Tuesday, February 28, 2006

The New Blog Order: Less noise, more signal

Over the past month, I've been blogging like crazy to increase traffic. While I was able to get 400% more visitors than before, I've also learned quite a bit about the changing world of the blogosphere.

First off, the 'link blog' is dead. With services like Digg.com and del.icio.us -- it's very difficult to find a new link to post that hasn't already been found. Full-time blogger Kottke has realised this.

New bloggers will have to start acting like journalists and authors. Searching for a scoop, and spending time crafting a well thought out entries. For instance, how Guy Kawasaki writes his blog -- spending a couple of hours writing a single post, and getting that post proofread by a trusted colleague.

Also, bloggers need to be more diligent about citing references. In this age where nothing has been posted once, take the time to search Technorati, or the web and find the sources of your information as well as similar posts -- simply putting a single 'link' at the end is not enough. We must create value, not link spam.

Happy blogging!

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Saturday, February 25, 2006

Another CoComment tip


I've mentioned before that coComment is a sweet tool, but it's still got some hiccups.

I've noticed that many websites will pop-up a comments window that doesn't allow you to access your browser menu, and hence -- no ability to click on the coComment bookmarklet.

So here's a tip that works in Firefox at least -- with the pop-up window selected, open the 'Bookmarks Manager'. Click your 'coComment' bookmarklet.

This should let you coComment your post.

Technorati del.icio.us submit Another CoComment tip to digg.com reddit

Japanese web browsers

Why there's a rush to create new web browsers, I'm not sure -- but it's interesting that the Japanese have a couple of new entries.

Shiira is an OSX browser, which takes its visual design cues from iTunes.

Sleipnir calls itself 'the most customizable browser' -- and that's the end of the English language on their site. From what I can tell, it looks like a highly-hackable interface built on the Mozilla-core, but I could be wrong. According to Greggman there are a lot of people using this.

It's always amazed me that the Japanese never entered the software market to compete with a home-brewed OS, but they seem to be playing catch-up with the browser market.

Personally, I love Japanese design aesthetics, they've always had a better sense of technology-fits-nature than the Western techie mentality of build-first, design-later. Hope to see more of this.

Technorati del.icio.us submit Japanese web browsers to digg.com reddit

Search Engine Zen

When rummaging through the referral links to find out how people come to this blog, I occasionally find a few oddball searches. Although since they linked to me, I don't know who that makes the oddball, me or the searcher. Here are a few:

Adopt-a-monkey day
Surely, if there isn't one already, there should be. Greeting card companies invent holidays all the time. They've missed out a niche in the British market with this — and possibly a day celebrating the Jedi Winter Solstice.

When did curling become an Olympic event?
It seems people agree with my post about Curling being a load of rubbish.

I Hate Google
Ah, the irony -- a Google search about hating Google. Just for the record, I never said I hate Google. I love Google.

I Ching 3D Sphere
Finally, this bizarre French language search. I have no idea what an I Ching 3D Sphere is, but if I did — I bet I'd be a lot wiser.

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fEverish Mind defeats BlackBeltJones


It's a running joke with Loz and I that Jones is the Darth Vader to his Luke Skywalker.

But according to Alexa, I can say -- "When I left you, I was but the learner -- now I am the Master!"

Seriously, though, I think we'd all like to see more regular blogging from BBJ.

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Friday, February 24, 2006

Customising Wordpress - Day 1

I'm finally getting a blog going with WordPress. Since I'm going to attempt to create a completely customised look & feel, I thought I'd keep some notes, in case anyone wants to do the same.

I downloaded the latest WordPress (2.01) -- again, it was dead-easy to install. Of course, my web host MediaTemple makes adding a MySQL database easy as well. After that, you just edit a file, upload it, and follow the two-step process in your browser.

Next, I can't stand the WordPress admin pages. I highly recommend re-skinning it with the WP Tiger theme. Again, easy to set up. Download. Unzip. Upload. And then activate the plug-in from the admin pages. WP Tiger is much slicker, and keeps the main commands on the left-hand side, which I find much more convenient.

The third step was a little tricky. I had to add a blank '.htaccess' file to my Wordpress folder, and then set the permissions so that WordPress could edit it. I didn't get it right at first, but once I did -- WordPress automatically sets up the file structure for the site. So instead of "blah.com/index.php?p=349" i can have links like "blah.com/category/tag/" ... nice and clean.

So, now I'm ready to start reading UrbanGiraffe's tutorial on how to strip down my template and create a new one.

To see the work in progress, visit my test blog.

More to come.

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Thursday, February 23, 2006

Microsoft - Project M

For some reason I'm still subscribed to Stanford's mailing list for recruiting new graduates. Mostly these are requests for junior Java programmers, which go promptly into my 'Deleted Items' folder -- but occasionally I get something interesting like this announcement about Microsoft's Project M.

According to Plaxoed, it's going to be Microsoft's answer to Flickr. I guess we'll wait and see.

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Advertising programs of the Technorati 100

I've been reviewing the advertising, and sponsorship campaigns used by the top 100 blogs as listed by .

I'm going to test these different services out, but here are my preliminary findings:

Technorati Top 100 - Ad programs

36% - Network affiliates
Many of the larger blogs have formed a network to boost the potential traffic to their advertisers. The network is typically managed by one person who handles sales across the network. Alternately, there are a few companies that place ads, but they are a closed network, in that they are invite-only, and don't have an automated process for the public.

