How we absorb data is the golden triangle, if you think about where your eyes go. I studied eye tracking in my advertising days. It makes a difference where copy, headlines and the most important information is placed -- in an ad, in a newslettter, on a newspaper's front page, on a blog. You bet Google is using eyetracking studies to know where to place the most important (montetizable) information How the eyes move across the screen: a study by Google on how we track data.
How do we read, when we are textually literate to read left to right? Watch how our eyes follow the data:
Isn't this photo charming? We see our children at play, but not often do we capture lambs at play. Richard Peters' Spring Lamb became an immediate hit when it was highlighted on Digg this month. The self-taught
U.K.photographer, says the year-old image is by far his most popular. It
appeared in a U.K. newspaper's "viral e-mail of the week" section and
won the BBC's Countryfile 2007 competition.
I can see why so many were enamoured with this photo.
Good ideas? My mother gave me Tervis Tumblers for Christmas awhile back and we've loved them ever since. They are guaranteed for life, they don't sweat, go in the dishwasher, don't leave rings, and they have an insulation that keeps the drinks cold. Custom photos in the glasses - a cute idea. I bet one of their top sellers will be OU glasses for those wanting to serve drinks for the National Championship game watching parties. You can get all sorts of glasses -- shells for a beach house, deer heads for hunters, college logos, etc.
Recently I played around with a variation of blogging, Tumblr, a tumblelog. It doesn't have a way to interact as blogs do -- no comments and such. I set one up and named it Times Intangible.
The plastic tumblers might last for life. In these hard times, Tumblr is getting financial backing and growing which says something.
In the interest of a personal challenge to myself, I've invented my own meme, MoShoPo, which stands for my objective to do a Month of Short Posts.
There is a an art to brevity and I'd like to explore it. So we'll be playing with the idea of less is more. This is a time of year to push aside old ways to make room for new - new ideas, transitions, directions.
I started this blog about three years ago as a study in new media before I came to the conclusion that we are in a post-literate stage. Digital literacy has been an interesting ride and media - new and old - is a personal passion, however, I wonder: are blogs relevant? Is it time to pull the plug on blogging? I think it might be.
Do moms twitter? Empty nest moms? My kids, now in their 20s (who don't Twitter) think it is not a relevant idea for me to be on facebook. Blogging is something I've studied since 2004, through moves from Atlanta to Manhattan and now to Santa Fe. Hanging onto and hanging out in new media arenas was a constant while my real life fluctuated.
Wired had an article, on blog relevance: "Twitter — which limits each text-only post to 140 characters — is to 2008 what the blogosphere was to 2004. Social multimedia sites like YouTube, Flickr, and Facebook have since made publishing pics and video as easy as typing text. Easier, if you consider the time most bloggers spend fretting over their words. The time it takes to craft sharp, witty blog prose is better spent expressing yourself on Flickr, Facebook, or Twitter."
How to get into Twitter? I found this. But I think that twittering is irrelevant in many ways.
Media Theorist Marshal McLuhan predicted the death of books and libraries 30 years ago due to two factors - the new electronic world that brought mass media and the growing trend towards reduced literacy that went hand in hand with the electronic age. It didn't happen then but it is now. In our post-literate world, ideas are inaccessible and we need for constant stimulus. I think of the icons and image-heavy environment we live in. How will we share meaning, art, culture and the passion of living?
Figures on textual literacy are alarming. Twenty percent of Americans holding high school diplomas cannot read, as well as the 50 million who read at a fourth- or fifth-grade level. Nearly a third of the nation's population is illiterate or barely literate and their numbers are growing by an estimated 2 million a year and the textually literate choose to immerse in an image-based existence.
Anyway... not sure to love it or leave it... It is only a mutable icon of myself. Nicholas Carr wrote about the changed blogosphere and the angst among the blogging set as blogging has entered the mainstream and has become commercial. He highlights this: As blogs have become mainstream, they've lost much of their original personality. "Scroll down Technorati's list of the top 100 blogs and you'll find personal sites have been shoved aside by professional ones...It's no surprise, then, that the vast majority of blogs have been abandoned. Technorati has identified 133 million blogs since it started indexing them in 2002. But at least 94 percent of them have gone dormant, the company reports in its most recent "state of the blogosphere" study. Only 7.4 million are still active."
I have real concerns about our changing digital selves, our literacy, our capacity to work with ideas deeply and the move away from our deep-rooted text-based culture.
