Archive for the ‘Blogging’ Category

Wired Thinks Blogs Are Over, Misses the Point

Paul Boutin, in the new edition of Wired Magazine, makes the case that blogging isn’t worthwhile anymore. While Boutin makes a few good points about the different functionality associated with blogging, social networking and microblogging, he fails to go beyond anecdotal evidence in his analysis of the value of blogging.

He begins:

Thinking about launching your own blog? Here’s some friendly advice: Don’t. And if you’ve already got one, pull the plug.

Wired.com, where the article was published, hosts about a dozen blogs. Paul’s fulltime gig is with ValleyWag a top-500 blog focusing on silicon valley gossip. His personal website is, you guessed it, a blog. Apparently irony is easily lost on Mr. Boutin.

He continues:

The blogosphere, once a freshwater oasis of folksy self-expression and clever thought, has been flooded by a tsunami of paid bilge. Cut-rate journalists and underground marketing campaigns now drown out the authentic voices of amateur wordsmiths. It’s almost impossible to get noticed, except by hecklers. And why bother?

Yes, there is far more garbage in the blogosphere now than at any time prior. The other side of this though is the fact that there is more research, factchecking, sharp analysis, breaking news and “folksy self-expression” than ever before. Better yet, now we’ve got social news websites, blog search engines and web-based RSS readers to help us sort through the clutter.

The crux of the argument is as follows:

The time it takes to craft sharp, witty blog prose is better spent expressing yourself on Flickr, Facebook, or Twitter.

Mr. Boutin fails to mention the fact that a pretty good percentage of Tweets are automatically generated from a blog’s RSS feed via Twitterfeed. The same is true for status updates on Facebook. Flickr is a great tool for uploading, storing and sharing photographs, but if your Internet outreach efforts are limited to photo-sharing, you won’t have much luck.

To get the most out of social media you should participate broadly. Just having a blog is as limiting as just having a Facebook account. Your flickr account is worth little if you have nowhere to post the pictures. If you spend all of your time creating short-form content on Twitter, will you have anything to link to? A comprehensive social media outreach plan should encompass all of the above and more. Ideally, organizations should be using social news sites (Digg, Reddit, Buzzflash, Current, etc.), social networking sites (Myspace, Facebook, etc.), social bookmarking sites (Simpy, Furl, etc.), microblogging sites (Twitter, Tumblr, etc.) blogging software (WordPress, Blogger, Typepad, etc.), email lists, listservs, targeted blogger outreach, search engine optimization and more.

When the world wide web was popularized, we didn’t unplug our phones and throw away our stamps. When we need to send a quick note, we email. When we wanted something more personal or more in-depth, we pick up the phone. When we want to formalize a communication or reach someone across the globe, we write a letter. We learned to choose appropriate communications tools for the types of communication we were engaging in. We are going to have to do this more and more in the future, as our communications options continue to diversify. Just as Twitter is ideal for a quick, one-sentence not with a link, blogging is still ideal for mid-length communications with embedded pictures and video.

The bulk of the article is dedicated to hand-wringing over the social media habits of several early-adopting bloggers like Jason Calcanis, Robert Scoble and Mark Pilgrim. The article would probably be better off with more facts, and less anecdotal fluff. Here are a few facts he could have taken into account:

42% of Americans have read a blog and 11% do so daily.

The liberal blog reader project found that 74% of blog readers voted in 2006. Just 41% of all eligible voters did so that year.

71% of journalists have a list of blogs that they check on a regular basis.

Here are a few institutions you may have heard of who disagree with Mr. Boutin’s analysis:

“The Democratic Party cannot win major national elections without the netroots.” -NY Times

“The netroots now rank alongside [unions and interest groups].” -The National Review

“Liberal bloggers [have] quickly become a formidable constituency in Democratic politics.” -The New Republic

“Now that the Netroots’ power has been cemented, any Democratic presidential candidate will have to consider how to woo these Internet activists.” -Time

Here is the bottom line: Blogging is not dead. As social networking and microblogging claim a larger share of the new media landscape, they justify a larger share of an organization’s media outreach strategy. Just as it wouldn’t have been wise to stop reaching out to newspaper and the traditional press when you hired a blogger, there is no reason to stop blogging because you want to create a Facebook or Twitter account. Shifting priorities to reach your audience as effectively as possible is a good thing, but Mr. Boutin’s assertion that blogging is no longer useful is way off the mark.

