Population Statistic: Read. React. Repeat.

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Tuesday, March 14, 2021

from l to x
This here blog doesn’t get too many visits from Amazon.com. So when it did today, I took a peek at the referral log.

One thing stood out: The OS running that Amazon computer was Linux. I found that highly unusual. Linux is a rarity among the general public; in corporate environments, it’s practically non-existent (with the exception of behind-the-scenes server functions).

Turns out that Amazon has been transitioning its entire computer system to Linux for the past six years, and has become a case study for the cost-effectiveness of such a move for big companies.

Whatever it takes to ship me my books on time…

- Costa Tsiokos, Tue 03/14/2006 10:28:30 PM
Category: Bloggin', Tech, Business | Permalink | Feedback

Monday, March 13, 2021

Under Odysseus is a humorous warblog as written by an anonymous soldier from Greek antiquity. Plenty of cameos by Hector, Agamemnon, and the wandering General himself.

No telling if it’s a bit of fun by a history hobbyist, or a stealth marketing piece for 300, the upcoming movie adaptation of the Frank Miller graphic novel. Then again, there’s already a production blog for the flick…

Aside from the obvious tip of the hat to current Iraq War miliblogs, this reminds me of that specific subset of blogs out there: Faux journals as written by historical figures. I remember years ago, when blogging was just catching on, I read about some blog that was written by Julius Caesar as he chronicled his campaigns in Gaul. I never did find that one. But these types of applications of the blogging format go a long way toward properly eroding the concept of “blog” as a genre.

- Costa Tsiokos, Mon 03/13/2006 06:15:43 PM
Category: Bloggin', Publishing, Movies | Permalink | Feedback


Today’s sale of Knight-Ridder to McClatchy will involve the sale and/or shuttering of 12 of KR’s newspapers. And remember: A deal with McClatchy was the best-case scenario, because the alternative would have been acquisition by private equity vultures who probably would have gutted the company to the barest of bones.

This is a continuation of a decades-long trend, recently accelerated by the mushrooming of online media outlets. As a report from NYU’s Project for Excellence in Journalism illustrates, the irony is that as the news-dissemination landscape grows, the critical newsgathering infrastructure erodes.

The study depicts the media in an interregnum — with the reach of print, radio and television reduced, but the promise of an egalitarian online “citizen journalism” unfulfilled.

“It’s probably glib and even naive to say simply that more platforms equal more choices,” project Director Tom Rosenstiel said. “The content has to come from somewhere, and as older news-gathering media decline, some of the strengths they offer in monitoring the powerful and verifying the facts may be weakening as well.”

Who’s going to fill the void of the dedicated investigative reporter, who actually digs up information that otherwise wouldn’t appear on a website or in a press release? Probably no one. For all the criticism over biased and soft reporting, newspapers tend to be the main originators of original news content, doing the dirty work that supplies other outlets. When newsroom staffs get reduced, the effect is felt through the media landscape.

But there’s always citizen reporting via blogs, right? Wrong:

The study’s review of content across the media found that radio stations put few reporters in the field and Internet bloggers tended to offer opinions rather than new information. The study found original reporting in just 5% of blog postings it reviewed.

No surprise there, even though the number of people who rely on blogs as their prime news source increases. I’ve always said that blogs are valuable in terms of punditry and supplemental information on news items, but weak vehicles for news origination. The echo chamber effect give the illusion that a lot of news is being generated, but its just a lot of opinion, of varying quality, being bandied about endlessly. It’s this quality of the blogosphere that compels PR assaults like Edelman’s recent Wal-Mart rehabilitation campaign to target blogs — they’re easy, unfiltered pickings.

Plenty of bloggers think they can do journalism by gluing themselves to their mouse and monitors for a couple of hours a night, but the fact is, it’s not a hobbyist pursuit. It’s a job, and without enough resources, it’s a near-impossible job to fulfill.

The PEJ study suggests that this is a transitionary phase, that old media’s buckling business model is creating a vacuum that the new media inheritors aren’t able to effectively fill just yet. Presumably, an increasingly logged-in society will create a more monetized online media model that will make possible rigorous newsgathering, fulfilling the role of the fourth estate. Until then?

- Costa Tsiokos, Mon 03/13/2006 11:25:26 AM
Category: Internet, Bloggin', Media | Permalink | Feedback

Tuesday, March 07, 2021

In its ongoing campaign to counter all the negative media it’s attracted over the years, Wal-Mart is playing the blog card by sparkling bloggers’ eyes with “exclusive” news releases that accenturate the company’s viewpoint.

Naturally, content-starved (and lazy) bloggers lap it up,to the point of cutting-and-pasting the copy they get from Wal-Mart’s PR firm, Edelman, directly into their posts. Which, when viewed through search-engine prisms, quickly lets the cat out of the corporately-manipulated bag.

