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Archive for September, 2002

Ego disintermediation

by henrycopeland
Monday, September 23rd, 2002

In today’s NYTimes, Mickey Kaus worries that blogging journalists will save their best stuff for their blogs and bypass editors. Good point. Most writers are in it as much for mojo than money. Ego disintermediation is a big driver for blogging journalists. The article is written by journalist David Gallagher, who says (on his own blog) that he blogs “because self-publishing is the best thing about the Web.” (Via Hylton Jolliffe.)

Reading the same article, Amy Langfield asks: “should journalists blog?” And she answers, “As a former copy editor and desk editor, I want to say


by henrycopeland
Monday, September 23rd, 2002

Tony Pierce has mastered IM fiction chatting with people like Lenny Kravitz and Anna Kournikova.

Now, Dawn Olsen perfects the straight IMterview with writer Neal Pollack. He likens bloggers to “a prison full of lunatics shouting to see the warden.” He notes later that “you probably have as many loyal readers as the average midlist fiction writer.”

E-mail interviews often secrete preachy, overboiled prose; good IMterviews spurt globules of memorable text and, for those who care, record context and spelling.

I’d love to read articles woven from IMterviews. The writer would build her case, but the source documents would be linked for anyone’s perusal.

Blog CV: my life as a blog

by henrycopeland
Friday, September 20th, 2002

Jason Kottke writes: “Anyone who meets me online — including possible friends, fellow Web design enthusiaists, or potential employers — has access to 4+ years of my thoughts before they even have to strike up a conversation. That’s damn powerful stuff.” Yep, so much so that I currently feel it would be tough to hire someone who is not a blogger. It would feel like they were hiding something.

A couple weeks ago, Krzysztof Kowalczyk argued that the best resume is a blog. “My opinion is that it’s impossible to tell anything from a typical resume. So a guy says he knows PHP. Does it mean that he’s a PHP guru who has written 100k lines of PHP code or that he’s just finished ‘Learn PHP in 15 minutes’? No way to tell. My idea: blog your resume. In addition to a standard resume keep a log of all the stuff you’re learning and doing. E.g. if today you wrote a 5k lines perl script that spiders the web and extracts interesting info, you would to your log a dated entry: Finished 5k line Perl script to spider the web. Used LWP::Simple module…

Curriculum Vitae means “a summary of one’s education, professional history, and job qualifications, as for a prospective employer.” CVs inevitably distort and elide. History is written by the victors; likewise CVs are overwritten by our winning ideas. Our missteps, mistakes and stupidities get forgotten.

A blog captures our professional and personal accretions in real-time, records the quality of our interactions and snap-shoots our judgements. Other important factors get recorded: do we play well with the other children in our class? do we share credit? do we collaborate? listen? articulate? admit mistakes? grow?

This transparency may be a crucial selling point for Weblogs4hire. Don’t hire a blogger to blog for you. Hire her because you understand her skills and personality. Because you trust her. Because she’ll fit better with your team, last longer, and (not least) communicate better.

Tribune classifieds boom online, slump offline

by henrycopeland
Friday, September 20th, 2002

Tribune Company, owner of the LATimes and the Chicago Tribune, says that online revenues in August grew 29% to $6.4 million, up from $4.9 million in August 2001. The growth is attributed to the company’s CareerBuilder web site, says this article.

Meanwhile print classified sales declined 1%, with the biggest decline coming in the “help wanted” category, which was down 17 percent.

Cannibalization? Nawww.

Eggers self-publishes second novel

by henrycopeland
Thursday, September 19th, 2002

Dave Eggers, author of “A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius,” will issue his second novel himself and “sell it only through the McSweeney’s Web site and 100 or so independent bookstores. Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble and other giant retailers are to be cut out of the action.” The WSJournal adds:

“Mr. Eggers seems to have taken as his playbook Jason Epstein’s ‘Book Business.’ Published last year, it ought to be required reading for serious writers everywhere. Mr. Epstein, a former editor at Random House and co-founder of the New York Review of Books, argues that the trend toward centralization in book publishing and retailing is coming to an end. In an environment where competition for bestsellers and name-brand authors has sent advances and marketing budgets soaring, profit margins among the mainstream houses are wafer thin. Chain bookstores, saddled with pricey real estate and high labor costs, must themselves bank on an ever-increasing supply of bestsellers; this reliance on quick turnover marginalizes serious, slower-selling books. But the chains are finding it ever more difficult to compete with the ruthless price slashing of Amazon, which will, at no extra cost, deliver to your doorstep. The whole middle-man apparatus of corporate publishing, argues Mr. Epstein, will totter toward obsolescence as e-book and print-on-demand technologies gain traction, reducing the need for costly warehousing and shipping. Someday, he maintains, writers will contract directly with independent editors and publicists, and the trade will revert to its roots as a cottage industry of like-minded souls banding together in fluid groupings around projects of mutual interest.”

