Before we moved over to our own hosted version of Wordpress, we had a tradition here at BlogCampaigning of trying to make sure that our blog roll was always up to date and reflected what we were actually interested in, rather than just a long list of blogs more popular than ares that we hope will one day link to us.
In an effort to continue that transition, here are five blogs that I've been really into lately and think you should be as well:
Techdirt: These guys, particularly Mike Masnick, are just unbelievably smart. Whatever the tech or copyright issue of the day might be, you can bet that this crew will have a realistic and insightful take on it.
Textually.org: Mobile computing is the future, and learning every bit about it from Emily's cell phone blog has helped me keep an eye on what's happening. She might be based in Switzerland but that doesn't mean she doesn't know what's going on.
Clarkeblog: Written by Timmins' own Chris "Clarkey" Clarke, this blog might not have the same focus as his former Student PR blog but it still has that good ol' Chris Clarke charm.
SEOMoz: If you want to be seen on the internet, you're going to have to know a little bit about Search Engine Optimization (SEO). For that reason, I started reading SEOMoz and have learned a ton in the past few months. They've got posts designed with the beginner in mind, but they also don't worry about getting a little bit more complex. If you care at all about getting noticed on the web (and if you're reading this, you probably do) then check out SEOMoz.
Four Reasons Why: It's easy to read and always fun: two reasons why I'll keep coming back to this blog written by Mark "Mr. List" Evans and his brother. They also do a pretty good job of dividing up the serious posts with the silly ones, and I feel like I learn something every time I read one of their posts. That it was created as a side project by Mark to test some social media strategy only makes it more interesting.
So those are my current favourites, dear readers. Are there any that you think I should be reading?
A little while ago, I decided that our blog roll had become too long and basically irrelevant, so we at BlogCampaigning decided to redo the entire thing and justify why we were adding new blogs. I meant to add Chris Clarke's Student PR blog last time, but forgot to. His posts always make me think and I know that a lot of PR students value his blog as a mine of great advice. Have a look at this post about how young professionals can really bring something to the table by just being an expert in something that they are interested in.
Joseph Wilburn's PR Cogitations is another blog that I've started following lately. Although he is still a student, he writes like a pro. Read his take on the "informational interview" that so many are going through right now.
And completely unrelated is The Curb Crawlers music blog. I'm adding it because they've always got bangin' tracks that you can listen to and download and because they're based in Toronto. Check out this post and listen to a sick remix of a pop classic. Its also a great example of blogs actually being used for something other than endlessly circling talk about the uses of blogs and social media. (Yes, we're guilty of this as much as anyone).
On a similar note, I strongly recommend that you check out FriendsRoll and TopLinks that were recently launched by Joe Thornley and his 76 Design crew. It seems like a great way of ensuring that your blog roll is relevant and accurately reflects what you're reading and writing about. When we get our act together and actually install Wordpress (rather than just running this off of Wordpress.com*) in the next few months, we'll definitely be implementing these plugins at BlogCampaigning.
*I blame Espen for setting it up like this.
A few weeks ago Jens, Espen, Jess and myself all wrote about what we thought were the most relevant blogs. As I rejoin the world of computing after my laptop completely crashed just before Christmas (RIP a great Dell Inspiron that lasted me four years through four different countries across three continents and probably thousands of hours of use), I find that I have hundreds and hundreds of different blog entries to catch up in my RSS reader. While I simply marked most of them that are read, I found that there were a couple of ones that I just couldn't miss and that didn't make it into my blogroll post earlier.
Slashdot remains a great source of new and wonderful information about technology and science. They always seem to catch stories before anyone else. (is it even a blog? Not that Technorati is everything that counts, but why doesn't Slashdot have any authority there?)
Deep Jive Interests by Tony Hung is another blog that I couldn't just skip through. He's got some pretty interesting opinions and his posts always stand out from the pack both for the engaging way their written and what he discusses. TO see what I mean , check out Tony's recent post about the Google Reader privacy fiasco. (Who won that Chumby contest anyways, Tony?)
Anyone have any other suggestions for must-read blogs?
As my main interest concerns gaming my blog roll naturally differs a little from my fellow contributors. I guess there are few surprises here. Anyway, these are my main sources for my daily fix of gaming news. Destructoid: The "hardcore gaming community", independent, straight-forward, witty and intelligent without being pretentious. Offers great feature articles, a community that is actually able to exchange interesting thoughts without adding too many insults and reviews that dare to be different not for the sake of being different.
Kotaku: Another heavyweight: The almost-as-hardcore gaming community that basically offers the same qualities as Destructoid. Sometimes almost too much information to properly digest – which might be because they even write about game themed cakes... On the other hand there's an Australian version which comes in pretty handy for my Ph.D. Furthermore it's so influential that you can even attend courses about how to be editor Brian Crecente!
Screenplay: Jason Hill's blog at the Age are my main resource for Australia related gaming news. Offers good interviews with those involved in the (Australian) industry and keeps a close eye on policy developments. Best enjoyed in combination with Sumea, one of the main resources for Australian and New Zealand game developers. Especially insightful here: the comments.
