Friday, August 29, 2008

For Bloggers Who Write Long Posts

Tēnā koutou katoa - Greetings to you all
Māori totem, Sky Tower, Auckland, NZ
Have you ever written a post that was so long it needed to be split into sections? If you don’t mind experimenting a bit with the html editor, here’s a simple idea you may find useful. It permits you to include a menu, with links to annotated headings, like the one shown below, as well as Return-to-top links at convenient points throughout your post. You can try out these features here.

First write your post
Menu headings
Writing address labels
Editing html
Entering in the links
Linking to a section in another post

First write your post

You should really get your post into the shape you want to see it in when you publish. This means all the formatting, font sizing and colour, should be done, including writing the menu that you will want to attach links to later. Make sure you have a Return-to-top heading in some appropriate position at the foot of your post and at other suitable points throughout.

Menu headings

Use the text of the section headings so that they correspond to the items in the menu (in this post there are seven menu items). These will eventually carry the links that point to the corresponding marker tags placed in appropriate positions in the html of the post. Having done that, you can proceed to the next stage of writing the address labels
and marker tags.
Writing address labels

Inspect your list of menu headings and choose the first word from each heading as part of a label extension. It is important that no two labels are the same. So if this occurs, choose another appropriate word for one of the labels. Enter the # character followed immediate by the label name (no space). I entered the following list of label extensions for the sections in this post:
The extension #top is included for use in the Return-to-top links.


Using your list of labels, enter a list of marker tags in the Notepad file. Below is the list of marker tags that I entered for this post. Notice that there is no # in the label names.

A marker tag permits the browser to find the position requested when you click on the corresponding link.

Editing html

Bloggers who are new to using the edit html facility can find this next part a bit daunting. It pays to spend some time looking around at the code first. I usually study the code before I do anything to it. If you inspect the html code of a post carefully, you may notice that some of it begins to make sense. Text, for instance, once located, will look similar to the text that appears on the post when in normal edit mode.

The markers for each section of your post must now be put into the html code. To do this you must put the draft post into Edit HTML mode so that you can inspect the code.

It is important that each marker is placed correctly and with the appropriate tags. Use the find text facility (Ctrl F) if you get stuck looking for a word in the html.

Put in the first marker. Place it immediately in front of the tag that corresponded to the first heading in the post as shown in the html code below (the marker tag is shown in blue - the heading text is shown highlighted).

Follow through by putting in the rest of the marker tags, ensuring that each is placed just in front of the tag that precedes the text for each heading. Remember to insert the marker tag for the Return-to-top links. This should be placed immediately before the tag that precedes the text of the first paragraph in the post.

Publish your post and view the new post in your browser. Look at the address line and scroll along to see the right hand end of the address. If you cannot see the name of your post, or part of it, you are not viewing the address of your post.

Make sure you have the new address of your post showing in the address line - each blog has its own way of showing this. Copy the address from the address line of your browser and paste it into the Notepad file. You will need this to create the links in the menu.

Entering the links

Copy the address of your post to a new line in the Notepad file and add the label extension for the first menu header.
The post address and the label extension make one address:

post address#label

For this post, the complete address for the first header, “First write your post”, looks like this:

All the addresses differ only in their label extensions. Adding the appropriate label extension to the address of the post makes the address for each of the headers. For instance, the address for the Return-to-top label for this post looks like this:

When you have completed the list of link addresses in Notepad, edit the published post and enter each address as a link for each of the corresponding menu headings, including any Return-to-top headings.
Job done, all you need to do is publish your post again.

Linking to a section in another post

You can link to a section in another post by adding the label extension for the section to the address of the post and using the resulting address in the link. For instance, the address for the section headed Editing html in this post is:

To see how this works, here is a link to a section
in a previous post headed Recent elearning.


Ka kite anō - Catch ya later

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Views from Tangi-te-Keo

Tēnā koutou katoa - Greetings to you all
This week's Web 2.0 Wednesday assignment from Michele Martin is to create an icebreaker. Created specifically as an introduction to Wellington City this slideshow uses a 360 degree panoramic series of 15 pictures taken from the summit of Mt Victoria, Wellington.

Tangi-te-Keo is the resting place of the manuwairua, Te Keo, of the unfortunate taniwha, Whātaitai (see A Taste of Middle-earth).