Go buy Blogads from Ken!

by henrycopeland
Thursday, September 19th, 2002

: “I can’t stress enough just how simple it was to set up my adstrip for [url=http://www.weirdfiles.com]Weird Files. I’ve sold two ads this week and am running another two free ads — for my hosting service and the crazy Fortean Times magazine.” Next up, Blogads on KENLAYNE.com and LAEXAMINER.

Weblog seeding

by henrycopeland
Thursday, September 19th, 2002

Internet marketeer Tim Ireland offers a number of services, including “Weblog Seeding.” Here’s the description: “No doubt you’ve watched a movie or two where some mad scientist, intent on wiping out every human being on the planet with a killer virus, does so by releasing it in multiple strategic locations. The same approach needs to be taken with online viral agents. Web users are creatures of habit, and rarely venture out of a set group of communities and websites. For this reason, a multiple seeding approach is required to give your virus the best chance of wide exposure and exponential growth. Weblog seeding is by far the most effective technique of getting your viral agent in front of as many eyeballs as possible.”

Double Blogad family

by henrycopeland
Wednesday, September 18th, 2002

Congratulations to Emmanuelle Richard and Matt Welch, the first double Blogad family. Emmanuelle scores another first: a French blogad. Be sure to click and contribute the cause of blogging a la mode francaise. Finally, I’m excited that Emmanuelle pushes the envelope so nicely with her house ads, especially the one for Dot.con.

Journalism: craft or commodity?

by henrycopeland
Wednesday, September 18th, 2002

Ken Layne writes: “The cost-cutting, personality-hating newspaper chains have done everything possible to do away with popular columnists. The most successful tactic has been to let the popular columnists die off and quickly kill all discussion of replacements by issuing the standard ‘he/she could never be replaced.'”

To the folks who think great writers won’t ever make a living from blogging, I can only say: what are you gonna read if they don’t?

Professional journalism is being crushed by lead-coated, 19th-century overheads. Although a few true-believers fight back, each year, another 5% of the newspaper heap gets amalgamated or liquidated. Eighty percent of newspaper revenue funds executive parking garages, ad rep bonuses, printing presses, phone bills, delivery trucks, and 3-martini-lunches.

The fires of competition will boil off these impurities and slag. Wordsmiths and other idea entrepreneurs will thrive; the advertiser will get five times more bang for her buck; readers will get more and better commercial information.

Slouching towards irrelevance

by henrycopeland
Friday, September 13th, 2002

Reviewing the newest Matt Welch and Tony Pierce note that no LA bloggers are quoted, although more than 200 are now listed at LAblogs.

This omission may be because quoting an LA blogger would have meant publicizing the neonetwork of Kaus, Volokh, Johnson, Havrilesky, Roderick, Simberg, Moxie, Pierce, Salisbury, Layne, Welch and the LAEXAMINER — all of whom comprise a Cabel of LAT Critics.

But I don’t think the exclusion of LA Bloggers was (just) cynical self-protection. A more subtle rule also applied. The article only quoted people who write for a newspaper (Safire), teach graduate students (Halavais, Grabowicz, Pryor), publish a book (Weinberger), or attend J-School (Milios).

Here’s what the LAT was thinking: “The rest of you aren’t worth quoting. You aren’t authorities. We can’t rely on you because nobody ‘official’ says you are OK. You haven’t been vetted. And if we quoted people who aren’t authorities, we’d lose our status as an authority.”

Of course, it is self-evident that nobody is better qualified to talk about blogging than members of the LA blogging community. They are authorities by right of their own experience posting millions of words and creating 100s of thousands of links. And they are authorities because they have, by daily inspection and ongoing dialog, vetted each other.

So, by clinging to its outmoded definition of authority, the LATimes abdicates its own claim to authority. The LA Times, like a plastic surgeon with a giant wart on the end of his nose, convinces us, but not in the way intended. The real story: bloggers can create powerful networks of mutually validated authorities, networks that exceed the vision and authority of traditional media.

Blind to its own blindness, the LAT is slouching towards irrelevance. (To paraphrase Tony.)

PS: Don’t miss Matt’s closing paragraph, which recounts his previous bad experiences as a “subject” of the LAT. And don’t miss Tony’s point-by-point deconstruction of the article.

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