Monday, January 31, 2005

Questions About Blogs Nobody Seems to Answer

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piano sonata in c minor Posted by Hello


Questions About Blogs
Nobody Seems to Answer


I spent some time today visiting the blogs in my blogroll (see right column list of sites), and a few other blogs that they link to, and I started wondering about some things regarding blogs.

As I read my favorite blogs, and pondered the hot, new concerns being voiced, I developed the following concerns of my own.



16 Questions About Blogs Nobody Seems To Answer



1. Can you post too frequently? Is a new post every day too much? What about 3 or 4 times a day?

[I know, it depends on the blog, and Special Event Blogs (like the Iraq Elections, American presidential elections, or the tsunami disaster) tend to be updated with fresh content very frequently, sometimes every few minutes, at least for a while.

But I refer to posting on business, marketing, CEO, professional, scientific, "serious topic" blogs that are not necessarily tied to any current event or breaking news stories. In these blogs, can you post too frequently?]

2. Should most of your posts be as brief as possible, or should you say as much as you think you need to say to express an important thought on a subject?

3. Can you have too many links in your blogroll?

4. Just how important and effective is RSS ("Really Simple Syndication")? [You'll notice that I don't use RSS. Do you know why? Have you heard of RSS spam?]

6. Podcasting: do people really want to hear us blog? Isn't that a slow way to disseminate information? Is podcasting just a brief fad? How similar is podcasting to audio books?

7. How effective are photos and art for a blog? Do they increase readership...or are they distracting attention from the textual content?

8. Why do non-bloggers have trouble understanding the great and many benefits of blogging? Why do business people balk at starting a blog? What are the major obstacles or objections for businesses when it comes to starting a blog?

9. Will blikis (combo blog/wikis) become popular? Or will blogs and wikis go their separate ways?

10. What impression does a blog make when it has no external links, no blogrolls, nothing but the blogger's "voice" and self-promotional material?

11. How long will the blogosphere be cluttered with Personal Random Chatter Vanity Blogs? When will these type of blogs decline and perish, replaced by corporate, professional, journalist, i.e., more serious blogs?

12. Can blogs, like web sites, be classified as being either narcissistic or altruistic? (Meaning: heavily oriented to either self-centered purposes or other-directed purposes?

13. Will there be a near-future mad rush to wikis, similar to the mad rush to blogs we're seeing now?

14. Is it a bad idea to give your blog a title that is different from the URL? Does this mainly occur when a blogger decides they don't like the blog title, so they change it, but they don't change the blog URL because then no frequent blog visitors would be able to find their blog? Is there a solution for this dilemma?

15. I just posted a comment on a blog, but in my hurry, I forgot to fill in my name, email address, and URL. But the comment posted anyway. Is this a bug in that blog's comment functionality? How bad a problem could this be for the blog and should the blog owner correct it immediately?

16. The Next Big Thing after blogs: is it wikis...or glogs (cyborg logs)...or what?


I'm sure there are plenty of bloggers, web theorists, futurists, etc. who discuss such questions, but as of today, these questions seem a bit esoteric, I don't know who is talking about such things in depth.

Let me know if you have any answers.

I'll do an EDIT UPDATE right here on this post, when I come across interesting material related to any of these issues.

Stay tuned to this post.

Sunday, January 30, 2005

Inked Finger Revolution

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Freedom Finger Flaunting the Lack of "Terror" Posted by Hello


Smoke Walkers vs. "Terrorists" Without Terror

Did you see our Iraqi sisters and brothers for democracy today?

Giving the "terrorists" the Inked Finger, the "screw you, you don't scare us" sign to the crybaby bullies of al Queda and warped militant pseudo-islam!

Turning out in droves, ignoring the explosions, stridently, joyfully going forth to create a new, post-Butcher of Baghdad Iraq.

"Smoke Walkers" passing through the flames of tyranny and intolerance, marching through the rubble and blood, standing in line for hours, sitting ducks, photographed, interviewed and televised, disregarding insurgent threats.



Baghdad Election Posters on Fortification Wall Posted by Hello



"Terrorist" is a misnomer. The insurgent freedom-haters are merely "wannabe terrorists". They inspire no terror, so technically speaking, they cannot be called "terrorists".

It's like calling a person who can't sing a "singer".

"I'm an auto mechanic," a guy says.

Another guy asks, "Oh? How many cars have you fixed?"

"None. But someday I hope to repair a vehicle. I try once in a while, when it seems easy, but I either accomplish nothing, or make things worse."

The other guy frowns. "Then, if you've never fixed a car, you're not an auto mechanic."

In like manner, if the insurgents were largely unable to inspire terror, if some areas of Iraq had as much as 90% voter turnout, then the insurgents are failures at being "terrorists".

"Terrorists"? NO.

"Crybaby Bullies"? YES.

The Cowards with Covered Faces were not able to intimidate the Iraqis today. Let's celebrate forcefully and triumphantly with our newly democratic brothers and sisters.

I'm listening to the electronic music CD "Do You Know Squarepusher" by Squarepusher, and letting the aggressive electronic noise waves wash over my mind with great joy.


My Inked Index Finger: Solidarity with Iraqi People



Believe it or not, I have a purple ink marker with grape scented ink. My finger smells really good right now.

I have decided to apply purple ink to my finger to show solidarity with the Iraqi voters.

I have decided to hold my purple inked finger high, proudly, during the Vaspers the Grate seminar tomorrow at St. Augustine Manor.


Purple Pointer Toward Democracy Posted by Hello

Inked Finger Revolution.

Orange Revolution.

Free Iran Revolution.

Democratic North Korea Revolution.

Look out rogue regimes and enemies of liberated thought.

Independent Opinions and Religious/Political Freedom are "wheels on fire, rolling down the road."

While the Main Stream Media reports the good news with icy stares and grim frowns on their faces, we see through them.

We see how hard it is for them to admit their dire predictions of low turnout and brutal bloodbaths were wrong.

