Why we like blogging

Over at Librarian’s Place is a post about why Seth (of Seth’s blog) likes self-experimentation. He applies the same logic to blogging:

"Recently, though, the rise of blogging, Wikipedia, and open-source software, showed me the power of a kind of multiplicative force: (pleasure of hobbies) multiplied by (professional skills). Blogging, for example: (people enjoy writing) multiplied by (professional expertise, which gives them something interesting and unusual to say). In other words, expertise and job skills used in a hobby-like way. "

Seth continues:

"But I was still missing something — something obvious to many others. The power of blogging isn’t

(hobby) x (job skills).

That’s just one person. The total power of blogging is

(hobby) x (job skills) x (anyone can do it)

Which is very powerful."

A point of view that I endorse completely. I can’t help feeling that there is an element or two of the equation that is missing, though. I think there are more than these three parameters to blogging. So although Seth has made a great start, I think it is only a start — I’m going to have to ponder and come back to this one. Maybe you have some suggestions, in which case I hope you’ll drop them in the comments.

Thanks to Dave Lull for the link to Seth’s blog.

White Christmas defined

According to the Duluth library: "The climatological term of a “White-Christmas” is defined as having one inch of snow on the ground, or snow depth,  on Christmas Day."

The post (link below) points the reader to some incomplete historical records of snowy Christamasses past in Duluth. Unlike Kingston upon Thames and many other places in the UK, a "brown" Christmas is worthier of note in Duluth than a white one:


Link: Past Christmas weather in Duluth « reference@duluth.

National library’s talking books

Here is the text of an email I received today:

"As an avid reader and lover of and books, you may have enjoyed a “book on tape” (or, these days, a “book on CD”) for a long car ride or vacation.  For some people, however, listening to audiobooks is the only way they can enjoy literature—or the even occasional issue of People or Vogue.  For bibliophiles whose impairments prevent them from reading, the U.S. National Library Service (NLS), Library of Congress offers an invaluable resource: Talking Books. This reading program is commemorating 75 years of dedicated service to the blind and physically handicapped community.

As NLS celebrates its seventy-fifth year of ensuring that all may read, the program looks forward to continuing its tradition of innovation and service. In 2008, NLS plans to launch the first digital talking book and player, harnessing the latest assistive technology to enhance the way patrons stay connected to the written word and the world at large.  This is exciting news, and promises to make the world of literature, as well as recent releases and periodicals, more widely available to the elderly, the blind, and other people who cannot enjoy books any other way.

For 75 years, the NLS has provided Talking Books free of charge to help people of all ages whose low vision, blindness or physical handicap makes reading a standard printed page difficult.  Local cooperating libraries throughout the United States, mail NLS audiobooks, magazines, and audio equipment directly to enrollees at no cost.  This service has enriched the lives of millions of Americans by allowing them to continue to read, learn and enhance the quality of their lives.

I’d love to work with you to share information about the importance and impact of Talking Books and possibly connect you to a patron of the program or an NLS spokesperson if you would like to set up an interview for your blog. Feel free to contact me with any additional information you may need.

Gadi Ben-Yehuda, on behalf of the National Library Service."

I have made Gadi Ben-Yehuda’s name connect to his (?) email address, so if anyone wishes to get in touch directly to arrange an interview or otherwise to become involved, please use the link.

I have known several cases of people who can no longer see to read and who depend on equivalent services in the UK. "Talking books" make a very real difference to those people’s lives.

I’m back, I hope

The person who banned me from blogging or doing anything on my computer over Christmas is currently playing "Sims 2: festive fun stuff" on her laptop, so I think this means I am now allowed back. I’m not daring to ask explicitly, though, and I have to confess a quick and slightly devious trip to the sales this morning in order to purchase said "Sims 2 FFS" as I had a fair idea as to what would happen when I handed it over. I also confess to a "Lord of the Rings" post on Boxing day morning before anyone was up, though I don’t think the "banner" has noticed my fall from grace.

Thank you very much for all the lovely comments on my "quiet" post and picture. It was so lovely to come back to Petrona after my break and see such lovely, uplifting and kind comments — thank you Caroline, Susan, Frank, Dave, Marie, Minx, Clare, Norm/Uriah, Jenny D, Lynne, Steve, Amy for your comments on that post, and to my many other blogging friends I’ve made in 2006 (my personal Year of the Blog). I’ve so much enjoyed meeting and interacting with you all, either here or on your own blogs or via email.

More to follow when I have caught my breath a bit, i.e. checked out my overflowing email inbox and my groaning rss reader.