Gamepolitics: What GamePolitics writes about itself: GamePolitics.com offers a clearinghouse for politically-oriented news and opinions about video games, the video game business and the way in which games relate to modern society. What others write about GamePolitics: “2006 Best of the Web - 100 Websites to Bookmark Now” Entertainment Weekly Anyone interested in the future of video games might want to check out Dennis McCauley’s gamepolitics.com. The site is an all-encompassing look at existing and proposed video game legislation at the state and federal level. ArcaMax Publishing
Level Up: Why out of all gaming blogs a Newsweek blog? N'Gai Croal pretty much gives the answer in his thoughtful "Now Who's Being Naive, Kay? Or, Reflections on the Fundamental Contempt In Which the Enthusiast Press Is Held By Publishers--And Its Own Employers" piece. For those who don't have the patience to read it (it's almost as the long as the headline): The publishers hate the enthusiast press (press that solely covers games) which heavily relies upon advertising dollars from the very companies they're covering. And then there's Newsweek which is ostensibly more independent.
Watercooler Games: Ian Bogost's and Gonzalo Frasca's blog about the uses of videogames in advertising, politics, education, and other everyday activities, outside the sphere of entertainment. As a founding partner of Persuasive Games (creators of the New York Times newsgames) author of several books on games with an agenda, professor at Georgia Tech and board member at Open Texture (an educational publisher) Bogost knows a thing or two about games and their use for political purposes. The same goes for Gonzalo Frasca, academic researcher in The Center for Computer Game Research of the university of Technology of the information (IT) of Copenhagen, Denmark and, amongst other things, author of the great "Videogames of the Oppressed".
Honorable mention: Popurls: The meta of the meta, for the the latest buzz on the intertubes. Also teaches the very important lesson not to mess with Ron Paul supporters (who, let's face it, is not going to make the race – probably because some big oil conspiracy prevents the impeachment of Cheney who singlehandedly organizes all the taser abuse with his iPhone. All to be illustrated in a XKCD comic. You get idea…)
Well, as I am sure most of you already know: Parker erased the Blog Roll. We are now in the process of rebuilding the list from scratch, by adding only the blogs that we find most relevant to both the work we do and our personal interest.
So without further ado, here's my list:
Personal Democracy Forum Ever since I started this blog I've been interested in reading about how blogging is affecting political processes. One of the first blogs that I stumbled upon that discussed this specific topic was Personal Democracy Forum. PDF functions as a hub that looks at how the technology, especially the internet, has changed democracy – not very much unlike what we do here at BlogCampaigning.
TechPresident To take a closer look at how the 2008 US presidential candidates are using the web for political purposes (and vice versa) and how content generated by the voters is affecting the political campaign, Personal Democracy Forum launched a new blog, TechPresident, about a year ago. This has become one of my most-read blogs, and my greatest inspiration for the work I do on this blog.
e.politics Another "politics-meets-blogging blog" I check into regularly is e.politics. Colin Delany always seems to have the links needed to keep up to date on what's worth knowing about online politics. And this is why this Gonzo-loving blogger ends up on my list.
The Bivings Report Just like Personal Democracy Forum and TechPresident, The Bivings Report also has its focus on the communications industry. The guys over at TBR always offer interesting links and analyses worth digging further into.
Young PR I can't recreate the blog roll without adding this blog. Paull Young, the blog's author and founding father of the anti-astroturfing campaign that we here at BlogCampaigning support, has been a big inspiration to me even before I started my own blog. Paull helped me start the BlogCampaigning-blog, and gave me a crash-course in blogging at the time I worked as an intern at Bam Meida in Australia. I read his blog as often as I can and encourage everyone else to do the same. All you young PR-students out there should definitely have a look at this blog.
Jill/Txt I like reading academic articles about blogging, and Jill/txt has provided me with some excellent links to just that. The fact that Jill/txt is an associate professor at my old university in Bergen, and the fact that this is one of the few Norwegian-based blogs that I take time to read, makes it a perfect blog to place on my blog roll. As with most of the other blogs we read here at BlogCampaigning, this is also a New Media-focused blog.
A few days ago, I wrote a post detailing our plans to redo the BlogCampaigning blog roll. We've completely erased it, and are starting over again. It is our hope that you'll find these blogs as relevant and informative as we do.
Here are the first five blogs that I'll be adding to my section:
1.) Techdirt - Despite the fact that it is not a PR specific blog, this is probably one of the websites that I cite and link to most frequently here on BlogCampaigning. Mike Masnick is probably one of the smartest thinkers online today and he is able to coherently write about technology, legal issues and even news items relevant to the PR world. Besides giving us brilliant analysis on an almost hourly basis, Mike is also responsible for creating the Techdirt Insight Community (I blogged about this earlier here). This is one of the greatest uses of crowd-sourcing that I have ever seen and is proof that Mike Masnick is one of our era's great minds. (I also had the privilege of meeting Mike at mesh 07 . My only suggestion for next years mesh conference is that they don't limit him to a panel discussion late on the second day but rather give this man the floor time he deserves.)
