Is Blogging Dead? Do You Care?

RIPLately I’ve been seeing a lot of articles that talk about blogging being dead. These are blog articles, mind you, which seems to prove the point that blogging is not dead. I don’t even know what that means: “blogging is dead.” I have a hunch it refers to long form blogging, since Twittering and Facebook status updating are short form blogging, and posting photos or videos is visual blogging. Maintaining a web log is all about making a presence on the internet, keeping a record of one’s progress or ideas or everyday life. The form the log takes is constantly changing, but the need people have to tell the world “I am here and I matter” will always find a voice.

People do seem to be losing interest in reading long form blogs. Supposedly they don’t have the attention span it takes to read five hundred or so words. Supposedly they prefer snippets of information they can scan, photos they can glance at, videos they can watch, especially if those posts are funny. The sort of thing that goes viral is not a lengthy dissertation on why blogging is dead but a short video of cats trying to figure out the meaning of a treadmill, or a humorous caption on a photo of a singing dog.

Me? I have no interest in such things. I don’t like videos — it’s much easier for me to scan an article to pick out the salient points than to watch one or two people discussing something for five minutes only to find the relevant issue buried in bantering, small talk, or hype. I don’t particularly like photos, either, partly because I am verbally rather than visually oriented, and partly because . . . (dare I admit it?) . . . I have no interest in sappy pet photos or photos of people I don’t know doing things I don’t care about.

Perhaps the sky-is-falling attitude about blogging stems from the way mobile devices are changing how people connect with others and the internet. It’s easier on a phone to send in a tweet or a comment on a Facebook status than to write a blog or even to leave a comment on a blog. (Or so people say. The only web-related activity I do on my phone is checking my email, and I want to get out of the habit of doing that.)

I started blogging as a way of promoting my books, and even after I found out how little effect blogging has on my sales, I continued. For me, blogging is a discipline, a way of writing when I don’t have the focus to write a novel, a means of helping me think. It’s possible I’d get more views if I posted silly photos, but views are not all I want. I tend to be a thinker (or maybe “brooder” would be a better description) with a need to talk about the important issues of life and death and finding a place in the world, a need to connect with people on a deeper, truer, and more fundamental way than the simple exchanges that usually take place online. And often, I do find that here in my own corner of the blogosphere.

So, is blogging dead? I don’t know, and I don’t particularly care (as long as WordPress is around, that is. If WordPress becomes defunct, then blogging really would be dead). What’s important to me is that this blog is very much alive, that it continues to satisfy my need for expression, and that sometimes people respond to what I have to say.

***

Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, and Daughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Connect with Pat on Google+

2102 Year in Blogging Annual Review

I received my 2102 Year in Blogging Annual Review from WordPress today. According to WordPress:

19,000 people fit into the new Barclays Center to see Jay-Z perform. This blog was viewed about 77,000 times in 2012. If it were a concert at the Barclays Center, it would take about 4 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

In 2012, there were 365 new posts, growing the total archive of this blog to 1,099 posts. There were 358 pictures uploaded, taking up a total of 53 MB. That’s about 7 pictures per week.

The busiest day of the year was December 3rd with 1,683 views. The most popular post that day was Thirty-Two Months of Grief.

These are the posts that got the most views in 2012 (Some of your most popular posts were written before 2012. Your writing has staying power! Consider writing about those topics again):

  1. Sex With Sister Tips. Um…Yeah (July 2009)
  2. Describing a Winter Scene (February 2008)
  3. How Many Books Are Going to be Published in 2012? (Prepare for a Shock) (April 2012)
  4. Describing a Scene in an Interesting Way (November 2007)
  5. Meaningful Names (December 2008)

The top referring sites in 2012 were:

  1. wordpress.com
  2. facebook.com
  3. dsync.blogspot.com
  4. twitter.com
  5. 36ohk6dgmcd1n-c.c.yom

The top commenters were:

  1. Rami Ungar The Writer
  2. Joylene
  3. Rod Marsden

Visitors:

stats

***

Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, and Daughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Connect with Pat on Google+

I am a Victim of Content Scraping

I’d never even heard of content scraping until yesterday when I found my article Why I Write About My Grief posted on two other blogs. The other blogs did not quote the article, nor did they reblog it. (When an article is reblogged, only the first paragraph or so shows up on another blog, with a link back to the original blog.) They stole the entire thing. One of the blogs was hosted by WordPress, so WordPress suspended the blog for violation of services. The other blog was not hosted by WordPress (it’s a self-hosted blog powered by WordPress, which is a completely different matter) so I have no recourse except legal means. Sometimes courts will take action against a “scraper,” but more often than not, if it is an automated theft by special programs rather than copy and paste by humans, there’s not much that can be done since the site will simply disappear and reappear under another name.