Isn’t this how Drudge hit it big? Republican spinmeisters spoon-fed him info about Whitewater and the Monica Lewinsky affair, which he unquestionably put on his site. Because he was running his site before the term/concept “blog” was ever dreamed up, his slop was mistaken for reporting. (The joke continues, as people today inexplicably rely upon him.) Nearly a decade later, Edelman is repeating the process on Wal-Mart’s behalf.

It’s a testament to how highly Marshall Manson, Edelman’s point man for this effort, thinks of the blogosphere collectively. Yet I doubt it’ll be especially effective, even in online terms. One million gushing Wal-Mart posts wouldn’t equal the impact of, say, one Garth Brooks “Friends With Low Wages” parody video clip. People hate to read, but they’ll eat up audio/video timewasters.

- Costa Tsiokos, Tue 03/07/2021 09:27:02 PM
Category: Bloggin', Advert./Mktg., Business | Permalink | Feedback (2)

Monday, March 06, 2021

Lots of media outlets, including newspapers, have drunk the blogging Kool-Aid. How is this confluence of old and new media going? New York University’s School of Journalism rates the best of the best in newsroom blogs.

I should give props to the St. Petersburg Times blog menagerie, coming out of my late work/play stomping grounds.

It’s a fairly subjective list, based upon what the NYU judges think a blog should look and feel like. It’s also limited to the 100 largest U.S. dailies (measured by circulation); that’s a reasonable subset, but obviously excludes smaller papers that would seem to be fertile territory for innovative blogging. Still, it’s a reasoned look at why papers should host reporter and reader blogs, and how they should be clearly differentiated from articles and columns.

One thing I didn’t see as a prime use of reporter blogs: Their utility as repositories for extra notes and sidebars that couldn’t/wouldn’t fit into a regular-section article. I find this to be a great tool for letting readers dig deeper into a story, affording a behind-the-scenes look into both the story and the newsgathering process. It’s like the extras you find on a movie DVD: It’s not necessary reading, but perfect for hooking the news junkies. Eric Deggans, the St. Pete Times Media Critic, routinely does this with this blog, most recently to supplement his story about the New Orleans Times-Picayune’s post-Katrina endeavours.

If a newspaper blog did nothing else but this, I’d be satisfied. The notion of remaindered content from the reporter, that didn’t make the newsprint cut but still saw life in digital form, is very appealing to me as the attainment of a more complete newspaper presentation. So I guess my list of the best newspaper blogs would weigh heavily toward this use of the form.

- Costa Tsiokos, Mon 03/06/2021 11:25:17 PM
Category: Bloggin', Publishing | Permalink | Feedback


go boom
BlogExplosion, probably the biggest traffic-generating referral ring out there, is up for sale.

The timing is curious. BE just jumped on the blog-community bandwagon last month with BlogCharm. That move, along with all the other affiliate-building doo-dads the service runs, was a clear sign that they were trying to build up something along the lines of MySpace, or even Flickr, that would be appealing to a corporate buyer. It’s a formula that’s paid off decently: Attract a lot of registered users, sell a lot of advertising on the user-created space, then monetize through an acquisition sale.

But why not wait until BlogCharm actually gains some critical mass? Right now, it’s got fewer than 1,500 users signed up. Even given its brief existence, that’s peanuts. I can only guess that BlogCharm didn’t catch fire the way BE assumed it would, and rather than put more work into this best shot at expanding the user base, are looking to cash out earlier than planned.

Don’t expect a cha-ching payday for BE, along the lines of yesterday’s NBC Universal acquisition of iVillage. In fact, based on the small operating numbers provided by the company (hovering at $4,500/month), even the most enthusiastic buyer would be crazy to offer more than high five-figures for it. Frankly, despite its optimistic labeling as a community site, it’s more of a traffic ring — and in its present structure, that doesn’t make it a viable advertising vehicle. And that’s where the money comes from. Right now, even the “Battle of the Blogs” and other hooks don’t provide that. New ownership can certainly redesign that, but there’s always the risk of alienating the existing user base.

My use of BlogExplosion kind of typifies this. It helped me get some exposure when I first set up this blog. I even log into it now, often as a substitute for running through my blogroll. But for me, it begins and ends at the “surf member blogs” link. I have no interest in the “Rent My Blog” or other gimmicks. I don’t even bother with the banner advertising deal anymore — I found that it resulted in practically zero clickthrus (although I do have a couple of nice banners I created to thank for it, should I ever find another use for them). For me, it’s useful for the occasional something-to-do online goof, but beyond that, I don’t feel at all committed to the service. It’s nice to have, but that’s it.

