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Getting Paid for Doing Bad Things

I have recently received half a dozen offers of placing links in my blogs to reputable companies’ websites. Think of it as product placement for the Internet. It’s been around a while, but I just figured out how it’s done, and it made me realise that the early dreams of a blogging utopia on the web are pretty much dead. Here’s how this kind of product placement works. If I can persuade you to link to my product page in your blog, then my product will appear more popular and rise up Google’s search results accordingly. Simple. An ad wouldn’t work. Google would see itContinue readingGetting Paid for Doing Bad Things

Gay Lesbian Syrian Blogger? Or a Bearded American from Edinburgh?

Here’s a cautionary tale about how hard it is to verify whether someone is who they say they are: Syrian lesbian blogger is revealed conclusively to be a married man Tom MacMaster’s wife has confirmed in an email to the Guardian that he is the real identity behind the Gay Girl in Damascus blog Syrian lesbian blogger has been revealed to be Tom MacMaster, an American based in Scotland. Public domain The mysterious identity of a young Arab lesbian blogger who was apparently kidnapped last week in Syria has been revealed conclusively to be a hoax. The blogs were written by not by a gayContinue readingGay Lesbian Syrian Blogger? Or a Bearded American from Edinburgh?

Social Media and Politics: Truthiness and Astroturfing

By Jeremy Wagstaff (this is a column I wrote back in November. I’m repeating it here because of connections to astroturing in the HBGary/Anonymous case.) Just how social is social media? By which I mean: Can we trust it as a measure of what people think, what they may buy, how they may vote? Or is it as easy a place to manipulate as the real world. The answers to these questions aren’t of academic interest only. They go right to the heart of what may be our future. More and more of our world is online. And more and more of our online worldContinue readingSocial Media and Politics: Truthiness and Astroturfing

Social Media and Politics: Truthiness and Astroturfing

(This is a longer version of my syndicated newspaper column) By Jeremy Wagstaff Just how social is social media? By which I mean: Can we trust it as a measure of what people think, what they may buy, how they may vote? Or is it as easy a place to manipulate as the real world? The answers to these questions aren’t of academic interest only. They go right to the heart of what may be our future. More and more of our world is online. And more and more of our online world is social media: A quarter of web pages viewed in the U.S.Continue readingSocial Media and Politics: Truthiness and Astroturfing

The New Normal: Constant Flux

(This is a copy of my Loose Wire Sevice column, produced for newspapers and other print publications. Hence the lack of links.) I was reading a blog by a World Banker the other day—now there’s a phrase I wouldn’t have thought I’d use a few years ago—about our old favorite in this column: Twitter. Now don’t get me wrong. It’s good that the World Bank is blogging, and talking about Twitter. And one shouldn’t judge the thinking of the Bank from the words of this World Bank employee—who is not part of the banking part of the Bank. But it does reflect, I suspect, aContinue readingThe New Normal: Constant Flux

Software That Plays Tag

This week’s WSJ.com column (subscription only, I’m afraid) is about Jiglu, a sort of automatic tagging service you can see in action somewhere on this blog: If you’re a writer, you hope your words will be etched in stone for eternity. If you’re a blogger, you’re happy if someone stumbles on your writings a few days after you posted them. Blogs, partly because they often consist mainly of commentary on things that have just happened, and partly because of the way they are structured (most recent postings first, making it easy to ignore everything you wrote before), are a transient medium. Rarely is a blogContinue readingSoftware That Plays Tag

How to Flatter 100 Bloggers

Do portraits of them as ASCII art. Amit Agarwal, an India-based blogger of impeccable test and refinement, does some very cool pictures of 100 bloggers. Including that picture of me looking smarmy in the middle of the kampung: ASCII Art: Colored Text Paintings of Your Favorite Bloggers – Digital Inspiration

The Rise and Fall of Blogging, Twitter and Facebook

A lot of people ask me whether they should blog. Usually I give them the stock answer: blog because you’ve got something to say, because you feel you’ve got to write, and because you want to connect to other people on the same subject. But now I think I’d add another suggestion: don’t bother. Here, in a nutshell is a history of blogging: a few years back someone invented the idea of software that would make it really easy to add text and links to a website. It could also add them atop the existing material, so the fresh, new stuff was on top, not the bottom. Blogging wasContinue readingThe Rise and Fall of Blogging, Twitter and Facebook

The Real iPhone Lesson: the Power of Schtum

I first wrote about Scoble, then the Microsoft Blogger Enfant Terrible back in 2004 or something. Maybe even earlier. But he was the breath of fresh air the company needed at the time. Now the ‘markets are naked conversations’ thing is the main meme, the conventional wisdom the smart people (smugly) get. Now Scoble’s on his own doing podcasts, still famous for being, well, Scoble, and just posted something that made me realize the game may already have changed: Steve Jobs is MANUFACTURING great PR by keeping everyone’s mouth shut. Heck, I’ve met some people I KNEW had an iPhone and they were so scaredContinue readingThe Real iPhone Lesson: the Power of Schtum

Blog Off(line)

I know I’m old-fashioned, but I still like to edit my blogs from a client, not from the webpage itself. It’s probably something to do with the temperamental connections I get in this neck of the woods, but I’m always convinced my ramblings are going to disappear into the ether unless they’re somehow being saved on my computer,  not on someone else’s. What’s more, I hate the fact that Control+k doesn’t always mean insert a hyperlink. It should in every language, every situation. Really. So it’s simple. A blogging tool (or client, if you want to be fancy) simply allows you to create, edit andContinue readingBlog Off(line)

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