The Chinese government's comment army generates nearly half a billion comments a year on apps and social networks, doing all it can to sway opinion in favor of the party. The vast message-managing operation spans the globe, reports Paul Mozur.
The common belief that they are paid 50 cents per post leads people in China to call them the Fifty Cent Party.
A new study says those people are closer to the government than previously thought.
The study, from researchers at Harvard University, says the legions of online commenters are not all freelancers paid by the post. In fact, it says that most are government employees, preaching the principles of the Chinese Communist Party on social media while carrying out their jobs in the local tax bureau or at a county government office.
The key technique is distraction — don't rebut, change the subject — all driven by a growing belief among authorities that direct censorship is too crude and obvious. Read the rest
Author John Biggs, who cranked 'em out for Techcrunch and Gizmodo, is quitting blogging. He writes about the things he's learned and earned generating 11,000 posts.
The first thing, of course, was the complete ruination of his health: he now "looks like a nervous beluga." But there are other perils—ambiguous ones, professional tradeoffs in the 3,300,000-word accumulation of mastery at something. You learn how to write fast and with dense precision, but it wrecks your ability to work long-form, to let a story unfold. You gain an uncanny awareness for what people want to read, but you can't remember what you want to read. You realize that while you're not really being read, authenticity works.
And you won't believe what happens next…
You learn that you can help people. In 2005 I wrote this post. It was about a WD-40 straw holder. It was a throwaway. A few months later I got a call. A nice lady was on the phone. She was trying to track me down. She said that the WD-40 straw holder post saved her company. She was able to sell hundreds of them and stay in business. I felt good for a minute and then wrote 16 more posts that day.
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Say, I'll bet our readers will love this wonderful thing! I'll just spend 20 minutes meticulously creating this gif. Sure hope no one else saw this wonderful thing yet. ::rechecks scheduled posts:: Read the rest
Anil Dash has been at it for 15 years (slightly longer than me, but only slightly!) and his reflections on a decade and a half of blogging -- through major life changes from marriage to parenthood -- really chime with me, especially:
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Traveling? Ignoring relatives? Sitting alone at home? Whatever your situation over the next couple of weeks, the 50 blog posts chosen for the Open Laboratory 2013 collection of best science writing online can help. The stories will all be available in an ebook later next year, but you can read them all online now
. Read the rest
"At the close of 1998, there were 23 known weblogs on the Internet. A year later there were tens of thousands. What changed?
" [Mat Honan / Wired] Read the rest
In this video, blogger Duane Lester confronts the editor of a newspaper which plagiarized something he wrote. The best part is when the editor tries to physically intimidate him, a moment so inexplicable and hilarious I created a YouTube Infinite Loop of it for you.
There's a happy ending, though: he ultimately saw reason and paid Lester for the article.
How to Assert Copyright Over Your Work When It’s Been Plagiarized [All American Blogger via Jim Romenesko] Read the rest
Stephen Thompson's nonfiction project—publishing his 1976 high school journal as a blog and book—soon attracted the attention of a novelty book publisher. But he is instead kickstarting it, to ensure the right tone is kept
: "my blog surprised me by really reaching out to a lot of people around the world who could relate, and I wanted to at least take a shot at raising the money to do it the way I saw it." Read the rest
If you live in the UK or Ireland, write about science, and have not been paid for that work, then you are eligible to apply for the Wellcome Trust's Science Writing Prize
. The Prize is aimed at fostering high quality writing among science communicators who are either just starting their careers, or who write mainly as a hobby. Student journalists are eligible. So are people who blog about science. There are separate categories for professional scientists, and interested laypeople. The deadline is April 25. Read the rest
Matt Buchanan and John W. Herrman started a new tech blog, FWD. Early delights include Herrman on why we sound so dumb when we talk about communications; Buchanan on the ever-increasing importance of software; and Mike Hayes on Sam Spratt's fantastic Facebook Timeline banners. Also, did you know that the secret to successful consumer technology is how good it feels in the hand? Read the rest
Jeremiah Owyang writes that the golden age of blogging is over.
The reasons, in brief: many top blogs have sold out; staff turnover saw "star" voices slip off the radar; younger audiences like social networking more; and advertising revenue is increasingly hard to get at.
All the reasons given are true, but they're not reasons to believe that a golden age has passed. They're phenomena in their own right, each with its own story, and only the last presenting a barrier to entry for newcomers. Epochal change makes for an epic narrative, but all this adds up to a simpler truth: media is a tough game and you won't get far by copying what other people did years ago. Read the rest
I am very pleased to announce that two BoingBoing posts made it into The Open Laboratory 2012, an anthology of the best science writing on the Internet.
The first was written by Lee Billings, an excellent guest blogger we hosted back in February. Lee wrote a lot of great posts about Kepler and the hunt for exoplanets and deserves huge kudos. Incredible Journey: Can We Reach the Stars Without Breaking the Bank? is the one that will be in the anthology.
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Today, the fastest humans on Earth and in history are three elderly Americans, all of whom Usain Bolt could demolish in a footrace. They're the astronauts of Apollo 10, who in 1969 re-entered the Earth's atmosphere at a velocity of 39,897 kph upon their return from the Moon. At that speed you could get from New York to Los Angeles in less than six minutes. Seven years after Apollo 10, we hurled a probe called Helios II into an orbit that sends it swinging blisteringly deep into the Sun's gravity well. At its point of closest approach, the probe travels at almost 253,000 kph—the fastest speed yet attained by a manmade object. The fastest outgoing object, Voyager I, launched the year after Helios II. It's now almost 17 billion kilometers away, and travels another 17 kilometers further away each and every second. If it were headed toward Alpha Centauri (it's not), it wouldn't arrive for more than 70,000 years. Even then, it wouldn't be able to slow down. Of the nearest 500 stars scattered like sand around our own, most would require hundreds of thousands of years (or more) to reach with current technology.
"Blogging is not about opinion but it is about viewing the world in a certain way
and sharing it with others how you look at things." Read the rest
Photo: Rajeev Nair / Ill. Rob Beschizza.
Should we pity a once-popular blog when its time in the sun has come and gone? Not so much. I'm watching the sunset of a moderately high-traffic site I've run for a decade, and that seems the natural course of events. Like the hecatomb of evolution, many blogs rose and then were slaughtered in the crucible of viewer attention (and blogger interest). Those that survive are fitter—or at least live in areas with abundant page views.
A recent glance at my statistics put me in a funk, briefly, until I dashed through Kübler-Ross's five stages of grief, adapted for the fast-paced online age. Denial: The stats must be broken! Anger: This is an awesome site; everyone must be blind! Bargaining: Maybe if I do a redesign? Depression: All that effort, for naught. Acceptance: Hey, what's going on at Reddit?
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