Sunday, August 28, 2011

Lemming Tracks: The Continuing 'Death' of Blogging, Hula Hoops, and Getting a Grip

"Gawker and 7 Other Formerly Popular Sites That Are Dead or Dying"
John Brandon, Technology, (August 25, 2011)

"Sunny days sometimes turn dark and dismal. A shirt that looked good on the rack at Target now sits in the bargain bin at Staples. And, that new car with the Hemi engine and the third-row back-seat? It now drives like a crusty tank.

"The same is true of web sites. What seemed so fresh when you first registered now seems like a ghost town. What happened? According to Gartner analyst Michael Gartenberg, site visitors routinely check the door to see if anyone else is leaving for better services. Like lemmings, they can pull up stakes and leave in a heartbeat. (Facebook, are you listening?) All you can hear are the crickets...."

The article - op-ed? - is an entertaining read, and informative. But the Lemming suggests not swallowing its conclusions whole. A little mental chewing might help prevent intellectual indigestion. Enough with that metaphor.

John Brandon lists eight websites that are on the decline:
  7. Blogger/Typepad
He could be right.

A lot depends on how growth or decline gets measured: and how that data is interpreted. The Lemming will get back to that.

Here's what Mr. John Brandon has to say about Blogger, and blogging in general:

"...7. Blogger/Typepad

"Blogging is dead – or at least it has shifted to another medium. Now, instead of typing several pages worth of material, most Web users just tap in a 140-character sentiment on Twitter. 'Long-form' blogging is not as popular, and we all know the jokes about the blogger in his parent's basement. Sites like and have declined considerably of late, dropping about 25-30 percent in user visits per Granted, some have discovered the streamlined blogging tool, which has enjoyed steady growth the past few years...."

"Blogging is dead"??

The phrase has a dramatic ring to it. If it sounds familiar, you follow the news. And maybe this blog:

Data, Change, and Hula Hoops

Change happens. It's one of the few things people experience that doesn't change:

"Nothing endures but change."
(Heraclitus, 540 BC - 480 BC)

Get a data set about something that covers a span of time, it'll be odd if something doesn't change. Sometimes the change is seasonal, or periodic in some other way: like breathing. Inhaling, exhaling, and repeating the cycle is normal: a vital, literally, part of the human experience. And that's another topic.

Growth, or lack thereof, is important to Americans. It's a cultural thing, the Lemming suspects.

For products and services, growth and decline can be seasonal: seriously, how many folks are likely to buy a snowmobile in the middle of summer? That's why you'll hear "seasonally adjusted" in business news now and then.

Sometimes growth is fairly fast, like sales figures for pet rocks back in the '70s. Sometimes a fad turns into a part of the culture, like the Hula Hoop.

The Hula Hoop is 'dead,' in the sense that production probably isn't at the 20,000-a-day peak Wham-O had, to keep up with demand back in the '50s. They sold about 25,000,000 in two months.

Folks just don't buy that many Hula Hoops these days. But they're still sold. The Lemming found Wham-O Original Hula Hoop in a Google Product Search, and has seen similar products in stores most summers.

Sugar Spikes, Fads, and Getting a Grip

Fads are fine, fun, and fraught with fortuity: also peril.

It's great news for a company, when their product becomes a fad. The 'sugar spike' of demand makes it possible for them to build factories, buy material, and hire folks to make enough troll dolls to keep up with demand.

That's the good news. The bad news is that if someone goofs, the company can end up with tons of custom-made equipment, loan payments coming due, and warehouses full of troll dolls - or whatever - that nobody wants to buy. Not at the a price that's enough to cover the company's expenses.

Turns out, blogging is a fad. Blogger, anyway. CNET put Blogger (1999) at #9 in its list of top Web fads:The list includes Hampsterdance (1998) at #1, and All your Base are Belong to Us (1998 - 2001) at #3.

Okay - Blogger may be a fad. Arguably, blogging is a fad: One that's peaked. That doesn't mean that either is 'dead.' The Lemming's been over this before:

"...The article hit, in the Lemming's opinion, on an important point with this: That folks may have discovered that blogging is '...too much work for too few readers....'

"Considering how much work writing is, it's amazing that so many folks stayed at blogging for so long. Blogging - any sort of writing - is work for the Lemming, too....

