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[Meta] How this blog changed...

Philipp Lenssen [PersonRank 10]

Thursday, May 29, 2008
12 years ago3,246 views

A bit or introspection into the blog. These days the goal of Blogoscoped is to be an observer of Google, without leaning towards being anti or pro (it's probably humanly impossible to completely achieve that, but that's the goal anyway). However, when the blog started as spare time project in 2003, you might say it was a bit enthusiastic of Google's stuff and approaches, and even when that changed a lot by now, back then I didn't really reflect on what mission the blog should have. I wrote things as I saw them as I do now, it's not that... and admittedly, there were a lot less products back then...

Take this post from 2004 for instance (blogoscoped.com/archive/2004_0 ...), where I used the word "fan." Fair enough, I then went on to mention all the things I think Google does wrong, so it didn't stop me from criticism, but reading this today makes me cringe about the "f" word as it feels so distant. I always tried to take up the responsibility of blogging as far as possible (as a goal at least)... rejecting ad campaigns that didn't fit, rejecting review laptops (no, that wasn't Google!), rejecting advance information (Google press embargoes) where it would create potential neutrality conflicts, etc. Not that there's anything special with any of that, it's actually mostly normal standard. Nevermind that, it was always and continues to be learning by doing, and I'd probably take an hour to write about all the things I did once which I wouldn't do anymore (say, affiliatizing an Amazon link when reviewing a book, even when the review was all the same. And if this sounds too serious, well, we also had a lot of fun with search engine optimization contests in the past... though incidentally that's another thing I wouldn't do anymore!)

There's another episode that makes me cringe today... in May 2005, I was still editing Blogoscoped as hobby only, like in evenings (today it's one of a list of full-time sites). At the time Google Zurich contacted me via email and I was far more flattered in my reply then I should have been! I was working as web developer in an office back then, and told Google that yeah it might be a dream job (if ever I quit the office job) but that there's the giant thing that I have this blog on Google, and certainly they would then ask me to quit it. (Not to suggest they would have found any use for someone who's *between* programming, design and concept, that's a different issue... they were just pinging me.) I was so surprised when I saw that email again. Perhaps back then figuring they'd reply "no no, we have this rule set for independent blogs, they can neutrally and publicly blog all about our secret and unreleased projects once here, and trash our products where necessary and all, just should not use any swear words... the only thing that changes for the blog is that they now get all the inside information on a daily basis!". Yeah right. And quitting blogging was out of the question for me. After a brief phone call, neither of us followed up on the thing, and today this feels distant and I wonder gosh, what was I even feeling replying that way... I certainly feel different the last years, so more distant to the company (and not just about not wanting to work there, or at Yahoo, or Microsoft, or... all things I now take for granted).

These days I continue try to write things as I see them, but think I have a different view on the role of the blog (though perhaps in the future I will be surprised about all the stuff written in 2008!). Not that there's any "neutrality guidelines Word document" I need to look up all the time to push towards that goal, it is more of a feeling that grew... a blog is always lots of gut reaction and spontaneity, and contains lots of personal opinions and views, and there's reasons blogs are different I suppose. I'm a user of some Google products and for other products I'm using Google competition. I use Google AdSense along with eBay, Amazon and other ads, depending, (taken to the extreme, if there would be a factual news report that would make great many advertisers cancel their AdSense campaigns, I'd report it without second thought and would then perhaps have to look to replace the AdSense on sites!). It's just that today looking back, I think... oh my how much times have changed.

And as far as this forum goes, I just wanted to add, it's a place for Google lovers, haters, competitors, employees, people new to the thing and long-time experts, and everyone else who wants to talk about Google or Google competitors or related tech topics! Together, through the mix, we'll be observing Google and its competition alright, I think.

Wouter Schut [PersonRank 10]

12 years ago #

My question to you is: Is blogoscoped more work and less of a hobby now?

I can honestly say that I was a big google fan, and I still am. But that has faded a lot. Somewhere a long the way google became just another company. I guess google didn't became the company I had envisioned. There are still so many gaps unfilled.

But i guess this is just the circle of life. You are born, you are fast, fun, and popular. But then you get fat, conservative and cautious. Then a new generation comes and you begin to use your weight against them, and later you die. And your rotting corpse will support new life. (haha)

/pd [PersonRank 10]

12 years ago #

more important question ---how has bloggin changed you ? :)-

Philipp Lenssen [PersonRank 10]

12 years ago #

Wouter, I send you a mail with an answer, I definitely still enjoy blogging, that didn't change! As far as how blogging has changed me ... oh, probably in more ways than even I can imagine. Certainly I am meeting the greatest people and learn a great deal about Google.

Justin Pfister [PersonRank 10]

12 years ago #

Philipp, you're an inspiration to so many of us. I'm not the most active participant anymore but I think of your blog as a standard on how much of the things I do should function and operate. You are thorough, thoughtful and overall fun. I couldn't imagine logging onto the web and finding that Blogoscoped was 'no more'.

Wouter Schut [PersonRank 10]

12 years ago #

Totally agree with Justin. I'm also not as active as I used to. But I follow the blog and the forum in google reader.

Justin Pfister [PersonRank 10]

12 years ago #

This is a great example of how most web communities seems to behave. Currently, there's 132 posts and 4,500 views on this 'Google Favicon' article (blogoscoped.com/forum/132365.h ...). This post took all of 20 seconds to prepare and isn't all that amazing of a discovery. It's difficult to predict why this is so popular. Meanwhile, Philipp took the time to write this really nice piece on how this blog has changed and how he has changed. It's well written and there's lots of things to get from it. All of us here benefit and have something to learn from him and yet it only received 298 Views and 6 comments. Maybe since it doesn't have much to do with Google, the community doesn't care much.

Philipp, have your ever gotten a little tired or confused about what seems to bring success to your site. For example – do you often find your bigger effort goes unnoticed? How do you handle unexpected success from things you just tossed together that become successful?

Philipp Lenssen [PersonRank 10]

12 years ago #

Sometimes I'm surprised about what content gets traffic but never disappointed or tired. In this case, I believe many people just search Google for [google f*vicon] or [google's new f*vicon] (obfuscated to not take the favicon discussion to here :)) and then end up at the blog, which appears in high or highest position for some of these queries. Whereas this thread is not of interest to that many people, as it's background information for people who know this blog.

Sometimes, things that take longer to write do indeed get more traffic later on. At other times, sites I've done don't have visitors and I close them. What is continually surprising (or perhaps not, once you know it) is how disproportionately high anything adult-related will be in the statistics. After 5 years, guess what's the 2nd-most searched for term that brings people to Blogoscoped?

The answer: "youp*rn" (obfuscated again). Because I once mentioned how they were censored on Google.de.... blogoscoped.com/archive/2007-0 ...

/pd [PersonRank 10]

12 years ago #

Ok so whats the top (1st) most Search term that drives traffic to the blog ?

Philipp Lenssen [PersonRank 10]

12 years ago #

It's [google health] at the moment... dunno why!

Mambo [PersonRank 10]

12 years ago #

<< It's [google health] at the moment... dunno why! >>

Well, you're the first non-Google site result for the term "google health"

Zim [PersonRank 10]

12 years ago #

I'm here since a bit more than a year (16th of march is my blogoscoped-birthday!), and something I really like from this forum (the only one I use to visit and/or participate) is the quality of information (surrounded by great people).
I admire your compromise with Blogoscoped, Philipp!
I thought a couple of times about offering you to do a spanish version of blogoscoped, but since I can't dedicate as much time as you do to write, I'm afraid I can't cover everything.
You do a great (professional) job here, and is nice to be part of this community.

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