You Little Witch


Athena’s been pestering me for a number of days to make a picture of her as the Wicked Witch of the West, so here we are. I do have a version where she has green skin, incidentally, but for some reason this works better for me. I’m oddly amused she wants a picture of herself as the witch but not as, say, Dorothy; this says something about my little girl.

Speaking of the Technorati Top 100…

You ever notice how few of Technorati’s Top 100 blogs are actually personal blogs? By which I mean, a blog written by a single person, not for an employer or contractor, and about more than a single topic (i.e., not just tech/politics/marketing). There are damn few. Let me take the Top 25 to prove my point:

# 1. Engadget — Pro blog, single topic

# 2. Boing Boing — Group blog

# 3. 老徐 徐静蕾 新浪BLOG — I have no idea what this blog is, I don’t read Chinese

# 4. Gizmodo, The Gadget Guide — Pro blog, single topic

# 5. The Huffington Post — Group blog, single topic

# 6. Daily Kos: State of the Nation — Group blog, single topic

# 7. Techcrunch — Pro blog, group blog, single topic

# 8. PostSecret — Single topic

# 9. Lifehacker, the Productivity and Software Guide — Pro blog, group blog, single topic

# 10. Crooks and Liars — Single topic

# 11. 燕西的互联网生活 燕西 博客屋 记录我们的生活 — Another one I can’t figure out since I can’t read Chinese

# 12. Think Progress — Single topic, group blog

# 13. Michelle Malkin — Single topic

# 14. Gawker, Manhattan Media News and Gossip — Pro blog, single topic

# 15. Autoblog — Pro blog, single topic

# 16. — Single topic (mostly, occasionally forays into tech and books)

# 17. Official Google Blog — Single topic, pro blog

# 18. with no name — Another Chinese blog.

# 19. Blog di Beppe Grillo — Italian blog, looks single topic

# 20. Scobleizer Tech Geek Blogger — Single topic

# 21. A List Apart — Single topic

# 22. Weblog — Single topic, pro blog

# 23. Seth’s Blog — Single topic

# 24. Flash Animations, Daily Comics, and more! — Single topic

# 25. dooce — personal blog

So, out of the top 25 blogs out there on the Tubes (and excluding the ones written in languages I can’t even pretend to read) only one of them is written by a single person, not for a paycheck, and on whatever topic it is she wants to talk about (Update: In comments, Mitch Wagner points out that Heather Armstrong does get paid for However, she’s in business for herself, which is different than getting that paycheck from someone else. And she still writes about whatever she wants). In the rest of the top 100, there’s only another three or four personal blogs, depending on whether you figure a photo blog is sufficiently varied not to be a single topic blog.

This suggests a number of things. One is that the blog world is already pretty damn corporatized and politicized, as 8 of the top 10 blogs are either paid blogs or political blogs, and one of the other two is also pretty politically active. This should not be news. Another is that if you want to crack the top 100 without writing on a single topic, especially politics or tech, it helps if you are a pretty girl, or someone whose online nickname has become a verb. Short of that, you’re pretty much on your own. Yet another is that all your personal bloggers probably need to rethink the idea of making a whole lot of cash off your AdSense deal.

I don’t think this dearth of personal blogging in the Technorati Top 100 is either good or bad; I know I read Engadget every day like a junkie so I can get my new tech fix, so even if I thought it were a problem (and I don’t), I’m part of the problem. I do think it indicates that on the high end at least, the blog world is wildly different than its popular perception — and that it doesn’t look all that different from the “old media” it currently augments and may one day replace.

I also think that personal bloggers probably shouldn’t try to crack the Top 100. Personal blogs may have inherently fewer links and possibly fewer readers (which is not the same, incidentally, as I know for a fact that I more readers than some blogs on the Technorati Top 100), but this doesn’t make those blogs any less interesting. Speaking as a reader, I prefer reading blogs where a person goes all over the board on subjects, because as it turns out I read for the voice of blogger, not the topic.

I would be very sad to see the diversity of personal blogs thin out because people thought they weren’t popular enough. The world really does have enough purely political blogs and tech blogs; there are never enough blogs that see the world from a personal point of view.

