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Google Experts

26 November, 2003 4:45 PM

A decade or two ago it could take years of hard work, research, building up of credibility, networking and a bit of luck to rise to the top of your field as an 'expert'. Things are changing.

This month I became an expert in two completely different fields by simply writing a few hundred words on a couple of topics and being clever about how I packaged them.

The topics I'm now an 'expert' on do not really matter in the scheme of things, in fact they are quite unimportant, however it has got me really wondering.

Why am I an expert? Is it because of my wealth of knowledge and years of experience? No. Is it because I am respected in the field and have a proven track record in research and writing about the topics at hand? No.

It is none of these things at all - I am an expert because Google says that I am. Not only that, but it is sending literally thousands of people over to this blog so that they can benefit from my 'expert' opinion.

The more I think about this the more freaked out I am. Let me share why.

One of the things that I became an 'expert in' is The Matrix. A while back I posted a list of links talking about the Matrix from a Religions perspective. I figured it might be helpful for some of us 'spiritual' types as we think about the movie.

A few others linked to it and it climbed the rankings in Google until the day before the Matrix Revolutions was released it was the number one ranking for a number of search terms. The day of the movies release I checked my blog stats to find I'd had a record number of hits. Suddenly I was receiving comments and emails from Matrix diehards asking me questions, sending me 3000 word essays for my critique and asking me if I speak at conferences on the topic. Matrix fan sites were linking to my post and critiquing it, one person even wrote an email to me today asking me if I was considering making a fourth film in the series!

Google made me a 'Matrix Revolutions Expert'. The disturbing thing is that weeks later I'm yet to see the movie.

I chuckle a little about this, but it also raises some questions for me. How many other such 'experts' are out there? Is there (or should there be) a way of filtering out the 'Google experts' and finding the real ones?

What are you a Google Expert in?

Comments Closed

25 November, 2003 4:10 PM

I just did something I didn't think I'd ever have to do - I closed down/disabled comments on a couple of posts on this blog. Things were getting out of hand. Firstly people were getting rather aggressive to one another and the subjects of my posts and secondly the vast volume of comments was beginning to take a toll on the amount of bandwidth this blog is eating up. I think I'm going to have to upgrade my hosting package as we're likely to exceed what I'm allowed this month. Sorry to those who were genuinely and positively commenting on those threads, feel free to continue the conversation with me via email.

Awards

21 November, 2003 9:10 PM

Thanks to Ganns from Super Blessed for my first ever blog award in the category of Most Enjoyable Male Christian Blog. Thanks Ganns for your kind words - thanks to the academy....sorry blogosphere.... for your votes - thanks to my parents who were responsible for making me a Male and therefore not up against Sue and Irene in the female category - and thank you to whoever invented this blogging thing in the first place - its a real hoot and I'm enjoying the journey immensely.

Blog Wiki

17 November, 2003 3:48 PM

Richard Hall has started a Blog Wiki. No its nothing to do with Wicca....its a Wiki!

What's a Wiki? I'll let Richard describe it:

A Wiki is a collaboratively-edited website which many people also view as an anarchistic publishing tool. The distinguishing feature of wikis is that they typically allow really all users to edit any page, with full freedom to edit,change and delete the work of previous authors.

This Wiki is dedicated to discussing the topic of blogging - so check it out and contribute.

Blogging Course

16 November, 2003 10:29 AM

The University of Wisconsin is running a Course on Blogging next year. Check out the open source syllabus and add your own thoughts. There are some great links there already.

Pro SPAM

15 November, 2003 8:52 AM

Spam gets a lot of attention. Not a day goes by when I don't read a blog entry complaining about it or announcing some new way to stop those unwanted messages ending up in our Inbox or blog comments. Everyone is ANTI SPAM - me included.

However today I got to wondering what life would be like if I was PRO SPAM? If instead of filtering out and deleting those annoying emails I actually followed their recommendations what would my life be like?

In looking at the last two days emails I've begun to get a picture of the answer to that question.

