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July 27, 2005

A Minute's Worth of Weblogs

Courtesy of Teresa Nielsen Hayden:

Making Light: Weblogs.com... gives you... a single flat unadorned list of weblogs that’ve updated that minute... 66 entries.... I copied off the list and looked at all of them, as though I were doing a species count in a wildlife area.

Here’s how they break out. My categories are arbitrary, but all categories are.

  1. Potemkin weblogs that have a parasitic relationship with Google Ads [19].... [T]he great-grandchild of the “reports” scam... the mark in the reports scam is the person who thinks he can make big money publishing and selling the junk content he buys from the scammers. In this variant, the junk content is being automatically scooped up and aggregated from free content feeds to create Potemkin weblogs. The sites’ owners then sell ad space on them to Google Ads, which is itself heavily automated, and thus doesn’t notice that it’s placing ads on junk sites.... Posts in this group invariably start with the first paragraph of a news story or press release related to the weblog’s declared subject. The story’s headline is used as the title of the post. Subsequent paragraphs are a random selection of the first paragraphs of other stories they’ve already used. It’s obviously a completely automated process, because major text glitches don’t get corrected. The resulting “weblog” couldn’t fool anyone but a computer...
  2. Moneygrubbing fake weblogs that don’t depend on Google Ads: "19. Belmont Stakes Live Gambling belmont stakes gambling wagering offtrack race track betting"...
  3. Just using the software... sites that have adapted the weblog software and format to non-webloggish purposes. I expect we’ll be seeing more and more of this. Weblogging software is cheap, flexible, feature-rich, and extremely easy to use...
  4. Spaces.msn.com: bringing self-expression to sensitive students worldwide... spaces.msn.com... must be making it cheap and easy to get on. I can’t make out most of their names, or the titles of their weblogs, but most of them give their location.... Chiba-ken... Tokyo-to, Japan.... IASDTO, Brazil.... Shanghai, China.... Cholula, Puebla, Mexico.... Grenoble, France.... Heilongjiang, China.... Taiwan.... Minas Gerais, Brazil...
  5. Non-spaces.msn.com weblogs in languages in which I am not fluent.... Hessamblog’s blog @ PersianBlog... Antin Itä-Bloggi... Coredump... Ciencia Rabia... Franchement!... Antidig... Serializer... diario de wendy...
  6. Anglophone blogs-for-the-sake-of-blogging: Fourteen weblogs, between a fourth and a fifth of the total. Naturally, since this is the category I’d fall in, I can see all kinds of fine distinctions and subcategories within the list....

So, there’s the lot of them. What do I conclude?

  1. Automated intelligence is stupid.
  2. Google Ads ought to be more discriminating about its ad placement.
  3. ...[W]eblogging is an activity and a set of customs, not the software and templates used to do it.
  4. Weblogging... may or may not prove to be an enduring literary form, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the weblog template—-episodic, open-ended, easily modified to have sidebars and text jumps and comments and embedded mini-blogs, imposing no relationship on its elements beyond chronological order—-outlives everything else we’ve done....
  5. We don’t have to read all the weblogs all the time—-who could?—-but as long as they exist, those parts of the world they illuminate can’t be invisible to the rest of the world. Hardworking teenagers in China, beleaguered housewives in Iraq, avant-garde art students in Turkey-—they’re all real to us.
  6. If there’s an overall message to weblogging-—not that there has to be one, but still, if there is—-it’s HELLO WORLD.

Addendum: Jim Macdonald tells me that Wendy of “diario de wendy” had a fight last night with her mother over her clothing, and over the Catalan slang that she and her friends use.... Jim also says that “Ciencia Rabia” means... possibly “Science, My Ass”...

Posted by DeLong at July 27, 2005 10:15 AM