June 28, 2009

This Week's Tweets


...likes Starbucks' new store design direction: local craftsmen, regional motifs, recycled materials, and LEED as well.
9:41 AM Jun 28th from

While the new store designs are highly interpretive, they share several core characteristics:
  • Celebration of local materials and craftsmanship;
  • Focus on reused and recycled elements;
  • Exposure of structural integrity and authentic roots;
  • Elevation of coffee and removal of unnecessary distractions;
  • Storytelling and customer engagement through all five senses; and
  • Flexibility to meet the needs of many customer types – individual readers and computer users, as well as work, study and social groups.
...highly recommends this article debunking Canadian health care myths. They spend "less money... to get better outcomes." 7:31 AM Jun 28th from
As a Canadian living in the United States for the past 17 years, I am frequently asked by Americans and Canadians alike to declare one health care system as the better one.

Often I'll avoid answering, regardless of the questioner's nationality. To choose one or the other system usually translates into a heated discussion of each one's merits, pitfalls, and an intense recitation of commonly cited statistical comparisons of the two systems.

Because if the only way we compared the two systems was with statistics, there is a clear victor. It is becoming increasingly more difficult to dispute the fact that Canada spends less money on health care to get better outcomes.

...likes living in a place where to say "I'll have the salmon" would be strange and unhelpful -- like saying "I'll have the chicken" elsewhere.
7:29 PM Jun 27th from web

...can't get enough of Jabo0odyDubs' versions of Billy Mays infomercials. They get funnier with repeated viewings.
9:36 AM Jun 26th from

Wow, was my timing bad on this one. Billy Mays died yesterday. Rest in peace, you overachieving pitchman.

...just read how one travel blogger thinks DL should buy AS. Would it be good for DL? Yes. Good for AS or Seattle? Um, no.
9:01 AM Jun 26th from

...would very much like US politicians to look overseas as they redesign our health care system, but that's not happening.
7:03 AM Jun 25th from

Every day Washington's leaders tell us that we live in an interdependent world with a globalized economy. A butterfly beats its wings in Guangdong province, and four Wal-Marts materialize in Duluth. The peso plunges, and 30 Honda workers get laid off in Marysville. A coal-fired power plant belches carbon dioxide in Prague, and Lohachara Island sinks into the Bay of Bengal.

But change the subject to reform of the health care system, and the community of nations abruptly vanishes. No France, no Canada, no Germany, no Japan. Let there be no mention of any industrialized democracy save that of the United States, which is proud to claim 37th place in the World Health Organization's rankings of the world's health systems and 15th in the Commonwealth Fund's ranking by avoidable mortality of 19 industrialized countries (the highest rank indicates the fewest such deaths). To achieve a better score would be unpatriotic!

The political establishment's hubristic refusal to consider how other countries manage health care is encapsulated in the cliché "uniquely American," which is what Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., the lead legislator on health care reform, says he wishes his bill to be. It therefore goes without saying that the finance committee Baucus chairs could find no place in this year's exhaustive health care hearings for a single expert on how other countries achieve better health outcomes for their populations while typically spending, on a per capita basis, half what we do. When the finance committee releases its draft bill this week, it will be almost completely free of foreign influence.

...just enabled emoji on my iPhone. With everything happening in the world, how trivial a tweet is that? Share and enjoy.
6:01 PM Jun 24th from delighted to see that Doug Coupland is updating "City of Glass", his zine-like guide to Vancouver. I can hardly wait!
8:43 AM Jun 24th from

...thinks that, based on the PBS documentary I saw, this upcoming TR Reid book on health care should be required reading.
7:18 AM Jun 24th from

June 23, 2009

Two Weeks' Tweets

fboosman... agnostic, but stories like this make me think that maybe I'm atheist after all. Certainly I lean that way.
1:26 PM Jun 23rd from

A religious ruling permits ultra-orthodox Jews to operate their mobile phones on the Sabbath and religious holidays with their teeth...

Many of the ultra orthodox volunteers... work on the Sabbath and were confronted with the dilemma of how to activate their mobile phones without violating religious rules...

Rabbi Levy Yitzhak Halperin issued a new set of rules involving the use of a specially designed case that prevents phones from being shut down accidentally. To confirm response to dispatch, workers are permitted to hold a small metal pin between their teeth and press the necessary buttons on the phones.

...heard from his neighbors (she Eritrean; he Ethiopian), "we feel like we've found our long-lost brother." What a wonderful thing to say!
6:49 AM Jun 23rd from web

...already has a gift, a hug, and a phone call to show for Father's Day. What a great way to start the day.
9:17 AM Jun 21st from web

Every day, I think a little more than when it comes to loved ones and friends, the very best gift they can ever give me is their time.

...would love to get together with @DavidRPickering and @Joi in Amman or Dubai. That would be a trip to get excited about.
6:52 PM Jun 20th from web

...had tears in his eyes while reading this article about Pixar, "Up", and a dying girl's wish.
11:43 AM Jun 19th from

Colby Curtin, a 10-year-old with a rare form of cancer, was staying alive for one thing -- a movie.

From the minute Colby saw the previews to the Disney-Pixar movie Up, she was desperate to see it. Colby had been diagnosed with vascular cancer about three years ago, said her mother, Lisa Curtin, and at the beginning of this month it became apparent that she would die soon and was too ill to be moved to a theater to see the film.

After a family friend made frantic calls to Pixar to help grant Colby her dying wish, Pixar came to the rescue.

The company flew an employee with a DVD of Up, which is only in theaters, to the Curtins' Huntington Beach home on June 10 for a private viewing of the movie.

The animated movie begins with scenes showing the evolution of a relationship between a husband and wife. After losing his wife in old age, the now grumpy man deals with his loss by attaching thousands of balloons to his house, flying into the sky, and going on an adventure with a little boy.

Colby died about seven hours after seeing the film.

...saw Lauren, Carissa, and Clay for dinner. As in Kelsey's former choir-mate, his former office manager, and Aiken. A dinner of coincidences.
7:46 PM Jun 18th from web

...likes the @jheitzeb rule: if you tweet more than 4x/day, you're at risk of being unfollowed. Yes, this means you. No, not you. Yes, you.
4:49 AM Jun 18th from web

...just 'greened' his Facebook picture. "Where is their vote?" -- that's the rallying cry. May fortune favor the protesters in Iran.
11:03 PM Jun 15th from web

See getting his Iran updates from Andrew Sullivan -- highly recommended. As for the mainstream media? Epic fail.
6:27 PM Jun 15th from just back from a visit to Paradise. The kind on the south slope of Mt Rainier. Far more snow than we expected to see.
6:49 PM Jun 14th from

...will never, ever tire of listening to the version of "One" by Mary J Blige and U2. She practically defines the term "soaring vocals".
8:41 AM Jun 14th from web actually impressed with someone on Fox News. How exactly does Shepard Smith manage to keep his job there?.
6:24 AM Jun 11th from

...doesn't want to think about what he'd do for this house. Funny, funny video, especially for sci-fi fans. Enjoy!
7:56 PM Jun 10th from

...recently recommended an article by Atul Gawande. Now Obama is recommending the same article, according to the NYT.
7:06 PM Jun 9th from

...says the next time someone claims that blogs are inferior to traditional media and journalism, point them to this page.
2:53 PM Jun 7th from

June 07, 2009

This Week's Tweets

I do much more tweeting than blogging these days, which is leaving my blog feeling unloved. I've been wondering how to address the problem. Cross-posting tweets as individual blog entries feels like overkill, even for someone like me who typically tweets once a day (and tries to make it meaningful). What I've come up with is cross-posting my tweets weekly as a single blog entry. I'm going to give a try for a while and see how it goes. To make it more interesting, I'll occasionally add more commentary here than is possible within the confines of 140 characters. Consider this an experiment.


