The role of your blog

November 17th, 2003 § 2 comments § permalink

If there’s one thing that makes bloggers pay attention is the possibility of increasing their blogs’ visibility. Even when we say we only write for ourselves–or for our family–the fact remains that we want an audience. We are necessarily narcissistic–some times, much more than book writers, moviemakers, or people dealing with similar activities. So, the more visitors, the better.

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Hosting

October 13th, 2003 § Comments Off on Hosting § permalink

As you may have noticed, this blog was largely unavailable in the past few days. My hosting provider made some changes in the servers and things were broken in the process, causing the aforementioned unavailability. Most of the issues are already solved, but as both the server and the DNS changed, a few things may be unreliable in the next few days. I lost some comments in the blog, and some of the e-mails sent in the past days didn’t arrive. If you sent me something and I didn’t reply, it’s possible I didn’t get it. Please, send it again.

By the way, I’m told the server will change again sometime in the next week. I apologize, and ask for your patience while all the issues are sorted out.

Blog Anniversary

September 29th, 2003 § 3 comments § permalink

I had completely forgotten until now, but yesterday marked one year of blogging for me. It was an interesting year: I’ve made some news friends, learned a lot, improved my English (I hope), and mostly had lots of fun.

Thanks to all of you who keep reading.

Deep Thinking about Weblogs

May 8th, 2003 § Comments Off on Deep Thinking about Weblogs § permalink

Note to self: read the article Deep Thinking about Weblogs, by Andrew Grumet, pointed by André Restivo. It seems to be really interesting.

Caching in MovableType

April 25th, 2003 § Comments Off on Caching in MovableType § permalink

Gavin Estey just released a cool plugin for caching parts of a template in MovableType, resulting in faster page rebuilds. For people who use lots of time-consuming plugins or rebuild long pages each time a new item is posted to their blogs, this plugin is a welcome addition.

It’s funny, but this plugin solves a problem I had to deal with when I was redesigning the Portuguese version of this blog. I eventually worked around the problem, but this plugin may be a better solution. I will have to give it a try later.

The World as a Blog

April 24th, 2003 § 1 comment § permalink

The World as a Blog is a incredibly ingenious use of RSS, geographical information, and the notification system from Weblogs.com.

TypePad

April 23rd, 2003 § Comments Off on TypePad § permalink

Six Apart, the company founded by the creators of MovableType, has just anounced a new blog hosting service: TypePad. It looks very interesting, building on MovableType to provide new services for bloggers like template management, creation of photo albums, built-in blogrolls, and the creation of reading and listening lists in a managed environment suited for both beginning and experienced users. (More information on the new features can be found on a Ben Hammersley’s article on the subject in the Guardian.)

MovableType is obviously the most powerful blogging tool in existence today, and this new venture will surely be a strong new competitor in the blog hosting arena, especially considering the quality of what Ben and Mena Trott have produced so far. All luck to them in this new project.

Zempt

March 19th, 2003 § 1 comment § permalink

Zempt is a MovableType posting client. I’ve downloaded it (in fact, I’m posting this from it), and although it’s only in a 0.2 release it looks great. It supports a lot of specific MovableType features like multiple categories, text formatting plugins, and pings.

I couldn’t find a way to edit old posts, but it’s probably coming in the next version. Once Zempt supports the full MovableType XML-RPC API, it will possibly be a much better choice for posting to a MovableType blog than w.bloggar.

Google buys Pyra

February 16th, 2003 § 1 comment § permalink

In a move that surprised many people, Google buys Pyra Labs, the company behind Blogger and Blog*Spot.

As Google didn’t announce anything yet, there is a lot of speculation about what the news mean. I still don’t know what to make of it, but it’s obvious many things will change in the blogosphere in the coming days — hopefully, in a good direction.

Update: Cory Doctorow has posted some very interesting thoughts about the news.

Update: Nick Denton makes a proposal for Boogle.

Coverage around the blogosphere:

  • Nick Denton: A more interesting question: will Google use weblog links to improve Google News?
  • Matt Webb: Google are building the Memex
  • Ben Hammersley: It’s a distributed early warning system for Google’s spiders. One million zeitgeist monitors just signed on to Google’s staff. A bargain for them, whatever the cost.
  • Shelley Powers: Google + Blogger = What?
  • Karl Martino: Google is attempting to swallow the web. It will get a belly ache.
  • Anil Dash: Once Google’s plan becomes clearer, it’ll be possible to see whether Google’s adoption of part of the blogosphere is prescient or unfortunately incomplete.
  • Jason Shellen: Well, looks like someone scooped us on our own story.
  • Cory Doctorow: Holy crap!
  • Evan Williams: Holy crap!
  • Joi Ito: This is going to be tricky.
  • Jeremy Zawodny: Cool. Go Google!

