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Some Thoughts on Blogging: Original Content, Linking, Engaging [en]

Some Thoughts on Blogging: Original Content, Linking, Engaging [en]

[fr] Quelques réflexions sur l'enseignement de l'art du blog.

I like teaching people about blogging. Right now I have nearly 100 students who are learning to blog, with varying enthusiasm and success. Teaching blogging makes me realize that this mode of expression which comes naturally to me is not that easy to master. Here are a couple of the main hurdles I’ve noticed for the student-blogger:

  • Original content. It seems obvious that a blog will contain original content, but in the age of Tumblr (I love Tumblr) and Facebook (I love Facebook) and Twitter (I love Twitter) it seems there is a bias towards republishing rather than creating. One of the things that make a blog a blog is the fact that the blogger has taken the trouble to think and try and communicate ideas or experiences or emotions to their reader, in the written form. Some early attempts at blogging resemble Facebook walls.
  • Links. Writing in hypertext is not easy. A blog is not an island. A blog is connected to many other pages on the web, be they blog articles or not. It’s caught in the web. It’s part of the web. A blog which never links elsewhere? Might be a journal or a memoir, but it’s missing out on something. What do I link to? When? Which words do I place my links on? The art of linking is full of subtleties.
  • Engaging. Blogging is about writing, but also about reading and responding. Links ensure that a blog doesn’t exist in a vacuum. The parallel human activity is responding to comments, reading other bloggers, linking to them socially, and actually engaging with content found elsewhere. Some will say “comment on other people’s articles”, but that is not the whole story. Leaving a superficial comment is not it. Trying to understand the other, daring to challenge and disagree (respectfully), push thoughts further and drag others out of their comfort zone: there is something philosophical about the practice of blogging.

Some things are relatively easily taught: how to hit publish; how to write in an informal voice; how to dare being subjective. But how do you teach engagement? How do you teach debate? I know the Anglo-Saxon (at least American) school curriculum includes debating. Switzerland, sadly, doesn’t — and we tend to shy away from it, or end up in “dialogues de sourds” with two polarised camps each trying to convert the other.

2nd Back to Blogging Challenge, day 7. On the team: Nathalie Hamidi(@nathaliehamidi), Evren Kiefer (@evrenk), Claude Vedovini (@cvedovini), Luca Palli (@lpalli), Fleur Marty (@flaoua), Xavier Borderie (@xibe), Rémy Bigot (@remybigot),Jean-François Genoud (@jfgpro), Sally O’Brien (@swissingaround), Marie-Aude Koiransky (@mezgarne), Anne Pastori Zumbach (@anna_zap), Martin Röll (@martinroell), Gabriela Avram (@gabig58), Manuel Schmalstieg (@16kbit), Jan Van Mol (@janvanmol), Gaëtan Fragnière (@gaetanfragniere), Jean-François Jobin (@gieff). Hashtag:#back2blog.

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Variety is the Spice of Life [en]

Variety is the Spice of Life [en]

[fr] De l'importance de varier les choses que l'on fait pour être heureux, les façons dont on s'organise, et le type d'article qu'on publie sur son blog. La routine ne tue pas seulement le couple. Vous avez d'autres exemples?

I’m in India. I’m reading “The How of Happiness“. The two are completely unrelated aside from the fact they come together to give me the title of this article.

Spice
Photo credit: Sunil Keezhangattu/Flickr

Don’t let the slightly corny title put you off as it did me, The How of Happiness is an excellent, solid, well-researched and practical book.

I don’t want to delve into the details of the book, but just share with you something that has fallen into place for me during the last week. It has to do with variety.

You see, in her book, Sonja Lyubomirsky doesn’t only go through the various things you can do to make yourself happier, or help you pick those that seem the best fit for you: she also insists on the necessity of varying the way you put them into practice.

The example that really made this point hit home for me was the one on “counting your blessings” (yes, corniness warning, directly from the author herself, but don’t let that stop you).

First, the test groups who were asked to write down the things they were thankful for 3 times a week ended up seeing less improvement in their happiness than those that were asked to do it only once a week. Doing it only once a week makes it more of an event and keeps boredom/immunisation at bay.

