Mar 01

Linked In Bloggers

I belong to a newsgroup for bloggers on Linked In. Many of the members use blogging to drive and support their business, so there is a lot of great information passed around about what makes a good post, how to advertise, how to get traffic. One of the things suggested is the equivalent of of a Carnivale, where there is a flurry of posts and links about a specific subject. In this case, it’s suggested that we focus on a random members blog and comment about it. Well the first one is this week and it turns out to be Itzy.

One of the good things about this process is the encouragement to discover and read other group members blogs and this is one that I will descibe to. Work email is a nightmare at this moment, as it is coming in at a faster rate than I can ‘file’ and close down to be archived before I leave; in the meantime, the Gmail account is getting some massages as I work on labelling and filtering to ensure the right ones get read. There’s some great tips in this blog to work through. One other thing, it reminds me I really have to set up the other blog, the one that is related to the business and not the randomness (but fun) that appears here.

Feb 08

Win a year’s commute

Passenger Focus, the ‘independent rail consumer watchdog’ is running a competition where the prize is a annual season ticket plus the honour of doing a fortnightly blog for their website, talking about the travelling experience.

I’m not sure at all I’d like to be called a ‘consumer’ of rail services – I prefer passenger or customer. And the competition appears to be asking for a certain kind of person – the ones who will blog about the issues: “We need your views so that we can campaign for a better railway.” I gave a positive resons for entering..but I wonder if the winners will have a negative bias.

Feb 02

Wiki Wednesday

Last night I wandered along to Wiki Wednesday, where Ross dropped in on his way back from Helsinki. This was a focused gathering, so I think most people had a chance to to talk to everyone there. There’s definitely a group of people I keep bumping into at these type of sessions, like Sarah and Ian. Some new people to me were Tom and Julian . One of the topics was the stabilisation and productionisation of wiki software – making the installation a lot easier and making the use of them far more WYSIWYG. I’ve shown wikis to people at work who just ‘use’ computers, use Word etc and there is always a reluctance to edit, to attempt to use the required syntax to do formatting. If that can be made a lot simpler, then some of the behavioural change will be easier. Another set of conversations were about geting people to use systems like wikis internally, what sort of information could you seed the idea with. A favourite was definitely the lunchtime menus – one story was about the use of a webcam so that people could see the queue to get food. Another favourite would be information about benefit policies. These strategies are targeted at company wide initiatives, where the whole intranet would change, not at providing information solutions for smaller teams. However, whatever the trigger, the technology is often the easy part – finding ways to provide a solution that people will believe will make their lives better enough to get them to use it is always the hard part.

Jan 19

Strange Comment Spams

For the last few weeks, I’ve been receiving a lot of comment spam that all follow the same format. Here’s a typical comment:

I enjoyed reading your stuff. Cool site. Central is feature of Astonishing Round: , Collective Boy becomes Coolblooded Soldier in final Red, Faithful, Universal nothing comparative to Central , to Kill Grass you should be very Curious Red Stake Love or not

Looking at the source, the links appear to be exactly what they say they are, going to ‘genuine’ sites as opposed to those trying to sell drugs and surgical procedures. There’s just been a whole lot linking through to movie sites. I have no idea what these are trying to do, but it’s getting boring deleting them.

Jan 17


Last night I went to a business networking event. Unlike some I’ve been to, where it is a ‘come along and chat’ night, this one was more structured in that there were a number of experts who provide free 30 minute sessions during the night on their specialised subject. Even though they are trying to convince you to use their services going forward, the selling was pretty light and the sessions are no obligation with some pretty good advice given out. Last night there was an emarketing expert, a Management consultant, a voice coach and a lifestyle coach.

In conversations with the attendees I spent a lot of time talking about blogging. There was a lot of interest from people who were aware of it but did not understand if and how it could help them in their business. A lot of people had websites, often because ‘they had to have them’ but were not leveraging them to drive business. One person there was getting their website rewritten, unbeknownst to them it was going to become a blog – but the word had never been mentioned, it was just being described as an easy site to update and get comments on. By the end of the evening I had a number of people to whom I need to send out a load of links. (which I can use as a post in my new blog about my new business…). I was also busy recommending Naked Conversations as a good starting point as the book is out in the UK at the end of January.

