[blogs] ‘Controlled Serendipity’ Liberates the Web … we are all Jorn Barger now … ‘If someone approached me even five years ago and explained that one day in the near future I would be filtering, collecting and sharing content for thousands of perfect strangers to read — and doing it for free — I would have responded with a pretty perplexed look. Yet today I can’t imagine living in a world where I don’t filter, collect and share. More important, I couldn’t conceive of a world of news and information without the aid of others helping me find the relevant links.’ [via Moreish]
Johnson has always had a geek’s penchant for self-education, and in that spirit he cultivated a side interest, and ultimately an expertise, in writing computer code. His Web log, which he named “Little Green Footballs” (a private joke whose derivation he has always refused to divulge), was begun in February 2001 mostly as a way to share advice and information with fellow code jockeys — his approach was similar in outlook, if vastly larger in its reach, to the guiding spirit in the days of ham radio. His final post on Sept. 10, 2001, was titled “Placement of Web Page Elements.” It read, in its entirety: “Here’s a well-executed academic study of where users expect things to be on a typical Web page.” It linked to, well, exactly what it said. The post attracted one comment, which read, in its entirety, “Fantastic article.”
[twitter] Tweeting Too Hard … a blog collecting the most self-important tweets from Twitter … ‘fan belt light came on in the 911 so now I’m driving the Cayenne Turbo S – the backup, backup car. Trying not to think about the Tesla…’ [link]
[bdj] For Whom The Belle Tells … another old-time UK blogger breaks cover and admits he guessed who Belle de Jour was … ‘The first blog to link to BDJ was in fact this humble blog, Parallax View. And the lead? An email from a fellow blogger casually asking whether I’d noticed on the UK Blogs aggregator a blog by a prostitute. The blogger? Oh, you’re ahead of me… Dr Brooke Magnanti.’
It’s time for me to admit that I solved the puzzle of her identity almost at the very start after she (as Belle) sent me the link to her new blog to add to the list of Updated UK Blogs. Sending the link to me implied somebody who knew quite a lot about how UK blogging worked at the time and I found it hard to believe that an escort that had starting blogging would use me to announce the blog to the world. Then, after BdJ proceeded to knock the ball out of the park in the blog writing department, I started to seriously consider if it was somebody I knew.
In late 2003 I was well placed to guess Belle’s identity. I’d been blogging myself for three years at that point, I had met many London bloggers and briefly read most of the UK-written blogs during 2000 and 2001. UK blogging was (and still is) full of young, smart people and anyone of them might have written Belle’s blog. I never believed that a professional writer could be BdJ – apparently effortless blog writing takes practice, and required an understanding of a new medium which not many people had at the time. So I asked myself: which blogger is it?
Brooke at the time ran a couple of blogs – A link blog called Methylsalicylate and another science blog called Cosmas. She also had done a few short, smart pieces of writing online – The Autopsy, What The Dead Remember and one called Malted. Malted was about whiskey and was the bit of writing that gave it all away. I remembered reading Malted a few months previously and realised the style and content was reminiscent of Belle’s and was suddenly convinced I had the answer.
I then spent the first three months of 2004 “internet stalking” Brooke Magnanti, collecting together a whole bunch of circumstantial evidence that Brooke was indeed Belle. I also slowly became aware of the heightened stakes, as Belle became increasingly famous and obviously wanted to maintain her pseudonymity.
For a while I believed that Brooke would get outed immediately – but it turns out the British press could not investigate anything not handed to them on a plate, and were never looking in the right place – the small clique of people who starting blogging in the UK in 2000/2001. Belle de Jour remained pseudonymous and the mystery remained intact even after two TV series based on her books.
During this time I published a googlewack hidden in my blog – the words “Belle de Jour”, “Brooke Magnanti” and “Methylsalicylate” were published and available in Google’s index on a single page on the internet – my weblog. This “coincidental” collection of links could in no way reveal Belle’s identity. But I wondered if anybody else knew the secret and felt that analysing my web traffic might confirm my strongly-held belief. If someone googled “Belle de Jour” “Brooke Magnanti”, I would see it in the search referrers for LinkMachineGo.
I waited five years for somebody to hit that page (I’m patient). Two weeks ago I started getting a couple of search requests a day from an IP address at Associated Newspapers (who publish the Daily Mail) searching for “brooke magnanti” and realised that Belle’s pseudonymity might be coming to an end. I contacted Belle via Twitter and let her know what was happening. I didn’t expect to hear anything back.
And then early last weekend I received an email signed by Brooke that confirmed that she was outing herself in the Sunday Times because the Daily Mail had discovered her identity.
It was finally over, the secret was out. I no longer have to worry about inadvertently revealing her identity. If I’m honest, solving the puzzle of the biggest literary and blogging mystery of the last six years has been fun and exciting. I’m just really disappointed I don’t get to dig up a gold hare as a prize!
