Friday, December 30, 2005

A terrible case of tonsillitis has shut my brain down...

in the meantime, check out Those Bastards!--the meanest blog in the blogosphere. (actually, it's alot of fu n)

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Yes, the Broads are Gonna Bust Up Your Good Thing

A new report issued by the Pew Internet & American Life Project notes that women's use of the Internet is on the rise

So, the stats that came out at the end of last year--that made it a point to note the majority of blog readers (and Internet users) were white males between 18-34 with incomes in the 90k bracket--may be challenged by these new findings...
Women are more likely to see the vast array of online information as a “glut” and to penetrate deeper into areas where they have the greatest interest, including health and religion. Women tend to treat information gathering online as a more textured and interactive process – one that includes gathering and exchanging information through support groups and personal email exchanges.

Steve Yelvington, who must've read the PDF, notes that the report also states "...women are highly sensitive to "worrisome behavior in chat rooms"...

perhaps this has something to do with why women are, to some degree, more concerned than some men with how we conduct ourselves in the blogosphere. While some women could stand to "toughen up" a bit when it comes to interacting in this place, some of the men, who know how to debate but don't act like the emotinoally stunted and issue-laden Bill O'Reilly, could contribute to the dialogue.

After all, y'all don't want Big Momma smackin' you over the head when you don't make nice, now do ya?

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Better that Briney Spears and Kevin Whatterline pretending their marriage is so chronic comes this bit of Chronic from SNL...

talk about Nerds on the Loose...! Laughed so hard I almost died...

via Lost Remote
I've had this little blog on auto-pilot while I work on a piece on civility and gender...

BTW, I've been corresponding with Ben Metcalfe.

In the whole discussion (or is it argument?) of Us vs. Them, I wonder if my communication with Ben will turn me into a Them...vs. being Us.

Then again, it kind of depends on who defines "us" and who defines "them"...anyway...he's a pretty civil kind of guy, with a great understanding of the concept.

More on the whole civility thing soon...

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Thursday, December 22, 2005

a few thoughts about anonymity

A couple of anonymous-blogger friends emailed me recently, concerned about statements I'd made about anonymous blogging...

so, here is what I *really* think of anonymous blogging: alot of people have reasons for anonymous blogging. Usually very good ones. Their anonymity, however, does not stop them from having honest, truthful, clear voices on their blogs. They still comment on others blogs, take comments on their own, and participate in this whole communal thing. Their anonymity does not prevent them from being civil. And they contribute alot to the blogosphere.

We have the right to be anonymous. And most people who blog anonymously support the positive and necessary aspects of anonymous blogging.

However, there are people who like to hide behind anonymity....They like to bully others-- and I don't mean the kinds of bullies who provide counter-point to high-profile public or political figures who can definitely take care of themselves. The anonymous ones that trouble me are those who seem to exist solelly to bully their peers--who like to say that they are protecting themselves by being anonymous, when all they are really doing is hiding so that they can be as nasty as they wanna be. They aren't protecting anything at all--and their incivility can end up hurting all of us.

I'm sure some of y'all are thinking "that's preposterous! how can negative, incivil bullying hurt an entire community! just ignore it!"

Why ignore something that can be used as leverage against the whole? Consider the Forbes Magazine article that was published in November, 2005. Examples like those in the Forbes article have damaged reputations of people as well as products. The bloggers are protected by free speech laws, even though they have significantly hurt others--and hurting others was their main intention.

So, how can negative bloggers who attack business end up hurting the wider blogging community? Because when the focus in MSM (still the main portal of information for the general populace) is on how bully-bloggers use anonyminty, the general public (and even some bloggers) begin to believe that negativity is all of what blogging is about. If people see blogging as negative, they will not participate in what could turn out to not only be a vibrant new Town Square but also an incredible forum for bringing people of like minds together in ways old media never allowed.

It all seems to be a form of self-hatred on the part of anonymous bullies. What is it then about people who appear to hate blogging but feel the need to use blogs as forums for their hatred and incivility--and who foster communities that thrive on incivility and negativity? They can say that they are exercising their right to free speech, and are helping others to exercise their need to free speech without exposing themselves, but it seems that they are manipulating the ideal of free speech and of anonymity to further something that has more to do with feeding the ego than with defending either ideal.

What to do about this? Who knows. Censorship? Doesn't work. Ends up making the concerned parties look like Nazis. Ignore the negative ones? Not really--ignoring a bully feeds the bully's ego. And the bully will only move on to others until it wins some pyrric ego victory.

So, perhaps the solution is to support anonymous bloggers whose blogging furthers the understanding of this as social media and who truly support our right to use the medium to share information and ideas as well as foster conversation and community.

