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When blogs were blogs

The age of the blogger has passed without much fanfare. You might think that blogs are still popular and prominent, but if you think back to long ago,  before you were born (if you happen to be 4-years-old or less), blogs were the only thing anyone was talking about. And "bloggers" were referred to as if they were some new species. The cable folks would ask me to come on the air and talk about "what the bloggers are saying" about news stories, as if "the bloggers" were some special league of scholars. And the most popular bloggers were celebrities and kingmakers. Lesser bloggers would do anything they could to draw some link love from a big name blogger and watch the avalanche of traffic in his site statistics.  Hundreds!  Thousands of visitors from a single link from an A-lister!

But now, lo, The A list is dead - "Suddenly, the need for A-listers to arbitrate "Who the Cool Kids are" [and who they aren't] is rapidly and thankfully diminished."

These days it's all about the social networks. And though there are still examples of bloggers doing what made the format famous, challenging the media, serving niche markets, etc., in many ways, they've become exactly what the blog evangelists promised would be solved by blogs.

Of course, the blog evangelists themselves have moved on from blogs. Most recently we've been hearing them preach on about the recently YouTube/CNN debates giving voice to "the people" - though not everyone has taken of that particular Kool Aid. I count myself among the cynical here. It was a great marketing stunt and a good way to mix the Web and TV, but there's nothing qualitatively better about having a handful of people with Web cams ask the same questions a TV moderator would have asked. That said, I won't be surprised in the least to see the video question become the new industry standard.

Actually, judging by the online din, the smart money for what is currently leading the online miracle revolution is Facebook.

"Facebook is the New Hotness, and everyone else is simply Scratching at the Door of Cool." I've mentioned at least once that Web geeks are really excited about Facebook.  As an outsider to the programming world and also a relative social recluse, it can be a little difficult for me to appreciate why it's such a big deal.  This essay gives a good sense of what the enthusiasm is all about - at least from the perspective of Web application writers.

From the user perspective, "Facebook is starting to become the one stop shop for content and interaction, be it through feeds, blog creation, image uploading and just plain ol' social networking."

"Welcome to the first edition of Hottest Apps - our weekly look at the fastest growing Facebook applications over the last week."

"On Facebook, you're not a Facebooker — you're just you." Yes!  Why were/are bloggers always referred to as though they were some separate strain of human being? Some new breed or race? That was easily the most obnoxious aspect of the whole blog buzzfest.

But you have no use for social networks like Facebook?  "I've been using [this] list to address adults who say things like 'I don't have time to hang out on a social network.'" He breaks down according to age, reasons to Facebook.

On the subject of having need or use for a social network, the Psychology of Social Computing: What Best Explains the Success of Facebook? Not too dense, a numbered list with brief explainers.

Some folks online are tracking the story of U.S. troops gone bad in Iraq. There are questions about the story's veracity and we're getting close to do or die time for the magazine as it reviews its story and sources.

Witness the iPhone exploit

Speaking of the iPhone, today around the water cooler we were puzzling over this headline "Apple shares drop on iPhone activations." So the more than half a million people we thought bought iPhones are really more like 150,000?  Some experts even guessed that the sales would be in that range and then ended up going with the 500,000 number. I'd love to know the story behind the story on this one.

San Francisco, 1971 (really big picture)

I feel like we've played a "two games at once" game before but since I managed to get in a groove on this one I'm recommending it even if it's for a second time.

Origin of familiar phrases

As Medical Patents Surge, So Do Lawsuits - "Patent lawyers say doctors and scientists are suing to protect everything from laser eye surgery techniques to stent procedures to methods for declawing a cat." Michael Moore has been arguing lately that profit motive is contrary to good healthcare. He further argues that medicine does not need market motivation to continue to advance. Advances will continue because people like to help and people like to solve puzzles.

5 Ways to Develop Independent Thought

Speaking of independent thought, 6 Movie Formulas That Must Be Stopped - Cracked.com is making it's bread and butter out of these kinds of lists but these are all true.

Still speaking of independent thought, "new research reveals even if only one member of a group repeats their opinion, it is more likely to be seen by others as representative of the whole group."

Urban Typography - It took me a minute to realize what these letters are.

There are 12 kinds of ads - I was expecting humor but it's almost like it could be taking from the required reading of an advertising course.

Exclusive: Vitter's 2004 Family Values Campaign Ads Are Unearthed - This is the kind of thing The Daily Show usually digs up and it always surprises me that the major network news shows with their massive tape archives (they do have massive tape archives, right?) don't do the same. That said, none of these ads say "I'm David Vitter and people who visit prostitutes should be judged harshly."

