5 Ways to Make 2009 The Year Of The Blog

Broadcast your blog

History will decide the fate of 2009.  Happy New Year!  A new year means a new start and new opportunities.  I am looking forward to a great year both personally and professionally.

Take advantage of the new year by updating your blog.  Make a new years resolution to blog more often.

I tried blogging several times but never got the hang of it.  2008 was the year for me after trying 3 or 4 times at blogging.

You can make 2009 the year for you.  Blogging can be time consuming.  If you failed at blogging in 2008 it’s ok because it’s 2009.  After failing at it several times I have realized several things the new blogger should think about.  So here are 5 pointers for the “new blogger” or the “try again blogger.”

  1. Personal Look and Feel. – Your blog is yours and yours alone.  Choose a theme, layout, and look that suits your taste.  Change it as often you like.  Do not listen to anyone telling you what it should look like.  Do not listen to those that preach a consistent look.  That really is not important.  Look and Feel is personal and should be what you want.  I totally recommend WordPress as a blogging platform.  A multitude of themes are available.  I just updated this blog to a theme called WP-Bats that I custom modified to suit me.  Its suits me today.  If one day it doesn’t then I will change.  WordPress is great because most themes do not require modification they just work.
  2. Realistic Goals. Set realistic goals for your blog.  Look most of have full-time jobs, families, activities, and many other things to take our time.  If you want to blog its ok to be realistic.  Set a goal to post once a month.  If it works out then maybe twice a month.  Pace yourself.  The web is not going anywhere and your blog will probably still be there.  If you want an audience just know things take time.  Content is important but just do your best.  It is your blog.
  3. No pressure. – Blog because you want to.  Blog for any reason.  Blog because you feel like it.  Blog when you want to record something or broadcast something.  If you fail at a goal it is ok.  It really does not matter.  Do not read, listen, or hear, the naysayers about how to blog or what to do.  Do not feel pressured that there is a right way to blog.  You blog in your own way.
  4. Fun. First and foremost have fun with it.  You should enjoy what you are writing or posting about.  Your enjoyment means the blog will probably get more attention, more content, and most all more time in your busy schedule.  Second, audiences (readers) generally like to have fun also.  Blogging is about enjoyment through words, pictures, audio, or video and it is a 2 way street.  So if you are having fun the audience probably is too.
  5. No Rules Just You. I believe this more than anything else about blogging.  Forget the rules, forget the blogging formulas, forget the rhetoric pushed out out by the large blogs telling everyone what to do.  You see they are laughing all the way to the bank.  They are making money by telling lots of eyeballs how, when, where, why, and what they should blog about.  Write what you want when you want.

2009 can be the year of the blog.  If at first you don’t succeed try, try again.

Hey Joe Blogger, Diversify!

divserifyYou may have heard of Joe the plumber and Joe Sixpack.  I want to speak directly to Joe Blogger.  This post is for the average Joe or Jane Blogger.  It pays to diversify.

There are plenty of life streaming venues around.  FriendFeed and other lifestreaming services allow submission of your blogs RSS feed.  When I blog post the post gets pushed via RSS to FriendFeed, Twitter, Facebook, and Social Median to name a few.

It pays in page views to diversify.  I am also a member of Strands, Plaxo, and MyBlogLog.  Making content available via full text RSS and submitting to multiple services gets your content out into the wild.

From a personal standpoint I mainly see traffic being driven by FriendFeed.  Yesterday I posted what I thought was a great post titled “Leaders In Internet Social Networks” that subsequently bombed page view wise on FriendFeed.  It really is ok.  I do not blog for traffic but it nice.

Anyway today out of nowhere I was on the front page of Social Median and as a result have had a very successful day (for me) page view wise.  There are no blogging formulas but it pays to diversify as a new blogger.

Be an active participant in Social Media and submit your blog postings to every stream you actively participate in.  It pays to not put all your eggs in one basket even if it is a great basket like FriendFeed.

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Leaders In Internet Social Networks

leadership-smallWhen you gather people together in any sort of group, a social structure most always arises. Leadership is something that comes natural to some, and others have it thrust upon them.

A small group may never appoint official leadership but receive leadership in some form from one, two, or a few. Unofficially or not, leadership roles are filled.

Leadership is defined by Wikipedia as the…

“process of social influence in which one person is able to enlist the aid and support of others in the accomplishment of a common task.”

As I began to write this post, I thought about several things. First, my assumption was that leaders definitely exist in social networks. Next, I believe leaders have certain responsibilities within the social setting. I have an expectation for a leader. Is this unrealistic or just simply unfair? These are some the things I want to discuss.

Do leaders exist in social networks?

Large scale social networks are filled with many groups, cliques, and small pockets of users. The users may have affiliation with each other via real life or only online relationships.

Often groups or cliques are simply people of similar interests or some similar trait that draws them together. Even in a group of peers, someone will inevitably stand out for their leadership qualities.

In an online social network, often this is seen by their popularity. In real life popularity is certainly not a determination for leadership or intelligence. In an internet social network, often we perceive the popular as leaders of the community.

This may or may not be a good method for finding leaders. The popular may be power users, but are they leaders?

Do they portray leadership qualities? Did they gain popularity from expertise? Are they an ambassador for the service? Do they wield power over the herd of users? Do they have a large sphere of influence?

If the answer is yes, I believe you have found a leader.

Is leadership expectation unfair?

What do you expect from a leader in real life? They obey the law of the group, the law of the land, and adhere to the accepted code of conduct. It is very easy to transfer these same expectations to a leader of a social network.

