Category Archives: blogging

What happens when the cloud disappears?

Excellent post by Dave Winer on Gizmodo

Back then all this was much smaller. There were far fewer bloggers. Maybe thousands. Today there are millions. None of them are thinking about what happens when Tumblr or Blogger or WordPress or Facebook disappear. But come on — we almost know for certain that one of them will. Given enough time they will all disappear. Doesn’t it make sense to think, in advance about what will happen then? Technically there are good practices that exist right now, that could ameliorate the problems. Don’t we have a responsibility to implement them?

Which gets me to the beginning. Yesterday I wrote a piece where I said that the web is socialist. I strongly believe if you try to turn a community of bloggers into a property, someday you’ll wake up to the realization that you bought a bag of air. There’s nothing inside the walls that’s worth anything, from a dollar standpoint. What happens then dear blogger? Do you think anyone is going to subsidize the hosting? You will be on your own that day. And you very likely won’t have any recourse, any more than my users had in 2003. I promise you I was well-intentioned, but that didn’t save the sites. Good intentions are no answer. Saying they’re not your users won’t help either. In 2003 they weren’t mine because I was no longer employed by the company. No salary. No upside. Nothing. I quit for a very good reason. So why me? It was basically an accident that the hits were coming to my server. That didn’t matter to the users. Were they right? Hard to say. But it didn’t matter.

Turning 10 is a decade old todayTen years ago today I published my first post on this site.  I wasn’t sure if this blogging thing was going to last but since then I have posted more then 11,000 times to the site and the traffic has grown quite a bit.  There hasn’t been many changes to the site.  It was first powered by Blogger, then Blogger Pro, and then back to plain Blogger again after Google purchased it.  After 8000 posts, I moved the site to WordPress.

I started to post here because Andrew Careaga wrote a book called e-vangelism back in the early days of the interweb and he published a newsletter that talked about technology and faith.  I never read the book (sorry Andrew) but I did read the newsletter.  In it he talked about Blogger and how you could use it to keep a church website updated.  That is how I discovered Blogger and the rest has been history.  When I started blogging, there was Andrew Jones, Rudy Carrasco and myself blogging about the church and theological issues.  Other than them I learned a lot from Doc Searls, AKMA, Jason Kottke, Caterina Fake, Jeneanne Sessum, and Rebecca Blood.

I am not really sure why I keep posting here.  There never was a plan behind it.  I had no ambitions to be a thought leader, create a movement, make money, or achieve fame.  What I wanted was a place to explore ideas, keep track of interesting things and later on, share things with friends.  Hopefully I have done that.

I have also made some enemies.  One city councillor continues to block me on Twitter and called me an “first class asshole” over some comments I made last summer, one prominent Christian leader threatened to sue over comments, I think it’s a contributing factor for why my dad and I haven’t talked in eight years and more than one former colleague has questioned my Christianity over my more liberal views.   Still the site has brought more joy than angst so it’s all good.

There has been a lot of friends made as well.  Too many to list but thanks for the emails, comments, tweets, and time spent together over the last decade.   Hopefully there is an interesting link or two in the future.  Of course with entire companies moving from the open web to closed Facebook, I am now quite a bit behind the times but that’s the story of my life.

The StarPhoenixNot sure what the future brings.  I am writing a weekly column now at The StarPhoenix so some of my longer (and better written pieces) will be posted there.  I’ll still be posting links, sports (including my scheme to purchase the L.A. Dodgers) and some photos as well.

Thanks to everyone who reads this rather odd collection of links, rants, and articles.  You have been the ones that have made this so much fun.

The StarPhoenix Community Bloggers

TheStarPhoenix Community BloggersThe StarPhoenix has been a part of my life since we moved to Saskatoon in 1984 from Calgary.  In fact I think it was a big reason why my mom chose Saskatoon over Moose Jaw.  She literally dreaded the idea of not having a big city paper.  It was there for me everyday growing up during it’s good times and their bad times (someone in parole say hi to Conrad Black for me) and now Mark grabs my Kindle every night and sits down and reads it before supper.  It’s the starting point of my day at work and once I am done with that, the first site I check out at night is Dave Hutton’s City Hall Notebook once I boot up my computer. Outside of breathing and eating, it’s been the longest running constant in my life.

When I was asked to put a logo and link on my blog back to The StarPhoenix and be a part of their community bloggers, I was thrilled.  While I have always rejected logos and link requests like this, it’s my paper, my hometown and my community.

Of course with The StarPhoenix being a print publication, never let me know the community bloggers section was active.  So after seeing the referrals in my log files, checking it out, reading their horrible description of my blog, grabbing a screen shot of the blogger graphic, and cropping it, we are good to go.  At least they spelled my name correctly, which is more than what CBC has ever been able to manage.

To kick this off, I should reciprocate with a link to their excellent feature, 52 Things to Love About Saskatoon, an ongoing feature about what makes Saskatoon a great place to live.  They are only eight weeks into it but I agree with the first seven and am about to check out the Park Cafe this week.

