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« A Newspaper Gets Serious About the People's Voices | Main | DeLay Rule Overturned: Bloggers' Symbiosis with Mainstream Media »

January 03, 2005


Terry Heaton

People put things in PDF format, because they haven't figured out that the content, not the package, is what everybody wants.

F Polo

I held a discussion with some felows from the Spain blogosphere recently about bloggers and blog readers.
If this 27% of Internet users who declares themselves as blog readers, are "frequent" blog readers, what about the others coming to a blog (even if they do not know what a blog is) from Google or whatever other link?
From my stats, I could tell than more than half of my readers are occasional readers. For good or for bad, they'll actually read what I write, and even if they don't want it, they should be considered "blog readers" too.
Difficult to get these metrics!

Congratulations for your new blog, and good luck with your new project.

Nick Lewis

Thats very interesting. I wonder if it has less to do with the strengths of the medium and more to do with how blog friendly google is. For example, one of my team blogs (about 30 contributers) traffic has quintupled as a result of its tsunami posts. I don't know if our coverage is worthy of google's high rankings, but one things is certain: a lot more people seem to be coming our direction. Something tells me if google becomes less friendly to blogs, we'll see this trend reverse.


Dan, isn't one of the things that you will be investigating in the discussion of "Grassroots Journalism" is the notion of authority or verification or truth....I don't mean in a pedagogical way, but in a correctness the early days of the net, people read it like it was verified, edited factual material...if it was on the web it must be true...we, of course, know that to be, in the growing thousands of blogs, do people interpret?? yes it's to learn many differing points of view and experience things from different perspectives, and without some, often undue, influences...but there is still the need to separate reality and fact from opinion, or even worse, downright deception....

Craig McGinty

I'm with F Polo on this one. I get the chance to speak to a few of my readership and I think if I told them that my site is run using blog software they would just look at me with a quizzical look. Most say it is just a website with news and information that links in with their needs. And that is why I think Google can't penalise blogs in the future because they would be cutting off their nose to spite their face. Google wants to point people in the direction of their search request and if good content is being provided by bloggers why descriminate?

The One True b!X

how, in the growing thousands of blogs, do people interpret?? yes it's to learn many differing points of view and experience things from different perspectives, and without some, often undue, influences...but there is still the need to separate reality and fact from opinion, or even worse, downright deception

Through the collective filter of collaborative examination generated by the interplay between and amongst blogs, and between and mongst blogs and their reader/commenters.

Here's something I recently said in a comment to an over on Jay Rosen's Press Think:

It's about the publication of all the steps a story takes as it evolves, rather than waiting for some essentially arbitrary moment to take a snapshot that in form makes it seem as if the story has been told.

Point being, all of those steps traditional media takes (or purports to take) before "going to press" with a story are conducted in real-time and out-in-the-open on, between, and amongst blogs.

We still get to a result, in terms of an accurate understanding of "the story" -- it's just that now we all get to play a part in getting to "the story".

The One True b!X

Well, that comment could have used the copy editor segment of my brain.

Stupid Country

I started a personal rantspace ( just after the election in November. The promise I made to myself was that I would post to it, generally, when I had fully-formed thoughts, as opposed to simply passing along links to things. While some of these thoughts have been essentially sight gags, they're my own, and I've stayed pretty true to the concept.

On the other hand, I went nearly a month between my most recent posts. Which leads me to an odd quandary: If this is really a grassroots medium, do we nanojournalists have any actual responsibilities to this medium? Is there a point in feeling anything like guilt about posting sporadically, now that I've brought this thing to life?

Guess you have to have an actual audience to have real issues along these lines. But who knows -- there's no philosophy on this to which one can anchor oneself.

Ewan Grantham

As far as authority goes, I seem to recall some discussions in the blogsphere a couple months back about Trust Systems. The concept that you could tell how authoritative a source was based either on the trust you had assigned to a particular author, or on the trust you had in other people who had rated the author or site.

Similarly, it seems that there will be a continued need for editors - who either edit material on sites, or perhaps who compile stories from various posts on multiple blogs. In which case the question is how well you trust the editor to compile the material or check out the story before "publishing".

