Las Vegas: The Addiction (not Gambling, Internet / Blogging)

In my last post I lamented the near lack of free internet in Las Vegas and how I couldn’t see paying for it. I was planning on schlepping my laptop to the few free hotspots, just to check my email a time or two.

My husband said I should just bite the bullet and pay for it since I wouldn’t be happy if I didn’t. And he was ever, ever so right. I don’t know what made me think that I could not buy it when I have my laptop with me and have wireless right there waiting for me, all I had to do was put my credit card number in and I was surfing. In some weird way, it was infinitely worth paying the $10/day to be able to get on and check my email, check my blogs, look things up and write posts whenever I wanted.

We are quite happy to play penny slots for all our little gambling (and free drinks) breaks, but I’ll put $10 a day in just to be able to be connected. And I think, how much do I really use it? Couldn’t I just do a couple of hauls to a hotspot and be done? And of course, I could do that if I was broke. But I’ve got $10 in my pocket and its going to buy me access.
And although for probably no good reason since I doubt that many people read my blog, I still feel a need? desire? responsibility? fear of losing people? to make sure I post regularly. Sean and I were discussing this in the elevator, about the whole blogging experience and the mindset of a blogger. About how for the blogger, the act of blogging seems to be a really creative outlet and a way to clarify one’s thoughts. And the surprise of having people actually read and get something out of something you have posted is both gratifying and a real impetus to keep blogging. But the downside is that it is easy to start feeling a pressure to please people instead of just doing it and letting whoever may be interested read it and not worrying about it.

It is also somewhat addictive to have a lot of people read what you wrote. I blogged about the Skype outage last week, just because I use Skype and had wondered why I couldn’t connect and then found out it had crashed. And suddenly I had a ridiculous (for me) number of hits on my post. I posted it at 4:30pm and by 4:34 I had like 600 people read (or at least view) it. I thought I was getting spammed or attacked or something.

But it was just that everyone was trying to find out what was going on. So I wrote another post the next day with more information and it was really being read. And then another. And at some point, I realized that I had quit blogging about it just because I had something to say about it and started blogging it because it was a hot topic and people would read what I wrote. I knew if I wrote something even remotely interesting or intelligent about Skype right then, people would read it.

While there isn’t anything inherently wrong with writing about what people are interested in, when I find myself writing just for other people’s interest when I’ve pretty much lost interest in it myself and even worse, just to increase my hit count, I have to re-examine what I am doing and why.

I have always been a writer and have been on many lists and boards where people read and responded to what I wrote. But this is something beyond that. This is a medium that has people coming to my blog to read what I have to say. And a surprising (to me) number of them. And they even come back to see what else I have written.

I’ve never had a group of people who wanted to read what I had to say and I have to say that I really get a great deal of satisfaction and gratification from it. But it can also be addictive. I want to enjoy that people read what I write, but I don’t want to need it. I don’t want to obsess about it.

And I think it is wise for people to be aware of some of these pitfalls and potential dangers that are inherent in many of the Web 2.0 tools. They are wonderful, creative outlets and can enhance one’s life immensely. But I think everyone needs to make sure they are monitoring their involvement and motivation.

It is a truly fascinating time for people with all the amazing ability there is to create and interact. But just like me, I’m sure there are others who may need to step back periodically and look at it and make sure they are in control and are not being manipulated (most likely, by themselves).  And really, who shouldn’t do that regularly about most everything anyway?

Thank you for reading 🙂

~Susan Mellott

Advertisements

Beyond Skype: Keeping up with the Web 2.0 World

Well I’m sure you all are getting as sick of the repeated speculations as to what really happened with Skype. So am I.

In many ways, it is unfortunate that so much has been written about the Skype outage, to the point that now that people are looking at it from a broader perspective, such as why did their communication fail, or how companies need to review their backup plans for situations such as these, either no one wants to read about it or it gets buried in the overwhelming amount of Skype related posts.

But the bigger picture is not about what happened to Skype as much as it is about how Skype tried outdated, 1.0 communcation techniques that failed miserably in the current 2.0 environment. Even in their ‘clarification’ post today on the situation, seems to sort of recognize they have a communications problem, but clearly doesn’t recognize why.