Second, even then, Sonja Lyubomirsky invites the reader to not do it in the same way every week. By writing, by conversation with a friend, upon certain occasions, about certain areas of your life, or in yet a different manner, so that it remains a meaningful practice. (Page 97, if you want to look it up directly.)

This immediately reminded me of a flash of insight I had one day walking in the mountains around my chalet. I can’t remember exactly when it was, but I can see the road I was on and I remember the insight quite clearly.

Update: I found the article I wrote at the time, it was in 2009!

I was thinking of the different ways in which I had got organized, and how I seemed to become “immune” to a given method after some time had passed. The flash of insight was this: “maybe I just need to keep on finding new ways of getting organized.” I brushed off the idea, because it wasn’t comfortable, and wrote it down to the need to have different techniques for different contexts. For example, there are times when I’m more stressed than others. Times when I have more work than others. Times when I feel productive, and times when I need to kick myself down the two floors from the flat to the coworking space to get to work. Even my recent musings on freeform versus structured work go in that direction.

But in fact, I was right. Just like it’s important to vary “happiness activities/techniques” to prevent habituation (or worse, boredom), I think it’s important to vary one’s organization methods. Or at least, for me, it is. And it could well be because there is a “happiness” component for me in the act of getting organized. I like the feeling of being on top of things, of finding solutions to be productive despite my built-in procrastination engine, of learning how I function, of coming up with strategies to prioritize and get things done. And maybe — maybe — for me, trying to find one method that I can just stick to is a big mistake.

Another area I’ve recently connected “variety is the space of life” to is blogging. I’ve been hanging out with the communication team at Wildlife SOS these last days, volunteering a bit of my time and expertise to help them make better use of social media.

As I was inviting them to vary the type of article they publish on their blog (at the moment, almost all the stories are animal rescue stories), I realized that this was another example of this theme at work: “variety is the spice… of reader engagement?”

Even if as a reader, animal rescue stories are my favourites, I will actually enjoy them more if they stand out against other types of articles. And for another reader, the favourites might very well be “behind the scenes” articles or “get to know the team” ones.

By publishing only one type of “top post”, one turns it into the “average post”. Add a sprinkle of intermittent reward to the mix, and you’ll probably positively influence the way readers perceive your content. Isn’t it more exciting to head over to a blog which might or might not reward you with a new article, which might or might not be the type that moves you most?

Now think about relationships: don’t we say that routine is the biggest love-killer? Oh, some habits are nice — but you also want new stuff, changes from the habitual, different way of being together and relating to one another. Surprises. The unexpected. This is nothing new.

So, let me summarize. Variety is the spice of life. Not only should you flee excessive routine in your marriage or relationship, but also in the following areas:

  • activities that make you happy
  • how you get organized (work, and probably life too)
  • the kind of content you publish on your blog

Can you think of other areas where it’s a little counter-intuitive, but it actually turns out to be really important to add variety to the way you do things?

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Content: Paid vs. Free [en]

Content: Paid vs. Free [en]

[fr] Quelques réflexions sur le fait que produire du contenu n'est pas gratuit. En général, celui-ci est subventionné soit par des pubs, soit l'accès est payant, soit il fait office de "budget marketing", ou alors les canaux de distribution sont payants.

Zeldman just wrote that content wants to be paid for, sending us to read Erin Kissane’s Content is Expensive (followed by Paying for it, which examines the four ways in which content can generate revenue).

Although I’ve been writing online for free for over 10 years now, I agree with the premise that content — especially good content — is expensive to produce.

I have a few thoughts around that.

If I can do something, and people have a need for that particular skill (or what I produce), it does not mean that (a) they are ready to pay for it or (b) if they’re ready to pay for it, that they will be willing to pay enough for it to be worth my time/skill/effort/expertise.

For example, I can write blog posts. I’m not too bad at it (I’m not the best, but I’m better than most people). Some of my clients need content on their blogs. I can do it for them. BUT there is a problem: often, the money they are willing to invest for that content, and the value it has for them, sets the price way too low for it to be worth my while. If we actually do go through and reach an agreement, chances are that I’ll feel underpaid and they’ll feel they’re wasting money.