...misses Rob Riggle on The Daily Show. This segment on cloned steak is my favorite of his -- especially the "mutant pit".
6:41 AM Jun 7th from

...will never, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, fly Ryanair. (With apologies to Winston Churchill.)
4:03 PM Jun 6th from

It may not have been a publicity stunt after all. Ryanair CEO Michael O'Leary says the European low-cost giant will indeed start charging customers one pound (about $1.65) to use the toilets on its flights...

O'Leary adds that he's asking Boeing to look into putting credit-card readers on toilet locks for new jets. "We are serious about it," O'Leary is quoted as saying...

O'Leary didn't stop there, taking the toilet idea one step farther. "He's now proposing ripping out two of the three loos on a Boeing 737 to make way for a further six seats, claiming passengers can learn to cross their legs on flights of only an hour or so," writes Alistair Osborne of the London Telegraph. The London Daily Mail quotes O'Leary as saying: "We are flying aircraft on an average flight time of one hour around Europe. What the hell do we need three toilets for?" about a new tomato-derived supplement that eliminates "the oxidation of harmful fats in blood" within eight weeks.
7:43 AM Jun 5th from

The tomato pill contains an active ingredient from the Mediterranean diet -- lycopene -- that blocks "bad" LDL cholesterol that can clog the arteries.

Ateronon, made by a biotechnology spin-out company of Cambridge University, is being launched as a dietary supplement and will be sold on the high street...

Preliminary trials involving around 150 people with heart disease indicate that Ateronon can reduce the oxidation of harmful fats in the blood to almost zero within eight weeks, a meeting of the British Cardiovascular Society will be told at Ateronon's launch on Monday.

...wonders what happened to the tradition of American elected officials not criticizing the President while he's abroad.
4:38 AM Jun 5th from

...just saw "Up" again, this time with Kelsey. A beautiful film with my beautiful daughter.
7:23 PM Jun 4th from web

...has posted his blog entry on the coming generation of "gestural natives". Remember, you heard it here first.
12:56 PM Jun 4th from

...likes this: "my problems with Obama... fade away when I read the speech. He is absolutely the right man for the job."
10:07 AM Jun 4th from

All my problems with Obama's handling of the financial crisis, the details about Gitmo, footdragging on DADT, etc. or any other details since he took office fade away when I read the speech. He is absolutely the right man for the job.

There is no other candidate that ran for President that could deliver this speech. They couldn't write it, they couldn't deliver it with any sort of credibility, and in all likelihood wouldn't even want to try.

...needs to check his tweets before saying EA did something that was in fact built by Microsoft (Lionhead, to be precise).
5:02 PM Jun 3rd from

...thinks EA's Project Natal looks stunning. But I'd love some one-on-one time with it to understand its limitations.
2:20 PM Jun 3rd from

I actually meant to say "Project Milo" here. Two mistakes in one tweet. A new record.

...would like to know how a list of the "13 best burgers" in Seattle could miss both Lunchbox Laboratory and Quinn's.
9:46 PM Jun 1st from web

...checked in to find that his SEA-IAD flight was no more. Bird strike. Fan blade damage. Bad weather -> risky connections -> fly tomorrow.
6:32 PM Jun 1st from web

February 22, 2009

So Many Blog Entries in My Backlog... little time.

November 08, 2008

One Reason I'm Blogging Again

Recently I was looking for something in my blog archives and found this entry, from December 2003:

[...] Social networking isn't a fad, it's a huge trend, and we're just at the start of it.

When social networks reach a billion humans through their cell phones, when social networks form the open directories of the future, when we share our words, our sounds, and our images with our social networks on a continuous basis, when we leave behind trails of the experiences that form our lives, when these trails live in multiple networks and are interconnected, persistent, available, and malleable... then we'll begin to comprehend how social networking will change us, how it will change our perception of ourselves and those around us, how it will change the fundamental nature of how we create, sustain, and destroy relationships.

Oh, and this is all going to happen within five years or so. Get ready.

That was exactly four years and eleven months ago.

May 23, 2007

Where to Start?

Having not written a blog entry in the last 10 days, I now have nine Firefox windows open, each on a different subject, most with multiple tabs displaying various reference sources. The problem is not source material, it's time, which has been in short supply lately. And then there's the issue of where to start...

May 01, 2007

Boosman versus Searls on the Future of Blogging, Revisited

In 2002, I wrote an entry on the subject of selective privacy for bloggers (for which I created the term 'privacy rings'). After discussing some of the complexities of selective privacy, I wrote:

This problem is difficult enough today when the vast majority of the content created for blogs is created by bloggers themselves. It will grow exponentially worse when we carry devices capable of posting continuous streams of updated data to our blogs (if we call them that). Imagine your cell phone after next uploading GPS coordinates, the names of nearby detected devices, call records, pictures, audio and video clips, and so on. How will we control access to such information?
Doc Searls read my entry and wrote:
I never liked the "It's the ______ (economy, war, oil, user, rules, latency, research, sex, games, runtime, comedy), stupid" line. But it's a good working cliché;, so let's add one more log to its fire: writing.

This morning I came to the conclusion, after reading Frank Boosman's pseudorandom blog, that blogging is about nothing more than writing -- and that more of us will be writing to more people, with more effect, because of it.

I replied:

As for Doc's thesis... as much as I respect Doc, I disagree with what he's saying here. To me, it's akin to someone in 1993 saying that the Internet was all about Usenet newsgroups. Like many other early Internet users, I posted regularly to newsgroups back then, but as new types of Web-based services became available, not only did many new Internet users not seek out newsgroups, even some existing newsgroup users like me gravitated away from them.

It's true that, today, blogging is about writing. The 500,000 (or so) people currently blogging are, for a variety of reasons, heavily biased towards expressing themselves through words. But I don't believe this will remain true for long. Though there will always be a core of bloggers who are passionate about writing (including me), I believe that most of the growth in blogging -- which I expect to be two or three orders of magnitude within five years -- will come through people who blog from mobile devices and who do so mostly through rich media such as pictures, video, and the like.