Looking for the book, I found a weird glitch. Using the search term ‘Naked Conversation’, Amazon came back and told me there was nothing that matched the term ‘naget’…I’d love to know why it does that.


Dec 26

BlogPulse Review

Blogpulse have put up it’s review of the year, trying to summarise the trends in blog posts over the year. In their top people, they’ve listed Harry Potter at number 1; this fictional person is joined in their list by Donnie Darko and James Bond as people that were most blogged about.

The trend pages picked up on major debates, such as evolutution vs Intelligent Design vs Flying Spaghetti Monster. There’s a slight American bias of course; looking at the sports trends, I wonder how many of the football references they picked up were actually to the type of football most of the rest of the world refers to, aka soccer.


Dec 24

Commercial Blogging

A good post by Gia on the frustrations of doing commercial blogging. She’s publishing a blog for a new Danny Boyle film called Sunshine and has to face the publicity machine every single time she wants to post pictures. It’s an ‘official’ blog, so she has to play by the rules. Not so much on her own blog, where she’s posted pictures that are currently doing the rounds after they were released elsewhere.

The explanations for the number of approvals she needs to get to publish anything demonstrates why it is not always possible to ‘just do it’ when it comes to corporate blogs, when just doing it can lead to a whole load of trouble. But then again, just doing it and reducing the red tape is the only way such sites will ever have any real meaning. I read the Sunshime blog from interest to see how an official blog is being attempted, not because the content itself is interesting, as all the restrictions that Gia faces obviously constrain having good content.

Dec 22

Random Acts in Book Form

I missed this the other day, but I see that Tom Reynolds, the London EMT, has a book deal. As well as publishing in solid form, the book will also be released online under a Creative Licence

The idea of publishing it under a Creative Commons license was my idea. I think that the Friday Project are incredibly cool and forward looking to let me do this. Publishing under this license will hopefully sell more copies, and let me feel like Iā€™m not selling out.


Dec 20

Need a Place to Stay?

Travelling to a conference or a geek dinner? Low budget? Need a place to stay? Try canicrash, a wiki put together by Henriette Weber Anderson to share details of people who are willing to let their couch or spare room to bloggers.


for the travelling blogger ( the crasher):
– you get to stay a place for free ( or minor costs)
– you get to meet fellow bloggers and see the place from a local point of view.
– you might even make some friends!

for the person who lets his/her home on the roll ( the crashee):
– you get to met fellow bloggers
– somebody will do the same for you if you ask for it ( in my theory maybe not in real life. But it’s worth a try don’t you think?)
– maybe you will get gifts from strange countries.. nice one.
– you get to blog about another blogger staying with you

A useful resource to keep the costs down…just take note of the guidelines.

Dec 10

Blogging for the older generation

One of women in my book club has a lot of stories to tell about internet dating and the small sideline job she does in selling sex toys to an older generation. We could be seeing a new entrant into the blogosphere in a month or so as she now seems keen to use the tools to connect with all these 50 and 60 year old women who need to know more about spicing up life and getting dates! Watch this space.

Dec 08


I spent an extra day in Paris after LesBlogs and spent my day doing more tourist stuff, such as Musee d’Orsay and Eiffel Tower. Photos over on Flickr.

After finally getting connectivity back today, I’ve been catching up on feeds (over 4000 new posts to read – I’m afraid many just got marked read), loading photos and doing general admin. However I’vehad time to reflect and see the other reactions. So what are my takes on the conference? (not withstanding the obvious one of ‘don’t forget your power lead!’)

I got more out of the second day (tools and how to use them) rather than the first, which focused on how blogs are changing the corporate world. Key points were:

  • Corporations and mesurements: One of the challenges for businesses is measurement – they measure everything, they try and get a RoI. Masurement of the effectiveness of websites, based on quantitative vistors and qualitative assessments of impact are things the budget holders are comfortable with. But blogs shift the measurement again – can we use the current system? The first panel seemed to be split about this – how do we put old measures in where we need new measures.
  • Political BloggingThe sheer scale of the Beppe Grillo blog in Italy, getting thousands of comments. And the effort a small town in France is putting behind closing down Cristophe Grebert blog, which documents the spending habits of the council. 50000 euros and counting.
  • Educational BloggingEwan McIntosh impressed, both on the podium and in conversation later. He was one of the few of the speakers who interacted directly with the backchannel and visibly altered his comments.