Just a thought.

Hypocricy in Action

If y'all are interested in reading some annoying (and less than cogent) comments and conversations about civility on a blog, go over to the most hypocrical Alas, a blog here.

Amp doesn't quite get that he's got something that's more like a newsgroup going over there, not a blog. There are few bloggers and some who post actually don't like blogs or bloggers. Ironic, eh? His own comments about wanting to make his space more "feminist friendly" are nothing more than a condescending display of large cojones.

The blog has a distinctly negative and incivil community--and the feel of it is that the blogger in charge has wanted it to develop just that way. By not interacting with posters and letting the incivility get to critical mass, shows an abdication of responsibility on the part of Amp, who, as a blogger, is supposed to be like a good barkeeper and make sure that kind of thing doesn't happen.

With the way the comments unfold there, with the majority of contributors anonymously and furiously posting with a high degree of incivility, perhaps calling it "Alas, a Newsgroup" might be more accurate.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Grace Davis, one of my SXSW Interactive panel cohorts, tackles blog civility and the gender divide.

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I have drafted and re-drafted a post on the civility thing--and realise I need to get out of the house for a bit before my words will gel properly..

in the meantime check out the following posts by Sean Coon on a
Noam Chomsky podcast and Sean's thoughts on social tagging.

Was the Mena and Ben's "Backchannel Incident" Really a Coverup for Secret U.S. Torture Practices in Europe?

Better Bad News went to some effort to put together this whacky little piece.

Was it all a "buzztrap"?

What the heck is a "buzztrap" anyway?

If anything, this piece takes a good swing at blog conferences. In a nice, constructive way. Kind of like the backchannel....

Friday, December 16, 2005

The Value of Irony in a Scrupulous World

Idyllopus left a comment this a.m.:
I am interested in why you call this particular blog "snarkaholic" when there's so little snark involved. You don't snark. I've read you for months and you seem pretty up front and dedicatedly interested in social networking in a non-elitist way.
(the rest of the comment is

I had to think about this because Idyll is pretty much spot on--I really am into social networking, breaking down old barriers, being non-elitist and getting those outside the Long Tail to understand peer-to-peer communication.

So I thought about what, really, motivated me to call this blog Snarkaholic...And discovered that Snarkaholic expresses my love of irony--esp. as it exists in the Shameless Art of Self-Promotion embodied in hyperbole.

Just think about the last time you wrote a resume, about standard resume advice, and about how, in order to simply get someone to read your resume you just might have to use some rather bloated language. I figured Snarkaholic might be something like a bit of resume-style hyperbole.

And think about how ironic it is to have to engage hyperbole in order to get a job--that we can't just be ourselves, but must be some sort of meta-self on two sheets of paper in order for someone to deign to read about us.

The other side of Snarkaholic, though, is that by claiming it I reserve the right to snark at the A-listers or Bloggerati or Blogebreties or anyone else who annoys me when the occasion warrants a snark-- I've always wanted to be able to call a spade a freakin' two bit shovel if and when I see it and decide I want to do just that thing.

Because, for women especially, it's usually awfully impolite to challenge anyone who's higher up on the food chain than yourself.

Think about it. How often are women raised and corrected into politeness in one way or another--told to have good manners and to be respectful and be exactly who they a re told to be. We are told we shouldn't say anything bad about someone who has more experience than us in a certain field because if we knew what they knew we'd probably tow the same line. Think about how, when women start out being polite, and we say something a bit snarky, people are "shocked, shocked I tell you!" because we've ceased being Good Girls maintaining the status quo and our position in society. (I will amend this slightly by saying that I'm not sure how much gender matters with this issue in the blogosphere--I know there are a few men who feel the same pressure to capitulate.)

My sense was (and is) that if I started out being nice, I would have been stuck with a mamby-pamby facade that would have set up an expectation of all nice all the time.
With Snarkaholic I have the inalienable right to snark at whomever I choose, when I choose to do it and with good reason to do it-- which isn't all the time because I know how to use Good Judgment.

Most of the time I prefer to be my smart, witty, social, and diplomatic self. I like the role of mediator and of catalyst. If I were to be polite, without irony, I believe I would not be able to be either mediator nor catalyst in this ego-driven little medium.

My sense of irony extends to my picture as well. I recently asked a local business guy to look over the blogs. He told me that my pic was "a bit off-putting." I know he meant well--that if I had a nice stock photo of me smiling and confident that people would probably trust me more, esp as a consultant...or at least they'd think I wasn't such a hard-ass.