With all of my work on media with the election and the financial crisis, I overlooked an important study that I want to highlight. My husband and his father used to throw newspapers when they were boys. My son put up his own website and could care less about reading a paper-paper. Other changes?
Bloggers spend twice as much time online as U.S. adults 18-49, and spend only one-third as much time watching television. And those newspapers? One in five bloggers don't think that newspapers will survive the next ten years and half of bloggers believe that blogs will be a primary source for news and entertainment in the next five years.
The change is coming sooner. I think of it as the menopause of old media. These figures are from the State of the Blogosphere 2008 -- figures compiled before the perfect storm of the financial crisis. Media trends this fall have also happened after these figures were compiled: readers went to the internet for their main campaign news. It is getting interesting, media-wise, and a Black Swan sea-change tsunami is underway. Have you noticed?
Here are more interesting facts from Technorati's study:
Blogs are now mainstream. As the Blogosphere grows in size and influence, the lines between what is a blog and what is a mainstream media site are blurring. Larger blogs are taking on more characteristics of mainstream sites and mainstream sites are incorporating styles and formats from the Blogosphere. In fact, 95% of the top 100 US newspapers have reporter blogs. In the US, 57% of bloggers are male, 74% have a college degree, 42% have attended graduate school, 59% have been blogging for more than two years, and 58% are over 35.
Within the US, the majority of bloggers do NOT live near the largest metropolitan areas. 50% of internet users read blogs, up from 12% in 2007.
Rambling in the mountains as the aspens leaves change is what I'm doing but I couldn't let September end without acknowledging Google's 10th birthday. Will Tim Berners-Lee, the inventor of the world wide web, or Google Founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page be the Gutenberg of this information revolution.
Google wants to change the world, that's for sure, and it doesn't think itself "very Googley to stand on the sidelines – whether the challenge involves search, apps, or clean energy. So we're working to be part of the solution." Part of Google's 10th Birthday is Project 10^100 (that's ten to the hundredth"): Google's Project to Help the Most with a submission deadline of October 20. Do you or someone you know have an idea that you believe would help somebody, Google wants to hear about it. "We're looking for ideas that help as many people as possible, in any way, and we're committing the funding to launch them." Google Timeline tells the history of Google with little facts (when Larry met Sergey as his tour guide at Stanford or the first baby named Google, born in Sweden).
I like Google's Doodles -- this one was for Beatrix Potter's birthday on July 28. Although it is whimsical and fun, it is stunning to think how in ten years, Google really has changed the world. In the next ten, it might wipe out the next smallpox (in my media grad studies we looked at how the SARS was solved with global internet connections). Google's products are available in the 40 languages read by more than 98% of Internet users.
On Blogs, this from Technorati's founder Sifry: # Technorati is currently tracking 133 million blogs (we've done a LOT of culling spam blogs, and the number of bloggers keeps growing!) # 7.4 Million blogs have posted in the last 120 days - that's 5.5% of all blogs we track. # 1.5 Million blogs have posted at least once in the last 7 days. That puts MotherPie in the top 1.5 million of active blogs, one little spec in the blogosphere.
Sergey Brin, one of the two Google founders, has just started a personal blog he named Too("Google is a play on googol, too is a play on the much smaller number -
two. It also means "in addition", as this blog reflects my life outside
of work"). He writes about his mother's Parkinson's, his susceptibility to it, and how he found out about his susceptibility (through his wife's genetic company). Some are speculating why he would put his personal medical information "out there" but if anyone knows how we are all becoming an open book.
Steve Rubel writes on how children are encouraged by Google to "steal photos" and I think with Google we'll be able to know anything and the world will be flattened. I actually think that our culture of individuality may be on the wane.
Olive Riley of the blog The Life of Riley, the world's oldest blogger, has died at 108. She went into a nursing home only a month ago.
Mike Rubbo, a documentary film maker, became friends with Australian Riley while doing a documentary on people who made it to age 100. Inspired by Olive, he named his documentary All About Olive. Urged by Australian Elder Blogger Eric Shackel to help Olive to learn to blog (she called it blobbing), he began working with her to create her blog and to post her stories.
She was a forgotten woman who, through blogging and a friend who was
charmed enough by her stories and her engaged mind, found at age 107,
surprising fame and world-wide adoration. The Australian press never took to her, but the world did and she became a star in the blogosphere, especially in the US.