The main networks are:

BlogAds (17%)
BlogAds is a popular choice for placing graphic banner ads, usually in combination with Google or AdBrite text ads.

Federated Media (6%)
A bit more exclusive, they seem to offer a suite of services to publishers, with an eye for turning their content into a media franchise instead of just a blog.

Gawker (5%)
Gawker has branched out from its flagship blog, to create a mini-empire of 14 hot titles including Kotaku (one of my faves), LifeHacker and more recently, ValleyWag. They've tightened their chokehold on the Geek and Gossip audience by relentlessly promoting their own blogs on their network. And it seems to be working, considering 36% of their portfolio is in the Technorati 100.

Weblogs, Inc. (5%)
Where Gawker has gone for quality, Weblogs, Inc. has gone for quantity. This AOL acquisition has well over 200 blogs in its porfolio. With Engadget (#3), Joystiq (#28), The Unofficial Apple Weblog (#51), and Autoblog (#30 in Chinese, #88) making it into the top 100. Impressive for the network, but less so for writers, considering less than 2% of their blogs have made the top 100 -- it seems like a scattershot approach rather than the careful media promotion found on the other networks.

The Deck (2%)
The Deck has taken a minimalist approach to advertising. A network of high traffic blogs, A List Apart(#17), 37signals (#65), Daring Fireball, Waxy.org and Coudal Partners.

33% - Multiple providers
Most sites used more than one advertising provider, usually a text-link ad provider such as Google AdSense or AdBrite and a banner-ad provider from their network, in-house, DoubleClick or FastClick.

26% - None
Some people actually work for a living, and don't need to place ads on their website. Imagine!
AdFreeBlog.org even has a snooty icon you can use to show the world you look upon on all the bloggers who pimp themselves to the 'man'.

21% - Google AdSense
The king of text-ads, Google ads are almost a pre-requisite for any ad-driven blog.

9% - AdBrite
AdBrite is the next most popular text-ad provider. Owing much of its popularity to being the provider of choice for the Gawker network. It seems like they might provide more customisation of the ad links than Google.

9% - In-house
Some of these cowboys wouldn't trust their web advertisement to any profit-skimming third-party when they can code it themselves. A home-brewed ad-banner engine is the way to go for uber-techies.

7% - Paypal donations
Ain't too proud to beg? Neither are the Technorati 100. If you love their content enough, toss them a couple of bucks.

7% - Amazon.com product placement
A few people are making commissions by recommending books or music for you to buy on Amazon.com. A couple of people are flogging their own books as well.

5% - DoubleClick
DoubleClick used to be the dominant ad-banner provider, but they fell out of favour due to their habit of sending browser cookies and tracking people across sites.

3% - Fastclick
Fastclick is the friendlier version of DoubleClick, not bothering with all the cookie sending. Seems like a reasonable alternative, if you don't have an in-house ad agency.

I'm going to be trying out these services on a test blog. Watch this space!

Technorati del.icio.us submit Advertising programs of the Technorati 100 to digg.com reddit

DiggRing - Gaming the system

I've noticed that new users to Digg.com often find their posts languish with only a few votes, even for quality content.

So -- I'm trying an experiment called DiggRing. It's a Google group where members post their Dugg stories and the other members go and Digg them.

Let's see if it works.

Technorati del.icio.us submit DiggRing - Gaming the system to digg.com reddit

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Blonde joke

It's not really my style to do gags. But this blonde joke is classic.

Get it?

(found via FutureLines)

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CoComment - a Web 2.0 service worth commenting on

I've largely ignored the Web 2.0 hype. Personally I hate the term, since nothing about internet technology has actually changed. I'm equally irritated that this term has opened the floodgates for digital snake oil merchants looking for a quick VC dollar.

Still, one of these so-called Web 2.0 services has caught my eye: CoComment.

I've had a similar idea for ages, but he who codes, wins -- so they beat me to it. What they've done is to create a bookmarklet that allows you to capture your comments made on various blogs and websites and save them to a central list.

For example, view my conversations.

But ... is this a business? It seems more like a feature missing from my browser, or my RSS newsreader.

Still it's one to watch. A word of caution though -- it's still in beta and there are a few irritating flaws. First, I've not been able to unsubscribe from the test blog they provide, which means I get 'testing cocomment' messages every day. Second, for websites not using the platforms they support, it seems to disable my ability to submit a comment after I attempt to 'cocomment' the discussion, resulting in my having to copy my comment text, reload the page and paste it back in. Finally, it would be nice if there were an automatic detection tool -- I've made a few comments only to remember coComment right after I've hit 'submit'.

Technorati del.icio.us submit CoComment - a Web 2.0 service worth commenting on to digg.com reddit

YouTube - Piracy "Doesn't Really Matter"

I've been involved in a YouTube discussion on Om Malik's blog, where he likens YouTube to Napster.

While YouTube may indeed be facing legal dangers as people realise the amount of copyrighted material it contains -- you can't deny how convenient this type of service is. The public demands mini-snippets of video, tagged and categorized (and not linked to a single studio or broadcasting company) -- and the industry has yet to respond.

For instance, look how easy it was for me to settle an argument using YouTube. I was listening to JPop radio when a track called Papillon by Hitomi Shimatani started playing. (Let me just save Loz the trouble of making a cheeky comment by saying -- I'm happily in touch with my inner-child. It just so happens that my inner-child is a 13-year old Japanese girl.)

Anyhow, my friend said 'Is that Janet Jackson singing in Japanese?'. I replied that it probably just sounded like Janet Jackson, but it also sounded like every other JPop song ever made.

