Archive for writing
In today’s world of rampant regurgiblogging what constitutes originality in a blog post? Should every post be completely original or is that goal essentially impossible? In virtually any niche you will need to go beyond what you simply think up on your own and have to link to others and (gasp!) possibly reblog in one form or another. So the question is: how do you do that and still add value for your readers? Here are three general approaches to blog writing that involve added value, but you will notice that two of these are not about purely “original” content!
1) Original Posts: Sure, there are blog posts you could call “original” articles. Usually, though, these means telling a personal narrative rather than discussing a current idea, topic or news item. Why? Because as soon as you are talking about news or anything outside of your personal life you will inevitably be repeating information. Still, this applies to a rather limited set of blogs and blogging styles or one-off articles.
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Anyone who is active on social media sites should appreciate this little spoof that discusses Social Media in the 1990s. It is meant to be funny and it is, but it is also revealing: after all, what did we do a decade ago when none of this stuff was around? The correlations aren’t all 1-to-1 but they are certainly entertaining.
Researching online can be a real pain and too many people default to Wikipedia when they aren’t sure where to look. These 25 Online Resources for Reliable Researched Facts are a good place to start looking beyond your standard haunts. There are many other places of course but this well-written list is a good one to bookmark for future use.
I saw this a while back but never posted about it: a great article on How to Find Weird Stuff on the Web by ReadWriteWeb. Even if you’re not looking for weird stuff per say this is a good introduction to alternative methods of finding information online.
Did you know that a headline or first sentence can break an otherwise awesome article? Everyone knows that websurfers have short attention spans, but the longer you write the more you will realize just how short they can be. By the third sentenceprobably half of them have stopped reading and are looking for the next big thing.
And can you blame them? There is a lot of good content on the web, so an introduction that is catchy (a question, little known fact or amazing statistic) is key. If you can, make your article into a list whether or not you envisioned or even initially wrote it in list format.
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It’s strange how a critical mass of change is sometimes needed to put one’s life in perspective. I think I’ve been running on autopilot for a long time and hadn’t even realized it. Comfortability breeds complacency and, at least in my case, led to a lack of reflection on (or coherent direction) in my life.
Does this mean I haven’t reflected on things? Have I been truly asleep for the last weeks, months or even years? Made decisions with forethought? Not really, no. Still, hindsight is (as they say) 20-20 and it’s amazing how clearly I now see what I have been doing and perhaps as importantly what I haven’t been doing.
Change isn’t always easy and it certainly isn’t always fun but I have to say that, at least on a good day, I believe it is usually for the best. At each critical juncture of my life a massive change led ultimately to growth, cheesy as it sounds. The philosopher Immanuel Kant credited his fellow philosopher David Hume with awakening him from his “dogmatic slumber” and I would credit recent events in my life with the same.
Now, Kant ended up far from Hume in any philosophical sense. In extremely simplified terms: he believed in the power of reason to ascertain truths about reality while Hume believed in what he could see, test and prove repeatedly. In short, Kant thought the mind was the answer to understanding reality while Hume thought experience was.
So what is the point? The point is this: whatever it takes to awaken you after a period of inaction or insufficient relfection may not be relevant to your subsequent realizations. In fact, I think it may often take you in a completely new direction you hadn’t anticipated and perhaps can’t fully grasp right away. For me, I’m reacting to changes and picking a new direction to a large extent not directly forced by these changes. Where will it lead? Who knows, but probably not where I expect.
For those of you lame enough to admit it, you’ll recognize the above as a lyrical reversal from the Counting Crows. My sleep schedule has been going wacko recently with all the random stuff going on in my life. I decided that when you’re getting to bed at 8 AM you’re just a wee bit too far off the beaten path of society and are doing yourself more harm than good.
At the same time, though, how to fix the cycle? There’s no way I’m reasonably going to get up at 3 PM and go back to sleep again 9 hours later. Instead, I’m going to push all the way through and make a day-and-a-half out of it. The plus side: lots of time and peace and quiet to work on things tonight and I’m (hopefully) sure to get a good night’s rest tomorrow.
I suppose this kind of sleep cycle can’t really go on forever … can’t let things get pushed back indefinitely over and over again. Still, even without a typical 9-to-5 day job I’m thinking it should be possible to at least roughly align myself with the daily drudgers. And if I still end up on a 2-to-10 sleeping schedule? Well, then I figure I’m on the right track to act like a ‘normal’ person and can still rub in the fact I get to sleep in late!
No one likes it when people steal an idea and republish it. In the world of blogging, a’via’ link at the bottom of a post has become the norm for crediting sources. However, this phenomena is getting way out of control and many people link to the latest source in a long chain rather than the original. I found out first hand just how bad things had gotten when I started trying to track the actual source of an article today, only to be plunged into a seemingly endless list of links.