We’ll see where the sales process goes. I’m not expecting any surprises.

- Costa Tsiokos, Mon 03/06/2021 11:45:00 AM
Category: Bloggin', Business | Permalink | Feedback (1)

Thursday, March 02, 2021

Ever try describing your blog to someone whose concept of the Web extends no further than their inbox and maybe eBay?

Maybe it would help to give physical form to those words. Blurb offers a Blog Book service which will grab all your entries and format them into a hardcover-bound book. It costs around $30 for up to 80 pages.

It’d make a heck of a coffee table book, if nothing else.

I imagine that would cover the average, once-in-a-while blogger. As for me, considering a long-ago print experiment with just my index page yielded 27 pages, I have a feeling I’d have to commission an encyclopedia set to cover all the archives. And you just know updating it would be a bitch.

- Costa Tsiokos, Thu 03/02/2021 04:10:53 PM
Category: Bloggin' | Permalink | Feedback (1)

Friday, February 24, 2021

day by day
For no reason I could discern — aside from boredom borne of homebound sickness — I crunched my Google AdSense numbers to measure performance by days of the week. Since you can’t do this within AdSense’s online interface, I copy-and-pasted into Excel and went at it.

To avoid violating any terms of service, I’m going to pass on actual dollar figures. Instead, I’ll present the info in terms of percentage of total revenue generated. This covers September 27, 2021 through to yesterday, i.e. the entire time that AdSense has been displayed on this blog:

Sunday - 16.6%
Monday - 17.3%
Tuesday - 13.0%
Wednesday - 9.8%
Thursday - 14.3%
Friday - 10.0%
Saturday - 19.0%

Again, without getting into specifics, site traffic has fluctuated during this period, but not wildly so. Actual AdSense page impressions have been consistent with traffic as well.

Also note that there’s not necessarily a correlation between how often this blog is updated and when these clicks come through; I know many of these clicks have come from archived posts where actual post date is largely irrelevant. On the other hand, I’m sure timely visits via pinging services and the like have led to at least a little action.

Patterns? Well, Wednesday lives up to the hump-day moniker for me, as it’s bottom of the barrel. Friday’s only marginally better; I guess weekend gear-up plans put a dent into clickiness.

But the weekend itself… Saturday-Sunday-Monday are 1-2-3 in revenue share, and make up 52.9 percent of the collection plate. That’s not just more actual clicks — that is how it’s shaken out, although they’re not dramatically higher than the rest of the week — it’s higher-paying clicks. It seems Google is serving up the more valuable ads on the weekends and at the top of the week.

I’m not sure how applicable my results are to the blogosphere, or even the Web generally. I get decent traffic for a blog, but nothing spectacular. For all I know, my weekly spread may be atypical. And I imagine sites that update only on certain days, with large regular readership, would see very different results.

Still, it’s something to look at. I might take another look at this on, say, the one-year mark.

- Costa Tsiokos, Fri 02/24/2006 04:20:09 PM
Category: Bloggin', Advert./Mktg. | Permalink | Feedback (2)

Tuesday, February 21, 2021

I don’t know if this applies to the latest-and-greatest 2.0.x version of WordPress (I haven’t upgraded from 1.5, and don’t intend to until/unless I have to), but for me, the Dashboard page in the administrative backend has been only partially loading. The aggregated Planet WordPress links, that normally are delivered onto everyone’s Dashboard via a feed, haven’t been rendering for the past few weeks.

At first I figured I wouldn’t miss them. Despite their nominal role as informal newsbites from around the WP development world, I found a bunch of the posts to be irrelevant. Plus, it would occasionally lag, and thus slow down the entire page’s loadtime. In fact, I wonder if the general site slowdown I experienced last month wasn’t a symptom of this (somewhat doubtful, although I noticed that most of the problem then were occuring in the backend pages).

I figured there was a problem from wordpress.org’s end, and if killing their feed (it’s currently coming up as an error page) was their solution, so be it.

But lately, I found myself missing one site in that aggregation: Weblog Tools Collection. It doesn’t exclusively cover WordPress stuff, which actually is good. I’ve found a few useful tidbits via the site over the months.

So, I figured I’d get the Dashboard looking pretty again, and get my Weblog Tools Collection fix at the same time. I simply opened up the index.php file under the wp-admin directory, deleted the Planet WordPress URLs, and typed in the WTC-only feed. Pretty simple, and I figured it was also less fraught with potential flubs than deleting the entire feed-delivery code instead.

Obviously, you could sub in any feed into the wp-admin/index code. So if you’re brave enough to tinker, go for it.

- Costa Tsiokos, Tue 02/21/2006 12:58:41 PM
Category: Bloggin' | Permalink | Feedback

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