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Weblogs: What's It All About?

I been wondering this since I started doing it. It's not surpising then that I was able to give my opinions to Rudy --even when he didn't ask for them... hehe. I want to get some feedback on this from you --my treasured readers. Maybe you can also go to Rudy's site and let him know what you think. Here's the story:

Rudy is writing a history of his life (this is all my opinion, you have to go to the source for what he's up to.) He thinks it would work best if every time you go to his site you get a "start here" type thing --the foundation of his story. The "I was born a poor black child..." thing. I sent him a couple emails trying to explain why I think that's a bad idea. I think it's great what he's doing, but I think he might want to rethink how he's doing it. Here are the emails I sent Rudy:

First Email:

I went to your page to see what your latest writing is but it confuses me. I don't get what you are trying to do. I think I can see why you would want to put your first post at the top of the page --I guess that would be for people that were new to your site, so you could explain to them what it was about. Most of the people that go to your site have been there before and have read that post. Making them scroll through your old post to find your latest one --the problem with that is some people are going to go: "ah f*ck it".

I think your idea about making it easier for new people (I think that's what you're thinking) is a good one. But doing it at the expense of it being easy for returning visitors is bad. Weblogs (unlike other sites) are mainly geared towards the returning visitor --your audience. Usually people you know.

On my site I have people that come back several times a day to see what's new. Since what's new is right there at the top of the page it makes it easy to find. Since it's easy to find, they come back on a regular basis.

There's a reason that newpaper headlines are where they are. That's prime real estate. I dig what you are trying to do. I think it might work better if you did it from a link on the sidebar. Maybe right at the top. Something like: "what this site is about" or "about" or "start here" or "if you're new". And then link that to the first post, or to a page that explains what you are trying to do that could also link to that first entry. The feature that keeps a post at the top should really be used (if at all) very sparingly.

Like for a time based announcement:

concert thursday night at 8:00.

After the event the "keep at the top" part is turned off and the entry scrolls on [and into the archives] like the others.

Anyway, the bottom line of what I'm saying is I'm pretty sure you are going to lose viewers if you keep the site the way it is. It's confusing. Some people will be confused by it and not come back. Cause that's the way the web works. People that are surfing have short attention spans. If they can't find what they are looking for in 6 seconds or less they hit the back button.

Cause they know they can find it somewhere else.

That's the way I surf --don't you?

Second Email:

Was thinking some more about this. I think the newspaper analogy is a good one for this situation. Let me see if I can get across why.

You are writing a history of your life. If it were a book it would make sense for it to start somewhere in the past. Just like history books do. That's the way they all work. The bible for instance. I'm sure this is what you're thinking (let me know if this is right please.)

Weblogs are different. Though almost all of them are histories, they are histories that you enter through the current page. It's like the author is turning the pages for you as he writes and as you read. Or a diary that the author leaves open at the current page.

The web turns the way that things are usually written on it's head. Most people that come to a weblog are going to be returning visitors. They are going to be coming there to see the latest thing that has been written. Why make them hunt for it?

I think this article on the useit.com site is pretty relevant to this:

Inverted Pyramids in Cyberspace

He talks about the difference between history books/text books and newspapers and why each requires a different writing style and view of time. Weblogs are more like newspapers than history books. When I go to a weblog I'm looking for what's new. Not: "I was born a small black child..." hehe.

This is from that article:

"On the Web, the inverted pyramid becomes even more important since we know from several user studies that users don't scroll, so they will very frequently be left to read only the top part of an article. Very interested readers will scroll, and these few motivated souls will reach the foundation of the pyramid and get the full story in all its gory detail."

Putting stuff that most readers have already seen in the prime real estate forces users to scroll to see what's new. You want whats new to be in the prime real estate... Be kind to your readers and they will come back.


Dancing With Bears

Late dinner with Michael (thanks Michael.) Japanese restaurant that I have driven by many times. One of the places on the south side of Sunset between Tower Records and La Cienega. Tables out front [almost on the sidewalk], gas heaters. French restaurant right next door was so close we were pretty much elbow to elbow with their customers who were speaking russian.

It wasn't so long ago that it was very unusual to hear anyone speaking russian. Much more common now. I think it's great. Wanted to ask them if they knew where to get some good russian techno. Jeepers, even bad russian techno is hard to find. A few years back (when I was driving the Acura) I drove by this same restaurant with Don on our way to Sanamluang. Listening to teriffic russian pop really loud (Don laughing hysterically.) I wish I still had those songs --they were great.


Got Woods?

Helicopter circling overhead again today. Seems like that has been happening 3 or 4 times over the past week or two. Not the kind of neighborhood that makes me want to get a little french poodle and walk him every night. Maybe I should move. Twice I have had friends over for a barbeque and they couldn't get to my place because the entire neighborhood was surrounded by police. LOL. I'm not kidding. My friends still tease me about it.

One benefit of living where I do is that there doesn't seem to be that many subscribers sharing my cable subnet. I get almost 2 meg/sec download speed. As the speed test at dslreports puts it: "connection rocks".



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