We see how painful it is for the conventional journalists to report on Good Positive Events. They thrive on negativity and horror stories like a teenaged boy going to a monster movie.

Rebel, people of the world, against Main Stream Media deceivers and naysayers.

Raise your Freedom Finger High and Let the Symbolism Fly.


Inked Voting Finger on Iraq Flag Posted by Hello

Saturday, January 29, 2005

Iraq Elections: Main Stream Media is Dead

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Iraqi lady sticking it to the insignificant insurgents.
Posted by Hello


Here's another convenient test to determine the value [if any] of the main stream media (called the MSM by us bloggers):

the Iraq elections coverage.

I am rapidly seeking timely updates on this affair.

The U.S. State Department web site seems to just have PR material that is not up-to-the-minute.

Instapundit is on:

http://www.instapundit.com

Glenn Reynolds has links to Event Bloggers who are attempting to cover the elections in Iraq. I tried to post a comment on a post at fellow Blogspot blog,Iraq Election Wire, that reported on CNN "following the trail of blood" 40 minutes ago. CNN is stupidly and dishonorably showing old footage of previous terrorist/insurgent attacks on Iraqis and people grieving.

Iraq Election Wire is at:
http://www.iraqelectionwire.blogspot.com
Comments are apparently only enabled for team members of this blog.

I'm going to stop writing and go downstairs, turn on the idiot box television, and see what the heck is going on. CNN sounds reprehensible in my opinion. I must check this out this reported insensitivity and violence-mongering. The Iraq election blog claims it's calm over there right now.

See? Main stream everything, especially media, is dying or already dead and decomposing.

The major news media web sites have articles, but no time stamp, so you don't know how recent these reports are.

I am not an expert on journalistic blogs, political blogs, or news media blogs. I'm just an average guy looking for late breaking news. And having loads of trouble finding any.


EDIT UPDATE (12:20 AM, Jan. 30, 2005 Sunday):

Since we have only basic cable, I was unable to get CNN or FOX News Channel on tv. I don't watch much television, in fact I hate television, so that's why only basic cable.

CNN web site is at:
http://www.cnn.com

They have a link to CNN Radio "listen to latest updates", but when I clicked on it, I had to endure what seemed like 5 minutes of stupid commercials, including CNN's Entertainment Extra and CNN self promos.

Iraq Election Wire blog reports that "CNN forecasts doom, 57 minutes into the polling." And Reuters reported "a blast outside a polling station in west Baghdad, some casualties-police". 5:31 AM
This blog also reports that insurgent attacks mostly occur in the early morning, so Iraqis may wait to vote, and that CNN ticker says that so far, Iraqi women voters outnumber men by 2 to 1.

The real women, the real feminist heroines are in Iraq, voting and numbering 1/3 of the candidates, in a woman-hating and male-domineering area of the world.


Coalition Provisional Authority
web site is at:
http://www.cpa-iraq.org
This web site is not being updated anymore, naturally. It will remain on the web for a while, just for historical purposes.

U.S. Embassy in Iraq is merely PR stories for the most part.
"Latest headlines from the Embassy: Iraqis Prepare for a First Free Election"
The web site is at:
http://iraq.usembassy.gov

FOX News web site is at:
http://www.foxnews.com

The web home page has a Jan. 30, 2005 report on Iraq elections, but it has no time stamp, so who knows how timely it is?

There is a Breaking News banner across the top of the page that reads "Report: Several Loud Blasts Heard in Baghad".

Then there is FNC Special: The Most Important 24 Hours in Iraq
***Continuous Live Coverage*** click HERE
but when I clicked there, it turned out to be just a tv channel ad.
There is no special live feed from the tv studio to the web site.


Roger L. Simon
is blogging live on the Iraq elections at:
http://www.rogerslsimon.com

Quote from Mr. Simon: "I feel bad for Iraqis being photographed and televised as they vote."

He states that Geraldo Rivera is a good guide to the Iraq elections for FOX News.

Friends of Democracy

"Ground level election news from the people of Iraq"
is at:
http://www.friendsofdemocracy.info

I feel that the U.S. government should have its own channel that is packaged with basic cable and gives live updates on whatever is going on anywhere in the world. To inform the citizens seems like a high priority for a government if it wants to last.

Too bad the Iraqis couldn't have transitioned into democracy peacefully like they did in the Orange Revolution of the Ukraine.

Let's hope our Iraqi friends will be brave, go vote if they choose to, and try to live in a civilized realm of free thought, free exercise of religion, and the freedom to create their own elected government.

Friday, January 28, 2005

Characteristics of Web Site Content


mode and motif Posted by Hello


Characteristics of Web Site (or Blog) Content


I recently conducted a survey of web developers on what they considered important for web site success.

One of the items mentioned was content.

In fact, many web professionals say: "Content is king."

I wonder.

If content is indeed king, it should be enthroned with regal dignity and royal embellishments.

You see, content depends first on correctly identifying both corporate goals and user needs.

A web site's success also depends on how the content is derived, verified, and presented.

The essential characteristics of web site content can be expressed in this list of 14 aspects that all start with "R".

I've taken the liberty of using a few unusual "R" words just to make it interesting and thought-provoking, trying to practice what is preached.


The 18 "R"s of Web Site Content


Radiant: Immediate visual impression of credibility, authority, and propriety via color, design, typography, logo, corporate identification, etc.

Relevant: Having an obvious pertinence, appropriateness, application, or affinity with the topic at hand.

Rare: Unique, idiosyncratic, not redundant, not commonly found, in this form, or with completeness, in other information resources.

Rich: Loads of good stuff for users to enjoy, absorb, and ponder, rather than meager offerings that aren't worth waiting for the site to download into the browser.

Radical: Beyond platitudes, pleasantries and proverbs, fresh thinking that challenges pre-conceived, outmoded, or erroneous but popular notions.

