Obligatory Non Conformism

Today, well yesterday Sebastian posted a story on his blog. The post was essentially about Skype spam. Anyway the story got put up on Digg and ended up on the front page. Sebastian has experienced a pretty big jump in traffic on his blog, to say the least. For Sebastian this has been a big confidence boost, there is however, more to the story than that.

If I were him I would be shit scared about what I would write next. To that end I ask this question; does the idea of social networking and peer review put undue pressure on bloggers, authors, writers or anyone that produces any sort of public content, to follow everybody else and produce what people want to hear because they get noticed.

This is such an easy way to respond to "being noticed" or to have something admired by others. Or to have someone of influence say that you have produced something of value. Do I appease these people and everyone else or do I just keep doing what I want to do because that is what I am enjoying doing? Tough questions, for me I think it would be hard. We all look for confirmation, acceptance and respect within the world in which we live, and definitely within our peers and those people that we regard as our "audience".

That caused me to think about how this type of notice generates this kind of pressure and what type of "surfer" is the average "Digger". The only way I can judge that is to think about the way which I look at articles posted on Digg. I look at the catchy title of the article, if it takes my fancy or I think it is news worthy, I click it. I might read the whole thing I might not. I then click the back button (I might Digg it I might not). It might have just be morbid curiosity that caused me to click the story in the first place and not even wanting to Digg it in the first place. Or it might have been the comments on the story that made me have a look. More so the article title may have caused an emotive response in me that made me read it, nothing to do with who wrote it or what it was about or how well it was written.

So is the average Digger a discerning surfer? Maybe some are. Those who are will go back to those sites that are worth a second look. That is the challenge that confronts the Dugg. "I am playing the big leauge here, I will have to write something that will be popular enough so that I keep these readers coming back". So with the pressure that is exerted by the average in-discriminating Digger he or she leaves in their wake a blogger (or whatever) who is feeling the heat somewhat. Therefore, is the average Digg turning our Blogosphere into a tabloid dynasty that has zero content? Does it then become tag city that loses it's way, battling over the meager offerings from the few Digg etal. sites that are out there? I think that this entirely possible due to the peer pressure factor. However, I think that there are those that will stand out once the bubble has burst. That means that we need to learn to write for ourselves, as Sebastian would say we need to "be the ball…".

I do not promote my blog much. For me the whole thing is for enjoyment and because I like it. Occasionally, I get a good story that talks about some new idea or news and I get a few more hits but nothing that special. But I know that more people read my blog today on a day to day basis than did a month ago. For that I am very grateful. I am happy to just blog when I want to, about whatever I want to, when I want to. For me that is enough.

How would I cope with "attention"? I really could not tell you because it is not something that I think will happen. For that reason I am not sure what I would do, say or write. Don't get me wrong I would absolutely love it and enjoy the experience especially the bit where your hits go up by the hundreds every couple of minutes, that would just be cool to watch if nothing else! Yet I would like to think I still had an obligation to blog about what I wanted to and still compelled to report that which had merit, regardless of pressure or the need for acceptance.

It may seem like I am flamming Digg in all this but in reality there are people, blogs, content, news items, videos [add mediums here] that should be aknowledged, admired, respected, and commented on within this community. Due to the very nature of the community and peer review this can not be censored, vetted or moderated and that is the way it should be. But the character of the person is tested to the limit in the wake of being Dugg in a big way. The challenge then is to conform or to be an Obligatory Non-conformist.

Because fireworks are wonderful, but they don't happen every day. True fulfillment comes from the tree that you planted as a seedling that is now big enough to hang a swing from for your children.

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http://roostersrail.com Yep I Own It!

I bit the bullet today and purchased http://roostersrail.com! I knew that it has been available for some time but up until now I have not bothered to purchase it. But now I have become sufficiently attached to it I decided that I didn't want anyone else to have it.

So I now own another domain and I'd like to think that I will hang onto this one. I guess that it makes the Rail seem more like mine. In addition to that if ever I move the blog I don't have to get everyone to change their bookmarks, I just redirect the forwarding from my domain administration. This is a very convenient feature of having your own domain for your blog or website.
So update those bookmarks! Why not head on over to the good guys at Go Daddy and get a domain of your own, it is cheap too!

Podcast Titles: Get Catchy!

I just finished listening to From The Directors Chair number 17. Sebastian Interviewed Dave Jackson of The School of Podcasting. I really enjoyed the show and the interview was great.

Dave had some great hints and tips for new Podcasters and I am going to try to implement at least one of them, not that there were not others but I actually do the other ones he mentioned. The main thing that he mentioned was to choose the titles of your podcasts carefully. That is the title that will appear in iTunes, or in peoples RSS readers. The reason is that you need to grab peoples’ attention to in order for them want to take the time to listen to your podcast. Or for that matter the titles to your blog entries as well.

The other thing that was mentioned that I may as well mention here is the error of editing a podcast in mp3 format. As you may or may not know mp3 is a lossy format. Or in other words every time you open and save it it “looses” some of the quality. By the time you get round to publishing your podcast it has been edited and re-saved about twenty times and the quality is significantly reduced. This is especially evident if you publish in low bit rates. This is one error I did not make. I record and edit the whole vocal audio as a .wav file and add the songs last as they are downloaded as mp3’s and I can not change that as they come from the Pod Safe Music. So the addition of them last means minimal quality loss.

So it was a top show and there was heaps more than I have mentioned here so go and download it and listen for yourself.

So What Makes You Different?

TechnoratiToday Technorati posted the State of the Blogosphere for April 2006. It blows me away to think about these statistics. In summary:

  • Technorati now tracks over 35.3 million blogs.
  • The number of blogs doubles every six months.
  • The blogoshphere is over sixty times bigger than it was three years ago.
  • A new blog is created every second of every day.
  • 19.4 million (55%) bloggers are still active three months after their blog was created.
  • Every day Technorati tracks 1.2 million posts.

Reference: Technorati Weblog; State of the Blogosphere, Part 1

These statistics are truly amazing to say the least. I think that it will be interesting to see if the growth is sustainable as I think that there is an element of novelty in blogging. The other glaring thing to me is with these types of numbers what makes my blog something that anyone else would want to read? How do I set myself apart from all the other blogs on the planet? Is setting myself apart something that I want to do? Clearly some bloggers just want to blog for themselves or to let their family know what they are up to. Then there is the commercial aspect with big companies jumping on the blog idea.

So I am going to keep asking myself what it is that might make this post something someone else would want to read and keep blogging anyway, even if nobody reads it.

I am also pleased that I am part of the 55% that are still blogging after three months, so thats one feather in my cap. When all is said and done I am blogging for the fun of it and while I am having fun I will keep at it.

On another note there are some interesting things happening with in my community. Sebastian and myself have started another blog. It is called Podcast Periodical. This online magazine is not so much one that we want to write as we want others to contribute to it. We hope that the blog fosters community in blogging and podcasting by sharing resources and networking with other like minded people. Personally I am hoping that it will assist people with questions and queries about podcasting and blogging or just understanding what the whole thing is all about.

This is something that I am quite passionate about, just ask the average person on the street what a blog is and you will get various dumb looks. Now ask them what a podcast is and you will get a “what planet are you on look”. So I am hoping that through this blog we can “get the word out” on what and how of podcasting and blogging. Make sure you check out the site and subscribe I am sure it will be something to watch.