Monday night was again a chance for more networking, at the official do. As you’ll have seen, I did bail out early to go to dinner (too much finger foods – real food required). Whilst there I managed to prove my complete lack of US geography to Greg Reinacker by having no atual idea where Denver/Colorado are on a map.

Tuesday morning started off with a keynote by Mena Trott. Who got into a little spat with Ben Metcalfe about the backchannel usage. Mena’s tallk was about civility on the web. During the Q&A the backchannel got posted up on the screen (it was there on and off during the conference), unfortunately just as Ben commented about her speech. There’s been plenty of commentary, with Ben and Mena putting their points of view across. You can see the video here.

During the conference, the irc chat usually asked great questions, adding to the debate, pulling up links and other references to the speakers. At other times, it did get rather snarky when a speaker was not felt to be delivering, but no more than in others I’ve seen. Whilst Mena’s point is valid, there is always place for more civility in all forums, I felt it was the wrong speech for the conference, as it did appear to try and apply one set of cultural values on an audience where many people appeared to have another.

Regardless of the content of the speech, the fact that the backchannel was projected (retrospectively a bad idea) was distracting. (See Shel’s post for another speakers view). But Mena ‘s reaction was over-the-top as a speaker and as the CEO of the company that was organising the conference. Challenging from the stage and forcing someone to stand up in the audience was not an example of civil behaviour. The things she said would have been better done later, in a face-to-face session as recognised by Mena:

Is it possible to have the sort of productive face-to-face connection or conversation that Ben M. and I had offline in an online world? And what can we, as bloggers, do to facilitate that?

To me, that last statement is a better way of putting what I think Mena was trying to say. Not ‘you have to be more civil’ but ‘how can we we be more civil’ and get online to reflect more the better behaviours of the offline world. I say better behaviours as there can be far worse real life interaction than was ever present in the irc.

Other recollections include the panel with Hugh, Anina and Marc, in which Anina managed to keep Hugh quiet for a while. Ben Hammerley’s presentation was also a hit. One of the few presentations as opposed to panels, it seemed to liven up the crowd. The premise was that we are at the start of a cultural revolution, as the technology is for the first time speeding up the development of the next level of technology. We are no longer reliant on the human mind alone, but can be supplemented by the technology we build. If we’re lucky, we will not revert to a downward cycle of culture this time round. His 8 Big Ideas and the opposition to them frame the upcoming battles.

  • Information wants to be free vs copyright
  • Zero distance vs Borders
  • Mass amateurisation vs censorship
  • Much is much more vs Network blocking
  • True Names vs Id cards and databases
  • Viral behaviour vs more network blocking
  • Everything is personal vs everything is trackable
  • Ubiquitous computing vs No Privacy

His wrapping up – we’re all lucky bastards because we are here at the start of a revolution in culture as the people in the audience are putting tools together to drive the change; but then again, we’re unlucky bastards as we could see it all go wrong.

Finally, there was a new Nokia phone on offer for the best contribution during the 2 days; factoryjoe won it with this picture; a mashup of the conference logo and Marc Canter sleeping.

I have no idea whether this will all make sense as for some reason it’s taken about 3 days to write (too much else) but it sort of sums up the 2 days.

Dec 05


If I’m going to go to a conference with plentiful wifi, power and very, very comfortable seats, it may be a good idea the next time to remember to bring along the power cord for the PC. Unless I get lucky and manage to borrow, no blogging for me this time.

Nov 24

2005 Blogged

I picked up a copy of Tim Worstall’s new book 2005 Blogged: Dispatches from the Blogosphere at the weekend. Surprisingly easy to find, as it was placed on the Payment Counter in the Richmond branch of Waterstones. And even better – it’s in the 3 for 2 offer.

