Webometric Thoughts

February 29, 2008

Drudge: An example of what is wrong with some New Media

Filed under: Drudge Report,Prince Harry,blogosphere,new media,old media — admin @ 1:32 pm

The blogosphere always seems to be having a bit of a love affair with itself: They are a great fighter for unbiased freedom of information, whilst the traditional news sources feed us the slops of whoever has the biggest pockets. Whilst that may make the average office-bod feel like a South American freedom fighter, the truth has a lot more to do with lots of little people sounding-off with few restraints. The latest big story that was broken on the web without any restraint was that Prince Harry was fighting in Afghanistan. The story was broken by the Drudge Report whilst the traditional media had agreed to a news blackout until Harry returned.

Whilst others may question whether the media should have had a blackout, without it there would have been no story, and Harry’s deployment to Afghanistan had the potential to bolster much-needed support and coverage of the war at home. The breaking of the story reflects Drudge’s self-interest rather than the public interest. Did the public benefit from the breaking of the news? No. His breaking of the story is on a par with the lowest form of paparazzi journalist that knows the upskirt shot of the latest young starlet will increase a paper’s sales, whatever the consequences to those involved.

January 28, 2008

Scientific Articles v. Blog Posts

Filed under: Google Analytics,academia,blogosphere — admin @ 12:25 pm

Both scientific articles and blog posts share the currency of recognition. However, whilst citations are rather dry affairs that are relatively few and far between, blogs get far more interesting critiques from a far wider audience. It’s a shame that scientific articles aren’t more like blog posts.

The sad truth is that my off-the-cuff comments about the web and the progress of my allotment (http://plot13.blogspot.com/) receive far more readers than any of my scientific articles. Over the last few months the number of unique visitors to my Webometric Thoughts blog, according to Google Analytics, have been steadily increasing (Nov-434, Dec-633, Jan-807(so far)). Whilst these figures would barely register in the blogosphere, they are far higher than could ever be hoped for in the academic world where you generally find yourself questioning whether even the referee bothered reading the article fully.

Even when the articles are read, and you are given a citation, they generally refer to some obscure generalisation you have made, barely worthy of a citation: it is more to do with the citer building authority for their own paper by showing how much they have read. In comparison a blogger does not benefit from referencing your post, and has the freedom to discuss it as little or as much as they wish. Therefore coming across a blog reference can be much more rewarding (I just came across my personal favourite today).

It would be great if the academic world could combine the informality of the blogosphere with their traditional publishing activities. Unfortunately most academics see blogs as a drain on their time rather than an opportunity to broaden the reach of their research and get more useful feedback. Admittedly my eclectic mix of posts has done little to further the blogging cause in academia, but surely there are some academic bloggers out their which truly show the potential of blogs.

January 9, 2008

Blog Wars

Filed under: alexa,blogosphere,technorati — admin @ 9:41 am

The gauntlet has been firmly thrown down by Oh, what a tangled web we weave…, , or has it merely been picked up after I threw it down previously? Unfortunately I have not had the opportunity to respond as my PhD thesis has been consuming my every waking moment, but I now have a couple of days respite. The blog readability test that showed my blog to be of a higher standard than the other webometric blogs at the end of November, now shows the Finnish webometrician to be of a higher standard.

Competition between blogs should always be welcomed. It forces us to up-our-game, critically analyse our posts, and the standards of our blog as a whole. Too often the top blogs start to coast, and those have built a following based on well written posts start to fill with pictures of their children’s birthday party. As webometricians, competition lets us look more critical at the various tools that are available for comparing blogs and web sites, especially those that don’t seem to be working in our favour. It is worth noting, however, that despite my lack of quality posts of late, I continue to lead webometrics.fi in a number of indicators:
Technorati Ranking
Webometric Thoughts – 871,446
Oh, what a tangled web we weave – 2,910,025
Alexa ranking
webometrics.org.uk – 3,816,072
webometrics.fi – 11,904,548
I will take the competition as an opportunity to up my game, but will Oh, what a tangleed web we weave… ?

