WordPress Runs Almost Half of the Web’s Top Blogs

Recently a study was released by Pingdom regarding the content management systems (CMS) used by the web’s top blogs and, perhaps not surprisingly, almost half of those sites were powered by WordPress.  48 of the top 100 are using WordPress as their backend system, while Movable Type, the second most used CMS, powers only 7 of the top 100 blogs.

To break the numbers down a bit further, 39 sites were using WordPress and an additional 9 were hosted by WordPress.  In addition, 12 sites used their own custom CMS, Typepad accounted for 8 blogs, and at the bottom end, one was using Tumblr and one was on Diderot.  Gawker sites all run on their own custom software and counts under “Gawker” as opposed to “Custom”.  There is a smattering of Blogger, Drupal, BlogSmith, and others, while 8 blogs declined to answer.  You can check out the chart below to see the full breakdown.

pingdom cms chart

WordPress In Your Pocket

WordPress has been around a long time and is quite a powerful web publishing platform available to virtually everyone at no cost.

I finally got around to installing the official WordPress app onto my iPod Touch and I have to say I’m impressed with the app. It quickly accepted the credentials to my own WordPress blog, and I found I could update my site directly from my iPod. More impressive to me was when I discovered the ease with which I was able to take photos (or videos) with the iPod’s camera and instantly embed them into blog posts.

Nothing is more powerful than to be able to quickly update one’s own site with not only words but images as well. The official WordPress for iOS is a free download on the iPod/iPad/iPhone/iOS App Store. If you have a WordPress blog and an iOS device, this free app is worth installing.

Does The Cloud Have A Dark Side?

Does The Cloud Have A Dark Side?For some time we’ve been hearing about the virtues of cloud-based computing.

Certain functions seem to lend themselves to the cloud. Online word processing, spreadsheets, etc. can seem to make sense in some situations, such as collaborating with others.

In everyday use scenarios, does the cloud really make sense in more traditional private computer-use situations? I contend that it does not.

Right now I’m typing this into Microsoft Word on my MacBook Pro. At the moment I have rather lousy Sprint and Verizon connectivity, even though 12 hours ago at this very same location I had really good connectivity from both. The only thing that changed is the time of day. If I was currently limited to using Google Docs chances are I would be unable to write this. Network demand constantly fluctuates depending on the time of day and location.

Is there enough bandwidth available? With the tsunami of smartphones that are on the immediate horizon, will the carriers be able to keep up with the average five-fold bandwidth demand increase that the average smartphone user pulls from the network? Can carriers keep up with a smartphone-saturated public all trying to pull down data at the same time?

However, for the sake of argument let’s say that mobile Internet connectivity isn’t an issue.

What if the Internet is turned off due to a declared cyber attack and all of your documents are online? What good would the network appliance approach to computing be then?

Can e-books be revised after the fact? If government can simply decide to turn off the Internet, then it’s not that much of a leap to imagine laws and regulations being passed banning certain types of blogs or even books that have been deemed dangerous or seditious. There have already been books sold such as “1984” by Amazon that were deleted from Kindles after the fact by Amazon when it was determined that Amazon didn’t have the legal right to sell it in e-book form. What if instead of banning books, they were simply rewritten to remove the offending parts? What’s to stop instant revision of e-books that have been declared dangerous?

Is CNN Calling For Curbs On Free Speech?

On July 23, 2010, CNN anchors Kyra Phillips and John Roberts discussed on air the idea that bloggers should be somehow “held accountable” or perhaps regulated in some way. Here’s the video of that exchange.

It’s no secret that CNN and other so-called mainstream media outlets, both broadcast and print, have had for some time now an ongoing loss of viewers and readers. A number of traditional journalists from time to time have had and expressed an almost open hostility towards bloggers and the Internet. They perceive the Internet as a threat to their business models, and their vaunted self-appointed job as information “gatekeepers.”

If you look back over the past few years, almost every major story, particularly scandal stories, originated first on blogs. In many cases the mainstream media were dragged kicking and screaming into reporting stories. The clearly forged National Guard documents that ultimately ended up forcing CBS to fire evening news anchor Dan Rather comes to mind from a few years ago. Bloggers quickly picked up on the fact that the supposed National Guard documents had been typed up in the default template for Microsoft Word and then ran through a fax and/or copy machine a number of times to make the documents look dirty and/or old. The trouble was, Microsoft Word didn’t exist in 1973. If it weren’t for bloggers, this story would have likely never come to public light, and what is clearly a forgery and a made-up story would have passed into the public mind as the truth.

Should free speech be curbed? Should bloggers somehow be licensed or officially regulated in what is purportedly a free country? Should we be forced to get our news from “professional” or even “licensed” journalists?

Mini Review of SquareSpace.Com

From time-to-time I develop websites for clients and they generally want something reasonable (cheap) and easy to Squarespacemaintain. I’ve been hearing about a new company, SquareSpace, and how great it was so I decided to try it for myself. I was generating a proposal to update a website and decided to implement a prototype in Squarespace so the client could actually test drive my ideas.

I signed up for the 14 day free trial and watched a few “getting started” videos to help understand the interface. The site uses a visual interface and it’s very easy to get started. You pick a template style and color scheme depending on the type of site you want to create: blog, photo gallery, commercial/business. The templates are just a starting point because everything can be customized. You can even start with a blank screen and build your site from scratch. The templates are really CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) pages that can be customized by a visual interface or directly adding/modifying the CSS code.

In the site editor you can add pages and sections in sidebars that appear on every page. When you create a page or section you specify what “widget” to use. Widgets determine the type of content you want to add (journal/blog, html/text, links, search, map, forum, etc.). You can add/remove widgets and even change templates on the fly.

