Strong opinions, weakly held

Tag: blogs (page 2 of 3)

Nick Denton’s Internet advertising forecast

Gawker Media’s Nick Denton predicts a steep decline in advertising revenue for Internet publishers next year, and makes some recommendations on how to react to what can only be described as an impending bloodbath. The revenue model for rc3.org remains unchanged, but I probably will move to cheaper hosting.

Open Salon

Salon has finally launched their reader blogs feature — Open Salon. I hope it works out well for them, but mostly this release makes me sad, because in many ways I look at it as another example of Salon’s unfulfilled potential.

The sad thing is that Open Salon is immediately behind the times. There are already plenty of blogging tools/social networks out there, and while it’s fine for Salon to offer one, at this point it’s sort of a “me too” effort rather than anything groundbreaking. And that’s a shame, because I know Salon worked on this project for an awfully long time. (Scott Rosenberg posted about the development of the site yesterday.)

At one time, Salon and Slate were really the leading Web magazines. These days we have the Huffington Post, Talking Points Memo, Politico, hundreds of really outstanding topical blogs, and major online presences from all of your favorite print publications.

When Salon started out, it was so ahead of its time that they were rarely credited in the major media when they broke news. These days, everyone’s accustomed to Web sites breaking news stories and they are as likely to be credited as any dead trees publication. That’s thanks in large part to Salon.

Salon also tried to get into blogging before it was mainstream, but made the poor choice of using Radio UserLand as a tool. Salon Blogs spawned a number of really good sites, but they were always disconnected almost completely from Salon proper.

It’s also worth noting that Salon has been an incredible incubator of talent over the years. They’ve had able editors like Andrew Leonard and Scott Rosenberg. Farhad Manjoo and Jake Tapper were both Salon staff writers. Chad Dickerson made his initial move to the West coast to head up the tech side of things at Salon.

In the end, if Salon does well with Open Salon, it won’t matter that they look like a late adopter. I’d love to see Salon back in the spotlight. The dot com bubble hit them particularly hard, forcing them to move most of their content behind a pay wall and cut the budget right at the time when blogging really started taking off. If the stores on the home page are an indication of the quality of content they’ll be attracting, they’re on the right path.

By the way, anyone know whether Open Salon is powered by home grown software or a third party package? It’s hard to tell from the URLs and the page source.

A good blog should be self-subverting

I liked this quote from Tyler Cowen:

A good blog should be subversive and help you see the faults in the author’s own positions. Ask whether the blogs you are reading in fact provide that service. Self-subversion ought also, in the long run, to benefit liberty and other important values.

The how and why of The Big Picture

Andy Baio interviews Alan Taylor, the creator of The Big Picture, the new photography blog at Boston.com that lots of people are talking about. He explains how he got permission to build the blog and how he runs it on a day to day basis.

One of the first entries that really demonstrated how the site is fundamentally different than most journalism and every other blog was Indigenous Brazilians Protest Dam. The photos themselves are stunning, and illustrate a topic that I knew absolutely nothing about.

One question in the interview is why other sites haven’t experimented with presenting very large images to users right off the bat. I suspect that as much as anything, it’s concern about bandwidth that in part goes back to the earliest days of Web design. As both Andy and Alan point out, most newspaper Web sites present relatively small images, but that’s also true even of photo sites like Flickr. To get a nice, large image on Flickr you have to drill down pretty far, and it’s an incredibly popular site built explicitly for the purpose of viewing photography. I think that it was Alan’s willingness to cast aside the conventions of the profession that enabled him to take this relatively minor but incredibly significant step. I know that when I view photos in iPhoto or Picasa, I look at them in full screen mode. It makes sense that we’d prefer to view them that way online as well.

Pick one feed format

Nelson Minar recommends that the popular blog tools dump RSS and provide their feeds in one format, Atom. This echoes the best practice established at least two years ago when Nick Bradbury and Sam Ruby recommended choosing a single format for your feeds and sticking with that rather than providing the same data in multiple formats.

I agree with that sentiment and also endorse choosing Atom makes sense at this point. The only remaining advantage for RSS is that it has better name recognition and its name doesn’t conflict with the smallest particle that comprises an element or any of the other things also called “atom”.

Is the personal Web site a thing of the past?

Given how easy it is these days to outsource Web functionality that you once had to create for yourself, Wired Compiler asks whether the standalone personal Web site is an endangered species. Back in the day you had to install your own blog software, set up your own photo gallery, and take care of everything else on your own as well. These days it’s a lot easier to just upload your photos to Flickr, set up a blog on any number of free or paid blogging services, and keep track of your friends via any of a number of social networks.

Furthermore, the network effects offered by those sites provide some key advantages over building your own site. It’s interesting that having your own domain and Web site once set you apart from the crowd because it meant you were an early adopter, perhaps soon it will mark you as unusually old fashioned.

Links for April 16

Links for April 8

Links for April 3rd

What I seek to find and perhaps provide

Paul Kedrosky on what he looks for in the blogs he reads:

I don’t want volume or comprehensiveness; I want surprise and interestingness. And to be even more clear, I don’t want surprise or interestingness in a Digg sense of the word, with naked nonagenarians or raccoons with their tongues stuck to metal poles, etc. I don’t want an information freak-show. I want things that I would have normally read, but wouldn’t have found, nor would have most people that I read. Something that changes the way I think.

I think that’s a pretty good description of what many people are after in their blog reading. It’s one of the big reasons that I love blogs that are outside my areas of professional expertise and outside of my usual interests. Reading about topics that I don’t already know a lot about is intellectually stimulating.

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