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The Eternal Quest for Uniqueness

Unique-1What makes your Blog Different?

This is a question I think that most bloggers would do well to ask.

We’re living in a time when ‘content’ is being produced in vast quantities by large numbers of individuals and organizations.

I heard recently on the radio that the internet now contains over 800 billion documents. Whether that number has any truth to it or not I don’t know (I suspect it’s a gross underestimate) – but I do know that there is ALOT of content circulating out there and that while blogging does give individuals a voice – in reality each post is just one in several hundred billion.

So the question is – what makes your blog unique?

I’ve written about this before so won’t go into great depth about it – however it struck me today that this question is not just a one off question – it’s one that should be asked on an ongoing basis.

The problem with producing content on the web is that it’s an ever changing environment with low barriers to entry where your idea can be unique one day and just another page of a genre the next.

One last thought….

Bloggers should probably ask this same question on two levels.

  1. What makes my BLOG unique? - A question to be asked every month or two
  2. What makes this POST unique? – A daily question that focusses upon the micro task of producing a single article.

What makes your blog unique? How do you differentiate it from the masses? What other examples of unique blogs are there?

Dave’s State of the Blogosphere

Slide0002-6-TmDave Sifry has posted another State of the Blogosphere post based upon the stats that Technorati is tracking. Highlights this time around include:

  • They are now tracking over 50 million blogs
  • What they are tracking is now 100 times bigger than it was 3 years ago
  • It’s doubling in size every 200 days (a slow down – but considering the numbers not really)
  • 175,000 blogs are created each day (the old 1 blog starting per second stat is out dated – it’s now 2 per second)
  • 70% of pings that Technorati gets are from spam blogs
  • Daily posting levels are at about 1.6 million posts per day (18.6 per second)
  • English has retaken the lead as the most spoken language (Japanese is only 1% behind)

Topix Adds News Trend Tracker

Topix.net has launched a new design and a few nice new features.

The look is a little cleaner than it’s previous incarnation but of more interest to me is it’s new graphing feature that lets you look back over a year’s indexing of news sources to see how many times a keyword has been mentioned.

Plug in the term ‘blogging’ and you get the following graph (click to enlarge):

Topix

Click on the blue bars to narrow your search for the term to that period of time (so you can see what might have caused a leap or lull in citations).

found via Steve Rubel

update: After playing with it for a little while I’ve come to the same conclusion as Steve – it would be much more useful if you could compare one term with another (either that of it they gave numbers of citations per day so you could manually compare).

Something like what Google Trends does in allowing comparisons would be handy like the following comparison of the amount of people searching Google for ‘podcasting’ (red) and ‘blogging’ (blue):

Viz-3

I know they are tracking different things (ie Topix tracks citations in news sources and Google Trends tracks searches in Google – but if Topix were to take a similar approach it’d be very useful data.

Ten Tips for Becoming a Top Digg User

Marketallica has an interesting article by a top 100 Digg user who shares his tips for being successful on Digg (as a user). The english isn’t great (but then again neither is mine at times) but the tips give insight into Digg userland.

1. Recognize Big Stories
2. Track Pulse of Internet
3. Interesting Headlines
4. Humanized Story Description
5. Trackback Your Submission
6. Comment First
7. Timing
8. Make Friends
9. Digg Your Friends News:
10. Finally, Enjoy

While not exactly the same I’m interested to see that similar principles apply to becoming a top blogger (for example his tip on headlines, humanizing stories, timing, making friends etc).

Read the full article at Top 10 Actionable Tips (Rules) That Make Me Top Digg User

Speedlinking – 7 August 2006

Just a couple of quick WordPress related links today:

FeedBurner Testing ‘Networks’

Just stumbled upon a post from Brad Feld who is blogging about a new “networks” approach that Feedburner seems to be beta testing.

Brad is coordinating a Venture Capital network and defines networks as:

“a collection of blogs that fit within a particular topic. The goal is to create high quality collections of similar types of publishers…. A FeedBurner Network is managed by a coordinator. At this stage the coordinator is the gatekeeper for the network, although it will evolve so that all members of a network can promote other potential members. As a result, the content is “filtered and selected” by the network coordinator (and ultimately members) so that there aren’t “fake” Venture Capital blogs as part of the network. The result should be a higher quality network and a quick and easy way to find ‘Venture Capital bloggers.’”