The photos were loaded as a photostream in Flickr, made into a slideshow, and the resulting embed html pasted into this post

Update 29 Aug 2008 (Thanks to Virginia Yonkers!)
in groups of twos or threes view the slideshow, then share with each other something about a geographical feature of where they come from (island, hill, mountain, river, sea, lake etc.) If they are from Wellington they share something of what they know of Wellington.

Views from Tangi-te-Keo
photos by Nicolas Allan.

( 8 ) ( 7 ) ( 6 ) << - other Web2.0Wednesday posts - >> ( 4 ) ( 3 ) ( 2 ) ( 1 )

Ka kite anō - Catch ya later

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Prejudice and the Internet

Tēnā koutou katoa - Greetings to you all
New Zealand district court Judge David Harvey has ruled that the names of two young men, aged 21 and 23, charged with the recent murder of a 14 year old boy, are not to be published on the Internet.

Judge Harvey permitted the publication of their names and images on television news bulletins and in newspapers. He was reported to have said that he was “concerned about someone Googling someone's name and being able to access it later”, and was “concerned about the viral effect of digital publication”. This unusual and unprecedented decision is now before the New Zealand Law Commission.

Previously published

Judge Harvey recently published a text book on law and
the Internet entitled,, so the assumption is that he knows a thing or two about the issues involved here. Presumably he feels that publishing the names of those accused of murder on the Internet would be to the detriment of a fair trial.

Already there is much information widely spread over the Internet about this case. It must be very difficult for any crime release report about an impending trial not to cause people to jump to conclusions. For this and other reasons it’s often difficult for a jury to be assembled of people who do not know significant details about a case like this.

New Zealand law upholds that an accused is innocent until proven guilty. The ethical and humanitarian issues at play here are not slight. They pose interesting questions about the possible prejudicial use of the Internet in connection with an impending trial, while challenging the almost inevitable, but unlawful use of that medium for a purpose that the order prohibits.

Clearly, Judge Harvey’s decision has the potential to set a precedent for excluding the use of the Internet for publishing information about crime that otherwise might be distributed legally using any other publishing means.
Ka kite anō - Catch ya later

Friday, August 22, 2008

Procrastinating can tire the brain

Tēnā koutou katoa - Greetings to you all
A box of chocolates.
Charles Green’s recent post, Do People Trust Rationally? prompted me to leave a comment. He got me thinking about how trust could possibly be formed quickly through rationality. I procrastinated a bit before I typed in my comment. After that, I had to have a cup of tea and a lie down.

The brain tires like a muscle:

In a recent paper, Professor On Amir suggests that the brain works in a similar way to a muscle, in that “when depleted, it becomes less effective.” Deliberating and procrastinating over making choices depletes the so-called executive resources in the brain. As a result, subsequent decision-making can be adversely affected when making choices with a tired brain.

But it is the switch from deliberating to actually executing the choice that does the depleting, says Amir. People with overtaxed brains make worse decisions than those whose brains are well rested. Those who do not deliberate make decisions that also tend to be inferior.

Trust is about choice:

It's supposed to be cool to be capricious, cool to be democratic (whatever that means), cool to be so laid back you fall off the fence. When it comes to making a choice, there is a whole mystique associated with that moment of decision. Often there is an urgency associated with making the right choice and a person has to draw on the executive functions when executing that choice.

In my comment on Charles’ post, I maintained that decisions about trust that are made rapidly, are less likely to be useful. Most people don't like being unsure about certain things. In situations where trust is seen to be important, they feel an urgency to make up their minds. So they will find short-cuts to do this quickly, presumably saving on their brain’s executive function:

"I didn't like the shoes he was wearing . . . "

"Something about the way she came into the room . . . "

"I always distrust a man with a beard . . . ", etc.

Unease in uncertainty:

When there is a need to make a choice or form an opinion about trust, there is a discomfort that people feel until their mind is made up. The ease that is felt when this is done is gratifying to such an extent that it tends to dispel residual doubt about the first formed opinion. It's almost as if it's chemical, like a shot of alcohol, for it brings about a feeling of wellbeing.

Comfort can be found in the smug idea, "I know I'm right." Doubt is pushed into the background by this. As positive as people might be about their own opinion, later they may still want to look for other evidence to support their choice. Goethe was purported to have said, "If you look for evidence to support your opinion, you'll find it."