Rapacious: Plundering (in a nice way), hoarding, accumulating, stockpiling all the information that is known to be available on a topic, then differentiating what is useful and desired by the target audience, and providing summaries, paraphrases, quotations, links, or other means of dissemination.

Recrudescent ("breaking out afresh, renewed action"): Facts that are emerging in various locations and scenarios, but have largely gone unnoticed by others.

Rectilinear ("characterized by straight lines"): Driving right to the heart of the matter, no tangents or meandering.

Resolute: Firm in purpose, exhibiting confident clarity, and aggressively presented.

Recondite ("beyond ordinary perception, profound, dealing with complex or obscure subjects"): Sublime, extraordinary, "Eureka!" type insights that contain the solution for obstinate or pervasive problems.

Repositorial: Acts as a dependable repository, reservoir, or collection of all necessary facts, or contains references to the major resources dealing with the subject, obviating the need to bounce all over the web, hunting down the relevant data.

Realistic: Rational, pragmatic, capable of immediate application to actual situations, not overly theoretical or abstract.

Reverberant ("to re-echo"): reflects the goals of site owner and the needs of users, which are clearly and comprehensively understood and defined.

Refluent ("flowing back, as an ebbing tide"): Has links back to source or substantiating material.

Refrangible ("can be refracted, bent, as light rays entering a glass"): Can be tilted toward differing conditions and applications, flexible in implementation.

Reliable: Credible, trustworthy, linked to reputable external resources.

Retrievable: Easily searchable via main body content heads and subdivisions, "site search" text entry box, site map, site index, site orientation/welcome field, and clearly and logically categorized archives.

Responsive: In spite of all the other characteristics, is still open to user-generated, client-mandated, or corporate-dictated corrections, elucidations, amplifications, alterations, and questions.


YOUR TURN: If you have amendations, elaborations, substitutions, or other input regarding web site content, please leave a comment.

Thursday, January 27, 2005

Fight Against What's Wrong: Positive Hate

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tomorrow is less than one day away Posted by Hello

Fight Against What's Wrong: Positive Hate

What makes a successful, worthy, dignified human being?

You can judge a man or woman by who they pick fights with...or how he or she retaliates against those who launch an attack on them, or those they love, or things they feel passionately about.

You are what you fight against.

Find something to hate, then hate it perfectly and completely.

You are what you challenge, question, argue, and reason against.

Start entering heated debates and sublime discussions.

You are more than these antagonisms, but one vital aspect of you is what you hate. Do you know how to hate things like racism, exploitation, manipulation, anti-semitism, anti-muslimism, anti-christianism, brainwashing, sexism, control freaking, mediocrity, cowardice, apathy, avarice, churchianity, or simony?

If you don't hate something horribly, relentlessly, and aggressively, either you're not alive or you're lost in a illusory, detrimental, narcissistic dream world.

Narcissistic dream worlds always turn into fatalistic nightmares.

I hate religious hypocrisy. I'm fighting it like you wouldn't believe. I may be in grave danger, but I don't care, I'm currently fighting like a Green Beret against a colossal religious evil. Nuff said.

I hate poor usability of web sites, blogs, forums, any product or service. I fight poor usability in this blog and in many other venues of debate and discussion.

I hate other things, but since this is not a Vanity Blog, nor a Personal Drivel Blog, nor a Digital Diary of Random Chatterbox Gibberish, I shall now

STOP.

P.S. Find something to hate, then fight it with everything you've got.

You could hate the lack of compassion in the world, and fight it relentlessly by being kinder and more helpful to those around you or distant from you.

Hate and combat need not be negative, in other words.

This is not a negative post. Think about it.

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Blog Writing Lesson 1

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At the Blog Summit (see Tom Peters blog), one of the topics was "True Voice: the Art and Science of Blog Writing."

I've spoken of online writing in the past on this blog, but here's a new insight I haven't yet shared with you.

Blog Writing Lesson 1

If you want to really learn how to write for a blog, here is some tested and proven advice.

I guarantee that it will work and it will deliver fast results:

1. Start commenting on other blogs.

2. Start commenting and initiating topic threads on bulletin boards.

3. Start posting comments and initiating topic threads on email discussion lists.

4. Start commenting and initiating topic threads at online forums.

You may have to register, sign up for, or subscribe to some of these writing arenas, but that's not hard to do.

What are you passionate about?

Find blogs, bulletin boards, email discussion lists, online forums devoted to your favorite issues and ideas.

Then jump into the conversation, join a heated debate, provide others with the benefit of your knowledge and experience.

Try a variety of communication styles:

* dead serious and reserved
* dry humor
* stuffily academic
* righteously belligerant
* light-hearted and a little silly
* plain, unvarnished common talk
* naive and intuitive
* carefully researched, scientific
* sound younger than your age
* sound older than your age
* sound less educated
* sound more educated

Some of these "voices" may be harder than others for you to pull off.

The idea here is not to be deceptive, but to practice a variety of styles. This experiment will help you to focus on the style that is most natural, but also most effective, for you.

To "be yourself" you must experiment with what is probably not "yourself", just to "know thyself" better and more completely, by knowing "what you're not". It's also called "going out of character" by theatrical folks.

So experiment with styles. You don't have to settle on one rigid manner of communicating. In fact, sometimes you'll adopt a certain style for one context, and a totally different style for another context.

You may anger someone accidentally, at a blog, forum, discussion list, board.

You may be mocked, denounced, scolded, warned, or hated by other members or commenters.

You may even be banned by a moderator or an administrator.

This has happened to me a few times when I was a little too independent-thinking, but never due to attacking anyone personally or bad language or violating rules. In my opinion, I was banned due to having strongly expressed opinions that the moderator or administrator disagreed with and couldn't stand hearing anymore.

But this is how we learn to write and express ourselves online.

Don't just venture forth a little note in some meek, weak manner.

Speak up.

Say what you think, as politely, intelligently, and authoritatively as you can.

Be funny if warranted.

