1/17/2013

01-17-13 - What Happened to Tech Blogs-

I feel like the internet is dying. There's less and less legitimate content, and more and more fluff and self-promotional ignorant useless crap. It's becoming harder and harder to find solid information that's written by people who actually know anything about what they're posting about.

The information on the internet is now almost entirely one of :

1. Advertising. Sometimes even subtly hidden advertising (there are now tons of "blogs" that are actually advertisements, and a lot of the posters on web forums are actually advertisers who are more or less clever about it).

2. Ignorant. Stuff like answers.yahoo and eHow and Yelp and so on are once in a while written by someone who knows their topic, but usually not. Reading these sites is often more harmful than helpful.

Oddly, the vast majority of blogs about things like cooking, cars, home improvement, or any DIY hobbies are not written by people who actually do those things and know anything about them. They're usually written by housewives or techie nerds who just want some attention or love blogging or god knows why they do it. It should sort of be harmless for ignorant people to write about their adventures building a shack for the first time (lord knows I do it), but it's actually not harmless. For one thing, they tend to become popular and so become the leading search results, ahead of much better information which is drier or not so cutesy. For another, the writers often present themselves as more well informed than they actually are, and they often misrepresent the success of their endeavour.

3. Self-vertising. Even some of the better blogs are just ways to self-promote or otherwise make money. This can be okay and there can still be good information from the self-vertisers, but they also do a lot of padding, a lot of repetition, and heavily distort the truth to make themselves seem more important. The tech self-vertisers tend to be annoyingly pedantic and act like experts when they are not. They almost never do the helpful thing and link to their (better) original sources. They often use the same style as pundits or paid "experts" in that they present their solution as The One True Way to give it extra legitimacy, when in fact the truth is more nuanced (maybe there are disadvantages that they don't talk about, or equally valid other solutions that already exist, or uncertainties in the parameters). Part of the problem with the self-vertisers is that they all mutually promote and are very active about SEO, so they become the primary visible voices. Also to pad their posting they tend to grab "facts" from other sources and repeat them, which creates a bad false sense of confidence in those nonsensities because they are being repeated all over.

Somewhat related to this are the lunatics with some kind of agenda. They aren't exactly advertising, but they are rabid about some point and so spam the web with their "facts" which are just creations designed to prove their point. It makes it almost impossible to find information about controversial topics, because these people are so active that they dominate search results.

4. Communities. I used to get some of my best information from web communities/forums. The great thing about them is that you can find these individual posters that hang out on them who are actually true experts in the field; like if you're searching for home improvement stuff you can find guys in web communities who are actual long term builders and provide solid facts; or for car info you can find people who actually build or race cars and know WTF they're talking about. However, it takes a lot of work to find those guys; they generally are not the most frequent posters, they tend to pop in and snipe some amazing wisdom once in a while and then disappear. You have to do a lot of scrounging around, and read multiple posts from each poster to try to assess the credibility of the individual user.

But I've been noticing something really nasty about web communities recently. They tend to get into this kind of rigid group-think which can lead them to constantly repeat certain "facts" despite there being no substance to them. What happens is some strong personality on the forum promotes some fact and everyone gives it a "thumbs up" , they start repeating it everytime someone asks that question, and it winds up in the FAQ. Posters on web communities are highly motivated by the approval of their peers; they act like a pack of high schoolers who are constantly looking around to make sure everyone else thinks they're cool. There's very little independent thinking and willingness to challenge the group-think. There's lots of high-fiving.

The truly wise tend to be humble and a bit soft-spoken. That's all well and good, but in the juvenile shouting match which is the modern internet, it's the people who are unashamed to loudly pontificate and bully about things they know not much of who are heard.

Try searching for something like "Calphalon" or "Big Island Waterfall" and see how many results you can find that aren't one of those 4 groups. Sure there's still signal out there but it's getting drowned in the noise.

Anyhoo. One of the symptoms of the dying internet that I've noticed is that there are basically no tech blogs for me to read any more. Maybe I'm just out of the loop? Are you all blogging on facebook now, or some other closed system that I refuse to join?