Well, a quick Google search proved me wrong. But since seeing is believing I was also able to compare both videos on YouTube:

Hitomi Shimatani - Papillion
Janet Jackson - Doesn't Really Matter

That's why I love the age we live in, information and media access only a few clicks away. And should I have to pay $1.99 for each video when I just want to settle a score? I don't think so.

Technorati del.icio.us submit YouTube - Piracy reddit

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

The Zulu Principle - Blogging for Profit

"I first named this approach 'The Zulu Principle' after my wife read a four page article on Zulus in the reader's digest. From then on she new more than me about Zulus. ...The key point is that the history of Zulus is a clearly defined and narrow area of knowledge" - Jim Slater

I read this quote some time ago, but as I am now developing a commercial blog, it seems more relevant than ever.

What I've learned over the past few months of research is that aside from the old-school bloggers, who were the early adopters and thereby secured their place on countless blogrolls, new bloggers must 'narrowcast' -- meaning they must specialise in a single content topic and write consistently and frequently on your specialist subject. Sites like del.icio.us, Digg and Reddit and countless other newcomers have made the 'cool links' blog obsolete.

So, I'm taking the Zulu Principle to heart, and attempting to become an expert and specialise in a specific category for my new blog (coming soon).

Technorati del.icio.us submit The Zulu Principle - Blogging for Profit to digg.com reddit

Monday, February 20, 2006

Very nice concept / semantic map

Interaction designer Moritz Stefaner has created a very nice mapping tool he calls WINDS relation browser.

Here he has used the region and language information found in the CIA factbook to create a map of relationships between countries and spoken languages.

More please!

Technorati del.icio.us submit Very nice concept / semantic map to digg.com reddit

Gervais trying to cash in on PodCast success

Having launched the world's most downloaded podCast, Ricky Gervais has apparently outgrown the Guardian.
His new show will be launched on Audible, as a pay-per-download service.

I'm very disappointed with this move. I'm convinced that the pay-for-play model cannot succeed, and I'm sure this theory will soon be validated by pirated downloads of his new show.

You can't lock content behind a toll-gate. Digital content will always find a way to be freely accessible. Those are the times we live in.

Gervais should have put his podCast pulling power behind a viable model, which would push the industry forward -- namely ad-based and sponsorship-based schemes.

Sad. Launching on audible will no doubt make Gervais a pretty penny, but I was hoping he would continue to promote models for free online content. Especially since he's always said that he's not in it for the money.

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Sunday, February 19, 2006

Blog treasure hunt concept

Roll your mouse over **this piece of text**

Here's the code...

roll mouse over <span onmouseover="document.getElementById('foo').style['visibility']= 'visible';">this piece of text</span><br/>
<div id="foo" style="visibility:hidden;width: 216px;padding: 56px 0px 10px 20px;margin: 3px;background-image: url(http://www.kaigani.com/treasure_chest.png);background-repeat: no-repeat;color: #ff6633;font-family: verdana;font-size: 0.8em;">
<p style="width: 180px;">Can you find the rest?<br/>Follow the <a href="http://www.cre8d-design.com/blog/2006/02/09/blog-treasure-hunts/" style="color:#ff3300">blog treasure hunt</a></p>&nbsp;<br/>&nbsp;<br/>&nbsp;<br/>

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Saturday, February 18, 2006

Now... for some talented people

Yes, some people on the web are actually promoting their talent for something other than talking about blogging.

Hethe Srodawa has some great illustration and character work on his (her?) site. I only wish there was a little more about who this person is, and what they've done.

all kinds of stuff is a must-read. It's a new blog by John Kricfalusi, the artist behind Ren & Stimpy. Full of great works-in-progress.

Also discovered on that site, Katie Rice another really good character artist / animator.

Finally, check out Ray Fenwick on Flickr, and his Hall of Best Knowledge is a collection full of both wit and delicious hand-drawn typography.

Technorati del.icio.us submit Now... for some talented people to digg.com reddit

Wanted: Streaming YouTube Zeitgeist

There is a growing amount of interesting video content showing up on services like YouTube and Google Video.

However, these services are not catering to the passive interaction model found in television.

I'd like it if I could search by tag, or by channel and then stream all the videos in that category in my media player.

Even better, they could allow users to create their own branded idents and interstitials to create their own 'channels' based on what they've found.

I, for one, would leave the motion graphics channel on play in the background.

Technorati del.icio.us submit Wanted: Streaming YouTube Zeitgeist to digg.com reddit

The brrreeeport experiment -- was it worth it?

In case you thought I lost it two posts ago, rest assured. I was just taking part in an experiment having to do with that word -- and I promise I'll never use that word on this blog again.

I won't go into the details, there is plenty of noise in the blogosphere regarding the nature of that person's experiment.

I should say that the effect was similar to being listed on Digg.com -- it did boost traffic to this website as was suggested it would.

However, like Digg -- I'm not sure the this type of traffic is 'good' traffic. Like ambulance-chasers, this group of meme-chasers is looking for the latest spectacle on the web. It momentarily catches their attention, and then they move on to the next bit of hype.

I'm afraid that building blog readership is much like building actual relationships. You can run in the street yelling 'Hello!!' to passersby, and it will get you noticed but not in any meaningful way -- or you can sit down and have a conversation with someone new, and maybe you'll find each other mutually interesting.