Because I'm really not a hard-ass. I can be firm in my opinions, esp. when I know my stuff, but I'm not some egotistical hard-ass who will rip your head off just because you disagreed with me. The businessman found me very approachable and highly knowledgeable-- not like Robert Conrad daring someone to knock the battery off my shoulder--and thought it might work better for me if I let people visually know this.

I figured they could just read the blog and determine it for themselves. Then again, maybe that's asking a bit too much in a sound-byte, short-attention-span society.

Yet all this leads me to think how the sense of irony in general is kind of lost in a internet-based world where we talk about the need for transparency on the part of business and journalistic entities, yet still defend anonymous snarking by the proletariat.

At least when I *do* snark at the business or journalistic entities, they all know who I am. I have a name, and a face. They are free to comment, to email me, to make friends with me, to establish peer to peer communication with me if they get that I'm smart enough to engage them, even if I'm not at their level just yet.

So far it's kind of worked. I've had a few A-listers read me, some of them even leave comments. I've also made a number of friends who are also amazingly smart and talented and haven't got the big-time recognition yet either. So even though I'm not "all snark, all the time" I don't think there's a need nor a reason to be--but sometimes staking the ironic and hyperbolic claim is what one must do in order to get read. Just a fact of life.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

If you think that cat herding just might be your next dream job, I urge you to check out this video. It may change your life.

thanks Barb!


Yesterday, this little blog it a milestone: 230 readers.

Thank you Phillipp Lenssen!

Monday, December 12, 2005

Battle of the Splog: Aggregating vs. Conversating

In two great posts, Steve Rubel takes on the issues of blog content theft and a splog in general. Steve is, rightfully, a bit peeved over bot-powered aggregating blogs that totoally crib someone's content thus making it look like the content is their own. (but if they are providing a link to the original, is it a problem? read J. Pepper's comments on Rubel's splog post for an interesting perspective.)

But Steve misses a the opportunity to raise a distinction between splogs and blogs when he says :
Content “theft” or whatever you want a call it has been an issue long before the Internet became a mass medium. It mushroomed over the past 10 years and now that everyone is a publisher, it will only get worse

The aggregator problem will only get worse if the emphasis on blogging remains on providing content and on telling people that they can make big bucks by providing subjectively judged "kick-ass content". If the emphasis continues to shift towards conversation, the importance of "kick-ass content" that does nothing will be a lesser issue. Creating conversation and community requires that bloggers become more involved in their blogging--and consider themselves contributors rather than simply spewers or sponges for content. If this happens, there will be little reason for the existence of sites that are only aggregators and never interact.

Besides, aggregators in general are IMHO boring and cheap. It's real easy to provide a link and a couple of pithy words.

Rubel also brings up the problem of RSS. RSS is great for finding out who's saying what, but it doesn't get individuals involved any further. This simple factor has lead to enterprising individuals designing bots that steal content without contributing anything--which is what happened to him. The solution might be to limit one's RSS feed to just a few lines. Sure, folks might not subscribe to your feed, but, then again, what's the purpose of what you do? Is your purpose to get people to only read your content, or is it something more social??

If conversation can start with good content, the problem with splog also becomes a problem for search engines who want to help people find original content and subsequent conversation. Mark Cuban suggests a broad definition of a splog:
any hosted website that only uses redirected or copied content and doesnt add any unique value. Aggregation is not value add. Why ? Because a search on any blog engine should uncover the unique content on their original source

I somewhat agree with Cuban (although the theory needs some refining)--and take it one step further: aggregated content with that personal touch should, eventually, create some conversation.

Conversation, though, doesn't always have to be on the can happen in email or on forums, too. If the blogger is involved with his/her blog beyond being a content aggregator, he/she can create short posts around email and thus demonstrate that one has community.

Yet, fundamentally, there seems to be a problem with the perceptions of blogs and blogging, in part because of the current emphasis on monetization and on persons as brands and their networks as markets. This kind of thinking makes the motive for cribbing someone's content understandable--they want to make some money on *your* content. Yet people aren't *just* brands, our groups of friends aren't *just* markets, and is a person's reason for blogging (or splogging)*always* with an eye on monetization? We are more than those narrow little pidgeonholes. I *think* Mark Cuban gets it--but does Steve Rubel get it?

Technosailor likes Snarkaholic! but I did have to straighten him out about something...I'll forgive him though...but just this once. next time, a spanking... ;-)

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Toward a Definition of Civility

So, I missed blogging about Mena Trott and Ben Metcalf's bustup at Les Blogs, but

Nancy White blogs about it as a precursor to our SXSW Panel titled Us and Them: A Blog Conversation Guide...

and I'll pass along this clip of it all courtesy of sean that shows what went down.