Deliberation makes for sound decisions:

Though procrastinating and making a decision involving trust may deplete the executive function of the brain, it is likely to be superior to a decision made without forethought. In some ways this is the payoff for the mental effort that is spent. Trust built through rationality takes time. It has to be earned, and achieving that can take a long time. When it eventually happens through this formative process, it can be deep and solemn - a trust on which life-long relationships are built.

Can sound trust be built quickly? If it is proved that trust quickly formed remains in tact over a long and testing period of time, was it through good judgement that it was built? Or was it just pure chance that the right decision was made?

( 5 ) ( 4 ) << - related posts - >> ( 2 ) ( 1 )

Ka kite anō - Catch ya later

Thursday, August 21, 2008

So This Is What You Want?

Tēnā koutou katoa - Greetings to you all
So this is what you want.
I’m testing a theory. Google Analytics has been running on my blog for a clear month. I've been carefully looking at the data gathered over time and trying to make some sense of it.

Looking for patterns

I look for patterns in terms of what my ‘target audience’ might be interested in reading from my blog. There certainly hasn’t been any
earth-shattering evidence so far, but there are some signs and patterns that suggest a few things might be worth considering to do with what attracts visitors and draws comments.

Admittedly I haven’t got an especially wide range of topics, but within my own interest in education, and blogging about it, I’ve tried to be as diverse as possible with my post topics. Further to this, within the expected variation in frequency of visits over time, the popularity of the site has been fairly constant while the data was gathered and examined. I lay no claim to the statistical significance of data gathered from over 550 visits and 1950 page views from 384 visitors - only that some trends are suggested.

Post statistics table
A popular post

In recent weeks the single most popular post on my blog by far has been 5 explanations of a Zen proverb, an essay based on a saying that relates to my own life experiences. It took off, and topped the charts only a week after it was posted. Day by day, other posts slowly crept up in popularity. It is still a popular post, and this continued popularity meant that I was able to use it as a control of sorts against other posts that could possibly compete with it in popularity.

It was almost like watching a bubble sort in action. Slowly and systematically, every post related to one particular theme (and there were 4 of them) gradually worked its way up the list, each one pushing ‘5 explanations . . .’ down. And today, 21 Aug, that post has been superseded by all four posts. And the other popular theme? Google Analytics, and the analysis and blurb that I’ve written on what I’ve been fishing out from the data.

It would appear that personal stories are popular – nothing new here. But the interest that was focused on statistical data from Google Analytics did make me wonder about what people in my commentsphere are interested in reading.

Why you might be reading this post

My hunch is that if you are reading this, you have an interest in blogging. In particular, your interest stretches beyond the topic, with the possible exception of the one implied in this post.

I have left a space here, which I will update with stats I gather on the popularity of this particular post which, at the time of posting, would be the fifth, out of 62, that is to do with the same theme, namely statistical analysis of data on visitors to posts on this blog.

Study now completed: (stats for this post last updated 29 Aug 2008)

Post data table
Thanks to Sue Waters' and Christy Tucker's tips, I can post some alternative data from AideRSS on the popularity of these posts. Here's my so-called Best Posts list, recorded 28 Aug 2008. I think it is significant that those listed are the first and the last (this one) posts included in this study:

AideRSS data table

It seems my theory is supported by the statistics. This post, specifically created to test a theory, is now in third position in popularity and climbing, according to Google Analytics. It is placed top of the PostRank in AideRSS.

The most GA popular post (29 Aug) is DEANZ 2008, closely followed by Splitting the Knol. These have held their post rank for a couple of days - some posts seem to be like that. For instance, Compassionate Vigilance has held 6
th position throughout the time that this post was studied (21 - 29 Aug) with a favourable bounce rate and a reasonable time-on-the-page for a medium length post of 3:07 minutes.

My conclusion is that Google Analytics can certainly be a useful indicator of post popularity. Its potential for identifying patterns is evident. Used in conjunction with other similar applications, it can gather powerful statistics for the blogger. As this study attests, it can yield tangible information from which valid supposition and useful predictions can be made.

( 9 ) ( 8 ) ( 7 ) ( 6 ) << - related posts - >> ( 4 ) ( 3 ) ( 2 ) ( 1 )

Ka kite anō - Catch ya later

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

DEANZ 2008 - Te Papa Tongarewa

Tēnā koutou katoa - Greetings to you all
DEANZ - The Distance Education Association of New ZealandDEANZ 2008 Forum
above forum - Hon. Steve Maharey, Mike Hollings CEO TCS, Dr Paul Grimwood
below forum - Nancy White rallying enthusiasm from interested participants

The DEANZ Conference 2008 at The Museum of New Zealand, Te Papa Tongarewa, was certainly the place to be this week!
There was much happening here over the three days – 18 to 20 August my head’s full!

