Category Archives: Bloggin

On Twitter.

For those who have wondered where I’ve disappeared to, it’s not very far, and yet, it’s a million miles away. I’ve started to use Twitter to record my short, arcane, and otherwise ridiculous arcania. It’s a fast, immediate, and simple rush to be able to write a thought, or even two, and post it to a small, self-selected group who have “subscribed” to this feed. In fact, “rush” is an appropriate word in more ways than one; posting a thought or two is much like a kind of philosophical “hit” to the brain, and, when it’s over (a minute or two later), the temptation to post another thought arises, quickly.
There’s an adrenaline- (and, for me, sugar- and coffee-) fueled behavior associated with Twittering (or Tweeting) that isn’t anything like writing longer, more complex, more detailed, and more elaborative narratives that typically belong on blogs. Whereas Twitter posts are quick (at 140 characters or less) and their posting immediate, blog posts are generally long and their posting immediate; this means that, after writing a longer piece and posting it to a blog, the blogger is either exhausted or elated, or perhaps, unsatisfied.
I write this in the context of a number of well-known and respected blogs now going out of business. The latest casualty, sadly, is Speak Up!, a blog that focused on the objectives, trends, and function of design. Armin Vit, today, posted his goodbye entry, and, with that, the site will rest. Armin, always a diplomatic and intelligent analyst of all things Web, wrote:

I also strongly believe that the kind of general-topic and long-form writing of Speak Up is just not as appealing as it used to be. With so many web sites devoted to quick bursts of visuals and the proliferation of short-message communication enhanced by Twitter and Facebook, it becomes increasingly hard to hold the attention of anyone. But this could all be debated.

And, it will be. The history of Western literary culture has moved from long Talmudic texts, produced and arranged and re-arranged by thousands of students to Gutenberg’s movable-type production of biblical texts to the proliferation of massive books like the Encyclopedia Britannica and novelistic forms like War and Peace. It sauntered along to well-researched articles in newspapers and magazines and academic dissertations of hundreds of type-written pages and then to shortened entries in Wikipedia and multi-paragraph posts on weblogs. And now, within the few months of Twitter’s existence, we’ve started to shutter books, newspapers, and now blogs in order to follow the disparate, tiny, yet seemingly content-rich 140-character posts of thousands of individuals.
(I do recognize that the economic models of news and news-gathering are changing quickly. But the logic of Twitter fits handily into the free-for-all of the Web’s user-driven, celebrity-focused current trajectory.)
If we continue down this path, it’s not hard to see what future, original text content will look like. Gone will be editing and editors, the smell of paper and ink, collaborative formats, multiple authoritative voices, and indexing of further reading topics. Gone will be investigative journalism, academic contextualization of events and ideas, and the production of complex thought pieces.
I don’t see the end of books or magazines, or blogs, per se. And I’m a big fan of Twitter, despite my massive reservations about its implications. But, with less long-form content being produced and digested, I can only assume that our brains will seek to emulate less the mind of gods and more the organs of birds.


I think we’re back.
Yes, we are. Tremendous thanks to Michael Barrish and William Dodson for their problem-solving and technical expertise. And thanks to Tilted for their customer support.
And many thanks to everyone who checked in with me, asked what was up, and otherwise worried for the site’s minor existence.

Andrew Olmstead.

I hadn’t been a reader of Andrew Olmstead until today, when I learned about his posthumous post on his blog. As a soldier in Iraq, he had a frontline view of the war from both a personal and political perspective and I think his death makes the reality of his observations far more poignant than they would be otherwise. We’re all, of course, only moments away from our last blog post, but Olmstead had the wherewithal and the good sense to write something up before his death in Iraq as the likelihood of his passing was a bit higher than for us readers. My only final note about this is that this posthumous post makes the mystery and ether of the Internet that much more extreme, in that it lives on in some kind of bit-drip perpetuity, unlike us.

My Ads Suck.