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Friday, February 17, 2006

More Gervais fun

On YouTube: Meet Karl Pilkington

Technorati del.icio.us submit More Gervais fun to digg.com reddit

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Am I Brrreeeport or Not?


This guy is so brrreeeport it's scary. I doubt there is anyone more brrreeeport than this fellow.

Technorati del.icio.us submit Am I Brrreeeport or Not? to digg.com reddit

Wanted: RSS & Babelfish mashup

Babelfish and Google translations don't seem to work for RSS feeds. I could write this myself, if I had time, but what someone needs to make is a simple conversion from RSS-to-HTML, send that through Babelfish, and then convert the results back into RSS.

That way I could subscribe to all these cool Japanese sites I love to visit.

Any lazyweb takers?

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Blog responsibly.

There is a lot of media coverage alerting parents to the unsavoury material that their kids might be viewing online -- but not many people seem to be /discussing the potential danger of irresponsible blogging.

Kids and teenagers may think they are writing a blog for their handful of friends when, in fact, they are creating a permanent digital record of their words.

I, for one, wouldn't like some of the nonsense I was spouting when I was 16 coming back to haunt me today at 32.

Even from University days. Just think how many people are posting their pictures from a wild party online? May seem like fun now, but it won't seem so great when your future employer Googles your name to find a picture of you barechested while sucking on a beer-bong.

Teens and young adults should be given the advice to at least use pseudonyms when posting online.

Technorati del.icio.us submit Blog responsibly. to digg.com reddit

Smarter Folksonomies

Websites are increasingly using tags as a means of navigation, and organisation of community generated content.

However, simply listing tags by popularity has its limitations. I'd like to suggest a few simple improvements.

1. Tag clusters by context
As an information architect, I'm not comfortable with the concept of a 'tag cloud'. I think it's a lazy excuse for navigation -- let the users build it themselves. As these tag clouds grow, I believe more and more people will find it useful to have another layer of organisation -- clustering the tags by category. del.icio.us has created 'tag bundles' to address this, but I suspect that for any site to do this in a meaningful way, it will take some good ol' index building, designed by a person with a flair for taxonomies.

2. Tag clusters by affinity
Sites should begin to group related tags and perhaps list them by popular 'clusters' rather than popular tags. I've previously noted how the tag page of del.icio.us is predominated by tech tags -- if this page were to group tags like AJAX, CSS and RSS into a cluster, it would open up space for other, less techie tag clusters to be visible on the homepage.

3. Disambiguation

The classic example here is 'reading'. Does a 'reading' tag refer to items to be read, or to the location of Reading? It would be fairly simple for sites to determine the context either by other tags linked to an entry, or by content from the entry itself.

4. Error correction
I was surprised that sites like Technorati haven't done this yet, but searching for a misspelling, such as 'desing' doesn't yield the spell-corrected suggestion of 'design'. Websites could either offer a spell-checking feature, when posts are created, or determine that one 'desing' tag is meant to be 'design' based on the other tags pointing to the same post.

5. Semantic linking
Similar to tag clusters, websites should accommodate for people's slight variations in tagging. For example, labelling something 'weblog' shouldn't exclude a post from turning up in a search for 'blog' or 'blogger'.

Technorati del.icio.us submit Smarter Folksonomies to digg.com reddit

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Become a celebrity, a manga or a picasso

has a suite of mobile image applications that can transform pictures of faces into celebrities, manga characters, animals or rendered in the style of a famous painter.

Too bad it's only for mobile applications ... it would be fun as a photoshop plug-in as well.

(via PicturePhoning)

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Google Sightseeing

Of all the Blog feeds I'm watching, few are more refreshing than Google Sightseeing.

Highlighting unique features on Google maps or Google Earth's aerial photography, it's like taking a 15 minute break to jet around the world.

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We hate Google ... but please acquire us!

Is it just me, or is the web-buzz extremely hypocritical/schizophrenic these days.

On one hand, it's trendy to attack Google over its censorship in China. On the other hand, people are celebrating that Measure Map was acquired by Google.

While they are two very different points, I think they both stem from the same thing -- the apparent close proximity of Google and, more importantly, its $102 billion market capitalisation.

Google is a web services company with whom we netizens are very intimately linked. We rely on them to search, or to blog (as is the case here) -- and it is through our loyalty that Google is successful. At the same time, anyone who is in the industry has a nagging voice in the back of his/her mind saying 'I could have been Google... if only...'

Because web services companies are so transparent, the effect on some is much like that of a hungry dog sitting under a table at Christmas dinner. Angry and jealous, because he feels he could just jump onto the table and start eating (i.e. anyone could duplicate Google's web services, in theory), and at the same time subservient, and holding out for that juicy bone (i.e. acquisition by Google).

Much of this love/hate buzz about Google is because there are a lot of people kicking themselves for not being the next Measure Map, and desperately touting their Web 2.0 snake oil with the hopes of temping Google to drop a few million on them too.

But if you look at Measure Map, or del.icio.us, -- or Flickr (who arguably kicked off this whole Web 2.0 madness) -- what made them successful was a team of extremely sharp, extremely talented user experience designers who started with a basic, unfulfilled user need, and they conceived a web service to satisfy it.

Unfortunately, Web 2.0 services also seem to be organising around a basic need -- namely 'I need money'.

Technorati del.icio.us submit We hate Google ... but please acquire us! to digg.com reddit

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Curling? C'mon!


When did Curling become an Olympic sport?
Surely there are more noteworthy winter sports than this ... bowling for manic cleaners.

Apparently, it became a full medal event with the 1998 Nagano Olympics.

