Category Archives: Bloggin

Making Sense of AdSense.

I’m thinking of something inscrutable: Google AdSense.
I can honestly say that I have one of the longest running weblogs out there. I started after seeing Jason Kottke‘s blog back in 2000, when I featured him on my old art website (which is up but no longer living). His site was a huge inspiration for starting a weblog and he continues to impress and, on occasion, astound. In any case, I was an early advocate for blogging and Deckchairs on the Titanic has become a mildly exciting thing for me. Some days I hate it, others I’m in love with it. I started redesigning it three years ago and then again three months ago, but it’s still, pretty much, unchanged for the past 4 years. I really started blogging in a very serious way right before 9/11/01. And, after witnessing the Twin Towers on fire, it felt a little more urgent to write.
I know that Deckchairs isn’t the best written or nicely designed blog out there. It works. I try to keep the content diverse and informative and personal without it dragging into a complaint box, an information machine, or a leather couch. I like to write about different subjects because that’s what my experience has always been and that’s how I definitely try to live – learning and explaining are key to my personal survival.
I know this blog isn’t updated as often as I’d like; I’d prefer to post every other day. Most weeks, I’m lucky to post twice. I guess this is the one thing we all have in common – the same number of minutes in a day.
Here’s the rub: I’m flirting with AdSense. I’m looking into using (small) ads on my site because, well, I’m fascinated by the fact that, possibly, my site does enough traffic now (approximately 1000 unique visitors per day) that others might benefit. How is traffic and the benefit of others related? The more and better content featured on a weblog and the more visitors one gets, the more relevant the ads are being served on a site.
The other reason I’m thinking about ads is that, if I find ads on the site are popular (and, possibly, useful, which Google hasn’t yet measured), I’ll write more and more often. Who knows? Maybe I can even get around to finally redesigning the site which has been on deck for over six months now.
It’s weird, no? You may think I’m being disingenuous, coy, or even dishonest. Don’t get me wrong: if I could make $10 per month on Deckchairs on the Titanic, that’s fantastic. It will pay my hosting costs and a soda. (They call it “pop” around here, though.)
What I actually think is that taking small advertisements might actually direct some readers to useful information. I know I’ve often clicked on many ads on others’ blogs and, on occasion, I’ve been lead to relevant technology, political, or design information. The blogger was paid four cents but, more importantly, I gained eight cents of knowledge.
So, if you start seeing quiet ads on the site from Google, don’t hate me. I’m thinking about serving my visitors. Or serving myself more bullshit.
Postscript: In a bout of synchronicity, I see that one of my fave bloggers, John Gruber, is signed on to take visual ads as of yesterday through the elite and pretentious The Deck. Gruber previously took on text ads from a variety of customers and they were beautiful, in part because, well, he designed them.

Comment: Spam

After not a lot of trial and tribulation but a lot of ridiculous time-wasting in deleting ridiculous amounts of comment spam from Deckchairs, I found the perfect solution for me: Disable all Commenting!
It turns out to be quite wonderful solution in my case. Deckchairs, as you’ll see from the image above, is technically “A monologue on art, technology, history &c.” It’s been named that since October 2001. And it continues to be and should be a monologue. Other people’s comments, in particular that of V.S., H.W., D.B., and C.K., have been alternately provocative, brilliant, helpful, thoughtful, clarifying and inane but, for now, there’s no more commenting on Deckchairs.
Here’s the logic:

  1. No commenting means spammers can’t waste my time pasting garbage on my precious blog.
  2. No commenting means that I’m more than ever responsible for content, putting more pressure on me to write better and more regular posts.
  3. No commenting means that I feel personally liberated from the daily dread of wondering who is commenting, why no one is commenting, and why I even have commenting on the site.
  4. Really good writers, like those listed above, are focusing on a new blog called The spelling is horrendously cool and I hope to even post something on it soon.

My sincere apologies to all those who have posted invaluable information to the site, only to see it placed in archive heaven. If you would like me to pull out any specific comments to specific posts, please email me and I’ll blockquote your comment within the main post.
Even more unsavory changes are afoot!

Blog Independence

Jason Kottke, weblog writer par excellence, has taken the quietly loud step of going indie. It means that he’s quit day job to focus on the content and coding of his site. It means that blogging has taken a new turn as a vehicle for communicating complexity to a mass audience. It means that Jason’s gonna work his tail off to keep frozen pizzas on the table in his new Brooklyn digs. It means that, without advertising, Jason’s going to need a lot of contributors. I’m supporting his efforts with the same spirit that I support Independent, constructive, and mildly funny commentary is, regardless of what anyone else says, hard to find on the Web or in print.
I just got back from a long trip to Canada and I’ll write more about that soon.

Spaces of Air

More to the point of blogging, an interview yesterday appeared on CNET called [Bill] Gates taking a seat in your den. Gates, in this article, mentions something I’ve heard very little about: MSN Spaces.
What is Spaces? Essentially it’s an online “Show and Tell” in which individuals can create a personal blog and put up photos and links and other digital ephemera. Sounds like what did a few years ago? Indeed. Take a look at some of these “spaces.” They’re not inherently any worse than most of the Blogspot sites out there but there’s something chilly about the way these “spaces” are (un)organized, the way the cookie cutter cuts jagged lines around the icons and the curved bars, the way that Microsoft commoditizes the top-most part for its business practices. I feel, looking at these “spaces,” that blogging is now, more than ever, a democracy of the lonely.
Sidenote: In 1999, I and many others at my former employer, OVEN, were building complex Flash-based “spaces” for broadband clients wherein movies, music, video, text, and documents could be shared online. It’s too bad those design and software assets are in the ether as Microsoft could have bought them wholesale from the company for about $500,000 back in 2001.
Postscript: Just for comparison’s sake, here is a list of Microsoft employee bloggers. Each one is as ugly as the next. I especially like this one.
Hey, when did good, customized design count for anything anyway?

