Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Blogging news

Okay, I've been reading blogs since a time when many of my friends didn't know what they were. That wasn't very long ago. Now, I read in bits that there's a Nielsen online and that they are rating blogs now. Both these things are interesting news. Even more interesting is that, of the top ten most widely read weblogs in America, only one name is familiar to me.

I've also never heard of bebo. According to this post it's the social networking site that dominates in the UK. The interesting thing about that is, one might expect that without the language barrier, the established networking sites like myspace or facebook would have taken the UK market, but they haven't. It seems like old-style word of mouth may be a big part of how those networks grow. Now that I think of it, my own entry into each of the networking sites I have a profile on (Friendster, myspace, and facebook) was prompted in each case by someone either telling me about it face to face or by an email from someone physically not far from me. LinkedIn is the exception. I have a profile there, which I haven't touched in probably over a year. That seemed like a really good idea, but I don't know if it will amount to anything or not.

But it's interesting how in the online world language barriers are not the only substantial cultural boundaries.

If a particular website can dominate its market in the US, while another one holds on to its share of the UK market, it seems to follow that a site could hold a market share that matters in terms of dollars in just one region of the US against a competitor that holds the rest. I read an article about Elvis that talked about how there were such a thing as regional hits back in the 50's and early 60's but the music market had become a national thing and those were history. Could the web bring that back?

Owning stuff

Basically, I'm against it. I used to collect books, but moving on a limited budget made me aware of the cost of keeping heavy, dust-collecting things around.

The value of keeping a bookshelf full of the things that have meant something to you is now better available in Facebook applications and blogs. So there is no reason to have books around once I'm done reading them. Ditto for DVDs and CDs.

Once I tried reading books on my Dell Axim handheld computer with its little 3 inch screen, I found the experience better than printed books in every way, unless illustrations were involved. If everything I wanted to read was available in that format, I would have switched entirely over. But most of what's really good to read was published before Ebooks and is available much cheaper at used bookstores. That will continue to be the case for some time. But eventually, I won't have to deal with printed books at all and I'll be happy.

I found this interesting quote on the NY Times tech blog Bits, which I keep in my Google Reader.
Until now, Apple has scoffed at the idea of music subscriptions. Steve Jobs, its chief executive, has said that people want to own, not rent music. The company declined to comment.
Steve Jobs is right about most things, but this is surprisingly wrong. Everybody I know who has tried Rhapsody loves it. I think as more people try renting music, they'll look back and laugh at the time they wanted to own it.

The downside of Rhapsody is you can only listen to it on a computer with broadband. But a portable device that can do what rhapsody does would be ideal. I know such devices exist now, but they don't do anything else. If the iphone had that capability, I would want one even more than I already do.

But the main point is, read bits. Because, in the words of Samuel Faber, "Knowledge is good".