Tag: <span>Jason Kottke</span>

I had a few hours to myself on Saturday afternoon as Louise had gone into Glasgow to meet up with her sister and cousins for a wee afternoon out. I took the opportunity to do some shopping and, after careful deliberation, decided to buy all four shirts that I had spotted. Decadence? Not really, they were £5 each in Primark (Preemark).

Headed into Glasgow later on, met Louise and wandered up to Bath Street to meet our friends for a shandy or three. According to my darling wife I was happy drunk on Saturday night, which explains my lack of motivation for doing anything that didn’t include the words “horizontal” and “couch” on Sunday. It was an excellent night though and as usual it zipped past. Last thing I remember I was playing with remote-controlled daleks and I’m pretty sure that wasn’t just some weird dream. Ohh and whilst I remember I’d like to apologise to the brunette bar-lady in Moskito. Sorry for leering, but it was my wife who pointed you out to me, blame her.

Watched some episodes of the IT Crowd last night but not as funny as the episode of Robot Chicken that we watched late on Saturday night. Admittedly I was fairly drunk by that point and can’t actually remember WHAT I was laughing at but I do remember that it was very funny. A-torrenting-we-go this evening. Which reminds me, I heard that some of the bigger torrent sites were hit by lawyers recently, anyone spotted any fallout?

Ohh and that, in turn, reminds me that I’ve got a draft post about torrents (a how to) sitting waiting to be finished. Must stop procrastinating. Wouldn’t it be great to blog full-time? Jason Kottke has just finished his “year of blogging” raising $40,000 in the process. Not to shoddy. Anyone fancy ‘sponsoring’ me to do the same?

Right, it’s 8.25am, time for coffee and the perusing of emails. Ohhh wait, I almost forgot.

Anyone know the rugby scores from the weekend?

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Yesterday, during my experiment with Odeo – experiment, mucking about on the ‘net; potAYtoes, poTAHtoes – Richard asked “if you could only ask one… from anywhere in the world.. which blogger would you invite along to the blogmeet on Saturday?”

My initial reaction was to look overseas, and at one of the better known bloggers. Jason Kottke, Heather Armstrong or such like. People I’ve been reading for many years now. Then there are those who I admire for their work in a particular area – mainly web design – and from there I thought it would be best if I could at least decide on what “type” of blogger I would want to invite.

Would I prefer to meet one of the über-smart, cutting edge bloggers? Or one of the more ‘writing’ focussed types? For that matter there are a number of celebrities who blog, maybe one of them? Neil Gaiman, Moby?

And then I realised that I already HAD a pre-filtered list of bloggers, it’s on this very site (down there on the left). But how on earth do I choose just one? I’m completely stumped.

So, I’ll pass the question over to you (rephrased slightly).

If you could choose to meet one blogger, from anywhere in the world, who would it be and why?

Blogging

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Apparently “Writing is the only profession where no one considers you ridiculous if you earn no money.” according to Jules Renard.

John Gruber over at Daring Fireball agrees and has kicked off another campaign to raise some funds to support his site. Whilst it’s certainly an issue to take stock of I’d venture that very few people make any kind of money running their sites – although Neil has announced that he made about £175 last month, which isn’t too shabby. Of course the highest profile (blog-wise) news on this front was most certainly Jason Kottke and his drive towards reader-supported blogging.

A quick caveat: I’m not concerned with those who are blogging specifically to make money. I’m talking largely about the hobbyist blogger, the majority of whom run their sites at a loss.

Thankfully my stats remain low so I don’t have any issues with bandwidth charges and the like but what if you do? Which is better? Adverts or a member/sponsor drive? Would it be possible for me to cover my costs for running this site? And more to the point, how much would YOU pay to read this site? (or perhaps how much should I be paying you?)

I will happily admit to having considered running adverts on this site but each time I do I find I can’t really justify them. My readership, whilst hugely intelligent and esoteric (somewhat good looking too), isn’t exactly numerous, and if I’m honest I think adverts just LOOK bad. In saying that, the idea of actually making a little cash, however paltry the figure, out of this hobby that I spend a lot of time on does hold some appeal. After all, what would be better than to get some cash for doing something you enjoy?