One of my blogging friends is currently in this situation with a client — and maybe in some cases (like ours) part of the problem is the client not realizing exactly how valuable this content can be to them. But the fact remains that it’s not because somebody is ready to hire you to do something that it is a viable commercial endeavour. Another example of this situation is home arts and crafts — Suw and I had a discussion about this a couple of years back on Fresh Lime Soda (remember the times?) for home-made lace she was making: people would simply not be willing to pay a high enough price for it to cover materials and work.

This is also true in the sense that if people want something for free and enjoy it, it doesn’t mean they’ll be willing to pay for it. In that respect, I think that people like Philippe Barraud and Thierry Crouzet aren’t being very realistic if they expect to make their blogs paid content in the future. The fact that people read their blogs (and enjoy them) for free is not an indication that they would be ready to pay for it. That would be misunderstanding the power of free.

Erin talks about the subscription model in her second post:

Subscriptions didn’t keep most print publications profitable even when print was doing well—classified and display ads did. Legal databases, academic databases, super-specialized content . . . that’s something a lot of people or institutions will pay for. News? Bloggy or magazine-style content? Not so much.

That’s the conventional wisdom, which seems to be validated by disasters like Newsday’s acquisition of 35 whole subscribers in its first three months of operating behind a paywall. Jack Shafer provides a nice summary of paid content woes in Slate:, listing the NYT’s TimesSelect, the LA Times’s CalendarLive, and Slate itself as publications that tried and failed to make subscriptions work.

[…]

So what’s the upshot? People will pay for content that is difficult or impossible to get elsewhere, either because:

  1. the information itself is unique, as with Consumer Reports, Cooks Illustrated, and the Gaming Industry Weekly Report, or
  2. the information is surrounded by obviously and uniquely valuable analysis and context, as with the financial newspapers.

The first is an easy sell; the second is a bitch and a half.

If your content meets either of the above criteria, you’ll also be attractive to advertisers. Funny, that.

Philippe and Thierry are both “writing professionals” before being bloggers — in my opinion, paywalling content (just like slapping ads on pages) is pretty much an “old media” way of doing things.

Now, does it mean that I believe we writers should not be compensated for our work? Not more than my stand on filesharing means I believe that musicians and other artists should not be compensated for theirs. Let’s go back to Erin’s article Content is Expensive and look at the two remaining “monetization” solutions for content (aside from paywalling and advertising). This is where things become interesting:

  • Marketing. A lot of “free” content is subsidized by its function as a marketing tool for the content producers or the people who pay them. Many, many blogs work this way. A List Apart now runs small ads, but long before it did, it worked as a marketing channel, establishing the expertise and credibility of its publishers and writers. Most non-fiction books are also subsidized by their value as marketing tools: they don’t pay well enough to be worth the effort for royalties alone. Most commercial content strategy work deals with this kind of content.

“Marketing” or some kind of self-promotion is the obvious. For more years than I care to count now, I have been answering the tired “so, how do you make money with your blog?” question with “I don’t. I make money because of my blog.” The time I invest in writing on my blog is my marketing budget.

And that doesn’t mean there is no love, or passion, and that this writing is narrow-mindedly self-promotional. I was a blogger before I became a social media professional, and will most probably continue being a blogger if I change my line of work. I am a thinker, and a sharer, and by genuinely providing content because I love writing and I hope I can be useful to others, I happen to also be promoting my business (business which, incidentally, grew out of this blog — and not the contrary).

This is a tough message to pass on to a client: “The money you’re paying me to write is actually marketing money. The content I provide will add value to your website for years to come, and help build your reputation and credibility. How much is that worth?” It’s not just words on a screen, disposable stuffing like so much of what is unfortunately filling our newspapers today. Scanned today, gone tomorrow. Great writing, online, has no expiry date.

Back to Erin:

  • Paid Delivery Channels (The New Hotness). The paid iPhone app is a way of getting people to cough up money for content that they normally wouldn’t dream of paying for so they can receive it in a convenient way. Kinda like how we used to pay for newspaper delivery instead of going to the library to read the paper for free. (Spoiler: there is nothing new under the publishing sun.) We’re going to see a lot more of this in the nearish future as publishers realize that the race to free has resulted in a pileup of bleeding, sad people with no income.