And forget this is about Skype. Think of it as about any company, in a situation that affects their users and how they communicate and handle the situation.

I wish I had written this post, but it says everything I would want to and so rather than repeat it, just go read P.R. 2.0’s post called “Crisis Communication 2.0 – The Skype is Falling“. Or if you prefer, here is the post on a white background (I don’t care as much for black background with white lettering if I’m trying to read something).

And I hope this doesn’t get buried in the continuing rehash of the Skype problem

~Susan Mellott

Web 2.0 – Odiogo on WordPress (self-hosted)

Late last week, I had found out about Odiogo which changes your blog text to speech (see my post on 8/11/2007) and had tried adding it to my blogs. At the time, I had a Google Blogger blog and a WordPress blog hosted on WordPress.com.

It worked just fine adding it to my Google Blogger blog, but it turns out there is no way to add it to a WordPress.com hosted blog. This was a big black mark against WordPress.com blogs in my opinion.

Since then, we have set up our own domain and I created a subdomain of my own (clear.bluedei.com) and set up my own WordPress blog on there and supposedly, it was possible to use Odiogo on a self-hosted WordPress blog so I created my feed and submitted my request to Odiogo and waited impatiently for my confirmation email to arrive from them.

It came this afternoon, so I then tried setting up Odiogo on my new blog. It was amazingly easy! I just downloaded the plugin from the link in the confirmation email, ftp’ed it to my wp-content/plugins subdirectory on my subdomain and set it up on my blog. Now I have an odiogo feed button on my sidebar so people can subscribe to my audio feed and each time I create a post, the odiogo ‘listen now’ button is automatically added to my post.

Here are the actual instructions that were very clear and easy to follow.

1. Download the plugin

2. Upload directory odiogo_listen_button to your /wp-content/plugins/ directory via FTP

3. Login to your WordPress admin account and activate the Odiogo Listen Button plugin through the Plugins menu

4. Click Menu Options > Odiogo Listen Button

5. Enter your Odiogo Feed ID and click Save
Your Odiogo Feed ID is xxxxx.

6. Click menu Presentation > Widgets (or Sidebar Widgets depending on your WP version)

7. Drag and drop Odiogo Subscribe Button from Available Widgets to Sidebar

8. Click Save Changes

Here is a link to the Odiogo FAQ page. I noticed that people have been trying to find out why their feeds were being cut off before they were done.  You can find the answer on this FAQ page by looking under “How do I activate RSS full text option on…” and they have one for Typepad, WordPress and Blogger.

It is really a neat and useful tool and I’m very glad I can add it to my new blog.

~Susan Mellott

Web 2.0 – Convert your post texts to speech with Odiogo!

I was looking at a Blog called Just Giblets and I noticed a widget at the top of each of their posts that said “listen now”. So I clicked on it and it read the entire post by converting the text to speech! I tried other posts and it did the same for every post. And as I was going down their posts, I found one called “Do you notice anything different?” that explained more about Odiogo.

So I went to the Odiogo website and started looking at how I could add it my own posts. As it turned out, I ran into yet another limitation of WordPress (hosted on wordpress.com). It does not allow you to use this feature since it restricts some of the things Odiogo needs to use. So I re-signed up with Odiogo for my Google Blogger blog instead. After I got the confirmation email (it takes about a day), I followed the instructions, which required me to do nothing more than click a couple of links and buttons and voila! Each of my blogger posts had a “listen now” button. I didn’t even have to add it to each post, it is automatically added for me. Here is how it looked when I clicked on the listen now button. It is in the process of reading the post.
odiogo posts

As you can see, there are other formats you can also listen and download the post as. Odiogo also creates an audio feed stream that you can access from the blog using this button:

odigo feed

This takes you to this page where you can sign up for the audio feed of the posts using various feed readers, or can just listen to them from the page.

We are in the process of converting over to our own hosted site and I will transfer my WordPress blog there, which should allow me to add this to that blog (although not as easily as you can add it to a Blogger blog).

They also market it as a way to create podcasts easily by just writing your text and then converting it to audio. That is interesting but I’m not sure how much easier it is than just reading and recording it and that way you also have a human voice rather than a digital voice. But I didn’t really look into that much from their site and I’m sure they have a lot of other good uses for it. You can go here to learn more about their mainstream media, or here to learn more about adding it to blogs.

