What’s happening in the Edmonton blogosphere?

Wouldn’t it be great if there was a one-stop-shop for Edmonton blogs? Where you could see a list of all the blogs and maybe even see all of the latest posts too?

It was a little over five years ago that I posted about this notion of a directory of Edmonton blogs. Here’s what I wrote at the time:

“I have started tagging blogs at del.icio.us with the tag edmontonblogs. This is really more of an “in the meantime” kind of activity, because as Pete points out, an actual directory website would be much more useful. Maybe I’ll build it one of these days.”

I finally built it.

A couple weeks ago I launched the latest release of ShareEdmonton. With the new version you can browse local blogs, see an always-updated collection of new blog posts, and you can search more than 10,000 posts written by local bloggers.

While my tagging of local blogs at delicious didn’t last long, my desire for a directory of Edmonton blogs never diminished. Over the years I collected local blogs and subscribed to them in Google Reader. That worked fairly well for me, but it didn’t help anyone else. A couple of years ago the idea of a directory came up again, and Reg, myself, and few others started looking at the problem. That project eventually fizzled, but I think it helped the Edmonton Journal launch its community blogs page, an idea championed by Karen Unland. While that page was a step in the right direction, it included a very limited number of blogs and was often broken (the latest update seems to have fixed the issues with broken or incorrect links).

There was a lot of false starts along the way, and far more challenges to overcome than I would have anticipated, but I’m very happy with the new release of ShareEdmonton. Is it a perfect, 100% complete, one-stop-shop for Edmonton blogs? Of course not. But it will help you keep up-to-date with a large number of Edmonton bloggers, and with your help it’ll get even better over time.

User Stories

For the initial release I wanted to make it easy to see the latest blog posts, and to browse recently updated blogs. Most blogs are updated relatively infrequently, and I didn’t want you to have to sift through those just to see what’s new. That’s a big part of the reason why there’s an emphasis placed on how recent something is in the UI.

Here are some of the scenarios this release addresses, expressed in the form of user stories:

  • As a user, I want a “home page” for all the blog-related functionality, so that I can remember a single URL (shareedmonton.ca/blogs).
  • As a user, I want to see the most recently updated blogs, with a title and photo (if one exists) for each blog.
  • As a user, I want to see the most recently updated blogs by tag or category (such as food).
  • As a user, I want to see the most recent blog posts, with a title, description, and photo (if one exists) for each post.
  • As a user, I want to see the most recent blog posts for a specific blog (such as mine).
  • As a user, I want to see the most recent blog posts for a specific blog tag or category (such as food). This is any post from a blog that has been categorized as a “food” blog. So if Sharon wrote a post about politics, it would show up here.
  • As a user, I want to see the most recent blog posts for a specific tag or category (such as food). This is any post tagged by the blogger as a “food” post. So if I wrote a post about food and tagged it appropriately, it would show up here.
  • As a user, I want to search all blog posts (for a query such as food).
  • As a user, I want to see all blog posts by day for the last week, with a headline and source for each.
  • As a user, I want to add a new blog to ShareEdmonton.

I come up with new user stories all the time, and I welcome any feedback and/or suggestions that you might have!

Aggregation & Curation

I followed that post back in 2007 with a list of blog posts talking about Edmonton. My aggregation & curation was fairly ad hoc back then, but now I write my Edmonton Notes every Sunday and Media Monday Edmonton every Monday. I try to include blog posts in those, but it definitely takes effort to keep on top of what everyone has written. I keep track of things I find during the week, and I do a quick scan at the end of week to find what I missed. Others post similar entries: Sharon does Food Notes, Karen does her Edmonton New Media Roundup, The Unknown Studio does the Edmonton Blog Watch, etc. These are all really useful and people love them, but they do take work.

There’s a big difference between aggregation (gathering and perhaps indexing) and curation (sorting, categorizing, analyzing, presenting). When the bloggers I mentioned above write their list posts, they’re doing both activities. My hope is that with ShareEdmonton’s new blog functionality they can focus more on the curation part, which is where they really add value. I think “show me all the latest posts from Edmonton bloggers” is a task for software, and “tell me which are important and why” is primarily a task for people. But you need the former before you can do the latter.

(I said “primarily a task for people” above because increasingly we’ll see software doing curation too! I plan to add different ways to browse blog posts to ShareEdmonton, and one example might be a list of the most commented on posts of the week. That’s an algorithmic way of sorting and presenting, which is curation.)


You know me, I love statistics. I couldn’t do this post without at least one graph! So here you go, blogs by platform currently indexed at ShareEdmonton:

Blogs by Platform

As expected, most blogs are based on WordPress. It’ll be interesting to see if this changes over time!

Add Your Blog!

There are nearly 150 blogs currently being aggregated and indexed at ShareEdmonton, but I know that’s just the tip of the iceberg. I’ll continue adding blogs myself, but you can help by submitting your own blog or someone else’s here.