No, I don’t think I’ll ever go down the advert route (feel free to remind me of this if I ever do) but it does get a little draining to put time and effort into something with no reward. Ahhh now we are now approaching the crux of the matter.

I don’t begrudge John his readership (I’ve enjoyed his writing for some time myself), and he certainly has his own reasons for asking his readers to cough up a little cash (it’s not a huge amount, relatively) but I think just doing that crosses a line and possibly reveals one of the reasons you are involved in this funny little land of blogs. Yes, that age old question of “why do we blog?” rears it’s head again.

Do I blog for fame and fortune? Or something else, something a little harder to get a handle on, a little harder to define. Do I REALLY blog for me?

Well that question will remain unanswered but I can take Saturday as the perfect example of getting something good out of blogging. I got the chance to meet some interesting people, and as ever I came away with several good ideas, new points of view and a better take on myself.

Tell me, what price can you put on that?

Blogging

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Jason Kottke recently posted a link to this article which discusses the practise of “word theft”. Apparently “It was an old tradition in encyclopedias to put in a fake entry to protect your copyright”.

It reminded me of something very similar from my time at Dr.Solomons (the anti-virus people).

We had a “virus encyclopedia” on the website which I helped maintain. The library listed known viruses, their payload and fixes, and was a fun thing to work on as we’d receive, on average, 15-20 new viruses daily. Before I joined the company the encyclopedia already had hundreds of entries including the term “custard pie”. The definition of “custard pie” simply referred you to a second entry named “rubber chicken” (the definition of which sent you back to the term “custard pie”).

It was added as a fun and silly way to catch anyone copying our material. It was simple and obvious and we never thought it would even be noticed, in fact I can’t recall hearing if any customers had spotted it.

So ,it was most amusing when those very terms turned up on a rival company’s newly relaunched website. Maybe we should have included the term “red-handed”!!

Tech

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This has been languishing in draft status for a while – given Jason Kottke’s recent news (see next post) I thought now was as good a time to post it as any.

I’ve been pondering, amongst other things, the recent Bloggies, and the whole “A list” bloggers thing.

I’ve come to the conclusion that I’ll never join the upper echelons of the blogeratti, nor will I receive a Bloggies nomination because I’m not focussed. I waffle about too many things in too disjointed a fashion. Lack of consistency possibly (but you could never fault me for lack of content).

WHY am I pondering this?

Well, at this very point in time I have three rather lengthy posts in draft state. Two are centred round Information Design and the Web, and one is titled “Why we write”. I’ve been adding to and tweaking them for the past two weeks and they are getting to the stage where they could be published. But what then? Do I revert back to the usual miscellany or do I push on for greatness, honing my writing further, creating a unique(r) voice and becoming the site for.. er… ah problem.

What IS the focus of this site? Well obviously it’s me, but then again it ISN’T me as I don’t really talk about myself in that much detail, and I’m painfully aware that my life just isn’t that exciting, certainly not enough to warrant an entire website. I’m not the funniest writer, nor am I particularly insightful, so I’m left with a myriad of topics to deal with, and that’s not to mention the many grammar and typing errors which I’m prone to.

That’s not to say that I don’t enjoy posting this nonsense but I’m naturally competitive, and have a constant need for adoration (and money) so it piques me a little that I’m not “up there”.

I want fame and glamour, dammit. Who do I have to sleep with to get it!

But, as with most things in this life, I’m getting out what I put in. I’ve made some ‘friends’, met some people, and had the chance to help some others on the way. I’m slowly getting more involved in projects I enjoy and having spent a few days trawling my own archives it’s fairly obvious that the content here is both more frequent but (usually) better considered.

Recently I feel like I’ve been starting over, like the New Year is still influencing my thinking. It’s prompted a few changes, both in my approach to this site and my approach to others, and I think it will continue to do so. It’s a cyclic thing with me, and something I’ve mentioned before. Change and chaos seem to both excite me, forcing me to consider new options, new directions, and depress me, the fog descends again (don’t worry I’ve got a big shiny fan to blow it away with).

Either way, the funk seems to ebb and flow, but it’s providing great moments of lucidity at times, and at least these days I’ve learnt how to see through the fog.

