I don't read as many books as I use to (5 to 7 per month), but I read a lot more content than I use to. Blams blogs and RSS for that.
Here are my Google Reader stats for the past 30 days:
So, assuming that 1750 posts average 400 words, I read some 700,000 words. If an average book has 70,000 words, I read 10 books per month.
So, the point is made: I read too much. But what about quality?
I mean, I don't expect to suddenly come around Michail Sholokhov, but what is the overall quality in terms of the information delivered (not so much on the form or "beauty" with which is delivered)? Well, I'd say rather good. There is a certain degree of redundancy, whenever something big happens (Chrome, Steve Jobs Keynote).
To prevent too much repeated stuff I try to keep my feeds variate. I'd say it is 20% Social Media, PR & Marketing, 20% Geek stuff (linux, ajax, design, usability, etc), 20% science, and the rest is randomness that I come across with (music, literature, arts, etc).
Another thing I usually do is rotating feeds. I'd say I add and delete around 5 feeds per month, thus my feed reader is not static, but always changing and evolving.
In comparison to when I read just books and magazines I can say today there's less quality, more variety and infinite availability.
Finally, I'd like to share a couple of the "best blogs you probably never heard about". I'll toss in some of this nice discoveries every now and then.
- Cheaper than Therapy: Music business and economy. If you want to know what record companies are up to read this blog
- Bits or Pieces: Amazing thinking regrading cloud computing.
Feel free to share your own reading habits and "feed gems".
People in the ranks of alltop, so-called "gurus" such as Scoble or Jeremiah are what we consider as "influencers" in the under-under-under world of web-oh-two(too)-cool. This guys have crept out of the background noise of the bloggosphere and twitterati and made themselves more prominent than the Nerdy Average Joe that lurks the very same services this influencers use.
With raging ranks of followers and some fans that would make Tommy Lee jealous (I've seen commenters praise and sustain some of the most outrageous and, dare I say, dumb remarks) the influencers get an amplification power similar to the one achieved by Spinal Tap's "mine go to eleven" boxes.
The effect of this is quite simple: more people listen (and reply) to this guys than they do to the other "participants in the conversation". Some call that higher reach.
The outcome is a paradox.
Remember the days of mass media? Remember all the Social-web-2.0-power-to-the-masses fuzz? The premise was that everyone could be a Journalist, everyone could have a voice.
Certainly everyone can have a voice. But not everyone's voice can be heard. Since there is so much content out there there is no way everyone can get an audience. I'll agree that there is content out there that is of little or no appeal to most of the audience, but there is quite a deal of excellent and original writing that goes unnoticed.
The issue becomes that the same means that was (allegedly?) allowing a revolution in communications is now fostering individuals and groups of people that resemble more and more traditional media. The only difference is that they never had their content in print to begin with.
All the top-ranked blogs out there have heavy editorial lines. On the other end of things many newspapers and magazines are relying heavily on blogs and have opened comments on their usual content. The difference between those is becoming harder to tell. There are hints that tell them apart, such as very segmented content (most blogs deal with one general theme, whereas newspapers cover tons of different topics), very visible faces / personalities behind blogs and a general lean on the side of bloggers to share opinions more explicitly.
The way Marketing bucks have to deal with this popular blogs is resembling more and more that of traditional media. Or maybe worst. But that's ok.
Now, to round up the paradox idea -if you haven't understood what the main paradox is so far: bloggers resemble journalists and vice versa, even when they both shout out loud that they are quite different- yet another issue pops up when bloggers monetize their content, and while doing so their so-called transparency is put to the trial. I'm affraid many have succumbed to journalism's worst sin: selling of. Of course this is not the case with all bloggers.
The other fairly visible tendency I see in some of this influencers is that they are tending to rely on repeating themselves and using the same couple of formulas over and over again. One of the overly-used ones is deceiving the readership into believing they are participants when, all truth be said, they are being leached.
There is a fine line between calling for interaction and dialogue and abusing those who follow you to get content and ideas.
It might be just that I am a cynic. Very cynic.This post belongs to the shifting times, blurring lines series. Read them all or learn what the series is about.
Edit: David, makes some similar remarks over his blog as well.
Last Thursday I had the honor to attend "DigitalTalk". The best way I can describe it is as "endogamy-powered mini-TED".
Here's the dynamics of the talk: 20 speakers, no audience but the other keynoters, everything is recorded on Video for future release n the form of a blog. The only premise on what to talk about is that you have to "inspire the other 19 speakers".
Even though I had relatively little time to prepare my dissertation I decided to do something entirely from scratch, as opposed to recycling what I had already presented both on WeMedia and Wordcamp.
I did not speak about Social Media or the Online world in general, but rather centered my presentation on having ideas and sticking to them (and when to bail out!). I was rather pleased that the rest of the invitees had similar approaches.