"...It's unlikely, in the Lemming's opinion, that blogging is 'dead.' Changing, yes.

"As for fearing that 'nuanced' communication is done for? The Lemming remembers quite a few of the 'good old days.' And, as I've said a few times recently: they weren't."
(December 16, 2010)

More-or-less-related posts:

Friday, August 26, 2011

Lemming Tracks: Hurricane Irene and Getting a Grip

Hurricane Irene's wind and rain are hitting North Carolina. Massachusetts got declared a disaster area by the President - and the storm isn't even there yet. New York City authorities are evacuating the city: low-lying parts, anyway.

This is going to be an interesting weekend. The Lemming put links to a few news items under - what else? - "In the news," near the end of this post.

Disaster Declaration: Before the Storm Hits?

Irene is a very real hurricane, and evacuating low-lying areas of New York City could save lives. Even that disaster area declaration - before the storm hits - isn't as daft as it might seem. It's a way to make the state "eligible for federal funds to help in cleanup and other needs." ( Right now, odds are that Massachusetts will have a lot of cleaning to do.

As far as I know, we didn't get that kind of outside help after last month's storm pulled up trees here in Sauk Centre, Minnesota. But there's a lot of city folks in Massachusetts: and they could probably use all the help they can get.

"Things Fall Apart"

Folks getting tense about current events is nothing new:

"...Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world....
("The Second Coming," W. B. Yeats, via

That was published a little after WWI - which seems to have shaken up a lot of folks. Understandably, in the Lemming's opinion. Since then, we've had another 'war to end all wars,' Vietnam, and Disco. And yet, somehow, humanity is still here.

So far.

If you believe what you see in the movies, killer solar neutrinos from outer space will blow up the Earth next year. But it won't matter, since we're all really living in an scheming computer's virtual reality.

Finding Fault, Getting a Grip

The Lemming's gotten used to dire predictions: secular and otherwise. Taking pages from several playbooks, here are a few 'reasons' why Hurricane Irene is threatening to trash parts of America's east coast. Remember, the Lemming doesn't believe any of this:
  • Hurricane Irene is the fault of
    • Heartless industrialists
      • Who are destroying Earth's climate
        • With hair spray
    • A secret armada of commie cloud-seeding planes
      • No mention of the artificial origins of Irene is in the news
        • Which proves there's a conspiracy
  • New York City is threatened because
    • They voted for
      • Obama
      • Bush
    • They're wicked sinners
    • The end of the world is at hand
      • Preacher Bob Bombast says so
      • Anonymous experts say so
The 'secret armada' story might have found traction a few decades back.

The storm that flushed a residential area away 'just happened' to have been near a cloud-seeding experiment. Survivors sued the Institute of Atmospheric Sciences. The Institute said it was pure coincidence: and a judge agreed.

Win in Court; Lose Public Support

Maybe the IAS - and victims of the storm - were involved in a wild coincidence. In a way, winning the lawsuit was an empty victory for the weather modification researchers.

Enthusiasm for weather modification experiments waned after the 1972 storm - and the Lemming doesn't think that's a coincidence. Too many folks where too uneasy, and weren't willing to risk more lives.

B-Movie Divine Retribution?

About commies fiddling with Hurricane Irene, or the storm being a sort of B-movie divine retribution? The Lemming doesn't think so. 'End of the world' predictions, secular and otherwise, make nifty stories - and that's about it. The Lemming's posted about apocalyptic angst before:Ending on a serious note, Hurricane Irene is a serious storm: and will almost certainly continue to be, whether it ends by setting new records or not. What's important right now is getting ready, in the case of folks who still have a few hours to work with; or staying out of the way of rain, floods, lightning, and flying debris.

Related posts:In the news:

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Lemming Tracks: The Lemming's Back, and Pooped

The Lemming set off for Pennsylvania on August 30, in company with #2 daughter and son-in-law. We spent most of the next week at a trade show, letting folks know about self-filling candles made by the Spiral Light Candle Corporation.

The Lemming want along as the company gofer, and babysat video equipment.

Aside from losing power in a toll booth, we had a pretty good trip. And the trade show was worthwhile, from a business point of view.

The Lemming got home yesterday, about mid-afternoon. It's good to be back, but somehow - even after about 10 hours of sleep last night - the Lemming's still pooped.

Probably-related posts:
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