Webometric Thoughts

May 30, 2009

Mixed Messages: Please comment on my blog!

Filed under: Twitter,blogging — admin @ 4:50 pm

Something I find increasingly annoying is the tendency to have discussions across different media. Most noticeable in people responding to everything with twitter comments. If I post a blog post people comment on twitter. If I set up a wiki people comment on twitter. As such, discussions are scattered all over the web. However useful and interesting these comments are, they are invisible to most people.

Last week Jon Bounds asked whether the solution was technical or social:
To which my answer is ‘social’.

Although technical solutions have worked in the past for distributed conversations, e.g., trackbacks, when the conversation is distributed across different media there is a greater chance of inappropriate comments being tracked automatically as people use the different media differently. There is more chance that a blog post linking to a post is making a useful relevant contribution than a Twitter comment responding to a blog post.

A specific example: two comments from a Finnish colleague regarding my previous blog post:
One comment represents the ephemeral conversational nature of Twitter, whilst the other is more akin to the sort of comment that could be considered a contribution to the blog post. Whilst a technical solution may have been able to identify both comments, it couldn’t determine which was a contribution.

There is also an ethical dimension to take into consideration. When someone comments on your blog they are consenting to the contributions being seen on the site. When someone chats with you on Twitter, they don’t necessarily expect it to be permanently visible somewhere else.

Unfortunately, I fear the actual solution will have to be technical. This blog post will do little to hold back the tide of Twitter’s real-time conversation at the expense of useful long-term contributions. But maybe for this one post people will comment on here rather than on Twitter.

January 25, 2009

How many tech-bloggers in Premier League clubs?

Filed under: Norwich City,Wolverhampton Wanderers,blogging — admin @ 11:11 am

It has been over a week since my last blog post, the reason being I don’t seem to have stopped for a moment. I’ve had to work on conference papers, maths coursework, attend a webometrics workshop, cross the country to meet with some bibliometricians, and on top of everything move office! More specifically move to Wolverhampton’s Molineux Stadium, where the university has some office space in the side of one of the stands. With Wolverhampton currently top of the Championship, promotion to the Premier League next season is a definite possibility, which would probably make me one of the only non-sports bloggers blogging from a Premier League club.

One downside of the move is that there will be far less chance to catch up on work on a Tuesday evening; I doubt very much whether 20,000 Wolverhampton fans will welcome my wandering onto the pitch and requesting they keep the noise down as I have a webometrics paper to write. Personally, I think the least they could do is offer me a seat in the director’s box when Norwich City come to town on the February 3rd.

January 3, 2009

How to become a top tech blogger (in the UK)

Filed under: blogging,blogosphere — admin @ 12:47 pm

Each month Wikio publishes a list of the most influential technology blogs in the UK blogosphere. As my own blog is likely to be a contender for the least influential tech blog in the UK I decided to take time to visit each of the top 30 most influential technology blogs in the UK and draw together a few rules for becoming a top tech blogger.

What should you call your blog?
Anything you like. Whilst there are obvious benefits from the “it does exactly what it says on the tin” approach to blog naming (e.g., Phones Review), qwghlm.co.uk’s success clearly shows that your blog name doesn’t even need to be pronounceable to be popular. If you can’t think of anything, don’t want to pigeon-hole your blog in the longterm, or just want to see your name up in lights, you can always join the 17% of the top 30 who have chosen to name their blogs after themselves.

What makes a good blog post?
Anything goes, from long wordy pieces (e.g., qwghlm.co.uk) to shorter bite-sized pieces (e.g., Gadgettastic). With billions of internet users out there, there will be millions who prefer each of the different styles, so feel free to blog in the format most appropriate to you.

Should a blog stay on topic?
It makes no difference. Whilst I often worry that my own eclectic mix of blog posts will put people off subscribing to my blog, it seems as though my lack of subscribers is more to do with the quality of the posts than what I am posting about. The most influential technology bloggers have few qualms about posting about anything that crosses their minds: football, politics, music (or is that music as an excuse to post about scantily dressed women?). Unsurprisingly collaborative bloggers are more likely to stay on topic than personal blogs.

