google bombing as a trend:

"Google Bombing and Further Politicization of the Internet: In 2004, we'll see greater politicization of the Internet as more people take advantage of its ability to apply concentrated "people power," whether by organizing volunteers for a political candidate, raising funds, or starting a boycott. One thing we'll be keeping our eye on: Google bombing. Popular search engine Google works by picking up on associations between websites and particular words and phrases. Earlier this month, anyone who typed in the words "miserable failure" on Google was directed to the official White House biography of President George W. Bush. The prank was the brainchild of a computer programmer who e-mailed blogs with an anti-Bush stance and urged them to link the phrase to the biography site. We can expect plenty more of this tactic during the upcoming election year-including a likely counter-offense from pro-Bush bloggers."

Sunday, December 14, 2003

Blogger for Dummies

One of the thing sadly missing from the bookstores is a book about Blogger. Maybe we'll do one.

Anyway. A book that came out in September, Google for Dummies, does have a chapter on the Blogger side of Google. The chapter is short, and stuck in the back, but at least there's a little information. Some of the sections are: creating a blog on BlogSpot, creating a blog on your own FTP server, publishing a blog, formatting, and so on.

The whole thing is only twelve pages or so. Still, if you like playing with Google, it's a pretty good book to get into the basics of using the Google search engine.

Saturday, December 13, 2003

Every so often Google will do a little "re-think" of it's algorithms for deciding Web site rankings. They are sort of like earthquakes. After a period of quiet, all the Web community starts to get a little nervous about what might be afoot. They know that another earthquake is overdue. The SEO community tends to call these little changes hurricanes rather than earthquakes and even gives them names. Blog Business World has a pretty good explanation as to why some major Web sites went down a notch in Google rankings while blogs seemed to do quite well.

The recent Google update, referred to as "Florida" around search engine optimization (SEO) circles, had an adverse effect on many link trading websites.

Blogs trade links extremely frequently, often almost obsessively so. The blog link trades were not affected by the Florida Google update. If anything, blogs benefited tremendously. Bloggers are really generous linkers. They literally link to Everything. Because of their heavy outlinking practices, their often large lists of links are not seen by Google as a possible "link farm".

Epinions and Blogger

One of my favorite places to check out things before I make the purchase plunge is Epinions. This helpful site compiles opinions on consumer products and services from the users who have recently purchased the product or service. It's a great place to browse before you buy that riding lawnmower or cell phone (I used Epinions recently before purchasing both).

Blogger is critiqued by 41 users at Epinions. The average ranking is 5, which is as high as it goes. What troubles me, however, is that nobody seems to have bothered to post any reviews on Blogger this entire year. The last opinion on Blogger was posted in November of 2002. I wonder what the implication is here?

Incidentally, if you look further down on the Blogger review page at Epinions, you'll see Blogger Forum listed as a featured resource.

Friday, December 12, 2003

Blog survey results

Interesting results from last week's Blog Search Engine survey on blogging habits.

Some of the more interesting findings:

52.8% of all bloggers update their blogs at least daily
The majority of bloggers blog from both work and home
52.7% of all bloggers surveyed used Blogger as their blogging service platform
By far the majority of bloggers blog for "fun"

Thursday, December 11, 2003

Spammer arrested

It's about time. Jeremy Jaynes was arrested in North Carolina for sending illegal spam under a new (and until now untested) Virginia law. Virginia came into the picture because the computers used for the spamming were located in Virginia.

Virginia, incidentally, has about 50% of all of the world's Internet traffic passing through because it is the home of businesses like AOL.

The particular law Jaynes is charged with violating involve sending more than the maximum amount of email spam allowed and in falsifying routing information. He could get as much as twenty years if convicted.

Lose weight blog

How about a blog dedicated to weight loss by a blogger who lost 100 pounds in a year? The Skinny Daily Post is "short, daily essays on weight loss and fitness from a really average woman who lost 100 lbs. and works every day to keep it off."

Now here's a blog with real purpose. Weight loss advice and news from a person who's been there. "Forming new habits is the key, I realize to both taking the weight off and keeping it off. With just a few fewer calories each day, a bit more movement, I can do absolutely wondrous things for my health."

Losing weight and becoming more healthy, according to Julie Ridl, involves a pretty serious look at your lifestyle. Once you focus on what needs to changed, it is then a matter of convincing everyone in the family to make the necessary adjustments. "We have never once wondered if all these changes are 'worth' it. We look at one another's healthy, fit bodies, consider the far fewer times we've visited doctors or lost time to illness in the past year. We've noted that we haven't lost friends or bothered loved ones with our new habits. We've put food in its place, for the most part."

Tuesday, December 09, 2003

Reformed chicken murderer blogs

Depending on which side of the chicken your gravy sits, Virgil Butler is either a hero or a crackpot. Virgil's blog, the Cyberactivist, was created as an outlet for the guilt of years of slaughtering chickens for Tyson.

In the chilled dark of a Tyson processing plant, Butler killed 80,000 birds a shift. He snapped their legs into shackles so they hung upside down. He slit their throats. Every two seconds, another chicken came at him down the line, squawking and flapping. It was not possible, then, to think much. From Common Dreams News Center

Tyson claims Virgil's posts are outrageous lies from a disgruntled former worker and that they would sue Virgil to stop his blog, but "the exposure would just give him more publicity." PETA and other groups think Virgil (now a vegetarian) is a hero.

"The more I've done, the more right I feel about it," said Virgil about his blog. "I have found my niche."

Friday, December 05, 2003

Google bombing

Apparently there are a few people who have fun Google Bombing. If you don't know, Google bombing is manipulating Google to do what you want it to do, not what it should do. A good example of this is manipulating the search term "miserable failure" to point to the official President Bush bio on the White House Web page.