Wait -- it all makes sense now. The Japanese will watch anything on TV. The Olympic committee must have thought that since Curling was well received at Nagano, it's an Olympic medal event.

Keep this up and the Olympics are going to look less like a sport competition and more like the Guinness Book of World Records.

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Sunday, February 12, 2006

The Newsvine Velvet Rope

Susan Mernit's post on Bloggers playing the influence game illustrates how people are using the Web 2.0 hype to create rediculous amounts of buzz, with the hopes of being the next Google or Yahoo! acquisition.

Newsvine has played this tune brilliantly. With their invitation-only system, they have bloggers across the web clamoring for a coveted invite.

The rationale put forward is that exclusivity will help foster community and raise the standard of dialogue. However, considering I've seen a number of posts by people who say "I've got extra newsvine invites, anyone want them?" -- that hardly seems like quality control.

The difference between the internet and the real-world is that if you invite 20 strangers to a party and they behave poorly, then your reputation is at stake.

As far as I can tell, Newsvine offers no sense of accountability -- no penalties for inviting someone who then spams the forum.

But in terms of a marketing exercise, it was a good idea, because it got people talking.

... and yes, I'd like an invite: kaigani [at] gmail [dot] com

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Google's Top 20 Powerbloggers

Let's face it -- much of blogging is an exercise in vanity. Look at me! Hear what I have to say! As part of this, every blogger (whether they admit it or not) will Google their own name to see how highly they rank in the listings.

This is not much of a challenge for me, considering there aren't many people named Kaigani. However, I started thinking about the challenge this must pose for people with common names. I also thought it might be an interesting way to discover blogs, aside from the top listed ones that you see on all the blogrolls.

Hence -- The Powerbloggers.

The criteria for being a Powerblogger is to be the active author of a weblog ranked the highest by Google when searching for that author's given name. And their given name must be one of the 10 most common names for a man or woman. I've used an American list of names, because (at the time) I could not find any other list of names based on current census rather than baby names.

So here they are...

Male Powerbloggers

1. James - James Wolcott (#8) (Google ranking)
Interestingly two British bands JAMES ranked #1 and James Blunt ranked #4, but the first actual blogger was James Wolcott.

2. John - John Battelle's Searchblog (#12)
Not surprisingly John Kerry ranks at the top of the list, however he hasn't caught the blogging bug. Senator John McCain (#8) and author John Grisham (#9) also haven't made the most of their pulling power, leaving the first Powerblogger on the second page of search results at #12.

John Battelle was one of the original founders of Wired Magazine, among his multiple projects, his searchblog, which focusses mainly on Google, is the only one carrying his name.

3. Robert - Robert Scobleizer - Scobleizer: Microsoft Geek Blogger (#3)
The top Google ranking goes to author Robert Munsch, however the title of Powerblogger goes to Robert Scobleizer. However, this is his old blog, and until people update their links to his new one, Google will continue to promote this one.

4. Michael - Michael Moore (#1)
Michael Moore is the first Powerblogger to be ranked #1. Not surprising considering the popularity of politics and media when it comes to blog topics. He's at the centre of both.

5. William - William Gibson (#8)
William Hung ranks #1, apparently through a comic failure on American Idol. Thankfully, he's not a blogger -- which leaves Cyberpunk genre-defining author William Gibson as the Powerblogger. It's a bit sad that on Google, Gibson, along with authors Faulkner and Shakespeare sit behind William Hung and online sports betting site, William Hill.

6. David - David Weinberger - Joho the Blog (#8)
David Bowie (#1) is worth mentioning for the fact that it enables people to create their own fan-blogs on the site. Also of note is the David Suzuki Foundation (#2), with regular updates, but it doesn't quite qualify as a blog. Nutter David Icke (#3) should win an award for the most annoying webpage, but apparently the he's too busy fighting the Matrix, The Illuminati and Snake-people to write a blog.

David Weinberger's Joho the Blog is the Powerblogger here, with his writings about internet and technology culture.

7. Richard - Richard Stallman (#1)
Stallman gets the coveted #1 Google ranking, as the founder of the GNU Project. His site is a bit old-school, and it takes some poking around to find the Blog under Political Notes.

8. Charles - Charles Stross - Charlie's Place (#39)
There aren't many Charles' blogging. It took some digging to reach this page. Maybe bloggers aren't going by their given name of Charles, but are instead choosing Charlie or Chuck? ... Chaz?

Charlie's Diary is the actual blog, where he writes about his life as an author of Sci-Fi novels.

9. Joseph - Joseph Wu's Origami Page (#1)
Finally -- a Powerblogger who is not a techie or an author. Joseph Wu's blog isn't updated very often, but it's definitely interesting, and useful. It's also a full of practical advice, which is a welcome change from the typical narcissism of the blogosphere.

10. Thomas - Thomas P.M. Barnett (#52)
Again, bloggers don't seem to be using their full name, 'Thomas'. Barnett, who has published political books, doesn't even rank in the top 50. Which makes me think that Tom Coates' Plasticbag.org should really be listed as the Powerblogger, ranked 4th in a search for 'Tom'.

Women Powerbloggers

1. Mary - Mary Hodder - Napsterization (#31)
The 'Mary' results are predominated by links to colleges and Christian references, so Hodder's blog falls down the list. On Napsterization, Hodder comments on the changing world of media through P2P technologies.

