Monthly Archives: November 2009

Micro-blogging vs Mega-blogging

I don’t think “mega-blogging” is actually a thing, I just made it up to make the title sound more dramatic. But if mega-blogging were a thing, you would do it with WordPress. Micro-blogging is a thing, and a lot of people do it with Twitter.

TechCrunch drops in this fray with an article comparing the comScore numbers of WordPress.com and Twitter.com, which show an accelerating growth for WP.com and flattening for Twitter. I’ll talk about the data itself later, but first wanted to point out a point many overlook when trying to create a battle between the mediums.

New forms of social media, including micro-blogging, are complementary to blogging.

One of the many uses of Twitter is to link to and promote your blog posts. (And other people’s blog posts.) As we grow, so do they, and vice versa. I blog when I have something longer to say, like this. I tweet when it’s the lowest friction way to talk to my friends, or get distribution for something longer I did somewhere else.

It’s not really a “versus,” it’s an “and.”

Whether the Twitter team intended it or not, they’ve built a killer and highly addictive reader platform with dozens of interesting UIs on top of it.

Features like WP.me, post by email, Twitter publicize, RSS Cloud, P2, email subscriptions, and more stuff in the cooker is trying to tie these things together more because people who do one are highly likely to do another.

As for the accuracy of underlying comScore data I would say they probably are precise but not accurate, meaning that whatever flaws they have in collection now, for example for WP.com they don’t count the custom domains or RSS readers and for Twitter they don’t count API usage or desktop clients, they’re at least self-consistent in how they do things over time. Some months they show us flat our internal stats showed growth, and vice versa. Ultimately it’s not worth anyone outside of comScore arguing how they collect their data, it’s better just to use it as one reference point alongside Quantcast (my fav), Alexa, Google Trends, Nielsen…

How tweets get imported into a blog is still an open question for me. I’ve seen lots of ways people have attempted it but when a blog becomes an activity stream it becomes a weak version of all the things it aggregates, less than the sum of its parts, because of the loss of context.

Published on CNN

Today a short piece “10 blogs to make you think” I wrote for CNN.com was published. I’m pretty excited about this and I also hope it drives a new audience to the blogs I mentioned, though to be fair if you’re not fascinated by how technology is changing society my picks might not be interesting. It’s a short piece in a “top ten” format, but I put a lot of thought into curating the picks.

I started blogging because I love writing. While the nature of Automattic is such that I’m writing all day long to communicate with my colleagues but writing for communication is different from the state of mind you’re in when you sit down to tell a story or change someone’s perspective. (Though perhaps it shouldn’t be.)

I started blogging for writing, I kept blogging for comments. It turns out what I love isn’t the act of writing itself, which has never come easy to me, but the conversation that happens afterward. Collectively in tech we become infatuated with each new medium be it blogs, widgets, social networks, micro-blogs, but in the end it always comes back to people talking to each other and eventually the novelty of the format fades.

As a final note when I write now I go into the WordPress editor because I know the auto-save will make sure my text is always safe, it produces clean and simple HTML, and I lean on After the Deadline. (Which now helps you rock the diaeresis New Yorker-style.)

First Impressions of Sony X

I’m a little addicted to gadgets, especially Sony laptops which have served as my primary on-the-go machines for the past few years because of their power and portability. When I first saw the Vaio X, Sony’s new ultra-thin and ultra-light laptop, I was taken aback. It looked beautiful, but so was the Envy 133 and the Envy was a complete waste of time and money due to a really bad trackpad and performance. Anyway, I’ve been playing with the X1 for 5-6 hours now, and here are some unordered thoughts:

  1. It is the sexiest and most elegant laptop I’ve held or seen. Feels like it’s from the future.
  2. It feels almost too light, I actually threw it up and caught it, particularly with the normal-sized battery.
  3. I got the champagne color, which was a good choice.
  4. The ethernet port works in a really interesting way.
  5. Speed of browsing, installing, everything feels pretty good with Windows 7, but it’s obvious the graphics card is pretty underpowered. The moment you turn transparency on or get a flash video on Blip going it starts to stutter a bit.
  6. That said, I could imagine using this as my primary machine for short and medium trips.
  7. The keyboard takes a bit of getting used to in a way I haven’t run into before: the space bar is hard to hit. The keyboard is very compressed in vertical space so your thumb falls below where the space bar is, and you have to retrain your hand to be in a different position which isn’t as comfortable. The shift button can be hard to hit but that’s much easier to get used to, I’ve done it on other small keyboards. I’m not sure why they made it so small, it feels like it could stretch out a bit more.
  8. Other big annoyance is the trackpad — it’s really narrow. Windows machines do the trackpad scroll on the right and bottom edges of the pad and I find myself triggering that accidentally because the tracking area is so tiny. Again, lots of apparent space toward the bottom of the laptop just a really narrow tracking area. This is easier to get used to than the keyboard, though, and the trackpad feels nice like most Vaios and unlike the Voodoo Envy.
  9. I love that it has two USB ports, and a regular VGA connector instead of some weird micro-display-port you need a dongle for. (An Apple decision that bugs me almost as much as the recessed headphone connector on the original iPhone.)
  10. Screen is gorgeous, like all recent Vaios.
  11. Did I mention it’s drop-dead gorgeous? It’s the first laptop I’ve had in 5 years that I don’t want to put stickers on.
  12. Hardware-wise, way better than the Air.

So while it won’t be replacing my Z890 as primary workhorse for now, the X is so light I might take it on my next few trips and use it as a day-top. I’m especially excited by the prospect of the 14 hour battery life (probably 10 in real life use) giving me freedom from power cords through even a whole day at a WordCamp. We’ll see in a week or two if I’m able to comfortably adjust to the too-small keyboard and trackpad.