Just my .02 worth...

Hal O'Brien

Oh, boy. Somebody's acting like this has never happened before.

Let's try this re-write:

"In the early days of type, people read it like it was verified, edited factual material... if it was in a book it must be true... we, of course, know that to be naive... how, in the growing thousands of books, do people interpret??"

To which the answer is, as best they can, as they have for centuries.

Text is text is text.

There is very little happening with the net, media-wise, that didn't happen in the incunabula period of type.

Will Richardson

From an education standpoint, this is such a huge issue. How do we teach kids to be editors and to even know that they have to be editors? They have grown up thinking they can believe what's in a book or magazine, and they have transferred that trust to the Internet without really thinking about it. This is a much needed discussion, and as more an more information goes online, it's one we have to have now.

Jozef Imrich

Hot off the press - Forecast 2005: For Newspapers, Competition Too Big to Ignore

Newspapers better be prepared to gear up for 2005 innovations.

By Rick Edmonds hus third and last installment on this theme:

Bob Rosenberg

Just a quick thank you to Hal O'Brien!

Chased me off to the dictionary. "incunabula". I just learned another word. Who knew?

Thanks, Hal!


Until HTML and web browsers give us control over design that is standards-compliant so that layout and design renders equally in all web browsers, PDF will serve a useful purpose on the Internet.

It's not a question of information vs design, and one responder implies. It's about the third effect: design plus information can be greater than the sum of the parts.

On the Internet, PDF makes that possible.

Now for some information, such as this study, maybe design doesn't serve that important a role. But that doesn't mean it can't improve the ability to communicate information efficiently, and meaningfully.

Rich Miller


Re the Pew study and the PDF format:

Just as an FYI, the study was posted in HTML on the web site of the Pew Charitable Trusts (, the parent of the Pew Internet project. Here's the link.

While the HTML version could have been made more convenient, I'm not a fan of folks grabbing the full text of an article and posting it in blog comments or message boards. I've seen this happen often with tech stories, and not just on Slashdot (where the famed "Slashdot effect" often limits availability of an article, prompting users to post text).

I'm sure it's one of many issues you'll be sorting out in your new venture. Best of luck! We'll all be watching with great interest.

Chris P.

Best wishes on the new direction, Dan. Been reading your stuff forever.

Two questions, smaller then larger:

1. Is a little skepticism appropriate with those Blog numbers? Anyone have info on how Pew conducted? 62% of users still don't know what the term means, yet 27% read them? Sounds a little out of whack.

2. I work for a high-tech PR firm. (Boo, hiss) Very interested in how clients might use blogs -- appropriately and ethically -- in their communications. Bit of a cottage industry starting to develop on this question, which means everyone usually has an interest in providing the service they promote. (there's that skepticism again).

Dan, do you see a role? What do you other folks think? Thanks in advance.


PDF is a print format. Folks who publish things in PDF format assume that the people who read them are going to have their secretaries print them out first.

Dan Gillmor

Rich, thanks for the link. I'll put it in the main text. I'm also removing the post that has the entire study text, as I agree it's inappropriate for people to cut and paste the entirety of other people's work on other sites.


blogs are the personal website revolution. the question now is what is the "press"?


A couple of comments on PDF and on socially-unsanctioned reposting -

Eric: "Now for some information, such as this study, maybe design [facilitated by PDF format] doesn't serve that important a role..."

What would be fascinating would be to do a study on this - randomly grab N PDF docs via Google, then analyze them (automatically if somehow possible) to see if the format is serving a role that the reader finds useful.

My prediction: in 99.9% of cases, the answer would be no.

( see Jakob Nielsen's July 2003 PDF: Unfit for Human Consumption )

Rich Miller: "I'm not a fan of folks grabbing the full text of an article and posting it in blog comments or message boards."

As the guilty party, I agree, mostly, and apologize - linking to the HTML version is far preferable.

The trouble is, how do you motivate people who use the web (to publish their docs) so they'll *serve* the web? Especially in a case like this, where they're talking the talk (in the content of the study) but not walking the walk (in the format of the report)? What carrot can you use? (and how many years, for the carrot to make a difference?)

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