Checking In On The Blogosphere

While traveling by motorcycle for the last 7 months from Alaska to Bolivia, I spent much of my free “internet” time writing and posting stories from the road. But I'd tune in to the blogosphere and peruse some of my favorite blogs while discovering new bloggers on the travelers' circuit. With a few months of down time while I lick my wounds and heal, I've got much more time. So I've extended the open hours here at the Digital Tavern and look forward to sharing new discoveries, oddities and musings over the next few months and onward.
For me, getting back into the blogosphere meant first catching up on the writings of those bloggers that appear in my blogroll (the links in the lower part of the left column here). So many bloggers have large blogrolls, I often wonder why is it they were blogrolled in the first place. Many are just ego brushing glad-handing Some blogrolls get stale and are not very well maintained. I thought it might be fun to review the bloggers in my blogroll and share with you some of the whys and what's going ons (sic). While I tuned into them while on the road once every week or two, now I'm able to do nearly daily check ins. Some will stay and others will be replaced with other interesting writers. Meanwhile, I'd like to share a few observations or thoughts of what I've learned from my current blogroll:

Take Ross Mayfield, for example. While I've watched him for several years as he he has taken his company SocialText from a small business to the leading company providing products and services for enterprise productivity or collaboration. In 2002 I had no idea what a WIKI was. Today they are ubiquitous throughout the internet. Ross's vision was to somehow take the WIKI (wiki) concept and commercialize it while showing the enterprise and business how it adds value and increases productivity and collaboration. Perhaps about two years ago he convinced investors to inject money into SocialText — they call wiki's and weblogs “social software” – and since then recruited some top minds in the blogosphere while signing on top-tier clients. Though Ross's blog is not “official” SocialText points of view, as CEO I see that Ross still uses it as a platform to discuss issues and ideas related to Social Software, Nonetheless it is still a business-focused weblog with a bent on software technology. Though he injects bits of his personality in as evidenced with his participation in the “Four ThingSmeme. His posts tend to be lengthy and focused on the evolution of social software, wikis and open source initiatives with the occasional personal tidbit. I like to follow Ross but have been out of it (obviously) lately and some of his subjects recently just haven't resonated.

Rebecca Blood is a blog old-timer. Her blog covers a wide range of subjects that are usually quick reads with plenty of links that can send you wandering through the blogosophere collecting tons of interesting if not trivial information at times. It's a great daily quick read and very rewarding when she brings to your attention something that rings and resonates with you. Even she has a recent post with her contribution to the “Four Things” meme that Ross and many others have jumped on. Just for fun today she points to a Yahoo search on the cities with the cleanest water in the USA.

I got turned onto Stanford University professor, author, lawyer and intellectual copyright kingpin Lawrence Lessig more than 3 years ago when he was leading the battle for changing outdated copyright laws when he fought and presented his case in front of the Supreme Court. He pioneered Creative Commons licensing and the Creative Commons organization. His blog is still focused on copyright laws and includes links to dozens of Creative Commons licensed work. I've not yet read any of his books but suffice to say he's the expert and champion for liberating strict copyright laws and so that our culture can maintain our “freedom to create, our freedom to build, and, ultimately, our freedom to imagine.” It's interesting that Lessig has recently created a wiki for those who want to criticize his work and thinking. Off subjects, I noticed that Sony Pictures has created a website platform for those with strong religious beliefs and that have issue with the upcoming Sony Picture “The DaVinci” code. Could this be a trend?

For those of you who've followed my blog over the years you probably recall a number of my posts relate to marketing and advertising. As a former advertising and marketing communications agency principal, I can't ever leave well enough alone. For the past 15 years or so, John Porcaro has worked in marketing and communications at Microsoft. Though when I added him to my blogroll Microsoft might not have even released the XBox, today he leads the group running PR for Microsoft's very successful XBox. Though John is very politically correct in disclaiming his views on his weblog aren't necessarily of those of his employer, I find that it is a quick read and interesting to watch.

Then there's Meredith at Invisible Shoebox (which I have incorrectly referred to as “Grumpy Girl” for too many years on my blogroll). Here interesting drawings and provocative dialog of “Grumpy Girl” and “Ant” is a fresh today as it was 3 years or more ago when I discovered her. Her blog and writing have evolved quite a bit. Now a mother and with the demands of that job, she clearly is in a dilemma of what to do as evidenced by her January 18th post:

[…] So I'm not sure what to do. Do I ditch the MA and concentrate on the paid writing? Do I ditch the blog and keep up with the occasional blog entry or do I try to throw myself back into the blog as research thing and attempt to get the MA finished? […]

Good god, my friend and longtime blogger (she started mamamusings just a few months after me) Liz Lawley has even jumped on the “Four Things” meme. Last year Liz migrated to Seattle from Rochester taking a hiatus off her professor duties at Rochester Institute of Technology to spend some time working at Microsoft, MSN and its search engine. Liz is fun, interesting, introspective and genuinely fun to read — plus she is a hardcore Mac user working at Microsoft. Love that.

