Thursday, June 23, 2011

Notes for an interview

Michelle D. and I were interviewed on ComputerWise TV last night. It's a local hour-long show about computers shown exclusively on Blue Ridge Communications TV and Service Electric Cable, and we were there to talk bout NEPA Blogs. Aside from nearly dying before we even got on the highway, everything went very smoothly. Michelle's GPS guided us to the secret hidden lair of Blue Ridge TV. Host George Roberts made us feel very much at ease, and I managed to not do anything devastatingly stupid, like tripping over a raised platform in a studio and nearly falling headfirst into the control board, until after we were off the air.

We weren't provided with a list of questions in advance, other than general ones like "What is a blog?" and "Why did you start NEPA Blogs?" So I decided it would be a good idea to try to anticipate probable questions and come up with detailed responses, in the hope that I might remember some fragment of what I had written down. (During the interview I had these two pages of questions spread out in front of me, though I never referred to them.)

In the end about half of the things George asked us were actually on this list. The others we were able to handle on the fly.


What is a "blog?"

Answered at length here.

I think the answer I gave actually amounted to this:
- term comes from "web log"
- a sort of online magazine where you are the editor and writer (and publisher, I should have mentioned that)
- primarily used by individuals as a way of expressing themselves, their thoughts and opinions
- increasingly popular with small businesses as a way to connect with customers
- increasingly popular with big businesses and corporations as a way to make themselves appear more friendly

How do you start a blog?

- Blogger
- Wordpress
- LiveJournal
- Tumblr
- (Insert other hosting sites here)

(George actually had a long list of other blogging platforms.)

- OR, build it from scratch, doing the coding yourself

Who blogs?

- All sorts of people, from every walk of life.

Why do people blog?

- Everyone has a story, an opinion, something they want to say.
- Personal magazine, written and edited by YOU, or a letters to the editor column where your letters will always be printed
- Your own personal soapbox

Why do YOU blog?

(This didn't get asked, but if it did I would have probably said something about being a writer at heart, and using my blog as a way to express myself in writing. And then I would have probably said something along the lines of this.)

What kinds of blogs are there?

- "Life"
- mommy
- review (recent meeting of Review Bloggers at Great Wolf Lodge)
- poetry
- photo
- "Single-topic" blogs: politics, sports, comics, cakes, cars
- Some people think of political blogs as the ONLY kind of blog
- Recent conferences of political bloggers: Netroots Nation (Progressives), RightOnline (Conservatives)
- Small business blogs
- Big business/corporate blogs
- Informational
- Media blogs

(This did come up, and I didn't give the full list. George seemed to be intrigued by the notion of political blogs. We also discussed the ephemeral "candidate" blogs, which tend to go up before an election and then die out after the election.)

What are the problems with blogs?

- Loss of privacy
- Do you want people mentioned in your blog to be reading your blog?
- Trolls & snipers
- Getting "Dooced"
- Future employers may frown on your opinions - political positions can make you a liability
- Spam comments (fight with CAPTCHA & ReCAPTCHA)
- Scraper blogs

(George also asked the question "Can you be held liable for negative things you say on a blog, slamming a person or a company?" I basically answered that with a "HELL, YEAH": libel and slander laws still apply in cyberspace, and online anonymity is an illusion.

How do bloggers attract a following?

- Comments on other blogs
- Blog!
- Write about a single topic
- Write about a lot of different topics


How do people join NEPA Blogs?

- We look for local blogs
- Contact us at
- NEPA Bloggers group on Facebook

Why should people join?

- Exposure
- Two clicks away from everyone else
- Be a part of community of bloggers

How do you find blogs?

- We look for local blogs (brute force searches, using Blogger's "location" feature)
- People recommend blogs to us
- We find blogs through blogrolls, comments, etc.

Why did you create NEPA Blogs?

- Increase Google rank for Another Monkey
- Group of bloggers linking each other works for a dozen or so blogs
- Not manageable with larger numbers
- Makes sense to have a central site to which everyone links and which links to everyone

(The whole sordid story is explained here. Like a jerk, I failed to mention Gort or Michele's part of the history, but we were running short on time then, I think.)

George also asked if we had any standards for listing - if we've ever delisted someone for content. I told him that that's never come up. If I were to delist people because I don't agree with them, our link list would be a whole lot shorter, and that would defeat the purpose of NEPA Blogs. If your site gets cybersquatted or goes blank, yeah, we'll probably remove the link. But, as I pointed out, just because a blog goes "dead" - with no new updates - is no reason to remove a link; it may simply be that the blogger has died, which is no reason to stop linking to their blog. (As I totally failed to point out, you don't throw out books because the author has died.)

This did give me an opportunity to segue into the story of the scraper blog - how I was excited to find a blog that seemed to be doing the same sort of thing we were doing, linking to blogs in the Scranton area to promote the local blogging scene, until I noticed that their most recent post had been written And that this blog had been copying and reposting blog posts by lots of local bloggers, with links pointing back only to the scraper blog itself.  I pointed out that this was a case of never linking to this blog in the first place, and the person in question actually has one or more other blogs still linked on the NEPA Blogs sidebar. (I think these blogs have actually gone blank, and may be removed during our next sweep.)

So. All in all, it was a good interview, and a good time. We'll see if it results in any new traffic for NEPA Blogs!

1 comment:

Amanda Kline said...

I have never been interviewed by a radio show, so this really intrigues me. What a great way to do alternative education! Sorry, I always have my teacher hat on!

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