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It's the End of the World As We Know It

Posted by editor on July 17, 2007 at 8:05 AM PDT

Blogs doom high-value online media. Or not.

A little diversion from the front page items today, one which gets at the very idea of the front page items. I'm looking at a little cognitive dissonance between two prominent reports that came across my browser recently (no, I don't do RSS; it's just never really suited me). Basically, one makes the case that in-depth articles are far more valuable than hastily-written blogs, while the other claims that the millions of blogs (and the Google ads that often keep them afloat) have depressed the online advertising market that keeps many of the article-driven sites afloat.

We'll start with Jakob Nielsen's Write Articles, Not Blog Postings. He says that to demonstrate leadership, build credibility and respect, and avoid commoditization, that you want to develop deep, value-added content, rather than taking the easier route of adding comments and pointers to content that already exists or is developing in the blogosphere.

In-depth content that takes much longer to create is beyond the abilities of the lesser experts. A thousand monkeys writing for 1,000 hours doesn't add up to Shakespeare. They'll actually create a thousand low-to-medium-quality postings that aren't integrated and that don't give readers a comprehensive understanding of the topic -- even if those readers suffer through all 1,000 blogs.

He also points out that with the massive number of blogs, even experts who write quality blog entries will get lost in the stack, and they'll frequently be outclassed by lesser semi-experts anyways. On the other hand, creating high-end content that only true experts could create offers far more value to the reader and to the host.

Buuuutttt... will anyone pay for it? Forbes notes how badly ad-supported content sites are doing, despite tech's current good times. Tech Boom, Media Bust starts off by noting that Red Herring faced a three-day eviction notice a few weeks back, and goes on to discuss falling ad revenue at other content-driven sites, with CNet and PC Magazine getting beat by blogs like GigaOm, TechCrunch and Valleywag.

So what does this matter to the reader? Fortunately, the site does not require (or accept) advertising, as it's supported by Sun, so we're not grasping for declining ad revenue. That lets us focus on quality content, ideally content that helps foster community and bring attention to the projects and activities on the site. The feature articles, podcasts, and blogs can focus on being good, and not feel the pressure to suit advertisers' goals. Of course, it's interesting to note that some of our bloggers effectively do write the kind of high-end piece that only an expert could write... and those of you doing so should e-mail me so we can pay you to write those as feature articles next time around.

It's also interesting that this discussion mirrors the results of a poll we did a few years back, asking What is your preferred source for learning about new products and projects?. Granted there is a self-selection bias here (an online poll will naturally tend towards answers that involve online activity), but the results still surprised people at O'Reilly that I've shown them to: after "formal online sources" (feature articles, white papers, etc.), the next most popular sources were "informal online sources" (blogs, forums, etc.). Books and magazines, represented as "formal offline sources", were a distant third. Lesson one that we drew from this was that online stomps offline. Lesson two, though, is that a significant number of people do find value in the informality (and sheer mass) of sources like blogs and forums. And this is something I'd like to understand better: are the people who like this kind of content thinking of the expert bloggers and sites with thoughtful article-length blogs (Ars Technica, Artima, etc.), or are they finding value in reading lots of shorter, pointer-and-comment blogs, and perhaps participating in the comments on those blogs?

There's value in getting the expert to go in depth. Is there also value in the online producer, copy-editor, and podcast producer? Or would you rather eliminate the production values and make everything be an article-length blog? Of course, you effectively vote with your mouse by choosing what you do and don't view or hear, and if you have more thoughts on how we can make more useful to you, please followup in the comments below...

Speaking of our bloggers, today's Weblogs section starts off with Kohsuke Kawaguchi talking about
Developing a HK2 module productively.
"Much of the productivity improvements in HK2 is due to the fact that it comes with a Maven plugin that knows how to build an HK2 module. Today, I'll look into some of the things that this plugin does behind the scene."

Burned by an update gone bad, Fabrizio Giudici laments
The falling myth of Apple reliability.
"Some latest Apple's Mac OS X updates have caused severe troubles to users because of introduced instability. One of them is related to the capability of running some Java applications. Let me just sum up what happened to me in the latest days."

Finally, Felipe Gaucho spot-checks
The backslash of ResourceBundle.
"When you create an i18n file, you must escape some special characters with a preceding backslash, right? :value! or \:value\! ?"

The latest Java Mobility Podcast is
Loopt the Social Networking Application , in which
Mark Jacobstein, EVP Corporate Development and Marketing, describes Loopt social networking application for mobile devices and the development issues of permissions, safety, and working with operators and other third party developers. He also discusses the various changes in social behavior that software like this are likely to bring.

In Java Today,
the NetBeans teams recaps their participation in a head-to-head IDE comparison, in Java and Developers are Winners of IDE Shootout. "On a recent July evening in Cologne, Germany, more than 70 developers gathered to witness an unprecedented event: four rival IDEs--NetBeans, Eclipse, Oracle and JetBrains--together on one stage. The IDE shootout, the first of its kind, was hosted by JUG Cologne. Representatives from each IDE were given 30 minutes to make a presentation about the merits of their product. Roman Strobl, the first evangelist to take the stage, spoke on behalf of NetBeans."

Over on Artima, Frank Sommers takes note of the OpenDS project in OpenDS 0.9 Provides Java Implementation of LDAP, DSML. "The Open Directory Service (OpenDS) is a Java directory service implementation project hosted on Initially a Sun project, the code base is currently available under Sun's CDDL license. The project released its 0.9 version last week, with significant new features." Summarizing its features, he then asks the Artima community, "Do you think it's important to have a Java implementation of a directory service? In what situations would you favor a Java-based directory implementation over a native LDAP or DSML server?"

The Java Tutorials Weblog has a new entry about Reworking the Icon Demo. "During the JavaSE 6 update to the Swing Tutorial, a decision was taken to convert a number of the old applets to stand-alone applications. We also converted the majority of them to NetBeans projects. I got to convert the IconDemoApplet..."

In today's Forums,
nicholas_yue wonders about
Java3D and JOGL sharing same canvas?
"I am new to JOGL having come from a C background with OpenGL. I am prototyping an application on OS X which currently uses JOGL. For some of the components, I am planning to use Java3D to leverage it's scenegraph capabilities. I am a little unsure if JOGL and Java3D are meant to coexists and sharing the same drawing canvas. I am using JOGL with Java2D (text rendering and such). Ultimately, the application may have JOGL/Java2D and Java3D. I read somewhere that on OS X, Java3D uses JOGL Can anyone shed some light on the integration of Java3D with JOGL? Are they designed to coexists, architecturally?"

deviljam has a somewhat curious question about
Continuing a class in another .Java file.
"I have a fairly simple problem. I have a class; class A, which contains all the useful methods and variables for my application. I want to write a series of classes that has direct access to these methods and variables. I solved this by using nested classes. Now, because of the massive volume of nested classes, I am looking for a way to separate this class into different .java files. As of yet, there is no practical reason for needing to do this; I want to separate the code into other files for no other reason than neatness. It doesn't matter if this implemented at the compile level or at run time, just as long as I can break up my code into convenient .java files."

alexfromsun called our attention to some interesting ideas in a long-running thread,
Re: Painting effect with the JXLayer.
"There are really a lot of possibilities for JXLayer transitions, animation, quick component decoration the latest idea is - a visual effect for a FormattedTextField with invalid data in it when a textField shows a little lock in the right down corner of a component as a sign that the data is invalid."

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Blogs doom high-value online media. Or not.