Archive for January 26th, 2004

The Blogging Consortium


Although of course the Dowbrigade recognizes that part of the power and righteousness of the Blogoshpere derives from its lack of professionalism in the mercenary sense, like most serious Bloggers we sometimes imagine how nice it would be to be able to blog full-time, without having to worry about the time-consuming details of a “day job.”

Furthermore, it seems as though an inordinate number of successful and prominent bloggers are university professors or other educators, due no doubt to the flexibility of their schedules and access to disposable hours. How many other undiscovered natural-born-bloggers are out there whose professional or financial obligations form a barrier to participation?

Putting aside the moral implications, is it even theoretically possible to imagine a scenario in which blogging would be a remunerative activity, short of selling out and becoming a blog whore to a major corporation or PAC? We would not have asked such a silly question were we not willing to give it a try, so here goes:

Clearly, not many people would pay anything to read any one Blog. There are too many others out there, and not even the best bloggers can write worthwhile posts EVERY day. But what about a consortium of 50 really excellent blogs, including at least a few famous, top blogs, all in one place, with a variety of news, sports, humor, politics, technology and business? In addition to the 50 regulars, throw in a dozen guest bloggers every day chosen for topicality or relevance to current events.

Of course, these bloggers would have to make their content available ONLY through the consortium, which would be a sacrifice at least for a while. And the question remains, would it be economically viable? A truly high-quality and well-chosen 50 would certainly provide an information resource comparable to the New York Times or Time Magazine. Suppose all of this writing and reporting were available in one place for 25 cents a day. Once registered, users could be charged a quarter any day they used the site, for as many times as they wanted to visit it that day. They could stay connected 24-7 for a quarter if they wanted. And on any day they didn’t use the service, they would be charged nothing.

The utility of a scheme like this depends on the implementation of a painless and popular picopaymens system, and as far as we know none exists at this point, but present practicality has never constrained our imagination.

However, the pull and power of even 50 of the ‘Sphere’s top bloggers alone would not be enough to make this scheme work. The site would have to offer a number of value added services. Like a web-based Super-Aggregator to manage multiple reading lists and organize an individuals complete news flow needs. Users could have access to complete aggregator channels for each of the 50 featured bloggers via a drop down menu. There could be a search feature for the 20,000 RSS feeds we are already tracking via stream name or keywords, which could create an instant aggregator channel with the results of any particular search. The site could feature special aggregator-channel reading lists on important topics of the day compiled by experts in each field. And eventually it could offer tons of additional fun and useful features which are only now being imagined and developed by the clever gang of early adopters who are starting to figure out what can be done with this amazing technology called RSS.

With that kind of powerful information management functionality, and access to a varied and hot bunch of bloggers, we imagine the hits would come. How many would it take?

Suppose 100,000 visits a day, which is only an average of 2,000 for each of the 50 Blogs at the center of the scheme. That doesn’t seem unreasonable. Why, several of the big names get that many visits alone on a good day now. At 25 cents a hit, that works out to $25, 000 a day, or $500 a day for each of the 50 contributors. Assuming one of the 50 bloggers contributed every day of the year, they could take home $182,500 before taxes. Not too shabby.

Porn Star Ignites Firehouse Fracas


KEYES, Calif. — No one quite remembers the last big fire
to rage through town, but a firestorm — fueled by sex and the Internet
— has engulfed this rural community. The source of the trouble comes
straight from the town’s firehouse, where the pornography career of one
of its own has many fuming.

On Jan. 13, most of the town’s 33 volunteer firefighters walked off
the job for three days after a cadet was fired for allegedly visiting
a pornographic website. The details are in dispute, but by some accounts
the cadet was accused of hacking into the pay-to-view pornographic website
of Chantel Lace, otherwise known in town as Alexas Jones, a volunteer
firefighter, wife of the assistant fire chief, and daughter-in-law of
the chief.

”It’s not just about the porn star issue; that’s only a part of it,”
said Jared Gibson, one of the firefighters who joined the walkout.
He and the rest of the crew did not want to leave their jobs, he said,
but needed to make a point. ”It’s about having people run the department
the right way.” Captain Herb Collier, who also joined the walkout,
said he wants assurances that the Joneses’ pornography business stays
out of the day-to-day operation of the firehouse.