Weekly World News closing - The funny part is the follow-up where an editor is quoted, implying that there's some kind of conspiracy or secret motivation. The aliens made them do it?

Meanwhile this could not be happening at a worse time given all the recent UFO news that needs covering.

Then again, as I mentioned yesterday I've been chalking up strange phenomena lately to magic.

Speaking of Harry Potter, Diagon Alley entrance discovered.

On Faith" and Georgetown University asked dozens of the world's leading scholars to discuss Islam's view of violence, human rights and other religions in "Muslims Speak Out."

Speaking of representing Islam, an interview with Rageboy - Remember that photoblog that pointed out that a huge number of news photos of protesting Muslims included the same guy?  He's come to be known in some blog circles as Rageboy and news agencies have been tracking him since that photo series broke.

"Where Are the Islamist/Jihadist Websites Hosted, and What Can Be Done about It?"
The point of this piece really has to do with American ISPs hosting Jihadist sites, but something I've always wondered is why there isn't a more active online front in the war on terror. I'm sure there are American hackers who disrupt extremist sites in their free time but I don't think I've ever seen a trophy page of hacked extremist Muslim sites.

Speaking of terrorists, Terrorist organization logos - Everything comes down to marketing in the end.

New York Subway Map of the Internet

Speaking of unusual infographics, A Sketch Towards a Taxonomy of Meta-Desserts - The idea is to organize into a chart desserts that reference other desserts in their name. At the end of the entry are links to a photo of the chart, the big version is here.

Trippy apps - That's a pretty good name for it.  It's a collection of sites, some are downloads, some are animation, some are games, all are ... er...

Funniest video since Friday is this rehearsal of a performance of Michael Jackson's Thriller video by the population of a prison in the Philippines. Complete with balding, terrified "girlfriend."

The Times did a great job tracking down the story behind the photo of the muddy, bloody woman from the recent steam pipe explosion in New York City. I don't mean to dwell on the story but it's cool how they found the guy and then found the woman and we get the story behind the photo.)

Remember the guy who refused to pay his taxes and won his case? Not everyone in that movement is having such success. N.H. couple evade death and taxes.

Get ready (finally) for faster Internet speeds at lower prices - This may be a little more detail than some people care about but it's a good look at the beginnings of what we can hope will be a price/bandwidth war.

Speaking of broadband, "Today I'm writing to invite you to participate in an experiment -- an interactive approach to drafting legislation on one of the most significant public policy questions today: What should be America's national broadband strategy?" Interestingly, the diary author who's doing the inviting is Senator Dick Durbin.

Speaking of the bandwidth race, "Miro aims to make online video 'as easy as watching TV,' while at the same time ensuring that the new medium remains accessible to everyone, through its support for open standards." Direct link here.

Mania TV is another Web TV station.

Also Crackle.

Which is not to say that the Web has beaten TV.  LiveStation, which streams live TV on your computer.  (Dear Microsoft colleagues at LiveStation, I can think of a TV station with lots of live content if you're looking for a partner.)

Michael Totten is in Baghdad.  His first post there is an interesting look at what the process is like. He also keeps a running commentary on how his experience differs from the expectations set by mainstream media.

"Nearly ten percent of companies have fired an employee for violating corporate blogging or message board policies, and 19 percent have disciplined an employee for the same infractions." That sounds really high to me. I've heard stories of people being fired and when the company takes back their laptop or cleans out their PC they find all kinds of crazy porn or personal stuff, but I can't think of a story of anyone I know who was fired for what they put online. Then again, maybe I just don't know it. The whole reason my personal blog is a photoblog is that I didn't want to write anything that could one day get me in trouble but I still have a hard time believing the number of people who actually do get in trouble is that high.

For Christians who resented all the Harry Potter spoiler hype, here's a spoiler for you.

I've had one little lyric from "Being Around" by the Lemonheads in my brain for days. I can't find it on iMeem even though I could listen to the "Best of" songs for free, including the Mrs. Robinson cover.

Meanwhile, all these free music services and where do I finally find my song?  YouTube.

If I was a front porch swing would you let me hang?
If I was a dancefloor, would you shake your thang?

Authorities found that banning most devices did little to make flying safer - Do you even need to click a link when the headline tells you what you already knew? But here's an amazing stat I never would have guessed:

"The agency said it costs close to $4 million to dispose of the more than 22,000 lighters it seizes every day." I wonder what they do with them to dispose of them. U.S. Map tetris