The New York Times Meets Dooce

The paper of record profiles Heather Armstrong.  Here is how it started.

She is the only blogger on the latest Forbes list of the Most Influential Women in Media, coming in at No. 26, which is 25 slots behind Oprah, but just one slot behind Tina Brown. Her site brings in an estimated $30,000 to $50,000 a month or more — and that’s not even counting the revenue from her two books, healthy speaking fees and the contracts she signed to promote Verizon and appear on HGTV. She won’t confirm her income (“We’re a privately held company and don’t reveal our financials”). But the sales rep for Federated Media, the agency that sells ads for Dooce, calls Armstrong “one of our most successful bloggers,” then notes a few beats later in our conversation that “our most successful bloggers can gross $1 million.”

By talking about poop and spit up. And stomach viruses and washing-machine repairs. And home design, and high-strung dogs, and reality television, and sewer-line disasters, and chiropractor visits. And countless other banalities of one mother’s eclectic life that, for some reason, hundreds of thousands of strangers tune in, regularly, to read.

I lost my job today. My direct boss and the human-resources representative pulled me into one of three relatively tiny conference rooms and informed me that the company no longer had any use for me. Essentially, they explained, they didn’t like what I had expressed on my Web site. I got fired because of FEB. 26, 2002

Today the sleek headquarters of Blurbodoocery Inc. — the corporate identity of Heather and Jon Armstrong’s company — is on the 1,000-square-foot third floor of their sprawling six-bedroom home on a cul-de-sac in Salt Lake City, where they have lived since June.

In one corner is the glass-walled office of their newest employee, John LaCaze, who came aboard a few months before that move, and whose job description — everything from answering e-mail to ordering lunch to making sure that time is not wasted because, after all, it is money — has earned him the nickname “Tyrant” on Heather’s blog. Next to LaCaze’s office is the studio, equipped for audio and video. In the center are Jon and Heather’s work spaces, each dominated by two enormous computer monitors and an array of cartoons and kitsch.

Next to the door of the office is etched “Heather B. Armstrong, President,” but by her desk is a nameplate that reads “Heather Hamilton.” That was who she was in February 2001 when she wrote her very first Dooce post. She was 25, with a degree in English from Brigham Young University and a job at a start-up in L.A. “In those days when you said you had a blog, people thought you had a venereal disease,” she says now.

Dooce was a nickname that grew out of an inside joke — a takeoff of “dude.” Unlike many bloggers (particularly women) whose initial goal was to update family living far away, her postings were never meant for her relatives. She wrote of the liberation she felt leaving her parents’ Mormonism behind, of sex and caffeine, of dating and work. In the summer of 2001, Armstrong’s site was receiving 58 hits a day. On a whim she e-mailed Jason Kottke, one of the earliest online aggregators (whose own site was still a hobby and had not yet become and asked him for technical advice. He linked to Dooce, and her readership leapt to 2,000 daily hits.

In Focus

In Focus with Alan Taylor

Alan Taylor, who created The Big Picture as a side project at the Boston Globe has moved to The Atlantic Monthly where he is curating a new photoblog called In Focus for them.  Regular readers of the site (and staff at work) know about my passion for The Big Picture and it’s nice to see Taylor getting rewarded for his efforts.  I am not sure if the Boston Globe realized what they had with that site and I was surprised they let him get away and basically do the same thing with another paper.

While I am on the topic of media and photos, check out what the Oregonian has done with FlickrThe Oregonian is posting all the photos that go with stories in the paper to Flickr.  Now one odd thing is that they don’t link their photos to the stories online but if they did, they could drive readers to their site and at the same time give a greater visual sense of the story with photos on Flickr that didn’t make the cut.

The (new) Hedge Society

The Hedge Society has been re-launched as a group blog.  It’s a little blog about a lot of things and I will be posting some of the fun stuff from Jordon Cooper Outfitters over there as well as some of the stuff that may or may not end up here.  I’m kind of excited about it because it’s other contributors are some of my favourite people online and I can’t wait to see their contributions.  You can also follow Hedge Society on Twitter @hedgesociety

HBR: Ten Reasons to Stop Apologizing for Your Online Life

Harvard Business Review lists ten reasons to stop trying to justify having a blog, using Twitter, and posting some photos to Flickr.

  1. When you commit to being your real self online, you discover parts of yourself you never dared to share offline.
  2. When you visualize the real person you’re about to e-mail or tweet, you bring human qualities of attention and empathy to your online communications.
    When you take the idea of online presence literally, you can experience your online disembodiment as a journey into your mind rather than out of your body.
  3. When you treat your Facebook connections as real friends instead of "friends", you stop worrying about how many you have and focus on how well you treat them.
  4. When you take your Flickr photos, YouTube videos and blog posts seriously as real art, you reclaim creative expression as your birthright.
  5. When you focus on creating real meaning with your time online, your online footprint makes a deeper impression.
  6. When you treat your online attention as a real resource, you invest your attention in the sites that reflect your values, helping those sites grow.
  7. When you spend your online time on what really matters to you, you experience your time online as an authentic reflection of your values.
  8. When you embrace online conversations as real, you imbue them with the power to change how you and others think and feel.
  9. When you talk honestly about the real joys and frustrations of the Internet, you can stop apologizing for your life online.