Apparently, search engines cannot distinguish between scraped content and original content, so the plagiarized content (let’s call it by it’s real name) shows up first in search results since it is the newer content, which makes the theft even more of a problem. If you are the victim of scrapers, there are some things you can do to fight back. First, take the steps outlined in this article from WordPress Support: Content Theft – What to Do. Second, you can follow the suggestions in this article: Content Scrapers – How to Find Out Who is Stealing Your Content & What to Do About It. Third, ignore the situation but take steps to make sure you get the credit.

If you decide on the third option, the easiest way to get at least partial credit for future plagiarized material is to use a link to your own site in your content, such as the link to my grief in article in the first sentence of this blog. Even better, add a promo to the bottom of the blog so that no matter where the article appears, information about you as the author will go along with it. That’s what I decided to do: add a promo to the bottom of my blogs. Regular readers will forgive the intrusion (I hope), new readers will learn a bit about me, and any bot that steals my content will also spread the word about me and my books.

***

Pat Bertram is the author of the conspiracy novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, and Daughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” All Bertram’s books are available both in print and in ebook format. You can get them online at Second Wind Publishing, Amazon, B&N and Smashwords. At Smashwords, the books are available in all ebook formats including palm reading devices, and you can download the first 20-30% free. Print books can also be ordered from your favorite bookstore.

I’ve Been Freshly Pressed and You Can Be, Too

On Monday, I got an email from WordPress:

Hi there Pat Bertram,

Congrats! We’ve picked your post ( https://ptbertram.wordpress.com/2012/08/13/a-perfect-grasp-of-storytelling/ ) to appear on Freshly Pressed on the WordPress home page.

We really enjoyed your well-written, sharp, and succinct take on perfect characters, unbalanced worlds, and good storytelling in general, and we know the rest of the WordPress community will too. Your post will appear on the site in the next day or two, so get ready to welcome your new readers.

Once your post goes live, shout it from the rooftops! Tell your family, friends, and readers to check out the WordPress home page, and share the good news with your social networks (we’ll do the same).

Most importantly, keep up the great work. To boost your blogging prowess even more, check out “So You Want To Be Freshly Pressed” ( http://en.support.wordpress.com/freshly-pressed/ ) for tips on everything from enhancing your theme to becoming a grammar guru, and visit The Daily Post ( http://dailypost.wordpress.com/ ) for pro tips, blogging challenges and more.

Thanks for making the internet a more interesting place!

***

The post appeared on Tuesday evening. This was the third time I’ve been Freshly Pressed. The other two articles that made the WordPress front page were I Am a Three-Month Grief Survivor and I Am a Six-Month Grief Survivor.

All three times, the honor came as a surprise, but the truth is, I had prepared for such an eventuality by following the guidelines in “So You Want To Be Freshly Pressed.” Until I read that article, I’d never used photos in my posts. I’d also over-tagged and over-categorized (though that doesn’t seem to be something they care so much about now). On the off chance that the WordPress editors would notice my little corner of the blogosphere, I cut down to no more than ten tags and categories combined, and I started adding an image to my posts. (That became an art in itself, taking the perfect photo to accompany my words.)

I’ve always aimed for typo-free text and eye-catching headlines, but I don’t always have a strong point of view. (I don’t much like contention.) Apparently, though, I’ve managed to strike the right chord with the WordPress editors three times, and you can, too. Just keep blogging. If you write it, they will come.

Three Simple Ways to Increase Views on Your WordPress Blog

In my travels around the internet, I see a lot of blogs. There is nothing more annoying than to stop at an interesting article, want to see more by the writer, and have no other articles available to see. Many people use the standard archives widget, which is nothing more than a listing by date. What good does that do anyone? A date is not exactly a compelling reason to check out more of the blog.

