Saturday, March 10, 2007

The Daily Blog

A BBC News report early last week (can't find the wretched link now - sorry!) highlighted the fact that there appears to be a direct correlation between the increase in broadband usage and a subsequent decline in newspaper sales. Not good news if you're a paid journalist, but an explanation for the poor quality of our national press I think (If you pay peanuts because of dwindling income then you WILL get monkeys!)

You can prove anything with statistics of course, and paper is a rather different medium from the screen but the report, together with the BAFTA debate that took place earlier this week, got me thinking about my own excessive usage of blogs for information and entertainment sources, and the realisation that I no longer bother with newspapers, not even the weighty Sunday tomes that used to be one of the highlights of the week.

I probably average two to three hours a day on blogs, which is far too much wasted time, but seemingly inescapable if you want to be at the top of your game in the IT industry. The evening sessions are the longest, and are down to my day job. These days it seems that the only way to stay current on what works and what doesn't is by signing up to seemingly endlessly Microsoft employee and assorted Microsoft fan boy blogs. Information that used to be hosted on a central web site or, God forbid, in the form of documentation that actually shipped with a product is long gone. I find I need to plough through tens of thousands of blogs a day to find the information I need just to be knowledgeable enough to give my clients the correct information, or to get the software I just paid a fortune for to a state where it actually does what it's supposed to do. The signal-to-noise ratio is appallingly low on these blogs, primarily because companies like Microsoft insist that their employees 'demonstrate their passion' (for career development) by blogging, regardless of the value that such blogging might have. While it's true to say a lot more information is escaping companies like Microsoft to the outside world as a result, I have to admit I hanker for the old days where I could actually do something I really wanted to do in the evenings. Sorting the wheat from the chaff shouldn't be so difficult!

My morning blog sessions are rather different. They are, effectively, my highly personalised replacement for a daily newspaper and a chance to catch up on friends (online and 'real world') AND to get the latest news from the film and DVD world from people I've learnt to trust. Thankfully, most folk have realised that the world has moved on, and that we now live in the post-MTV world of the attention-deficit generation. As a result, 40 minutes over breakfast are usually more than enough to get up-to-speed on the things I'm interested in.

Blog entries need to be three things if they're going to be read by ANYONE: short, sharp and sweet. Definitions of 'sharp' and 'sweet' are entirely subjective of course, but 'short' is something I've always been hopeless at! When I took a sabbatical from my 'real' job to work in the music industry a few years ago I used to send a weekly rant to Jonathan King's The Tip Sheet publication for music industry insiders, only to be admonished by Jonathan on an almost weekly basis to 'Précis dear boy. Précis!'. It's something I spectacularly failed to do, and continue to fail to do on my UK DVD Review Blog and my HD-DVD Review Blog. Fortunately, that didn't seem to stop Jonathan printing what I sent and I sit hoping, with fingers crossed, that the same sort of thing happens with the few readers of my blogs who hang around despite their long, rambling length!

However, I have noticed that my favourite blogs, and also the most successful in terms of readership numbers, have two things in common: they tend to be regular as clockwork - ideally for me they should be sat there every morning in my RSS feed reader; AND they need to be short, succinct and 'sweet' (as in useful or funny). I don't think I'm ever going to meet the 'short' criteria other than by cheating, but intend to meet the first criteria by making sure that from hereonin there is at least ONE daily update to this blog.

I will only achieve this 'daily' requirement by cheating of course. What this means is that you're going to be seeing some daily entries that are just links to my other blogs, partly in an attempt to divert more traffic to those new blogs (I find it bizarre that I'm still getting lots of comments on old reviews on this blog, but none on the new, more finely-tuned, homes they relocated to some months ago). The irony is of course that this approach will also help me meet that seemingly unachievable 'keep it short and succint' criteria for a good blog entry. You can't get much shorter and succinct than a blog entry that's a link to another blog entry ;-)

Tomorrow I'll be posting links not just to some new DVD and HD-DVD reviews, but also highlighting those 'Daily Blogs' I read before work each morning. But I'll also be using this blog to highlight stuff I've found funny, interesting or just want to say a few words about. Stay tuned!

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