Be stern if necessary.

Be the "you" that you need to be in a given situation.

Practice makes perfect.

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Primary Purpose of the Web

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red galax see Posted by Hello


Primary Purpose of the Web


Have you ever asked yourself, what is the primary purpose of the web?

Perhaps the best reply is: it depends on the person and their interests.

For ecommerce sites and online shoppers, the answer might be "bringing products and customers together to produce sales and satisfy consumer demand" or similar wording.

Research and new product development teams probably consider the web mainly as a way to collaborate and share data, view analysis reports, pose questions, transfer files, upload images, etc.

Those who seek information, ability to connect in some manner with people who are physically distant, or benefits of virtual communities built around common interests or attributes, might say the primary purpose of the web is "communication" but I have grim reservations regarding that word.

Paradoxically enough, the word "communication" doesn't always communicate the meaning that I'm seeking.

Let me cite a recent example...


Pure Communication vs. Practical Interaction

I agree with a statement by Peter Merholz: "Content is interesting only in the way it allows readers to successfully perform some task, while creators [of the content] achieve an organizational goal."

Talking just to talk, writing just to write, blogging just to blog, telephoning just to telephone, emailing just to email, all these activities are wastes of time.

I guess they're psychological symptoms of anxiety, frustration, guilt, and so forth, trying to fill an emptiness inside, or fear of feeling alone in a cold and uncaring world.

Still, keep in mind that content can also be information that is of value in and of itself. For example, when my mother-in-law spoke of "snow fleas" and I went to the snow fleas info at Cornell:

www.entomology.cornell.edu/Extension/
DiagnosticLab/IDLFS/
Snowfleas/Snowfleas.html

and "Students Probe Peculiar Ice Worms in Alaska's Glaciers" article in National Geographic News:

http://news.nationalgeographic.com/
news2002/01/0128_020128_iceworms.html

to learn more about them and their buddies the "ice worms"--both are abundant, obscure, unnoticed, and unstudied until recently.

Now the only task I will complete by having this content is to tell my wife that her mom was right: there is a such thing as "snow fleas" and there are also "ice worms"...then I'll scoop up a handful of snow, eat it, and say "And they taste great!!!"

Seriously though, while information can be a end in itself, I have trouble seeing "communication" being of value merely as an act. It depends on what is being communicated. It's like saying "sharing" or "expression" is a good in and of itself. Again, it depends on exactly what is shared or expressed, in what manner, in what context, and for what purpose.

For example, "self-expression" is horrible--when the self being expressed is the self of a serial killer, insane cannibal, child molestor, etc. I have no desire to read novels or look at art created by such monstrous individuals, no matter how technically great they supposedly are.

Communication is Not Necessarily Good


Here's how I responded to a comment on the article "Happy New Year from Adaptive Path" (Jan. 07, 2005) in the blog of Peter Merholz (of ADAPTIVE PATH):

Primary use of Internet is communication?

I'm afraid that can easily be interpreted in the old outmoded "broadcast", unilateral sense.

I prefer to think of the Internet as computers interacting with each other to enable humans to interact with each other, resulting in information exchange and task completions.

I like Peter's emphasis on accomplishing tasks.

Yet, communication is a word often deteriorating into blabbering, random chatter that merely kills time and lessens loneliness--as in the vanity blogs of digital diaries, which are doomed to perish soon from lack of readership and lack of stamina of the vanity bloggers.

As a Blogologist, this is my focus: blogs being what web sites were supposed to be, highly interactive, frequently updated, easily usable, quick to navigate hubs of information and modes of task accomplishment (e.g., ordering a product, contributing user generated content, etc.)



Communication as a Means to an End


Another way to look at it is that communication for its own sake, or as the highest goal, or the central focus, is missing the point.

The point is to accomplish something beyond communication.

Sure, there are people who call you on the phone "just to talk" but, unless you really love to hear yourself or others speak, no matter what the content is, this "communicating just to communicate" can be a senseless waste of time.

I like to talk about certain things. I like to read about certain things. But mostly, I prefer to learn about those things, or share my knowledge with those who seek it.

So communication is about, not simple conversation, but obtaining new information, or passing information on to someone who needs it.


Interaction Includes Sharing Information AND Completing Tasks


From where I sit, the primary purpose of the Web is to act as a "location" where we can interact with information and people, and also interact with functionalities that enable us to get things done.

This is why I am against "design for the sake of design" without proper, prioritized regard for user needs.

This is why I am against "chatter blogs" where people go on and on about boringly private details of their lives, tastes, and interests.

Titanic = Example of Design vs. Usability


John Maeda in his article "RSS Not Simple" in the archives of his SIMPLICITY blog

http://weblogs.media.mit.edu/SIMPLICITY

speaks of how the Titanic is a good example of designers arrogantly putting their interests above the needs of passengers (users).

The designers of the Titanic thought it was aesthetically in error to provide enough lifeboats for all passengers and crew. It would look ugly, all those horrid, mundane lifeboats hanging around, cluttering the ship.

Let's remember this the next time we design a web site, or create a personal blog site.

Wikis and Blikis: Beyond the Blog

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WIKI DEFINITION


"wiki" means "quickie"

A "wiki" is a "swift web".

The Hawaiians say, "wiki wiki", for "rapid, hurried, fast", a term that also designates their airport's buses, speedily moving passengers from parking lots to terminals and such.

"Wiki" is pronounced "wick-eee" (rhyming with "tricky") or "wee-kee" (rhyming with "squeaky".

"Wiki" refers to a web site that users can edit quickly, easily, without HTML, and often without any gateway procedure (e.g., passwords, registration, email identity verification).

Generally, the original pre-user edited versions of all wiki pages are archived. Any text that a stray or serious user revises, adds or deletes to, can revert back to the original or an earlier version.

Users are somewhat restricted in the areas of the wiki that may be edited. Edit parameters are often "chunked", in terms of enabling user-generated edits to be enacted only one subdivision or section at a time.