A few years ago, I felt like I was getting really superb quality tech blogs in my RSS on an almost daily basis, and now that has slowed to a trickle of maybe one a week or one a month. The vast majority of people that I liked and followed are not posting any more. What gives?

I understand that a lot of people who blog do it for a while, but lose steam and their blog goes silent. But there should be new people picking up the mantle; maybe I just haven't been active enough about figuring out who the good new bloggers are.

For reference, my tech blog subscriptions :



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        <title>cbloom subscriptions in Google Reader</title>
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        <outline text=".mischief.mayhem.soap."
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            xmlUrl="http://msinilo.pl/blog/?feed=rss2" htmlUrl="http://msinilo.pl/blog"/>
        <outline text="1024cores" title="1024cores" type="rss"
            xmlUrl="http://feeds.feedburner.com/1024cores" htmlUrl="http://blog.1024cores.net/"/>
        <outline text="A random walk through geek-space"
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            xmlUrl="http://api.live.net/Users(4929737823860505484)/Main?$format=rss20" htmlUrl="http://sebastiansylvan.wordpress.com"/>
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            xmlUrl="http://amitp.blogspot.com/feeds/posts/default" htmlUrl="http://amitp.blogspot.com/"/>
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            xmlUrl="http://aras-p.info/atom.xml" htmlUrl="http://aras-p.info/"/>
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            xmlUrl="http://farrarfocus.blogspot.com/feeds/posts/default" htmlUrl="http://farrarfocus.blogspot.com/"/>
        <outline text="Attractive Chaos" title="Attractive Chaos"
            type="rss"
            xmlUrl="http://attractivechaos.wordpress.com/feed/" htmlUrl="http://attractivechaos.wordpress.com"/>
         <outline text="Beautiful Pixels" title="Beautiful Pixels"
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            xmlUrl="http://feeds.feedburner.com/BeautifulPixels" htmlUrl="http://beautifulpixels.blogspot.com/"/>
        <outline text="Birth of a Game" title="Birth of a Game"
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            xmlUrl="http://uber.typepad.com/birthofagame/atom.xml" htmlUrl="http://uber.typepad.com/birthofagame/"/>
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        <outline text="bouliiii's blog" title="bouliiii's blog"
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        <outline text="Braid" title="Braid" type="rss"
            xmlUrl="http://braid-game.com/news/?feed=rss2" htmlUrl="http://braid-game.com/news"/>
        <outline text="Breaking Eggs And Making Omelettes"
            title="Breaking Eggs And Making Omelettes" type="rss"
            xmlUrl="http://multimedia.cx/eggs/feed/" htmlUrl="http://multimedia.cx/eggs"/>
        <outline text="C++Next" title="C++Next" type="rss"
            xmlUrl="http://cpp-next.com/feed/" htmlUrl="http://cpp-next.com"/>
        <outline text="c0de517e" title="c0de517e" type="rss"
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        <outline text="Canned Platypus" title="Canned Platypus"
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        <outline text="cbloom rants" title="cbloom rants" type="rss"
            xmlUrl="http://feeds.feedburner.com/CbloomRants" htmlUrl="http://cbloomrants.blogspot.com/"/>
        <outline text="Cessu's blog" title="Cessu's blog" type="rss"
            xmlUrl="http://cessu.blogspot.com/feeds/posts/default" htmlUrl="http://cessu.blogspot.com/"/>
         <outline text="CodeItNow" title="CodeItNow" type="rss"
            xmlUrl="http://www.rorydriscoll.com/feed/" htmlUrl="http://www.rorydriscoll.com"/>
        <outline text="Coder Corner" title="Coder Corner" type="rss"
            xmlUrl="http://www.codercorner.com/blog/?feed=rss2" htmlUrl="http://www.codercorner.com/blog"/>
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        <outline text="Corensic" title="Corensic" type="rss"
            xmlUrl="http://corensic.wordpress.com/feed/" htmlUrl="http://corensic.wordpress.com"/>
        <outline text="Diary of a Graphics Programmer"