First, was I correct about the growth rate of blogging? According to Technorati, as of March 2007, there were 70 million blogs, with the number of blogs doubling every 320 days. In other words, when the five-year anniversary of my post rolls around this December, there should be something like 110 million blogs. I predicted there would be somewhere between 50 million and 500 million, so I'm comfortable with that.

Now, though, to the central issue: was I right about where the growth in blogging would come from? Technorati tracks blogs, which I think generally fit Doc's text-centric definition of blogging. Could it be, though, that the growth of non-text-centric blogs is higher? The New York Times suggests that perhaps it is:

The social networking phenomenon is leaving the confines of the personal computer. Powerful new mobile devices are allowing people to send round-the-clock updates about their vacations, their moods or their latest haircut.

New online services, with names like Twitter, Radar and Jaiku, hope people will use their ever-present gadget to share (or, inevitably, to overshare) the details of their lives in the same way they have become accustomed to doing on Web sites like MySpace.

Unlike the older networking sites, which are still largely used on PCs, these new phone-oriented services are bringing the burgeoning culture of exhibitionism to more exotic and more personal locations. They are also contributing to the general barrage of white noise and information overload -- something that even some participants say they feel ambivalent about.

The article uses Kyte, Twitter, and Radar as examples of services that fall into this category. Interestingly, the article doesn't refer to this as blogging, but as social networking. But I doubt the everyday users of these services think of what they're doing as 'social networking', much less 'blogging'. Is there a name for what they're doing? I ask because I've predicted privately (at least I can't find a reference in my blog archives) that blogging might not be called blogging when it becomes about sharing streams of one's life.

So there are 70 million blogs, and for the sake of discussion, let's say that they're all text-centric. But how many Twitter accounts are there? 60,000, according to The San Francisco Chronicle. How many Kyte or Radar accounts? What about a service such as Snapvine? More broadly, how many people use Flickr? According to this graph, as of November 2006, Flickr had 20 million users. That's one photo sharing service alone that is 28 percent as large as the entire blogosphere. How many people have posted a video to YouTube? I don't know, though I do know that as of late last year, YouTube users were posting more than 65,000 new videos per day.

My question was, was I right about where the growth in blogging would come from? If you use Doc's definition as blogging being about writing, then no, I wasn't. We have over two orders of magnitude more bloggers than we had four and a half years ago, but those blogs are typically text-centric. But I wasn't using Doc's definition: I was using my own, broader version of the term. So by my definition? I'd say the jury is out. I don't know of an authoritative source for tracking the broad community of people who 'blog' without writing traditional blog entries, whether using pictures, videos, audio, or other rich media. If I had to guess, I'd say that as of today, there are fewer people doing so than people who blog by writing. But I'd also guess that the growth rate of non-text-centric blogging is much higher. It may well be that as of the five-year anniversary of my prediction, there will be more rich media bloggers than text-centric bloggers.

So the answer for my specific prediction is that we don't know yet. What about Doc's more general assertion? He wrote that "blogging is about nothing more than writing". Was he correct? I can't see how this can possibly be true, unless you adopt a narrow definition of blogging, in which case, it's a tautology. (In other words, if one defines blogging as 'writing an online diary', then Doc's statement equates to 'writing an online diary is about nothing more than writing', which says exactly zero.)

I'll see what I can do to track down better statistics and revisit this issue later this year.

February 28, 2007

On the Future of My Blog, Part 2

In my last entry, in mid-December, I wrote:

[I]if I'm going to continue to blog, there needs to be a point to it other than keeping a public record of things I find interesting...

If I focus on my personal life and the things that would be interesting to my friends and family, then where do I blog about the things I find interesting about the world at large?

If I focus... on semi-random bits of trivia, then where do I blog about my personal life? And more importantly, does anyone care about semi-random bits of trivia anymore?

I've been thinking about this question for the last two and a half months. I've wanted to blog on many occasions, but held off because I promised myself I wouldn't write another entry until I had figured out what I wanted to do.

I've figured that out now.

When I went through old blog entries of mine, the entries I was the most proud of weren't the semi-random -- or perhaps I should say pseudorandom -- bits of trivia (though these have their place). Nor were they the long quotations from other sources, with small amounts of commentary added (though, again, these can be useful). Instead, they were the essays, on subjects as diverse as a science fiction author's views on gay marriage, the Pledge of Allegiance, the murder rate in Baghdad, and, pre-invasion, my opinion of war with Iraq. (In the last case, I'm proud of the thought I put into my position, but not of the position itself. I was terribly, terribly wrong.)

I was also reminded of my time at Be Inc., when our CEO, Jean-Louis Gassée, would write a weekly column for our e-mail newsletter. I had tremendous respect for this, because his columns were, on the whole, well-written and thought-provoking. That took a tremendous commitment and effort on his part, given his day job. (Sadly, it's difficult to find his columns online now. They're an interesting perspective on that time in the computer industry, and it would be useful if they were collected in an easy-to-use resource. Pending that, many of them can be found via this Internet Archive page.)

So essays it is. Not that the the other entries -- the bits of trivia, the personal items -- are going away. But the one thing I will try to do without fail is to post essays here on a regular basis. If I do nothing else but write one thought-provoking, long-form entry a week, I'll consider that a great success.

I considered focusing on a specific subject, and I'm sure that, over time, that would probably be the best way to increase readership of this blog. But though I'm as much of a sucker for traffic statistics as the next person (especially after, say, being Slashdotted), in the end, I've never wanted this blog to be about anything other than what's important to me. If that happens to coincide with the interests of a group of people in the larger world, that's great news and I'll run with it. And my interests are wide-ranging.

I'm in the process of spinning out a new business, a business for which I serve as CEO, and I considered creating a CEO blog. However, the business isn't a Web 2.0 business where we're hungry for every scrap of publicity we can get. Our primary relationships and projects are things we won't be able to talk about for many months. That's not to say I won't occasionally blog about my business, or about issues related to what we're building, but I don't want to commit myself to regular, in-depth blogging on a subject with so many disclosure restrictions.

So in the end, I'll write essays on whatever it is that interests me -- though if I had to guess, and based on what I'm thinking about these days, I'd guess I'll be writing about entrepreneurship, venture financing, game design, social networks, the videogame market, aspirational marketing... and, yes, travel, relationships, human rights, you name it.

Another of my concerns in my last entry was the issue of how to target my blog at different audiences:

I'm thinking about splitting my blog into two halves. One half would be personal and probably interesting only to friends and family. The other half would be completely new and would be focused on a subject that is personally interesting to me, that is of interest to an audience in the larger world, and that I'm qualified to discuss...

If I create two new blogs, then I'd have to decide what goes where. Do I retool this blog to be personal or to be popular? Or do I close out this blog and create two new blogs?