2. Patricia - Patricia Muller - Vanilla Mist (#9)
Brazillian web designer, Muller shows the power of creating your own WordPress templates. Most of the discussion, and popularity of this blog is due to her 'Connections' template, which links back to her website when used by others.

3. Linda - None
Incredibly, I couldn't find a single Linda blogger in the top 100 Google results.

4. Barbara - Barbara Ganley - bgblogging (#34)
Ganley teaches creative writing, and courses specifically about blogging. Writing a blog about blogging is a sure way to become a Powerblogger.

5. Elizabeth - Elizabeth Lane Lawley - Mamamusings (#10)
Finally, another woman blogger in the top 10. Lawley, an information technology professor and Microsoft researcher, her blog is an interesting mix between technology news and personal diary.

6. Jennifer - Jennifer Ledbetter - Geeks Make Me Hot (#3)
Tech-saavy Wordpress support-gal, Ledbetter also knows a bit about branding. With a sexy title to lure in the boys and loads of techie-talk to keep them there. She's also a webdesigner, who I suspect has benefitted from the Wordpress-effect.

7. Maria - None
Like Linda, no Maria appeared within the top 100 ranked sites.

8. Susan - Susan Mernit (#8)
Susan's "writing and news about social media" - has ranked her as a Powerblogger. She doesn't even need to upgrade her blogspot hosted account.

9. Margaret - Margaret Cho (#1)
Margaret Cho is way ahead of her celebrity peers when it comes to the internet -- she's been a blogger since 2003. Like many personal blogs, Cho writes mostly about her life and times.

However, since she's a comedienne, her insights are more entertaining than your typical blog. Cho is the only female Powerblogger to be ranked #1.

10. Dorothy - none
Again, no bloggers named Dorothy ranked in the Google 100.

Falling short on Female Powerbloggers, I grabbed some of the top British women's names for 3 more name searches...

Rebecca - Rebecca Blood - rebecca's pocket (#2)
Author and long-time blogger, Blood provides some interesting web commentary.

Lauren - Lauren Wood - Anyway (#10)
Feministe's Lauren blogged away for 6 years, achieving a Google rank of #9, however since she left the Blog in January, Lauren Wood is our Powerblogger, with her slightly more tech-focussed blog.

Amy - Amy Gahran - Contentious (#10)
Content Strategist, and self-proclaimed 'Info Provocateur', Amy Gahran is our final Powerblogger, with her Contentious blog. In addition to that, she is possibly the top Powerfeeder, offering not only her own RSS feed, but compilations of her favourite feeds reader for import into your browser of choice. The largest one is a mammoth list of 400 feeds! That's enough content to keep you going for a while.

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Open Source Web Design

OpenWebDesign.org has a series of templates for download, although their selection criteria is a bit questionable.

Skip to the Most Popular designs and a few of them are decent.

Still, the designs are very conservative. The site seems more techie-driven than designer-driven. It would be nice to see some really cutting-edge designs up there.

Another incentive for web designers -- a footer link is great publicity and it kicks your Google ranking up. Just see what it did for Matt Mullenweg -- the #1 'Matt' in a Google search, thanks to his putting a link from the WordPress templates he developed.

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Saturday, February 11, 2006

Famicom Rock

This guy has rigged together 8 Famicoms (Nintendo Entertainment Systems) to create Frankenstein's synthesizer.

(via Greggman.com)

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New look

My blog was looking a bit dated and amateurish, so I thought I'd fill it with Web 2.0 gradient goodness.

Still hacking blogger templates to bits.

What do you think?

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Friday, February 10, 2006

17 Reasons to Return to Academia

Jeff Han, my new interaction design Idol, has a series of projects that we'll probably be seeing in MacOS XIV.

His amazing multi-touch interaction research has been doing the blog-rounds lately.

But if you need yet another link, here ya go.

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FeedTier - RSS feeds for non-RSS sites

RSS feeds have made me lazy... I can't really be bothered to browse the web anymore when so much of it comes to me neatly packaged.

However, there are still some small sites that don't use RSS. So for those, I've found FeedTier - RSS Web Feed Generator for Web Pages without Syndication

Seems to do the job.

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Mashups + MySQL + Metatagging = MMM goodness

I often speak about how I'm looking forward to the day when the internet moves from being a platform for content publishing to a massively distributed database.

The 'mashup' buzz is about essentially just that. Taking the data from one or more sites and re-using it in a novel manner.

It occurred to me that many sites and blogs are already using MySQL databases to store their content -- so it wouldn't be that great a leap to create a public access mode for some of the data stored in these databases.

What we need is a simple, open protocol for searching and retrieving data not only from a local MySQL database, but any MySQL database with its entries tagged as 'public'.

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Information Aurelisation

Sheridan College Institute in Canada has developed software that makes network traffic sound like classical music: Canadian IT Operators Discover Beauty In Spam - Yahoo! News

I love this idea. Imagine if you could create a semantic layer that contextually linked information on the internet to various genres of music.

You could navigate by following a certain genre -- for instance, classical might lead you to historical information, techno might lead you to technology news -- and you could find related information by following harmonic threads of music that sounded good together.

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Thursday, February 09, 2006

Kinetic Singapore

Kinetic Singapore -- a website that feels more like an animated short.
(via k10k)

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Wednesday, February 08, 2006


sketchswap_com, originally uploaded by kaioshin.
I posted about a similar online doodling tool back in Nov. 2004, but these guys have put an interesting twist on it.

You sketch a pic then you get someone else's pic drawn in real time.

If they spice this up with flickr-like web2.0 goodness -- it would be amazing.

