What A Milestone!

I am not quite sure how it happened, but this week I passed the 1,000 post mark here in the Studio. This post will make 1,005th, to be exact. That is a lot of posts. And even more words. 1,000 POV’s on law, research, writing and technology. I knew I was wordy, but sheesh!

I guess when you enjoy writing, 1,000 posts can sail out of your keyboard without a great deal of sweat. I hope that Studio readers have enjoyed reading my content as much as I have enjoyed writing it.

Periodically, the Interwebs get all aswarm with debate on whether blogging is dead. The introduction of shiny new tools like Google+ definitely shift attention and emphasis from traditional blogging to the novel ways of communicating and sharing content. However, you have to stop and think about how much of the content shared on these news sites comes from blog posts or articles by amateur journalists. In my mind, blogging is still a solid part of the backbone of the Web and I am as dedicated to my RSS feeds as I am to creating blog-based content for myself and others to share.

If you only read, but have thought about writing your own blog, why not? There are so many great and free tools to help you on your way.  Check out Blogger, WordPress.com, Posterous, and Tumblr, to name a few. You will get a great deal of satisfaction out of the simple process of writing, and even more when you are lucky enough to garner feedback or even spark a conversation.

Write a Blog Post. Help make the Web a Better Place. And thank you for reading here. I really appreciate it.


The New WordPress iOS App!

Back a couple of weeks ago, I posted about blogging on the iPad, using two great apps Blogsy and Superstash. I mentioned in that post that I originally tried using the proprietary WordPress app on the iPhone but was very unsatisfied with the results. There have been a couple of updates since I first tried using the app for actual blogging, but I hadn’t been tempted to return to it. Until now.

Today, the WordPress app has been revamped and been rendered a lot more useful for me. Behind the scenes, the developer worked hard to make the app less buggy. But that is not what has me so excited. The app has added some very nice new features, including a Quick Photo feature which allows you to snap an image and immediately post around it within the app. Even better is the new Stats integration – no more using mobile Safari just to check who is hitting what on the Studio on a daily basis. You either have to be using WordPress.com, or have the Jetpack plug-in installed on your self-hosted WordPress blog to get the stats, but that is no problem – the Jetpack plug-in is an awesome add to your blog in any event. You can access comments and pages in the new WP app as well.

It is a great improvement, but there is still room for more. Like a WYSIWYG editor – typing out the HTML is a total drag. That is a feature that Blogsy has all over the WordPress app. Nonetheless, WordPress still offers stats, which is alone a reason for me to open this app regularly.

Mobile blogging just got better! Well done, Automaticc, and here is hoping for even more slick features in the near future.

Entri – Crowdsource Your Writing

Now here is an interesting idea. A web app that promotes social collaboration on documents in progress. The service is called Entri (link here) and it is essentially an on-line document editor with collaborative features. It’s free and quite simple to use. Log in with your Twitter ID and you will see a text editor box, with basic formatting, image insertion and link creation features. There is a delete button, a lock button, a “get HTML” button and a save changes button. You can scroll through your Entri’s as well. Versions show on the right side of the screen and you can invite your Twitter friends to engage in the process of editing your document.

What’s the purpose? Entri provides a decent, stripped down text editor that you can use in a pinch to write and secure feedback. The suggesetd use offered on the site is roughing out a blog post and then inviting your followers to add their input into the mix before posting in final form on your blog. Entri advises that integration with the mainstream blogging services, such as WordPress, is coming, but for now you can copy and past the HTML generated on Entri right into your blog’s text editor.

Kind of a cool, special-purpose tool.

Enhancing Your Blog with Apture

I saw Apture a few days ago and I am back here in the Studio today trying it out. What is Apture? For my purposes, Apture is a killer plug-in for my blog that nearly automates linking multi-media rich content into my blog posts. Apture’s sell is that the modern Web should be three-dimension, not flat, and that their plug-in allows for easy implementation of layers and depth in blog posts, encouraging readers to truly browse your content.