The site editor has four modes: Style Editor, Structure Editor, Content Editor, and Preview. The Style editor is where you pick/change your template, change column layouts, adjust fonts, colors and sizes, and customize the CSS. The Structure editor is where you add sections and pages. The Content editor is the section you will use the most after your site is configured the way you want it. This is where you add blog content, upload photos to your gallery, and change the information that your visitors will see. The last mode, Preview, shows you what your visitors will see when they visit your site.

Since this is a mini review I won’t go into all the details but I will tell you that I had a simple site up and running in four hours without any CSS or HTML coding. The site was mostly functional but it didn’t have the exact look and feel I wanted. I started switching templates to find a feature or a look I wanted for certain parts of my site and looked to see how it was implemented. In some cases it was a simple setting change in the visual interface and in others it was CSS overrides that made the difference (this is where watching the advanced help videos really helped). In one case I wanted to create a HTML page and add links to other pages. Since the linked pages were not created through the normal “add page” process, I couldn’t find a way to do it. I searched the Squarespace Help forum and found a mention of creating a hidden section on the sidebar and creating my pages there. This worked but seemed to be a kludge in the overall design.

Squarespace pricing starts out at $8/month for the Basic package and runs to $50/month for the Community package. You will need the $14/month Pro package if you want to map the website you create to your own domain name.

Pros:

  • Easy to create a website in minutes.
  • Lots of features for creating, maintaining, and monitoring your site.
  • Import content from other blogging sites: WordPress, Movable Type/Type Pad, and Blogger.
  • Detailed website analytics available.
  • Private site areas (password protected) and multiple editors.
  • Supports RSS and iTunes tags.
  • 100% customizable.
  • Great pricing.

Cons:

  • Website must be hosted by SquareSpace.
  • May require some HTML and CSS knowledge to really tweak the site the way you want (you may need to hire a consultant to finish the design).
  • No direct support for adding audio and video content. You can embed flash players using HTML Injection points but that feature is not available in the Basic or Pro packages. This may be supported with new widgets in the future.

In conclusion I was very impressed with what Squarespace offers. They have so many great features that I can’t possibly talked about of all of them here. I would suggest checking it out for yourself (14 day free trial) if for no other reason than to see how easy it is to create your own website.

73’s, Tom

Why blogs are better than newspapers.

There has been a lot of talk over recent years about how online classifieds like Craigslist have been the cause of the decline in the overall revenue and profit of the newspaper industry (some papers still thrive). I do not believe that this is the whole story though. Newspapers did not start with a business model based on classifieds, they built that market opportunistically over time. This new market potentially allowed them to last as long as they did in such a powerful market position however the Internet has changed that.

The actual product that the newspapers sell is news, that is how they created their market share, and their ability to still provide that service in a competitive way has allowed them to continue to play in the market. The news is a valuable product, we all like to gossip and know what is going on and this is the base service that newspapers started with. When communications were poor, and speed of information was expensive, papers could aggregate the cost of acquiring that news over a larger group of people and make a profit on top. As technology has improved with phones, radio, TV and then the Internet the gaps between people have continually shrunk and the base level of information that people can get a hold of has increased.

While other markets dwindled for them, the papers found other aggregation markets, like local classifieds to fill the revenue gaps but this was only a stop gap. There were two directions that papers took to address the changes in their core market. Some of them started to find areas where they could provide information beyond the news, in depth analysis of issues beyond the baisc repeating of what was happening. The others started reducing reporting costs and did more repeating of news gathered by others. The latter are the ones that are dying faster.

Blogs are obviously a rival channel to newspapers with the key advantage of much lower costs. If they can provide as good a service then it is hard for newspapers as a whole to compete. There will remain space for some newspapers to survive as there is a market for that format still, but the market will continue to consolidate to a few larger players. The smarter news organisations are realising that it is the information that matters and that they need to offer that information to their audience through multiple channels and blogs are one of those. The argument about whether bloggers are journalists or not is really a specious one, blogs are a delivery mechanism and it is the information that matters. The factors that the organisation can add are authority, trustworthiness and access. These factors can be gained whether the organisation is a large old media group or a small collection of independant bloggers like GNC.

The issue that blogs and other Internet news and analysis methods need to cover is how to generate primary revenue. Advertising revenue is a valid expectation and a big way to fund information sources, however it is fickle and if too prominent will devalue the trust in the audience. While newspapers did this with subscriptions it is very hard to envisage the genie making it back into that bottle with blogs. As long as there is someone willing to post information for free it is very hard for anyone to charge. Some niche areas will be able to build a revenue base from secondary sources, however the mainstream revenue model is yet to emerge.

Blogging Slow Down

I have been pretty busy with school, work, business and needed to take some extra time with the family. This is one of the reasons I have not been posting as much in the last couple of weeks. Also it seems most of the tech news has been pretty low key.

Expect things to pick up here in the next couple of days.

Venture Capitalist Investing In Bloggers

The hand writing has been on the wall for a long time now. People are getting a lot of the content they consume on a daily basis from Bloggers, Podcasters and Video Casters. I think my daily consumption is about 90% from the preceding categories.

One thing I am learning though is that at least on the podcasting side most shows have a small audience of 1000 to 5000 regular listeners. When shows break over the 5000 listener range they really seem to grow pretty rapidly. I am finding a lot of great content these days that is just not getting above the noise level. Content that in many instances is superior to established shows.

The VC’s that are interested in Bloggers, Podcasters are going to have to realize that there is a powerful demographic in all of those micro-audiences, some advertisers have figured it out already and the company that can align those micro-audiences with the sponsors will not need and venture funding. [business2.blogs.com]