Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Incommunicado

I wanted to post a brief note just to let you all know that no horrible fate has come upon me. Unless of course by "horrible fate" you mean scheduling a move in the same week as one leaves for a Family Reunion 12 hours away. In which case, yes, this horrible fate has come upon me. 


And now I will be in New Brunswick and incommunicado at a private camp for the next week, enjoying time with family and friends, so it will still be quiet round these parts for the next bit. The good news is, I checked it out and it appears that the world and the internet will continue to go on in my absence. Close call. 

When I'm back next week, I promise to serve up some fresh content for you to make up for the past two weeks of relative stillness here. Until then. 

Friday, August 15, 2008

15 Signs That You're A Blogging Addict and 7 Things You Can Do About It [A Guest Post by Jonathan Crossfield]

It's been a been quiet around these parts this past week, I know, and I'm sorry. I am currently in the midst of packing up everything I own because I am moving this month, so the web has taken a bit of a back seat. On top of this, I have been toiling away on some exciting projects for my clients that are keeping me very busy, too. 

I do have a great post coming up for you tomorrow on Posting Frequency (irony, how I love thee), but in the meantime, please enjoy this guest article by my friend Jonathan Crossfield, from the great blog CopyWrite. This is the very first guest post I have hosted on Smithereens, and I do believe that choosing these carefully is important, because it's your reputation on the line as a blogger. But I couldn't imagine anyone I would more readily entrust my blog to than Jonathan. So please make him feel welcome - enjoy this post and leave a comment, and be sure to visit his site as well, it's chock full of great stuff!

-Daniel 

















photo "Akron 293 AA Meeting" by watz on flickr, used under CC.

Blogaholics Anonymous

The room is stuffy. Dust floats in the narrow beams of light filtering through the broken Venetian blinds. In the centre of the room is a circle of old, metal folding-chairs.

Gradually, people arrive, nervously finding a seat. One decides to pass the time by Tweeting a message from his phone, until the accusing gaze of his peers forces him to switch it off. Another nervously slides a laptop bag under his seat, as if to to conceal it from the others. Even if he tried to explain that he needed to complete those spreadsheets for tomorrow’s meeting, no one would believe him. Best to hide it.

The last person arrives late, blaming it on her sponsor for confiscating her PDA last night. There are mumbled greetings and uncomfortable looks. A voice asks who wants to go first. The mumbling stops. After an awkward pause, I slowly get to my feet, my eyes never once straying from my shoes.

"My name is Kimota..."

“No avatars or screen names please.” The voice came from the group leader, sitting to my left. I cough nervously and nod, ashamed by such an obvious mistake.

“My name is Jonathan Crossfield. And I...I’m a… blogoholic.”

The First Step is Admitting You Have a Problem

If you’re concerned about blog addiction, you’ve come to the right place. We’ve seen the damage blogging can do to people’s lives. But it is common for people to be completely unaware of their own addiction, missing the signs that indicate intervention may be necessary.

The following list of questions relate to 15 common symptoms of blogging addiction. If you answer ‘yes’ to more than 50% of these queries, there is a folding metal chair here in the circle for you.
  1. Do you become agitated if it has been more than 48 hours since your last blog post – even if you have nothing to blog about?
  2. Do you check your blog traffic stats more than once a day... even though your stats aren't much to look at?
  3. Do you check your Alexa rank regularly...even though no one trusts Alexa?
  4. Have you ever done a vanity search to see what people are saying about you and your blog?
  5. Have you ever boasted to family members or complete strangers about how you’ve made it to the top 100,000 blogs in the world on Technorati... even though they have no idea what Technorati is?
  6. Have you ever missed an opportunity for...uh... meaningful personal contact because you wanted to finish a blog post first?
  7. Are you unable to resist dropping text links to your blogs into everything you do online?
  8. Do you carry a PDA, laptop or other digital device around with you wherever you go for blogging on the move?
  9. Have you treated arguments over whether Wordpress is better than Movable Type or Blogger more seriously than a general election for the ruler of your country?
  10. Have you ever signed an online petition arguing for the reinstatement of Capital Punishment for comment spammers?
  11. Do you find yourself choosing activities – such as movies, books or days out - based on whether they may inspire blog posts?
  12. Do you know more about fellow bloggers who live half a world away than you do about your next door neighbours? Or some family members? (If yes, the latter counts for two.)
  13. Do you get frustrated when someone you’re talking to doesn’t know what a Tweet is? Or an RSS feed? Or a widget? What is wrong with these people?
  14. Does your ideal weekend involve hacking the code in your template, missing a bracket and then spending the next twelve hours finding your catastrophic error?
  15. Did you spend more time updating and designing the header for your blog than you did repainting your kitchen?

These are just some of the major symptoms that addicted bloggers can display. Left unchecked, a serious blog addiction can affect relationships, destroy social skills and reduce mental capacity to the point that discussions over whether Plurk is better than Twitter seem relevant and interesting to you. (This is a late-stage addiction symptom.)

But luckily, there are some things you can do to make sure you don't fall prey to the medium's heavy grip.

Prevention is Better than Cure

Don’t let your blogging get out of hand. If you are worried about developing a blog addiction, here are some precautions you can take now to avoid disaster later.

  1. Once per day, stick your head out of the window. That weird smell is what is known in technical circles as ‘fresh air’. Inhale.
  2. Proactively dump the girlfriend or boyfriend. That way you have no relationship to destroy and you’ll never miss an opportunity for blogging due to an opportunity for meaningful personal contact.
  3. Avoid having to repeatedly tell people about your Alexa and Technorati rankings by buying tee shirts prominently featuring your blog ranks. Of course, you may need to buy a new t-shirt every few weeks, and the Technorati one may only display the rank one day per week if you're lucky, but at least it will be much easier to keep your circle of family and friends informed.
  4. On second thought, ridding yourself of family and friends may be more cost-effective and efficient.
  5. Blogging on the move is great and PDAs and laptops make it so easy. But since doing so will help others recognise and criticize you for being compulsive blogger, it is probably best to just to stay indoors.
  6. Ask your neighbours if they are bloggers. If so, you may be able to befriend them online instead without feeling overly awkward AND nurture a sense of commnunity within your neighbourhood.
  7. Kill two birds with one stone - model your kitchen after your blog header.

Blogging may be addictive. But if you follow these simple pieces of advice, you may just avoid its sticky grasp. And next time you're about to lecture your grandmother for her ignorance of Twitter, take a deep breath and remember: there's always an open chair here for you.

Are you a blogoholic? Reach out to us in the comments. We're here to help.