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7 Easy Steps for Adding Categories to Blogger

Sooner or later, Blogger will need wake up and smell the WordPress, and add categories and tags -- this is considered essential blog functionality these days!

However, since I've been using Blogger since 2001, and I've hacked my template way beyond the blog-standard, my blog has come to feel like a comfy pair of well-worn jeans.

So here's yet another hack to add a list of categories...

1. First, set up a new del.icio.us account. Even if you have an existing account, you'll want a new one or else you will spam your list full of links to your own blog.

2. Next, I'd recommend downloading the del.icio.us extension for Mozilla Firefox. It makes tagging pages much easier.

3. Here comes the unpleasant part (especially if you have 300+ blog entries like I do) -- you'll need to go through your archives and tag every entry you've made. The upshot of this is that it's a nice way to look back on your blog and make sense of it all.

4. Given that your tag-space may evolve as you go along, it's a good idea to open your del.icio.us account and consolidate your tags into a controlled vocabulary -- suitable for the higher-level categories you'll need for navigation. Barring that, you can adjust your tagroll later to filter out the lesser-used tags.

5. Go to del.icio.us/help/tagrolls/ and adjust the appearance of your tags. I'd recommend keeping the min and max font size identical, as it will give it the appearance of category links.

6. Copy the code from the del.icio.us page, and paste it into a new module in your template, alongside the main content.

7. Republish your blog.

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Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Bunchball VideoGames

Pretty cool. Have a go!

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Digg it!

My DiggNation parody was finally Dugg to the homepage. Diggnation/ Beavis and Butthead style


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Monday, February 06, 2006

Codemonkey on my back

I have a love/hate relationship with my programming background. I love that I can think of something, and then make it. That's what lured me into the game in the first place -- when I was a kid I wrote a little school adventure sim, and felt the godlike power of making virtual people do what I wanted them to do.

However, with the joy of creation comes the painful treadmill of learning new languages. (Although I'd imagine true coders enjoy this).

I can list what I've learned chronogically, Basic, Assembly, C, C++, Java, Perl, ASP, PHP, Python -- that's not even counting my CS courses -- and it looks now like I have to learn Rails and Ruby On Rails.

I've been keeping my head in the sand. Saying 'nyah nyah nyah' to block out the noise. But I can't ignore it anymore, this Ruby On Rails thing isn't going away. And I'm beginning to think that I build my next project on anything else at my own peril. But the kicker was seeing how quickly services like YubNub have popped up by using Ruby On Rails.

So that's the curse. I can't just settle into a familiar language and use it until I'm old and grey. It's like if you speak English and start to notice that more and more people around you are speaking Spanish -- eventually you'll have to give in if you want to get things done.

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Concept: Google Sponsors

I've noticed that I've gone blind to Google Ads. When they launched, it was innovative, and the idea of related ad links was compelling and less intrusive than other forms of advertising.

However, they are now so omnipresent that I wonder how effective they are.

I think the next step in creating effective campaigns would be a consistent sponsorship model.

Here's how it would work:

Company XYZ signs up for Google Sponsors, creating a variety of assets carrying their brand identity. Given their budget, they choose to a certain tier of sponsorship -- for instance, websites with 1,000-1,999 daily visitors. Their maximum spend dictates how many websites they will sponsor. So if they decide on $10 CPM/day with a max budget of $100/day -- they can sponsor 10 websites.

Next, a blogger, Joe subscribes to the Google Sponsors program. He verifies his daily traffic via an invisible traffic counter which runs for a month, then he becomes eligible for a sponsor. He views a list of sponsors (which Google filters according to the best-match for his website's content) and he chooses Company XYZ.

From then on, Joe's Blog is sponsored and co-branded by Company XYZ.

I think this is a better option than rotating ads, because visitors to Joe's Blog will receive a consistent marketing campaign, and the message will be reinforced with each visit.

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Coming soon

yubnub prediction
yubnub prediction, originally uploaded by kaioshin.
Given the way YubNub has been growing its commands -- I predict it won't be long until we see something like this...

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Sunday, February 05, 2006

Blog Update

I've moved my blog to MediaTemple.

Thanks to Andy Hertzfeld for hosting it on his personal webserver for so long, but I figured he might be getting more than he bargained for with the amount of traffic and updates I've been generating.

Also, I've added a del.icio.us list to the blog, in an attempt to hack categories into Blogger.

It's not complete yet... I'm going through and manually tagging each entry in my blog. Fun.

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Saturday, February 04, 2006

The Digital Average

Jason Salavon is a digital artist who uses a technique to create the pixel-by-pixel average of a set of similar images. For instance, he's taken video clips of late night television shows (with similar shots) and averaged each frame. The result is a matrix-style blur of the host.

Gives you a sense of what it might be like to be a transdimensional being.

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Friday, February 03, 2006

The Information Bubble will Bust

(Why Web 2.0 will Eat Itself)

Everyone seems very excited by the idea of social networks right now, and with good reason -- people are able to categorise information in a more intuitive manner than a search algorithm.

However, I still see a problem with this. As these services move from the 'technorati' to the mainstream public, they will exceed a usefulness threshold and then the value of these services will rapidly decline.

Here's an analogy. Suppose a group of friends went into a massive library and decided to put post-it notes in books they've found interesting and useful. This might be a great system at first, but then suppose other people think it's a good idea. Soon the library would be flooded with post-it notes from people who have completely divergent interests, and the system would collapse.

