6 blogs to check out

In the midst of working on a post (ahead of the scheduled posts I’ve already written for the long week prior to launch, …blah.) I checked my Google Reader, read some and decided to share a few of the blogs I’m really enjoying these days:

The Debate Link
He covers everything from politics to sports and everything in between. Deep, incisive and balanced commentary abounds. Well informed guy and a great recent find for me.

Eat Me Daily
A group blog about food, media and culture.

Brand New
I like logos.

Karlyn Morissette
A higher ed blogger who is prolific, knowledgeable, thought provoking and interesting. I always learn something new when I read her blog.

The Edge of the American West
A group blog of mostly history professors from..you guessed it, out west.

PostBourgie
Another group blog that runs the gamut on issues ranging from race to pop culture. And whatever else.

I don’t subscribe to a ton of feeds anymore, figuring that it just made more sense to keep feeding what I’m actually reading. But among the 40-50 or so that I’ve kept on tap, these are among the best.

A reader survey

I check my stats on feedburner because it’s good to know how many folks are following me. Sometimes, I expect to login and see a wholesale drop in my numbers. Not actually. But sometimes, I brace myself for it. I always wonder what drives people here and especially given the bump in traffic over the past 3-4 months, I’m really intrigued by what’s motivating people to come back for more.

I’m working on a few projects that have actually hampered my creativity, but it’ll continue to improve as the year goes on and I’m able to tell you what I’m working on. (And it should start lots of conversations…) But I put together an anonymous survey. It should take you…well, no time at all. So please fill it out and let me know. Chances are, it’ll make the blog better.

Click Here to take survey

Thanks!

Wired says blogging is dead..in a blog

In his piece in Wired, Paul Boutin says:

Writing a weblog today isn’t the bright idea it was four years ago. The blogosphere, once a freshwater oasis of folksy self-expression and clever thought, has been flooded by a tsunami of paid bilge. Cut-rate journalists and underground marketing campaigns now drown out the authentic voices of amateur wordsmiths. It’s almost impossible to get noticed, except by hecklers. And why bother? The time it takes to craft sharp, witty blog prose is better spent expressing yourself on Flickr, Facebook, or Twitter.

And he’s right about the professionalization of amateur media, but that was an inevitable trend of where this was going to go anyway. So who are we kidding?

As for feeling more comfortable on platforms like Twitter or Flickr or Facebook, I’m not buying. People who are seeking to learn more about you might want to waste countless hours trolling the interwebs to see who your other friends are, to look at your pictures and otherwise Googlestalk you to get a better snapshot of who you are. But blogging? There’s the definitive way to really get into someone’s head. It takes discipline and to develop a following, you need to do more than just exist, but actually draw people in.

That takes work. I’ve been blogging for longer than it’s been called that, but the thing that’s changed were the reasons I felt compelled to do it. When I was younger, it was solely about expressing myself and capturing an audience of people who I knew well and who knew me both online and in real life.

In the past, it was almost entirely about expression. Now? It’s about communicating, networking and branching out in more organized ways. I think the democratization of media has open doors to giving voices to people who previously were never heard and all mainstreaming of online media does is provide more people with the idea that they could do it too.

To me, that’s not a bad thing. The tools to do it are easier than they were years ago, most are free and with broadband access more prevalent, it seems like the perfect time to get out there, not to shut down the doors.

Be yourself, let the rest follow

The strangest thing happened when I noticed people started actually reading my blog. I started to change. The same thought introspective riffs that I’d not hesitated to write before became short and snappy posts and not as interesting. What really changed was I began to censor myself.

I think the difference between writing a blog that you figure only a few people read and writing one that a few more people read, is this idea of “disappointing” your readers. You have this newfound audience and so, you start to throw yourself into making everything you said great.

As most of you know, it’s just not that easy. Even if it were, why not just go ahead and do what you were gonna do anyway? I’ve found in my professional blogging life that the most interesting posts aren’t always the ones that I thought would get the most comments. In fact, I’ve found that I have more reach than I thought, when I write something that resonates with some far flung person somewhere and before I know it, a few other people are writing and telling me something or making a comment about their own experiences.

That was the point of this blog in the first place. For me to put myself out there, to begin to connect with like-minded and different minded folks who might be in a similar space and a similar place. Blogging isn’t rocket science and I love to let people know that I don’t believe it to be.

But the way to recapture the joy you get from actually communicating with others is to simply be yourself.

How to write a bio

One of the biggest problems I’ve not been able to solve is how to write a biography for any of my online sites. I mean, there are a lot of different ways to accomplish this task. I’ve fought myself on the subject many times, because it depends heavily on what you need the bio for.

I couldn’t find a blog post anywhere that spoke to this topic in a manner that really helped me, so I decided to see if I couldn’t flesh it out better.

The speaking circuit bio
If you’re in a situation where you want a bio out there for speaking engagements or other situations where they simply need 100-word biography or something a bit longer, then you’ll want to craft something simple in the third person, so they can just lift it from your site and go about their business.

Joe Widget is a professional widget blogger from Schenectady, N.Y. He writes about big ideas, reading, writing and of course, widgets. After a breakout career at Google, he left to start his own startup – Widgetopia – the first widget search engine.

Named one of Widgetweek magazine’s “hottest CEOs”, Joe is also the author of several books, including Widgets ‘n You: Discovering how to make your gears work and the New York Times best seller What makes you tick?

An avid glider pilot and traveler, he lives in San Francisco with his wife and a cuddly dog named Sparky.

The hire me/expert/guru bio
My personal favourite. I had one until I decided to pull it in favor of something else more natural and ‘me’. Usually written in the third person, but doesn’t have to be. Talks about the person’s accomplishments, puffs up their credentials in an effort to make sure that you know that 1) they are an expert and 2) that despite their busy schedule, they’d make time for you..if you’re willing to pay. They cite things like their blog’s technorati ranking as if it were a billboard chart, peddle their self-published book as if it were a best seller and talk about “how easy it is” to do whatever it is they’re doing and how “you can do it too.”

And mind you, this is ALL in the bio. I won’t even attempt to write one for fake. Just go with it..you know what I’m talking about.

The personal touch bio
Done right, this is the way to go. After all, unless you’re important enough for someone else to write your bio and have enough real accomplishments that you have to through out career makers for other people because you simply don’t have room, then really, you ought to just cut to the chase and tell people what you’re about as simply as possible.

No need to put on airs, pretending to be something more than you are. At the end of the day — especially when you’re writing a blog — people are generally going to read and get a snapshot of who you are anyway. So your experience might give you more credibility, but not so much that it’ll make the b.s. you blog about any more believable.

Of course, I say that in an era where bloggers are sitting at home and driving the terrestrial media into fits by sending them on goose chases for stories that aren’t even real.

Anyway…the whole point of this is simply to say — writing a bio shouldn’t be an ordeal — it’s all about giving folks a glimpse of who you are and maybe, why you’re writing. Third person isn’t bad, it’s a good way to detach yourself from the subject enough to get it done, but sticking to the personal side works good too. It all depends on who you are and what you’re trying to communicate.

Authenticity, as with most things, is the way to go.