In the end, I've decided to keep one blog, but to offer three different feeds, tuned to three different audiences:

  • If you're interested in reading the full stream of everything I say, you can continue to access a feed of every entry here.
  • If you're only interested in the long-form essays I write -- which I hope to publish on a weekly basis -- you'll find an essay-only feed here.
  • If you're only interested in personal news from me, and not the technical, political, or other general entries, you can subscribe to a personal-only feed here.
I hope that these three choices will make it easy for my readers to focus on their specific interests. (Note that the three feeds aren't mutually exclusive; for example, there can and will be entries that are both personal and essays.)

Thanks to the people who commented and who wrote to me privately on this issue -- especially to my friend Michael Morrissey, who sent me a long, eloquent, and incredibly kind message. I truly appreciate all your input.

And with that, back to the blogging...

December 15, 2006

On the Future of My Blog

It has been over six weeks since my last blog entry. It's not that I haven't had things about which I've wanted to blog -- I've had many. It's not that I haven't had the time to blog -- I've been incredibly busy, yes, but I could have made time for an entry every day or two.

I haven't been blogging because I don't know why I'm doing it anymore. I don't mean to say that I find blogging pointless -- I certainly don't. What I mean to say is that I've come to realize that if I'm going to continue to blog, there needs to be a point to it other than keeping a public record of things I find interesting. I need an intended audience, and a reason they should care about what I have to say. Otherwise, I should just write down everything in a personal journal and keep it to myself.

If I'm blogging to keep my friends and family updated on happenings in my life, then why should they care about the ice sheet covering Greenland or Starbucks trivia? If I'm blogging to share interesting tidbits of information with the world, then why should my readers care about my daughter's jokes at chorus camp, or my friend's Maine Coon Cat (now sadly passed away)?

In other words, I need a focus to this blog.

If I focus on my personal life and the things that would be interesting to my friends and family, then where do I blog about the things I find interesting about the world at large?

If I focus (if I can use that word in this sentence) on semi-random bits of trivia, then where do I blog about my personal life? And more importantly, does anyone care about semi-random bits of trivia anymore? That was how I came to be introduced to blogging -- by blogs without a core focus, simply brief pointers to items of interest interspersed with the occasional longer essay. And to be honest, I don't read any of those blogs anymore -- even from my friends. I just don't find them compelling enough. So why would I expect anyone to read what I have to say along those lines?

I'm thinking about splitting my blog into two halves. One half would be personal and probably interesting only to friends and family. The other half would be completely new and would be focused on a subject that is personally interesting to me, that is of interest to an audience in the larger world, and that I'm qualified to discuss. (I'm not ready to talk about the subject yet -- I'm still mulling over the precise definition.) This is attractive, but I'm worried about keeping up two blogs when I've been having trouble with only one.

If I create two new blogs, then I'd have to decide what goes where. Do I retool this blog to be personal or to be popular? Or do I close out this blog and create two new blogs?

In any case, I'm going to try to make a decision and implement it by the end of the year, so that I can start fresh in 2007. If you have any thoughts, feel free to post them in the comments section, or write to me as you see fit.

August 12, 2006

I'm Not Sure...

...why I haven't been blogging lately. It's true that I've been busy with a host of activities -- soccer with my older son, hiking with my younger son, mountain biking with my daughter, hosting old friends visiting from out of town -- but I could still make time if I wanted. And it's not that there's a shortage of things about which to blog. I see them every day.

I'm leaving for Seattle tomorrow morning, and for whatever reason, the fact that my trip is fast approaching is making me want to blog again. We'll see.

April 08, 2006

The Slashdot Effect

The Slashdot Effect is in force since my story went up earlier today. Daily page views for

  • 2 April: 98
  • 3 April: 144
  • 4 April: 153
  • 5 April: 195
  • 6 April: 161
  • 7 April: 160
  • 8 April (so far final): 17,867 33,676
I suppose I should say that the Slashdot Effect is somewhat in force. My page views are up by over two orders of magnitude, but the site is holding up fine. Thank goodness I'm not serving up audio or video.

March 21, 2006

SGS 2006: Who Else Is Blogging SGS?

I'm curious about who else is blogging the Serious Games Summit. I've found four blogs: Jerry Paffendorf, Mark Oehlert, Brent Schlenker, and a blog called in the guise of... by someone with the first name of Brook.

I suspect there will be far more bloggers at the Game Developers Conference, which gets underway tomorrow.

My Conference Blogging Style

At the end of the presentation "Putting Games to Work" yesterday, my co-worker Christophe looked at my laptop screen, saw me posting to my blog, and said, "It's already up? How can you do that? Oh, you're not adding any commentary -- you're just transcribing."

When I'm in a conference session and taking notes for a blog entry (or for a private description of the session), I'm neither smart enough nor a fast enough typist to be able to a) listen to and assimilate what the speaker is saying, b) take detailed notes of the talk, and c) provide real-time analysis of what's being said. So my style is to listen, understand, and transcribe, but leave the written analysis for later.

As the week progresses, I'll look back over the sessions, try to find the themes, and if I come up with anything interesting to say by way of commentary, I'll post it here.

March 10, 2006

BoingBoing's Greatest Moment

It's true, I'm biased: I think BoingBoing is the best blog going. But they surpassed themselves today.

There's a story that involves Secure Computing and its SmartFilter censorware, BoingBoing, and a Secure Computing employee who has been apparently outed as having a fairly interesting fetish. I don't need to repeat it here -- the blogosphere is covering the issue quite extensively. What I'm concerned with here is BoingBoing's response to this alleged outing:

We believe there's nothing wrong with consenting adults doing what they enjoy with other consenting adults, and writing about it on USENET if they want. If there's any black pot to Foote-Lennox's [Tomo Foote-Lennox, director of filtering data at Secure Computing, makers of SmartFilter] alleged charcoal grey kettle, it's us. We're all about celebrating the weird, about wooing the muse of the odd. About being in touch with your inner outsider.

What is relevant about the and posts attributed to Foote-Lennox is this: If one of us went to observe one of these parties and blogged about the fact that this subculture exists, Smartfilter would block it. No big deal if you're inside a corporate cubicle in the USA, because you can always access blocked sites from home or elsewhere. But netizens in countries that use Secure Computing's censorware to filter traffic nationwide effectively lose their right to access this information, and anything else Secure Computing deems naughty...

To sum up: It's wonderful to live in a country where you have the freedom to do your own freaky thing. It's terrible to live in a country that limits your freedom to be freaky. And it's hypocritical to celebrate your own freakiness to the fullest while helping oppressive governments restrict others from celebrating their own freakiness.

If the USENET archive posts attributed to Foote-Lennox are legit (they could be an elaborate hoax, but so far, no denial has been issued), it would appear that like all of us at BoingBoing, he uses the Internet to connect with and enjoy the odd things in the world that interest him -- but works tirelessly to stop the rest of us from doing the same.

We support the right of consenting adults around the world to enjoy diverse lifestyles, and read all about them on the internet.