However, far more worrying is the nature of the information that is being created today. New, insightful and useful information is diluted and expanded upon at an alarming rate.

Take for example, the false rumor that Google was developing an operating system called 'Goobuntu'. A Google search on 'Goobuntu' currently shows 426,000 links. If you estimate each link to contains on average 2 paragraphs of content, then you're talking about a 142,000 page document!!

This is an amazing amount of junk content resulting from the online community's penchant for commentary over solid research.

The problem stems from the fact that it is easier to publish new information than it is to amend or consolidate existing information. When you mix that the tendency to add one's own opinion to a piece of information that being communicated we're building an enormous information bubble -- and I predict that this will eventually computationally exceed any technology's ability to extract comprehensive, meaningful data from the internet as a whole.

So, rather than building smart searching, tagging or ranking tools -- what we need to start building are consolidation tools which can extract the increasingly rare gold dust of valuable, valid and unique content from the babbling stream of information.

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Lorem Ipsum

Found a useful tool for all things generic -- lorem ipsum generator found at Lipsum.com, or just Lorem to you YubNubbers.

Until now I had always relied on
Pascal's lorem ipsum text page

However some crafty person went and created a heavy duty version that generates all sorts of variations, and even exports as XML.

Now we can all embrace the joy of text.

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Thursday, February 02, 2006


Enryu T-52 is a rescue robot designed to help in emergencies.

Ah Japan, building tomorrow's anime future today.

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(Yet another YubNub)

I've added another YubNub command, of which I'm particularly proud because it took some PHP coding on the back-end.


It will say any English word in the Mirriam-Webster dictionary which has audio.

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Who needs IT?

I had high hopes for Channel 4's IT Crowd. The trendy advertising of the show made it look as though it was squarely targeted at web geeks like myself.

I imagined a cross between The Office and Slashdot. Full of Spaced-style inside jokes for techies.

What I got was an unrealistic outsider's view of the IT department -- exacerbated by an incessant laughtrack to boot.

The Techie part of the comedy seems to go no further than to say -- look at how the IT department is full of geeky guys in the basement who don't fit in with the rest of the company. Aren't they weird?

Where The Office was filled with comedic insight into the behaviour of middle-management and their disgruntled cubicle-dwelling employees, the IT Crowd offers up flat caricatures.

Graham Linehan, the creator of the show, apparently thought he would usher in a Sitcom revival. Apparently taking the BBC special Death of the British Sitcom as a cue.

Unfortunately the sitcom has died for a reason, and going back to the old laughtrack driven forum is about as compelling as reviving old vaudeville acts.

In short, I'd give it a miss. If you want funny, geeky in-jokes, check out the Narnia rap battle.

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Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Web 2.0 needs User Experience 101

Or Why Early Adopters are Ruining Social Networks

Lately I've been looking into services such as Digg.com and Reddit.com and del.icio.us

While all of these services offer the compelling concept of community ranking and tagging of links... it doesn't take long to realise that they are becoming overwhelmingly dominated by geek culture (or "pwned" by the "l33t" users) -- the early adopters.

The danger of this, is that many groundbreaking innovations may alienate the mainstream public.

Take for example the most popular tags in del.icio.us. One look at the homepage reveals terms like Ajax, CSS, Blog, Programming, Software, etc. In fact, 55/120 (46%) tags were directly related to technology, or the internet. With Knitting standing out as the only decidedly non-geek related tag.

Compare this to Amazon.com's Top selling non-fiction books and you get a very different view of the collective interests of netizens. It's far more varied in its content, covering a broad range of topics, with historical, economic, and political themes predominating.

Here's a thought experiment -- imagine that John is someone who has spent all his time reading and mastering the material found at the top of del.icio.us, and Sally is someone who has spent all of her time reading and mastering the top selling books on Amazon.com. Who would you rather invite to your dinner party?

Another dangerous trend among these community ranking websites is the dominance of the early adopter community. Being able to understand an innovation quickly, this is naturally your internet/tech savvy crowd (I count myself among them) -- however, there is a negative tendency in this community to attack outsiders and n00bies.

If a well-meaning newcomer to Digg.com, decided to quickly submit a story which accidentally duplicated a pre-existing story, or was on a subject that had been over-hyped and people were tired of reading about -- they could find their post flooded with negative comments.

Even in my own experience, when getting started with Digg one of my posts was greeted by "Go spam somewhere else tard" -- by someone who obviously made snap judgment without looking at the post itself. (My post was a parody of the many Million-Dollar website links that kept cropping up.)

Similarly, make an unpopular submission to Reddit, and you'll slowly watch it sink into negative ranking.

The promise of social network ranking systems is a quality filter, a noise gate, for the million-channel broadcast of the internet -- in practice, it is also filtering out diversity of thought and encouraging submissions that play to the incumbent audience.

The is no simple solution to this, but I believe the service that will succeed is the service that doesn't look for bastardised forms of game theory to model a ranking system -- it will be the service that goes back to good ol' User Experience basics and begins to understand how people want their information to be filtered and prioritised.

Just because we're building Web 2.0 doesn't mean we throw away the lessons from Web 1.0.

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HandSelecta - Graffiti fonts

has commissioned a team of graffiti writers to create fonts in their style.

So far, there are a number of tag style fonts. Hopefully, pieces will come soon.

Although letters in a piece would need some pretty heavy-duty ligatures.

Ah... brings back memories of when 'tags' brought to mind pre-commercialised, raw hip-hop music and the smell of Sharpies -- rather than Web 2.0 prognostication.

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