This, honestly, is something I find exciting. As a customer, I will definitely pay for convenience. I may not be inclined for the right to own a file which happens to be a song or an ebook (the slippery terrain of IP — my jury is still out on that one, to be honest) but I will without hesitation buy a song on iTunes, because it’s easy to look up, easy to pay for, unexpensive enough, lands directly on my iPhone and computer, is guaranteed good technical quality, and it comes with cover art. I’ll pay for an iPhone app if it makes it easier for me to access content that is precious for me. I’ll pay for a concert if it allows me to watch a song performed live 🙂 (I’m not sure that’s still in the “delivery channels” department, though…)

Ah well, this was supposed to be a short blog post with just a few links. Now look at me. No wonder I get blogging-anxiety when I haven’t written in a while.

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Content Curation: Why I'm Not Your Target Audience [en]

Content Curation: Why I'm Not Your Target Audience [en]

[fr] Je suis trop efficace avec un moteur de recherche pour être très emballée par les divers outils qui visent à organiser la masse de contenu à disposition sur le web, en temps réel ou non.

In Paris, I had a sudden flash of insight (during a conversation with somebody, as often). Most services designed to help with content curation don’t immediately appeal to me because I’m not their target audience: I’m too good at using search.

I was trying to figure out why, although I liked the idea behind PearlTrees and SmallRivers (I tried them out both briefly), part of me kept thinking they weren’t really adding anything that we couldn’t already do. Well, maybe not that exactly, but I couldn’t really see the point. For example: “PearlTrees, it’s just bookmarking with pretty visual and social stuff, right?” or “SmallRivers, we already have hyperlinks, don’t we?” — I know this is unfair to both services, and they go beyond that, but somehow, for me, it just didn’t seem worth the effort.

And that’s the key bit: not worth the effort. When I need to find something I’ve seen before, I search for it. I understand how a search engine works (well, way more than your average user, let’s say) and am pretty good at using it. I gave up using bookmarks years ago (today, I barely use delicious anymore — just look at my posting frequency there). I stick things in Evernote and Tumblr because I can search for them easily afterwards. I don’t file my e-mail, or even tag it very well in gmail — I just search when I need a mail. I don’t organize files much on my hard drive either, save for some big drawers like “client xyz”, business, personal, admin — and those are horribly messy.

I search for stuff. And to be honest, now that I’ve discovered Google Web History, I’m not sure what else I could ever ask for. It embodies an old old fantasy of mine: being able to restrict a fulltext search to pages I’ve visited in a certain timeframe. “Damn, where did I put this?” becomes a non-issue when you can use Google search over a subset of the web which contains all the pages you’ve ever loaded up in your browser. (Yeah, privacy issues, certainly.)

What about the social dimension of these curation tools? Well, I’m a blogger. I blog. When I want to share, I put stuff in my blog, or Tumblr. I’m actually starting to like PearlTrees for that, because it is a nice way of collecting and ordering links — but really, I’m not the kind of person who has a lot of patience for that kind of activity. Some people spend time keeping their bookmarks, e-mails, or files in order. I don’t — there are way too many more interesting things for me to spend my time on. So I keep things in a mess, and when I need something out of them, I search.

I think I’m just not a content curator, aside from my low-energy activities like tweeting, tumblring, and blogging.

It doesn’t mean there is no need for content curation, of the live stream or more perennial content like “proper” web pages. But just like some people are bloggers and some aren’t, I think some people are curators and some aren’t.

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Content Curation: Pearltrees, SmallRivers [en]

Content Curation: Pearltrees, SmallRivers [en]

[fr] Tentative d'utilisation de Pearltrees et SmallRivers. Ça semble intéressant mais pour le moment j'ai l'impression que soit quelque chose m'échappe, soit qu'ils sont en train de réinventer la roue.

If you’re at LeWeb’09, you’ve heard of Pearltrees. They’re offering an interface/platform to help people curate web content by collecting it (bookmarking it?) in the shape of “pearls”. SmallRivers are a Lausanne startup which are also in the content curating business, by allowing people to network pages together by inserting some code in the page.

I’m trying both, unfortunately with not exactly enough energy and time to do it properly. But I already have a few comments.

In a way, this kind of content curation is already possible. Blogs, wikis, and even stupid old webpages with hypertext (hypertext!) allow this. So, is the revolution simply in the interface? In some element of social auto-discovery? Part of me is excited by new services in this space, but I’m also pretty skeptical. Is this just reinventing the wheel in a pretty wrapping?

