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Current Topic: Blogging

For Some, the Blogging Never Stops
Topic: Blogging 9:22 am EDT, May 28, 2004

Blogging is a pastime for many, even a livelihood for a few. For some, it becomes an obsession.

Sometimes, the realization that no one is reading sets in. A few blogs have thousands of readers, but never have so many people written so much to be read by so few.

Indeed, if a blog is likened to a conversation, many bloggers are having conversations largely with themselves.

"If this were beer, I'd be an alcoholic."

"If I feel like I've written something good, it's enjoyable to go back and read it."

"It's that you're involved in a conversation. You have a connection to people through the blog."

"When you start thinking in blog, it becomes part of you."

For Some, the Blogging Never Stops

On The Relative Importance and Urgency of Memes, and a Modest Proposal
Topic: Blogging 2:08 am EDT, May 13, 2004

There are memes, and then there are Memes. Said another way: All memes are created equal, but some memes are more equal than others.

I am quite dismayed and disappointed that MemeStreams allowed an entire week to pass without forcing me to read and recommend the essay by Philip Kennicott that appeared in the May 5 edition of the Washington Post. This should not have been allowed to happen.

Between the time of publication and the time of this writing, I received several messages in my MemeBox, but none pointed to this essay. One of them was about a story in the Weekly World News. Another, which I ignored, appeared to be some kind of conspiracy theory involving the Mossad. A third item directed my attention to academically interesting but ultimately insignificant research results in the field of cryptanalysis.

An analogous situation is known in computer science as a priority inversion. It is an undesirable condition, but steps can be taken to design it out of the system. At this point I am forced to consider whether MemeStreams has taken sufficient measures to minimize the occurrence of priority inversion.

In part, the reputation agent is designed to solve this problem. By selecting and sorting available memes based on weighted adjacencies in the social network, the cream is supposed to rise to the top.

For many users, memes pass through the reputation agent in particular much as ideas flow through the news media in general: here today, gone tomorrow. While this approach generally suffices for the run of the mill meme, it is woefully inadequate for that most rare, truly exemplary meme. A remedy must be devised.

I have a proposal. It consists of one idea in two parts: gold stars and sticky bits. Allow me to explain.

Each year, on the anniversary of your blog, you are issued a one year supply of gold stars to use as you see fit. A year's supply is on the order of eight to ten gold stars. Use them with care, because they must last you through the entire year. When you see a truly outstanding must-read-NOW meme that is simply not to be missed under any circumstances, even if it means running around a one-stoplight town at 2 a.m. with a PowerBook and a WiFinder, attach one of your gold stars to this article. Don't jump the gun, because once you attach the star, it cannot be revoked, it cannot be reused, and it will be present for all to see, for all time.

The reputation agent knows about gold stars and takes notice when they appear. This is where the sticky bits come in. Starred memes are moved to the top of the stack, are unmistakably highlighted, with the normal white text on a blue background replaced by larger, bold white text on a red background. Regardless of the "TimeFrame" setting, these memes stay at the top of the stack until one of two actions is taken by the user. a) The user posts the meme to his/her weblog. b) The user explicitly dismisses the meme by clicking on a special purpose link at the bottom of the entry, next to the links for Thread, Recommend, and Reply. Like the Delete function, the Dismiss function prompts the user for confirmation, again presenting the description(s) provided by the user(s) who have attached (a) gold star(s) to the meme.

At the expense of a slight increase in complexity, this mechanism could be protected against abuse by new users. For example, gold stars could be held in escrow and rationed out to new users, at a maximum of one per month.

It is hoped that with gold stars and sticky bits, we can dramatically reduce the occurrence of missed excellence within the MemeStreams community.

Blogger Visited by Van Helsing?
Topic: Blogging 12:39 am EDT, May 11, 2004

Blogger, which is owned by Google, has redesigned its site to make it easier to use and added new features, including posting by e-mail.

"The richness is all in the email client."

... an eco-system of ever-changing ideas ...

Whereas, MemeStreams is an eco-system of ever-changing people through which universal ideas come a-wandering ...

The service has changed little since it was bought by Google in February 2003. Meanwhile, rival services have been innovating furiously.

Call me Mr. Furious.

... a deal with a company called Hello to let subscribers upload photos directly to a blog.
... new profile pages so that bloggers can learn more about each other.
... the ability to search a blog.

Sound familiar? Keeping up with the Joneses?

Blogger Visited by Van Helsing?

MemeStreams needs inline images
Topic: Blogging 10:44 am EDT, May  8, 2004

Now, more than ever, the power of an image should be obvious.

Red Rock Eater Digest - pointers
Topic: Blogging 11:13 pm EST, Mar 24, 2004

RRE is ten years old. I stopped sending out these links because a bunch of issues all got stale at once. Like okay, you've probably got it about Enron, and Microsoft, and cyberspace, and conservative jargon, etc.

So what matters now?

We'll have to figure that out.

As a first guess, here are some links that are mostly intelligent academic discussions at the intersection of information technology and more permanent things. Do send links corresponding to your own guesses.

Phil Agre is back! Also, RRE is now available via RSS. Enjoy.

Red Rock Eater Digest - pointers

A Closer Look at Why People Blog
Topic: Blogging 2:05 am EST, Mar 24, 2004

Bonnie Nardi has submitted this paper (16 pages) to Communications of the ACM.

Blogging has become enormously popular ... [and] much media attention has focused on blogging. [This] attention usually goes to "heavy-hitters."

In this paper, we report the results of an ethnographic investigation of blogging in a sample of "ordinary bloggers.”

We investigate blogging as a form of personal communication, with a specific interest in uncovering a range of motivations that individuals have for creating and maintaining blogs.

We discuss implications for improving current blogging tools and how such tools may affect the continuing evolution of the Internet and the ways it is used in everyday life.

There are two blogospheres!

A Closer Look at Why People Blog

Topic: Blogging 8:58 pm EST, Mar 14, 2004

Kids cloudwatching. Asking and answering the important questions. Disembodied words. Speaking to no one in particular.

Isn't that what I do here each day?

We are more and less ourselves when confined to this medium.


What Diet Is Your Blog On?
Topic: Blogging 7:26 pm EST, Mar 14, 2004

There is plenty of food at the table, but are you choosing wisely?

HP tracking the spread of memes through the blogosphere
Topic: Blogging 9:01 pm EST, Mar  5, 2004

] When they plotted the links and topics shared by various
] sites, they discovered that topics would often appear on
] a few relatively unknown blogs days before they appeared
] on more popular sites.
] "What we're finding is that the important people on the
] Web are not necessarily the people with the most explicit
] links (back to their sites), but the people who cause
] epidemics in blog networks," said researcher Eytan Adar.
] These infectious people can be hard to find because they
] do not always receive attribution for being the first to
] point to an interesting idea or news item.

HP tracking the spread of memes through the blogosphere

Engineering Google Results to Make a Point
Topic: Blogging 12:29 am EST, Jan 23, 2004

"Google bombs hit (the pages of The) New York (Times)"

Unlike Web politicking by other means, like hacking into sites to deface or alter their message, Google bombing is a group sport, taking advantage of the Web-indexing innovation that led Google to search-engine supremacy.

... When as the president's biography went to No. 1 for "miserable failure," some conservatives were convinced that so-called liberal control of the media had now been extended to search engines.

... Clearly, anyone who goes through life trying to manipulate search engine results would have to be called a miserable failure.

Engineering Google Results to Make a Point

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