So you A-listers, keep on doing what you are doing, and just remember one thing. WHY you are doing it.

Writing

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In what will no doubt be THE blog news of the week – Jason Kottke has quit his job and will be doing kottke.org as a full-time job.

I’m intrigued by this, particularly as he is calling for patrons to donate money to his venture. More thoughts on this later but for the meantime:

1. This isn’t viable for many bloggers, on the A-list who probably get the number of hits a day that I take a year to gather.
2. WHY should I donate? Is it really a noble experiment to see if it’ll work or has he finally lost his marbles?
3. Do I value his content enough to donate? I think this may be the biggest issue – if I am going to donate, am I getting value for money? He’s already stated that all his content will remain free, and he needs the support to get him through the year. What happens if he doesn’t make it?

Questions, questions. No doubt this one will divide opinion. Whaddya think?

UPDATE: MeFi is going at this pretty hard but as yet (the last comment posted when I read it was from megnut) no one seems to thinking about this from a financial point of view.

I’ve read Jason’s site for a long time, on and off, I’m no crony but I have enjoyed reading his site. Whether you do, or not, is of course your choice based on your personal opinion.

Now, I’m guessing that he has a good idea how many people visit his site every day, and I’m guessing this played a large part in his decision. He suggests a nominal $30 ‘donation’ (micropatronage if you will) and I’ll bet a pound to a penny that he has factored in a percentage of his visitors donating that amount.

After all, be it grand experiment or narcistic self-promotion, without the ability to pay the rent I doubt he would be trying this.

Anyway I’ve not donated, yet, but will give Jason some time and see what he comes up with. If I think it’s worth throwing a few bucks at, to show my appreciation, not through guilt or as forced payment, then I’ll do just that. Either way, it takes some balls to do something like this, a quick glance through that MeFi thread confirms the expected backlash. So from that point of view I wish him good luck.

This’ll be interesting to watch.

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Just a short post to remind myself to expand on my thoughts as prompted by Jason Kottke: Web as platform.

Except I’m not going to as I spent about an hour last night, writing, deleting, writing, deleting, writing, deleting and I’m still not sure WHERE I think this is headed.

Suffice to say that I think the only way the web can function properly as a platform is if:
a. storage space and transfer speeds make it possible to have ALL my photos online, including the crap ones.
b. the tools available are available are not platform specific.
c. the price of storage is sufficiently low.

The one thing that struck me the most though was the statement that “Data needs to be portable.” No, it doesn’t. Make the applications ‘portable’. Get those standards working, and then people can host their data where they like, and point the applications at the data. That way the bit of this whole thing that is truly MINE, stays under MY control. For example, I’ve switched from Winamp to iTunes for listening to music. I didn’t have to export and import the data.

Other random thoughts from this:
1. An online version of Picasa, which monitors your web space, would be better than having to upload photos INTO a program. I want the program to do the work for me. Similarly Flickr should be able to go and find my new photos. A possible answer to the redundancy issue?
2. Web based iTunes anyone? I have 50GB worth of music at home, some of which is replicated at work. Why can’t I easily access the music stored on my PC (or better still, stored in my large, cheap web space).

Ohh dear, I’m on a roll now.

Next up, personal data (calendar info, contacts etc). The PDA suggested that people wanted that information with them at all times. I still buy into that, hence the order for a new Smartphone, but it would be much better if I could sync to ONE central source than two (work and home PCs). Note that I’m syncing FROM my source TO the web source. Not the other way round. I don’t want to have to maintain the data on the web. Sure I want to be able to manipulate it, edit, add, and delete it, but I don’t want to HAVE to do that on the web.

The one constant problem, of course, is for us early adopter types, and I think that’s what Jason K forgets to take into account. For someone coming late to this party Flickr, for example, is ideal. They don’t already have a lot of their photos stored in another system. Of course, if Flickr dies something else will take it’s place, and then the pain begins again. Breaking the link between data and application is crucial if we are going to stop this cycle.

WOOOOO. Ain’t caffeine great. Here was me not going to say much and look how much I’ve waffled on…. apologies if none of this stuff is of interest but if it wasn’t, why ya still reading?!

Coming next, back to basics, blogging about the weather, and kittens. Probably.

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