Now, the phrase "miserable failure" does not appear anywhere in the bio, but by putting the phrase on several sites and then linking to the bio, Google attributes the bio site to the phrase. Even though this story has been out for a bit, a search done right now on "miserable failure" still gets this #1 result on Google:

Biography of President George W. Bush
Home > President > Biography President George W. Bush En Espanol.
George W. Bush is the 43rd President of the United States. He ...
Description: Biography of the president from the official White House web site.
Category: Kids and Teens > School Time > ... > Bush, George Walker - 29k - Cached - Similar pages

Thursday, December 04, 2003

MS says "The Spoke" not competitor for Blogger

As a follow-up to our story on TheSpoke, Microsoft is still not saying much officially about the MS-owned blogging site. In an article in the Australian online edition of PCWorld, a MS spokesman did say a little about what TheSpoke was all about:

Microsoft's academic developer initiative is focused on building a community of students interested in software development, the Microsoft spokesman said. TheSpoke is in a test phase and more features will be added, he said, adding that the site is not intended to be competition for blogging services such as Google Inc.'s Blogger.

Nope, I'm sure it isn't intended to compete with Blogger, at least not at this stage. However, anyone familiar with the way Microsoft competes will recognize how it tests the waters when it decides to get into something potentially profitable. Just ask Netscape.

Wednesday, December 03, 2003

Look out Blogger, Bill Gates is coming

Microsoft is starting to try out its blogging muscle. Bill and Company have been pretty clear that blogging will be part of the next (after Windows 2003) version of Windows --currently codenamed "Longhorn."

Suddenly visible on the horizon is Microsoft's new blogging service aimed at younger bloggers (that would be most bloggers). The blogging service is called "the Spoke" and is now open for service (but not officially as far as we can tell). We had Blogfoot open a site to check out the look and feel of the Spoke. "Pretty cool" is the first report. For starters he just put up an initial blog, named his site Blogging Blog, and is still over there playing with the thing.

The service is free, so check it out at

Since the Spoke has not been officially announced by Microsoft, take care about taking the service too seriously at this point. You can play with it, but don't move your blog there since there are no guarantees where Microsoft is going with this.

Blogger take note. There are some things you can learn from the Spoke about the basics that should have been part of Blogger as of yesterday. Time is running out guys!

The Spoke is not ready for prime time, and it looks like there is no way at this point you can do much in the way of customizing your blog. However, it's fun to check out what direction Microsoft may be going with blogging.

Wil Wheaton does book deal

If you have been blogging for any length of time, you are probably familiar with Wil Wheaton's blog. Wil has been blogging since not long after he finished his run as Wesley Crusher on Star Trek.

Wil has self-published a book that will now be handled by O'Reilly & Associates. In the planning stage are two other books: one on being a geek and one on web-site design. The geek book will be titled Just a Geek which "continues the story of Wheaton's transformation from teen actor to grown-up writer, computer geek, actor, husband, and stepfather."

Tuesday, December 02, 2003

Saddam's uniform

I don't mean to seem like all we care about are blogs about Iraq, and I know that it is not really proper blog etiquette to just re-post an entire blog from someone else, but this is just too funny (from Healing Iraq):

On a lighter note. Fuad, an Iraqi citizen has been displaying Saddam Hussein's infamous military suit at Tahrir square in downtown Baghdad. He confessed to Azzaman that he got the suit from one of Saddam's presidential sites in Baghdad after the war. He has been offering it since for rental to interested customers to wear for souvenir pictures. His fees range from 500 Dinars (25 cents) wearing the suit to 1000 Dinars for a walk in it. An American officer offered Fuad 200 Dollars for the suit but he refused stating that he depended on it for his livelihood, he was making 15 thousand Dinars a day from renting the suit to Baghdadis. The funniest thing is that Fuad employed 2 of his relatives as bodyguards for fear on the suit from getting stolen. (From Azzaman)

Blogger co-founder voted "Hero of Freedom"

This is interesting. Evan Williams, a co-founder of Pyra Labs, was selected as one of the "35 Heroes of Freedom" by ReasonOnline. The award is to celebrate "the people who have made the world groovier and groovier since 1968."

"Evan Williams. With a little luck and a lot of technology, Williams did as much as anyone in history to provide the once-scarce freedom of the press to millions of individuals, through his co-founding of Pyra Labs, which introduced easy-to-use Blogger technology and free-as-air Blogspot hosting to the masses."

Blogs and the Iraq war debate

Many of the politics oriented blogs are split clearly along conservative-liberal lines. The "debate" is often shrill and even more often predictable. That is, predictable depending on the leanings of the particular blogger.

Here's an example of some clear-thinking blogging that discusses the issue of whether President Bush should attend funerals of soldiers killed in Iraq. Many of the liberal bloggers are claiming he should. On the other hand, Balloon Juice takes the issue in hand and discusses it fully and rationally. This is the way blogs should be.

The research clearly shows that no US president has ever done much in the way of attending military funerals.

"According to the Johnson Library, LBJ attended two funerals for soldiers who died during the Vietnam War. The first funeral was for Captain Albert Smith, son of White House correspondent Merriman Smith, which was held February 28, 1966. The second was for Major General Keith R. Ware, held September 17, 1968. LBJ had met Ware while visiting Vietnam."

Mmm.... two funerals out of some 50,000 deaths. Nixon never attended any funerals for those killed in Vietnam. Now, if President Bush (or any other president, for that matter) attended military funerals, he would immediately be criticized as a grand-standing, heartless politician trying to cash in on the publicity. You can't win.