This is probably done to reduce digital vandalism to the content.

"Wiki" also refers to the software that enables you to create such sites.

A great place to learn about wikis is at a wiki called Wikipedia, launched January 2001, which is also the world's largest wiki:

http://www.wikipedia.org


HOW WIKI WORKS:


Let's say you visit a wiki site.

It looks like a normal web site, except it may be more minimalistic, text-dominated, scholarly, or serious.

You notice buttons you can select/click on that allow you to activate an edit process for revising specific, defined portions of content.

As you view the content, you suddenly notice a statement of "fact" that you believe is in error, or not quite true, or perhaps it's not the best, most comprehensive way of stating something.

You know a way to correct or improve this specific text, based on your (hopefully) superior understanding of the topic.

You click-select a function that enables you to edit the text.

You modify, expand, restrict, or delete the statement.

You preview the edit (if you wish), then click-select the Save Edit button.

You see your change.

Instant publishing strikes again.


WIKI vs. BLOG


How is a wiki different from a blog?

On a blog, generally the only user-generated content is in the form of a comment that is, or may be if it passes moderation or other filters, published on the blog under a specific "post" or article. The article and its comments form a topic "thread" much the same as occurs in online forums, bulletin boards, and discussion lists.

Blogs usually cannot be edited by anyone except the person, group, or company acting as author.

Wikis may contain the content of, and be edited by:

*anyone (until rampant abuse occurs)
(OR)
*anyone except blocked abusers
(OR)
*only authorized editors.

A wiki is typically composed of a high degree of user-generated content, thus is currently used largely for collaborations, compilations, and team project management.


FIRST WIKI


Portland Pattern Repository, the "WikiWikiWeb" by Ward Cunningham, 1995.
A means for keeping track of design patterns by various pattern creators.


WIKI FEATURES include:


1. Title and purpose of wiki site.

2. Person or organization responsible for wiki, with contact information.

3. Content index, directory, or site map.

4. Description of the site as a "wiki", including definition, since many are unfamiliar with this site type.

5. Instructions on how to interact with (revise some content of) the site, including how to obtain a password or other editing authorization (in some wikis).

6. "Sandbox" area: A practice page where you can try editing wiki text, and make mistakes, without interfering with the actual, real wiki content.

7. Wiki Content Proper.

8. Recent Changes Page (usually minus minor edits).

9. Revision History Page: Previous versions of content pages, with "diff" category showing users and editors what changes have occured between revised versions. Administrative editor, and user-editors, can then revert back to earlier version if deemed necessary.

10. Moderator Alert Function: A designated moderator, who supervises the versions, can be alerted to all edits as they occur, to prevent abuse and to approve good edits.

11. No Registration: Most public wikis do not require users to register, login, or obtain a password or other authorization, to input revisions to much of the content.

12. Protected Pages: Vital pages of the wiki that are deemed to not need user edits, and thus are accessible only by administrators of the wiki.

13. Abuser Blocks: Users who add spam, errors, irrelevant text, or other bad content, consistently or maliciously, may be "blocked". Their IP address may be blacklisted. Also, since many Internet Service Providers assign a new IP address for each login, a temporary ban of an entire IP may be implemented as a measure against abusers. Many times an abuser is allowed to "vandalize" a wiki repeatedly, to have a substantial case against them, since it is so easy to revert to good, approved versions of a page.



PUBLIC WIKI LIST

World Wide Wiki at:

http://www.worldwidewiki.net/wiki/SwitchWiki

(AND)

Wikipedia List of Wiki
, at:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_wiki

BLIKI (or BLOKI)

A blog (weblog) that features wiki support, in that comments may be edited by any users, or authorized users, or administrative editors.

Bliki engine example: SnipSnap

http://snipsnap.org/space/Bliki

This bliki engine has many nice features and is constructed in Java programming language.


First commercial bliki: Socialtext Workspace (2002), an enterprize social software provider.


Bliki, wiki, blog integration information, including PIM (Personal Information Management): WikiWeblogPIM

http://www.ourpla.net/john/wikiweblogpim.html


PIM and CMS (Content Management System) are both types of special purpose databases.

Wikis and blikis are manifestations of the continuing simplification of, and increased user interaction with, online information as implemented as hypertext system web sites.



FURTHER READING:


1. Business Week: "Wikis' Winning Ways"

Article on wiki history, definition, applications.

http://www.businessweek.com/
magazine/content/04_23/b3886141.htm


2. Wiki applications articles by Amy Gahran, CONTENTIOUS blog

http://blog.contentious.com/
archives/category/wikis


3. "After the Blog is Gone: SnipSnap Plays Blikis"

Wiki and blog integration article by Robin Good.

http://www.masternewmedia.org/news/
2004/06/27/after_the_blog_is_gone.htm


4. Wiki Science: How to Start a Wiki

http://en.wikibooks.org/
wiki/Wiki_Science:How_to_start_a_wiki


5. Seedwiki: "collaboration on demand"

Free and Pro-level wikis:

http://www.seedwiki.com

Monday, January 24, 2005

Seminar: Seniors and the Internet, Dangers and Opportunities

******

My Vaspers the Grate seminar

"Seniors and the Internet:
Dangers and Opportunities"


will be presented at


St. Augustine Manor

1301 N.E. Glendale
Peoria, Illinois USA

Monday, January 31, 2005
at 5:30 PM


Admission is FREE.


Learn how seniors are using the internet
for fun and profit...and how to avoid
the dangers lurking in certain
regions and aspects.



Topics to be discussed:


*computer basics

*what is the Web?

*using search engines

*power email writing

*web sites specifically for seniors

*web usability: it's not your fault
(usually) if a web site
seems difficult

*digital art creation

*what exactly is a blog?

*how to start your own blog

*AARP recommendations

*FTC and CERT

*spam reduction

*virus protection

*phishing scams

*online gambling dangers

*health and medicine scams

*dating service dangers

*web site credibility evaluation

*safe web surfing

...and more.