However, I will make this observation on the whole thing: in the blogosphere, there's a great misunderstanding about what is/is not civil. Ben gives an interesting breakdown of it, which points out that the notion of civility varies from culture to culture. In the blogosphere, we are creating a culture that is pan-global and our mores are bound to clash. What we have here in this realm is a mix of mores and attitudes about civility. Even from my own observation of the speech, Mena's ideas of civility are very touchy-feely. Ben's ideas are rooted more in the idea that two persons can disagree (and disagree greatly) but not have that disagreement be personal. I would have felt the way that Ben did--that I was being patronized by Mena's comments.

However, what is also caught up in the exchange between Mena and Ben is the problem of IRC backchannel conversations at conferences being posted on a screen behind a speaker. While it is indeed a civility issue, it is a different issue from what Mena seems to address in her speech. Frankly, projecting the IRC chat is simply rude, rude, rude and doesn't add any sort of "texture" to a presentation. Perhaps if we consider "texture" something like the hockey match-style brawls in the Korean Parliment...but I don't think most of us would want to have that happen at a conference. So, the solution is simple: if attendees want to have a conversation, that's fine. Tell everyone where it's going on, and let them find it. But don't upstage the speaker-- because when you upstage the speaker, you end up annoying those of us who actually want to hear what the speaker has to say! Perhaps we're paying good money to hear someone and don't want to be distracted by your idle chit-chat!

There. It's just that simple.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Where Do Your Readers Come From??

As I mentioned the other day, Greg Gershman at keeps a nice little blog. Recently he wrote a great post on how people find blogs, where he references a short discussion on it between Scoble and Scoble's buddies...

I don't know...I don't quite see myself and Scoble and friends on the same level. Sure, we're both bloggers, but he is far more well-known and people will even search under his name to find him.

Heck, people might even know some of Scoble's friends and search under their names rather than under the subject their blogging about.

So, a discussion by Scoble about how people find other people's blogs is, well, kind of like George Bush I going into J.C. Penney and trying to buy socks...

On the other hand, Greg makes a couple of good comments about Google's dominance of blogsearches. No, people do not find conversations via Google searches. They do, though, search for seriously obscure things and find blogs. Often, my other blog gets hits from people searching the gosh-darndest subjects, some of which actually make me blush! But, as noted in a comment on a post titled
When is a Fetish Not a Fetish?, one of the Googlers actually appreciated what I'd wrote on the subject and left a really great "thank you" comment.

So, apparently, I'm a "trusted voice" on something! ;-)

Greg also comments about use of RSS feeds. Considering yours truly is horrifically tech-inept, I'm still having a devil of a time figuring out a couple of RSS readers I signed up for, so I don't even think of using RSS to find conversation. Rather, I've begun exploring various tags for Recently Posted stuff.

But what about people finding me? With this blog, they come from all sorts of interesting places, including "unknown" and sometimes under a search for Spap-Oop, which is Doo-Dads upsidedown and backwards (Doo-Dads being a Sunshine Biscuit manufactured snack food no longer in existence--so, yes, I'm also an expert on obscure snackfoods.) Although the other day I did receive an email from someone who got a link to this blog via an email from a friend...but I believe that accounts for a very small portion of the people who read this blog.

It seems that, with this blog, I'm in Google searches, and searches, and a few other searches on other search engines, including Greg's. Of the other Big Three, MSN and Yahoo searches haven't hit me yet, and that *could* be because this blog neglects a certain rule of Search Engine Optimization: that a website will get more hits when the name and the URL correspond (it certainly makes searching for the site much easier--and makes it easier to remember).

So, I'm curious to know, fellow Average Bloggers...where do some of your readers come from?

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

A short time ago, I removed the link to my personal blog from the sidebar. I've recently restored that link.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Blogging with "The Real Thing"

While waiting to see Walk the Line (the really great Johnny Cash biopic), a slide flashed on the screen advertising blogging at

If I'd had coke in my mouth at that moment, it would have come spewing out my nose.

I was aghast--amused, yet horrified. First, that they were blatantly ripping off Secondly that the folks at Coke have the cojohnes to believe that they will be able to establish a blogging community around a soft drink

I read the Privacy Policy (came up in a pop-up window with no URL) which has a specific provision for children under 13.

Obviously, they are aiming their "blogging" community feature at very young people.