Finances
I would be RICH! Firstly if I had any debt - my friendly 'Christian Debt Relief Company' would help me out. Once that is sorted I'd have no end of ways of making millions of dollars in 'no risk investments'. Share trading online could make me millions, so could learning the skill of illustration for Children's Books for which I would enroll in a course for.

I could also invest my money in timeshare in Hawaii, buy real estate online, share in a $500,000 giveaway at an online casino or I could sell fossils in my own online auction business.

Of course investing is not the easiest way to make money because today i received an email from a nice Nigerian Barrister (who was recently converted by Benny Hinn) who has $10,000,000.00 (US) to donate to a Christian Ministry willing to give him all their contact and banking details. Strangely enough I got almost a word for word email from a very nice Kuwaiti woman yesterday.

Oh and of course if I sent a kind gentleman $25 I would soon have thousands of other people sending me $25 from all over the world also - its guaranteed to earn me $71,000 in just five years.

Possessions Not only would I be rich but I'd be able to get my hands on some bargains. I would have a life time's supply of Viagra, diet pills and other miscellaneous pharmaceutical supplies.

I'd own a brand new laptop (with 1995 specifications), I would have free cable television I would be buying Mini Remote Control Cars & Boats for all my family and friends for Christmas, I would own a brand new Transcendent and funk-filled Zen Bhuddist CD and I would have a great collection of Hustler magazines including all the back issues I don't already have in my collection.

Lifestyle
My life would be hassle free and exciting! What an amazing array of experiences and services spam offers. One of the biggest changes in my life would be that I would have a three foot long penis! (after the 12 or so procedures I'd have to follow) Not only that but my orgasms would be enhanced and my Libido would be elevated.

I'd have no more spam (the irony), I would be on a new dietguaranteed to make me loose weight, my children would be protected from bad language sex and violence on TV, my car's fuel economy would be boosted by 27% and I would have some very reasonably priced toner for my printer.

I'd have a brand new 'Christian T-shirt' and could win $1000 for my youth group, I could get a Bachelor degree, Masters or PhD without attending any classes or doing any exams, I would be in a 'prayer relationship' with a Kenyan man who will only charge me $100US for the privilege and I could get my colon cleaned.

Lastly I would be friends with some very nice young ladies including Candy, Bindy, Sandy, Randy, Lindy, Barbie, Shelly and Matilda who are all keen for me to have a look at some of their photos. Must be some holiday snaps.

All in all my life would be so great if I was Pro Spam. Come to think of it I'm not sure why anyone would be Anti Spam!?

Help Bene Blog On

14 November, 2003 3:07 PM

Can I encourage those of you who read Bene Decition Blogs On to consider heading over and making a donation to keep Bene's blog alive.

I personally have come to call Bene a mate over the past 11 months and appreciate the vast variety of useful information that is presented there.

Bene has faithfully served the Godblog community for a long time now and deserves our support. If you can afford to give a few dollars I'm sure it will be greatly appreciated.

Wanted: Blog Translators

12 November, 2003 9:15 PM

The past few weeks I've had a lot of new and interesting blog referrals. Of particular interest are some of the non english blogging blogs. Most of them I can get a feel for what they're blogging about because of the posts they link to - but the specifics are fuzzy. Can anyone translate them for me?

Die Content Schmiede || Handakte WebLAW Blog || Der Schockwellenreiter || CNET Japan - Lessig Blog || MediaTic || CNBlog:Blog On Blog || Generation neXt || Kyyninen Paska

Update: And another - eCuanderno || Metablog

Blogging - The New Voyeurism?

11 November, 2003 4:59 PM

Every morning over coffee I take a peak into the lives of 100 or so total strangers. The windows that I peep through are their blogs. Through them I see all kinds of things.

Most of these strangers only let me glimpse a small part of their life. For some they share their political views, others talk about work, faith, relationships, culture or technology.

Others on the other hand bare all! Its like they are doing a nudie run from the shower to the bedroom as I peep through their window.

Just this morning in the time it took to drink a coffee I read one person tell of the heart break of their marriage breaking down, another shared the more intimate details of last nights date a third shared of a faith crisis and another posted a digital photo of a rash that had been bothering them in hope of an online diagnosis.

