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January 06, 2008

10 Ways We're Trying to Make the Web a Better Place



Recently talking with a good friend and consistent reader of this blog, he told me one of the reasons he likes reading louisgray.com is that he believes I'm not trying to follow somebody else's lead, that I'm not an echo chamber, and instead, I'm actually trying to promote things I believe in. I hope he's right. For while I might occasionally make comments on the news of the day, we're, in this political climate, the blogging candidate for change.

Here are a few examples of how we've tried to push change on the Web and make it a better place to take in new information, find new sources for news, accurately report statistics and influence, as well as ways we're trying to help popular services improve and help people find new tools:

1) The Internal Links vs. External Links Debate

We tried to squash the practice of using Internal Links when External Links would be better ways to bring visitors to the companies making the news. In the ensuing discussions, some major blogs said they would make changes, while others said I had it all wrong. Even if most did nothing, the issue was certainly made more visible.

Internal Linking On Some Tech Blogs Is Out of Control
More Comments On Inwardly Linking
Backlink Backlash Could Bring Forth Change
Link In. Link Out. Shake it All About.

2) The Elimination of Spam-Like Viral Link Tags for Statistics Manipulation

As it's well recognized Google and Technorati will give your site more perceived value based on the amount of unique links to your Web site, many have made a move to artificially inflate their numbers, incorrectly leading to high PageRanks and Technorati Authority, despite the fact Google can punish those found cheating.

Technorati Needs to Stamp Out Viral Tag Spam Now
Kent Newsome Calls My Comments "Fear and Loathing"
Is There an Antidote to the Link Tags Virus?

3) Correctly Learning What Is Original Reporting, and Who's Just Following Along

News aggregators can be both a blessing and a curse. Sites like TechMeme are outstanding for seeing the day's blog activity, but as they also drive traffic, it can encourage bad behavior, without question. We're still looking to see if TechMeme will continue tweaking its algorithm to report those who break a story first and add original reporting, rather than those who have big brand names or the most external links.

What Should Drive TechMeme's Content?
Algorithms Cause Fight Between Linking and Original Reporting
Robot-Generated Sites Show Occasional Flaws

4) Asking Web Companies to Take Downtime Seriously, and Increase Reliability

If we're really going to move all our data to the Web, we have to trust it will always be there, easily and quickly. But far too many Web 2.0 companies have shown flaky uptime, and later, mocked us with humorous error messages, thinking their downtime is a joke. Guess what? It's not.

Web 2.0 Companies Play With Error Messages
Silly YouTube - Where's The Redundancy?
LinkedIn Provides Another Silly Web 2.0 "Error" Page
Ack! Google Reader Update Wipes Out History
Scoble's Right: Technorati Isn't Scaling to Beat Google

5) Looking to Eliminate Spam, Both on E-mail and in Blogs

There's nothing more annoying than finding a good communication medium foiled by those who want to misuse it for their own ill-begotten needs. That's why I refuse to ever join Plaxo, get annoyed by Facebook application spam, and the rapid growth of spam blogs or "Splogs".

Is Technorati Going After Spam Blogs?
Technorati Confirms Attack on Splogs, Provides Update
Sending Me Spam Makes Us Friends, Right?

6) Communicating With Companies and Offering Suggestions to Improve

One of the best things I've found with the blog is being able to talk to Web companies and help build their products to be more successful through testing, and offering specific comments. In almost every case, I've gained direct feedback from the developer, and in many cases, they've updated very quickly.

10 Suggestions for FriendFeed
10 Suggestions to Improve Google Reader
10 More Suggestions for LinkedIn
Eight Reasons the Apple TV is Failing, and How It Can be Saved
Why Can't Del.icio.us Show Most Popular Bookmarks by URL?
What Is the Future Of MyBlogLog?
Use Your Blog To Talk To Companies

7) Looking at Mega-Trends for Insight Into Momentum

We don't blog and live in a vacuum. Instead, as technology and business evolve, change naturally occurs. When I see something I think is taking place which impacts us, I want to talk about it and see if you're seeing what I am. Often you see it too, and sometimes, you tell me I'm wrong, which is okay too.

The Biggest Blogs Aren't Really Blogs Any More
The Web Advertising Bubble Has Got to Pop
Did Trackbacks Die, and Who Killed Them?
Alexa Web Statistics Show Old Media Influence Nosedive
10 Predictions for 2008 In the World of Tech

8) Reinforcing the Idea that Blogging Can Be Personal, Yet Influential

I want to blog with passion about those things I cover and discover. I want to have communications with people I couldn't reach otherwise, and while I may enjoy seeing traffic spikes or external links, it's not what's driving me. I believe I should gain additional traffic if I offer good content, not because I am following the latest trend or using link schemes. So often, I talk about why I blog, and what I'm trying to do. After all, I am adamant that your blog can be your personal brand, and you should take care of it.

New Reality: Your Blog Is Your Brand
Why Do I Blog? An Introspective Look
A Big Part of Blogging is Writing to Your Readers
Blogging: Set Goals Or Let Fly?
If It's Not About Breaking News or Traffic...

9) Highlighting New Companies and Services I Enjoy

What's the fun in finding new Web tools if I can't tell you about them? You can believe that if I start begging you to try out a new service, it's because I really believe in what they stand for, and I see their potential. I have a tendency to root for the little guy and am all too eager to promote those that offer unique service differentiation. I don't always have to be first to report something, but I will be clear about why I think it's pretty darn cool.

I Have Seen the Future of Social RSS Feed Readers
Hype It Up: Ballhype Is Here to Change the Game
Friendfeed Follows Friends' Web Activity
PlugandPlay Expo Highlight: Spokeo
AideRSS Judges Feed Posts as Good, Great, Best

10) Thinking Philosophically, Out Loud, to Those Who Will Listen

If I'm not reacting to news, or letting you know about something I like, it's likely I'm thinking about where we're headed. Often, this will be impacted by work I've done over the last decade, or books I've read. Sometimes thinking out loud while writing is the best way to get my points across. After all, I can't exactly have a conference call with hundreds of people, but I can reach hundreds of people this way. Maybe my thoughts have value to a smaller subset.

I Still Get Excited About Silicon Valley
The Big Debate: Online vs. Offline, and Web Influence
Maintaining Integrity of Web Archives Is Essential
Is Timing an Important Element for Blog Posts?

While I don't expect every post I do to be absolutely high-minded, I do want to make a difference here on the Web. I want to help, from my small corner in the blogosphere, to help guide the next generation of blogging. I want to help companies understand their customers, and to help customers find great companies. I do this because I enjoy it and because it's for the betterment of our global community. If you think these are things you find useful, then be sure you are on our RSS feed, and keep following along. It's a never-ending journey.