The question I always want to ask is the following: what exactly does this new shiny service do that I cannot already do (or almost do) with my existing tools, and which will justify the overhead of investing in a new space or service?

For the moment, I am “not getting” either Pearltrees or SmallRivers, but as I said, I have just given them an initial “does it click?” look. I have my pearltree account (not much in it yet) in which I’ll try to place interesting posts about the conference when I have a moment. I also tried to create a “LeWeb’09” network with SmallRivers but think I messed up a little. If you go to my initial post on the LeWeb’09, you’ll see a little widget at the bottom which opens up a sidebar to which you can connect other posts about LeWeb’09. Give it a try and we’ll see if we can build something. (Basically: click on widget, click the connect button in the sidebar, copy the javascript code and paste it into your post.)

I’ve been thinking a lot about content curation during this conference — it’s a topic that the “real-time web” really brings to the forefront. Expect more posts on the topic.

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Stuck Reorganizing my Professional Web Presence [en]

Stuck Reorganizing my Professional Web Presence [en]

[fr] Où Stephanie se prend la tête avec le contenu de son site professionnel et se demande comment elle va bien pouvoir faire.

I’m itching to try WPML and clean up stephanie-booth.com, my professional site. It’s a mess. Worse than that, it’s an out-of-date mess.

Each time I start thinking about how to reorganize it, my head starts hurting. What belongs here on CTTS, and what belongs there? How do I present what I do to potential clients, when I’m not even sure what to call myself? I do I deal with the fact that I’m talking to very different clients (schools, individuals, freelancers, small and bigger businesses, conference organizers…)?

How do I keep it simple when I do so many things?

Should I change radically and do SB.com blog-like? In that case, does it make sense to keep it separate from CTTS?

Here is a feeble attempt to try and think this headache out loud. Help is very very welcome, as long as it’s not along the lines of “stop doing so many things and pick one”.

So, first there is the “about me” stuff. Bios, CVs, about stuff. Here’s what I have:

A contact page (this is not too much of a headache):

Stuff I’ve done:

Stuff I do: the big headache. Maybe I should use three entry points:

  • delivery mode (training, speaking, consulting, doing)
  • theme (teenagers and social media, social media as communication and marketing, improving one’s online presence, blogging, events, freelancing, coworking)
  • audience (individuals, businesses, schools, non-profits, freelancers, events)

I’m not sure how useful this is… Also, my francophone audience and my anglophone audience have different interests, so my content does not overlap perfectly in both languages (not a problem, but it probably means I have to think the FR and EN sites separately).

There is also content on SB.com which I think does not belong there. It’s more CTTS-like, and might have been good at the time, but it’s a bit dated. I might retro-publish it in the blog so it doesn’t just disappear. And there is content on CTTS which is a little “business-oriented”

Right, so, how can I make sense of all this? Although with most of my clients I feel like a site architecture and content wizard, I’m aware that I’m really not that good at it (particularly with my own content, unsurprisingly).

So, help welcome. Thanks in advance.

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About Visibility [en]

About Visibility [en]

[fr] Vous connaissez certainement des personnes qui excellent dans l'art de se mettre en avant ou de promouvoir ce qu'elle font. S'il est bon de savoir le faire, une réputation qui repose principalement sur des compétences marketing/vente plutôt que sur ce que l'on produit réellement, ça ne force pas tellement le respect. S'il n'y a aucun mal à utiliser de temps en temps des "tactiques marketing" pour se mettre en avant, et faciliter de façon générale la diffusion de ce que l'on fait/écrit, gare à l'excès. Si l'on se cantonne à "jouer avec le système", on n'est au final qu'une coquille vide avec une grande gueule.

Here’s another post I wrote offline while waiting at the cinema. I was going to post it tomorrow but I just bumped into this blog post by Seth Godin which is on a very similar topic (and way better than mine). So… I’m posting it now, and will go to bed a bit later!

Quite a few months ago I came upon a blog post explaining how to become a successful blogger. How to become “known” amongst the blogging crowd. It had some good advice, but it bothered me. And it’s only a few weeks ago that I understood why.