Grading Upgrading MT (A+)

I’m going to upgrade Movable Type, the platform that this thing whole edifice is rocking on, in the next few days. If we go away, we’ll be back soon.
[Revision: That was easy. G-d bless the folks at MT and my host. If you’re interested, I upgraded from the rather good but few featured MT 2.64 to the powerful, new and rebranded 3.14. The latter allows much better management of posts, more sophisticated filtering, and more serious monitoring of comment spam, which has been a problem these days for If you have questions about upgrading MT, let me know. Moreover (and now I’m sounding breathless, dear oh dear, Movable Type released a 24 page document on killing comment spam yesterday thanks to the brilliant hiring of smartypants and all around good guy Jay Allen, who has, on multiple occasions, helped me out of a comment spam jungle.). For the record, Deckchairs is getting about 500 unique visitors per day. And for the record, thank you, reader!]

Favorite "Favorite Weblogs of 2004"

The Year 2004 was the year of the weblog. More people understood what a blog was, more participated in an individual or community blog, more used blogging technology in some form or another, and more people looked up the word “blog” than any other.
In lieu of actually coming up with my own favorite blogs where you’ll find tremendous overlap with others, here are the top favorite weblos of 2004, in no particular order but my own:

Bullets and Bloggin'

I’ve been thinking a bit about the relationship between bullets, those unordered lists you find that are marked at the beginning by a circular and typically black shape, and blogging.
The aphorism, which was professionalized and academicized by Friedrich Nietzsche over 100 years ago, is the real antecedant to the web log, and by extension, the bullet. (Martha Nussbaum, my Nieztsche instructor in college, used to love floating these little one- or two-line stanzas over our heads during class and they always seem postively puzzling and incisive at the same time.)
A blog typically takes a single idea, condenses it into its few lines of simplicity, and hopes that a reaction will inhere within a reader or among readers.
The bullet (a.k.a. “•”) is an example of an even further reduced thought. It takes the place of a complete idea or parses a complete idea into separate but related strands and creates an easy-to-digest and all-encompassing means of displaying a bit of tightly wound information. At its best, the bulleted item will run only one or two lines which will in turn allow a reader to make immediate association to another bulleted item below or above it or both. Bulleted lists are least helpful when the bulleted items are many sentences in length, because then they look like paragraphs with dots in front of them.
[HTML has always had a very simple way of creating bulleted items. You allow each bulleted item to be defined by a something called an “li” which is short for a list item; further, these individual items then get wrapped in a “ul” tag that allows a Web browser to understand the items as series within an unordered list.]
In any case, recently I think I’ve successfully used bulleted lists in this blog and this fact is, upon reflection, sad. Because bulleted items can be seen as an abbreviated version of a blog itself — because bulleted items are reduced entries of reduced information — a bulleted list is essentially a blog of a blog. There’s nowhere else to go to make things pithier. We’ve arrived at the final sub-atomic state of blog entries.
Of course, one could create a weblog that consists of one word entries, perhaps modified by check-marks, arrows, or some other dingbat. But at that point, the dingbat would be the one writing the damn thing.

It’s sad (and now safe) to say that “blogging” became synonymous with writing political commentary during the lead-up to the 2004 U.S. Presidential campaign.
During the heat of that political fray, I couldn’t quite put my finger on why I resented the fact that the major media associated such bloggin’ with right-wing or left-wing online commentators. Now, I think I understand my resentment: for almost ten years, bloggers have created incredible technology, funded it out of the sweat of their own armpits, and created a mass movement of online typists — and the only bloggers that can get street cred are political hacks, some of which happen to be talented writers and journalists. (Nothing against political blogging, but it probably represents only 10% of the “blogosphere.” (I hate that word even more than “blog.”))
In any case, Canada is in the news these days for so many reasons: immigration and emigration, outsourcing, Bush visiting, protests, bookstores coming to America and I came across an excellent resource: Canada’s Best Blogs. Thought I would share.


Merriam-Webster has declared that the most searched term on their site in 2004 is the word “blog.” The top ten list includes a word that I had not heard or read before: “peloton.”
What is the meaning of people looking up the meaning of the word “blog” online? Three possibilities:

  1. The word “blog” is so incredibly undescriptive that readers need to figure out its derivation, meaning or even pronunciation.
  2. Blogging is so popular these days (apparently there are now 4.8 million blogs) that newcomers to the word “blog” are curious.
  3. Bloggers, who are not always the most scrupulous group of folks in history, set up a program to carefully deluge the Merriam-Webster website with requests for the definition of the word “blog.”

NNW 2.0

A short but salvating post about Ranchero Software’s new NetNewsWire application for Mac OS X. If you haven’t downloaded it and you read news, weblogs, digests, or other somesuch or somethings, you must try it.
The application, even in beta, works quickly, allows you to browse websites without opening Safari or Firefox, and has an integrated (if buggy) one-click subscription button. In other words, if you like a blog that you’re reading, one click of the “Subscribe” button in NetNewsWire and the appropriate RSS feed is bookmarked for your continual viewing pleasure. It even has that special three-paned interface that iTunes users know and love. Although it’s been out for a few months, congratulations to Ranchero. And thanks!