The d-bits blog is now over one month old. Launched foolishly while boarding an airplane, there has been considerable compressed learning.
Thus far, I am more or less on track with my goals:
- Discuss solar and general cleantech issues
- Write original copy, interest others in contributing
- Use original pictures
Surprisingly, getting quality pictures that mesh with the content has turned out to be one of the bigger challenges.
As I now take my camera everywhere and contemplate the question “What on earth do photons do with light years of spare time in universal darkness?” what has my newborn experience taught me?
- Be prepared to clean up after myself
- Feed, feed, feed
- Get sleep – it can be fixed in the morning
- Seek help against potential contagions
- The importance of names
The first month has been a long one.
1. Clean up after myself
I used to think I wrote fast while delivering reasonably good copy.
After my first few posts, however, it was clear I needed to be prepared to clean up after myself. I laughed at my original ‘Terms of Service’ and all the disclaimers on my right to change content at a moment’s notice. With all my tweaks and clean-ups, however, this became comforting.
Who knew how much I would actually need to cover myself for that?
Corporate writing may not be the best prep for blog sound bytes. Apparently, I was also spoiled by addiction to common word-processing tools.
Blogging interfaces are as immature as a crying newborn by comparison. Fortunately, though, I have found that it is possible to clean up after myself as frequently as I may need to.
Key success factors in blogging appear to follow recent evolution of cable news reporting – steady tidbits of information are preferred over in-depth coverage. Moreover, with social networking there is a tremendous amount of re-purposed content. Hence my complementary strategy to offer original content and pictures.
Along with the d-bits blog, I gave birth to a twin – the ddbits micro blog on Twitter. With double the new parent challenge, I have found that the social media equivalent of infectious coughing is well observed within the Twitter echo chamber. Single tweets can solicit a cacophony of thousands of re-tweets. Then, suddenly, deafening silence arrives with a picture of little orange birds attempting to lift a large white whale. We now marvel at life before Internet search. One day the success of social media will cause us to wonder what we did before little birds lifted large whales.
Still at the glorious birthing stage of social media, yesterday North Korea reportedly opened a Youtube account. North Korea then used its new account to bring the world a social media message of praise for their glorious leader Kim Jong Il, the man who will bring the moon to earth, as a general sent by the heaven. Perhaps they already know what I have been observing in my social media experiment. Just like some cable news networks, regular spoon feeding of pablum in social media appears to be a common strategy – Julia or no Julia. While Julia’s blog on Julia led to a bestseller and a movie deal, someone should tell the North Koreans that Moonstruck was released a long time ago.
Of course, having now posted that comment on my blog, someone somewhere may not have a sense of humor and I may never get a Visa to visit North Korea should I want to. What was it I was saying about the need to clean up after myself?
3. Get sleep
Having launched this blog from an airplane, my number one recommendation is not to. Launching a blog in mid-flight isn’t what they mean by joining the mile-high club. There is very little pleasure and it is still difficult to connect – your laptop – at 30,000 feet. The jet lag after landing on foreign soil can further conspire with newborn anxiety and keep you sleepless and more irritable than satisfied.
4. Medical Help and Inoculation
The news has just come in and the H1N1 swine flu non-pandemic and non-event is officially over. The true pandemic of SPAM, however, is as pervasive in the blogosphere as it is in email. In fact, my blog has had more spamming attempts than all my email accounts combined. Fortunately there are SPAM filters for screening comments. If you plan to start a blog, inoculation should be one of the first things to consider before your reputation is marred from endless attempts to use your blog to peddle enhancement products.
5. Names are important
While I did plan to post on the Ontario solar market, two days after blog birth, the Ontario market was in an uproar. Just as the new green energy subsidy program was gaining traction, the Ontario Power Authority declared it would retroactively reduce subsidies (i.e. its Feed-in-Tariff or FIT rates) for the bulk of pending applications. The announcement caught many by surprise. The announcement was completely unexpected and was made on a long-weekend Friday when many people were on vacation.
D-bits was one of the first to advise of the surprise change. Thanks in part to interest in the dynamic Ontario market, I am proud to report that my newborn d-bits blog has risen to become the #2 ranked solar site in Canada and cracked the top 200 world solar sites. Astonishingly, people I have never met have ‘signed the baby book’ and submitted comments.
With the its initial Ontario focus, a friend jokingly suggested renaming the blog from d-bits to “o-bits”.
Funny, edgy, and memorable name. Perhaps it is best, though, to not have a name that foreshadows the blog’s demise.
Here’s hoping that d-bits has a long and fruitful life and doesn’t make any obituary list anytime soon.