Here's my (very!) brief note on my recollections of some of the keynote speakers:

Emergent technologies and chocolate

Nancy White (alias Choconancy1), Full Circle associates, was simply spectacular both as a keynote speaker and workshop facilitator extraordinaire! Where does she get her energy from? Chocolate of course! Her keynote, bridging together the needs and perspectives of a diverse set of people, brought into focus the bridge between the hype and hustle of emerging technologies and the people who use them.

Nancy's afternoon workshop, “Designing for Online Communities: Thinking about the Social and Technical Design” had as much of her wit and energy as her keynote, with an additional bonus of a munch or few of chocolate on the side. Simply delicious if not ubiquitous, Nancy kept a low profile in between her talks, photographing and sketching her art while listening to other workshops and keynotes.

She reappeared in virtual disguise during Clare Atkins’ session about Koru,
and Second Life online 3D virtual world, on Wednesday morning.

Myths and reality

Michael Barbour, originally from Newfoundland, handed on to us, among many things, the revealing evidence that was not exactly in support of the debatable digital native - digital immigrant theory. His keynote on Today's Student and Virtual Schooling: The Reality, The Challenges, The Promise . . . illuminated what is real and what are myths created by the media.

Lifting the lid on achievement

A young and scintillating
Marcus Akuhata-Brown closed the conference with an almost tear-jerking keynote on lifting the glass barriers to achievement. His speech, based entirely on his life history, from childhood to meeting His Royal Highness, The Prince of Wales at Buckingham Palace, was nothing short of a masterpiece of wit blended with the heart-rending reality of the life and needs of youth at risk.

Ka kite anō - Catch ya later

Friday, August 15, 2008

Splitting the Knol

Tēnā koutou katoa - Greetings to you all
Ice Block - artist Ken Allan.
We have the knowledge.
Now we have the
knol - a Web 2.0 effort to quantise knowledge.

This is not the first time an attempt has been made to invent a unit of something to do with learning. The invention of the knowledge object, similar to the learning object and now more recently called the learning resource, were endeavours to bring together essential elements of knowledge so that they could be packaged and transported to the learner to achieve a single learning objective.

The matter with Knol:

This latest pursuit, of which Knol is one of its offshoots, is a bit like the quest for an understanding of matter itself. Like the way Science analysed the substance, found the molecule, split the atom, detected the sub-atomic particles, and by all accounts is still pursuing the analysis of these. New Zealand born Nobel prize-winner, splitter of the atom, Ernest Rutherford, would be fascinated today. I wonder if the person who manages to split the knol will win a Knol Prize.

It’s all to do with knowledge, the common fibre that led to the so-called ‘string theory’ of matter and all its sinuous threads. Isn’t it funny how the same patterns run through seemingly different disciplines? We talk about the ‘thread’ of an argument, and how we 'string' together ideas – the 'fabric' of education. How the stuff of science has 'woven' its way into everyday life. How different constructs can 'knit' together. How knowledge is being constantly 'tailored' to fit the learner – never mind the quality, feel the width. And how, for some of us, it is all 'sewn up' when it’s understood.

Well, my understanding of it is that a fair bit of darning is needed to patch the holes and pull the material to meet at the seams. My tartan bag of knowledge is anything but stitched together yet.

But now we have the unit of knowledge - the knol.

Ice-cubes go with the flow:

One model of knowledge, at least from its management point of view, is the idea that it can be a thing or a flow. A bit of knowledge can be looked on as an ice-cube, for instance. How it gets from one place to another can be thought of as the flow of water that’s needed to make the ice-cube. So it can be considered as a thing and a flow. That’s to say it is both at the same time.

This idea is not unlike the way light has been thought of in physics or the way matter has been considered, as a wave and as a particle. It all depends on the situations and how the occurrences are observed.

Frozen knowledge, as ice-cubes, sits in the books in my library at home. When an enquiry is made from the books, bits of the knowledge melt and flow, at least for a short time, into the mind of the reader. There it may solidify again, remaining till it flows to some other recipient or simply evaporates. Of course, here the model tends to founder on the rocks, as nothing really happens to the ice-cubes in the books even if some of them flow elsewhere. It’s nevertheless a cool model.