Lord of the Rings again (and again)


Lord of the Rings

The film of the Fellowship of the Ring was released in December 2001. The



came out a year later and The Return of the King a year after that. The films were released on DVD, first in “theatrical” (as it is termed) form and then in extended editions.

It has been an annual tradition for an increasingly large subset of our family to watch the movies every Christmas holidays so that for the past 3 years (including this) we’ve seen all three extended editions over a period of 3 days – nearly 16 hours of film. Are we mad? Have we had enough yet?

Continue reading

A bit quiet

I am not going to be posting much in the next few days, mainly because I am rather behind on my Christmas preparations, and also because there is a blogging ban on Christmas day and some degree of disapproval of blogging over this weekend. A further complication is the annual tradition chez Petrona of watching all three extended editions of the Lord of the Rings trilogy, a considerable time-sink.

So I shall simply wish you all a very Happy Christmas. I hope you have a wonderful holiday. I will be back when I can.  Here is a hoiday photo of (from left) Cathy, Malcolm, Jenny and me.


Outdated bloggers

I’m concerned to read on  Berkshire Blog: a global point of reference: Trying not to be "soooo 2006" that I am likely to be left behind on the technological rubbish heap as 2007 starts. The reason?

"2007 will be the year of the multimedia blogosphere. If you don’t have video, podcasts, photos, screenshots and other visuals on your blog, well then you’re soooo 2006. Not to worry. Adding a YouTube video to your blog is as easy as copy and paste."

I can’t see this happening here, as I blog because I like writing about things, not because I want to get into audio or video. Oh well, I am sure I will find a few other people who are happy to potter about in the pleasant backwaters of Petronaville, and maybe who won’t be upgrading their own blogs to all-singing-all-dancing either.

Top 2006 Google search terms

Link: Bloggers Blog: Bebo Top 2006 Search Term on Google?.

I don’t know whether I believe this, but according to Bloggers Blog (link above) the top 10 search terms on Google in 2006 (the year not quite over yet, though) are:

  1. bebo
  2. myspace
  3. world cup
  4. metacafe
  5. radioblog
  6. wikipedia
  7. video
  8. rebelde
  9. mininova
  10. wiki

As Bloggers Blog points out, no Britney Spears or ebay. My surprise is that there is no porn or s*x (anti spam device)-related words listed, but maybe those are pre-censored. Bloggers Blog points to number 4, metacafe, which is apparently a video-sharing website more popular than YouTube (which didn’t make the list). I wonder if Google (who recently bought YouTube for tons of money) are worried? Bloggers Blog expresses surprise that Bebo is top because it says "nobody has heard of it". Hah! Try being around teenagers and pre-teenagers for about 5 minutes. Bebo used to be popular with younger kids before YouTube and MySpace came along — recently it has surged ahead on popularity with the teens as well as their younger counterparts, according to my carefully collected anecdotal evidence. I have never heard of 8 or 9, and I am not sure what is meant by a radioblog (5), so maybe I’m not as hip as all that.

The Bloggers Blog posts also refers to a link which compares the Google, Yahoo and AOL top lists. Fascinating to see how these sites are used by different types of people: "most people use Google to find social networks, videos and World Cup information, while Yahoo users want celebrity gossip and the boring (sic) AOL users want weather information and dictionary links." Speaking for myself, I am proud to be boring yet don’t use AOL or Yahoo, apart from when I am forced to (if I want to visit Flickr).

Failing a Gender Test

Would you pass or fail Scott Adams’ gender test?

Link: The Dilbert Blog: Failing a Gender Test.

Mystery review of mystery book

Maxim Jakubowski writes in Guardian Unlimited: Arts blog – books: The unsubtle art of crime reviewing about a review of Britt-Marie Mattsson’s new crime novel Fruktans Makt. Just a small problem with the review. Can you guess? The book isn’t written yet, but is only at outline stage. Seems to be a black mark for the reviewer, Kristian Lundberg, and the newspaper that published the article, Helsingborgs Daglad?

So you might think, but Lundberg seems incomprehensibly unrepentant: "The errant reviewer was however both less apologetic and frankly candid, telling Svensk Bokhandel magazine that he had "got worked up in advance about Britt-Marie Mattsson because I detest her so very greatly. But let’s hope the book is published so I get the chance to say it for real." "

Jakubowski finishes his article with another chilling anecdote:

"Which mischievously reminds me of another true reviewing story: some 10 years ago, a crime critic of my acquaintance, who shall remain nameless, had just come out of a torrid affair with a book editor. Out of spite he literally tore to shreds in his column, for several months in succession, every novel the female editor in question had been involved in. Who said the book world was genteel?"