Unfortunately, a leader in this situation is, number one, not formally recognized. Second, they are certainly not compensated directly for their service to the organization.

I expect a certain decorum and behavior from a leader. The leader has the ability to incite riots, lead the herd in a way of their choosing, and generally abuse users in any way they see fit. Are my expectations are simply unfair?

How can we fix leadership in an online group?

One of the things that makes a social network work is the open format. The lack of rules and organization often leads to unique collaboration and an exchange of ideas.

Limiting user freedom and independence would be method for site admins to tighten control over their network. I am not for tightening control.

I am against formulas for processes that are informal. Formula or function where, by definition or inception, there is no formula or function. Freedom of expression on the Internet is great and can lead to innovation and invention.

These processes include all methods of communication, collaboration, and speech on today’s Internet. These creative processes can largely be stymied by rules, order, and unnecessary constraints.

However, the point of this post is power. In a social group, whether informally or not, someone gains power. The power to lead. To lead for the good and bad of others. Should site admins constrain users?

When power users lead the herd abusively, what action should be taken?

Rinsing My Bad Taste for FriendFeed

FriendFeedI love FriendFeed do not get me wrong.   I mean it is the premier life-streaming service.  I have tried others and found them all lacking.  FriendFeed is a great place of news, research, and generally friendly smart ideas.

But, over the last few months I found myself participating less and less.  The bad taste I gained for FriendFeed still lingers.  These negative feelings arose in the weeks preceding election day.

FriendFeed was not friendly.  It was totally pro one candidate.  Dissenting opinions were not only frowned upon but some users were verbally abused by the herd.

The abuse was even supported by members of the frienderati pushing their political views.

You know how when you see celebrities on television at some awards show being very political just because they can.   These celebrities have no more intelligence or insight than you or I.  The person with the spotlight simply pushes their own agenda or beliefs.

The Frienderati acted in the same way.  They decided that since they were popular they would use FriendFeed as a platform to push personal political views at the expense of whoever disagreed.

That practice is not Friendly.    That I believe is blatant abuse of the service.

Look just because you are popular does not make you God’s gift to politics or God himself.  Opinions as we know are like arm pits, we all have them and they all stink.

I will not name the Frienderati members fearing backlash.  I do not wish to start a meme.

I have been back on FriendFeed post election from time to time.   But, unfortunately the bad taste is lingering.  Every social network ever formed has changed over time.  The bloom goes off the proverbial rose eventually.

FriendFeed is a great product used by many friendly smart people.  The bad apples made this user take a step back.

The purpose of this post is to clear the air.  To rinse the bad feelings away.  I have been back to FriendFeed lately and find it relevant, fun, and just as lighthearted as I remembered.

FriendFeed is again the friendly place for news and information.  I will just remember to take off around August of an election year and return in December.

Merry Christmas and see you on FriendFeed!

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8 FireFox Extensions That Are New To Me

firefox

With a new job came a new computer, new work OS, new Screen resolution, and a new number of screens.  So a new computer and OS includes a fresh Firefox install.

In this post I will describe my current Firefox extensions.  In my new job I am currently doing web development primarily.

Some of these addons are very new to me.  A new Firefox install is a good opportunity to find out which extensions you can not live without.  I will always install Tab Mix Plus.  It is the first extension I install.  The very first one.

Please do not forget about other gems like Ad-Block plus, Copy Plain Text, and Feedly.    First here is my list of new extensions to me.  These are new ones that I have personally used only in the last couple of months.  My total list of installed addons totals 24.  As always the lists are easily generated with InfoLister.

New To Me Extensions

  • All-in-One Sidebar (Gives the sidebar power.  It has made me use the sidebar more and not neglect its power.)
  • ColorZilla (For Web Dev – Very popular.  Makes It easy to view colors on any page.)
  • FaviconizeTab (Tab customization. Shrink tab to favicon width only.)
  • Firebug (For Web Dev – Very popular.  I now know why.)
  • MeasureIt (For Web Dev – Measure anything on your screen in pixels.  Cool.)
  • Searchbar Autosizer (Puts the Searchbar very small out of the way and then auto-expands as needed.)
  • Split Browser (Great for a wide screen monitor like I now have.  Gives you the ability to see 2 tabs at once.)
  • Web Developer (For Web Dev – Very popular.   More web dev functions.   Try it you will like.)

Other Addons Installed

What am I missing?  These are just some tools I have been using.  Help me out!

What tools make life in Windows Vista on a wide screen monitor complete?

What other important web developer extensions am I missing?

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Introducing Product Recommendations from Kallow.com

As an early adopter and tech enthusiast I am often questioned by friends, neighbors, and the occasional stranger at the big box store to recommend a product.  The choices in consumer electronics can be overwhelming.

Kallow.com looks to make product recommendations pure and simple.  The site is co-founded by  Caleb Elston of Toluu.  This new project was born out of the need to help people pick the right items from those big box stores.

Caleb says,

“(We) were inspired by how often we have friends and family contact us asking for recommendations for tvs, cameras, or speakers.”

Simple is the name of the game for Kallow.com.  Caleb and his co-founder and friend Jordan look

“to take the clutter out of electronics buying.”

The site is simple.  Go to the Kallow home page.  Pick a product and there will be one recommendation that you can not go wrong with.  One product in that category that Caleb and Jordan have personally tested and recommend.

Kallow seems to be all about simplicity.   The recommendations are not based upon price or platform.  The recommendations are personal.   Check out Kallow it is live now.  I will be keeping an eye on this one to see it grow and change.

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