New Service on Google Blogsearch: Memetracking

Via Problogger we learn that Google Blogsearch is now tracking the most popular memes in the blogosphere. Darren makes a great point:

It isn’t a new concept – TechMeme, Technorati, Blogs.com and others have been doing it for years – however what strikes me here is just how comprehensive Google’s results are. While TechMeme only indexes a limited number of blogs Google’s BlogSearch has been indexing millions (?) of blogs for some time now and will be able to provide a different perspective to what is happening in the wider blogosphere (instead of just the cool gang).

The official Google Blog has more:

Today, we’re pleased to launch a new homepage for Google Blog Search so that you too can browse and discover the most interesting stories in the blogosphere. Adapting some of the technology pioneered by Google News, we’re now showing categories on the left side of the website and organizing the blog posts within those categories into clusters, which are groupings of posts about the same story or event. Grouping them in clusters lets you see the best posts on a story or get a variety of perspectives. When you look within a cluster, you’ll find a collection of the most interesting and recent posts on the topic, along with a timeline graph that shows you how the story is gaining momentum in the blogosphere.

Here is what it looks like in action. This graph represents the number of blogs covering tonight’s Vice Presidential debate:

ReadWriteWeb is calling it a “techmeme killer”. What do you think?

Link Building and Taking a Blog to the Next Level

Five SEO experts have just attempted to demystify link building for SEO purposes. I think they did a pretty good job.

Chris Brogan has a great list of 50 ways to take your blog to the next level.

Reading anything interesting today?

Understatement of the Day: Internet Changing Politics

The Pew Internet and American Life project has released a hugely important new study called The Internet and the 2008 Election (pdf), indicating that political participation online is up about three-fold since 2004, when Howard Dean (read: Joe Trippi and Zephyr Teachout) revolutionized campaigning online.

Here are the key findings:

A record-breaking 46% of Americans have used the internet, email or cell phone text messaging to get news about the campaign, share their views and mobilize other

35% of Americans say they have watched online political videos–a figure that nearly triples the reading the Pew Internet Project got in the 2004 race.

10% say they have used social networking sites such as Facebook or MySpace to gather information or become involved. This is particularly popular with younger voters: Two-thirds of internet users under the age of 30 have a social networking profile, and half of these use social networking sites to get or share information about politics or the campaigns.

6% of Americans have made political contributions online, compared with 2% who did that during the entire 2004 campaign.

American politics, from outreach and GOTV to fundraising and volunteer recruitment, will never be the same. Of particular interest in the context of this blog is the impact this will have on nonprofits and foundations, who use many of the same techniques as campaigns for recruiting and reaching supporters. On this note, I found huge increase in % of Americans giving money to campaigns to be quite encouraging. An aging donor base is a common problem for nonprofits and foundations in the 21st century. Many of their biggest supporters have grown accustomed to making contributions with written checks, via snail mail. The fact that so many Americans are engaged in the electoral process online means that all of these people are now comfortable with, and hopefully prepared to, begin giving to nonprofits on the Internet as well.

The task of converting from a top-down, message-controlled model to a bottom-up people-powered movement in the digital space will fall to individual organizations. The new data provided by Pew should be encouraging though, as it indicates that the environment is ripe for innovation in the non-profit and foundation worlds.

More on this: Read Write Web, Switched, Pollster.com, Smart Mobs, Tech President and Open Source.

Glossary of New Media and Online Outreach Terminology

If there is another word you’d like to see added to this list, email me at josh@thehatchergroup.com and I’ll be glad to add it.

Avatar – A small (usually about 100X100 pixels) image associated with a profile on a social media website. The avatar can be used for branding and identification, and can also have an impact on the success of the profile.

Blog – A blog (an abridgment of the term web log) is a website, usually maintained by an individual, with regular entries of commentary, descriptions of events, or other material such as graphics or video. Entries are commonly displayed in reverse chronological order. “Blog” can also be used as a verb, meaning to maintain or add content to a blog.

Many blogs provide commentary or news on a particular subject; others function as more personal online diaries. A typical blog combines text, images, and links to other blogs, web pages, and other media related to its topic. The ability for readers to leave comments in an interactive format is an important part of many blogs. Most blogs are primarily textual, although some focus on art (artlog), photographs (photoblog), sketchblog, videos (vlog), music (MP3 blog), audio (podcasting) are part of a wider network of social media. Micro-blogging is another type of blogging which consists of blogs with very short posts. As of December 2007, blog search engine Technorati was tracking more than 112 million blogs. Via Wikipedia.

Blogroll – A list of external links located on the homepage of a blog, generally in the blog’s sidebar.

Bounce Rate – The percentage of web site visitors who arrive at a web site entry page, then leave without going any deeper into the site.

Broken link – When a web page has been moved or no longer exits, or if the server is down and an Internet link cannot find the desired page, it is referred to as a dead link. Dead links on your site can negatively impact your performance on search engines.

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