Archive for October, 2009

Why are you always the same Mr. Blog?

Blogs have many uses. Some are informative, others are for laughs, and some just blow your mind. One could be all three of these things. People keep coming back to a blog for many reasons but one that is important is writing style. This is why I believe that blogs should generally be based on one idea. If you are stuck for an idea when starting out there is a huge list of them here.

Ideas like how to garden or bake cakes lets the reader know where they can come for information on that topic. People make mistakes by trying to do too many things at once. A blog about sports, calligraphy and underwater basket weaving would be ineffective. Daniel Scocco of DailyBlogTips prefers niche blogs over one with many topics. It is better if you focus your energy on one thing so you aren’t spreading your time and blog too thin.

Some may say why can’t I just have a blog with many topics like a newspaper? Well there are several things wrong with this. First, a newspaper employs many people. Sure they are a one-stop shop for various news but there are far more than one person running the thing. Second, if you choose to cover many topics, you will not be able to cover them at the same rate than if you focused on one. Lastly, when potential readers come to your site they are expecting something. What I mean is if you go to a candy store, you want candy not V8 juice or a steak. The same applies for blogs. People go to TMZ for gossip, ESPN for sports, and PeopleOfWalmart for crazy good times. They should go to your blog for information on a specific topic.

Writing about just one issue can also give you credibility after a while. People may see you as an expert in whatever field you are blogging about. Niche doesn’t have to automatically mean bad. ProBlogger suggests that many viewers are repeat visitors. Once someone has found a blog that they like, they will keep coming back for new information on the topic and may even tell their friends. Having a niche blog can separate it from the millions out there in the blogosphere.

In conclusion, I have told you that a blog should have a defined topic. It may be something that no one has written about. If that is the case then you can corner the market on that idea/issue/topic. Writing about many things is too time consuming. Your readers will appreciate the dedication it takes to keep the blog current. After a  while people may link to your site because you would be the known person in a particular area. Your blog can provide a familiar place for people to come back. This can result in repeat viewers and even some money if you have ads on your blog. So my challenge to you is pick a topic and run with it. I’ll see you down the road when we are both millionaires.

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Project 2.0

I have decided to go with the making of a website for HUMV. Here are the steps or small goals to my project.

1.) Set up a WordPress account with the name HUMV (I think HUMV.wordpress.com is still available)

2.) Pick a user-friendly background and theme (should have a calendar that can be clicked on to find out what is going on that day for the group)

3.) Consult with the President of the group while designing and putting up information on the site

4.) Put all the current information on the website

5.) Tell all the people on the mailing list about the new site (this will hopefully cut down on the e-mails for MyUW accounts)

6.) Write at least a weekly blog on Mondays to let people know the weeks schedule

7.) Update the blog/site/information when it becomes available

8.) Sleep and repeat

The universe is changing faster than you think

Is Kanye West really a jackass? Do we really need to know what the President thinks about him interrupting Taylor Swift at the MTV Music Video Awards? These days everything seems like it is newsworthy. With technology getting better and faster, everyone has the opportunity to become a journalist. Cell phones have the capability to post video or pictures of a particular event that wouldn’t have been covered otherwise. This leads to the blurring of news and something that just randomly happened. It would take forever to read everything that was put on the Internet on one particular day. We have so much knowledge at our fingertips that newspapers are folding left and right. The Seattle Post-Intelligencer was around for more than 140 years. After not turning a profit since the turn of the century it became online only.

I used to deliver newspapers for the Courier-Herald in Enumclaw. That was just nine years ago. The stories in the paper were mainly Enumclaw news with a little bit of Buckley news thrown in. Fast forward to today and now it is a regional paper for Enumclaw, Buckley, Bonney Lake, Orting and Sumner. I would read that paper every Wednesday morning (it was a weekly edition) for the sports stories to see if my name was in the paper. The Internet makes a weekly newspaper with sports stories that are five days old nearly obsolete. Now I can google David Baydek and find out that there are 480 entries in 0.11 seconds or a blink of an eye.

The Courier-Herald and the Seattle PI are feeling just like the scribes did when the printing press was invented. They believed that their newspaper would always be around. I think they will be, although probably not in printed form. The Internet gives us local and national news as long as we have the time to look at it and $20 to make Comcast happy. Everyday last year I would walk to my bus stop with my girlfriend to read the headlines of both Seattle papers. I would never pay the 75 cents to buy one or the other. I would just look at the big picture on the front talking about the recession and 10 tips to saving money. If anything peaked my interest then I might go online to see what it was about.

Questions

1.) How will newspapers (or news form Internet) distribute information in the future and how will they make money doing it?

2.) What are the upsides and downsides to online newspapers like the Seattle PI or Crosscut.com?

TV media should report just the facts

This is hopefully the third to last time I will ever mention “balloon boy” until I die. It seems pretty amazing that someone can be famous for not doing anything. Reality TV stars at least blow up and swear at each other. This kid is famous for something he didn’t do. I believe that the TV media should have checked a few more facts before reporting the story.

Television media is responsible for reporting the facts. That is just my opinion. Bill Kovach believes that journalism should follow nine rules. His third rule says:

Its essence is a discipline of verification.

That means someone should have done some calculations to see if a tiny balloon could carry a 60 lb. boy. In my Weather 101 class, the professor said that the balloon could only carry nine pounds while being up that high.