I've been following Stowe Boyd since the beginning. His posts are always interesting and usually short and to the point. His work at Corante has been equally digestible. He can be technical, philosophical and at times academic. The many sides of Stowe and the interesting “stuff” he gleans and brigs to his “GetReal” blog are often things I wish I'd found first. But that's the beauty of blogging and following blogs of your peers and those who inspire you. Just a few weeks ago Stove started a new blog /Messages. New to me and everyone I'm eager to continue to follow his posts.

A couple years ago Stuart Henshall and I chatted about how we might help corporate marketing or human resource departments use Blogs to increase communications efficiencies. We both got busy with other projects and Stuart eventually found his calling and passion in Skype. Months later he started a single subject-focused blog “Skype Journal“. His old blog fell to the way side, not unlike how the Digital Tavern was neglected while I was riding my motorcycle from the top of the world to the bottom. But an October post on his “legacy” blog indicates some hope that Unbound Spiral may be reborn.

[…] Did my blog miss me?
It's been months and months since I wrote here. This is a tentative step. Not necessarily back, but also recognizing that the vehicle – Skype Journal – I've become a part of also restricts some of the things I want to blog about.

I've learned much by blogging hard on one subject “Skype” and how powerful a single minded focus is. The Skype Journal has far eclipsed any exposure I ever managed here. That success also paralleled Skype's success. Still one's personal blog is their own playground. This one remains mine.[…]

Hey at least Meredith, Stowe and Stuart haven't fallen for the “Four Things” thing…

Flemming Funch, (aka Ming the Mechanic) a european gentlemen I met a couple years ago in Los Angeles made the move back to Europe about a year ago. His blog continues to explore and educate. A truck techie with a knack for history, sociology and technology, Flemming's blog will always remain in my blogroll.

In Busblog Tony Pierce blends reality with fiction and fantasy in writing that hems around pop culture, sports and well girls. Sometimes insightful, other times longwinded but always fun. He's been around forever and he has a knack of finding some of the most interesting imagery on the internet. Tune in, he doesn't disappoint.

I'm in love with Dina Mehta and her “Conversations With Dina” blog. Geez. Even today she finds something about Podcasting in the mountains of Peru. Well, I was just riding through those magnificent Andes about a month ago and had no clue. But in her corner of the blogosphere she uncovers this. Sometimes technology, other times marketing and always some personality and insight into he life and culture gets across in her writing.

And Joi Ito? What can I say? He knows everybody and I can say I knew him when. A pioneer in blogging and responsible for much thinking and propagating of ideas and products here. He's on the board of Ross's SocialText, helped Mena and Ben bring MovableType to the masses through TypePad and is very active in Creative Commons with Lawrence Lessig. Seems to be a pattern here on my blogroll. How did that happen. Shit, I haven't changed the characters practically since I started this weblog in the spring of 2002.

Jeneane Sessum is another long time blogger. A marketer and promoter of using blogs in the workplace, her white papers — To Blog, Or Not To Blog — on blogging for business are simple, to the point and right on. Back in May 2003 I wrote “It's Time For Marketing To Embrace Weblog Concepts & Technologies“. This was barely a year after I started the Digital Tavern. I continued for a short time writing a corporate weblog series, but where I left off (or dropped the ball to focus on my more time consuming project of riding around the world on a motorcycle) Jeneane picked up the slack. Her personal blog Allied is witty and fun with great writing. Hey, but she did get caught up in the “Four Thing” meme.

Halley Suitt captured my heart with her wit and wisdom years ago. I admire her heroics when a couple years ago she made a mad dash to catch a cap after leaving a Joi Ito party in Washington DC at Supernova and sprained her poor ankle. A writer, marketer and longtime blogger, who doesn't dig Halley?

And Doc Searls? Well, he's last in the list because frankly he's the best. Although he may take offense to this but I consider him to be a founding father of the blogosphere and my inspiration for starting and again kick-starting the Digital Tavern nearly 4 years ago. Doc covers everything. And is always inspiring and interesting.