Jones said she has no plans to resign her nonpaying post, although she
has been on leave since November because of a problem with her hip.
"As far as pushing me out, that’s not going to happen,” she said Wednesday
night. ”When I’m on duty, I don’t mix my two jobs."

from the Boston Globe



What’s up with Technorati? As a devoted follower of the Blogosphere and
our own position within it, the Dowbrigade regularly consults a number
of specialized resources; Feedster to find blogs posting on specific topics
of interest, the hit counters and referers lists built into Manila, our
Blog creation tool of choice, and Technorati to learn about our corner
of the Blogging universe and see who is linking to the Dowbrigade.

But lately, Technorati is taking longer and longer between its periodic
sweeps to record and evaluate these links. Today, for example, the information
about the Dowbrigade on Technorati is almost TWO WEEKS out of date. We
realize the number of Blogs to be tracked is exploding, but is this really
the best they can do?

Even worse, from our egocentric POV, is the misleading statement "Blog
last updated 12 days, 2 hours and 43 minutes ago"! The exactitude of
this pronouncement lends it an air of official authenticity, when obviously and
it is completely mistaken.

As someone who takes great pride in the regularity and consistent quality
of our postings, the Dowbrigade takes it as a personal affront and insult
being told that he has not been doing his Blogging for the PAST TWELVE
DAYS. It emotionally and almost physically hurts to see that condemnation
of our work habits and authorial responsibility in such a respected and
widely consulted source.

Hey Dave! Our Blog is updated EVERY DAY, multiple times, and having
you tell uninformed or curious users who took the time to check out the
universe of the Dowbrigade that we have been flagrantly remiss to the
point of not being able to post ANYTHING for 12 days makes us angry and
hurt. At least change the text to read "This listing not
updated for 12 days" or "Last checked 12 days ago" or something.

Your service in invaluable and we know it means a lot to many bloggers.
However, we don’t know how much longer we will be able to tolerate the
psychic beating we take every time we see those damning words "Blog last
updated.." We suspect we are not alone.

A Breif Break Before Lunch



Taking a breif break before lunch in our Intensive Core Class, our mind refuses to budge from the delicious Eggplant Lasagna we whipped up yesterday in a cold-induced fit of domesticity.

The secret to this dish, of course, is in the Eggplant, which must be sliced into 1/2 inch-thick disks, soaked in a mixture of beaten eggs, milk and soy sauce, coated in seasoned Italian bread crumbs, and then lightly browned in Olive Oil before being layered into the main platter, along with Portobello mushrooms, seasoned crushed tomatos, sweet Hickory Turkey sausage and 4 kinds of cheese. Mmmmmm, can’t wait to get home today and heat some up – Lasagna always tastes even better the second day….



The Dowbrigade has decided to finally weigh in on an idea that has been
circulating around the Blogosphere for several weeks now – Adopt-a-Journalist.

The concept was popularized by Jay
, and then interestingly commented
on by Al
and Halley
, among others. The basic idea is
that to counteract the relative anonymity and lack of accountability
on the part of Major Media writers and reporters, Bloggers should choose
a single reporter and monitor, repost and comment on all of that individual’s
journalistic output.

Come on! That’s the most invasive, repugnant and counterproductive idea
we have heard in the ‘Sphere since paid subscriptions! Who appointed
us to be the Thought Police? And Who is Going to Monitor the Monitors?
What a misguided, uncivil and rude waste of time!

Never content to be a nattering nabob of negativity, the Dowbrigade
does have a couple of suggestions for keeping track of the Major Media,
and enabling the thinking public to weave their useful but limited reporting
into our pastiche of emerging understanding.

First, all news reporting should be clearly identified with a particular
reporter, editor or news desk. Major papers like the New York Times do
identify the individual authors of their feature articles, but many less
prominent stories on the inner pages run anonymously. In addition almost
all of the stories coming out of the news wires, AP, UPI and Reuters,
which are of course picked up and published by hundreds of local papers
around the world, are completely anonymous.

Then, and most importantly, every single professional reporter should
have his or her own RSS feed. When we read an interesting or thought-provoking
article, we should be able to instantly (by clicking on their name) subscribe
to that writer’s feed, and to review his or her aggregated writings,
in order to get a clear idea of their views, political orientation, history
of positions on the issues, etc.

This would allow those of us who value diversity of opinion and resist
taking the network pap at face value the opportunity to see where these
opinions are coming from and weave their occasionally important voices
into a better rounded collection of professional, personal and identifiably
biased punditry from across the political spectrum.