Foote-Lennox speaks for a company that makes censorware. When questioned about his company's censorship of BoingBoing, he was dismissive of their complaints. It was then alleged (not by BoingBoing) that he had, in the past, posted information to the Internet that his company's own product would prevent users in many foreign countries from seeing -- not at work, not at home, not anywhere. In this light, the editors of BoingBoing would have been justified in going on the attack. Instead, they chose to point out the hypocrisy of his position without criticizing his alleged behavior. In fact, Xeni, Cory, and their co-editors went out of their way to point out their support for people to pursue their personal interests on the Internet -- not just themselves and their readers, but Foote-Lennox and anyone anywhere in the world who might want to read his alleged posts.

I told Xeni in a message that I thought this was one of BoingBoing's greatest moments. I was wrong. It's BoingBoing's greatest moment, period.

February 28, 2006

Lazy Me

In my previous entry, I wrote:

The next question is, will there be 50-500 million bloggers within another two years?
Of course, I could have taken 15 seconds to visit Technorati and see that it is currently tracking 29.1 million blogs. A year ago, the figure was 7.3 million blogs tracked, and a year before that, it was 2.0 million. A reasonable back-of-the-envelope estimate would be 250-500 million blogs within two years, unless the growth rate tapers off.

Checking Up on the Crystal Ball

In December 2002, I wrote:

It's true that, today, blogging is about writing. The 500,000 (or so) people currently blogging are, for a variety of reasons, heavily biased towards expressing themselves through words. But I don't believe this will remain true for long. Though there will always be a core of bloggers who are passionate about writing (including me), I believe that most of the growth in blogging -- which I expect to be two or three orders of magnitude within five years -- will come through people who blog from mobile devices and who do so mostly through rich media such as pictures, video, and the like.

From a story in today's Business Journal:

Sony Ericsson and Google Inc. said on Tuesday they have signed a deal to make a phone whose owners will be able to easily file to a personal blog.

Sony Ericson said all of its future mobile phones will come with Google's Blogger and Web Search features.

Owners will need a account to file stories via their mobile phone.

It is the first time a mobile phone will come with tools for blogging directly from a handset.

The software will first appear on the recently announced K610 UMTS phone and new flagship K800 and K790, available by June.

So far, so good. The next question is, will there be 50-500 million bloggers within another two years?

February 23, 2006

Please Update Your Feed

If you subscribe to a feed from this site, please update it to my atom.xml feed. I'm trying to find a way to be backwards-compatible with the old index.rdf feed that some of my subscribers use, but I haven't figured it out yet. If you haven't seen an update to my news feed since last week, this is why -- you're subscribed to index.rdf. Sorry for the inconvenience.

Things I Wish I Had Known a Week Ago

If only I had known all of this a week ago...

  • Six Apart advertises Yahoo Small Business Web Hosting as their "spotlight partner." However, Yahoo launched its Movable Type hosting program on 12 December with a known bug that would affect Yahoo users but that had already been fixed.
  • Yahoo promises "automatic upgrades to new versions of Movable Type". However, 10 weeks after launching their Movable Type hosting program, they have yet to upgrade users to a version of Movable Type available to them before they launched. Apparently upgrades will be automatic, but very, very slow in coming.
  • Yahoo promises "FastCGI to help you speed up blog posting and updates", but running on their servers, Movable Type is sometimes extremely slow, and occasionally completely unavailable. (I've had the slowness confirmed for me by Six Apart employees experiencing the same problem.)
  • Yahoo promises "24-hour toll-free support" to its Web Hosting customers. Their support, however, does not include support for Movable Type (this is disclosed in the fine print).
  • Also on the topic of Yahoo's support, if you're having problems with mySQL -- entirely possible given that Movable Type relies on it -- they don't support that over the phone. That's not disclosed in any fine print I saw before joining. In my case, the support representative gave me an e-mail address to use instead, but that bounced. When I submitted my question via their support form, it was ignored.
  • Need command-line access to your account? No, Yahoo doesn't offer it, and again, I didn't see that disclosed in any fine print before joining -- in fact, I only found out when I called Yahoo support to find out how to log in to my site. (In my case, I wanted to use ln to create a dynamic link from my new XML feed to a file named the same as my old XML feed. Yes, I could use theoretically accomplish the same effect by editing my Movable Type templates, but the bug referenced above is caused by template editing, and at this point, more than anything, I want my blog to keep working.)
I should point out that the Six Apart people have been as helpful as they could be throughout this. Their hands are tied by Yahoo, because Yahoo obviously controls its own servers.

In any case, it's clear to me now that, as much as I may like Yahoo as a company -- and I do -- their Small Business Web Hosting program is, at least for Movable Type users, something of a disaster. This presents an obvious dilemma: after a week of my blog being mostly down, and having spent far too many hours to count trying to get it back up, do I now take the chance of moving it to a hopefully more reliable hosting service? Or do I leave it where it is, avoid doing anything unusual to it, and hope that Yahoo gets their act together? On the one hand, I really don't want to be stuck with Yahoo Small Business... but right now, the thought of spending even one more hour just trying to keep my blog running is too much to bear. So I'll stay where I am, for the moment. Malheureusement.

Back Up at Last

I can't remember ever being so frustrated with software or a software service as I have been with the combination of Movable Type 3.2 and Yahoo Small Business over the last week. There's a long, long story, and I may tell it at some point, but right now, I'm just happy to have my blog back up. I only hope it stays up.

February 16, 2006

Well, That Was a Bad Idea

Long ago, I gave up on trying to upgrade my copy of Movable Type -- my hosting provider, WestHost, didn't make it easy. I was having problems with spam -- first comment spam, then trackback spam -- but I couldn't install MT-Blacklist and I couldn't upgrade to a newer version of Movable Type that would include anti-spam features. I thought of switching hosting providers, but in the end simply turned on TypeKey authentication for comments (effectively ending comments on my site) and completely disabled trackbacks.

Yesterday, I wrote this blog entry in response to an entry by Andrew Sullivan, my favorite political blogger. Andrew wrote back saying that he'd link to my entry today. I woke up this morning thinking of the hordes of people who would shortly be visiting my site, and thought it would be a great idea if I reenabled trackbacks. "No problem," I thought. "I'll turn them back on and just deal with the spam problem as it happens." Er, not so fast there, Sparky. Within minutes, I was being flooded with trackback spam -- a new entry every 20-30 seconds or so. I couldn't keep up. I once again disabled trackbacks and sat licking my wounds.

"I know," I said. "I'll upgrade to the latest version of Movable Type. It's supposed to be easy -- just upload the files, run, and go." I downloaded Movable Type and read through the installation instructions. Fairly straightforward -- just copy some settings over, upload everything, check permissions, and go. It didn't take me long and I was ready to activate my shiny new Movable Type 3.2-powered blog. I entered the URL and... a series of errors. Not good. I Googled the error text and found that I wasn't the only one to have the same problem. Far more worringly, other WestHost users had reported the same problem months ago, with no word of a fix.