I’ve tried to dig out this post again, but (ironically?) I can’t make it surface. It was of the “x ways to …” type, “here’s how I did it”, “you can do it too” type.

See, as in the real, offline world, there are two things: the product, and marketing it. Of course, they aren’t really that separate, but please bear with the simplification for the sake of the argument. For a blogger, it comes down to what you actually blog about/do, and how you promote yourself/what you do.

As somebody who’s pretty bad at self-promotion overall (not hopeless, but not a natural by far), I’m pretty sensitive to those who are better at it than me, in a sometimes “jealous” kind of way. I hate to say it, but I sometimes resent it. Some people come across as “noisy empty shells” — good at marketing themselves and putting themselves forward, but not much behind when you start to dig a bit.

Now, some lucky (and talented) people both have something to say, and have got the “self-promotion” bit figured out. And I have no problem with that.

Back to the blog post I was mentioning: what made me uneasy was that I used some of the techniques described there myself. Was I dirty?

And now, I figured it out. There’s nothing wrong with using “tried and tested” techniques to drive traffic to your blog, get people to link to your entries or comment on them, or basically, to put your stuff out there.

However, if that’s all your online reputation is built on, you’re just an empty shell with a loud mouth. If you’re “being good at promoting yourself” and use it to give yourself a boost every now and again, I don’t have a problem with that.

Here’s what it comes down to, because, in the end, this is about my opinion on something and the advice I’d give to those who are interested in it. I’ll respect you more if your reputation is built on your content and actual doings than if it’s built on you making use of every possible technique to maximise visibility of what you do.

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WordCamp 2007: Lorelle VanFossen, Kicking Ass Content Connections [en]

WordCamp 2007: Lorelle VanFossen, Kicking Ass Content Connections [en]

[fr] Lorelle VanFossen explique comment avoir du bon contenu.

*These are my notes of [Lorelle’s talk](http://2007.wordcamp.org/schedule/content-connections/), as accurate as possible, but I’m only human. There might be mistakes. Feel free to add links to other write-ups, or correct mistakes, in the comments.*

[Lorelle](http://lorelle.wordpress.com/): if you want to make money, invest in transportation. We order stuff on the internet and want it *now*. We should have all got a copy of her book today, but transportation has broken down (UPS) and they aren’t here!

WordCamp 2007 Lorelle Van Fossen

Problems with blogs: so many blogposts look like they were written in 10 minutes by people who

– can’t type
– can’t think
– make you think they were released for the day by an institution.

If you want someone’s attention, you need to show them something they’ve never seen before, or in a way they’ve never seen it before.

Look for the missing subjects. Find the missing pieces. Not everything has been said, and even if it has been said, it can be said better: cleaner, more efficient, or in a new perspective.

Do we really need another “how to install WordPress” article? Before you start writing, do a search. If there are many copies, point to the good ones, find a new angle, don’t regurgitate.

Write about what’s missing. There is always another way, always a better way. We’re trained in school to not ask why. As bloggers, we’re asking why. Ask the whys.

1994: website about travels and stuff… a kind of blog before a blog.

Be an editor for your blog. When is the last time you generated a really good sitemap, looked at what you wrote, what you think you covered and you didn’t? *steph-note: I need to do more of that. More editing. But so much screams to be written!*

Unless you blog the news, read your feeds at night, sleep on them, think about it. You don’t have to be first out the gate, because other people are first out the gate, no matter how hard you try.

When you jump right in, you’re in a panic to get the stuff out there, you’re just processing and not thinking. And people who read it are the “panicked to get the information” ones. Wait, and you can be the sane voice a few days afterwards. The perception of your audience will also change. (Reader psychology.) The calmer the reader, the wiser they think you are.

2006: tagging; 2007: relationships

What’s the difference between a website and a blog? Comments, conversation, relationships.

[Liz Strauss](http://successful-blog.com/): gives out Successful Blog Awards. She’s started a series on blog strategy building. When you write your blog, you blog for one person: you. *steph-note: totally agreed.*

A successful blog is a blog you arrive on looking for information, and it gives you a feeling of “home” — safe, has the info I want, looks like me. (We like comments which say “You’re right! I agree with you!”) First impression to go for: this is the place that has answers I need, it’s familiar and safe. Blog for you and to you. *steph-note: gosh, I really need to work on CTTS*

How do we know when a blogger is faking it (audience):

– factual information that’s wrong, when we know better
– too many ads and affiliate links
– excerpts and no added value — blog-quoting
– people that just re-post their twitters

Dead Sea Scrolls: scraps containing journal entries or info about people’s everyday lives.