It was quite an inspiring event. And I for once was thrilled by the fact that others think I can give an inspirational speech. It was also quite pleasing to be sitting "on the same table" as:
- Mariano Amartino (Uber Bin),
- Ariel Arrieta & Damian Voltes (Punto Fox)
- Alejandro Sas (Buongiorno)
- Andy Freire (Axialent)
- Adrian Herzkovich (Fox)
- Eduardo Mangarelli (Microsoft)
- Esteban Galuzzi (Intel)
- Federico Tessore (Inversor Global)
- Gaby Menta (AcroWorld)
- Gonzalo Alonso (Google)
- Gustavo Buchbinder (WebAr)
- Horacio Werner (Cisco)
- Juan Carlos Lucas (Innova)
- Juan Pablo Bruzzo (DineroMail)
- Leonardo Piccioli (OfficeNet)
- Martin Hazan (MRM)
- Martin Migoya (Globant)
I haven't got enough words to thank Mariano, Ariel and Damián for such a wonderful way to spend a Thursday.
Videos should become available at digitaltak.tv soon and I'll be posting comments and reviews / opinion on them as they are made public.
Question: Should we even try to monetize our blogs? It depends. If the blog does not have visits it will not make money. Mariano Amartino says that with less than 10K visits per day you won't be able to make a living.
AdManager: Ad Serving. You can manage ads from various sources. With Ad Networks you allways fill all ad spaces on the blog. The Ad Server will always show the highest CPM ad.
Ad Sense. Searches for keywwords in the content and decides to display a relevant ad according to those keywords. Placement is key for the ads.
Formats also pay a big part on how much money we will get from publicity.
Understanding profits. We can see how much money each format makes and decide the best practices.
Juan Bongiovanni, Zed Digital. How big companies spend their online money. Creatives and media are separated in agencies. Big corporations have global accounts which centralize all ad spend.
Big Media is not growing traffic. Traffic grows on Social Media. Agencies are loosing their main ally: Media. Big companies start paying more attention to bloggers because they have good page rank and they have growing audiences.
The industry has forked into 2 perceptions, CPM and CPC. Blogs should focus on building their value. Although CPM remains stable, the audiences on sites are different, but CPM does not reflect that.
Bloggers should understand where brands spend their money. Bloggers should try to avoid dealing with media agencies.
A good alternative is to aim for PR budgets instead of Maketing Budgets.
Amartino: AdServing agencies should be 100% transparent, if they are not end relationships with them.
Traditional Media Agencies only talk to bloggers if their clients ask them to do so. They are too used to picking up the phone and just calling the newspaper to work online Ad positioning.
You have to have accountability regarding your audience because that is the only tool you have to better sell yourself.
Above and Beyond plain Text.
Alejando Ponicke and Miguel Angel Saez, Microsoft.
Alejandro and Miguel Angel are demonstrating how easy it it to install a WordPress blog under Microsoft IIS using Microsoft Web Platform. They use the infamous Microsoft method of next -> next -> finish.
IIS 7 modified its Architecture, leaning towards modularization, thus PHP is another module within IIS.
2 installers, one for the platfomr, one for the aditional packages (WordPress amongst them).
Miguel Angel is going to demonstrate how to use Microsoft Live Writer. Live writter was born because they found out that Word wasn't all that good for Blogging.
WLR's nicest feature is that it is an extensible software. They have a plugin architecture.
Demo: they get a video from soapbox and embed it into Facebook.
SmoothHD.com. Service built around silverlight. I must admit the streaming looks very crisp. Service automatically lowers quality if it detects that the bandwith is not optimal.
This type of service will become publically available (as in giving people the ability to upload HD videos) soon. When you embed a video using WLR it creates an iFrame that points to silverlight.live.
Now they showcase photosynth.com. Service builds a 3D wireframe directly out from user-uploaded photos. The example they show is of the statue of liberty using 57 pictures. People can create their own 3D models. Output of photosynth can also be embedded into WordPress.
They used WordPress because it is easy and flexible. WordPress is a CMS.
How to use WordPress for a VideoBlog. Not difficult, just posts with embedded videos and a good design wrapping it all.
Why did they decide to do miravos.tv: psicofxp.com and trix started discussing about doing somethign with video on last years WordCamp. There are no well-positioned video blogging sites in Latin America.
Ismael says he could feel how different links and pingabks feeded their launch.
Juan from Flof. Flof is a tagging platform based on wordpress. They use Google Maps and Open Street Maps. All data can be exported and reused in other sites. Juan underlines that ecverythin at flof uses open formats.
Short on Juan because I head to the stage.
I missed the segment on analytics because I had to borrow my ThinkPad for the presentation.
They started by making a brief review of the history of the internet. Most people who don't use Internet have no resources to do so. Of the remaining people who don't use it most claim they don't need it or say they don't know how to use it.
Improving user experience. "Your blog is YOU".
Design should be kept simple unlike:
Last.fm is a good example of simple UI design.
You should cut to the chase with what you want people to do in your blog / site / service because the attention span is too short.
Text is also interface, a good example for this is flickr, when there are no pictures there they have a bunch of text (tags, etc) that make up the design. Text is your best friend.
You should also tell a story with your design. Great WP theme: WP CODA.
On design you should try to create new paradigms. BaseCamp and gMail as examples of new ways to look at old problems.
Design should be done from the inside out. Yu should focus on what you are doing, and then the rest of the design falls into place.
Bloggers want to generate response from their readers.
Make a list of all elements that'll compose the page. Then start laying out those elements.
Design should also take SEO into account. Use H1, H2, H3, etc.
Compress CSS and JS, cache pages, use the appropriate image formats, etc.