December 18, 2007

10 years of blogging

Filed under: blogosphere — admin @ 7:11 am

According to the BBC, yesterday marked the coining of the term ‘weblog’. Although there are lots of claims by the ‘citizen journalist’ lobby about their collective power and importance, its difficult to truly assess how much of a positive effect blogs have had on the news and media landscape over the last ten years. Whilst there are well documented cases of the blogosphere’s success, these are too often overly-trumpeted rather than any real discussion on the potential short-comings of the blogosphere.

December 14, 2007

‘Citizen Journalism’ can be dangerous, irresponsible and just downright rude

Filed under: Mashable,blogosphere,citizen journalism — admin @ 8:45 am

It was only a couple of weeks ago that I last questioned the slipping standards of Mashable, and I find I am doing it once again. Ironically regarding an article defending the so-called citizen journalists. Professional journalists have been calling into question the quality of so-called citizen journalism, the article responds by insulting the traditionalist’s looks and stating she has ‘senile dementia’.

I am constantly amazed by the arrogance of the blogosphere, willing to point out the speck in their enemy’s eye whilst ignoring the plank in their own. Little of what appears in the blogosphere equates to our traditional idea of what journalists do, instead most stories rely on information collected by the mainstream media (Tech sites are often a notable exception). Also editorial standards are extremely low, as exhibited in posts that merely insult individuals on unrelated factors such as looks. Rather than bitching the bloggers should take some of the criticism on board and work out how they can improve.

There are advantages of mainstream media, and advantages of the blogosphere, but we are mistaken if we believe they are in the same game.

December 12, 2007

Blogs as the social networking future

Filed under: GigaOm,WordPress,blogosphere,social web — admin @ 10:20 am

A recent post over at GigaOm shows that I am by no means alone in believing that the future of social networking may be in the increased personalisation of blogs and personal homepages rather than social networking sites such as Facebook etc.

The question is whether the blog publishing systems can become as user-friendly as the social-networking sites.

December 11, 2007

One Hundred Webometric Thoughts!

Filed under: Google Analytics,blogosphere,webometric thoughts — admin @ 7:22 pm

As the title of this blog would seem to suggest, this is actually the 100th blog posting on my ‘Webometric Thoughts’ blog since I posted my first entry a little less than 4 months ago. It therefore seems an appropriate time to reflect on both the blog, its posts, and the visitors.

When I started the blog I stated in my profile, as is still stated in my profile:

I am hoping that the blogosphere will offer an opportunity for feedback as well as the sounding-off of my personal opinions.

Unfortunately I seem to have failed to successfully take advantage of the potential of the blogosphere; useful feedback requires well thought-out opinion pieces rather than off-the-cuff thoughts on the latest sites I have come across. Nonetheless I have found the blog a useful place for sounding out my thoughts on different topics, it forces me to keep up to date with the ever-increasing number of blogs I follow, and acts as a useful aide-mémoire for some of the hundreds of sites and discussions that I come across in the average week.

Looking back at some of the posts and the aspect that immediately hits me is the wide variety of topics that I have posted on; a factor that would be likely to restrict my from getting much of a following, even if it was better written. However the eclectic blog follows my own eclectic thoughts and interests, and as I am the only person guaranteed to read every posting it will continue as such. My only disappointment is that I do not have the time to blog on every subject or news story that catches my eye, if the blog changes in the future I hope it will be by trying to include an increasing number of short entries.

Whilst my blog has very few regular readers, it is amazing how many people turn up if you put something on the web. According to Google Analytics, since I installed the necessary tracking code within my blog (9/10/07) I have had 835 absolute unique visitors, from 56 different countries/territories, from the US and Russia to Oman and Nigeria. Whilst for a long time the most noticable abscence was the French, I was finally honoured with a visit from one of them just last weekend! Whilst the numbers aren’t particularly high, and the most unique visitors in one day is a mere 29, they do seem to be slowly creeping up. In fact, by the looks of today’s numbers, I am on course to finally break the 30 unique visitors barrier.

Whilst blogging isn’t necessarily what I expected, I have nonetheless enjoyed it and would recommended it to anyone who’s thinking about it. Just don’t have too high expectations.

