May 1, 2007

Video: how to use RSS

Here goes, beating the same drum again. If you aren't using RSS already, you really need to.

I've used RSS for 3 years and its totally changed the way I've interacted online. Here's an entry I did back in 2004 (my thoughts / understanding of has changed since then). I still find it difficult to comprehend that people who aren't using RSS in 2007. However, there's many people out there who still don't know, and I've frequently encountered the frustration of having to explain.

If you still don't have a clue what RSS is, I would suggest you watch this video (yes, its subtitled):

When you've watched it, do something about it. There's only one way to really get RSS, and that is to actually try it out and give it say a month's trial.

As for people who have websites (banging on the same drum again), if your website doesn't support a RSS feed I really am not interested in what you have to say and I'm not going back. This is the same for many people, and to this end I would suggest that anyone who has a website addresses this.

Which brings me onto the next point, not enough website designers in Deaf circles within the UK know about RSS and incorporate them into web design. I've made this point before, and I just get, 'the designer doesn't know how', or 'the designer says not enough people use RSS'. Absolute rubbish! Try something like FeedFire.

Video link via Grant W Laird Jr

April 17, 2007

An example of how deafread doesn't cater for an international audience

I posted about this John Low and James Strachan resigning over at Grumpy Old Deafies. This is major breaking news in the UK if not internationally (for those of you who care about deaf organisation politics). Not all of it is currently to be found online elsewhere. That said, I don't even care anymore. My reaction was along the lines of, indifference.

Anyhow, this comes from the biggest deaf organisation in the UK, where there is so much unrest towards. It has been the subject of a book, the focus of a large number of demos, and much scandal in recent years. This story has rumblings in the mainstream press too.

What did do with it? Stick it in Deafread Extra! Apparently its not newsworthy enough, possibly contravenes some rule or perhaps international issues are not understood by the moderators enough. Or perhaps its an example of how to deflate the rnid's ego, as theirs is way too big. :-)

Seriously though, this is not the first time this has happened, I've posted really important information from the UK before now, and its not even seen the light of day. For this reason alone, I cannot rely on to give me the "Best of Blogs", and only use it for a USA perspective.

Moderators solely based in the USA cannot determine nor judge international content, and how (for the other good it does) fails on so many levels outside the States.

March 28, 2007, did you ask permission?

This website design is a spitting image of this template.

Could I ask if permission was granted from Jay Koster to remove the credit at the bottom? I'm told the guy who designed it is about 20 years old, and would hate to know if people were ripping others off, especially since this has been approached as a business. Not trying to pick a fight and would love to be corrected. Am just concerned re the interests of respect and transparency.

March 11, 2007

Blogging and conversation

On the subject of social software, I really like Deaf UK Technology* right now. Its small enough to have a kind of community feel about it, tech focused you still get to know people a bit, and its a way of keeping in touch. The discussion tends to be product related, thus I can lose interest a bit. Perhaps one day the boundaries might be pushed a bit, and recognition of how software is used in community building. Deafies in the UK aren't alien to this concept, its just not acknowledged enough.

Which brings me onto my next point, why aren't more UKers blogging? Blogging is supposed to be about about conversation, which a mailing list could be described to an extent. However, blogging creates a sense of ownership, and pushes thoughts into the mainstream. Mailing lists can be difficult to navigate thoughts from individual users. Why would you want to do this? Simply to get to know someone, and through this process, you might even begin to trust them. Taking thoughts and discussion outside of a mailing list and pushing this into the public arena gets more exposure to issues. A mailing list by comparison (although can be public) does this extremely poorly, and there's always an element of control by an over zealous power centric moderator.

Whilst individuality is important, as a blogging community we need to start joining up and acknowledging each other a bit more. Its all part of conversation.

On the point of conversation, I was talking to Rob last night, who was complaining about the lack of comments. This in part had something to with new posts being alerted to people you know who read your missive on IM. Instead of commenting, people will then reply direct on IM. I get this too. However, it does not generate interaction, and blogs aren't supposed to be places where you are passive receivers of information: read then go away.

There's a bit of a comment whore in all of us, I suppose it massages the ego a bit: someone out there is paying attention, and what you have to say is remotely interesting. However, it goes well beyond this. Blogging is conversation, just in another form, and without conversation or indeed interaction then what's the point? Its not very Web 2.0.

* Disclaimer: I'm a "moderator" of DUKT, but try and treat it as a passive admin role.

December 1, 2006

Power of blogging: Part 2

thresherdiscount.jpgYesterday I typed a post about the power of blogging, specifically mentioning the Thresher discount coupon, from this blog.

Watching BBC One o' clock news, this item was featured, and it mentioned that 800,000 downloads had taken place from Stormhoek alone, plus the pdf was being e mailed. Instead of focusing on the power of blogging, the story focused on Thresher being taken aback by demand, and said that it was still going to honour the discount. It then went onto talk about mark up, and Thresher could still make a profit from this. Which makes you question how much wine is begin marked up in the first place.

Valid questions, its a shame more focus wasn't given to how marketing has taken place by blogging alone. Perhaps, the mainstream media feels threatened, and needs to maintain its status quo, even if the BBC does not depend on advertising.

November 30, 2006

Power of blogging: Part 1

thresherdiscount.jpgLast night I e mailed some friends about the Thresher 40% discount on all wine and champagne, from 30 November until 10 December. Want the discount voucher? You can find it here, with more information here.

The encouraging of folks to go and get merry this festive season, is a sideline here. I want to use it to illustrate the power of blogs. When I mailed that voucher, immediately I got asked how did I pick it up? The answer through blog reading: I ended up at Stormhoek via two other blogs.