At this point, the main page of my blog was still up, but all functionality was dead, both for users and for me. No comments, no trackbacks, and no new posts. Nothing. About this time, Andrew linked to my blog entry. How much better could my timing get? I decided to switch to a Movable Type-friendly hosting provider, and fairly soon was up and running with Yahoo -- chosen for no other reason than they were the only such hosting provider with 24-hour, toll-free technical support.

It took a few tries to get everything put right again, but now my blog is up and running once more, and hopefully e-mail to me is no longer bouncing as it was a couple of hours ago. And blog readers no longer have to register with TypeKey to be able to comment, and trackbacks are once again enabled. But for the first few hours after Andrew's link to me, my blog was down, save for a static, non-interactive home page.

What did I learn from this? That upgrading to a new version of my blogging software just as one of the world's more popular bloggers was linking to me probably wasn't the best idea I've ever had.

November 11, 2005

Triangle Bloggers Bash

This coming Tuesday, 15 November, I'll be at the Triangle Bloggers Bash. It looks to be a cool event. If you're a blogger in the Raleigh-Durham area, I hope to see you there.

August 13, 2005

Incredibly Clumsy Trackbacking

As noted earlier, I've disabled trackbacks, because I was being overwhelmed with trackback spam, and was unsuccessful in installing MT-Blacklist. So when I see someone link to me, if it's particularly interesting, I suppose I'll just blog it. So much for the wonderful future of trackbacks!

Anyway, my former Be colleague Michael Morrissey picked up on my recent entry on Flickr, and of course expanded quite a bit on what I had to say.

I really have to figure out how to spam-proof my blog while a) avoiding becoming a UNIX geek and b) keeping it open to useful contributions.

June 01, 2005

Has It Really...

...been almost a month since I last blogged? Yes, I suppose it has. I have been in the midst of a move into a new house, and it's not so much that I've been so busy that I haven't had time to blog -- after all, I've found time to play World of Warcraft -- but more that the move has thrown my daily routine into disarray. I haven't blogged in weeks, I've worked out once in the last 10 days, you name it.

On the other hand, I've made four batches of ice cream in my new Cuisinart ice cream maker. And one of them (peanut butter banana) was actually really good. So I've got that going for me.

April 16, 2005

Trackbacks Disabled

I've temporarily disabled trackbacks on my blog. I was getting 50-100 spam trackbacks per day, and when my first attempt to install MT-Blacklist failed, I gave up for the time being and just disabled trackbacks on a global basis.

What strikes me about spammers is how much work they're willing to create for vast numbers of people to get very little benefit to themselves. I think of the countless hours I've spent dealing with spam in both e-mail and on my blog, and how many millions of people have done the same, and it's all so that a relatively small community of pathologically sleazy people can make a little bit of money. A spammer who turns on a script to blast trackbacks across thousands of blogs overnight doesn't think or care about all the work he's creating for people; he just thinks about the fact that he might make one or two sales as a result.

January 06, 2005

Striking a Nerve

I had no idea that my blog entry comparing tsunami relief funds pledged by the US government with the cost of the war in Iraq would become the most popular entry I've ever written -- 23 TrackBacks to date, and traffic on my site yesterday was up 15-fold compared to a typical recent day.

Interestingly, though my friends at Boing Boing linked to my entry, that didn't drive as much traffic to my site as did a mention on USA Today's Website. I wouldn't have predicted that.

Reading through the TrackBacks to my post, only a small number of linking blogs criticize my entry. I'll revisit them and their logic in the near future.

October 27, 2004

How Behind Can I Get?

Last week I chaired a panel on the serious gaming movement in North Carolina. I haven't blogged about that.

The first week of December, I'm giving a talk on simulation learning at Online Educa 2004 in Berlin. I haven't blogged about that.

There are less than six days to go until the most important presidential election in modern history, and I haven't blogged about that in over a week and a half.

In fact, the only thing I can find the time to blog about is not blogging. How low have I sunk?

I promise to get back on track shortly. Cross my heart and... er... yeah, cross my heart.

June 01, 2004

Temporarily Disabling Comments

I'm traveling for business -- an interesting story, but I'm too tired to tell it now. I just returned from a very hard 18-hour day that included two flights, a drive, and a huge amount of work, all on top of about three hours' sleep, and was greeted with no less than 53 spam comments all over my site. Given Movable Type 2.63's one-at-a-time interface for dealing with comments, it was a good deal of work to get rid of them all. This is going to be The Week from Hell when it comes to working hours, and I can't bear the thought of coming back to my hotel room tomorrow night to another 53 pieces of spam... so I'm disabling comments for the time being. My apologies in advance.

May 22, 2004

Fun with Blog Statistics

I have a Site Meter icon on my main page that I use to track visits. According to Site Meter, I average 28 visits to my blog per day. Not very impressive.

My hosting provider uses Webalizer to track visits to my entire site. According to Webalizer, I average 686 visits to my blog per day. Much more impressive.

My question is, which number is closer to the truth? On the one hand, Webalizer tracks all visits, including those from spiders, while I presume Site Meter does not (since they don't download images). On the other hand, Site Meter only tracks home page visits. So when someone follows a direct link to an entry on my site, or downloads my RSS feed, Site Meter doesn't count them.

I suppose it's safe to say that I get no less than 28 visits per day, and no more than 686. It's just that a 24x difference between the two is an awfully wide range.

March 27, 2004


I've been diligently removing comment spam from my site and blocking the offending IP addresses, but I had forgotten that I had to rebuild my site to see the changes. My blog comments have been crawling with already-deleted spam. It's almost like turning on the kitchen light at night and seeing cockroaches scatter (which, thankfully, I haven't seen in many, many years now). Ick!

February 19, 2004

Comment Spam

I'm in the midst of my first really serious comment spam attack -- not one or two comments from the same IP address, easily deleted and blocked, but 34 comments with roughly the same text, all from varying IP addresses, all within the last 11 hours. This is not fun.

The URL leads to a page with a fax number in New Jersey as the only contact point. However, the URL resolves to an owner in Russia. What a surprise.

I'm currently trying to install the MT-Blacklist plug-in to stop this, but have run into technical difficulties. I hope I can resolve them soon -- deleting three comments per hour doesn't sound like a good use of my time, but I don't want to disable comments unless I absolutely must.

November 08, 2003

Back to Blogging

My last new entry was on 1 October; now it's 7 November and I'm finally getting back to blogging. Why the long break? Are blogs ephemeral constructs, "little seen, quickly abandoned," in the words of research firm Perseus? Is it that blogging "isn't habit forming," in the words of troll-with-a-paycheck Andrew Orlowski?

In my case, it's neither. I have no intention of abandoning my blog, and in my case, at least, I think 16 months and nearly 1,000 entries shows that it is indeed habit-forming. For me, the issue has been that I've taken up walking early almost every morning -- when I used to do most of my blogging work. I've been struggling with finding the time to resume working on my blog, and a rainy Saturday morning has finally given me the opportunity I've needed. Now the challenge will be to continue to carve out the time I need to keep it up -- but hopefully simple inertia will help there.

