thing 18: web applications

It has been a while since I seriously looked at Zoho Writer, preferring Google Docs mainly for the convenience (I always have Gmail open in a tab, so it’s easy to one-click open Google Docs from there). Zoho Writer seems to have more editing and layout tools, or at least, displays them more like MS Word.

I have been dabbling with web applications like document editors and spreadsheet creators mostly because I don’t like the ones that I purchased with my iMac. I probably would like the Mac versions more if I were more familiar with their quirks, but I’m so used to Microsoft Office products that remembering what I can and can’t do in the Mac environment is too frustrating. While Google Docs isn’t quite the same as Microsoft Office, it’s more-so than iWork ’08.

Playing with Zoho Writer, however, reminded me that I need to work around my Google bias. Particularly since the Zoho products seem to have the productivity functions that make my life easier.

why I write for Blogcritics: reason #27

One of the Blogcritics writers was asking today about the site stats (3.5 million page views per month, if you’re interested), and another writer suggested using Alexa. That particular resource isn’t very accurate, but I found it interesting to compare what it considers to be the traffic number for Blogcritics with my own website. Eclecticlibrarian.net barely makes it on to the graph at this scale.

If you’re a writer and wanting to get more exposure to your work, Blogcritics is a great place to start.

Oh, and I forgot to do the round-up of what I wrote last month, so I’m going to do a July/August combo. Expect to see that shortly after I return from Dragon*Con early next month.

blogs are old skool?

I read a post in The Chronicle of Higher Education blog that declared that the end of blogs is near. Perhaps, but I think we have a few more months at least.

One of the tools that the writer points to is Shyftr, which looks like it could be as cool an RSS reader as Google Reader, and as handy a comment aggregator as coComment, but all in one place. Unfortunately, they don’t (yet) have a way to import an OPML file, so I’ll be leaving my nearly 250 feeds in Google Reader for now.

Eric Berlin, the Online Media Cultist, has some interesting things to say about Shyftr and its ilk.

blogcritics

You all may have noticed that I’m not cross-posting the full content of the reviews I write for Blogcritics. There are many reasons, not the least of which I am trying to keep this from becoming solely a review blog. What you might not know is that reviews aren’t my only gig with Blogcritics.

I hooked up with Blogcritics in the fall of 2004, not long after I had moved to Washington state. For the first year and a half, my only participation was in occasionally reviewing things that interested me. At some point in the winter of 2006, I convinced someone that I would like to help out more, and I found myself facing the slightly daunting task of assisting with inputing the contents of some 800 email messages into a database.

The way the review materials process works at Blogcritics is that publicists send Eric press releases, which he passes on to the writer’s group. Then, whomever is interested in reviewing the items offered will indicate their interest, and after they’re approved, they contact the publicist. Meanwhile, each review item is added to a database that includes information like the publicist’s contact info, who is reviewing it, and the date the item will be released. As you can imagine, this takes a lot of time to do. I estimate that when Eric is working full speed at forwarding press releases, I can spend anywhere from 10-15 hours per week on the database.

Mind you, I’m also trying to write at least one decent review per week, as well as my regular job and life, but apparently that wasn’t enough for me. Sometime last fall, I started taking all of the streaming audio, video, movie stills, and other digital paraphernalia sent to us by the publicists and mashing them together into a daily round-up column. This eventually morphed into its own site within the Blogcritics network, called the BC Goodie Bag. So, in addition to the database work and the reviews, I am now spending another 10-12 hours per week putting that together.

When I have a few spare moments, I’ll also pitch in and help edit some articles that are in the pending queue. Nothing is published on Blogcritics without first being looked over by a member of the volunteer editorial team. It helps keep the quality from sliding down towards naval-gazing, what-I-ate-for-breakfast blogging, which is fine for personal blogs but not so good for an online magazine.

You might be wondering when I find time for things like sleeping. I’m wondering that myself.

state of the blog

I began writing a waffling, slightly navel-gazing reflection on the state of my blog as it stands and the direction in which it is heading. Then I thought, “aw, forget it!” This is my blog. This is my writing space. While I do think it’s pretty damn cool that about 650 of you are reading it, I’m not writing it for you.

This past weekend, I had a realization. Since I wasn’t dressed in a costume or locked away in a room full of gamers, most people assumed I was one of the scads of writers in attendance. After telling the nth person that no, I’m not a writer, it finally dawned on me that in fact, I am a writer.

I write non-fiction.

This blog, the reviews, and my professional writing are all non-fiction. I find it highly ironic that I’m writing in a genre I generally don’t care to read in book form. Nevertheless, it’s what I am doing, and the surprising thing is that for the most part, I enjoy doing it.

All this is to say, I’m going to try to stop feeling guilty about pummeling my readers with reviews and non-librarian-y things and just write about whatever I feel like whenever I get the urge to do it.

Besides, you all should have had an idea of what you’d be getting when you started reading a blog with the word “eclectic” in the title.