One last thing: Good Luck Brooke, I’m very glad you’ve managed to maintain some control over how and when your real identity was revealed to the public. I think I probably owe you a bottle of your favourite whiskey. Let me know what you like and I’ll see what I can do. – Darren/LMG.
[bdj] Now that I’m Not Anonymous — Belle de Jour outed herself yesterday in the Sunday Times. Old time UK bloggers may remember her other blog Methylsalicylate from 2000/2001. The Times described it as a “science blog” but as I remember it was a link blog in the style inspired by Jorn Barger. That’s right… I’ll say it again: Belle de Jour was a LINK BLOGGER.
[comics] George And Lynne Explained … amusing explanations of the midly NSFW and sexist newspaper strip … ‘By the way one man is wearing a low cut back top and another wearing a vest and choker it suggests that they like her outfit for its fashion sense rather than the way it shows off her cleavage. So this is a gay super pub with its own multistory car park…’ [via Metafilter]
[movies] Matt Haughey on Julie and Julia: ‘There was this one scene. Julie is in her cube and she’s ecstatic that a post got 53 comments and she high fives her coworker, and moments later her husband calls and says he just noticed she’s #3 on the most popular Salon blogs list and her arms shoot up out of her cube in victory and I began to cry tears of joy. I sat in the theater thinking about my little blog…’ [via Robot Wisdom]
‘When I write a long magazine piece that gets attention I feel like it’s more widely read now than it was ten years ago, by a long way. In fact, it feels excessively well read. Twenty years ago I might get a couple of notes in the mail and I’d hear about it maybe at a dinner party. And that would be the end of it, and it would go away very quickly. Ten years ago it would get passed around by email, and it would seem to have a life to me that would go on a little longer. Now the blogosphere picks it up and it becomes almost like a book: it lives for months. I’m getting responses to it for months. And I don’t think the journalism has gotten any better. It’s just the environment you publish it in is more able to rapidly get it to the people who are or might be interested in it.’
[tv] Adam Curtis’ Blog … the BBC documentary maker behind The Power of Nightmares and The Way of All Flesh starts blogging … ‘This is a website expressing my personal views – through a selection of opinionated observations and arguments. I’ll be including stories I like, ideas I find fascinating, work in progress and a selection of material from the BBC archives.’
[polictics] Slugger O’Toole on Smeargate: ‘… if you pick a fight with someone who has nothing to lose (and you do), you’re the one most likely to end up on the floor. To quote blog sceptic Geert Lovint, ‘blogging is a bleed-to-death strategy’. Mr Draper is a PR professional floundering in a world he barely understands, allowed himself to be entranced by the (what Lovint terms) ‘banal nihilism’ of one particular type of blogging, and now finds himself being bled to death through his own actions.’
[blogs] Nick Denton Quote On Blogging from 2002: ‘People like Doc Searls and Meg Hourihan are to the weblog as Oppenheimer and von Neumann were to the A-bomb. Gentle souls whose creation will be used by others more ruthless.’ Nick was certainly right about that wasn’t he?
[blog] Ask LMG: Does anybody know what happened to the Linkbunnies blog? It’s been unavailable for at least a couple of weeks and I guess there are a couple of readers scratching their heads wondering what happened… (Update: The Answer)
[blogs] What Makes for a Good Blog? … some interesting points from Merlin Mann … ‘I’ve come to believe that creative life in the first-world comes down to those who try just a little bit harder. Then, there’s the other 98%. They’re still eating the free continental breakfast over at FriendFeed. A good blog is written by a blogger who thinks longer, works harder, and obsesses more. Ultimately, a good blogger tries. That’s why “good” is getting rare.’