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            xmlUrl="http://diaryofagraphicsprogrammer.blogspot.com/feeds/posts/default" htmlUrl="http://diaryofagraphicsprogrammer.blogspot.com/"/>
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            title="Diary Of An x264 Developer" type="rss"
            xmlUrl="http://x264dev.multimedia.cx/?feed=atom" htmlUrl="http://x264dev.multimedia.cx/"/>
        <outline text="direct to video" title="direct to video"
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        <outline text="el trastero" title="el trastero" type="rss"
            xmlUrl="http://www.iquilezles.org/blog/?feed=rss2" htmlUrl="http://www.iquilezles.org/blog"/>
        <outline text="EntBlog" title="EntBlog" type="rss"
            xmlUrl="http://feeds2.feedburner.com/EntBlog" htmlUrl="http://entland.homelinux.com/blog"/>
        <outline text="EnterTheSingularity" title="EnterTheSingularity"
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            xmlUrl="http://enterthesingularity.blogspot.com/feeds/posts/default?alt=rss" htmlUrl="http://enterthesingularity.blogspot.com/"/>
         <outline text="Fast Data Compression"
            title="Fast Data Compression" type="rss"
            xmlUrl="http://fastcompression.blogspot.com/feeds/posts/default" htmlUrl="http://fastcompression.blogspot.com/"/>
        <outline text="fixored?" title="fixored?" type="rss"
            xmlUrl="http://www.sjbrown.co.uk/feed/" htmlUrl="http://www.sjbrown.co.uk"/>
        <outline text="Game Angst" title="Game Angst" type="rss"
            xmlUrl="http://gameangst.com/?feed=rss2" htmlUrl="http://gameangst.com"/>
        <outline text="Game Rendering" title="Game Rendering" type="rss"
            xmlUrl="http://www.gamerendering.com/feed/atom/" htmlUrl="http://www.gamerendering.com/"/>
        <outline text="Game Rendering" title="Game Rendering" type="rss"
            xmlUrl="http://www.gamerendering.com/feed/" htmlUrl="http://www.gamerendering.com"/>
        <outline text="GameArchitect" title="GameArchitect" type="rss"
            xmlUrl="http://gamearchitect.net/feed/" htmlUrl="http://gamearchitect.net"/>
        <outline text="Gamedev Coder Diary" title="Gamedev Coder Diary"
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        <outline text="Graphic Rants" title="Graphic Rants" type="rss"
            xmlUrl="http://graphicrants.blogspot.com/feeds/posts/default" htmlUrl="http://graphicrants.blogspot.com/"/>
        <outline text="Graphics Runner" title="Graphics Runner"
            type="rss"
            xmlUrl="http://graphicsrunner.blogspot.com/feeds/posts/default" htmlUrl="http://graphicsrunner.blogspot.com/"/>
        <outline text="Graphics Size Coding"
            title="Graphics Size Coding" type="rss"
            xmlUrl="http://sizecoding.blogspot.com/feeds/posts/default" htmlUrl="http://sizecoding.blogspot.com/"/>
        <outline text="Gustavo Duarte" title="Gustavo Duarte" type="rss"
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        <outline text="Hardwarebug" title="Hardwarebug" type="rss"
            xmlUrl="http://hardwarebug.org/feed/" htmlUrl="http://hardwarebug.org"/>
        <outline text="hbr" title="hbr" type="rss"
            xmlUrl="http://brnz.org/hbr/?feed=rss2" htmlUrl="http://brnz.org/hbr"/>
        <outline text="Humus" title="Humus" type="rss"
            xmlUrl="http://www.humus.name/rss.xml" htmlUrl="http://www.humus.name"/>
        <outline text="I am an extreme moderate"
            title="I am an extreme moderate" type="rss"
            xmlUrl="https://extrememoderate.wordpress.com/feed/" htmlUrl="https://extrememoderate.wordpress.com"/>
        <outline text="I Get Your Fail" title="I Get Your Fail"
            type="rss" xmlUrl="http://feeds.feedburner.com/IGetYourFail" htmlUrl="http://igetyourfail.blogspot.com/"/>
        <outline text="Ignacio Castaño" title="Ignacio Castaño"
            type="rss" xmlUrl="http://castano.ludicon.com/blog/feed/" htmlUrl="http://www.ludicon.com/castano/blog"/>
        <outline text="Industrial Arithmetic"
            title="Industrial Arithmetic" type="rss"
            xmlUrl="http://industrialarithmetic.blogspot.com/feeds/posts/default" htmlUrl="http://industrialarithmetic.blogspot.com/"/>