It’s interesting to see that this new feature has been announced in this way and with no official word from Feedburner but it’s an interesting development and I’ll be watching on to see how it rolls out.

My initial impression is that it’s success could hinge upon the quality of their coordinators and their ability to keep the high quality of participants up.

update: more on this at Techcrunch who points to another of Feedburner’s investors (aparently Brad is an investor too) who is also writing about this new feature here.

Michael Arrington’s thoughts on Feedburners networks are much more articulate than mine above – he writes:

“The biggest issue around this will be what rules are used to determine which blogs are included in a given topic. It isn’t clear if there will be any real quality control – in his post Brad says each network will have a gatekeeper to make sure only blogs on topic are included, but there doesn’t appear to be any hurdle as to what constitutes a quality blog in a topic. That could work out badly. And if the bloggers and/or the network coordinator are making subjective decisions on which blogs can be included in a given network, this will end in tears. The politics around who’s in and who’s out of a blog network are impossible.”

Bloglines Problems

Numerous bloggers are reporting issues with Bloglines again today. I’ve been noticing it for at least 24 hours here – folders that say they have unread items that when you click on them have nothing in them as well as other folders that seem to be empty but which actually do have items in them.

I can’t see any notifications from Bloglines that explain it but something is definitely wrong from what I can see. I just hope I’m not losing the unread items that it’s missing when they do fix the problem.

Others noticing problems – here, here and here.

Update: It seems that Bloglines have written something about their problem but those of us with it probably didn’t get the message – as our Bloglines isn’t working! The explanation is:

“We are aware that some users have been seeing inaccurate counts on their subscription lists. This is related to the maintanance we performed Wednesday, August 3rd which included upgrades to our databases. Unfortunately, due to the massive amount of data we store, many of the systems are taking a few days to catch up with work. There is no loss of data or functionality, but the sheer size of the synchronization is causing the inaccuracies in count to occur. We are working to speed up the synchronization and remove this bottleneck from the system in the future. In the meantime, we apologize for this inconvenience and disruption to your Bloglines reading rituals.”

I’m not sure if this is the issue that I’m having but it does seem to be taking quite a while to fix. I’m seeing quite bizarre results – one minute folders seem to have unread items, the next they don’t. Hopefully things will be back to normal shortly.

Finding a New Rhythm as a Daddy Blogger

It’s been one month today since ProBlogger Junior came out of Beta and to say that life will never be the same again is something of an understatement.

One of the common questions I’m asked by friends, family and readers is ‘how has the work/family life balance been going?’ Another is ‘have you got any work done at all?’

Img 5277 2

It’s a difficult question to ask and perhaps I need another month before I can fully answer it but here’s five observations a month into my first month of balancing being a Dad and being a full time Blogger.

1. Paternity Leave was a great idea – the idea of taking two weeks off from blogging is something I’d highly recommend. A lot of my friends took a couple of weeks off to stay at home with their wives and children when they had babies and I thought it was a nice idea. I know V appreciated it and I valued the time too in many ways.

2. New Rhythms – I guess much of the last month has been about adjusting to new rhythms and routines. This has ranged from new sleeping patterns to new working ones. Whereas I previously worked until 1am in the morning and got up at 8-9am I’m not finding that I’m working from 7am and going to bed at 11pm. We’re going to experiment with a few different ways of structuring our day but my old routine is definitely out the window.

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WordCamp Kicks Off

I’d love to be heading to WordCamp this weekend but due to the quick way it was organized and the fact that V would rip my head off if I even raised the idea of leaving the country a month after our little one was born I wasn’t able to get there.

The schedule looks pretty interesting with a good range of topics under discussion including one on Monetizing your Blog by Yobie Benjamin and Pat McCarthy (two guys I’m not sure I’ve come across before but who I’ve added to my ever growing RSS watch list).

Pat has written a post in the lead up to the session called 10 Ways to Monetize Your Blog which is a good introduction to the basics and similar to my own post on How Bloggers Make Money from Blogs.

I’m looking forward to reading about this and other WordCamp sessions. Let me know in comments if you’re there and if you’re live blogging the camp.