Our blogs are note on our boring everyday lives for the future, at the least. Write for the future.

Playstation fake blog: top search results are about the fake blog, not about the playstation itself.

I don’t get any comments! Tips:

– too many people are still writing for their eighth-grade teacher. Complete sentences, complete thoughts, complete ideas — complete essays. Doesn’t leave any space for response. Don’t finish the idea. Leave things out on purpose.

Don’t respond to every comment, but make your readers think that you do. Blog your passion, your ideas, show that you care, say thank you (don’t fake it, though). Avoid “Now, what do you think?”. Doesn’t work.

Be with your readers like an old married couple — let them finish your sentences. Blog about what other people are blogging about. Blog about their conversations, and add stuff. Don’t challenge people to blog about something. Be linky. Comment on other blogs, but intelligently. Make people want to see your blog! We all do it. It’s our job to help our fellow bloggers continue the conversation. Comment in a way which will help the conversation go further. *steph-note: un poil didactique, là.*

*steph-note: Lorelle giving a shout-out to a bunch of people from the WP community who are in the room.*

Help each other, share connections, blog about each other, comment on your friends’ blogs…

Lorelle has been under WordPress since pre-1.2.

“I lived in Israel 5 years. I know about terrorism, so I know how to handle comments on my blog!”

Lorelle doesn’t care about stats. They’re not important for what she does. She’s been doing this too long, doesn’t care anymore.

Write timeless stuff. One of her posts from two years ago was dugg over Thanksgiving.

Q: fictional blogs. Good or bad, when it’s not clear? Blogotainment.

A: if people know, it makes a difference. disclosure.

Q: could too many guidelines/rules turn us into the traditional media?

A: has a lot of rules for her blog (ie, doesn’t blog about politics, personal life, dad dying, being sick…) — she has very focused blogs.

Q: Fighting comment spam?

A: Akismet, Spam Karma, Bad Behavior.

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Mystery WordPress/Markdown Problem: Troubleshooting [en]

Mystery WordPress/Markdown Problem: Troubleshooting [en]

[fr] Description d'un vilain problème WordPress avec PHP Markdown Extra. Certains billets refusaient de s'afficher et faisaient tout simplement planter la suite du chargement de la page (donc, pages archives incomplètes, billets disparus). J'ai résolu (plus ou moins) le problème en remplçant PHP Markdown Extra par Markdown tout court, mais je n'ai toujours pas compris le fond du problème. Ce billet donne quelques détails sur les symptômes et mes déductions.

If you’re a WordPress person and you feel like a bit of juicy troubleshooting, this one is for you. I’ve narrowed down part of the problem, but have failed to identify clearly the cause of the problem. I’ve found a workaround by replacing a plugin by another similar one, however. I’ve [made screenshots](http://flickr.com/photos/bunny/tags/vmdisplayproblem) so that even once this problem is fixed (hopefully very quickly) you can make sense of this post.

**Symptoms:**

Some posts on the [VibrationsMusic](http://vibrationsmusic.com) website fail to display their content, or display incompletely. When this happens, the page stops loading altogether, resulting in a truncated page. (So we have vanishing posts and [incomplete aborted archive pages](http://flickr.com/photos/bunny/478123395/) where they should appear.) No error messages in source, HTML code just stops.

**Narrowing it down:**

Removing post content makes the post display OK, so I figured it had something to do with the content. Removing the [PHP Markdown Extra plugin](http://www.michelf.com/projects/php-markdown/extra/) removed the problem, to. So it has something to do with a combination of certain things in the content and the PHP Markdown Extra plugin. (Removing other plugins didn’t change a thing, so I deduce from that it isn’t a plugin interaction issue.)

Using the “cut-half-out” technique I tried to narrow down the problem to a certain type of post content. At first, it seemed to be caused by either (a) HTML links in Markdown lists or (b) embedded YouTube players (<object>). However, some posts with either (a) or (b) were displaying correctly. In one faulty post, replacing the embedded YouTube video with another removed the problem.

