Blogs Aloud

A tributary post and poem of mine in June 2012 to Mancunian Punk-Poet John Cooper-Clarke, The Jaundiced Junket, led several commenters (Anna from The Girl in the Hat and Daniel from Being Sixteen) to suggest that they would like to have heard me read the poem part of it.

I responded that I would give it consideration but subsequently no such reading materialized. This was not however from disdaining the idea. I did create a recording on my mobile phone of another fiction post, Because I Can, where I adopted a rather sinister tone in the voice of its sociopathic subject but was not entirely happy with it – on the playback I could hear my chair squeaking and at another point I began childishly corpsing!

But I had only considered the reading aloud of my blog posts for my fiction pieces – poetry and stories as much to be heard as read, and then there is the element of performance. That I could sit in front of a camera with or without props and perform the post.

I had not considered it for my non-fiction posts and so I thought why not for all of my blog-posts?

Perhaps there is an audience out there for writing but only in audio form, their reading skills may be lacking, English is not their first language, they have dyslexia…

And in this increasingly busy time-poor era it may be a more convenient way to digest blog posts and indeed any writing – easier on the go being imbibed through the ears than the eyes. I should have podcast versions perhaps. And you also?

But how clear and engaging is my spoken voice? Will others find it dulcet or a drone. Perhaps arising from it I will find lucrative work doing voice-overs for more-money-than-sense ad-agencies. You can see it does not take much for me to get carried away with an idea!

And not just read our own blog posts aloud but the posts of other bloggers – a kind of audio re-blogging?

So expect an audio post, whether of new content or old content, within the next week. Just as soon as I have figured out the WordPress technology!

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Pay Per Post

If you had to pay to read this post then would you? Is that a Yes I am hearing? No! Oh well!

I expect of you your time, your energy, your attention, your engagement and if you also blog likewise you of me?

But no filthy lucre shall change hands between us!

If we were to place our blogs beyond a paywall our viewing figures would likely fall off a precipice. We would very likely be left writing to ourself. Or we might fear.

But how about it on a per-post basis? If prior to publishing there is an option for us to ask for a payment for the post to be read in full? We can still ignore it and publish it free as per usual, acknowledging that in the main we blog just to be paid in Likes, Comments, Social Media shares and general Karmic good-will.

But if sometimes we could ask for cash?

I thought I would start a post about in on the WordPress Support Ideas forum – see screenshot below. As I write this it has already received one very brusque and dismissive response so perhaps I have not struck the chord that I thought I may have, but clearly such a sample of one is no guide either!

Wordpress Forum payment proposal

If you would like to see the post on the forum itself then click here.

I would be interested in any of your thoughts, here or there!

2012 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

19,000 people fit into the new Barclays Center to see Jay-Z perform. This blog was viewed about 59,000 times in 2012. If it were a concert at the Barclays Center, it would take about 3 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

And may I just wish you all, whoever you are, a Happy Hogmanay. Even those of you who have never commented upon let alone liked one of my posts. Even you!

Rejected

Blogging allows us play at writer, editor and publisher. We can be as creative or as self-indulgent as we see fit.

Yes a piece published after a copy-editor has run their jaded if watchful eye over it may still be death by a thousand cuts, death by a thousand buts. But there is at least that approval even if it attracts negative criticism by readers, or far worse, ignored by them.

And that is the best of it.

Let us assume the more usual fate of your submitted piece…that it is not even acknowledged. Or it is but only in the form of a standard, cursory ‘We thank you for your time…’ (Never mind your blood, sweat and tears). And then perhaps you brace yourself and prepare to send to another editor – presumably your second, third, fourth, that is your lesser choices, and trying not to consider serial rejection and its effects on your will, on your spirit.

Or perhaps you took the plunge and sent out your piece, your latest work of art, your baby, to multiple journals. A half-dozen rejections easily salved if but on the seventh there is an acceptance – those others then are fools, what do they know, I always thought the journal who accepted me was a cut above the rest, understood real art better than its peers etc. But naturally you fail to factor that not even the seventh accepts you – that your rejection is multiple, compounded, beyond complete.

You were as brave as you were masochistic. But at least there is a line around it, you can grieve and fume and curse but then begrudgingly accept and move on. Perhaps even to another piece, if ever becoming a shadow of a shadow of a shadow of your former self and dreams. The rejection was at least mercifully swift in the same way the guillotine was.

Whereas with WordPress (and all other blogging platforms of course) the rejection is terminal but never-ending, the slowest of slow deaths?

Initially the published post goes unLiked and unCommented by your subscribers. The endlessly creative and frankly tangential tagging designed to lure new unsuspecting WordPress bloggers to your post piques the curiosity of a mere motley few. As for your multitude of social media sharing options with their mocking promise of viral fame …the counts remain resolutely zero for the likes of Facebook and Twitter and well LinkedIn – did you really think your decidedly non-business like prose-piece would end up on there?

But then there is the follow up in the days and weeks ahead. Those views that search engines bring your way, well Google. But that is but hope, the kind that always kills you…as each subsequent day of silence taunts you.

Like the proverbial poop in the wood that goes unseen and did it then happen, likewise your barely viewed WordPress post, does it really have existence? Published but unread – snublished?

And then the Internet Long Tail, another Fairy Tale, Ray Kinsella Field of Dreams, “of build it and they will come”…eventually.  Give it 10,000 years and your post will have its share of savour and appreciation…

And what do we do readers? Do we take up other jobs and tasks where at least we are noticed, appreciated and sometimes thanked?

Of course not. We forget about it as best we can and start the process all over again.

This time they will take notice we tell ourselves. As said, it is the hope that kills you.

Happy blogging!