Over the past year or so, I’ve used Google’s AdSense in the left-hand column of this here blog. Others do it all the time and they seem to do very, very, well, financially.
To date, I’ve had a small ad or two up and I’ve made a grand total of $53.00. Why would a three-or-two-times-per-week blog only make about $3.00 per month with the most powerful advertising mechanism in the history of the 21st century? Because my content is all over the map. If I write a review of a book or a movie, I get one kind of ad. If I write some armchair philosophy piece on the relationship between technology and death, I get another kind of ad. And what are those ads for? Pretty much nothing.
<— Take a look.
What is there to learn from this? If you want to make money via Google's advertising network, make sure that your blog is focused, logical, and regular. If you want to post your personal thoughts about blogging, expect ads about 311 systems or studying seven months from now in India.
Postscript: I'm in good company, as usual. Trent Hamm, who writes the unusually good weblog The Simple Dollar, has just forsworn AdSense ads for very different reasons. He wrote about it today.

Out Quiet.

I’ve been having trouble writing and reading online lately. Thankfully, it’s not my eyesight, keeping my head up, or anything else of a physical nature. Rather, it’s that the sheer number of blogs, websites, and online material has officially overwhelmed me. When the number of blogs in the world possibly reached 100 million, it all came together for me. Even my most favorite blogs, which are mostly of a technical nature and are lovingly written and thoughtfully presented, overwhelm.
I believe this is part of the inherent overwhelm many of us are now feeling because of the 24 hour onslaught of media motion. I can now see how some of the best early bloggers decided to throw in the towel at a certain point; writing requires a discipline that is only outwardly rewarded these days by either money or fame. Without these, internal motivation must be very strong. It’s not like the Hemingway days, when writing was a risky passion fueled by artistry and self-examination because the educated were fewer and farther between. The art and craft of writing these days seems to be slightly misplaced, lost amidst HTML clutter and the urge to reveal without analysis.
But this does nothing to make me feeling better about writing and reading online, at least for now. So, I’m pulling it back together, rethinking my writing strategies, and preparing for it all anew. I’m not giving up. I’m just thinking out loud.


I was speaking with a client today and talking about blogs. I was explaining to her that smaller blogs today tend to cover less globally-relevant information while the mass-media continues to cover mass-relevant news, “like Boris Yeltsin.”
I don’t know why I mentioned even Yeltsin to her. It came out of nowhere. I hadn’t listened to the news all day. (I’m on a morning news fast.) I’m neither a huge fan of his nor do I think about him regularly. I sure hope I wasn’t the cause of it all.

Feeling Boring.

Because I feel very boring today and, well, this past week what with the war in the Middle East and company over and a party and general workflows, I’m going to provide a series of links to interesting fare I’ve noted during this same, sworn time. (I’m writing up some pieces on Microsoft’s Entourage and that’s boring, too.):

  • The [Not So] Secret Diary of Steve Jobs.
  • One red paperclip guy
    buys a house in Saskatchewan
    , the next province over from here.
  • Clusty [not the clown] is a pretty interesting search engine, grouping links by relevant category.
  • OmniGroup is coming out with some project management tool called OmniPlan in 3 days, 2 hours and 32 minutes, which is nice of them.
  • I don’t play computer games but if I did, it would be this one, Call of Duty 2.
  • Unrelatedly, the ADL has a good list of FAQs regarding Israel’s hellish and partly unjustified war in Lebanon.
  • No one ever talks about the Vatican’s website, which looks like it was designed by the Da Vinci Code author.

End of a Time

It looks like Jason Kottke has called it quits to his year-old and brilliant micropatron experiment. It’s too bad. I was really rooting for him and hoping that collecting small individual contributions would be a kind of antidote for advertising on blogs. Not that Kottke is going to go ad. But no sadness here – Jason will prevail.
It is quite interesting that nearly 100% of his funding came during the first three weeks of his fund drive. It goes to the issue of novelty, of course, but, perhaps more importantly, it highlights the importance of clearly communicating “marketing” goals from the outset, particularly on the Web. I’d love to see Jason do a “case study” or a “lessons learned” analysis. I’ll follow up this post with lessons learned about another kind of Web experiment.