MSN BlogBot a new service from Microsoft will aggregate content from hundreds of thousands of Web logs and index that content based on which Web logs are most popular and credible. Defined by whom exactly?

I generally find these services useful, its good to get a snapshot of what’s popular on the Internet. But ‘god is in the details’ as the saying goes. The diversity of thoughts available on the Internet is one of its biggest strengths. As with conventional media this will simply be a large corporate entity editing what we see. Already on Blogdex a large component of the items are from the dead trees news outlets of Grauniad, NYTimes, BBC and Washington Post. They are always going to be able to out-publish individual bloggers.

Don’t get me wrong, services such as this are much need to sift through the literally billions of sources. However, editing the edited is a one way street.

I would like to see services that can be controlled themselves. Maybe an Amazon style ‘if you liked this, then why not try this’?

Also what if one of the most popular Blogs was about how crap Microsoft are or how great Apple are..would these still get up there?

Analysis Paralysis

With technologies such as the semantic web, RFID, more RSS feeds than you can shake a stick at and web services about to infect every facet of our programs, the future looks, well…automated.

But is it really that simple, can we simply say this does this and that does that. In my job a lot of documentation is required to manage IT projects through its entire life cycle. Words like analysis of success, deliverables, functional specification, project work flows, yada yada are used. But what does it all boil down to?


For something to be checked [or searched, archived, expire, start, exist] an object [or document, code, information, person] must be tagged [standardised, rationalised, locked down].

Standards must be developed, user guides for the user guides, workflows for the workflows must be created.

An example:
BISAC, a publishing standard (ahem) to standardize the electronic transfer of subject information.

However what about BIC codes, promotion of standards for electronic commerce and communication in the book and serials industry.

Oh dear. Two standards…BISAC (USA and Canada) BIC (ROW)

How about Atom vs RSS 2.0, 802.11B VS 802.11G, Netscape vs Internet Explorer, the list continues. Looks like the future is a little less automated.

Does History have anything to teach us? Indeed the industrial revolution required a large amount of standardisation to succeed. Much of 20th C. social thought has had a rather downbeat view of modernity. One of the more famous strands of this thought was via Max Weber: ‘Modernity is characterized by the increasing role of calculation and control in social life, a trend leading to what he called the iron cage of bureaucracy, Human beings enslaved by a rational order have become mere cogs in the social machinery, objects of technical control in much the same way as raw materials and the natural environment’

Still the Orwellian view of life often falls down on one simple fact. People are buggers. They can’t agree on things, lest of all how to control and declare things.

Life is organic, and thus the products of our creations inherit some of those innate organic tendencies. Computers crash, they do stupid things, they go mental, they die. Maybe its not such a bad thing that standards cannot be reached, isn’t this the human condition? Or more part of a wider perspective, nature. Once something is defined a natural opposite reaction occurs. Whether that definition is a political ideology, standard or classification. As in Quantum theory nothing is certain until it is measured, and even then the measurement may affect the outcome.

One phrase that I often used in my essays at Uni (mainly coz it was long): Omnipresent Layered Inherent History, every part contains the picture of the whole, where that whole resides is another Blog.

and beyond

Sekhmet Hypothesis

Far Out

In 1610, shortly after viewing the sun with his new telescope, Galileo Galilei made the first European observations of Sunspots.

Monthly averages of the sunspot numbers since 1749 show that the number of sunspots visible on the sun waxes and wanes with an approximate 11-year cycle.

A theory [Sekhmet Hypothesis] believes that musical trends follow solar cycles, i.e. every 11 years there’s a quantum shift.

Apparently this is due to cyclical development of movements in “youth culture” which emerge with fresh strength and get absorbed by business within a decade. Suggesting therefore that ‘Uth Cultr’ when at its ‘peak'(or most its ideas prove the most appealing?) matches the peak of sun spots and within time get absorbed by the mainstream. So that means for example that the origins for punk rook started around 1967-70? Well yes apparently

So could sun spots really affect us here on earth? Sun Spots are defined as ‘Relatively cool regions in the solar photosphere that appear dark. They contain intense magnetic fields which provide the energy for solar flares. Sunspots occur in groups.’.

So its magnetism eh? And what effect may these have on “youth culture” I hear you type?

  • Changes in neural electrophysiology
  • Changes in neurotransmitters (which affect motivation and pain perception)
  • Decreased memory, attention, and slower reaction time in school children

Sooo Psychedelia/Punk rock/Acid house/NuMetal could be the resultant effect of huge amounts of magnetism on young brains? I have to admit there is more a passing resemblance between ‘Changes in neural electrophysiology’ and those music types, especially in reference to drug taking.