WordPress Spam – Gobble The Gook

Freshly SqueezedI had a quick gander at Freshly Pressed today – WordPress’s shop-window of what it considers the best in the WordPress blogging world on any given day. I am not sure how this is decided – if there are real people reading through all our blog posts each day ratifying and rating each one or if they do indeed employ helper monkeys detailed in their annual report they so kindly sent me on the new year or even if there is some software algorithm that as if by magic assesses the prosy wheat from the babbling chaff.

Anyway what caught my eye were its stats. Yes there are lies damned lies and then there are statistics but these statistics seemed innocent enough. And it advised that today there were 838,238 new blog posts and 487,313 comments – it is a wonder we have any readers at all given that it seems we are all at it – blogging that is. But the comments themselves though substantial the maths does suggest that about half of all posts go uncommented. Indeed my experience is that some blog posts hog all the comments to themselves so suspect that nearer two-thirds of all blog posts go uncommented. That certainly makes this blogger of many uncommented posts feel a bit better at least!

However what those Freshly pressed stats do not detail and what is the eventual purpose of this post is the amount of unsolicited comments generated each day – in short the extent of spam.

Wordpress DashboardThe WordPress spam filters do a good job in my own experience. The odd one gets through and I usually remove them. I say usually – I did receive one recently following a post I wrote about Twitter from James who thought my blog was awesome – clearly based on the philosophy that though we may suspect insincerity there comes a level of high-praise where we think okay maybe they have a point! – he then went on to say that though he hates reading I somehow got his attention – note James does not merely say that he does not enjoy reading but that he hates it. Yet for all his antipathy still finds the time to read obscure WordPress blogs. He then said while adding if I did not mind (because that is what I hate about spammers not their unwanted attention but their lack of politeness!) if I could visit his blog (even more remarkable, though he cannot tolerate reading he can somehow endure writing!) and we could add each other to our respective blogrolls. I did not do this but decided his comment should remain – its absurdity was entertaining. Although I have a nagging feeling that I am not the first or last to have experienced James’ silky praising prose – perhaps you reader have too, though James may have been going by the name of John or Jill…

Where are we?! Oh yes – the spam that does not make it through the WordPress filter into the twilight of day that is the blogosphere.

I am not going to spend any time dissecting spam – anyone who has ever ventured into the wilds of the world wide web will have encountered it – and daily – we know what is, we know its dark ulterior motives and I have nothing to add, I am quite sure, to what you yourself have thought on the subject.

But it has to be said that WordPress spam is a special sort of spam – as it attempts to kill us with kindness the only thing getting murdered is the English language.

Witness this example from Kenos commenting on a post of mine about the animated graphics used in the 1990’s British Television series version of PG Wodehouse’s Jeeves and Wooster:-

Would it be possible of which not every aspects happen to be reviewed while they could have been.

You are perhaps now trying to make sense of Kenos’ enigmatic observation. Do not try to make sense of it or even to navigate its grammar – just marvel at its faultless spelling and move on.

Another post of mine about an episode of a young British comedy Him & Her The Sleepover received not one but two comparably enigmatic responses.

The first from Priya Rawat is as follows:

Could not thank you enough for the blogposts on your site. I know you set a lot of time and energy into these and really hope you know how deeply I appreciate it. I hope I could do a similar thing for someone else at some point.

Firstly Priya, and I do hope you don’t mind me calling you by your first name, thank you for your generous words, you are most welcome. Note too how he or she is not just praising this one post of mine but all of my posts. I am touched too that if Priya has a blog or decides later to set one up it is now in the hope of inspiring a similar deep appreciation in another spammer sorry reader in the not too distant future.

Actually that comment was not that enigmatic – just flat out flattery – but this next one more that compensates. This commenter goes by just one name, Habilash – perhaps you are familiar with their work? If not, brace yourself:

tn pas cher.tall shelf nutcracker bricklayer shirtwaist linger palette frill laxative pakistani banger line esquire revolting diversity exhort. scurrilous bushel vainglory clarion midships tollgate northwestern underline unkind screenplay fever jailbird uncoloured? strolling blabber…

They go on for many many oh so very many more words but I thought the word ‘blabber’ was a suitable point to end it – I think you have the flavour of it by then.

To those of you perhaps lacking poetry in your soul you will have read the above as a dictionary-soup but for the rest of you I am sure you are as deeply affected by it as I was – and indeed I still remain. You have to imagine Habilash reciting this word-epic on stage each of the above words a declaration and a challenge punctuated by seconds of silence before the next revelation and perhaps accompanied by some music – free-jazz certainly works but industrial techno does not lose its meter either.

All I can say is Habilash I thank you, and I could not have said it any better myself.

Not all of the comments are as profound as those from the hallowed Habilash. One commenter told me that they definitely found something useful in my review of the BBC’s Evolution Series The Origins of Us but that its usefulness was impaired for them due to the web-page itself being reluctant to load and would I be interested in a new hosting provider. But since they were going by the name of Wireless Door Bell I just could not take them seriously.

Finally – well not finally but I feel I have to end this somewhere as I fear for the sanity of me and you adrift in the spam filtered netherworld – a comment from Kadry Place who had this to say

Very intreresting blog. It was very useful. I was looking exaxtly for this. Thank you for your effort. I hope you will write more such useful posts.

Kadry is to spelling what Kenos is to grammar.

But not only was the post I wrote what Kadry was looking for but it was exactly what they were looking for. Dear reader a teardrop has fallen upon my keyboard. The post they were commenting on though was The Cannibalistic Councillor – and reader there is no poetic license at play in my title here, it really is about a Councillor with an interest in Cannibalism. So then read again Kadry’s comment – ‘I was looking exactly for this’. So Kadry thank you but if you don’t mind I need to be going, I’ve got places to go to, people to see…

Oh censorious WordPress surely you must know by now that there really is an audience for everything!