Questionmark enters the blogosphere

I spend most of my time at Questionmark writing code, managing projects, and performing all the other tasks that make sense for a software developer. That doesn’t stop me from thinking about how the company could take advantage of social media though! Ever since I started with the company, I’ve been looking forward to the launch of an official blog. On Tuesday, it finally happened! Introducing Getting Results – The Questionmark Blog:

Stay connected with us and with the wider testing and assessment community right here. Ask questions, post comments and take the opportunity to spark discussions.

Together, let’s explore how best to create, deliver and report on assessments that help individuals and organizations work more effectively. And let’s have some fun in the process!

I can’t take credit for getting the blog setup – our marketing team did a great job at that. I’d like to think that I helped get the idea going, however. And I’ve done my best in the last few weeks to act as an “in-house expert” of sorts, offering advice and suggestions on what to consider.

I look forward to watching the blog evolve. One of my local colleagues, Greg Pope, has already posted an entry on psychometrics! In it, he mentions the Questionmark Users Conference, coming up on April 5th in Memphis. I’m sure there will be a number of great posts that come out of that event.

I should also mention that our CEO, Eric Shepherd, has become quite a champion for blogging! He recently started his own blog, which I encourage you to check out as well.

And yes, I’m already pushing the next big thing…watch for that in the next few weeks!

Blog posts have staying power

Fascinating post over at TechCrunch today by Brian Solis. He talks about the declining authority of blogs and attributes the loss to the “statusphere” – essentially micromedia services like Twitter and FriendFeed. This is the key passage:

Links from blogs are no longer the only measurable game in town. Potentially valuable linkbacks are increasingly shared in micro communities and social networks such as Twitter, Facebook, and FriendFeed and they are detouring attention and time away from formal blog responses.

Ignoring the fact that he talks about Technorati a lot (I never use it anymore), I think Brian makes a good point. Even just looking at my own activities, I definitely respond less to other blog posts using my own blog than I used to. Instead, I tweet about them. Actually, I would say Twitter is affecting my social bookmarking activities too! I save things in Delicious far less frequently now, choosing instead to tweet them.

What does this mean for bloggers? Mainly that it’s more difficult to track the discussion about a blog post. Brian mentions a number of services in his post that you can use, but they’re not yet what I would call foolproof. They are getting better though.

This trend toward micro-responses doesn’t make blogs any less important, however. Probably the opposite, actually. I could tweet all day about a topic, but my tweets would be largely lost the next day. Blog posts have staying power. That’s probably why I still get more traffic from Google than from Twitter.

Anyway, give Brian’s post a read.

Blogging killed by Twitter? I don’t think so

I’ll give Paul Boutin credit for writing some seriously good link bait, but that’s all his recent essay for Wired is worth. Paul argues that we don’t need blogs anymore thanks to Twitter (and for good measure he mentions Facebook and Flickr too). He advises anyone thinking about starting a blog to think twice, and anyone who already writes one to pull the plug:

The blogosphere, once a freshwater oasis of folksy self-expression and clever thought, has been flooded by a tsunami of paid bilge. Cut-rate journalists and underground marketing campaigns now drown out the authentic voices of amateur wordsmiths. It’s almost impossible to get noticed, except by hecklers. And why bother? The time it takes to craft sharp, witty blog prose is better spent expressing yourself on Flickr, Facebook, or Twitter.

I guess Paul is a “glass-half-empty” kind of guy.

Of course it’s difficult to get noticed in the blogosphere – there are so many blogs out there! Of course something you write is going to attract comment trolls – you can’t please everyone! Of course blogging takes more time and effort than Twitter – but that’s because you’re writing so much more!

But none of that is reason enough to give up on blogging.

Obviously I’m a big fan of Twitter, and I do spend quite a lot of time posting there, but I don’t think I could replace my blog with it. I find the two are complementary – quick comments and updates go on Twitter, longer thoughts go on my blog. That system seems to work well for me.

Same goes for the consumption side of things. Tweets are searchable instantly, true, but good luck following a thread. Short conversations between a couple of people are okay, but anything more and you’ve got problems. Blogs don’t have this problem of course, thanks to comments and trackbacks. And let’s be honest, Google indexes blogs fairly quickly anyway.

Paul says:

Twitter — which limits each text-only post to 140 characters — is to 2008 what the blogosphere was to 2004.

I’d agree with that. Twitter has lots of buzz right now, that’s undeniable. Just as the election in 2004 helped blogs increase in popularity, the current election is giving a boost to Twitter. What I don’t agree with is the notion that Twitter’s success sounds the death knell for blogs.

I think blogs remain incredibly valuable and will be with us for a long time to come.

Analyzing my posting habits

I have been blogging for about three and half years now, and lately I’ve been wondering about my posting habits. Do I tend to post at a certain time of day? How about a certain day of the week? I certainly don’t try to – I just post when I have something to share.

I ran the numbers tonight, and here’s what I found (click on a graph to enlarge). The percentage on the Y-axis means “percentage of my posts”. For days of the week:

Looks like my post frequency drops off on the weekend, but not as much as I thought it might. For hours of the day:

Looks like I am definitely a late-afternoon/evening blogger! This is quite a bit different than the blogosphere as a whole.

When I do these numbers again, I’ll have to figure out how many posts are made on days where I post more than once. I’d also like to find out what the average number of words/characters per post is, but that calculation is a little more involved.

