Yes, I Said \”internet.\” So Did NPR!

Back on Aug. 16, I announced that I’d decided to stop capitalizing internet, web, and net. This particular stylistic choice was publicly pioneered by Wired News copy chief Tony Long.

Not surprisingly, a bunch of readers complained. How dare I oppose the most popular editorial approach to this issue? Didn’t I, with all my experience in online media, grasp the fundamental significance which sets the (i/I?)nternet apart from other media, thus meriting capitalization? Didn’t I understand that this collection of connected computers has become so thoroughly analogous to a real space as to warrant coronation as a proper noun?

…Obviously, these people never noticed the title of this blog. (Yeah, go look – it’s right at the top of this page.) I am quite used to voicing unpopular opinions and controversial views. I’ve got a lifetime of experience in that field. So I stand by my editorial decision. Those unnecessary capitals will remain ditched.

I’m not alone in this opinion. NPR’s Fresh Air show just weighed in on my side. Listen to today’s commentary by linguist Geoff Nunberg, The Stylistic Concerns of the Internet. He echoes and amplifies Long’s and my decision far more eloquently than I certainly could have….

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A Q&A&Q Wiki: Whadya Think?

For a little while now, in my rare spare minutes, I’ve been playing with the demo version of a cool and very user-friendly hosted wiki tool called EditMe. I’m getting to the point that I want to do a public wiki project. But I don’t want it to be too narrowly focused – I don’t want to end up with an insular group preaching to the choir or arguing about how many angels can dance on the head of a pin.

So I had an idea. Tell me what you think…

(Oh yeah – What’s a wiki?)

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The Series (Basic Blog Post Formats, Part 7)

NOTE: This the final segment of a 7-part series that describes the main types of blog posting formats. See the index to this series for the complete list.

A series of blog postings is an excellent way to approach almost any topic that can be divided into fairly meaty sub-topics of about 500-1000 words each. A series is a collection of separate blog postings that are organized and linked together to form a greater whole.

This posting format works especially well for reference-style content such as backgrounders, tutorials, or other explanations. It can also work well for storytelling or analysis.

Example: You’re reading a series-format blog posting right now. I realized that this topic was far too complex to address in a single posting (even a long article), so I decided to divide it into a series.

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Long Articles (Basic Blog Post Formats, Part 6)

NOTE: This is part 6 of a 7-part series that describes the main types of blog posting formats. See the index to this series for the complete list.

The long article format includes almost any blog posting that runs longer than 700 words and that is not a list.

Good long articles are hard to write. Bad long articles are easy to write – but difficult (even tortuous) to read. Editorial skill and clarity of thought make all the difference.

Good Example: Are Useful Requirements Just A Fairy Tale? by Dan Willis, Boxes and Arrows.

Needs Editorial Work: Most of the articles in Jay Rosen’s blog PressThink. Now, don’t get me wrong – I love Rosen’s work. He makes excellent points, and I often refer others to his articles. He is one of the great media observers today. But (someone has to say it, sorry Jay), Rosen probably should spend less time writing and more time editing. Many of his blog postings go on hundreds of words longer than they need to in order to make his points well. The lack of subheads only makes it more difficult for the reader to stay engaged and follow Rosen’s points. Also, he often rambles and loses track of which point his article is making – in which case he’d do better to break longer articles into two or more short ones.

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Setting Up Your Own Webfeeds, Continued

Back on Feb. 6, I wrote about the easiest ways to set up your own webfeed (RSS or Atom format). See How to Create Your Own RSS Feed.

That article only covered the simplest situations, such as a generating a feed for a basic weblog using built-in tools. Obviously, there’s more to webfeed generation than that for many organizations or individuals with complex sites or online content offerings.

Here’s some basic advice on more advanced webfeed options…

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Confession of a Technorati Junkie

(UPDATE SEPT. 28: Technorati is back online – whew!)

I’ve already admitted to being a Furl Junkie, although so far I seem to have escaped becoming a Blogaholic. Well, over the weekend I just realized I have fallen victim to another online addiction popular among bloggers: I’m definitely a Technorati junkie, too.

Technorati is a key tool for ego surfing. (Yes, I have an ego – imagine that!) Basically, it’s an easy way for bloggers to find out which other blogs are linking to them or talking about them.

When it works, it’s great. Technorati has had its functional bugs here and there, but the service is so useful I haven’t minded them much. Then, last Friday, disaster struck

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What to Do with Your Extra Gmail Invites

As I’ve mentioned before, I’m now a happy user of Google’s Gmail service. I find it makes my bulk e-mail much easier to manage, and thus frees up my regular e-mail in-box for one-to-one correspondence. (I currently only use Gmail for bulk e-mail subscriptions or alerts, but you can use it for all your e-mail if you want.)

Gmail is still an invitation-only service. Lately, Google has been very generous with the number of invitations it allots to Gmail users to redistribute. Right now, everyone I know who wants Gmail has gotten an invitation from me – yet I still have plenty leftover, and I keep getting more. What to do with those extra invitations?…

(NOTE OCT. 12: Several people have written to me asking for Gmail invites. Sorry, I don’t have any, and I’m not maintaining a waiting list.)

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Short Articles (Basic Blog Post Formats, Part 5)

NOTE: This is part 5 of a 7-part series that describes the main types of blog posting formats. See the index to this series for the complete list.

This nebulous category includes any blog posting that runs up to about 500-700 words long. Typically, these blog entries are long enough to merit extending off the home page to a separate full-text page, but not so long as to require more than a couple minutes’ reading time. This differentiates short articles from brief remark postings.

Short articles can present any kind of content, and they also can include external links.

Example: From WebMaster to NewsMaster, by Bill French, from his blog Peripheral Vision.

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It\’s Official: I\’m Not a Blogaholic

…At least, according to Weblog Wannabe, which offers a fun online quiz: Are You a Blogaholic?. I only scored 44% on this quiz, which puts me in this category:

21-50%: You are a casual weblogger. You only blog when you have nothing better to do, which is not very often. There’s nothing wrong with that. But if you’d post a little more often, you’d make your readers very happy.

Well, CONTENTIOUS seems a little too meaty for me to consider casual, but so be it. I’ve been called lots of things in my time. “Casual” is an unusual label for me, but not especially distressing. Anyway, I think that when I adhere to my principles of no-pressure blogging, things seem to work out well and I don’t feel like I’m disappointing anyone. I could be kidding myself, but that’s how I choose to look at things.

Apparently as a “casual” blogger I’ve got lots of company. Nearly 10% of all people who took this quiz scored exactly the same as me, and an additional 48% scored lower – which means that more than half of all quiz participants are casual or less-than-casual bloggers. Not that any of this is scientific, but it is fun.

Anyway, back to my real work now….

Folksingers Can be Funny

Just a quick mention of a couple of people who have significantly brightened my very busy month with much laughter.

First, John Battelle pulled off my new favorite pun, based on an odd news story concerning former folksinger Cat Stevens: I’m Being Followed By A Goon Shadow, Goon Shadow Goon Shadow… Way to go, John!

Continuing on the folksinger theme, I’d like to introduce you to my new humor hero, Eric Schwartz. Be forewarned: Schwartz is guaranteed to offend, and his music is not at all “work safe.” But the man has a sharp wit, ample musical talent, a firm grasp of current events, and the guts to use them all well. I suspect he’s the love child of Tom Lehrer and George Carlin.

(Eric, pleeeeeeeeeeaaaaasssseeeee schedule a show in Boulder, OK? I’ll buy you dinner! You can crash at my place if you need to.)