How regularly should you blog?
Several times a day, extremely rarely, or somewhere in-between. At one end of the scale you have the collaborative blogs which are more akin to traditional media with numerous writers publishing many stories each day (e.g., TechCrunch UK), whilst other blogs average only one or two posts a month (e.g., Simon Willson). Xlab shows that you can even stop blogging and continue to be listed as one of the top UK bloggers.

Can you make it on your own?
The spirit of the blog as an alternative to big media is alive and well with many of the wikio’s most influential bloggers being individuals, however there is no harm in being part of the traditional media scene: dot.life (The BBC’s technology blog); The Red Ferret Journal (columnist and feature writer for the Sunday Times); The Guardian Technology Blog (surely no explanation required).

So, in summary:
1. Call your blog something.
2. Post in some format.
3. …at some point.
4. …about something.
5. Buddying-up with a national media organisation won’t do you any harm.

Some would say that an examination of the most influential tech blogs shows that there is no hard and fast rules for becoming a top tech blogger, just write about what you want in your own style, and if people visit they visit. However, I think by following my consise summary readers will have no excuses for not becoming one of the most influential tech bloggers by this time next year…all I need to do is buddy-up with a national media organisation for the complete set.

December 7, 2008

When is the blogging fantasy over?

Filed under: blogging,fantasy of participation,public intellectual — admin @ 10:54 am

The fantasy of participation” (Jodi Dean, 2008) refers to the mistaken belief that by publishing our opinions online we are in some way contributing to a public discussion on a particular topic. Without a doubt some people’s online activities do have an impact beyond a small group of family and friends, but the majority don’t. Last Wednesday my opinion was used in a BBC article about the electronic archives (“Is the future in bits?“), I was asked for my opinion because of a blog post I had written a year earlier. Does this mean my fantasy is finally over?

Admittedly one BBC comment is not a great return on investment for 343 blog posts, although they have also linked to my blog once or twice, but if we do not take mainstream media acknowledgements as an indicator that we are making a contribution to public discussion what other indicators are there? Whilst traffic, number of links, and number of comments, could all be used, they don’t necessarily show participation in public discussion. Traffic, links, and comments can all be the result of a highly insular group which few outsiders bother with (except possibly as a curiousity).

Recognition by the mainstream media is still the best indicator that we are contributing to public discussion, but I think I will wait for a few more acknowledgements before I add the title ‘public intellectual’ to my c.v.

September 5, 2008

To Comment or To Post?

Filed under: Joost,aide-memoire,blogging,commenting — admin @ 5:39 pm

Sometimes you read a blog post and you feel compelled to make a response, either by leaving a quick comment on their site or blogging on the subject yourself. Whilst we make such decisions on the spur-of-the-moment, it is important to choose carefully. A blog is not only a means of publishing your thoughts to the world, it is also an aide-mémoire, and if you only comment on a subject your thoughts may become lost. I have just spent/wasted 30 minutes trying to track down some thoughts I had almost a year ago.

Om Malik had just posted on Joost killing their desktop client, a sensible move that I remembered writing something about a long time ago. Unfortunately searching through my blog posts only revealed a reference to a plugin by Joost be Valk. Had I started to imagine a virtual past? Was I one step away from claiming to work at CERN in the 1980s? Luckily I eventually tracked my thoughts down to a rather rubbish comment on TechCrunch last October.

Yes, in this case, it did turn out that the thoughts weren’t really worth remembering, but it would have plagued me for years if I hadn’t managed to find them. I will comment more carefully in the future

May 19, 2008

Blogging Excuses

Filed under: Bloglines,Newsgator,blogging — admin @ 3:28 pm

I always seem to have some excuse for not blogging at the moment, although since I posted a blog post last Wednesday I have collected a host of excuses:
-Thursday/Friday – My home internet connection was down. This is a bit of a rubbish excuse really as I could still access the web via my mobile and Eee PC. However it is a lot easier to blog on the big screen, especially when you have numerous windows open.
-Saturday/Sunday – So much to do on the allotment, with rows and rows of tomatoes now planted out. If you think I update this blog rarely you should see Plot 13!
-Monday morning – Newsgator seems to have been down. This is the first time I have had a problem with Newsgator since transfering from Bloglines back in January. So, whilst it was annoying for a few hours, it was actually a nice reminder of how good a service Newsgator is in comparison to Bloglines who seemed to have a picture of their ‘plumber’ up every other day.