August 19, 2003

What Does This Mean?

According to Google, this page is, at the moment, the most similar to my blog in the world:

So my blog is most like a Website detailing the construction of a home-built cruise missile? What exactly does this mean?

July 24, 2003

Joi Ito in the New York Times

From a story in the New York Times on instant messaging and blogging during classes, conferences, lectures, and the like:

Joichi Ito, a venture capitalist and former chief executive for the Japanese branch of the Internet service provider PSINet, opened a chat room for back-channeling during Supernova, a communications conference held this month in Crystal City, Va., just outside Washington. But Mr. Ito readily acknowledges the downside. "There is definitely a lot less focus in the room," he said, "but I think we were already starting to suffer from that."

At high-tech conferences where everyone is already wired to the gills with BlackBerry pagers and cellphones and can cope easily with constant connectedness and streaming information, the concept of multitrack communication channels almost seems matter-of-course. "This is not something that is going to go away," Mr. Ito said. As many technology experts point out, if laptops were banned, people would use cellphones. If wireless Internet access were not officially available, networking gurus would find a way to create ad hoc connections.

Some observers say that the multitrack channels will simply be considered a given by a young generation that has honed multitasking to a fine art and grew up on VH1's "pop-up" videos, in which commentary about the artists pops up on the screen during the song.

Meanwhile, Mr. Ito is already creating a new riff on the concept. He said he was working with a group on designing a "hecklebot," a light-emitting diode screen that displays heckling messages that are typed during online chats at conferences. "I want to make something that I can put in a suitcase and take to conferences," he said. He describes it as a subversive device that will get people thinking about the significance of the back channel. From the chat room, he said, "you could send something like, 'Stop pontificating.' "

If back channeling improves the quality of speeches during conferences -- many of which can be stultifying -- then I'm all for it.

May 25, 2003

Spam in Blog Comments?

Via e-mail, David Smith writes:

A thought occurs -- what is to keep the spammers from placing advertisements into the comment sections of blogs. True, you can remove it --just like you can delete emails (oh joy). I notice that chat rooms on AOL have bots sending ad messages on a regular basis, what's to keep the same thing from happening here?

I can see it on Technorati now --

Hi, I'm Pam, and I Need a ...

Probably just a matter of time, and I may be a bit paranoid, as I have been thinking about crypto/security recently.

It's a good question. My off-the-cuff answer was to predict that blogging tools would incorporate challenge-and-response systems into their commenting systems.

Movable Type already includes IP banning, which could be a simple method of dealing with spam in comments. A more robust solution might look like this:

The Allow Comments menu item now has three settings: None, Open, and Closed. A fourth, Challenge, could be added. Each copy of MT would keep a database of approved e-mail addresses and associated IP addresses. When a user posted a comment, MT would check the poster's e-mail address and IP address against the database. If the e-mail address didn't appear, or if current IP address wasn't on file for the claimed e-mail address, the comment would be held while a challenge was sent to the e-mail address. A correct response would result in the comment being displayed and the e-mail address-IP address pair being entered in the database. If, though, a response wasn't received in a certain period -- say, 24 hours -- then the comment would be deleted.

Let's just hope this doesn't become necessary.

April 29, 2003

My Blogging Style

Trevor Smith, a former co-worker of mine, writes kindly of my blog:

This post on Pseudorandom is an example of Frank Boosman's style of taking rather large texts and quoting from them with commentary. At first I wasn't enjoying the length of the posts, as I think that there are shorter ways to make the points he's trying to make, but then a few weeks ago something clicked and now I'm reading every word. I think I switched from thinking of Pseudorandom as a personal blog to more of a one man online magazine.
Thanks, Trevor!

To answer the unasked question -- why I write blog entries as I do, quoting liberally from sources -- there are two reasons:

  1. I don't want to interrupt the reading experience for visitors. Although I think it's vitally important that bloggers provide references for their writings, I don't want to force my readers to trace through a series of links to be able to follow what I'm saying.
  2. I want my blog entries to be viewable in the future. If, for example, I was to link to a New York Times story without quoting from it, in two weeks' time, that link would break and my blog entry would be incomplete or even incomprehensible. This is something that concerns me about blogs in general: that years from now, as links die, they'll become unreadable. (The classic example would be of the "check this out" or "isn't this amazing" variety, with no other context provided. Once the link dies, the entry is useless.)
So that's why I blog the way I do.

By the way, in an effort to keep down the length of my entries, I try to edit quoted material as heavily as I can while preserving its meaning. I admit I'm not always as successful as I would like. I'll keep working at it.

April 10, 2003

Missed a Day

For the first time in months, I missed a day blogging yesterday. It was a long day coming at the end of the longest three-day trip I can remember (though a productive trip to be sure). Driving through the sleet and snow in New Jersey on April 7 was a real low point.

In any case, I'm back now. Sorry for the interruption.

March 18, 2003

Going Live with Movable Type

At last I'm switching from Blogger to Movable Type. It's a bit intimidating to switch eight months of work -- 334 posts -- to a new content management system. But my patience with Blogger had reached an end. The team at Pyra Labs deserves kudos for their innovation and market-building efforts, but their track record in building reliable software and offering new features to their customers is somewhat less praiseworthy.

What pushed me over the edge? Two things: yet another Blogger system failure last week -- at least five hours, as far as I could tell -- and my desire to have comments enabled before posting my paper on tools for emergent democracy (stay tuned).

If you run into any problems with the blog, please don't hesitate to let me know.

March 12, 2003


Via Marc Canter, LA2JAX, a blog by a father and his nine-year-old son as they ride a tandem bicycle from Los Angeles to Jacksonville. They're carrying "a 'sub-notebook' computer, two digital cameras, a digital voice recorder, a cell phone or two, a Sony CLIE PDA, a Gameboy, and... a Garmin GPS V." The father writes his blog entries, while the son uses audblog to record his. Wonderful.

March 10, 2003

Jon Udell's Blog

I'm consumed at the moment with trying to finish a paper on tools for emergent democracy. As a result, the best I can do for today is to point the way to a blog I've discovered of late: Jon Udell. An extremely useful blog to which I find myself referring again and again. I also find Jon's articles on InfoWorld showing up repeatedly in my searches -- the more accurate and refined the search, the more near the top his articles appear. Recommended.

March 06, 2003

RSS Feed Philosophy

Having just flown back home from California, I would like to state definitively my opinion that RSS feeds should be unabbreviated. Give your readers everything -- all the text, all the images, all of it. And don't go back just two or three posts, or even a few days' worth -- provide at least a week's worth of your entries. Bandwidth is cheap, except where it's non-existent, like on planes, unless you're on Lufthansa, which doesn't fly to North Carolina last time I checked.

Joi Ito's strategy of providing multiple feeds at different detail levels also works -- just make sure one of them is the whole enchilada.