So what is the knol? Is it a thing and a flow? Let’s see:

Thing, as the ice-cube, sitting somewhere on a server at Google.
Flow, as the digital information when I download it to my PC.
Thing, as the ice-cube, sitting on my PC.
Flow, as I read, observe, listen and understand its content.
Thing, as the ice-cube in my mind, when I think I’ve understood and learnt what there is to learn.
My head hurts.
Flow, as I try to tell someone about it.

What if I’ve got the wrong idea altogether? What if I misunderstood the content of the ice-cube? Is a new ice-cube developed in doing this? Is the new ice-cube useful and worth passing on? Is what’s passed on still knowledge? Could a knol be made out of it? Hmmm.

I think I’ve got some stitching to do on my model for knowledge.
What do you think?

( 5 ) ( 4 ) ( 3 ) << - related posts - >> ( 1 )

Ka kite anō - Catch ya later

Science, technology, the silicon chip & social need

Tēnā koutou katoa - Greetings to you all
a candle flame

Isaac Asimov defined science as a search for understanding of nature.

The great dogma of philosophy that was laid down by Plato and Socrates reigned supreme till the middle of the 17
th century when Isaac Newton brought a new rigour to methods of scientific investigation. Since then, the search for understanding of nature, or science as we know it, has accelerated to well beyond the warp levels.

Benjamin Franklin described homo-sapiens as tool-making animals and carved the way for descriptions of technology that included the word ‘tool’. Technologists have since been described as tool-makers, a term that dates the start of such technological practices at about 70,000 BC when, it is believed, the Neanderthals had a degree of specialisation in tool-making.

It was not until the late 19th century that Thomas Alva Edison, hailed as the pioneer of modern technological research, made a quantum leap and fused the methods of technology with those of science.

Giants of human activity

So what makes the distinction between these giants of human activity, technology and science? It is similar to the difference between knowing how to make a candle and understanding how it works.

The demarcation becomes clearer when the technologist is asked to make separate candles from samples of tallow wax and fluorinated wax. Both are easy to make, but it takes an understanding of scientific principles to explain why one works and the other doesn’t.

The candle had been in use for thousands of years, but it only became the subject of scientific investigation when Michael Faraday saw it.

The birth of modern technology

Faraday’s experiments with electricity became a base for Edison’s research. In his unique effort to find a suitable substance for the filament of his electric light bulb, Edison introduced technology to scientific investigation. It was from this new and special relationship that modern technology was born.

Throughout the entire history of technology, the drive for most technological development has been a social need. For Alexander Graham Bell, both the scientific background and the social resources, such as transmission wires for electrical signals, had been in existence for several decades before he invented his telephone. Yet at a time when Bell had great enthusiasm for the development of his idea, the social need and general social acceptance of his invention were almost nonexistent.

Years before that, many experimenters had toyed with the commercialisation of similar devices. It took determination and fortitude for Bell to persist in his attempts to float his technology as a commercially practical venture. The fact that he succeeded was more a mark of his entrepreneurial genius, than his kill as an inventor.

Technology can create need

Dependency on the benefits of a particular technology can create a need. This happened when electric traction was adopted in the subway systems, like the London Underground, which coincided with the widespread development of electricity generation in the late 19th century. Until then, successful commercial generation depended on the development of other uses for electricity.

Edison’s electric light alone could not provide a continuous demand for electrical energy, since its use was confined mainly to the hours of darkness. The subway system sparked off a demand for round-the-clock electricity generation that became one of the most remarkable technological successes of the 20th century.

In less than 50 years, the cranky looking thermionic valve, a development of Edison's light bulb, that launched the age of radio and television, was supplanted by the modest transistor replicated in microscopic array on wafers of clinically grown silicon. This is now commonly known as the silicon chip.

Ka kite anō - Catch ya later

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Why do bloggers not like long comments?

Tēnā koutou katoa - Greetings to you all
No Comment
I recently emptied my RSS reader of all its unread posts - read them of course. While doing this, I discovered that there were 54 posts that I hadn’t read on Stephen Downes’ blog. Just a few days worth of posts from Stephen! It took me almost an hour to read them all. You’ve got to hand it to the man (and I genuinely admire his prolific output). He writes posts the size of the average comment. And every one a masterpiece!