In case anyone is curious what I wrote on a particular day, I do have the date widget, as you can see toward the bottom of my right sidebar, but I use a drop down box in place of a long list of dates. I also have “categories” toward the bottom of my left sidebar, but that is almost as useless. “Grief” and “writing” and “life” are almost as dull as a date. However, if you will look toward the top of my left side bar, you will see “Recent Posts” and “Top Posts.” Recent posts, obviously, are the most recent posts, and top posts are the ones that got the most views for the past forty-eight hours. This gives anyone who is interested in reading more of my articles a sampling of my writing. If you don’t use such widgets on your WordPress blog, why not? It takes only a few minutes to add the widgets.  Here’s how:

Rest the mouse cursor on the name of your blog in the top left hand corner until you get a dropdown box. Click on “widgets.” On the widget page, find “Recent Posts” and “Top Posts and Pages,” and drag them to your sidebar. If you have more than one sidebar, as I do, drag them to the sidebar where you’d like to see them featured. Title the widget if you want, or leave the title WordPress gives them, choose the number of posts you’d like to display, and click “save.” That’s it. Simple, right?

What’s even simpler is creating a page with an archive of all your posts. Supposing you have a lot of posts you are proud of and you want people to be able to see all your titles at a glance – it will take forever to list them, won’t it? Nope. Won’t take but a minute.  Here’s how:

Rest the mouse cursor on the name of your blog in the top left hand corner until you get a dropdown box.  Let the cursor rest on “new” then click “page.” Add a title to the page, then in the body of the post, write [a r c h i v e s]. Use the brackets, and don’t put spaces between the letters. I had to add spaces, otherwise you wouldn’t see the shortcode, you would only see the list of all my blog posts.

Now, the next time I visit your blog, I’ll have a reason to stay and read awhile.

Ten Things I Know to Be Absolutely Certain

Every time I publish a new post to this blog, I get suggestions for topics from WordPress. One such topic — ten things I know to be absolutely certain — caught my attention several days ago, so I started making a list. This is as far as I got:

1.
2.
3.

For a week now, that list has been sitting by the side of my computer. I can’t think of a single thing I know for absolutely certain.

I used to be enamored with particle physics and quantum physics. I loved that everything could be broken down into smaller and smaller particles, until you ended up with a particle that acted like a wave or a wave that acted like a particle or some such, and then if you broke that wave/particle down into further components, you ended up with . . . nothing. Which to me means that the universe was created out of nothing, not just way at the beginning with what some people call the big bang, but that every single day the universe creates itself out of nothing. So how can one be certain of anything when nothing exists? Whether any of this is true or simply my own bizarre extension of an already bizarre idea, I have no way of knowing, let alone knowing to an absolute certainty.

I’m sitting here at my computer, with my elbows on the table, wondering if there is a certainty about that, but since all solid matter is mostly air — the particles that create the atoms that create the molecules that create the table are so far apart as to be bits of dust floating in empty space. Yet somehow my brain translates those particles into the table and my computer. At least I think it’s my brain that does it; I don’t know. I can only assume I have a brain. I have never seen it. I think and feel, but perhaps those thoughts and feelings don’t exist either — they could be brain blips, things my brain tells me are real for its own nefarious reasons.

And what about me? Do I exist? I listened to a pod cast the other night where a biologist explained his theory that what differentiates us one from the other is not our brain or a soul somewhere deep inside, but something from without. Eternal energy, perhaps. Specific rays of energy that are beamed into our body/minds like television signals into a television channel. A fascinating idea, but it’s only that — an idea. Not something anyone knows for certain.

I took a walk in the desert today. I could feel the warm air, smell the drying cresote bushes, hear the ravens overhead, feel the ground beneath my feet. For a moment or two I was not a separate being walking in the desert — I was connected to it in so many ways that it seemed we were a single entity: desert/woman. And that could be the truth — our bodies do not end in a hard barrier but extend beyond our cells to where there is an overlap with our environment — with something that is not us. Or maybe it is us. Maybe we are everything and everything is us.

Okay — now I know one thing for absolutely certain. I spend too much time alone walking in the desert. Where else would such mystic ideas come from?

Gotta Love That Spam!!

I always check my spam folder here on WordPress, partly because some real comments have gotten lost in that black hole, and partly because they tickle me. Whoever is posting these things needs to get a better translator program. (Or perhaps all such programs are faulty?)

