Category Archives: Blogging

Attack of the Food Bloggers

Bloggers get no love. Consider this headline from the Times Union:

Ex-blogger Arrested on Child Porn Charges

I like how they give blogger equal billing with child porn. “Child porn? That figures! Filthy blogger!”

So, when somebody treats local bloggers special, believe me, it’s a pretty big deal — like this week when Price Chopper invited a bunch of local food bloggers to the opening of their new Market Bistro store in Latham.

Price Chopper has smart PR people, so they know that if you schmooze a bunch of bloggers and feed them you’ll get results — like seven blog posts the next day. There may be more out there; these are just the ones I found in a two-minute search:

The Angel Forever
Albany Eats
All Over Albany
Eat Local
Jon in Albany
CR Foodies

Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s terrific that blogs are considered an important part of a media campaign — and it does seem to work. Now, if I can only get myself invited somewhere they have free food. I promise to write a blog post about it.

Poll Position

Quicky web polls are everywhere these days — particularly on blogs. You know the ones I’m talking about, and I’m sure you’ve taken them. They ask some topical question and seem to have no actionable purpose.

So why all the polls? Because it’s cheap, mindless content? Writers have run out of things to say? It gives the appearance of being interactive with your audience? All of the above?

I think it may be because somebody read that they’re popular with readers; since I have no research to back that up, I offer you this quicky online poll:


Channel Hopping

It sucks being sick, but it’s really wonderful to sit around and do absolutely nothing and not feel the least bit guilty about it. And the perfect tool for doing nothing is your TV.

Cruising through the channel guide I found something intriguing: Dog With a Blog. Ha! This I have to see! I love dogs — and well, blogs, hey, that’s something that interests me, so how could I not watch Dog With a Blog?

It was the typical Disney channel kid sitcom, except with a talking dog. A dog who has has a blog. According to Wikipedia, “The children learn of Stan’s talking ability in the first episode and agree to keep it a secret from their parents, fearing that if the world finds out that Stan can talk, he will be taken away and experimented on.” That’s sinister.

So, basically, this is Alf, except with a dog — and a first cousin to the famous Mr. Ed, of course, which was begat by Francis the Talking Mule. One could also argue that it’s loosely related to My Mother the Car, I suppose.

Dog was predictably bad, but that doesn’t stop it from being one of the most popular Disney Channel programs, and a regular fixture among the top 25 shows on cable. Kids have absolutely no taste.

By the way, Disney hosts a page that’s supposed to be the dog’s actual blog, but it’s terrible, even worse than most of what passes for blogging. If my dogs wrote a blog, it would at least be interesting.

Anyway, enough of this talk about bad TV. If I’m not mistaken, there’s a Doomsday Preppers marathon starting soon, so I gotta go.

Ancient History

I appreciate that Albany Eye was called “influential” in Mark McGuire’s blog post about anonymity on the web, but I don’t think I agree.

At the time of its implosion in 2006, Albany Eye had about 1000 readers a day. That’s very, very (very!) small in a market of this size. So where does this idea of influence come from? That’s easy. The blog had a big following among those who work in local media, so it’s easy for them to assume Albany Eye was widely read by the general public. It was not.

It was created to be about the local media and read by the local media, and the truth is that it barely spread beyond that original mission. I have met few people who did not work in TV, radio, newspapers, or advertising that ever heard of Albany Eye. No, mostly the readership was made up of media insiders and a tiny contingent of local webizens who were more tuned in to the blog scene than normal people.

What’s that, like being the area’s most influential CB radio operator?

If there was one place that Albany Eye was influential, it was inside the Times Union newsroom. They helped Albany Eye breakout from unheard of to obscure with mentions in the paper by none other than Mark McGuire and editor Rex Smith. If it weren’t for them the audience would have remained even smaller than it was. Sorry if I never thanked you.

Not complaining, though! I love that people took the time to read Albany Eye, but just between you and me, it didn’t change anyone’s viewing/listening/reading habits, never swayed an advertiser’s media spending, and had no impact on the local news or entertainment product. But other than that? It was deeply influential.

Silence Dogood, Ben Franklin, and Sophia Walker

Does it surprise me that the NY Post thought that outing Sophia Walker was front page news on Monday? No — I mean really, are you surprised by anything the NY Post does?

Spreading across the blogosphere, Twitter, and Facebook, the Sophia Walker franchise is a mix of pop culture, sci-fi, style, and politics. It is often hilariously profane, but always very well done with a very distinctive voice and personality. On Monday, the Post revealed that Sophia Walker is not a person but a persona created by Sheldon Silver staffer Bill Eggler.