A look back over the past year through the eyes of British writers, there a lot of stuff that is new to me (but then again, I have not really tended to subscribe to many of the ‘political’ blogs quoted). Throughout, the editorial choices reflect great writing. The chronological order of the postings allows you to dip in and out, sampling particular moments; going to July 7 the pieces picked show the spirit that shone thought many postings at that time – defiance. I fully recommend this book – it could be a great present to get someone interested in reading blogs.

Nov 15

Typepad offers compensation

In recompence for recent poor service on Typepad, Six Apart are offering their paying customers a choice of packages. In this case, it is up to the user to decide what level of compensation they think they deserve. Straightforward, logical economic thinking should mean that everyone should choose the largest amount of free stuff withthe 45 day offer. However, the one thing that people are not is straightforward and logical and SA are gambling on this. They are hoping that the spread of choices made does not cause them issues and make them lose too much money – lost money means lost opportunities to improve the service. Hopefully, they’ll be proved right and people will stop and think realistically about the service impact they had. And the service issue gets a more positive hue in peoples minds because of the offer.


Nov 10

The Language of Blogs

Via Data Mining, Scott Nowson has published his thesis “The Language of Weblogs: A study of genre and individual differences.” I’ll admit to not having read it all yet (it’s 300 pages) but unsurprisingly:

The study concludes by confirming that both gender and personality are projected by language in blogs; furthermore, approaches which take the context of language features into account can be used to detect more variation than those which do not.

It’s unsurprising as one of the defining characteristic of a blog has tended to be that personality comes through, which usually reflects gender. In fact, I’d say the ability to allow yourself to project a personality is a pre-reuqisite for a good blogger, as illustrated in‘s questioning of the major blog networks about what they are looking for. The common elements that came through were passion, personality and great writing skills (plus staying power – you have to be able to do this consistently).

Without personality, without putting some of yourself out there, it’s just neutral reporting, and there are plenty of ‘official’ sources for that.

Update: Scott commented about the meaning of personality: “By personality I am referring specifically to the traits of the five factor model (Neuroticism, Extraversion, Openness, Agreeableness and Conscientiousness), which I’ve shown can be projected to varying degrees by language.” His report which I’ve started reading, drives down into the components of personality that are measurable opposed to my assessment of surface personality which is the sum of them. So whilst I can make a snap judgement based on my perceptions, he’s used tools to delve into the underlying traits that are projected throught he language.

Nov 07

Measurement and Links

Via Problogger, I see that has started indexing blogs.

Topix Tags Blogs
Today we added 15,000 top weblogs to the crawling/tagging engine. Blog posts are being categorized into our 30,000 local feeds as well as our 300,000 subject feeds. Our search results now include blog results, and posts should show up on our site and search index within 1-3 minutes of being crawled.

And then, looking at my MeasureMap statistics (which is working wonderfully for me) I find that my top link into my site is from Topix – so my style of blogging fits into their Newsrank algorithms. So what was the wonderful, inciteful post that was driving this? A brief quote about Keanu in leather from the Telegraph…

Nov 07

It’s all on the internet

‘It’s all on the internet’ – my comment to my brother-in-law who was trying to fix a driver problem, get firewall/antivirus applications (at last!) and find a CD ripper. At this point my frustration came through as I dictated various names for him to go and find. It looks like they are going to be buying a new PC anyway – but are going to wait until I’m visiting before they make the purchase.

Apart from the odd support call from family I had a very quiet blogging weekend – I have a whole load of stuff I was goign to post, but ended up playing Resident Evil 4 instead. No idea why, I’m unbelievably poor at these games, but it was ‘fun’ despite the huge number of times I got killed in the game. The walkthroughs are always essential for me to get anywhere, but why can’t they make a really easy version without any of these ‘boss’ attacks. One weekend and I’m less than a quarter of the way through it – a long way to go.

Nov 03

MeasureMap Overview

I’m going to be playing round with the alpha release of Measure Map over the next week or so, using it to take a look at visitor statistics. On my first look I like it, with a comfortable interface that just makes me wnat to click things. I need a lot more information on it beforeI can really test it if you only read via RSS feed, pleae click through and look at the site so I can get some stats to test.