Radio Free Blogistan 3.0

· Nanopublishing

This has been a fallow period at RFB, even with the new contributors (we’re all head’s down these days, working, which is actually a good thing), but there are some things going on under the hood.
When I added Rayne and Liza and filchyboy and Andrew to the roster, we started an editorial-discussion blog separate from this one. It’s currently password-protected, but I sometimes think that it should just be open or even a category here. (The argument for privacy is that one can speak without thinking about who might be listening in, but then the odds of this stuff not getting out eventually are pretty slim, and secrecy just breeds suspicion.)
Anyway, some of the things we’ve been discussing are a redesign, with a cool new visual design that Liza is working on (with all of our input, or at least input from filch and myself – Andrew and Rayne, have you given Liza any feedback?), an integrated way to post briefly noted quick links inline and various other ideas.
RFB’s MT instantiation has gotten really sluggish, which leads to many duplicate comments and pings, and annoying delays for the regulars. I should probably follow the optimization steps I was bookmarking last month, but I haven’t. I’ve been busy on other things.
Plus, I really want to open up contribution to a wider range of our readership. So now I’m thinking perhaps the new design should be implemented in Scoop, with diaries, as at kuro5hin, DailyKos, and Clark04.
Alternatively, I could use Drupal, which I’ve already installed and set up in the form of Deanspace sites.
Either way, my sense is that RFB has yet again outgrown its current CMS and that it’s time for the next step (soon).
Also soon, I’ll be decloaking a blog I’ve been writing since last December as part of the process of writing a book that I’m about halfway through. I believe later this week I’ll be able to formally announce the weblog and the book, or at least take off the password protection for that one instead of obnoxiously sending trackback pings hither and yon from behind a duck blind.
Would more of you post your own links, news, and thoughts about blogging to RFB is it were set up more like a community site?
Update: Funny how the ads on this page are for dating services like eHarmony. Is that because of filchyboy’s name?

New contributors at RFB

· Nanopublishing

Please join me in welcoming four new contributors to Radio Free Blogistan:

All have written extensively about weblogging on their own blogs and all have graciously consented to join my newly formed writing staff here at RFB. I’ll post brief bios soon and you can expect to see some changes to the site’s design to reflect both the addition of new authors and a general moving away of Blogistan from being yet another xian site to a group weblog focused “like a laser” on weblogging, microcontent, nanopublishing, syndication, and related topics.
I’m very excited about this transition. In some ways RFB will be a little more like a webzine and a little less like a blog, although we’ll still be using the weblog format (both short, spontaneous entries for the most part, and the classic most-recent-posting-first structure).
For the time being I’m not contemplating adding further contributors. Let’s see how the site digests the new blood first (weird creepy mixed metaphor, huh?). However, the offer still stands for me to syndicate your headlines if you have a weblog-specific category on your blog with its own RSS feed or if you publish a metablog (a blog about blogging). If so, send me the feed’s URL, I’ll check it out, and if it looks like it will add value to the readers here, I’ll add it to the sidebar.
I’ll probably be removing some of the more personal information and links from the sidebar here, reorganizing what’s left, and adding further weblog-related resources. As always, expect the design changes to roll out incrementally and be sure to tell me if you like or hate any of the changes. This is the web, so we can always change it again later.

'Sushi options' memo frenzy

· Nanopublishing

Back in September, my news aggregator page, Mediajunkie, picked up a link to a Gawker entry on a sushi memo being faxed and emailed around New York. A real-life (or fake?) parody of lawyerly lingo.
Over a month later, the tale has made it into the New York Times, leading who knows how many people to search Google for “Paul Weiss sushi memo” and variations on that query. Such a search turns up the Gawker entry as a first result but also includes Mediajunkie as the second result, even though MJ is currently a robotically controlled news repeater with no editorial judgement or commentary involved at all (aside from which feeds to repost).
The end result is that my MJ sites now have nearly 1000 hits this morning, almost all of them from Googlers looking for more info on the sushi memo. It’s nice to get the traffic, but it’s all reflected glory, since at best MJ is a good way to find the Gawker article, which is already available from the same types of searches.

That's now monolog

· Nanopublishing

Hey, remember how Radio Free Blogistan used to include other stuff I had blogged elsewhere that wasn’t about blogging too? Well that’s now monolog. When I switched RFB over to a Movable Type backend, I resolved to turn it into a niche-focused blog. Embrace the metablogging, or at least quarantine it off into this one space. Sure, I added the headlines from my other blogs and projects to the sidebar, but I’m not reposting stuff from my journal or my political weblog or my writing projects or my arts newsletter here anymore. All that stuff does appear in monolog.

As I mentioned recently, I’m currently in the process of recruiting some new contributors to RFB, so that it may turn into more of a collaboratively filtered group weblog. Many2Many is a good example of such a thing. Blogistan will continue to be a focused source of news and discussion about weblogs (and relate topics: syndication, microcontent, and so on). I’ll even clear out the non-blog-related categories eventually. There’s always a lot of pruning tasks on the gardening list.

Hey , it’s a blog; things evolve incrementally.

Critique of Weblogs, Inc., plan

· Nanopublishing

Nick Denton offers a good-natured, if tough, critique of Jason Calcanis’ business plan for Weblogs, Inc., inBlog empires. Denton thinks that the trade-publishing angle might bear fruit, but he doesn’t see revenue sharing as a particularly likely way to compensate authors, he offers some insightful observations about the value of branding to the individual writers, and he seriously questions the decision to develop a proprietary weblogging tool for the venture.
That all sounds about right to me. The weblog format would suit trade-nanopublishing just fine, but when much larger and more sophisticated enterprises are adopting Movable Type or converting over to it, building up a new weblog platform from scratch seems like a waste of time and energy, unless some radical viral innovation in the weblog form is impossible without the custom software.
As any technical architect or engineer will tell you, weblog software is relatively trivial to put together. Yes, getting the interface right and supporting all the vogue-ish features that bind together the blogosphere these days takes a lot of t-crossing and i-dotting, but it’s not the computer science equivalent of rocket science.
You’re talking a fairly simple data model (a few tables in a relational database), a neatly presented input form and some templates to render the dynamic content. It makes more sense to build on what’s already out there.

Canniblogs?

· Nanopublishing

A friend of mine asked me if there are any pot blogs. A quick search found a reference to this Slash-style group weblog at Marijuana.Com and a number of topical blog entries, but that’s it.
It seems like a natural for a personal blog. Or maybe a drugs blog in general. Maybe I should have searched for that. I noticed in Dave Winer’s excellent list of questions for candidates (everyone should do this and we should all try to interview all the candidates) he asked the “why is marijuana illegal?” question. Again, it seems like there might be some stoned blog-readers out there who would flock to a marijuana blog, if they remembered to bookmark it.