And what else causes large magnetic surges? Mobile phone masts. Shit, well we may all be vegetables but we’ll have some funky music to listen too.

Of course all this is a fairly arbitrary theory. What makes a scene ‘good’, how do we define what the scene is? Indeed there may very well be a correlation, but as with everything, it is difficult to pin things such as this down to absolutes as there are always going to be other effects on the collective creationistic tendancies of youth.

Labour’s Special Offer – you won’t pay until 2005

Apparently the Tories are thinking of ditching their rather nasty ad approach of the last election and going for humour this time.

Marketing director, Will Harris, says ‘The approach is an oblique negative, it’s amusing rather than an out-and-out negative attack.’

The first ad is to be a DFS (think Sofas think DFS) pastiche using a ‘Buy Now Pay Later’ angle to hopefully un-seat (sorry) Labour from Government. The aim is to convince voters that the Conservatives produce the cheapest what…I mean…that tax will rise should Labour regain power.

So lets see, to convince people of their whiter than white image the Tories are to use naff sofa ads as propaganda…as Baudrillard said ‘if everything on television is, without exception, part of a low-calorie (or even no-calorie) diet, then what good is it complaining about the adverts? By their worthlessness, they at least help to make the programmes around them seem of a higher level.’. Naff advertising may sell sofas, but will it sell the Opposition, or simply make Labour look like Ikea?

Dangerous area Saatchi. You’re a big man Maurice but you’re out of shape. Could this be an ad too far? Lets see if people start queuing up outside Tory Head Office desperate to purchase ‘The Luna’ at £899, snip, snip

The Luna(tic)


Booze, drink, grog, juice, sauce. Much has been said recently of the ill effects of booze. Indeed binge drinking has reached epidemic levels in the UK.

But to be fair this country has mostly been arse-faced for the best part of a thousand years. The difference (or simply the re-emergence) now is people have so much pent up anger, fear, anxiety at just about everything that the result is the sudden outpouring of those emotions.

1350: per capita consumption of wine in Siena was 5 liters per day.

1830: a major issue with drukedness arose due (in part at least) to the harsh social conditions brought about by the nation’s rapid industrialization.

Circa World War One: Attempts to reduce alcohol consumption were made in Germany, Austria-Hungary, France and Italy. In Britain, David Lloyd George, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, led the campaign against alcohol. In January 1915, Lloyd George claimed that Britain was “fighting German’s, Austrians and Drink, and as far as I can see the greatest of these foes is Drink.

Pretty much at the heart of most cultures booze has (most probably) been one of the driving forces of historical decisions. Makes you wonder what in our history has been decided apon under the influence?

Anyhoo. here are some edited highlights of ’40 things a drunkard should do before they die’

Go on a fishing trip with your pals.
Ensure you bring enough beer and liquor to paralyze the nation of Liechtenstein. Fishing tackle is optional. Drink near a body of water (you don’t actually have to come in contact or even see the water, but it should be nearby), then, when night falls, build a huge campfire. There is nothing more conducive to male bonding and rampant drinking than a campfire. Trust me, strip clubs come in a distant second.

Steal some booze.
Against the law? Sure. A hell of a rush? Absolutely. Of course, not getting caught is very important. Plan well. Nothing tastes quite so sweet.

Try absinthe.
Do the full ritual with the spoon and sugar. Drink enough to feel the full effect. Stroll the path that Hemingway, Van Gogh, Degas, F. Scott, and myriad other geniuses spent their lives pounding flat. Just don’t cut your ear off.

Make your own beer, wine or moonshine.
There are fewer finer feelings in the world than to nurture booze from it’s humble, evil-tasting origins to something you can get hammered on. Just expect to repeat these words over and over again when you go mad on the blood of your creation: “I made this! Me! And now I’m drinking it! Woo-hoo!”

I’ll drink to that

Blog will eat itself

Blog Survey….
So it seems that Blogs are generally written by male Caucasian 21-30 years olds in the U.S. Sooo the phrase ‘blogging is slowly becoming more of a mainstream phenomenon on the Internet’ may not be that relevant.

My experiment is starting to seem a bit like Jane Austin…

‘Her novels are highly prized not only for their light irony, humour, and depiction of contemporary English country life, but also for their underlying serious qualities.’