Friday, January 21, 2005

Search Engine Hits on Popular Keywords

*************************************************

[EDIT UPDATE Jan. 24, 2005]

I could have saved a lot of time if I knew about this:

Google Battle

http://www.googlebattle.com

Presents "popularity reports", which keyword or phrase "wins" when pitted against another keyword or phrase. It's a "double search" engine, you type in one thing in the right text entry box, then the other thing in the left text entry box, then submit them. The winner is announced at bottom of screen, along with how many search results each thing produced.

CREDIT: I got this link from PR PLANET blog at:

http://prplanet.typepad.com/grg/
2005/01/google_battle.html

and I found that PR blog on the list of CEO blogs on The New PR/Wiki at:

http://www.thenewpr.com/wiki/
pmwiki.php/Resources/CEOBlogsList

I heartily suggest you Bookmark or Add to Favorites both URLs above.

*************************************************


Here are the results of my One Hour Google Experiment.



Methodology:

1. Go to Google Search site.

2. In one hour, from 3:15 AM to 4:15 AM, on Friday, January 21, 2005, type in as many popular keywords, often juxtaposing one term with its opposite (but not strictly consistent), plus some idiosyncratic terms, and see how many search results links appear.

3. Compile a list of the results.



THE POINT IS...WHAT?


I've conducted this experiment mainly to show you one way of looking at certain words and phrases. The actual number of search results--how do we now interpret the raw quantitative data?

Please realize these results are not necessarily so simple or easy to analyze.

Some search results links may be totally irrelevant, even erroneous, since some links may be to keyword spamming (spamdexing) sites. Some references may be dissimilar to what you would expect.

CAUTION: I usually do not visit any link unless it is ".edu" or ".gov" when doing research. Also ".org" is often visited. Be very careful how you decide what links to visit. Some links might take you to malicious sites that will install Trojan horses, viruses, spyware or other detrimental code, on your computer or network.

For example, "Beethoven" could refer to a music composer, a comedy film, a video game, a computer programming language, an industrial noise band, who knows?

Whatever. It's just an experiment. A Google search engine experiment.

May better men than me fuss over the analysis of it all.

For now, I think it's of some interest how many links connect to these keywords.

PERSONAL EXAMPLE:
There are over 6,000 search results for "Steven Streight" but not all are relevant. Some are online text citations that have "Steven" and the misspelling of straight, as "streight", somewhere further into the text. So bear this in mind when looking at the number of search results for any keywords or phrases in any research you might do.




Results Ranked by Number of Links:


God
131,000,000

Jesus
50,000,000

Steven Streight
6,380

Vaspers the Grate
795

Beatles
11,500,000

Buddha
6,860,000

angels
24,900,000

heaven
33,100,000

hell
37,000,000

love
251,000,000

hate
28,700,000

life
411,000,000

death
111,000,000

peace
65,800,000

war
221,000,000

eternity
6,370,000

non-existence
685,000

everything
121,000,000

nothing
103,000,000

something
164,000,000

infinity
10,000,000

invisible universe
1,190,000

mind
115,000,000

soul
53,100,000

happiness
12,200,000

sadness
(I forgot to search "sadness", sorry)

women
251,000,000

men
246,000,000


sleep
43,200,000

coffee
51,800,000

freedom
59,500,000

anarchy
4,460,000

America
182,000,000

Iraq
63,800,000

candy
22,000,000

art
380,000,000

monsters
8,940,000

machines
53,500,000

computers
150,000,000

internet
605,000,000

google
148,000,000

blogs
38,800,000

wiki
29,300,000

moblog
2,450,000

video blog
20,200,000

podcasting
1,160,000

RSS
117,000,000

glog
38,800

plog
561,000

clog
2,060,000

corporate blogs
8,060,000

web usability
4,450,000

web design
46,200,000

virtual musical instruments
864,000

Franz Liszt
430,000

Beethoven
6,390,000

Mozart
7,990,000

Bach
13,100,000

George W. Bush
14,400,000

John Kerry
9,790,000

George Washington
17,600,000

Abraham Lincoln
4,220,000


THE END





Monday, January 17, 2005

CEO Blogs: Polish Them Up Please

In the course of perusing current CEO blogs, I noticed some recurring errors, problems, and deficiencies.

Let's consider these flaws and how they can be fixed.


CEO Blog Errors:


1. No profile or "about me" page.

Don't assume that everyone knows who you are. CEOs, as a group, are often perceived by the general public and customers to be somewhat arrogant or detached from consumer concerns.

Consider having a nice, warm and fuzzy, "regular guy" (genuine, and not a pose) profile page with appropriate photo (dress or casual, depending on specific situation).

A "Welcome to My Blog" post is not enough. That post will get buried in the blog archives, and as months go by, it will be so buried, few will notice or read it.


2. No photo of CEO, or not a very good one.

Like I said, but want to emphasize again, consider including a really good photo of yourself. Ask employees, colleagues, family, total strangers, what they think of the photo. Use their reactions to judge the appropriateness of the photo in line with your objective.

Consider special photo opportunities, you at a company picnic, inspecting your products, observing the manufacturing process, talking with employees, involved in community service, speaking at a conference...

...instead of a stock, bleak, grim, dull background, corporate annual report photo. Jazz it up a bit.

How casual can you afford to look, without compromising the trust-inspiring professionalism required for your market and audience?

Let others get to know you as a normal person, and not some hard, bottom-line obsessed, insensitive machine.

3. CEO's company is not mentioned.

You'd think this was an obvious item to include on a blog, but guess again.

CEOs cannot assume everyone already knows the company you are heading up.

Most people probably pay little attention to the CEO's name, but plenty of attention to product quality, veracity of advertising, and customer service.

Present upfront mention of company name, and describe what your company does, slogan, tagline, what it's product lines are, what its quality and service standards are, its ethical guidelines, goals for the future, market position, distribution network, global reach, and what makes it unique.