Little Thought-Like Emanations

A bunch of little unrelated things:

* I’ve been getting hit hard recently by comment spam, and as a result ended up having to put a lot of keywords on my spam blacklist. This should not be a problem for you most of the time, unless you have a fetish for casually dropping the names of erection-producing pharmaceuticals into your everyday comment discourse. However, I’ve also blacklisted the word “casino” since it’s appearing quite a bit recently, and that’s a word that’s not entirely outside the realm of regular usage. So if you use “casino” in a comment and it doesn’t appear automatically, don’t panic. When I made one of my moderation rounds, I’ll likely release it into the wilds. However, if you write something like “there I was, in the Viagra Casino….” I may just leave it off. You damn pranksters.

* I was reading this article in the New York Times about people whose phone company won’t provide DSL service because it’s too expensive, and thus are stagnating in low-bandwidth hell, and I have to say I’m notably less than sympathetic. Hey, guys: satellite internet. Unless all that second-growth forest in Vermont is entirely blocking out the night sky, you can get high-speed internet that way.

I know whereof I speak: When I first moved to lil’ ol’ Bradford in 2001, the fastest local connection I could find was 9600 baud. The terror was complete and unimaginable. But did I bitch and moan to my local telephone company? Well, yes, I did. However, I also looked into my options, and satellite internet was one of them. It had its problems — a small time lag when initiating a connection and having service blocked by storms among them — but it was a damn sight better than 9600 baud. And remember, this was back in 2001, so it’s not like this is untested, freaky technology. It suited me until DSL finally showed up here.

If anyone in Vermont is reading this, do let these folks know of the miracle of satellite internet. And show them your iPod, too. That’ll really mess with their heads.

* Some nice news for me: I’ve sold The Ghost Brigades in the French language, where one assumes it will be known as Les Brigades De Fantôme or some such. Also, for all you Francophones out there, the release date for the French-language version of OMW will be January 2007, from Editions L’ Atalante (who also bought TGB). Starting saving your euro-pennies!

* NPR is looking for a blogger. If I didn’t already have my own pro blog gig, this might be attractive to me, except for the part about “being willing to relocate.” Isn’t part of the magic of blogs that you don’t have to relocate? I mean, hell. I live among the Amish, people. I think that pretty much proves that you can blog from anywhere.

Also, this line in the job application seems a bit presumptuous: “a passionate desire to join the blogger ‘A’ list.” Leaving aside the fact that being an “A”-list blogger is like being one world’s elite kitten-jugglers — a curious but strangely limited sort of fame — who is on the “A”-list in the blog world is decided not from above but from below, primarily by who links to you and how often. So while I think it’s groovy NPR has ambitions for its blogger, if I were applying for the job I wouldn’t exactly exactly assume that if I got it I would suddenly be elevated to the oh-so-lofty heights of A-list bloggerdom. You’ve got to earn it, baby, through all the links and such and so on and blah blah blah. Then, and only then, will you take your place in the grubby, back-biting pantheon of bloggers.

* Speaking of pointlessly obsessive blog status mongering, here’s something interesting: Technorati, which is the official repository of who is on the blogger “A”-list thanks to its dork-anxiety-inducing “100 Top Blogs” list, is massively underreporting my “A”-listyness, because it splits my links between a listing and a whatever listing. The listing lists 1,192 blogs linking to me, while the Whatever listing features 1,140, which puts both listings in the 1000 range for most popular blog evar. But, since (follow the pathetic logic!) it doesn’t make sense that people would link to both, just one or the other, in fact I have 2,332 blogs linking to me, which definitely puts me in the top 300, since Wil Wheaton’s at 292, and he’s only got a mere 2043 blogs linking to him! Ha, Wil! HA!!! Clearly I need to sue Technorati for underreporting my true blog awesomeosity, which is keeping me from making those six-figure book deals other bloggers are making, and getting the fabulous blog-groupie sex that I’m sure Kos and Ana Marie Cox are having on a regular basis (no, not with each other. With the groupies. Pay attention). Also, I will sue Wil Wheaton. Just to make the point.

Also, I think Technorati is not doing nearly enough to raise the anxiety of bloggers everywhere regarding their A-list status (or lack thereof), so I propose that rather than posting a mere Top 100 list, Technorati post a top 1,000 list — or even better, a top 10,000 list. Because you know the people scratching it out for positions 9,999 and 10,000 will stop at nothing to kill all those who threaten their exalted position. Yes, yes. If Technorati does but implement my suggestion, soon the Blogosphere will have all the drama it deserves.