Housekeeping

I'm trying to decide whether to continue using Bloglines (in spite of its glitchiness) or to shift over to Google Reader.

Not that this alternative is an all-or-nothing deal, necessarily. My in-house technical advisor points out that Bloglines has useful features I don't know how to use, yet. So it might make sense to experiment with GR while also trying to determine whether Bloglines has some virtues to make up for its defects.In any case, comments are welcome on the relative merits of each.
Also, let me point out this discussion of centripetal vs. centrifugal forces on the web (which I found linked somewhere this morning, but don't recall where, hence no acknowledgment).

It's of interest for a couple of reasons -- one of them being an overlap with some thinking about what to do with this blog. It might make sense to convert Quick Study into a blog that tracks a lot more closely than it has until now the range of things I am reading online, which has usually tended to be more centrifugal than not.

This would involve quoting from and linking to blogs and sites that don't otherwise appear to have many readers. It would also mean posting more frequently than has been my wont:  making this a discipline, almost; an activity as regular if not as demanding as actual writing. I'm not entirely sure about this. It would mean taking blogging itself more seriously than I have in the past.

But it might be worth trying, since I regularly come across material that could be of interest to other people but that doesn't fit into anything I'm writing.

Either that, or just keep going AWOL here for weeks at a time....


October 29, 2008 11:31 AM | | Comments (7)

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7 Comments

Scott,

I shifted from Bloglines to Google Reader about a month or so back after a second frustrating outage, and I have no real complaints. The only thing I miss is getting to peek at who's subscribing to what blogs on Bloglines, but I'm more than happy with the speed, presentation, and bookmarking functions in GR; plus, it's much easier to e-mail posts you like through GR.

I wonder what value blogs will have in the next couple of years. My MO for posting something has usually been, "Doesn't look like anybody else has seen this"---I think my most successful days, personally, as a blogger are when I point people to articles, particularly pieces in smaller papers and journals, that don't get much notice from the blogosphere. But my most successful days in terms of hits is when I post something on David Foster Wallace. So, chase the hits or chase what gets you enthused? There's so little money involved in the former that it hardly seems worth the effort unless you're a big-scale aggregating monster; at the end of the day, you might as well speak your passion.

Thanks, Mark. I've never really tried to chase after traffic and wouldn't know how to drum it up in any case. There has been there occasional huge spike here (even a few thousand hits in a day) when something gets picked up elsewhere. But that's been a fluke, and it never seems to add more regular readers.

Doesn't it feel as if this whole medium has entered a new phase? I've been trying to figure out how to characterize it, and drawing a blank.

Kenneth Burke had an idea about the development of cultural trends that he called "the neo-Malthusian principle" -- basically, that something will expand until it consumes so much of what it needs from the cultural ecosystem that it starves its own excess population off. It seems as if that must happen with blogs and the like eventually. The scarce resource in this case is attention. But it's hard to tell whether the bubble has already burst, or will soon, or ever might.

Then again, I have more than 400 feeds in blogline, most of them still active, so perhaps that answers part of the question.

I use Google Reader and find it much better than Bloglines. In addition to the features mentioned above, I love the "shared items" feed, which in a sense amounts to the sort of meta-blog you describe in the post. It's happened to me a surprising number of times, when talking to a friend I haven't seen in a while, that they'll bring up something interesting they read in my shared items feed.

I switched to Reader a year or two ago (?), but I recently began using Bloglines again for keeping track of work-related blogs (without the distraction of the fun stuff). It helps me keep my mind organized without the hassle of logging out and logging back in with another username/password. Reader is def my preferred choice, though.

I reevaluate fade theory every now and then, and make adjustments in my posts accordingly. Some blogs function as magazines, but ft and qs are almost more like catalogs. Catalogs that include things we like, think about, strike our fancy, etc. I think you can do whatever you please with it, and we'll be happy. It's fun digging around in your head.

Scott, I think the new phase is the rapid evolution of a two-tier world when it comes to blogs: You're either recognized by a mainstream media outlet or large-scale aggregator (HuffPo, Daily Beast, etc), or you do not, for all intents and purposes, exist. That's not to say that nonmainstream blogs are irrelevant or won't find their own audiences. But I think the bloom is off the rose for the "long tail" theory where dynamic subcultures are created in small-scale blog environments---we know that the people who are most into the microniches that the "long tail" champions are folks who consume *everything* anyway. (And those microniches are *really* micro; there was a recent Pew media survey that showed that public awareness of even "big" places like Slate and Salon is pretty miniscule.)

For smart people who do smart blogs on smart things, there'll be more pressure to be utterly clear about what you cover and don't cover if you want much recognition. You need to finish the sentence, "This is a blog about ________." And it can't be abstracted, because Google doesn't handle abstract theme well, and if Google doesn't like you, well....


Well, crap -- that means Quick Study is totally out of luck. I have no idea what this blog is about. Just making it up as I go along, pretty much.

Who cares about recognition? A permanent Salon des Refusés - that is my blogging ideal. I prefer surprise and delight to recognition. And however well Huffington Post does, I believe that the global champion in hits is still this woman in Japan, according to Wired:

"... 23-year-old pop singer/anime addict Shoko Nakagawa (pictured) who set a record in February as the world's most popular blogger when her Shokotan site reportedly received more than 1 billion hits."

Hurray for anorexic live journaling diet tips, the manga subset, and fanfic bloggers - this is where the action is.

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This page contains a single entry by Quick Study published on October 29, 2008 11:31 AM.

Something Many of Us Would Pay to See was the previous entry in this blog.

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