Saturday, January 05, 2008

How to be a blogging hero

The first week of 2008 has brought some bad news for bloggers of this world. It started with the arrest of Saudi Arabia's most popular blogger, Fouad al-Farhan who has long been calling for political reform in that country.

Farhan was arrested "for violating rules not related to state security" and it is the first known arrest of an online critic in Saudi Arabia.

Big Governments and Big Businesses alike fear and loathe Blogging. Why?
Because, blogging frees us. It provides channels and platforms to our voices.

India, where I live, is ruled by mostly lazy morons under the garb of elected officials. However, this country, best considered as an idea in progress, allows everyone to freely air one's opinions and rants.

We have not progressed to the levels of The Tonight Show but we sure stick it up to the man once in a while. In contrast, Saudi Arabia has all the money in the world. But, it is still a kingdom, not a democracy.

Fouad Al-Farhan once estimated that if only 10% of one of the richest countries in the world have access to the internet, less than 1% of Saudi Arabians have heard of blogs.

Sad News2: US Army Major Andrew Olmsted, who blogged under the name G'Kar, died in Iraq yesterday. Back in July 2007, Major Olmstead wrote a post which was to be published in the case he died in Iraq. His last post starts with a quote from Plato:

"Only the dead have seen the end of war."

It is up to all of us, the living, to fight for our words, and pray and work for all wars to end.

Let a million more free voices bloom.

Read Major Andrew Olmstead's last post here.
His other writings

Farhan's blog, written in Arabic, is down. I don't know who took it down but hopefully Google has indexed all of it. (An older, inactive blog is here)

My post about Abdul Kareem, the Egyptian blogger

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Friday, January 04, 2008

How to be an Ego Blogger

There are three main ways, people make money with blogging. In brief, there are:

1. The Niche Blogger (, In web 2.0 reportage field, Techcrunch has a big lead over many aspiring blogs, and is followed at some distance by,,, which are all readable blogs on web 2.0.

2. The Spam Blogger/network of blogs filled with rewritten material and optimized for maximum adsense earnings.
Too many to be named on one page.

3. The A-lister/Pundit Blogger, where you make money based on your accumulated reputation, through a variety of online/offline extensions.

Now, many people don’t have the relevant field expertise and general peer-respect that people like Jeff Jarvis and Dave Winer enjoy.

I have seen many people who are in the so-called A-list of bloggers because they were the first to blog.

Aided by geography, some bloggers live in certain places that are humming with other voices eager to connect and are helped further by ingratiating aggregators like Techmeme.

Some people among these A-listers got there by chance and have discovered, just like the SEO guys figured out Google, that making a noise around you is perhaps the easiest way to remain in the news, that is, the currency of links keeps on flowing for these smarty pants. These are the Ego Bloggers.

So, if joining the A-list of the blogosphere is your kind of thing, being an Ego Blogger is the way to go.

How do you become an Ego Blogger and join the ranks of self-obsessed/navel gazing, mutually back-scratching group of pundits?

Follow this simple 7-course path.
Follow again and again until you have done it.

1. Catch on the back of a rising star and use it to promote yourself.
Robert Scoble resurrected his flagging post-microsoft blogging career with his exploits on Facebook, which was the rising star of 2007. There were some others who rode on Twitter's back.

2. Do something outrageous.
Call people names and benefit from resulting useless linkfest on Techmeme.
Sadly, for this you have to be on the A-list. The question is: how low can you go?

3. Insert your name in as many things as possible.
For your consideration, the 'mememe(put your name here) awards/predictions/index'

4. Start with praising these great people on their blogs and in your posts.
Hopefully, they will award you with a link. Warning: chances of success with this are very. very low.

5. Do some coding and photoshop magic and start by announcing you have received 100,000 page views in the past two days (Don't forget to put this on Digg as well).

6. Follow Techmeme throughout the day.
Not only, you will be following a time-honored A-lister tradition, you might get some story pointers as well.

7. If all else fails, move to San Fransisco, if New York is too far.

Together, these two cities form the Twin Capitals of the Blogosphere.

Somebody should put all the blogs on Technorati Too 100 and the Techmeme Leaderboard on a map and then we will know more on this.

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Thursday, January 03, 2008

30 Great Questions for Web 2.0 in 2008

A list of questions that need an answer in 2008.
If I get the time, I might do a separate post on each.

1. Who benefits if a social networking site is sold?
Digg users, take note.

2. Will you buy something just because your friend bought it and is suggesting you do?
And is this really the holy grail of E-Commerce?

3. Has Techcrunch peaked?

4. Is Techmeme valuable and useful?
In other words, doesn't it amplify and perpetuate the echo chamber?

5. Are people better at blogging than they were before, say 2005?

6. Are we in a bubble?
And, is this good bubble, for a change?

7. Who is the best all-in-one blogger?
Is Alex Iskold the only coder+CEO+blogger package we have?

8. Who has the chops to join the thinker/blogger gang of Nick Carr, Dave Winer, Umair and few others?

9. How will the citizen journalism idea change the news business and the newsroom in the long run?

10. Who holds the responsibility for a crowdsourced story?

11. Where is web 2.0 going wrong, if it indeed is?
Do we really seriously useful technology or do we consider technology that helps pass our time ( Bertrand Russell might have liked it) as the pinnacle of technological advancement?

12. Does the Silicon Valley get consumers and how consumers consume or are they too much into fancy terms like Social Graph?

13. How different are Networks and Communities?

14. Can email services such as really evolve into social networks?

15. Will human laziness burst the web 2.0 bubble for many sites or will they continue to be driven by factors such as Vanity?

16. Will we still be discussing the future of the newspaper with the intensity of 2007/2006?
(Barry Diller: Take the paper off news and I am very hopeful".)

17. Which big news sites will continue to be 'destinations'?
(Maybe other than,,,

18. Which news sites will the last pay sites standing?

19. What news content will users will agree to pay for, or is everyone going the teens' way, taking everything as free for granted?

20. When will Google stop the special preference to Wikipedia?
Not that it is not a good thing.

21. Can someone actually find a sustainable model for Citizen Journalism?

22. Is Local/Hyperlocal doable?

23. Who will be the bloggers' (and the clueless mainstream media) pet in 2008, now that Facebook (hopefully) is 'so old' and Twitter can't make a penny?

24. Is the internet harmful for professional writers or are they suffering from the deluge in supply?

25. When or how soon will Google release the API for Gmail?

26. Will Big companies open up the gates and allow more web 2.0 tools?

27. Will the flood of obtuse terminologies end? Management 2.0, huh?

28. Can web 2.0 make more people rich or we going to have a few Plantations (thank you, Nick Carr) dominate the proceedings?

29. As Scott Carp asked, ‘what if Media 2.0 is less profitable than media 1.0'?

30. Are professional blogs any different from traditional media, continuing with the same old banal coverage of useless coverage? Calling it 'Gadget Whoring', Joel Johnson's post at Gizmodo is perhaps the best tech writing of 2007.

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