It’s true, and it’s in a magazine, Kung Fu magazine to be exact. Apparently Lou has been studying Tai Chi since the early 80s, and he’s hooked up with a pretty major league master, Ren Guangyi. It appears Master Ren may be touring with Lou this summer, which means I’ll get to see him in action when the show comes to Seattle. Should be pretty cool.
I was doing some thinking about measuring blog usage today—not how many blogs there are, but how far blog content reaches. Such measurement isn’t a priority for most blog publishers, but what about traditional media companies that have to decide whether to make the RSS plunge as a business investment? So I came up with a few observations:
- Reach is a traditional media measurement that calculates how much of the potential viewership (I would use the word “audience,” but we all know that’s a screwed up metaphor for online activity) can see a particular piece of content. This is a hard measure to get, since the content is exposed not only on one’s website but in an XML file that can be exposed in lots of different readers, and when the headline can be posted on lots of different sites. Other traditional media metrics based on exposure, including unique users and cost per impression, also go right out the window.
- Likewise, coming to a decent clickthrough measurement is difficult, since clickthrough is defined as clicks per people that viewed the link (see above).
So what does that leave us with? What about treating RSS like newsletters? Subscriber count is hard to gather since there’s no “formal” subscriber process to get an RSS file. Likewise download count for the RSS file: while the latter is feasible, platforms like Manila don’t render a static XML file that can be tracked in a traditional web hit log, and counters like SiteMeter only track files that can embed their counting code (which leaves out RSS). And it’s hardly a meaningful or reliable measure of exposure without unique users, or knowing whether the downloaded file actually contains new content.
So what’s a media company to do? Other than take it on faith, I mean. Maybe starting with Technorati? Or Google’s PageRank?
Too many questions, not enough good answers.
A funny confluence of news stories this morning:
- First, the organizers of a leading tech conference say they’ll have to review their nondisclosure policies after reporting “gag rules” failed to stop two attendees from blogging the proceedings.
- Second, the executive editor and managing editor of the New York Times resign in the aftermath of the Jayson Blair scandal (NY Times coverage here.)
On first glance, these two items don’t seem to have a lot to do with each other. But as Dave points out, there’s a thin line between the two stories: “an intelligent person with a weblog is a reporter.” Salam Pax proves that, at least.
But do we really want to be “treated” like reporters?
This is the critical thing. The fuss at the Times led to the resignation of its senior editors for one reason—reputation. The Times had earned a reputation for integrity and thoughtful, substantive reporting that it couldn’t afford to lose. There were consequences for their actions. In general, there is a higher standard of behavior expected from the media and a higher level of formality when dealing with the media, not just because they report things, but because people believe what they say and act on that belief, sometimes with serious consequences.
So if weblog authors want to be taken seriously as journalists, they have to be prepared to live up to a higher standard of behavior—and admit when they screw up. The only problem is, the tools we have for weblog “reputation”—PageRank and Technorati—don’t take those screwups into account. Or do they? If you stop getting pointed to by people, pretty soon that will be apparent through Technorati. Google seems to have a longer decay time, on the other hand. My old weblog site (same content as the new one, different home) has fallen one point of PageRank from its high water mark of 6, although the blog hasn’t been updated since November 21, 2002. But maybe not getting pointed to by other bloggers is bad enough—like a “shunning,” only online.