Flash Fiction: a complete story
in one thousand or fewer words.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Analog Blogger

This story via SlashDot: you have to admire this guy. In Monrovia, Liberia, a place with poor access to news via the state-run media, a man uses a low-tech solution to broadcast news: a dry erase board. He watches the news and summarizes it on a publicly accessible "white board." He apparently has many appreciative readers of this analog blog. Here is the SlashDot article, which leads to one with a video.

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Sunday, September 6, 2009

WordPress Bloggers: Update!

This post falls into the public service category. Since many writers and avid readers have WordPress-based blogs, we wanted you to be aware that there is a very nasty worm quickly infecting WordPress blogs with out-of-date WordPress software. The worm is known to destroy the blog. While updates to WordPress used to be difficult, it is now a one-click process.

According to a WordPress.org blog:

...it registers a user, uses a security bug (fixed earlier in the year) to allow evaluated code to be executed through the permalink structure, makes itself an admin, then uses JavaScript to hide itself when you look at users page, attempts to clean up after itself, then goes quiet so you never notice while it inserts hidden spam and malware into your old posts.

WordPress.org is associated with bloggers who put WordPress software on their own or rented hosts, as opposed to the free blogging service hosted by WordPress.com. WordPress.com users might also need to upgrade their blogs; this you need to verify via WordPress.com.

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Friday, July 24, 2009

Bloggers and News Services

Many bloggers are news aggregators. They find news stories related to the interests of their readers and summarize them. A popular type of news aggregation is the "tech" blog, where the bloggers find geeky news for their geeky readers. They give short summaries of the news and give links to the original sources. This blog is an attempt to find news of interest to speculative fiction readers and writers, although it is not quite as laser-focused as the tech blogs. Readers and writers in general have wide interests, so the spectrum of articles here is wide. This blog attempts to give brief descriptions of cited news articles, add something to it, and link to the original or secondary source.

There is a point. Some of the news services, like the Associated Press, and major newspapers are becoming concerned about news aggregators. (Blogs are not the only type of news aggregation.) Newspapers (and therefore news services) are trying to discern a business model by which they can survive in the new economy. Print ads alone don't seem to work any longer, and subscribers don't seem willing to pay for online services. So, the publishers are feeling a bit robbed by aggregators. They complain that aggregators take their headlines and article summaries without compensating the originators. Bloggers claim fair use rights. Even aggregators complain about other aggregators. (Google News comes to mind; they've gone after heavy-handed aggregators who use Googles' headlines and summaries.) Both sides have arguments; these will not be argued here. This is just to keep the FFO readers and writers informed, since many of them have blogs.

The news incident that prompted this article is AP's new news registry, by which they hope to track copyright violations more closely, as reported by ReadWriteWeb. Bloggers who report their latest writing failures and triumphs, and count and report the burps and hiccups of their children need not worry. (But keep an eye on AP, in case they pick up your article.)

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Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Is Blogging Dead?

This is my first real-time blog post. As I'm writing this, I'm reading a Mashable article about the future of blogging. Already, the author, Mr. Steve Rubel, has wondered if blogging is dead. If that is the case then, I might not finish this post because, well, if blogging is dead, what would be the point of flogging a dead blog, right? So if I just stop like

<-that, then you may infer that blogging is dead and you should spend more time tweeting. So, I'll read a little more now...still alive...still alive...has to evolve or succumb to Darwinism...doesn't sound good...oh, I could be syndicated!...or not. I'm not in a blog network; might be doomed. Ew! I might merge with a journalist. And there's a complicated diagram; I hope there's not a test. Ew! There's stuff about connective tissue in the future-of-blogging diagram. Sounds like Borg issues. A join the continuum Borg blog?

What a minute! The article stopped without a definite yes/no answer. Did blogging just die? Let me check...no, they want you to add more ideas to the blog diagram to help save blogging. OK, I suggest that bloggers be paid huge sums out of national coffers. That would save it for sure.

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Monday, June 22, 2009

This is one of two posts today involving (U.S.) federal law with fiction-writing sidebars. In this article, the (U.S.) Federal Trade Commission is now paying attention to bloggers, particularly the ones who are paid or otherwise compensated for publishing product or service reviews on their blogs. At issue is the assumption by consumers that opinions on blogs are independent and therefore trustworthy. This is far from the truth for many bloggers. I recently read a "search engine optimization" (SEO) book that covered websites and blogs. There are quite a few bloggers or blog networks that write articles for hire and link those articles back to the promoted product or service. For some, this lowers the credibility of the review.

This Yahoo News article on bloggers suggests that the FTC's recent interest in bloggers suggests some future liability for this practice:

The practice has grown to the degree that the Federal Trade Commission is paying attention. New guidelines, expected to be approved late this summer with possible modifications, would clarify that the agency can go after bloggers — as well as the companies that compensate them — for any false claims or failure to disclose conflicts of interest.

The connection with writers? Most can't help themselves; they gotta blog or die. Some bloggers are thinking about monetizing their blogs with ads, reviews and such. According to the article, there is some worry that the coincidence of a banner ad from an ad service that happens to appear while a related review has been posted constitutes risk.

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