Assorted news:

Blogs and 1984: anything in common?

February 13th, 2003 § Comments Off on Blogs and 1984: anything in common? § permalink

Randomly browsing the Web yesterday, I found this post in a blog:

A cool thing about blogs is that every blogger kind of assumes the same job of the central character of 1984, who works as a “manipulator of the past”, creating and undoing events that happened.

You go to a blog today and read something. In two days, that thing is not there anymore, almost as it never had been.

That’s an interesting idea: facts that only exist for moments, sentences easily undone.

(Translated from the Portuguese original.)

In my opinion, this is a false analogy. It betrays a lack of understanding about both 1984 and the blog phenomenon as it happens today. Even if the last sentence is considered to be referring to personal facts — as opposed to facts shared in a wider scale, whether socially or geographically — the idea expressed by the aforementioned text is still invalid.

George Orwell’s 1984 is a widely known book. I will risk saying that it’s the most known science-fiction book of all times, and certainly the most popularized Dystopia. One of its “characters”, the Big Brother, has found its home in the mankind’s collective imagination. The central character the aforementioned text refers too is Winston Smith, a member of the Outer Party employed in the Ministry of Truth where he spends all his days rewriting the past under the orders of the IngSoc (the Party as a whole). One example of this rewriting is seen when the Party announces that the weekly ration of chocolate will increase to 20g and Winston must erase all previous references to a 30g quota.

In the light of this example, it’s easy to see why the idea shown in the text — that blogs are instances of manipulation of facts — doesn’t hold water. The very nature of blogs and related services tends to create stronger ties between reported events preserving not only the reality of those events, but also the personal reactions to those events and the chains of analysis, comments, and discussions around them.

A recent example was Trent Lott‘s resignation because of his thoughtless declarations. When the organized media was already starting to ignore the issue and deal with it as old news, some of the most influent bloggers in the blogosphere started to make a lot of noise around the topic and unearth more pertinent information about Lott’s words. Later, after Lott had resigned, many considered that the discussion that ensued because those bloggers didn’t let the subject die had played a huge part in the Senator’s downfall.

A blog, as a form of personal expression, denies the very goal of the Party imagined by Orwell in 1984, which is total population control. That was easily seen in the censorship imposed on Blogspot by the Chinese government a few time ago. As many people commented at the time, the undeclared intention of the censorship was deny access to the Western ideas about free thought to the Chinese people. To the Chinese government — which is a dictatorial government striving to follow in the steps of 1984’s IngSoc Party — the ideas blog bring represent a danger to its status quo. Also, at the time many people around the Internet offered to mirror Chinese blogs to preserve what they had to say, that is, those people wanted to do the exact opposite of what the author of the text mentioned says about blogs. If a sovereign State today reached the point of population control depicted in 1984, blogs would some of the first forms that would no longer exists by then.

Even personal bits of the sort “Where were you when [insert some fact here] happened” contribute to the aggregate of information that can be preserved for future retrieval. Also, the gradual spreading of information in the Web represents a safeguard against its destruction or corruption. From every angle you look, blogs are in direct opposition to the kind of manipulation Orwell described.

It’s noteworthy that the very existence of the concept of permalinks denies the volatility suggested in the text aforementioned. Permalinks ensure facts mentioned somewhere else survive in a universe where information is in constant movement.

A last point to consider is information retrieval. Blog archives, a default practice, represent another barrier to manipulation of information. They allow past events to be understood and validated long after they happened. Of course, there are occasions when archives will be unreliable or even disappear, but the very distributed nature of the Web serves to create new associations and new links that can preserve most of what really happened. The missing pieces can usually be found in other places. Obviously, manipulation can still happen, but those mechanisms just described will almost always contribute to avoid or correct it completely.

In short, contrary to the affirmations made in the text mentioned, blogs are in truth a relatively efficient system to preserve the report of facts that happened. Obviously, it’s not a perfect system as humans are behind it. Nonetheless, it’s pretty impossible to construe them as serving to the same manipulative practices depicted in 1984.

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