This particular bit of spam almost makes sense:

Halloween outfits usually are costume worn out around or on Evening, your event which in turn drops regarding Oct 31st. A Costume carries a fairly limited history. Dressed in costume has long been regarding some other vacations at about the time from Evening, possibly even The holiday season. Some of the earliest referrals that will being dressed in costume located at Evening is within 1895, exactly where “guisers” usually are announced inside Scotland, reliable almost no reference to a dressing up inside Uk, Ireland in Europe, or perhaps the Us until eventually 1900. Early on costume highlighted the actual questionable plus medieval design of this getaway, however , through thirties costume depending on characters inside advertising that include silver screen, literature, plus airwaves were definitely favorite. Evening has been actually touted to provide a children’s getaway, as a method from reining while in the licentious plus damaging behavior from students. Early on Halloween outfits were definitely aimed at youngsters for example, however , following your mid-20th centuries, just as Evening significantly came to be famed by simply older people, the actual Costume has been worn out by simply older people perhaps up to youngsters.

And here’s the ever popular Hey Dude:

Hey, Dude. My group is not considerably into searching at, but somehow I acquired to read several articles on your weblog. Its great how interesting it’s for me to pay a visit to you fairly often.

Others make no sense at all:

Post Standard,mmodern care forget big take afternoon as element totally requirement energy line step paper focus obviously occur used himself figure not threaten reaction perhaps new favour late hurt flat wife crowd recall empty rich protect weapon insist total ago rule train international treatment reaction trade weekend directly tree explore damage revolution during aircraft fear recover politics component actually who for have absolutely work comment notice examine museum main result planning until avoid herself correct sky dress target step connect cold growth beautiful alone meaning insurance deep largely leg hard division.

And some are just fun:

I agree with most of your points, but a couple of want to be discussed further, I will hold a small speak with my partners and perhaps I will appear for you some suggestion soon.

So here’s a small speak for the big spammers: Hey, Dude, don’t make it bad. Take your spam and make it better.

Ready or Not, Change is Coming Your Way

Most of my internet hangouts and hang-ups (meaning obstacles to smooth progress for those of you who are too young or too erudite to be familiar with the term) are going through massive changes. I checked in with MySpace (one of the aforesaid hang-ups — it never seemed to be worth the effort) and didn’t have a clue where I was or what I could or should do once I arrived. I did like some of the changes — it’s easier to find things, but the constant barrage of ads is enough to give one a headache. Still, it might have possibilities, though many long-time MySpace fans seem to be abandoning the site. They say Facebook is easier.

Facebook itself is going through major changes. Not only did they revamp the group feature, which will eventually undo everything I have accomplished on the site, it makes it virtually impossible to keep control of your identity. Anyone can add you to a group without your consent, and that means that their friends and the friends of their friends have access to your information. For me, that’s not a problem. I go by the assumption that everyone in the world will see what I post on the site, and so only post what I want people to see. So far, no one seems overly impressed.

Facebook is unveiling a new message system, which supposedly combines email, facebook messaging, instant messaging, and texting, which means you can interface with anyone, anytime, anywhere. Quite frankly, I have a hard enough time keeping track of the people I am connected to. Most of them I’ve never met, so gradually I’m checking them all, and weaning out those I would never, could never be friends with. Perhaps a page, with it’s unlimited number of potential fans, replaces the facebook profile, but so far I don’t see the point. I do have a fan page, but haven’t figured  out how to make it work for me. Maybe frequent status updates? Or even unfreqent ones?  I do know sending an update (a type of message, not a status update) does not work. No one reads them. Or at least very few. How do I know? I sent out a coupon for a free ebook and to over 1400 fans and only three people took advantage of it. Of course, that could be me — maybe none of my fans want a free ebook. In which case, I’m back to wondering why I even have a Facebook fan page.

WordPress is undergoing changes. They retired the theme I used when I set up the Second Wind Blog. Perhaps the new one will work. I’d like to add book covers to the sidebar to make it more like a website and offer visual-oriented people something to look at besides the header, and the new theme has an extra sidebar. My main problem with the change is what it portends. I did not know Wordpress retired old themes. What if they retire the theme I use for my many blogs? I always liked the color variations I created (green, blue, purple, red, orange) and I would not be pleased with a forced change. I don’t know that I’ve ever seen another blog that uses this theme, which I always thought was wonderful since I could be unique. But unique means obsolete in cyberspace. I guess I’ll just have to wait and see.