          <outline text="John Ratcliff's Code Suppository"
            title="John Ratcliff's Code Suppository" type="rss"
            xmlUrl="http://codesuppository.blogspot.com/feeds/posts/default" htmlUrl="http://codesuppository.blogspot.com/"/>
        <outline text="Just Software Solutions Blog"
            title="Just Software Solutions Blog" type="rss"
            xmlUrl="http://www.justsoftwaresolutions.co.uk/index.rss" htmlUrl="http://www.justsoftwaresolutions.co.uk/blog/"/>
        <outline text="Lair Of The Multimedia Guru"
            title="Lair Of The Multimedia Guru" type="rss"
            xmlUrl="http://guru.multimedia.cx/feed/" htmlUrl="http://guru.multimedia.cx"/>
        <outline text="Larry Osterman's WebLog"
            title="Larry Osterman's WebLog" type="rss"
            xmlUrl="http://blogs.msdn.com/larryosterman/rss.xml" htmlUrl="http://blogs.msdn.com/b/larryosterman/"/>
        <outline text="Level of Detail" title="Level of Detail"
            type="rss" xmlUrl="http://levelofdetail.wordpress.com/feed/" htmlUrl="http://levelofdetail.wordpress.com"/>
        <outline text="level of detail" title="level of detail"
            type="rss" xmlUrl="http://www.jshopf.com/blog/?feed=rss2" htmlUrl="http://jshopf.com/blog"/>
        <outline text="Light is beautiful" title="Light is beautiful"
            type="rss"
            xmlUrl="http://feeds.feedburner.com/LightIsBeautiful?format=xml" htmlUrl="http://lousodrome.net/blog/light"/>
        <outline text="Lightning Engine" title="Lightning Engine"
            type="rss"
            xmlUrl="http://feeds2.feedburner.com/LightningEngine" htmlUrl="http://blog.makingartstudios.com"/>
        <outline text="Lost in the Triangles"
            title="Lost in the Triangles" type="rss"
            xmlUrl="http://feeds.feedburner.com/LostInTheTriangles" htmlUrl="http://aras-p.info/"/>
        <outline text="Mark's Blog" title="Mark's Blog" type="rss"
            xmlUrl="http://blogs.technet.com/markrussinovich/rss.xml" htmlUrl="http://blogs.technet.com/b/markrussinovich/"/>
        <outline text="meshula.net" title="meshula.net" type="rss"
            xmlUrl="http://meshula.net/wordpress/?feed=rss2" htmlUrl="http://meshula.net/wordpress"/>
        <outline text="Miles Macklin's blog"
            title="Miles Macklin's blog" type="rss"
            xmlUrl="http://blog.mmacklin.com/feed/" htmlUrl="http://blog.mmacklin.com"/>
        <outline text="Mod Blog" title="Mod Blog" type="rss"
            xmlUrl="http://www.modularpeople.com/blog/?feed=rss2" htmlUrl="http://www.modularpeople.com/blog"/>
        <outline text="Molecular Musings" title="Molecular Musings"
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            xmlUrl="http://molecularmusings.wordpress.com/feed/" htmlUrl="http://molecularmusings.wordpress.com"/>
        <outline text="Monty" title="Monty" type="rss"
            xmlUrl="http://xiphmont.livejournal.com/data/rss" htmlUrl="http://xiphmont.livejournal.com/"/>
        <outline text="My Green Paste, Inc."
            title="My Green Paste, Inc." type="rss"
            xmlUrl="http://mygreenpaste.blogspot.com/feeds/posts/default" htmlUrl="http://mygreenpaste.blogspot.com/"/>
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        <outline text="Pete Shirley's Graphics Blog"
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        <outline text="Pixels, Too Many.." title="Pixels, Too Many.."
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        <outline text="Preshing on Programming"
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            xmlUrl="http://preshing.com/feed" htmlUrl="http://preshing.com"/>
        <outline text="Ray Tracey's blog" title="Ray Tracey's blog"
            type="rss"
            xmlUrl="http://raytracey.blogspot.com/feeds/posts/default" htmlUrl="http://raytracey.blogspot.com/"/>
        <outline text="Real-Time Rendering" title="Real-Time Rendering"
            type="rss"
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        <outline text="RenderWonk" title="RenderWonk" type="rss"
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        <outline text="ridiculous_fish" title="ridiculous_fish"
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         <outline text="Self Shadow" title="Self Shadow" type="rss"