But Sophia Walker’s mistep — as is so often the case with people who write anonymously — was letting things sway too close to work, in this case commenting on blogs in defense of Sheldon Silver. One thing leads to another and the gig is up.

The Post seems to relish the she/he aspect of this story, making cheeky wink-wink-nudge-nudge references about Eggler, to which I say, “Benjamin Franklin.” Not only did Franklin regulary write under pseudonyms, he adopted numerous female personas to do so, most famously that of Silence Dogood. Ben Franklin would have loved the internet.

So annywho, bravo to Mr. Eggler. If this is the death of Sophia Walker, she will be mourned.

Doesn’t Share Well

Times Union Lifestyle BlogsI was mentioned as one of the “Men Who are Former TU Lifestyle Bloggers” in a Times Union blog post this week. It was sort of suggested that as men we were out of our element. Michael Huber, the paper’s “Interactive Audience Manager,” wrote:

By its definition, the Lifestyle category calls for bloggers to riff on whatever they wish, and, no news here, I think it’s easier for women to have that sort of freeform discussion with readers than it is for most men. When you think about it, a ‘lifestyle’ blog is essentially about sharing, and not just sharing news topics or opinions, but thoughts and feelings.

Wow, now I feel like an idiot.

Hey, I’m really sorry if I haven’t shared enough with you people. In the future I swear that I will bare my soul to you, all of my friends and family, and write of my deepest thoughts and feelings, not just about news topics and my opinions.

That is my promise.

The Flow of Information

What’s down there, anyway? I’m guessing it’s the blogs.

The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest

The real problem with Jennifer Gish’s Times Union column, Bills Fans Need Help Keeping it Real, is that it wasn’t half as funny as she thought it was.

For example:

And Buffalo is practically in Canada. They play some of their “home” games in Toronto. So are they really New York’s team? Are they even America’s team?

Insert rimshot here. Move over, Dave Barry, here comes Jennifer Gish.

Back in seventh grade we were told to compose a humorous essay. I got to read mine recently when going through some things my mother saved. It was about cesspools — yes, I was writing about poop even then — and while my friends found it hilarious, it really wasn’t funny. I’d like to apologize to my teacher, Mr. Raff, for making him read my terrible work.

But even if Ms. Gish’s Bills piece wasn’t clever, she didn’t deserve to be excoriated by angry fans. The curses, cheap shots, and insults were completely out of line. Writing a bad column doesn’t make her a bad person.

I’ve noticed that some newspaper columnists and bloggers will write pieces that are are calculated to get the readers fired up. They’ll complain about perfectly normal things that they find mildly annoying, often involving stuff that everyone likes, such as kids or animals.  Why would they do this? Because it drives traffic. I know this because I’ve even done it myself now and then.

So, Jennifer Gish kicked the hornets nest — but unlike Lisbeth Salander, she was not ready for the hornets.

Party On, Darth

Here’s what the Times Union said when I asked them to remove some of my old blog posts:

“Your blog is, as they say, frozen in carbonite.”

Wow. Frozen in carbonite? Any geek worth his salt knows what that means:
You are comparing yourself to Darth Vader.

The posts I asked to be taken down were written before joining the paper’s blog section on October 28, 2009.

It’s material originally written for this site, not the Times Union. Though I allowed them to publish it,  I think it’s unfair that they consider it their property after I leave. But as it says in their TOS, they have:

Royalty-free, unrestricted, worldwide, perpetual, irrevocable, non-exclusive and fully transferable, assignable and sublicensable right and license to use, copy, reproduce, modify, adapt, print, publish, translate, create derivative works from, distribute, perform and display such material (in whole or part) and/or to incorporate it in other works in any form, media, or technology now known or later developed, including for promotional and/or commercial purpose, and to authorize others to do so.

Experts understand that this terms of service agreement would never stand up to a serious challenge.

It’s an onerous contract that gives all the rights to one party and zero compensation to the other. But, Mr. Hearst’s pockets are as deep as the day is long — and with that kind of money, you can afford to be onerous.

They hold all the cards, but there are a few things I can do. For example, I’ve been removing all the photos from my old posts. That may sound like cutting off your nose to spite your face, but when it comes to a matter of principle, a little nose cutting is sometimes in order.

In conclusion, the Times Union wrote, “I wish you continued success with your blogging.”

Thank you. I wish you continued success with your Death Star.