I missed his announcement while on my Texas travels this month and have just caught it while catching up w/ my blog reads. Mike has posted more since her death, including details of her funeral.
Fast? Online ads are only 7% of advertising dollars but advertising is
moving online fast, and I'm seeing more advertising on blogs both in
display ads and embedded in the copy the blogwriter writes.
But ice cream can't sell online....I'm wondering about serious alterations in our economies and lifestyles, and memories of tales of WWII rationing and Depression era stories from ancestors. Shoot, this week the Santa Fe New Mexican newspaper had an article on growing food in raised boxes and a carpenter who is making them. Victory gardens will be "the thing"... remember, pick dandelions for greens -- the French brought them here as a vegetable. With biofuels demanding diversion of corn crops driving up food prices along with oil, growing our food makes a lot of sense. But you can't sell produce online -- we tried with the online grocery Pea in the Pod or somesuch in Houston in the late 90s but it had failed by the time we moved to Atlanta in 2001. But that was macro-scale sales. What about a home garden now?
Food imports will top $1 trillion globally with soaring food prices the cause, says the UN's Food and Agricultural Organization with developing nations being hit by food inflation far more than wealthier nations. Rising oil prices and food prices will pinch us all. Is it oil policy, demand, production, speculators, US consumption or China's growing appetite? Oil hit $135 this week with talk of $200/barrel oil, and gas at the pump hit a record $3.81 a gallon; Chapter 11 bankruptcy filings have jumped in the last few months, up 30% from a year earlier with experts predicting as many as one million filings this year. The business leaders at Davos are spending time "anxiously hunched over computer screens and fingering Blackberrys like prayer beads," as Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson canceled his planned visit to work on a stimulus package as people wonder how ugly will it get, and when will it end? See? Recession or Depression? Regardless, you might want to check out 9 Sites that will Save You Money.
Starting this spring, a flurry of retail stores are closing and cutting back. Our urban landscape will change, so will marketing as stores like Linens N' Things (bankruptcy), Foot Locker (income down 78%), Ann Taylor (closing 117 stores) change their strategies. I bet the online stores like Land's End and Amazon, who aren't brick-and-mortar, will do fine.
Influence is Golden
-- that is what BuzzLogic's buzzword is and they say they've spotted me
as an influential blog. An email to me targeting this blog
for advertising potential said: "I'm with BuzzLogic, a social media
technology company able to spot the most influential bloggers on any
given topic. We recently identified your blog as influential on the topic of parenting."
Social media -- those with conversations and influence -- are the next
thing for advertisers. So if you see a site with a "BUZZworthy"
Influencer badge, it means the site is taking on advertising. I've
noticed bloggers doing book reviews and pumping products
in the copy. So... not all raves are pure anymore and you can't tell
who is getting paid to promote products -- ethical rules for disclosure
aren't something enforced or policed in the blogosphere.
But know my reviews and passions are from my heart, not inspired by pay as I don't accept advertising. I'm not against those who do, just monitoring the new media in this area. One thing I do know: You can't buy ice cream online. Just like my grandparents, married at the height of The Depression, used to go to the ice cream store for a weekly treat - 5 cents for the cone - you'll have to go to your favorite place for a special treat in recession times. Bluebell in Texas, or Kaiser's in Oklahoma City, J. Ripples Italian Ice Cream in Buckhead Atlanta would be three of my faves but I'm not driving the miles to get there so I'll go to Echo in Santa Fe for stracciatella Italian ice cream - my favorite ice cream of all. Recessionary yummers.
I do know we will change our way of buying and shopping for stuff and our values about them, and some things might just stay the same way of our elders. Like being frugal and growing gardens and.... having ice cream be the big treat of the week. ???
Starting with the eye as the definition of self, artistically and symbolically in Part I, Eyes Looking Out, I am now in Part II looking
at the issue of technology and privacy and wondering how this will
alter our very sense of self, our soul and our way of seeing our
identities and our world.
For our children, things will be and are dramatically, radically different, far more different than they already are, tech wise. Profound changes are altering us in ways that are complex and scary and unfathomable. Like the kohl used for protection around eyes long ago and today (this kohl-lined eye at right is from an Egyptian sarcophagus in the Met), what firewalls or metaphorical kohl and protections will we have? What will we give up for convenience, for safety, for security and what are the long-term implications?