November 7, 2007

Web 5.0: Where we live on the web

Filed under: blogosphere,web 2.0,web 3.0,web 4.0,web 5.0 — admin @ 4:17 pm

Everyone seems to want to be the person to define a web number, first web 3.0 went, and now web 4.0 has gone:

If Web 2.0 is the rounded corners and the Internet as a platform, and Web 3.0 is seamless integration of the various tools built on the platform, Web 4.0 must be algorithmic incorporation of that data into something useful.

So I thought I would get in and define web 5.0:
Web 5.0 is when quantum computing provides us the opportunity to upload ourselves to the web rather than just our data.
Obviously there may be a few more technical stages before we can solve the planet’s overcrowding problem by living in Second Life 2.0, but what is the point of having a decimal point if we don’t use it? Dewey would be turning in his grave.

Whilst there will be those who say that people won’t want to be uploaded, I think it is equally likely that there are people who don’t want a fully integrated and documented life with every aspect detailed and tagged! Too often the blogosphere focuses on technological capabilities and how geeks would like to use the web, rather than how the mass want to use it.

Even if the web does develop in the way people predict, do these changes really necessitate new web numbers? If we accept that the move from web 1.0 to web 2.0 is a paradigm shift in the way many people view the web, then surely the introduction of the terms ‘web 3.0′ and ‘web 4.0′ require equally large changes in perception; the proposed definitions seem more like tinkering round the edges.

October 30, 2007

Blog conversations

Filed under: blogging,blogosphere — admin @ 9:05 am

The best way to learn about the blogosphere is to be involved in the blogosphere, however much that will make you want to pull your hair out and bang your head against a wall. Whilst blogging can be a joy when writing down a few musings and reading a few comments, when those comments turn into a conversation it can be one of the most exasperating moments. It feels as though you are having a conversation at a party where everyone else has had a few drinks, and you are the only sober person. Whilst that is not to say that my opinions are necessarily more lucid than the next person’s, it is merely that they make more sense to me; equally other people’s opinions will feel more rational to them.

Blog conversations can be exasperating due to their unique combination of being asynchronous, public, personal, and providing room for long comments. Whilst other forms of communication may contain some of these factors (e.g., email-asynchronous and chatrooms-public), it is the combination of all these factors that make a blog conversation so potentially exasperating.

As blogs are both asynchronous and allow for the inclusion of long comments, people include long comments. Whilst this may seem a rational response, after all you would be conversing on the same subject for weeks if you limited yourself to one comment at a time and then waited for a response, it creates a debating environment that people try to ‘win’, rather than one where ideas are discussed rationally. Postings are not read rationally and responded to as a whole, in context of the whole conversation, but rather disingenuously with tactics that would make Eric Berne blush. The must-win mentality is only exaggerated by the public nature, whilst the personal nature of the blog to one party makes it very hard to leave a conversation whilst the other continues promoting opinions you disagree with.

Nonetheless there is a time where continued conversation makes no difference, opinions have hardened and an understanding of different perspectives is more distant than it ever was. It is at this point that you have to bite the bullet and walk away, it’s annoying, but if you don’t it becomes a slow walk to the mad house.

October 24, 2007

What is a blog? Does it have to be social?

Filed under: blogosphere — admin @ 10:53 am

The other day I read an article that probably contained the worst description of a blog ever:

In a nutshell, a blog is a “do-it-yourself” website

Anyone who engages in the blogosphere would realise how rotten a nutshell this particular comment is, however the borders of what is and is not a blog are pretty vague. To me a key ingrediant of the blogosphere is the engagement with other users, unless we allow others to comment on our opinions blogs are little more than vanity publishing. Unfortunately it is not always a simple process to comment on some people’s blogs, we can find ourselves hampered by blogs not allowing comments, having moderated comments, or having a comments section that is damned-near impossible to find!

Relating to the above, high ranking, linked-to examples:
-Yes, Seth Godin shows trackbacks, but I don’t necessary want to add a blog post on a topic.
-I don’t understand why Andrew Keen utilises moderated comments when he then passes spam and pointless insults for publication.
-Why does Dave Winer have comments when they are such a bugger to find?

Spam and offensive comments are probably more of a problem to high profile bloggers than me, although I was privileged enough to receive my own comment from a BNP idiot, and I can understand why they put safeguards in place. It is however bloody annoying to the fairly-respectable majority, who come across a comment to which they want to respond and can’t.

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