Rob Capriccioso out in Washington D.C. heard about this MyCoke thing back in July and blogged about the ridiculousness of it. Funny thing is, at that time, they must've been testmarketing it because they used the term journaling (as Rob notes) rather than blogging. (I have to agree with a lot of Rob's assessment of the whole thing)

Guess someone hipped them on the proper term before letting Coke push the idea on those of us out here in the hinterlands of Massachusetts.

Either way, there's something kind of creepy about asking people keep their "blogs" on a site hosted by the Coca-Coal Bottling Company. But, there may indeed be enough naive parents out there who will have no problem letting their children spew their most intimate thoughts to a corporation.

After all, there's just a lot of perverts over there at MySpace...and we can't tell the kids they're too young to have a blog...oh, no...that would be squashing their creativity....

More and more I keep thinking Rollerball.....

Friday, December 02, 2005

What's Alll This Then? A Hit from

Checking the referring links on my stats today, I noticed I received my first hit from a search on

Someone decided to search, and a particular piece that I did where I mentioned Pluck (and their very nice reps) came up in the search. Said person who did search also came over and looked at thisahere blog.

So I went over to check things out at myself.

It's a curious little site, pretty spare in appearance, and offers searches for Links, Media, Local and Groups. Since I'm always looking for local bloggers (and often finding few to none other than the folks listed on, I was hoping that this feature would help.

No such luck. The closest blogger was four miles away. And I know there are some just over the border in Springfield, so the Local search didn't work all that well.

I also did Links searches to see if I had any more links listed on Blogdigger than I do on Technorati and (the two search tools that give me the best number of links). Blogdigger came up with nothing for Snarkaholic and a handful for my other blog.

It seems that, at this point, Blogdigger isn't all that helpful to me in my searches for local bloggers nor for people who link to me (and y'all can sit there and say searching's all about finding "kick-ass content," but, hey, sometimes it's all about Me...isn't it that way for you, too?? c'mon, be transparent--you know you like the ego stroke too....)

However, they have their own nice little blog! Kept by Greg Gershman, CEO and Founder of Blogdigger, the Blogdigger Development Blog has some great observations and commentary on a number of blogospheric things, including the Interactive Local Media Conference (and some commentary by Scoble on finding blogs, which I will have a great deal to say about in a subsequent blog post.)

So, if you don't get much of a rise out of Blogdigger's search capabilities, read the blog. It's kinda fun!


Thursday, December 01, 2005

When Everything We Do (including blogging) Is An Addiction

After perusing today's New York Times, I have determined that we live in a time where every breath, tick, or activity we engage in that is not directly related to work or family is considerd an addiction. Hooked on the Web: Help is on the Way (in the Style section, no less) details the problem that so many of us seem to be developing with our excessive/obsessive Internet use.

Here's the skinny on onlineaholics
These specialists estimate that 6 percent to 10 percent of the approximately 189 million Internet users in this country have a dependency that can be as destructive as alcoholism and drug addiction, and they are rushing to treat it. Yet some in the field remain skeptical that heavy use of the Internet qualifies as a legitimate addiction, and one academic expert called it a fad illness.

Skeptics argue that even obsessive Internet use does not exact the same toll on health or family life as conventionally recognized addictions. But, mental health professionals who support the diagnosis of Internet addiction say, a majority of obsessive users are online to further addictions to gambling or pornography or have become much more dependent on those vices because of their prevalence on the Internet.

But other users have a broader dependency and spend hours online each day, surfing the Web, trading stocks, instant messaging or blogging, and a fast-rising number are becoming addicted to Internet video games.

I don't know...sounds more like it's just easier in many ways to do stuff on the 'net than it is to go out and do it. When there's no longer a town square to venture out to, when one has to drive from here to there, and never meets a friendly soul, one might just as soon spend more quality time online than in the physical world.

Sometimes the better community is online rather than in one's own backyard.

Perhaps, though, this is just the disease-du-jour. In an article titled "Our National Eating Disorder" (NYT 10/17/04), our problem then was carbophobia We'd developed such a reverence for Atkins-style diet programs that many of us here and across the Pond in the U.K. were developing an unhealthy aversion to breads, pastas and potatoes. We were neglecting the need for healthy carbs, and were getting hysterical over Panina Bread places moving into our neighborhoods.

Personally, I think our latest "addiction" is just another buzzword for some enterprising shrinks to solemly banter around, then sell it to some poor souls who have a general existentialist angst about life and feel a pathological need to patholigize themselves.

The problem isn't with unhealthy internet use, or an unhealthy aversion to carbos, but an unhealthy and bovine-like acceptance of psychobabble.

Makes me long for the days of simple patholigies like "sex addiction"...and Bill Clinton.

Now, where'd I put that bag of potato chips?? I'm gonna be here for awhile....