It is free to add to your blog and for some people, may generate revenue. I’m not sure what they are referring to by “ad income”, I have not really noticed any ads except for saying it is from odiogo. But in any case, it is free. This is what the site says “Not only is Odiogo free, it may be able to generate advertising revenues. Once your listenership reaches a significant level, you may qualify for a share of ad income! More technical details about the solution can be found here and in our FAQ. So what are you waiting for? Give your blog voice, and legs, now! ”

Since I could not add this to WordPress, you can see this in action at my Google Blogger Blog “Along the Path to 2.0“. On the some the earliest posts, when you click the listen now button, it says “Sorry, this article is not available yet.”, but most all of them are available now.

Here is a link to the Odiogo FAQ page. I noticed that people have been trying to find out why their feeds were being cut off before they were done.  You can find the answer on this FAQ page by looking under “How do I activate RSS full text option on…” and they have one for Typepad, WordPress and Blogger.

I have friends and family with low vision and this seems like a wonderful addition to a blog to make it more accessible. And I believe that this is something that needs to be considered as Web 2.0 apps are being developed. Part of the concept of Web 2.0 is inclusiveness and being accessible and this shows how easily you can enhance your blogs to make them easier to access for everyone.

I hope this sparks your interest and helps people think about creating and looking for Web 2.0 applications that help make it accessible by everyone.

~Susan Mellott

Politics 2.0 – Who is Web 2.0?

Thank you to Anonymous for writing me about this very interesting post: Dimensions of a Potentially Postponed GOP CNN/YouTube Debate .

This post was written by Alex Hammer so I looked up Alex Hammer’s bio and found: “Alex Hammer was a 2006 Independent candidate for Governor of Maine. He is the owner of Media 2.0, including Politics 2.0 (www.hammer2006.blogspot.com). Politics 2.0 focuses on “What’s now and what’s next” in Presidential politics and politics generally. Alex is a columnist for The Magic City Morning Star (www.magic-city-news.com) and a regular guest columnist for The Moderate Voice (www.themoderatevoice.com). Previously, for a decade, Alex was owner of HSC Media, a five-division NYC area based online media company.”

His blog on Politics 2.0 has the most amazing blogroll list of politician’s online sites like their myspace, twitter, facebook, etc. Take a look at his blog for who all is doing what Web 2.0 applications.

Here is just a sampling of links from his list (there are many. many more):

Joe Biden Blog
Joe Biden MySpace Site
Joe Biden Senate Website
Joe Biden Twitter
Joe Biden Website
Joe Biden Wikipedia
Joe Biden YouTube Videos
John Edwards MySpace Site
John Edwards Twitter
John Edwards Website
John Edwards Wikipedia Bio
John Edwards YouTube Videos
John McCain MySpace Site

~Susan Mellott

Web 2.0 – Hey, that’s my data!

I was looking at my feed from Boxxnet for Web 2.0 related items and I saw one called “Hey, that’s my data!” from Canadian Technology News. And like any good blogger, I stole what I could from the post, including, in this case, the title.

Before I even read the article, I had an idea from the title, which was that what we write online is “up for grabs” from anyone and their brother (or sister). So what if someone decides to write a book and publish it and uses only information that has already been written from other people, without giving any credit (or money) to those people who actually wrote the book? Or who takes the best of flickr and makes a beautiful coffee table book from the pictures they find? Or I watched a show on TV that is ongoing that is just a bunch of YouTube videos they have found on the internet. I can’t remember what it is called but I just did a little looking on my digital cable and found a show on the Comedy Channel called Web Shows and the description is “A compilation of online videos”. When I went to ComedyCentral.com, I could look it up but when I clicked on “go to site” it took me to a page with episodes they had on the web (I think). So I looked clicked on “Go to TV schedule” instead and it too me to the schedule for that show and described it as “This groundbreaking half-hour series features several of the internet’s best webisodes and short-form content.”.

Anyway, I know I have watched shows on TV made up of videos that other people have made and posted on the web. Now I don’t have a problem at all with people sharing information that I have written or posted or videos or pictures I’ve taken. That is the beauty of the whole Web 2.0 concept. That it is greater than its parts. But what control is there over people taking the creative and hard worked things that people have done and using it to just make money?