If your company is well known, such as IBM, Microsoft, General Motors, Proctor & Gamble, Boeing, General Electric, Hewlitt-Packard, Sun Microsystems, Sony, or Time-Warner...

...consider saying something original about it, your personal comment on what your company is really all about, fascinating but little-known facts about it, how you came to head it up.

4. No blogroll, i.e., list of external links of blogs and web sites of potential interest.

A blogroll list of external sites of relevance is standard blog practice.

You need a list of external links, maybe marketing blogs, or industry blogs that you read and like.

Show people you're an active member of the blogosphere, not just "doing a blog" because you think you should, or because your competitors have blogs.

Not having list of other blogs/web sites could tend to make you look a bit isolated, self-centered, unfamiliar with relevant blogs, or disconnected with the larger playing field.

Listing other blogs and online resources helps form the perception that you're open to new ideas, that you're part of the blogging culture to some degree, rather than merely attempting to exploit an emerging trend.

Use bold sub-heads for categories within the blogroll, like "marketing", "technology", "PR", "advertising", "web design", and distinct subdivisions of whatever industry you're in. Think about adding a few personal interest or hobby sites that make you seem less stuffy.


5. No comments functionality.


Your blog, since it's reaching out to a target audience (customers, prospects, media, suppliers, distributors, investors, general public) needs user-generated content via comments enabled. Let users post comments. Let them interact with you, form a candid conversation with you.

There exist a variety of ways to minimize or eliminate spammers, abusers, and off topic comments.

Enabling users to post comments prevents your blog from appearing to be another monlithic, alienating, one-way message dissemination. Unilateral communication is now giving way to grass roots level, two-way interactive communication. Don't lag behind with archaic communication approaches and outmoded vehicles.

A CEO should welcome feedback from the audience. It's how you form a community of shared interests, and gain valuable insight into customer desires and perceptions.

(Learn about the benefits of "content attractiveness dynamic loops", "member loyalty dynamic loops", "critical mass of transactions", and "dynamics of increasing returns" in NET GAIN: Expanding Markets Through Virtual Communities, by John Hagel III and Arthur G. Armstrong, Harvard Business School Press, 1997.)

6. No link to the corporate web site.


Let's think like a marketing strategist, or a sales manager, for a moment.

If a customer or prospect likes your blog, maybe they will also feel friendly toward your corporation. They might even be in the mood to buy something. Potential investors may be inspired to purchase stock in your company.

Be sure to provide a prominent link on your blog to your ecommerce site or corporate web site.

Consider including links to distributers and to positive media articles mentioning your products and firm.

7. Not scannable.

The blog text is too dense. Break the text into shorter paragraphs. Use bulleted or numbered or asterisked lists once in a while.

Make your text easy and quick to scan, skim, and skip over irrelevant points, for users in a hurry.

Some users may be looking for a certain word, phrase, product comment, etc. and don't have time to wade through oceans of text to find it.

8. Not personal enough.

A CEO Blog should not be merely a re-hash of a PR release, mission statement, annual report, or corporate brochure.

Be yourself. Be simple. Be candid.

Don't fill your blog with boring fluff about how great your company is, and all the new products in development.

Get real. Provoke responses. Provide value. Respect your readers' limited time.

How do you break away from boring corporate fluff writing?

Read blogs by other thought leaders and CEOs, and when they touch you deep within, make you like the author and believe in his company or vision, ask yourself what is causing this. Read the publications that cover your industry, notice how they speak about it.

Here are some topics you might discuss, in a friendly, yet dignified, conversational tone:

What books are you reading?

What key concepts drive your company?

What kind of employee does your company seek to attract?

What do your employees enjoy most about working for you?

What is your corporate culture, work environment like?

What are your biggest challenges as a company, and how will you meet them?

What other companies or CEOs do you admire? Who were your mentors?

What were some of your mistakes, what did you learn from them, how did you correct them?

What style of corporate leadership do you endeavor to exemplify?

What do you wish your target audience could somehow understand about your corporate aims, history, vision, accomplishments?

What specialized information do you possess that could help others?

What trends do see emerging in your industry--and how are you attempting to lead them?

9. Not focused.

Be very certain and deliberate as to what you want to accomplish with a CEO Blog. Have a set agenda.

Don't "blog just to blog." Don't start a blog just to appear technically savvy or trendy or people-oriented. Set a definite goal or list of objectives you want to accomplish with the blog. Periodically assess your progress in achieving these purposes.

Do internet searches on your name, and your company name, to discover what people are saying about you.

Read other blogs by people you admire, perhaps marketing blogs by respected authors and practitioners.

Study successful blogs, according to link popularity rankings in such trackers as Technorati, Blogstreet, and Daypop. See how these effective blogs reach out to readers and gain their trust and loyalty.

10. No contact information.


Provide an email address or contact form. Write email address as: something[at] something[dot]com--to prevent spambot email harvesting.

Provide all other contact channel info: physical address, corporate phone number, fax, service and order tracking info.

Be approachable, open to suggestions, questions, complaints, praise.

Let people know how they can get in touch with you.



BLOGS vs. WEB SITES

What's the difference between a web site and a blog?

A blog generally tends to be:

More interactive (comments enabled).

More dynamic (frequent updates or postings).

More "up close and personal."

More relaxed, casual, conversational.

More focused.

More user-community oriented.

Blogs enable you to react faster to both good and bad news about your corporation in the media.

If you're a CEO, President, VP, Director of Communications, Chairperson or other corporate spokesperson, your blog needs to be a clear reflection of your standards of professionalism, integrity, and customer satisfaction.