It all started with a blurb on EcoGeek about a 007 Solar Pen Camera spying device. I wanted to submit the link to Digg then noticed their blurb was via TreeHugger, which in turn added two new links: ChinaVision and Dvice. The latter link traced to UberGizmo, which linked to UberReview that in turn linked to 7Gadgets (an appropriate 7th link in the ongoing chain). Most of these sites didn’t link to the ChinaVision (original) site, and only one linked to 7Gadgets where this information apparently first hit the blogosphere.
The fact that this last source didn’t link another source doesn’t even mean, of course, that it is the last source in the chain. Maybe this is just where the chain got broken because one author didn’t cite his source. So where did this come from? Which one should you link to or submit to Digg? Who knows. What does this mean for the blogosphere? Is it natural and healthy sourcing or a sign of things getting out of control?
After six months, it seems like a good time to do a ‘best of’ post for this site. Diggin through my Google Analytics account I was actually surprised at what turned out to be some of my top content. Instead of trying to pick out what I think is the best stuff on here, I left it up to the numbers. Without further ado, here are the most popular posts from the last half-year on All Sux dot Com:
(7) Link lists have always been a crowd-pleaser, and are a great way to brain-dump cool stuff I find online.
(6) Apparently, a great deal of people approved of my suggestion that we use that horrible Chocolate Rain video in place of other forms of torture.
(5) Some semi-offtopic posts actually do pretty well, go figure. My comparison of three sites on which to write and make money was fairly popular.
(4) They say a pictures is worth a thousand words. Sadly, this picture turned out to represent thousands of lives.
(3) I admit I occassionally play fun little SEO (Search Engine Optimization) games, particularly if I want to outrank a scammy site (like Helium.com) or an article I disagree with. This was one of those cases.
(2) One of my personal favorites, this rant about Conservapedia was picked up by Fark.com which almost crashed this site, sending thousands of hits per hour!
(1) Sometimes simplicity is the best policy. Believe it or not, coming in at over 15,000 views, this image which requires no explanation is the most-viewed content of all time on All Sux dot Com!
I think my biggest shock in looking all of these up was the fact that most of my old content, which I remember thinking ‘wow, that got a lot of hits!’ is near the top of the pile. I guess I’m getting used to all the additional traffic, and old posts which got hundreds of hits seem small by comparison. Now I barely notice unless a post hits at least 5K (not on this site, but on other sites I write for) … am I getting jaded?
They say that “imitation is the best form of flattery,” but I happen to believe that unsolicited praise is. Those of you who blog know that it is great to get your site or a site you work on reviewed. What could be better than a review in general, other than┬ an in-depth review by a blogger you only recently found out about? Allsux has been reviewed in the past, as has Web Urbanist, but rarely in such great detail and with so many positive comments as a recent (unsolicited!) review by Individuals at Home.
This kind of review is a great reminder to bloggers who wonder about their readers – why so few comments? Does anyone really care about this stuff? Sometimes it is those who you know the least who are the biggest supporters of a site you slave over. It is reviews by savvy bloggers with excellent content that remind me that blogging is worthwhile. In turn, reviewing a blog is a way to say thanks as well as an excellent way to introduce your blog to others!
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So I’ve been working a bit toward slowing down on blogging in order to wrap up some real-life projects that need attention. I’ll be posting a bit less here and in a few other places, but I won’t leave you hanging! Regular readers know I like to hand out link love now again, but tend to link some folks┬ more than others – bloggers I have known for quite a while, worked with, been helped by, helped┬ and so on. Don’t be shy: speak up if I forgot someone!
Today, I’d like to thank John for his interview regarding Romlet and his continued support of the widget as well as his early adoption of it! I’d also suggest checking out Tamar‘s blog, particularly the most recent article regarding problems with Digg. Muhammad is really ramping up his new main site with a vengeance – check it out┬ his interview with the creator of Digpicz.┬ ┬ ┬ Be sure to dig deep into Webomatica, you may find some old but applicable articles that are well worth reading. Andy has some great tips for bloggers, and has been helping me come up with monetization strategies for some of the sites I work on via e-mail┬ – thanks Andy, hopefully my blogs get to the point where they can at least pay for their own hosting soon!
Finally, I just recently came across OneMansBlog – a really neat site about, well, everything. I have to admit I have a personal soft spot for blogs that don’t try to niche themselves too much. I recommend looking at the ‘top content’ widget on the right for some interesting stuff! Update: I also just came across a contest on OMB. Normally I don’t really go in for contests (this may be my first), but this one is pretty straightforward: link to OMB (I was doing that already!) and subcribe to the feed via email (that too!).
Since I might be away for a few days or longer, and posting just a few times a week tops, I wanted to┬ make sure this top content roundup stays somewhat sticky┬ – if you’re bored it might be fun to browse ;)