February 24, 2003

Google and Blogger

I'm happy for the folks at Pyra Labs that they've been acquired by Google. I hope it works out well for them financially. But, as a Blogger Pro user, I can't bring myself to get all that excited about it. Why? Because in the eight months I've been using Blogger Pro, Pyra hasn't implemented a single new user-level features -- no comments, no TrackBack, no nothing. Because it's virtually impossible to get support of any kind from Pyra when something goes wrong. And because for the last eight hours, Blogger Pro once again refuses to publish anything to my blog, so I have no idea when this entry will actually appear. (According to the bloggerPro2 discussion group, this has actually been going on for 20 hours.)

If Google were to announce that new features were on the way, that support would be consistently available to paying customers, and that Blogger would be upgraded to become as reliable as Google itself, then I'd start to get excited. As it is, the acquisition hasn't diminished at all my thoughts of switching to Movable Type.

February 23, 2003

The Beeb on Moblogging

From BBC News, a story on mobile blogging:

People will soon be able to publish their own website via their phones as blogging goes mobile...

Programs like FoneBlog, Manywhere Moblogger and Wapblog allow bloggers to post details about their lives from anywhere, not just from a computer...

FoneBlog by Irish firm NewBay Software lets mobile users update their blogs from their phones in minutes.

Bloggers using FoneBlog simply send text or photos to a prescribed number and their weblog will automatically update.

The system will really come into its own as multimedia messaging and camera phones take off, said Chief Executive of NewBay Software Paddy Holahan...

"In two year's [sic] time every phone user will have a website and be using blogs as their version of the world," he said.

The popularity of blogs was recently acknowledged by search engine Google which bought the technology behind Blogger, the software that powers many of the weblogs around the world.

"Google's buy is a recognition that the news in future will be reported by ordinary people with their own particular bias on stories," said Mr Holahan.

It's good to see moblogging getting recognition like this, but how is it that a person with -- as far as I can tell -- zero visibility in the blogging community is suddenly an expert on this? Also, this smells like a one-interview story. It would have been good for the reporter to talk to more people, especially those recognized as being leading-edge moblogging users and thinkers. Joi Ito would have been a good choice.

Another thought: all online publications need to mirror the Wall Street Journal and provide e-mail addresses for the authors of all stories on their sites. If the BBC is going to have any credibility in writing about blogging, they need to move beyond their one-way-only information publishing model.

February 05, 2003

The News and Observer on Blogs

As noted last week, today's issue of the News and Observer is carrying Karen Mann's article on blogging:

"It's like a 24-hour holiday letter," says Frank Boosman, 39, of Apex. Boosman, who is chief marketing officer for 3Dsolve software in Cary, began his own blog in June after hearing a friend in Japan talk about his own. In it, he shares his thoughts on technology, the Internet, popular culture and pretty much anything that strikes his fancy.

"I thought, 'The time has come; this is not a pure geek thing any more,'" he says...

[30-year-old RTP-based Web developer and trainer for the Washington-based company MassLight Mark] Pilgrim compares making his first blog entry to his first (and only) time skydiving. "It's very scary," he says, "to put yourself out there and do it every day.

"There's a rush that comes from getting a link from a high-profile blogger," he says, noting that traffic on his blog jumped from a few hundred to about 4,000 page views a day after another blogger linked to a technical article on his site. "It's a real rush and there's a real addictive quality to it."

Even more perplexing: Why do people want to read intimate, and often mundane, details about other people's lives?

"There are people who, either for personal reasons or because of their perspective, I find so interesting I want to keep up with what they have to say," Boosman says. "If something's important enough that they want to say it, I think it's important enough that I want to read it."

At the RTP Bloggers lunch that Karen attended, Mark was actually complaining about how much traffic he gets -- if I remember correctly, his issue was that the popularity of his blog was inducing him to both increase the effort and alter the content he put into his blog, which he didn't want to do. Given that, of course, being quoted and having one's picture taken for a newspaper story on blogging probably wasn't the best strategy. In any case, Mark, if the crushing weight of 4,000 page views per day is getting to be too much, feel free to redirect them here.

July 03, 2002

Blogger Frustrations

I'm upset with Pyra. I've e-mailed two technical support questions to them -- one advertised address bounces, and other results in no response. I posted a question in the discussion forum -- it was lost somehow. I've now submitted a question through the online help system; hopefully that will work.

As it stands, I'm stuck simply updating a blog file that isn't posting properly. I should console myself with the knowledge that it doesn't matter, as I haven't made this public yet -- I'm still in the process of resolving my domain situation. I placed an order with WestHost today, and with luck, I should have rehosted within 48 hours. WestHost was ranked highly by WebHost Magazine, so I'm keeping my fingers crossed.

June 30, 2002

Posting But Not Yet Publishing

I'm mostly operational now, and using Blogger Pro, obviously. I chose Blogger Pro because of its ease in setup and operation. If I was using Blog*Spot, I would have been up and running by Friday or so. Because I'm using an Earthlink-hosted domain, however, it took longer to get going -- not so much setting up the FTP parameters as tracking down and correcting a problem with my Earthlink account. Everything should be resolved by tomorrow, but in the meantime, I'm writing away.

This is only my third day working with Blogger Pro, and I can see plenty of opportunities for Pyra or others to extend the tool. They're working on comments, of course, which I am anxious to see -- I think much of the interest of having a blog will come from the contributions of and give-and-take with others. I'd also like to see built-in tools to easily manage links to favorite blogs and other Websites. I know there are third-party tools to do this sort of thing, but I'd much rather have it integrated with the Blogger Pro engine.

June 29, 2002

Choosing a Blogging Tool

I didn't actually start my blog yesterday as planned, nor today, so this is yet another back-dated entry. (I suppose that makes my blog nothing more than a pack of lies, but there you go.) Why the delay in implementation? Because the more research I did into blogging, the more technological choices I found, and the less sure I was of my decision.

Blogger seems to be the ease-of-use king, but perhaps lacking in some of the advanced features I'd like. Also, I'm not ecstatic about any of the templates provided, though this isn't the most critical issue.

movable type is recommended by Joi Ito and quite obviously incredibly flexible. However, movable type looks like a bit of work to set up -- perhaps a bit more than I should be taking on at first.

Radio UserLand is interesting, but I can't quite seem to pin it down. It's from Dave Winer, who clearly knows a thing or two about scripting and blogs, but what differentiates it from the other blogging tools out there?

As I haven't yet made up my mind, I'm still stuck making text entries and resigning myself to entering them later.

June 27, 2002

Getting the Idea to Blog

I'm starting my blog today. Why the entries earlier? Because I just traveled to Japan, which I always find interesting, and wanted to write about it. So I'm cheating and making retroactive entries.

I got the idea for the blog from Joi Ito. It's not that I hadn't heard of blogs, or even read them on occasion, but Joi's doing it suddenly made it mainstream for me. It took blogging from potential Geek Hierarchy qualification material to the hip end of mainstream. I don't know that I'm mainstream, and I'm certainly not hip, but hey, if I can write a little and feel as if I am, then that's all that really matters.