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So the rise of the number of new blogs is slowing. Does this mean the death of blogging, as many articles I’ve read in the past few days have suggested? No. it means that blogging is becoming integrated into other online activities: it is maturing as a medium. Read Steve Rubel on the topic here. I think he’s right. (Twitter, however, is still too popular for its own good. Its makers have had to slow it down to the point where it may be quicker to blog than twitter. If you haven’t heard of Twitter yet, it is a service for people who think 5 minutes of fame is for wimps — and that 5 seconds is about right. Which has its own peculiar appeal, if only it had the capacity to let users to find out for sure.)

Talking of integrating online activities, did you know that Israel has an official MySpace page? "It’s part of the Israeli government’s efforts to reach out to young Americans" and "disarm the conflict-centric image so prevalent in the Western media." The Israeli government also has its own blog.

Hastily moving away from the contentious, "What’s your permanent age?",  asks Scott Adams. Mine, as regular readers know, is 150. Anyone else care to venture a number for themselves?

Karen of Eurocrime discusses the economics of publishing: another argument, in my view, to take POD into the mainstream. Seems as if Andre Agassi and Bill Clinton would not agree with me. But, if publish bestsellers we must, why, asks M. J. Rose, have Oprah’s last seven "picks" all been books written by men? Apparently, Oprah has picked 13 titles since 2003, 11 of which have been by male authors. Yet her audience, again according to M. J. Rose, is "overwhelmingly female".

Theodore Dalrymple here has a go at my friend Lyn Gardner because of her (in his opinion) overly revolutionary comments in her review of Chekhov’s "The Cherry Orchard". I know the Cherry Orchard is thought by many to be Chekhov’s masterpiece, but it is the only one of his plays, or indeed any playwright’s plays, that I left at the interval (National Theatre production of some years ago).  Somehow I just can’t identify with it, unlike Three Sisters or Uncle Vanya, say. Be that as it may, even if I were not Lyn’s friend and know her for the kind and unstintingly generous person that she is, I would think that Mr Dalrymple has gone ludicrously over the top on this occasion, even for him.

It is all too easy for the likes of Mr D. to go to extremes in the blogosphere, where there is no calming influence of an editor. Climate research (global warming) brings them all out too, which is why I smiled at the post by Adam Rogers on Wired Science in which he summarised all too aptly the standard of "comment and debate" on this topic. Says Mr Rogers, after deconstructing a typical global warming critic’s comment: " There’s no shame in saying "I don’t know what to think about this; it sure seems complicated." There’s a little shame in ad-hominem attacks on Al Gore and the environmental movement, but I guess some of you are just into that kind of thing. That’s cool. But when your main argument that global warming isn’t real goes something like, "scientists are wrong about stuff sometimes, who are these IPCC guys anyway, and couldn’t the real answer be something completely unknown," well, you aren’t doing science or journalism. You aren’t even thinking clearly. You are cheating."

I need to end on a serene note. All this aggression — its a bit much for us 150 year olds to take. So, here is Adele Geras on a precious resource: a new centre for children’s literature.  A couple of book recommendations: The Blade Itself by Marcus Sakey, via Steve at Sand Storm; and The Fourth Man, Norwegian noir by K. O. Dahl, via Glenn of International Noir Fiction. Finally, Brian Sibley, who has been on an real roll blogwise for the past couple of days after his health scare (thankfully he’s OK), quotes Mary Sarton: "Loneliness is the poverty of self….solitude is the richness of self".

Fast and slow lanes on the Internet

From yesterday’s Times:

Cheese web frenzy: More than 400,000 cheese lovers have visited the website to watch the maturing process of a round of cheddar cheese. Viewing is expected to reach a frenzy tomorrow (i.e. today, 29 March) as the 44 lb (20 kg) cheese is subjected to its first quality check. The project is based at a farm in Shepton Mallet, Somerset.

Stunt man films himself skiing down Underground escalator: A man who filmed himself skiing down a London Underground escalator is being investigated by police. The 60-second film, which has been viewed by more than 100,000 people on the internet, shows the man hurtling down the 100 m (300 ft) escalator at Angel station in North London at a speed of more than 30 mph. In the footage, shot from a camera in the man’s helmet, passengers can be seen strolling past as he fixes his skis at the top of the escalator. He then launches himself down the stairs, arriving to applause at the bottom seven seconds later. British Transport Police said that the "naive and reckless" skier was liable for prosecution. John Spelman, who produced the Norwegian DVD, insisted that passers-by were not put at risk because friends of the skier had warned passengers away.

Moral of the story? Maybe it is that a maturing cheese is four times more popular with viewers than someone skiing down an escalator. Oh, and the Times needs to sort out its house style for imperial/metric conversions — is it metric first, imperial first, or imperial with no metric conversion; units and quantities spelled out or not?

Mary Scriver at Lulu and Librarian’s place

I’ve alrady mentioned this post: Mary Scriver at « Librarian’s place previously on Petrona, but thought I’d mention it again. The reason? Because there is an informative dialogue in the comments about POD publishing: economics, marketing, copyright, and predictions about where it might all go. I highly recommend reading it, and please add your comment too, if you wish.