CEO BLOG CHECKLIST


A CEO Blog should incorporate the following:

* immediate visual impression of professionalism, authority, integrity
* authenticity (real voice of CEO, not paid ghost-blogger, or simulated blog with fictional persona)
* honesty, candor, transparency, credibility
* relevance and practical value to target audience
* defined purpose, strategic focus
* description of company, products, mission
* links to corporate web site, other corporate blogs, dealer outlets, distributors, ecommerce site
* photo of CEO, plus photo gallery, with shots of happy employees, products in use solving problems, facilities, various assets that inspire trust or awe
* simplicity
* high level literacy
* easy usability
* good readability
* conversational writing style
* some personal details to convey human qualities, interests, hobbies
* upfront contact information (with internal servicing, not outsourced to external fulfillment service), or contact form (email message template, with hidden email address)
* brevity
* upfront privacy policy, terms of use, webmaster feedback
* interactive functionality
* timely responses to user comments, within the comment threads, not just in posts
* external linking strategy, relevant and useful blogroll
* searchable, categorized archives
* frequent updating
* hyperlinks to reputable, relevant external resources
* compliance with web standards
* compliance with basic accessibility


For a list of CEO Blogs, refer to The New PR/Wiki:

http://www.thenewpr.com/wiki/pmwiki.php/
Resources/CEOBlogsList

Monday, January 10, 2005

Virtual Musical Instruments on the Web

*****

I Make Music with Imaginary Musical Instruments that Exist Only in a Computer Simulation Form, with No Other Real Physical Substance: They are "Pretended Entities"

I've been spending some time over at NPR (National Public Radio), their Music Maverick web site. Within this site, they have online versions of composer Harry Partch's home-made musical instruments. Check it out at:

http://musicmavericks.publicradio.org/features/
feature_partch.html

I'm learning how to play virtual musical instruments on the web, using my PC keyboard and mouse control as the interface.

Imagine it: actual online versions of musical instruments, both acoustic and electronic. It's an amazing "rich web application" powered by the Macromedia Flash Player.

Let me tell you: my opinion of Flash applications just skyrocketed. This is a revelation. I think it is a revolutionary event of major proportions. (Kevin Lynch, Chief Software Architect for Macromedia--you may quote me.)

It's not easy to play a virtual instrument, though. But it's not intimidating either.

Depending on the instrument, only certain keys on my computer keyboard are operational in correspondence to the keys on the virtual keyboard. The good news is that by holding down a key, I can activate a repetition of a note, in a loop that changes its tonality and pitch slightly as time progresses, enabling a minimalist drone.

Passing the mouse cursor over clusters of virtual bells or virtual strings is also somewhat challenging.

On some virtual instruments that I've seen so far, you have a choice of using your mouse or your keyboard as the interface for playing them.

I haven't made any music during the last six years, but I spent quite a few years composing and performing avant garde experimental electronic music, in various bands and solo.

I made approximately 300 tape recordings, each with anywhere from 2 to 20 compositions, so the total number of original songs would be in the thousands. I don't like thinking about how many compostions I and we as a band made. It's spooky.

I specialized in analog and digital effects processing, music concrete (using naturally occuring sounds, like bird song, airplanes, squeaky door hinges, insect noises, etc.), and synthesizers. In addition, I created some of my own instruments and devised innovative techniques for playing existing instruments.

My favorite music is electronic compositions by such modern classical composers and university professors as Morton Subotnick, Iannis Xenakis, Vladimir Ussachevsky, Pierre Henry, Pierre Schaeffer, Milton Babbitt, Edgar Froese, Alvin Curran, Daphne Oram, Pauline Oliveros, Isao Tomita, Wendy Carlos, Terry Riley, Oskar Sala, Tod Dockstader, Charles Dodge, and many others.

What's really interesting is the fact that a home computer user can access sophisticated virtual musical instruments, play them, record the sound emanating from the computer speakers, and have a composition on tape.

Do a search on "virtual musical instruments" and see what you can discover.

Remember, as you explore, that you don't want audio clips of musical instruments to listen to, you want actual virtual musical instruments with which you can interact in real time.


ORDER MY NEW MUSIC


If anyone out there is interested, my new virtual instrument compositions, "Tsunami 2005 Symphony" (45 minutes) and "Properties of Linear Detergents" (45 minutes) is available on cassette tape.

Virtual versions of musical instruments designed by composer Harry Partch featured on my recording:

* chromelodeon I
* zymo-xyl
* spoils of war
* harmonic canon II
* kithara I
* kithara II
* surrogate kithara
* crychord
* diamond marimba
* bass marimba
* gourd tree with cone gongs

WARNING: This is not "world music" or "dance beat" or "techno" music, it's experimental avant garde composition. In the style of the 1960s and 1970s French, American, German, Russian, and Slavic university electronic composers.

You might compare certain aspects of it to the aestheics of "Zeit" (1972) or "Atem" (1973) albums by Tangerine Dream, which I have recently acquired at Barnes & Noble.

"Tsunami 2005 Symphony" (for the victims and survivors) may also be compared a bit to Vladimir Ussachevsky's "Film Music" LP and certain compositions of French composer Lt. Caramel.

Not abrasive industrial noise, but not syrupy sweet new age dumbed-down minimalist sleepy music either.

Explore my inner universe of surrealistic, micro-melodic, with transient, non-sustained rhythmic material, ambient noise drama overtone adventures in sonic experimentation. 90 minutes of fun for the whole family (of dischordant tone clusters).

There's no singing, but the music does contain a small amount of sporadic voice intrusions from radio receptions and phone answering machine messages.

Just email me for ordering information. The cost is only $10 USD per tape (90 minute high bias TDK or equivalent quality cassette), plus shipping cost.

Ask for the Streight Virtual Instrument Concert Tape #1.



UPDATE EDIT (Jan. 12, 2005)



I just discovered a new vmi (virtual musical instrument) web site.

http://www.tidewater.net/~xylojim/playpipe.html
Elemental Design by Jim Doble

He has some vmi you can play, including Pipe Harp, Wrenchaphone, Pentatonic Aquarion, and Stonaphone, plus links to other interesting experimental music sites.