Your Right to Comment Ends at My Front Door

Derek Powazek has a great post on blogging and comments.

I turned off comments in the last redesign of because I needed a place online that was just for me. With comments on, when I sat down to write, I’d preemptively hear the comments I’d inevitably get. It made writing a chore, and eventually I stopped writing altogether. Turning comments off was like taking a weight off my shoulders. It freed me to write again.

His entire post is worth reading.  For me, I have gone another route.  I don’t interact a lot in the comments, not because I don’t enjoy doing it but I don’t have time to do so. has never made any cash which means I need to work for a living elsewhere as well as spend time with the boys and enriching my own life doing things I enjoy.  While I appreciate comments, I do ban personal attacks or comments that fall below my threshold of stupidity.  WordPress may not have the best commenting tools but they do a good job of letting you ban or refuse abusive commenters. 

Derek’s post is in response by this post on Daring Fireball.

Is my soapbox bigger than Joe Wilcox’s? Yes it is. But that’s fair, because I built this soapbox myself. It’s my firm belief that all websites eventually attract the attention and respect that they deserve. The hard work is in the “eventually” part.

Used to be, back in the early days of DF, that those complaining about the lack of comments simply were under the impression that a site without comments was not truly a “weblog”. (My stock answer at the time: “OK, then it’s not a weblog.”) Typically these weren’t even complaints, per se, but rather simply queries: Why not?

Now that DF has achieved a modicum of popularity, however, what I tend to get instead aren’t queries or complaints about the lack of comments, but rather demands that I add them — demands from entitled people who see that I’ve built something very nice that draws much attention, and who believe they have a right to share in it.

Exactly, I made this site and I have the right to decide to the level of interaction that is here.  If you want YouTube type commenting, go build your own site but if you are happy with the way things are here, feel free to stick around.

What’s Wrong with SCN?

SCN A couple of months ago the Saskatchewan Party announced that they were going to shut down or sell the Saskatchewan Communication Network.  I wanted to be really upset over this but I just can’t.

After almost 20 years of flipping to the SCN regularly, I have enjoyed a total of three local shows.  I watched the Big Dig, a documentary on the Saskatchewan watershed and the other day I watched a good documentary on the restoration of Convocation Hall.  I went to the SCN website and it took me an hour of searching Google, the SCN website, and the U of S website to find the link which is about to prove my point, it’s really hard to be a fan of the SCN.

I love local programming and film making but what the SCN is broadcasting almost never matches up with what SaskTel Max  is showing, the website is poor quality with a horrible search engine or a online store, and they seem to be ignoring social media (no Twitter, YouTube, Vimeo, or weblog) that I can find.  There is a website but it isn’t do anything for the network, the province, or the content creators.  Hire an intern, give them a Twitter account and a blog, develop a partnership with the National Film Board ( or the CBC ( for the backend and create a great online store where I can pay to download or purchase a DVD of what I watched.

My hope is that someone who understands modern media purchases the SCN and makes the network a lot more user friendly.  I love Saskatchewan content but they deserve a network that can present their work to the country and the world.

The worst thing that can happen is that the network shuts down but the second worst thing would be for the Saskatchewan government to fund them at subsistence funding levels they appear to be at now.  The SCN could be so much more but it needs a vision, funding, and management that can deliver a network that all of Saskatchewan wants to watch and takes Saskatchewan content to the world.

Municipal Matters get a new look

While I liked the old version of Sean Shaw’s blog, Municipal Matters, I am really liking the new look and feel to his blog on Saskatoon politics and governance.  If you get a chance, check it out along with a couple other Saskatoon civic blogs that are a lot of fun reading, even when we find ourselves on different sides of the same issue.

While on the topic of city hall, Dave Hutton’s post points out that the province could be tossing some money into Gordie Howe Bowl, something I have been saying needs to be done since I was 12.  Seriously, since I was 12 I have been telling anyone who cared that Gordie Howe Bowl has tremendous potential as an entertainment destination.  I wonder if I put up a PayPal link if we could get enough donations in to get the naming rights. If Stephen Colbert can get a urinal on the space station named after him…

City Hall Notebook

This is cool, the Star Phoenix has launched a new blog covering City Hall.  While I was adding them to the blogroll, I also added Norm Fisher to the blogroll.  Norm is a realtor but he could be a writer and is a lot of fun on Twitter as well.  At work I keep an eye on the housing market and while I used to go to CMHC for the information, I eventually bookmarked Norm Fisher’s blog as it has the information that I want to have.

Speaking of the Star Phoenix, we get a couple of copies at work so I never subscribed at home.  They phoned the other night and I said “sign us up” as Mark is at the same age I was when I started to read the paper every day.  Since we got it at home, every night he comes home, cracks open the paper and reads every word.  I keep thinking I should be getting him a pipe and a cup of brandy.