Anyway, now is the time for catching up, including the results of Week 3 of the Wii Fit Diary.

May 7, 2008

Things I should have blogged about…

Filed under: blogging — admin @ 10:52 am

It is now five days since my last blog, for which I have no excuse. There have been stories that have caught my attention and about which I would usually have blogged:
Wikipedia gets published – should writers get paid?
Yahoo shares tumble after Microsoft pulls bid
Microsoft introduces Popfly for games
..but somehow I have failed to start tapping away at my keyboard. As blogging is 90% habit, a brief blog about things I should have blogged about is an easy way of getting me back into the habit.

May 2, 2008

Blogging in the Future…or even when you’re dead

Filed under: blogging — admin @ 1:16 pm

Whilst logging into Blogger today I noticed a new service they are offering: the ability to blog in the future. Write a blog to day, and then tell Blogger when you want it published. Whilst this offers the potential to publish blog when you are away from the computer, or even when you’re dead, personally I prefer to see a post posted and dated when it is written. Obviously people have always been able choose the date to put on a published works, but to add a feature that helps in this deception seems wrong.

Time on the web has always been a difficult concept to pin down, and has just become more difficult.

April 18, 2008

Time for Blogging

Filed under: blogging — admin @ 8:29 am

For the last week I have pretty much pushed the internet to one side as I prepared for my viva. Whilst I kept up with most of my emails, the blog feeds were forgotten and the news sites were left unread. Whilst there is not a lot you can do in preparation for a viva, you feel as though you should be doing something and you know that it’s not surfing the web (even for the defence of a webometrics thesis). There has been a lot of talk recently about blogger stress in the 24/7 world of the internet, and whilst not blogging doesn’t keep me awake at night, I must admit that I approach tackling a week’s worth of news stories with some trepidation. Should I just ignore the last week? Or should I work through the backlog of feeds and cover those stories that are of interest to me?

The answer lies very much in the purpose of the blog. Is it news, opinion, or an aide memoire? Mine is primarily opinion and an aide memoire, and whilst the news value may suffer as the stories are now days old, the other facets continue to be important….so here comes a day of lots of blog posts.

January 28, 2008

Facebookers Back Barack

Filed under: Clinton,Obama,blogging,facebook,social web — admin @ 2:39 pm

After spending the morning reading a few articles about blogging in the 2004 US election (does life get any more interesting??) I decided to have a look how Facebook reflected the race for the Democrat presidential nomination.

Basically, if democracy reflected the votes of the idealistic youth, rather than the self-interested cynical old conservatives, then Obama would be walking into the Whitehouse (no-one idealistic votes Republican). A comparison of Obama and Clinton’s top groups can’t help but make anyone who dislikes Hilary smile:
Obama
1. Barack Obama for President in 2008
2. Students for Barack Obama
3. America for Barack Obama
4. Barack Obama for President
5. 1 Million strong, against Hilary and Obama
(nb. maybe it is the annoyingly superfluous comma that is currently restricting the 1 million strong to 5,493).

Clinton
1. Anti Hilary Clinton 2008
2. ABC= Anyone But Clinton
3. as much as i love the U.S…i’m gone if Hilary Clinton becomes president
4. I’d vote for a trained chimpanzee before Hilary Clinton
5. Hilary Clinton Shouldn’t Run For President She Should Run The Dishes

I’m sure that analysis of the comments in the groups would be even more of an eye-opener…although many of the comments about Clinton are probably not suitable for repeating in a polite blog.

In 2004 blogging was the also ran of the presidential campaign. Yes, it was an important element, but not quite the deciding factor that was hoped for. The question is whether social network sites will be the also ran, or the decisive mover. If Hilary enters the Whitehouse, it is definately an also ran.

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