Long comments

But what is it about long comments that some bloggers don’t like?

Is it something to do with the encroachment of the blog space with someone else’s writing? I always thought that was what commenting was all about.

Is it to do with the feeling the blogger has that the post is the thing, and a long comment challenges its authority? A bit like the commenter was attempting to mark out territory on another’s plot?

A habit of writing

I have wondered about this ever since I started commenting on blogs, and before I became a blogger. The reason for this is that I have a habit of writing extra long comments. I’ve been ticked off about doing that a few times too.

But there are other bloggers who welcome long comments and even say so in their replies. It’s nice to get a reply to a comment, even if it’s like, “Don’t come here with your three page comment-posts! Go and write your own damn post somewhere else!”

That’s probably a bit unfair. No blogger has ever said that to me. But it’s sometimes the impression I get of what they’re thinking. The term troll has come up in conversations a few times. I laugh, for I have this vision of an earthy character from Lord of The Rings. Perhaps it’s the Middle-earth connotation - who knows?

Post or comment?

There are times when I embarrass myself at the length of my comment. I have to admit that. I’ll type it and then wonder if I should submit it.

Frankly, the best fun I’ve had writing a long comment is when I submit the comment and immediately copy and paste it into a new post on my blog, linking back to the post where I left the original comment, of course. I can get mixed reactions from doing that, but in the main it’s successful and I’ve often struck up a useful relationship with the blogger who prompted my comment in the first place. After all, full credit has to be given to the blogger for initiating thought, and I’ve always made sure that credit’s given where credit’s due.

Completely ignored

Then there is the post where the blogger ignores my comment completely. I write a masterpiece of a 1500 word comment, perhaps the only comment on the post. And it’s ignored! How deflating is that?

It’s like bringing a circus on to the village green and no one notices the big top. People come on to the green and have picnics. Some come to walk their dogs. But the big top is not even sniffed at. I don’t go back to these posts in a hurry.

Perhaps there's method in ignoring my long comments.

Ka kite anō - Catch ya later

Friday, August 8, 2008

Crystal Ball Gazing

Tēnā koutou katoa - Greetings to you all
A crystal ball

Wouldn’t it be nice to see what the future holds for technology and take a peep at what may be available 5 to 10 years from now? Adaptive Path has done a bit of crystal ball gazing and envisaged some ideas of what we may be using in the 2010’s
. "Aurora is a concept video presenting one possible future user experience for the Web, created by Adaptive Path as part of the Mozilla Labs concept browser series."

I’m not too sure about the keyboard. For my comfort, it seems a bit too prominent on this video. I reserve my thoughts on the use of a fingerprint as ID too, though I must confess that voice recognition, which would be my choice, is not yet up to scratch for this use:

( 2 ) << - related posts

Ka kite anō - Catch ya later

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Thinking About The Blogosphere

Tēnā koutou katoa - Greetings to you all
Garden conversations.
photo by Mike Wood.

I’ve been thinking about the blogosphere lately.

It’s been 22 days since Google Analytics became live on my blog. During that time, 269 visitors have made 376 visits and posted 24 comments. Though I can’t understand all what it’s saying, it prompts me to think about the scores of people who visit my blog every week. To me they have become living beings, not just texts at the foot of posts or numbers in the comment tally.

They have likes and dislikes
off days and on days opinions that aren’t always aligned with my own – ideas that make me think again about what I said – suggestions that provide answers to some of my questions. They are often friendly and supportive, and rarely rude and disruptive. They can be sullen and not say a word - for days.

How much like the living frame is the presence of a blogger in the blogosphere? What character and what personality does a blogger portray when blogging? If you had never seen a blogger or even a photograph, would you be able to recognise them if you met them in person?

If you felt you knew their personality through blogging would the image of the personality you met be the same as how they come across if you met and spoke with them face to face?

Can you see a smile in a comment (emoticons aside)? Can you tell when a person is frustrated – perhaps with you, when you read their comments? Do you sometimes get the impression that some people shout at you when they comment, while others talk quietly and take you into their confidence? Is it possible to whisper in a comment? Even if others would hear it?

Actors learn quickly that audiences have personalities of their own. The arena is always greater than the sum of its parts. Do the people who make up a blogger's commentsphere portray a character back to the blogger that’s in any way like the personality of an audience? Or are they more like a class of school kids? Are they perhaps like people you meet daily at work or at the bus stop or on the train or at the supermarket or on social occasions?