However, it seems more subtle than that. In some cases, removing the *other* half of the post also removes the problem. => post length? Not really either. In a quite weird case, one post [stops displaying right at the end of the content](http://flickr.com/photos/bunny/478123369/) (Technorati tags and closing divs don’t appear) and if changes are made to the **next** post (like removing its content) [then the **first** post displays correctly](http://flickr.com/photos/bunny/478123489/) (and the second one too).

This seems (to me) to point to some problem in the query-array-manipulation area (but I don’t know how things work well enough in that department to make a more precise hypothesis).

**Workaround:**

I replaced the PHP Markdown Extra plugin with the [“normal” Markdown plugin](http://www.michelf.com/projects/php-markdown/), and everything displays fine.

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Podcasting and Beercasting Thoughts [en]

Podcasting and Beercasting Thoughts [en]

[fr] Quelques réflexions sur le contenu audio (podcasting) dans les blogs, en particulier sur le fait qu'on ne peut pas "écouter en diagonale" et que cela impose donc une exigence de qualité plus grande pour le contenu audio que le contenu textuel. Première tentative d'enregistrement de conversation (beercasting au jus de pomme) lors de la rencontre de bloguers à  Bâle, samedi passé.

During the Basel Blogmeet, somebody mentioned podcasting.

I’ve got my thoughts and theories on audioblogging (of which podcasting is one form). I think it’s great to hear people talking. I’ve got some audio content on my site (whether provided by me, or by third parties) and if I wasn’t in want for a mike and sound editing skills, I’d be providing more. However, audio blogging will never kill text blogging (if anybody out there was having such a preposterous thought).

The great disadvantage of audio content is that you cannot skim it. You can fast-forward, of course, and jump sections, but you can’t go quickly through the content and resume a normal speed if something catches your ear, as you do with written content. Audio is a “fixed speed” medium (ok, you can accelerate it slightly, but it becomes unintelligible quickly). It takes longer to listen to something than to read it.

The big advantage of audio, however, is that it doesn’t use your eyes. Audiobooks haven’t taken over the market share of normal books, but one might find it nice to listen to an audiobook in the car (where one cannot read whilst driving). If you’re sight-impaired, of course, the issue takes a different colour, if I may say.

Transcripts and indexes of audio content are precious… but what a huge amount of work!

This means, in my opinion, that your audio content must be good from start to finish, if you want to keep people hooked.

If I start reading a blog post and it doesn’t catch my attention after a few lines, I’ll skip to the next paragraph, skim a bit, and maybe decide that it is worth reading after all. If I’m listening to audio content and it gets boring, I might fast-forward a bit, but I’ll land blind. The index will help me sort through the topics that may interest me, but it won’t help me deal with intermittence or absence of quality. If I listen to your podcast and it’s lousy, am I going to keep listening in hope that it gets better? Will I try again if I’ve listened to 30 minutes of it and it wasn’t worth it? I think that if you want a podcast to be successful, you have to be much more strict on quality than with written material.

Anyway, back to beercasting. When Suw and I met in London last summer, we talked about audioblogging (one word or two?), and agreed on the fact that one of the departments in which audio could shine was in reproducing conversations. We had a half-hearted plan to call each other and record the conversation, but we never did it, of course. We’ve got a more serious plan now to do it on Skype (less technical difficulties). Have you realised how talking with somebody helps shapes ideas and thoughts, and express them clearly? There is something about being more than one that cannot be duplicated when one is alone. It introduces a dynamic.

Well, that’s what beercasting is about. Get together, have a conversation, and stick it on the web. So when we started talking about podcasting on Saturday evening, I suddenly remembered beercasting, and must have said something about it, because Ben whipped out his phone, switched on the recording function, and set it on the table. He had been provoked by my statement that podcasting (and beercasting) was done with an iPod 🙂

Well, a few audio files are now online one Ben’s site. If you’re interested in loud static and café background noise, and in hearing me yelling my head off to try to communicate with my fellow bloggers (with bonus German content), I recommend you start with Recording2. It’s bad, remember. Don’t say you weren’t warned. We’ll do better next time!

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