Or what if someone wants to use something that you created in a way that you don’t agree with? What if, for example, you took a series of beautiful nude photographs and posted them on flickr as an art set. But someone copied them and put them in Hustler magazine as “Hot Chicks from the Web”?

Or for that matter, for something a little closer to home, usurped your website and redirected to a site you found offensive? We had a website at one time that we no longer use, but since I was into koi ponds at one time and posted pictures and descriptions of our ponds, there were links to it several places. However, a porno site redirected our links to its site and even worse, it had a million popups and all sorts of things so once you got there, you couldn’t get out or stop the madness. I tried every way possible to do something about it but had no luck. I couldn’t even edit the places where my link was posted, or in most cases, contact the person who could.

And back to the point of the post that originally sparked this thought, what control do you even have over anything relating to you on the internet? The original post was subtitled Why we’re all on Facebook, whether we like it or not” and dealt with a situation even closer to home that I am sure we all can relate to. It is about how this person had been at a party on a cruise ship and found his picture (looking rather raggedy) on someone’s facebook page. Here is a quote: “This is what happens to data in an age of social networking. We don’t necessarily create the content, we don’t store the content, and we have little to no control over how it is managed, distributed or manipulated. At the moment, if all you knew about me was the stuff about me you found on Facebook you’d assume I was a haggard-looking ne’er do well who spent too much time boating and not enough time sleeping. Which might be true, but it’s not the entire truth.”

I highly recommend you read his post, he has much to say on this particular issue and I don’t really need to re-state it here. I guarantee it will hit home and raise some interesting questions.

And as you can see, I am not above stealing a catchy title, or using what someone else has written. Are you?

~Susan Mellott

Television 2.0 – what you want when you want it

A few months ago I discovered an app called Joost that is TV on demand through your PC.  At the time it was in testing by invitation only (I finagled one).  Now it appears as though you can just sign up for it.  Here is what it’s website says:

“Joost™ provides a new way of watching TV that combines the best of full-screen television entertainment with the interactive and community benefits of the Internet to bring broadcast-quality video to viewers anytime, anywhere. Based on a state-of-the-art, secure, peer-to-peer streaming technology, Joost can be accessed with a broadband Internet connection and offers video programming to viewers for free. Joost features more than 150 channels with programming across all genres, including: cartoons and animation; entertainment and film; sports; comedy; lifestyle and documentaries; and sci-fi. Channels and programs available on Joost vary by geographic region, based on copyright ownership.”

There are a lot of good things about Joost.  It has a very good picture and a ton of programming from many, many different television stations.  And I believe they have even added some movies.  There is a lot to watch!  The bad things were that I found it complicated to use as far as changing channels or watching another program.  It is not intuitive (to me anyway) at all.  I would have loved to just see a taskbar that looked like your basic remote.  Why not?  Everyone knows how to use one and it would have been much more intuitive.  Also, there were some things that I really never have figured out, one being how to exit the app.  It sounds strange but I just have not found how to do it without going to my Windows taskbar and closing the app.  Now that seems like a problem.  If I can’t do it, I’m sure I’m not the only one.

The other perhaps unfortunate thing for Joost (but great for us!) is that more and more, the different television stations are providing full episodes of their programs online.  Just within the last 2 days I have watched episodes of a martial arts show called Human Weapon that was being talked about on aikido-l and episodes of CBS’ Pirate Master, which for some reason our local CBS station has quit carrying (after we got hooked on it and couldn’t figure out where it went).

And my sister is a traveling surgical tech and watches most of her TV through her PC because the picture quality is so much better than her TV, especially since she doesn’t have cable in her apartment.  But she doesn’t need it.  She can go home after work, whenever that may be and watch her soaps and other shows whenever she wants.  She really only needs her laptop and a wireless connection and she has all the great TV she wants.

Good quality TV when you want it.   For free.  Without a TV.  It doesn’t get much better than that.

~Susan Mellott

John 5 | Official Store

Official online store

All Things Web 2.0

All things web 2.0 and a little more

WordPress.com

WordPress.com is the best place for your personal blog or business site.

(Point).Oh

Personal thoughts on the future of Libraries; Technology; Multimedia; and the .0 moniker