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        <outline text="Some Assembly Required"
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        <outline text="stinkin' thinkin'" title="stinkin' thinkin'"
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            xmlUrl="http://stinkygoat.livejournal.com/data/rss" htmlUrl="http://stinkygoat.livejournal.com/"/>
        <outline text="Stuart Denman" title="Stuart Denman" type="rss"
            xmlUrl="http://www.stuartdenman.com/feed/" htmlUrl="http://www.stuartdenman.com"/>
        <outline text="Stumbling Toward 'Awesomeness'"
            title="Stumbling Toward 'Awesomeness'" type="rss"
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         <outline text="Syntopia" title="Syntopia" type="rss"
            xmlUrl="http://blog.hvidtfeldts.net/index.php/feed/" htmlUrl="http://blog.hvidtfeldts.net"/>
        <outline text="Sébastien Lagarde" title="Sébastien Lagarde"
            type="rss" xmlUrl="https://seblagarde.wordpress.com/feed/" htmlUrl="https://seblagarde.wordpress.com"/>
        <outline text="The Atom Project" title="The Atom Project"
            type="rss"
            xmlUrl="http://www.farrarfocus.com/atom/index.atom" htmlUrl="http://www.farrarfocus.com/atom/"/>
        <outline text="The Danger Zone" title="The Danger Zone"
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        <outline text="The Data Compression News Blog"
            title="The Data Compression News Blog" type="rss"
            xmlUrl="http://www.c10n.info/feed" htmlUrl="http://www.c10n.info"/>
        <outline text="The Fifth Column" title="The Fifth Column"
            type="rss"
            xmlUrl="http://thefifthcolumn.com/blog/?feed=rss2" htmlUrl="http://thefifthcolumn.com/blog"/>
        <outline text="The Ladybug Letter" title="The Ladybug Letter"
            type="rss" xmlUrl="http://www.ladybugletter.com/?feed=atom" htmlUrl="http://www.ladybugletter.com/"/>
        <outline text="The ryg blog" title="The ryg blog" type="rss"
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        <outline text="The software rendering world"
            title="The software rendering world" type="rss"
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        <outline text="The Witness" title="The Witness" type="rss"
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        <outline text="Transcendental Technical Travails"
            title="Transcendental Technical Travails" type="rss"
            xmlUrl="http://t-t-travails.blogspot.com/feeds/posts/default" htmlUrl="http://t-t-travails.blogspot.com/"/>
        <outline text="Treatise on Graphics Programming"
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        <outline text="UMBC Games, Animation and Interactive Media"
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        <outline text="View" title="View" type="rss"
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         <outline text="VirtualBlog" title="VirtualBlog" type="rss"
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         <outline text="Voxelium" title="Voxelium" type="rss"
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        <outline
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            title="What your mother never told you about graphics development"
            type="rss"
            xmlUrl="http://zeuxcg.blogspot.com/feeds/posts/default" htmlUrl="http://zeuxcg.blogspot.com/"/>
        <outline
            text="What your mother never told you about graphics development"
            title="What your mother never told you about graphics development"
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        <outline text="Work Without Dread" title="Work Without Dread"
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        <outline text="Zack Rusin" title="Zack Rusin" type="rss"
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        <outline text="ZigguratVertigo's Hideout"
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            xmlUrl="http://zigguratvertigo.com/feed/" htmlUrl="http://colinbarrebrisebois.com"/>
        <outline text="  Bartosz Milewski's Programming Cafe"
            title="  Bartosz Milewski's Programming Cafe" type="rss"
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8 comments:

Aaron said...

Here's my guess (from my own experience): Facebook killed everything.

It used to be *hard* to put shit online, but there was no alternative to hard. You had to make a website or a blog. So, the only sites and blogs out there (as terrible as they were even then), were written by people who could get over that hump of difficulty.

Once you're on Facebook though, and you have something to (sorta half) say, you just shit it out on Facebook instead of having to really think about it and coalesce it into a nice blog post or statement on your home page. Ideas don't even have time to fully form, because it's just mental diarrhea of all your thoughts right out.

Facebook is *packed* with information, but none of it is quality information. It's all quite fun and entertaining... but it's really just group Instant Messenger with everyone you know logged in all the time.

Google+ for a bit was filled with fun tech stuff, cuz it was only techies on it. But... Google shit the bed with G+ by making it too hard to get data into it from external apps, so no one uses it. And there can be only one and Google waited too long, and now it's just FB as far as the eye can see.

The reviews thing is super annoying. The only way to get even remotely halfway decent reviews is to go to specialty sites (like FaucetsDirect for kitchen shit), or Amazon. No one does really good reviews for anything except digital cameras.

Wes Bigelow said...

Thanks for the links. I didn't see Timothy Lottes' blog on your list: http://timothylottes.blogspot.com

Andrew Gelman has a blog that seems to be about detecting bullshit/proper use of statistics: http://andrewgelman.com

Ash said...

Funny you should say that. Yesterday I quit my Twitter account for the very same reason: lack of content, and I was thinking about the very same issue, and I think Aaron is on the right track. It's also my opinion that social media is killing it. Social media is to your brain what junk food is to your body. Poisonous. All the crap trivia that's surrounding us is poisoning our brain just the same way the calorie bomb that is a burger combo puts strain on your body. Mankind will look back on our age and mark it down as the day that humans went crazy with flow of information, and not useful information either, but disorganized, incoherent, useless stream of tidbits of pointless data and meaningless trivia. All simply because we had the technology to make it happen, and we did without giving it proper thought. The social fucking media is killing the internet. It's superfluous and omni-present. It's feeling of being connected, without being connected and only serves as fuel to a big race for people to be heard and expressed. Barely anyone is listening these days and almost everyone is talking. The noise is driving me crazy. I feel like everyone is talking in my head nonstop. SHUT. THE. FUCK. UP. PEOPLE. I want my blogs back.

When I read a chapter of a book, or a blog post I learn something because it is coherent and organized. Because some dude consciously spent a good deal of effort to locally lower the entropy in a mix of otherwise random letters and words to produce meaningful, understandable, useful content that can transcend from information to knowledge. Being on Twitter for a year and half, I read a shit ton of trivia about best sushi places, none of which transcended that boundary to become knowledge.

The irregular, incoherent, disorganized flow of data is corrupting our brains and killing the internet.

cbloom said...

@Wes - oh yeah, I used to follow Tim but unsub'ed because he posts too much random news and videos, it's distracting to me (I try to cut out distractions when I'm on the computer (hence the no Twitter or IM)).

He does have some good stuff occasionally though, so maybe I'll try sub'ing again for a while.

Unfortunately anything that's not RSS I just don't read anymore. There are cool sites around the net that occasionally update (agner fog) but don't RSS, and I just wind up never reading them.

Jan Wassenberg said...

@cbloom: simple solution to receiving updates: changedetection.com. Apparently they just access the site daily, diff, and email you (for free) if it changes.

blackpawn said...

yeah i've also noticed twitter and facebook seem to have consumed everyone's blog time and content the past few years.

c0re said...

Here is a good technical blog: http://www.yosefk.com/blog/

The current trend is that the internet is just being used in a way to avoid boredom. Where people used to sit and play solitaire, they now surf facebook and other crap. What makes it worse is companies are already hiring based on facebook friends/likes/twitter followers etc. Doubt its going to stop anytime soon.

Steven said...

Even before Twitter and Facebook, most blogs posted more frequently than their content merited.

I say posting once every couple of weeks is more than enough. That way, you can put enough work into it.

old rants