Replace ‘her’ with white ‘urban male 20 year olds based in the US’ and ‘contemporary english’ with ‘contemporary culture’ and your pretty much there with a good alround definition of Blogging.

I think my experiment has run its course….oh dear…three days. This comes round to an issue about editing the edited. If everyone uses tools like Blogdex and Blogpulse to get links to place in their Blogs and then Blogdex and Blogpulse are tracking the links, then aren’t we in an ol’ fashioned paradox?

Carry Bradshaw moment:
‘If Bloggers Blog the already Blogged then aren’t we just a little (pause) Blogged out?’

I think I will still look at the top links, if only to see trends across the Internet, but maybe not draw too many conclusions. Ho Hum.

Coming tommorow:. mindless ramblings about my own experiences and self-righteous comments about sleb culture….its more fun that way…viva la difference!
Belle de Jew
Belle de Jour
Beau de Jour



Local Google, very cool new idea from the Oligarchs of Search. Would be very cool if this could be integrated into a mobile and automatically selected where you are.

Spoken interface from Apple. As usual nice idea but a little weird to be in an office where everyone is bantering away to their computer. Also would the computer be hurt when you are ranting at it for doing something you didn’t want it to do. Like it wouldn’t re-boot until you say sorry, buy it a new USB port and promise never to say such horrid things again. I’ll stop now…

Guinness Beer

Bob Zangas’ last entry…‘OK….that’s enough for today. Hang on to your dreams!’ Very strange concept the idea that these arbitrary comments still so fresh can carry such power.

Mariah Carey
Margaret Thatcher
Isaac Asimov

Would make a great sci-fi. The Iron Lady attacks the Butterfly.

American idol
favourite TV show
lord Jesus Christ
says it all really

Top of the Blogs

Today’s Blog mining experiment (or mining the mining) has thrown up some interesting findings, not least from the content but the juxtapositioning of the data and the editing:

Man treated after attempting to nail himself to cross:

“When he realized that he was unable to nail his other hand to the board, he called 911,”

The most influential reporters and bloggers on the web.
“This list is generated by counting unique references (links) to articles and posts authored in the last 60 days and mixes bloggers with reporters from traditional media.”
Bit of a strange one as I got this link from a XML feed tracking web trends. Ooh self-referential…what came first?

When Slebs Swear
Channel 4’s self-promotional ad showing Scrubs stars, Tony Robinson, Richard & Judy et al swearing like Dockers.

Get this for a list of people (this is in order of display!):
Tony Blair
Adolf Hitler
Margaret Thatcher
Allen Iverson
Ashton Kutcher
Virginia Woolf
William Shakespeare
Jackie Chan
Karl Marx

The mind boggles what that lot would talk about…

and finally BlogPhrases:
The White House is understandably upset about SENATOR JOHN KERRY’s assertion that many foreign leaders are eager to see an end to the Bush….
Clintons legacy lives on


Blogs defined by many as a fairly personal content form on the Internet. A person’s Web log is almost like an open diary.

Blogdex ‘uses the links made by webloggers as a proxy to the things they are talking about. Webloggers typically conceptualise their writing with hypertext links which act as markers for the subjects they are discussing. These markers are like tags placed on wild animals, allowing Blogdex to track a piece of conversation as it moves from weblog to weblog’.

I think this is rather interesting and have integrated some RSS feeds on this site (right hand nav: BlogPeople / BlogPhrases and BlogLinks). These are taken from BlogPulse (from the Intelliseek Applied Research Center) which automatically tracks trends on weblogs. Apparently because ‘The most popular phrases and names change very slowly over time. The burstiest phrases and names are those whose frequency of occurrence has increased significantly over the past two weeks, often dramatically.

With this in mind I propose an experiment using BlogPeople / BlogPhrases and BlogLinks) as a reference, I will track the trackers, mine the miners, depth charge the depth chargers. And in the true spirit of postmoderism, self-reference the self-referencial. Are there patterns in the way blogging works, or is it just a immeadiate reaction to what’s going on around us, a further extension to mass media? It may turn out that all I am simply doing is further hacking up a snapshot of a much wider picture, or that I see what I want to. But hey, where would we be without ridiculous theories and conjecture. That’s what the web’s best at. And ofcourse it gives me something to blog about

So todays top ten peeps are….

Bob Zangas
Mr . Zapatero
John Howard
Jose Maria Aznar
Tim Blair
John Quiggin
Jose Luis Rodríguez Zapatero
Peter Bagge
Minister Leszek Miller
Sgt . Camilo Mejia

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