How much could you trust someone you chatted with and built a relationship with through blogging? Is it possible to build your trust in someone in the blogosphere so that you can rely on them in the future? How much would you trust someone in the blogosphere if you felt you knew them well?

Do you see what I mean when I say I’ve been thinking about the blogosphere lately?

( 9 ) ( 8 ) ( 7 ) ( 6 ) ( 5 ) << - related posts - >> ( 3 ) ( 2 ) ( 1 )

Ka kite anō - Catch ya later

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Compassionate Vigilance

Tēnā koutou katoa – Greetings to you allA toy chestArt by Hannah Dear

I have four lovely daughters. The youngest are Catriona (14 y), and Hannah (18 y). As I watch them grow into beautiful young women, I feel a very strong parental emotion – how it is to be a doting father.

They’re both cyber-kids, crazy on Googling on the Net and txting. Though Catriona isn’t really into social networking, being more of a txter, she is likely to follow her older sister who is a bit of a wiz-kid with the old Bebo and thinks nothing of whacking her digital photos into Photoshop and tickling them up to her high standard before posting them on the Net.

Hannah is so into social networking. She even dances about it. Her school dance and drama group, of which she is a member, won a prestigious award at the Mission-on 2008 Stage Challenge sponsored by SUPRÉ. And the title of their performance? “Don’t Get Caught In The Web”, a dance drama based on social networking.

Parental fear

I have no fear for my children, but maybe I should have. Some of the statistics I learnt about at the recent NetSafe Conference 2008 made me sit up and think again about the friendly PC sitting on our desk at home. I haven’t stopped thinking about it since I left the conference.

“Teenagers look on online communities like a night club”, said keynote speaker Jeff Cole. They are always looking to the ‘new club’, the ‘new thing’. Many see cyberspace as an escape into their world – free from adult supervision. As long as no one else sees what they’re up to, they’re safe. They feel they are invincible, untouchable, in cyberspace.

The thing is that young kids don’t necessarily have the maturity to realise the consequences of what they get up to on the Net. And it would appear that giving them an ear-bashing doesn’t do much to accelerate their development in this area. In the many conference sessions I attended over the 3 day period, concerns were expressed about the critical areas:
cyber bullying
privacy and cameras
piracy and illegal file sharing
child predation
child pornography
complicit victims

$US3 billion per year

While New Zealand was reported as being among the best-protected citizens in the world from online child pornography, its incidence elsewhere did not make me feel complacent. Peter Mancer, managing director of Internet Service Provider Watchdog, reported that child porn was returning $US3 billion per year, a 5 fold increase since 2001. The exploitation of young children under the age of 5 in this trading is stomach churning.

The responsibility of the key people to attempt to do something about all this was leveled in many directions from the parent, through search engines, Internet Service Providers, to the governments of the countries involved. It is complex. I had such a headache at the end of the Conference (I wasn’t alone). I felt as if that was my penance for bringing my daughters into this world.

As a citizen, a teacher and a parent, clearly the most influential function as a protector of children is in my role as a parent. This was brought out several times during the many sessions at NetSafe Conference 2008. Parental supervision and the need for the parent to understand the vulnerability of the child, the need to ‘get into their world’ and the need for compassionate vigilance were key discussion points.

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Ka kite anō – Catch ya later

Monday, August 4, 2008

Referrals make significant contributions

Tēnā koutou katoa - Greetings to you all
I’m still watching my Google Analytics - looking for patterns that might tell me something useful. It looks like I've a long haul ahead of me. One chart that caught my interest, however, was Traffic Sources showing referring sites contributing to about 54% of visits.

I followed up a few leads, hoping to see a reason for the referrals and of course there was some. Two clear-cut peaks indicated referrals from one particular site,

It was easy to see how these had come about when I checked the dates. I’d made a comment on one post on the 21st and on another later post on the 26th. The first I attribute to 8 visits the following day (22nd) with a tail of 1 visit the day after. The second attracted a cluster of 5 during the 3 days following my comment with a solitary visit occurring 6 days later.

What I find interesting is the almost immediate response from visitors prompted by the comments, followed by virtually no visits at all.

This pattern is not unlike the pattern I’ve found with comments to a post – a blip (size depending on the post of course) followed by virtually no more comments once the blip is over.

I’m still analysing.

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Ka kite anō - Catch ya later