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August 14, 2008
[ukblogs] Taking the shine off: Why blog publishing failed in the UK … a co-founder of Shiny Media looks at the state of blog publishing in the UK … ‘The obvious reason why UK new media companies haven’t achieved the same success as their US counterparts is down to economies of scale. US sites have at least five times more readers to aim at and that counts for an awful lot when most online advertising is still based around a CPM model (advertisers pay a between 50p-£20 depending on the campaign per thousand people who see their ad). What makes it even trickier is that most UK advertisers for obvious reasons only want their ads to be seen by UK readers…’
[bdj] Ask a call girl … Salon asks three American High-Class Call Girls: How Realistic is the Belle de Jour TV Series? (compare and contrast with the time the Guardian asked Cynthia Payne the same question) … ‘I guess as an ex-call girl, it’s fun watching the show and seeing what is real and what’s completely off. I think it glamorizes the business a bit. Being a high-class call girl is a cool life if you know what you’re doing, but a very hard life too, which I don’t think they depict well on the show — just how stressful it really is.’ [via Fimoculous]
[blog] One Post Wonder … a collection of blogs that only had one post or so … ‘Friday, September 22, 2000 I hate school, I hate all of my classes. Damn she’s beautiful. I wish I were drunk. posted by Stupid at 12:48 AM’ [via Waxy]
[movies] The Video Nasty Project … this blog will watch all 73 original video nasties so you don’t have to … ‘The plot is basic Frankenstein stuff. A mad surgeon replaces his terminally ill son’s heart with that of a gorilla, which transforms him into a half-man, half ape creature – or at least a man in cracked, slathered on makeup who makes silly growling noises.’ [via Metafilter]
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March 25, 2008
[blogs] Civil Serf blogger faces disciplinary action … ‘The unnamed civil servant at the heart of the controversy is said to be a fast-track civil servant who, on her blog, said that she was “just senior enough in my department to really know what’s going on, but not senior enough to attract suspicion from my blogging”. […] Followed closely by political observers, the blog attracted an influential following and was the subject of an investigation to discover its source. Last week the blog went off-line and a civil servant was reported to have been confronted and admitted authorship. She has been suspended, according to reports.’
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February 21, 2008
[london] All in a Day’s Work — the blog of a London Cab Driver … ‘A lady I took to Camberwell last night gave me a twenty and two tens for a £22 fare and I gave her one of the tenners back. “You’re honest” she said thanking me. “It’s the only way to be” I replied.’ [via Time Out]
[blogs] What I Killed Today — the sad blog of a veterinary technician detailing what animals they had put down that day … ‘An emaciated ferret who had been fighting an auto-immune disease.’ [via Warren Ellis]
[blogs] WW1: Experiences of an English Soldier — a blog posting letters in real-time (ninety years after they were written) from a English Soldier in World War I to his family … ‘Three days after, we were called up the line again of course I went this time. We had to go to the front line were it was on the Menin Road no doubt you have heard about it. We were there for three days it was awful the shelling day and night.’
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December 18, 2007
[blogs] Top 10 Tips for New Bloggers From Original Blogger Jorn Barger — Jorn’s the Daddy of link-blogging so very little I can add here but I’ve always felt pull quotes and some nice visuals from what you’re linking to is important as well – it’s the great weakness of delicious and Tumblr’s great strength … ‘If you spend a little time searching before you post, you can probably find your idea well articulated elsewhere already.’
[blogs] BBC Internet Blog — a blog for the managers of Future Media at the BBC to discuss the Corporation’s internet output – contains some posts from Ashley Highfield. ‘…I think we have been slow to embrace blogs as a way of discussing our strategy and direction. This often leads to the debate happening elsewhere, based often on only half the information, and without our being able fully to join in the debate. We’ve not done ourselves any favours, and we want to use this blog to re-engage with our friends and critics.’
[blogs] Stephen Fry has a Blog — this is old news but it passed me by. He doesn’t do brief blog entries: ‘I don’t seem to be able to keep things brief. So my advice is that you read it in bits. Or print it out and save it for a rainy day or a recalcitrant motion.’
[food] Fraser Lewry’s Animal Alphabet — Fraser of Blogjam attempts to eat an animal for each letter of the alphabet … ‘I’m a) not allowed to use Latin names, and b) if I’m struggling to come up with an animal beginning with ‘R’, for instance, I’m not allowed to use “ring-tailed lemur” because all lemurs are filed under ‘L’. Not that I’d eat lemur, of course, because they’re an endangered species, which brings me to c) no endangered species.’
[blogs] Nobody reads blogs on Saturdays — blogging wisdom from Diamond Geezer. ‘…there’s really no point in blogging on a Saturday, no point at all. Because nobody’s listening. Apart from you, obviously. You’re here, even if nobody else is. Thanks for bothering to find time in your busy Saturday schedule to come and see what I’ve written.’
[blogs] Wrong Call — the Guardian ask if the new TV Series starring Billie Piper glamorises prostitution? … ‘The main problem is that whereas Belle de Jour the writer has a patently dark sexuality, which allows you to imagine why she embraces her trade, Piper is about as noir as a chipmunk. She’s like a naughty nurse dispensing therapy, rather than a humanities graduate with a genuine sadomasochistic streak. The writer Belle clearly has a rare ability to separate sex from emotion in her working life, but Piper doesn’t have the range to convey this.’ [Related: More links about Belle de Jour]
[blogs] Secret Blog of a TV Controller (aged 33 and 3/4) — funny fake blog of a TV Exec … ‘Thommo is stomping about issuing disgruntled threats to everyone left, right and centre; Fincham is curled up in his office weeping. Human Resources people are barging – unannounced – into offices and throwing office stationery around; even the kind Indian gent in the papershop in White City has a fucking scowl on his face whenever I pop by.’