Apture is seeking to add context to the Web, to connect disparate elements that share a connection. That connection depends upon the relevance of the subject matter of your reading material. Apture will then open a window to access web-wide content and connect or embed it into your article or post. In essence, Apture allows web publishers to assist the process of semantically or contextually linking information across the airwaves. Plus it makes your blog posts really really cool to read.

How does it work? After downloading the plug-in and following the steps in the set-up wizard within your blog editor, you will see two new upload/insert buttons to the top right:

As you write your post, simply highlight text and click of the Apture link button. A window opens showing options:

As you can see, you can search by keywords (it automatically adds your highlighted text into the search box). You can then filter its recommendations by types. It also pulls your own prior posts for backlinking. You also can upload your own content to enhance the highlighted text. Items that can be added include video, images, reference articles, maps, audio, documents or books, person information, articles or web pages. Apture wants you to abandon the basic link button in your editor in favor of their “super link” button that connects with you a wider array of content within the blog editor itself.

Apture displays the links on the page in its “power browser” – readers explore linked content within a dynamic JavaScript-based windows without leaving the site.

You also can embed Apture links right into the blog post with the embed button to the right of the link button. It will create a similar javascript window that automatically shows within the post without a mouseover or click.

Apture links are preserved in RSS feeds and within RSS readers and are not blocked by pop-up blockers. While Apture does not currently support editing of content sources, you can still upload your own content or manually link to content via URL or embed code.

By now you are probably wondering, “how much for all this linking, multi-media goodness?” Well, guess what? Blogs or sites with less than five million page views per month can use Apture for free! The big players pay so us little guys can play! Apture is now prominently displayed on such media giants as The New York Times, The Washington Post, Lawrence Lessig and Techcrunch France. And now, you can display it too (link here).

Between Zemanta and Apture, I might never have to manually research and link a blog post again! Check out my links above and let me know what you think! I think it is pretty Jetsons.

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Louis Gray: Writing A Killer Blog Without Killing Yourself

I really don’t need to give any introduction here, other than to urge you to take a moment to read Mr. Gray’s outstanding Slideshare on how to manage your blog and social media interaction. Fantastic advice from a master!

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Facebook for Bloggers

Twitter tends to be touted as the number one place to promote a blog. But what about Facebook? Wouldn’t your friends and any number of the over 400 million users be interested in your content? Why not leverage Facebook to get your blog noticed?

There are plenty of applications within Facebook to help you toward this end. My personal favorite is Networked Blogs (link here)  – you can see my widget in the right-hand sidebar on this blog. My Networked Blogs app is also promoted on my Facebook Profile and on the AdvantageAdvocates’ business page. You can list your own blog within the application, people can subscribe to your blog and receive news feed updates when new posts are generated and you can subscribe to other interesting blogs. Comment, like and share using Facebook functionality. Easy way to stay up to date on your favorite feeds right within the Facebook environment.

But there are other applications. Facebook Notes (link here) was my original tool for feeding my blog into Facebook. You can set up Notes to accept your RSS feed from your blog and every time a new post is generated, it will create a new Note within Facebook for all of your friends to see. Downside is that it is limited to your friends, while Networked Blogs allows subscription by anyone. But, Notes is indeed a quick, simple method for showcasing your blog posts.

If you are already feeding your blog entries into Twitter and Friendfeed, you can take advantage of Facebook’s Twitter (link here) and Friendfeed (link here) applications to auto-update your feed or status with the new entries.  The upside is that these syncs are great tools for automating and streamlining your content publication. Downside is the potential for annoying your Facebook friends with excessive entries if you are a heavy-duty Twitter or Friendfeed user.

Although it appears not to be a fully active feature, just Tuesday the tech pundits were all a-Buzz (or a-Twitter depending upon your soc-med of choice) about a new feature on Facebook called “Promote This Post.” It appears to be a spot advertising option whereby you can pay to have a particular post promoted within the Facebook ad scheme.

Clicks are measured and payments are based on clicks. It appears to have been directed at Facebook Page admins and was not universally rolled out. If it ever does roll out, however, it could serve as a very effective means of targeting your message to a potentially interested audience. You can find out more about this feature over at WebProNews (link here).