2.) Textually.org - If you've been following this blog for a while, you know that I think that video games and cell phones are the future of media and communication. Because of this, I have a soft spot for Textually a site "all about texting, SMS and MMS." While purists might not call it a blog because it primarily aggregates news about mobile phones and texting without reader comments, it is still worthy of inclusion on my blogroll.
3.) Jeremiah's Owyang's Web-Strategist blog - I'm not sure how I first came across his blog, but I find Jeremiah's posts to be full of great information. He also makes me critically question the way I approach blogging, and web-strategy in general. According to this post, he also only sleeps "in 2 three hour shifts a night." While I have trouble drumming up his same level of enthusiasm for Twitter (add me and try to convince me otherwise), other posts like his weekly digests make for a great read. I'm hoping that he makes it out to one of Toronto's Third Tuesday events sometime in the next few months.
4.) PR Works - I like this blog written by David Jones for a number of reasons. First of all, he tends to write about things that I haven't read before on a ton of other blogs. Secondly, he keeps his posts short. Exactly the length that I need to get the information and opinion I want. Read what he has to say about YouTube Canada or about his first week at Hill & Knowlton.
5.) Fuzzy Gloves' Scotty Mac and Chris Clarke of Student PR are two of Toronto and the blogosphere's finest young PR dudes and I don't think I've ever been dissapointed by what they have to say. For a taste, check out what Scotty has to say about how he uses Facebook at work. I only wish they'd post more often.
Any suggestions for the next blogs I should add to the blogroll?
3.1 What is a blog? A blog, short for weblog, is: “a user-generated website where entries are made in journal style and displayed in a reverse chronological order” (Wikipedia 2007a, see also Stanyer 2006, p. 1, Blood in Williams et at. 2005, p. 2, Schiano et al. 2004, p. 1, Gill 2004, p. 1). Most blogs represent the personality of the author and are “intended for general public consumption” (Bytowninternet 2007). A blog is not necessarily text based. We also find examples of photo-blogs, video-blogs and audio-blogs. Common to them all is that they tend to provide commentaries or news on particular subjects (Wikipedia 2007a).
There are several reasons why the medium has become an interesting communication tool for politicians. First, blogs, contrary to mainstream media, “offer an unmanaged space for attitude expression that is not controlled by gatekeepers of various kinds” (Stanyer 2006, p. 405). Second, blogs are interactive. Most blogs allow visitors to respond to the author’s message (Stanyer 2006, p. 405). Blogs can therefore be used as vehicles for two-way communication where the author can create a dialogue with readers internally on the blog (Simmons 2005, pp. 2-3). Third, blogs connect with other blogs through so-called hyperlinks forming an overall universe of blogs, often referred to as the ‘blogosphere’ (Stanyer 2006, p. 406). Sroka (2007, p. 7) claims that linking is what renders blogs and the connection amongst them into what essentially is a very large conversation, turning the blogosphere into something more than a bunch of individuals ranting into cyberspace. This conversation occurs because most bloggers maintain a “blogroll” on their site – “a list of blogs that they frequently read or especially admire, with clickable links to the general URLs (web addresses) of those blogs” (Drezner & Farrell 2004, p. 7) - and because bloggers deliberately link to each other through entries or so-called blog posts (this is a blog post) discussing whatever topics interest them (Drezner & Farrell 2004, p. 7). Posts commenting on posts are a key form of information exchange in the blogosphere (Drezner & Farrell 2004, p. 7).
The conversations and the public sphere created by this linking system present a new arena where politicians target messages, spread information, receive feedback and actively engage with potential supporters. Consequently, understanding the nature and structures within the blogosphere becomes a necessity for anyone intending to understand how blogs may impact politics or how politicians may influence blog audiences.
While our website has primarily been focusing on the blogs of notable politicians, we would also like to note that focus groups, with their ability to sway the vote and draw attention, also deserve recognition for their political work in the blogosophere. From the left side of the spectrum, we have the Friends of Hylebos, a group of Americans dedicated to saving their local wetlands area. Through their blog, they have created a community of like-minded individuals and have definite potential to sway votes. Props to them for creating an easily-readable and frequently-updated blog that involves a large segment of the population in the process. And on the other side, we can at least sleep peacefully knowing that bloggers (if no one else) are looking out for wealthy capitalists who have been accused of environmental crimes by poor natives. Eric Ness has created a blog aimed at clearing his father of pollution charges in Indonesia. Mineweb tells us that the blog has “managed to capture and sustain the attention of U.S. politicians, the international news media, the U.S. State Department, and other stakeholders.” Powerful stuff, I’ll admit. My favourite part is how Eric Ness posts a document that accuses NGOs of undermining democracy. It’s a bold move for a man who hasn’t updated his blog in almost three weeks. In the blogosphere, timeliness is next to godliness.