Sometimes I wonder what makes people share such intimate details about their lives - I worry about the impact it might have to share such personal details in such a public way.

Then other times, like this morning, I wonder what makes people (me to be more specific) want to read about the marital problems, sex lives, questioning faith and rashes of complete strangers? What does that say about my own sanity? Why do I do it? What impact might it have upon me?

Perhaps the thing that worries me most is that I'm becoming numb to it all. Despite the nature of what I read this morning I barely raised an eyebrow.

Every day we're bombarded by people baring their all. Blogging is just part of the mix of reality TV, celebrity expos�s and live news being beamed into our living-rooms round the clock. We have become a voyeuristic society - we clamor for the inside word, to see the real lives of others, yet at the same time are becoming more and more numb to it all.

In our obsession to see into the lives of others do we somehow run the risk of disengaging from our own? Share your thoughts in comments.

Blog Ads

11 November, 2003 3:20 PM

Do you want to advertise your blog, business, favorite charity...or perhaps to proclaim your undying love for that special someone....anything at all - on this blog?

You might have noticed I've added a 'Living Room Sponsors' table in my side bar. This is one way you can support my work with Living Room and help to keep this blog on the air at the same time.

If you'd like to place a small advertisement just click on the Sponsor the Living Room here link and you'll be taken to a page where you can place your advertisement. There is the facility to upload a small logo, text and a link to whatever site you choose. (I reserve the right to refuse ads that are not appropriate of course).

You have the option to advertise for anywhere from 1 week to 1 year. I recommend you choose a month at the most to start with to see how it goes. The costs vary depending upon how long you want to advertise but in comparison to what others are charging for ads on their blogs my charges are virtually nothing!

On the first ad to my other blog Visually Speaking there is a click through rate of around 2 to 3% (ie today 25 people were referred over there through the ad). This will depend upon how enticing your ad is of course.

Anyway, I thought this might be fun and give those who've been asking a way to support what I'm doing here - feel free to have a go or to ignore it.

Microsoft Blogging

4 November, 2003 10:48 PM

Microsoft is entering into the blogging fray with the blog tool Wallop which it is currently beta testing. (currently invitation only - to be released mid 2004) This is sure to have an impact on the world of blogging.

Another Blog Study

31 October, 2003 8:45 AM

Another blog study. It samples only 400 English written blogs, interesting results.

The starting point was a this hypothesis based on the media and observing A-list blogs:

1. Blog content tends to be external to the author ie not personal.
2. Blog authors are typically well-educated adult males
3. Blogs are interactive, attracting multiple comments
4. Blogs are heavily interlinked

They found that each of the above was largely untrue. Their findings include the following:

Gender
- 54 % written by males
- Gender of blog author varies according to blog content - eg Personal Journals tend to be written by females (60%) while Filters, Knowledge-logs etc were more likely to be written by males (85%).

Age
- 59% written by people over 20 years old (many adult bloggers appear to be in their early 20's)
- Age of blog author varies according to blog content - eg Personal journals are more likely to be written by teens (60%) while Filters and knowledge-logs are almost always written by Adults (95%).

Comments
- 43% allowed comments
- Mean number of comments: .3. ie most entries receive no comments.

Links
- 69.5% of blogs link to external sites (excluding badges/buttons). ie this means 30% have no external links!
- 8.2% of entries link to news items
- 6.7% of entries link to other blogs
- Therefore most entries contain no links.

Other
- 70% are personal journals
- 70% written within the USA
- 91% are single author blogs

I gleaned these stats from here and here. The results are also here in the form of a powerpoint.

Godblog Stats

30 October, 2003 8:53 AM

Bene Diction has been going nuts looking at 'GodBlogs'. The stats are quite interesting and confirm some of the suspicions that a number of us have voiced previously.

1. 'Godblogs' are more often written by males than females. At JesusJournal 75% of the individual non anonamous blogs listed are written by males. (that includes both live and dead links). This is very similar to my own mini survey of 600 blogs at B4G.