21st Century Legal Scholarship

ScholarI wanted to share with Studio readers an interesting article from David Kopel over at the Volokh Conspiracy on the issue of Legal Scholarship in the Digital Age. Kopel opines that legal blogging is creating a “Golden Age” in legal scholarship, permitting lawyers to wax academic and non-lawyers to access all of this brilliance in an easy-to-digest format. Kopel provides many good examples of how blogging is enhancing the legal profession, with particular emphasis on academia and reporting, and I definitely recommend you hit the jump if you wonder why you should consider blogging as an outlet for your intellect.

Once again, electronic media serves as the engine to drive innovation. Don’t let the train pass you by.

I Finally Figured Out What Is Wrong With Wikipedia

And it might reflect a moderate generalism on the internet as well: there are not enough women.

Jennifer Van Grove, a prolific contributor of value to the internet over at Mashable reports on the results of a study conducted by the Wikimedia Foundation (Wikipedia’s parent) regarding the demographics of Wikipedia contributors and the shocking imbalance. 175,000 responses were collected. Of 53,888 respondents who copped to contributing to Wikipedia, only 6,814 or 13%, were women. More on the study can be found at the Wall Street Journal.

There are some other statistics mentioned. Women are less likely to read Wikipedia articles for one. I also noted a sizeable reason driving non-contribution across respondents – “[o]ne quarter, however, said they’re afraid of making a mistake “and getting ‘in trouble’ for it.” Given the other figures, this response must have been a popular one among the female non-contributing respondents.

These particular hues and cries are not new. I recently responded to a solicitation from a gadget blog looking for female tech bloggers because “there are just not enough of us out there.” About a year ago, or thereabouts, there was some flap in the legal blawgosphere about the lack of female law bloggers. I posted my reply here. And now, we have this “startling” announcement that women Wikipedia contributors are few and far between.

So, assuming this all to be true (and there is some degree of assumption there), the obvious question is why?

Van Grove opens her post with the paragraph: “[w]omen are consummate content creators online. From technology mavens like Google’s Marissa Mayer to influential mommy bloggers, and even YouTube() stars like iJustine, females have played a significant role in shaping web trends.”

But, other than Mayer, these trends are in decidedly non-academic, non-technical subject areas. Why the lack of women in the brainier on-line realms? If you look at enrollment in institutions of higher education, you will not see this degree of disparity between the sexes. In fact, in some areas of intellectual pursuit, women outnumber men. Law school enrollment figures place women on equal footing with men. So why do these figures not translate to greater participation on the Web in places like legal and tech blogging and Wikipedia contribution?

I don’t intent to engage in a lengthy dissertation on the socialogies and psychologies of women and men in academics, the workplace or our society in general, as I do believe that traditional roles have been changing for some time (although not enough to satisfy my sense of equality). I will point out a couple of thoughts. First, I suggest taking the reason provided above at its face value: I believe women have a greater fear than men of the fallout from speaking out on a topic and suffering reprisal. Whether it is a reason fostered by nature or nuture is unimportant – the fact of my own personal experience is that women (o.k., well, myself anyway) are more concerned with being right than being visible. Whether women are correct more or less than men in reality is not essential to an understanding of the point. Women may be more interested than men in making sure they are right or sitting back rather than speaking when they see the grey area in a particular subject. And maybe women get enough reprisal in other venues, so they may not volunteer to put themselves in such a public limelight solely for altruism or entertainment value.

Second, I will simply point you to the comments, starting with comment number one by an individual owning only to the name “man”, to Van Grove’s post. Oh, maybe I will just reprint that first comment right here for your reading pleasure:

Wikipedia has to be fact-checked and referenced, whereas women prefer to make baseless claims and get into arguments. Attempting to end the argument by referencing an actual document is only going to piss them off, the only positive result is to acquiese.

This does not mean they are always wrong, they are correct roughly 50% of the time. But no fact-checking.

So there you have it.