Kind of a neat exercise, I have to say. It’ll be interesting to see how these statistics change in another three and a half years!

We call it April Fools DAY for a reason!

We don’t call it April Fool’s Week. We don’t call it April Fool’s Month. I don’t know how we can make it any clearer, but April Fool’s Day is just one single day people! Here’s what Wikipedia says:

April Fools’ Day or All Fools’ Day, though not a holiday in its own right, is a notable day celebrated in many countries on April 1.

So why then, are pranks becoming so common post-April 1st? Last week the hoax was that a podcaster was taking over for Imus on CBS. This week the hoax is having a trademark on the term “podcast” in Canada. Who knows what we’ll see next week. I’m sure there are others I haven’t come across too.

What’s the point of posting a hoax more than two weeks late? It does nothing but cause confusion, however temporary it may be. I suspect the people posting these late pranks are simply trolling for traffic. And in that respect, I guess it works. However, I think “scanning” is becoming more and more common as a result of the thousands of posts and articles created each day, so it’s becoming easier to fall for a hoax.

This comment from “Se7en” on Scoble’s post is worth thinking about:

Sigh, and bloggers wonder why they aren’t considered credible.

I’m all for some humor once in a while, and I believe you need to read things critically no matter what date is on the calendar. That said, I think April Fool’s Day pranks post April 1st just plain suck. Please don’t post them.

O'Reilly's Code of Conduct – Stupid!

Yesterday, Tim O’Reilly posted a blogging code of conduct. It was created as a result of the Kathy Sierra thing. Quite a few people think it’s a good idea, other’s don’t. Mike Arrington is part of the latter group:

The code of conduct and the mass of bloggers lining up behind it scares me a lot more than the hate comments and death threats I’ve received in the past. I won’t support it.

Mike is absolutely, unequivocally, 100%, DEAD ON.

The blogosphere doesn’t need a code of conduct. What a stupid idea.

On the Kathy Sierra thing

Recently there was a big furor in the blogosphere about some hate mail that Kathy Sierra received. She cancelled a scheduled conference appearance as a result. Obviously it’s sad and disappointing when anyone receives hate mail, but why is Kathy’s case any different? I’m pretty sure that people receive hate mail all the time (and lots of comments on blogs around the web this week seem to confirm that).

I don’t often agree with Dave Winer, but I do today:

People aren’t going to like this, but it’s true — when a woman asks for a riot she gets one, and almost no one comes to the defense of a man who is attacked. Who’s more vulnerable? Well, honestly, it’s not always a woman.

Those who provided the riot Ms Sierra asked for, unknowingly, I’m sure, attacked at least one person whose health is pretty fragile. I wonder how y’all feel now that you know that. I wonder how you’d feel if that person died in the midst of the shitstorm. Someday if we don’t change the herd mentality of the tech blogosphere, that is likely to happen. I don’t want to be part of the herd on that day, that’s why I won’t join herds.

Hundreds of people (perhaps thousands) have posted about Kathy’s situation and how they think it is awful. How many of them actually mean it? I don’t know, but I think there’s a pretty large echo in here. Especially among the so-called A-listers this week, it definitely seemed to me that speaking out against the hate mail was simply the “in thing” to do.

I never intended to post anything about this topic. I certainly wasn’t about to follow Robert Scoble’s lead and stop blogging for a week. I don’t think Kathy’s case deserves any special treatment. I didn’t want to contribute to the useless echo. In the end I decided to post this simply for my own future reflection.

Here’s some related stuff if you want to find out more:

Are bloggers talking about Edmonton?

Post ImageIn my last post I was sort of wondering who Edmonton bloggers are and what they are talking about, but perhaps just as interesting is what bloggers are saying about Edmonton. If you do a quick search for Edmonton at any of the many blog search engines, you’ll find a large number of results. Here are some interesting ones I picked out:

And of course there’s a ton of discussion about the Smyth trade.

So I guess the answer is yes! Bloggers are talking about Edmonton.

Edmonton Bloggers

Post ImageThis is something I have been thinking about for a while. I got an email this week from Pete Quily, asking if Edmonton had anything like the kind of directory he is looking for in Vancouver. Here’s what he wants:

With the large number of techies/bloggers/web workers/geeks/wired folk/internet businesses/pick your preferred word in the Vancouver area, why isn’t there a comprehensive directory of such people and organizations/nonprofits/businesses?

I want that for Edmonton too!

So just like I have been doing with edmontontech, I have started tagging blogs at del.icio.us with the tag edmontonblogs. This is really more of an “in the meantime” kind of activity, because as Pete points out, an actual directory website would be much more useful. Maybe I’ll build it one of these days.

I actually have an excellent domain name for it – blogosphere.ca. As you can see, we haven’t touched it since 2004. It probably wouldn’t be too hard to throw together some kind of directory with OPML and feeds broken down by city. BlogsCanada had potential, but it seems to have died. Another similar site is the Canadian Tech Mob, but it’s tech only, and nearly impossible to navigate (seriously didn’t webrings die in 1999?).

Okay I better go before I start writing code. I’m off to Calgary in the morning for a meeting!

Read: Pete Quily