Twitter is also making changes. I like my twitter profile, and even left space for my fourth book, Light Bringer, which will be coming out in the spring of 2011, but now twitter has added more features, the main section where the tweets show up is off-center (I prefer my main reading pane to be smack-dab in the center of the screen), and my custom made screen is defunct.

The friends I’ve made online remains the best thing about the internet. I’m hoping that will never change.

Thank You For a Heartwarming and Heartbreaking Day

On Monday when I logged into my wordpress account, I discovered that my I Am a Three-Month Grief Survivor post had received thousands of views and dozens of comments. A quick check of my stats showed that most of the views came from WordPress. Imagine my surprise when I saw that my post had made the home page. Whew. Took my breath away.

Then I read the comments, and that was the end of breathing for a while. I was awed by the willingness of people to support me in my grief and overwhelmed by the generosity of those who shared their own stories of grief. So much pain. So much sadness. So much love.

One woman posted a link to a list of online communities that could potentially help, so if you are grieving, be sure to check it out. http://www.anachronisticmom.com/Medical-KK/Grieving.html

Another woman posted a quote:

Here at the frontier there are falling leaves…although my neighbors are all barbarians, and you, you are a thousand miles away…there are always two cups at my table. – Tang Dynasty

And a third woman told me about “Death is Nothing at All,” a poem by Henry Scott Holland that might offer comfort:

Death is nothing at all.
I have only slipped away to the next room.
I am I and you are you.
Whatever we were to each other,
That, we still are.

Call me by my old familiar name.
Speak to me in the easy way
which you always used.
Put no difference into your tone.
Wear no forced air of solemnity or sorrow.

Laugh as we always laughed
at the little jokes we enjoyed together.
Play, smile, think of me. Pray for me.
Let my name be ever the household word
that it always was.
Let it be spoken without effect.
Without the trace of a shadow on it.

Life means all that it ever meant.
It is the same that it ever was.
There is absolute unbroken continuity.
Why should I be out of mind
because I am out of sight?

I am but waiting for you.
For an interval.
Somewhere. Very near.
Just around the corner.

All is well.

It was an incredible day for me,  heartwarming and heartbreaking all at once. Thank you, everyone, who stopped by to read or to comment.

Whew! Now I Feel Safe?

I’ve been reading a very old book on blogging. For normal purposes, a 2006 copyright isn’t that old, but apparently when it comes to the blogosphere, it’s so old as to be . . . well, not worthless, but outdated. The only mention of WordPress in the book was the .org version. The .com version (the one most of us have come to rely on) wasn’t even mentioned. Is WordPress.com that new? I don’t know — I’ve only been blogging for two years, so anything before September 2007 is prehistoric to me.

Anyway, the author of the book suggests backing up your blog to make sure that your don’t lose your content in case the host’s computer crashes or the host goes out of business, as did someone who hosted 3,000 blogs many, many blogyears ago. (Apparently a blogyear is akin to a dogyear.) So I hied myself to the WordPress forum to find out the best way to back up my 351 posts, 4 pages, 33 categories, 1,350 tags, and 1,865 valuable (and much appreciated) comments. According to WordPress, however, the blogs are already backed up. I found this on a FAQ page:

If your blog is hosted here at WordPress.com, we handle all necessary backups. If a very large meteor were to hit all of the WordPress.com servers and destroy them beyond repair, all of your data would still be safe and we could have your blog online within a couple of days (after the meteor situation dies down, of course).

I also found this in a discussion forum: 

Right now there are 3 copies of your blog in 3 different parts of the USA.

If California drops into the Pacific, your blog is still safe.
If California drops into the Pacific AND Texas gets hit by a meteor storm which destroys it you can still blog all about it.
If all 3 go down then there is something very serious going on …

There isn’t really a need to backup.

Unless, of course, you want to, in which case you go to your dashboard, scroll down to tools, click on export, and send your blog files to . . . wherever.

I feel safe now, don’t you? I won’t think about California dropping into the Pacific, Texas getting hit by a meteor storm, that unspecified meteor situation, or that even more unspecified “something very serious going on”. Not much, anyway.

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