This offer not being promoted anywhere, outside blogosphere, you won't find the promotion in stores, neither will you find it advertised elsewhere outside blogs. However, a week later (from when this offer first hit blogosphere) discount e mails and the mainstream is picking up on it, including trade press. Rumour has it that the Thresher website crashed 2 days ago, with so many logging into its store finder. (In fact the website is down right this minute: I wonder why?)

The benefits to Thresher, blogs are talking about them. Drip, drip marketing and everywhere. Bloggers respond to such marketing, and a market away from sticking an advert on TV or newspapers (with a dwindling readership). Furthermore, its not costing Thresher anything to get people to talk about them, this lack of advertising overhead can be used for a bigger discount. Furthermore Thresher is probably tapping into a market that would be more likely to buy from discounted online stores, say Virgin Wines, whilst ensuring those who are more likely to frequent their store, on the high street, pay the full whack.

This is one example, more examples to follow soon. In the meantime, go and find your local Threshers, open a bottle and get blogging.

January 14, 2006 isn't a forum

From watching some of the posts aggregated on is that people cannot move away from a forum mentality. Perhaps it is the focus of aggregated content that is causing this? It seems to happen less with other aggregated sites, and perhaps this is related to a lack of perceived history, and different demographics?

My perception of blogging is that people craft their own blogs, and the content that goes with it. Perhaps trackbacks between blogs happen, where there is an interest in content, or to challenge a view. However, blogs move on from this, and topics tend to be varied, with individuals neuturing their own blog, into a quality that they become proud of.

Instead, I feel as if I'm observing the treatment yet another forum, and questions fill my head as to how to move away from this. And yes, we need more quality content. Blogging to date, we've seen plenty of personal sites, and there is a definite role for this, but what about the journalistic commentary? There is so much scope for this.

January 2, 2006 launched

We've finally done it, was launched today. For the past 5 days I've done nothing but work on this site, even foregoing new year's eve and more importantly sleep.

We hope 2006 becomes the year where Deaf people blog, and start to take responsibility for their own publishing, content and more importantly their own views.

Two Press Releases went out, one aimed at Deaf people and the other aimed at the mainstream.

Please feel free to pass these press releases onto your contacts.

December 20, 2005

Growth of blogs

Forbes has predicted blog growth:


Number of blogs worldwide in 2005:
• 22 million

Number of blogs worldwide in 2010:
• Approaching 1 billion, spurred by Flickr and other new blog uses.

Highlights the need for current projects, and almost takes me back to Deaf UK in 1998.

November 3, 2005

Decentralisation of Deaf cyberspace

In 1998, Deaf UK was set up as an e mailing list. With 7 years of history, it has made its mark on how Deaf people use the internet. However, its foundations lie within the early use of the net, and how Deaf people defined themselves online. For the first time, Deaf people had a space, ableit through the medium of English, which broke down geographical and communication barriers. For the first time Deaf people were taking advantage of a multi user space, to exchange and debate ideas in near real time without the constraints of organisations. Deaf UK started to be recognised via organisations, and within academic circles.

Since this time, the usage of the net has evolved, and so has Deaf UK.

The typical traits of Deaf UK can be illustrated graphically:


The red circle being the group, with various arrows of differing degrees of intensity inputting into this environment. The input is largely dependent on many factors including: dominance of individual personalities, views of the person and compatibility of the purpose of the group. The half circle arrow is meant to represent debate going around in circles some of the time.

Where people do not fit in, this causes friction, and debate tends to dominate a list. A possible collapse of the group, due to poor moderation, or personalities clashing. There can also be disenchantment of users, with regard to moderating styles causing a vote with the feet.

Within recent times, as more people wish to create sub-identies away from a main group, there has been a proliferation of forums and groups online, with friction around rules and personalities this has often led to a high rate of collapse.

How people manage their identity online has evolved, and there are traits whereby users wish to assert more control over their identity, ability to speak out over an issue without moderation. Cyberspace is moving towards Web 2.0, where micro content becomes the norm. To date, central websites have exsisted, with ordinary users having little control over their content, and content they wish to view. To this end, the principle of decentralisation needs to take place. This is the move away from power centre bases towards individuals creating and managing their own content, and allowing enough space for individuality without a big bang collapsing in on itself.

One of the problems around a central space is people do not always take responsibility for their content, due to no sense of pride, and ownership. This lack of responsibility, and own space does not utilise the diversity of the community, and contribution to what and who Deaf people are.

To address this, the diagram below is an illustration of how blogging could work within the Deaf community:


Each circle represents a blog, none of them uniform as they represent very different personalities and individualism. The content could be varied, as shown by some pictorial representation on each of these circles. Each blog creates a space whereby each person takes responsibility for building their own virtual property, and maintaining this. With responsibility comes quality, and with quality we start to move fowards with a grass root movement, away from centralisation of deaf organisations. Blogs could consist of vlog posts, with the primary language as BSL.

However, each blog cannot exist well within a vacuum, and to this end, there needs to be some kind of communication between blogs, represented by the arrows as an example how this might happen. Within blogging circles this is usually done via trackbacks, commenting, links, and also facilitation of a network through a central aggregator. Blogs which do not contain quality content would have weaker links, than those do. However, the varying degrees and interest of content can run alongside a network. Note, connection between blogs does not follow a perfect symmetry and will be dependent on a number of factors.

It is this decentralisation, and how to network these, I would like to work on and encourage within coming months. In the meantime, I hope that you feel inspired to go and set up your own space.