This piece of information on its own is not overly amazing until you compare it with the stats of the 'blogosphere' in general which seems to indicate that in the 'real world' of blogging the split between genders is pretty even if not slightly in favor of females.

2. God Blogs are more often written by people from the US. Over 90% of blogs surveyed were from the US.

Of course these pieces of information are just statistics. They will probably be used by some to support arguments or make points about who is dominating who etc.

For me I guess they are just handy pieces of information to keep in the back of my mind as I surf the blogosphere. Its good to consider who you are listening to in life and to seek to allow the information you ingest to be balanced. I personally read a lot of male American bloggers, but information like this also challenges me to continue to find and interact with bloggers from other perspectives.

Thanks Bene for the stats - looking forward to the next installment.

Why Do I Read the Blogs I Read?

28 October, 2003 4:42 PM

Brian got me thinking a little by asking the question:

'Why Do I Read the Blogs I Read?'

Its a question worth asking - both as a blog reader and writer. I left my comments there - leave yours too.

Serenity Now!

27 October, 2003 4:56 PM

Can I suggest you check out this excellent brand new blog called Serenity Dawn. It is written by Michelle who has been commenting on my blog for a while now. She describes herself as a:

South African single mom
Christian worship musician
Day-dreamer
Seeker of many things on a long journey

I've only been in conversation with her a couple of weeks but I suspect there will be some good stuff coming out of her blog. Head over and make her feel welcome to the neighborhood.

Blog Roll Poll

26 October, 2003 12:22 PM

In the past month a number of people have mentioned to me (via email, msn and in person) that one of the things that annoys them about my blog is that the blog roll links open in a new window. One has refrains from reading my blog because of it!

I'd not considered that this might irritate some. I originally set it up that way because I personally found it easier to surf my blog roll that way. Since I've started using tabbed browsing with Safari it doesn't whether I have it or not personally.

Interested in what others think about it? Does it annoy you?

Lets take a poll in comments - should I change it or keep it - or don't you care? Feel free to be brutally honest - I'd rather know if people are annoyed by something in my blog than to find out later - or never know.

The decision is in your hands.

Thank you

25 October, 2003 4:01 PM

This is just a quick post to say thanks to those sites that generously linked to my post on length of stay at blogs. Thanks a lot.

Where are the Blog Designers?

23 October, 2003 4:23 PM

Over the past week I've had a number of people ask me how to start a blog.

One of the frustrations that those starting blogs face is how to get it looking right. Most blog services come with a limited number of free templates (just surf blogs for 15 minutes and you'll see most of them) but to get something that looks unique means you have to know some html and have some web design skills. When I started I had neither - today I know enough to know I know nothing.

As a result I've ended up with a blog that has evolved over the past year. Slowly I've added to it bit by bit. My coding is messy. I'm sure it could load a lot faster if I knew how to streamline it. When I look at my templates I'm sure they are held together with 'virtual string and chewing gum'. I'm too scared to change it now, although it desperately needs updating, for fear of ruining it all.

There are a few sites out there that help people design their own templates - but the more I search the more I realize just how few options there are for the novice blogger. There is a big opportunity for some blog designers to provide some services for the blogger just starting out.

If I knew what I now know when I first started this blog I'd get it designed professionally. The outlay of a couple of hundred dollars would have been well worth it.

But where are the blog designers? I've seen a few around - one of the best is Cre8d Design. She's a specialist blog designer who runs her own blog and knows what she's doing - but I haven't seen too many others.

Perseus estimates there are 4.2 million blogs in existence already and that by the end of next year there will be over 10.2 million - surely the market is big enough for people to be coming up with some affordable yet flexible designs for the novice.

Is blog design something that will remain a 'do it yourself' domain? Is it not profitable enough to specialize in? Where are the blog designers?

The 96 second window of opportunity

23 October, 2003 10:30 AM

We've established that the average Joe spends about 96 seconds at your blog. Its not long in the scheme of things - but when you think about it its actually a real opportunity.

- The average TV commercial is 15-30 seconds long. (you could fit four in that time!)
- You can learn the Tango in 60 seconds
- You can