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Tom Ross: Webcasts and Podcasts

Technology defines new age of information sharing; I get plogged for the very first time

— Just this week, I was plogged for the very first time, and I have to say that it felt pretty darn good.

What’s that? You haven’t been plogged yet? Don’t feel badly. It will happen soon enough.

It wasn’t until last year that I really came to understand what a blog is. Now, I’m suddenly suffering from an inferiority complex because I don’t have a blog of my own. That sorry state of affairs is holding me back, because naturally, if you don’t even have a blog, you can’t plog anyone.



So, there you go. I am truly behind the times.

A Web log called Technorati reported last month that there are now 50 million Web Logs or “blogs” in the world (blogosphere), but the rate of growth in blogs is slowing. The number is no longer doubling every six months as it has for several years. That means it could take seven months before the number of blogs grows to 100 million.



I can infer from these statistics that most of my readers already have their own blogs, so I won’t devote much ink to defining the term.

For the six remaining people in Routt County who do not have their own – a blog is a personal Web page devoted to a particular area of interest – a hobby, an academic subject, an art form, a single person’s daily life, or perhaps his or her career. A blog can also be a soapbox – a platform for a rant.

You could even post a blog about your favorite grog, or your pet frog (somebody stop me).

Increasingly, businesses are learning that corporate blogs are a hip way to market to their customer base.

The Steamboat Ski Area’s daily “Straight Talk” column during the ski season is essentially a blog within its Web page written by a team of powder dog bloggers.

So, “What is a plog?” For illustration purposes, I had my first encounter with a plog last week when I logged onto amazon.com and observed the salutation, “Greetings Tom! This is your plog!”

Within a box at Amazon’s home page is a space tailored to my individual interests – at least to the extent that Amazon is aware of them. Inside the box is the content of a blog maintained by the author of a book I bought at Amazon.

Now, many of you are raising eyebrows at the news that I’ve gone over to the dark side and purchased a book off an Internet commerce site. For the record, I continue to purchase books from independent local booksellers and intend to continue to do so. But to deny that Amazon’s plog is seductive would be to practice deceit.

The content in my plog (personal Web log) was contributed by an author and collage artist, Claudine Hellmuth.

Hellmuth’s blog is a collection of audio transcripts posted as Podcasts, and video snippets shot by her husband, Paul, on a digital still camera.

My high-speed Internet connection allowed me to click on one of the videos and watch the artist creating a collage from scratch while discussing the creative process. It was fascinating, but I wasn’t so absorbed in it that I wasn’t wearing my own “media guy hat” and pondering the implications.

The plog was working on multiple levels. Amazon was providing the authors with a direct conduit to the relatively finite audience that a collage artist can create. Without knowing me as a personality, Hellmuth was speaking directly to me.

Second, Amazon was buil-ding my relationship with its e-commerce site. The company already carefully tracks my searches and purchases in order to recommend new books and music titles to me.

Now, Amazon, the faceless bookseller, was inviting me to give it feedback on my plog.

Do I want more Hellmuth? Or something else?

Amazon’s plog wasn’t my only experience with the rapidly expanding universe of digital media last week. I visited youtube.com because I was intrigued by the prospect that today, anyone who owns a digital video camera can become a filmmaker and seek an audience at a mass culture Web page.

I expected to find a bunch of stupid pet tricks and sophomoric attempts at physical humor.

Instead, I stumbled on a community where talented acoustic guitar players post short films of themselves finger picking James Taylor songs.

Later in the week, I logged on to the Web page of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and monitored the progress of the football game between the University of Wisconsin and Bowling Green University being played in Cleveland. The beat writer for the Journal Sentinel typed game updates every five minutes throughout the game, which was televised only regionally.

I want to get in on this new media stuff. First thing this morning, I’m marching into the editor’s office and begging for a blog of my own.

Next stop, the plogosphere!


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