I wasn’t alive back in the day when Walter Cronkite was on the evening news; Television journalism has gone down since then. It reports the most sensational stories in order to get ratings. One such case is Anna Nicole Smith’s death. Jeff Jarvis writes about the shame of American TV journalism. “Balloon boy”, hopefully second to last reference, fits in this category.

Mainstream news and local news would rather report on a violent crime somewhere far away than real news like what is happening to Social Security. Janet Loughrey makes the same suggestion at OpEdNews. She thinks that sensational news distracts us from what is really going on. I won’t go that far but we are getting close to that point.

Then comes Twitter. While TV media is busy showing the same footage of a balloon that seems to be going 1,000 mph, people on Twitter were being skeptical. Twitter of all places! I guess the world is changing. Now we find out that the father planned this weeks ago. Everyone deserves their 15 minutes of fame but this family was already on Wife Swap. So please TV media, just report the facts or else I will pledge my allegiance to Twitter.

If you just can’t get enough “balloon boy” you can play the game. My high score is 597.

Project ideas

I am thinking about doing option A. One idea is to design a site for a student organization I am in called HUMV. It is an organization for veterans at UW. The only thing we have now is a giant mailing list. It clutters up the UW email with numerous messages. Having a site would make communicating easier and hopefully more efficient. I would like to make a calendar for upcoming events and have regular weekly posts reminding people what is going on.

Another version of option A is making a personal portfolio site. I haven’t  sent out a resume since 2000 so this would be a way to get that process going. It would be a creative way to highlight my life experiences. I have never heard of a personal portfolio site until this class so it would be a good challenge for me. It would also be nice to play around with backgrounds and layouts if I was able to do either the site for HUMV or a personal portfolio.

Obama, O’Reilly, and Cluetrain: Sounds like a bad interview with some jazz mixed in

The 2008 Presidential election was the topic of discussion in the Nieman Reports reading. It tried to see what impact people and bloggers had on the election. Full disclosure, I wanted Hillary Clinton to win. Obama’s campaign was light years ahead of any other candidate trying to become President. He was on Twitter, YouTube, and used text messages (SMS) to get people out voting. People who supported Obama, according to the article, were allowed to start new things but eventually was taken over by the campaign. It was semi-user generated content but gave way to a gatekeeper in the end. There is hope that future campaigns can improve upon this model and let people be creative instead of hearing a monotone voice repeating the same message.

The Cluetrain Manifesto felt like the letter Jerry Maguire wrote just before he got fired. Companies that don’t adhere to the user first model might get left behind for ones that do. In relation to the Obama campaign, many people gave the campaign feedback. This was in the form of bloggers and volunteers. They let Obama’s people know what was working and what he could do to change. The McCain campaign also got the same feedback but didn’t listen. McCain’s message never changed with the times. It would be similar to a company that didn’t listen to people who were them advice. People won’t buy inferior products if there are better choices for the same price.

The Read-Write Web continues with the theme of change. Instead of companies or politicians it is talking about technology. The Internet has changed from stagnant webpages to being more interactive. It all started with the ability to make changes to a website. This led to comments and feedback once blogs came around. The comment section is valuable no matter if it is on a blog or about a product. It can give feedback to a company so whatever product they are selling can improve. Obama used new technologies to reach a wider audience than ever before. His campaign was like a company with the slogan of change. He went to town-hall meetings to listen to “consumers” and modified his strategy. The outcome was altering his position on certain issues because of the feedback he got from potential voters.

Questions

1. What strategies, in relation to technology, could have helped John McCain or Dino Rossi in the 2008 elections? 

2. In the age of Tivo and Hulu, how can companies advertise without consumers fast forwarding or tuning out their message?

And the winner is

Entry to the Competition

The contestants must have a first name that is two places higher or lower to David in the alphabet. They also must be enrolled in COM 495. Finally they will have to have a blog on WordPress.com because I am in fact a company man (dun nun nunh, dun nun nunh). I will be looking for readability and consulting with experts in the field of blogging to determine a winner.

Similarities

I only noticed one similarity through all four blogs and that was a white/light background and black/dark text. Readability is key in getting your word out. Before this change, some blogs were hard to read. Apparently not being able to read light text on a dark background is due do to astigmatism. This was one drawback of bad eyes I have never heard of. Since all four contestants had the insight to have dark text on a light background they will move on to the second round.

Differences

Theme colors were chosen with great care in this competition. Ashley chose a blue theme. Bryan, with a y, had a grey theme. Delaney and Ivan both chose white themes but Ivan’s didn’t have a border around the blog posts. Bryan and Delaney both had a title and a subtitle as mentioned in 10 design tips to make your blog look fabulous. They will move on to the final round in the first annual Battle of the Blogs.

Showdown

The winner of the competition came down to the wire wih the title being the deciding factor. Research has shown that blogs with well thought out titles get more traffic. Delaney’s subtitle was informative but Bryan’s, with a y, related to a catchphrase a certain no nonsense sports reporter uses. Bryan, with a y, wins the first annual Battle of the Blogs competition! He gets the coveted second link to his name, which will invariably double traffic to his site. Keep checking the blog for other competitions in the future like Craziest Post and They Said What.