Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Daily Thoughts, Authority

Today I am on vacation. It is the first truly free day I have had in a while. Yesterday, I went to the library for a bit, sat at the computers for an hour, and checked out two books, Confessions, Romances, Secrets, and Temptations Archer St. John and the St. John Romance Comics by John Benson, and Living Like Ed A Guide to the Eco-Friendly Life by Ed Begley.

Right now, I am reading The Ten Cent Plague, The Great Comic Book Scare and How It Changed America by David Hajdu. last night, I took a bit to read the Advanced Uncorrected Proof of the graphic novel Daniel X Alien Hunter by James Patterson. The graphic novel will be coming out in December 2008. I wasn't particularly impressed by the story.

There was a little bit too much super powered wish fulfillment. I like my heros to fight for their successes not be saved in the nick of time by luck. This is why I don't like the Harry Potter books, there is too much luck and not enough work.

The art by Leopoldo Gout is fantastic. It has an ethereal quality to it and expresses emotions quite well. I am just not that impressed with James Patterson's writing. It is a new format for him.

Someone asked me about the concept of authority. Technorati Authority is different from most types of website authority. It is determined by how many people comment on your posts as well as the number of favorites you have. This can be gamed. Things like the Big Bang Meme, and the Six Word Biography Meme are widely discussed on Technorati. If you join these memes, your Tehcnorati authority tends to jump way up.

Web authority is different. Most people want to know how reliable your website is. There are a number of indicators. Just for fun, I am going to go over this blogs authority. Here are some of the questiosns?

1) Who is the author?

Because I don't give my name and am anonymous, I have no real authority here. However, if I had a specific name, I would be identifiable. Also, if you could look up my name on the web on a place like http://www.zoominfo.com and find a concise biographical summary, I might have more authority. In addition, if I used my name, I might have professional recognition attached to my name so the blog would be more authoritative. It is not enough to have a name, I must be able to be contacted. It is important to be able to contact the author by email, address, or phone number. Websites without any contact information are not as trustworthy.

2) What can the url tell you?

Does the site author own the site. Why is this important? A registered domain can be searched for and the owner can be identified easily. Alexa allows you to do this. http://www.alexa.com . In addition, Alexa will tell you what related sites that the addresss is attached to. Also, if the author has taken the time to spend money on the url, he is automatically identified as being more serious in most peoples eyes.

I do not have my own site, I am part of blogspot. This automatically weakens my authority. However, if I get my own domain, I have to restart all over with getting traffic to the new url. This is why I am hesitant. I would lose all my old traffic.

What else can the url tell you. The extension of the url can tell you about the type of site which you are dealing with. Some types of sites are considered more reliable .org usually indicates nonprofit status. Some people consider nonprofits more reliable than .com companies. There is also the .edu and the .gov which indicates even more authority in some cases.

In addition, the url can be searched for links to the url. The more authoritative the links are to the original url, the more authoritative the site becomes. For example, if I linked to a lot of government and educational institutions, I would have a lot more authority. However, I am doing this for my enjoyment, not necessarily to prove I am an expert.

3) Is the site current?

Sites which are updated regularly are read more and provide more current information than sites that are updated irregularly. Regular posting creates more trust.

4) Are the citations authentic?

This is the url thing again. Citing sources that are unbiased and themselves have a lot of cache tend to increase authority. Thus if I cite things like the New York Times Book Review, Publishers Weekly, Professional Publishers blogs, the authority of my blog in the world of publishing increases.

5) Is the page easy to read and follow?

A more usable blog is generally considered a more authoritative blog. I know that my blog has slow load times up to five seconds. This makes it considered a less reliable source. However, the layout is simple and easy to follow. Four column blogs are hard to read and move around in. This makes the blogs less acceptable.

Is the grammar and writing correct. If you have bad grammar and spelling, your blog automatically is considered less reliable. I don't check my spelling or grammar; I just write. Some people would consider this unprofessional.

6) What is the bias?

Because I am writing for my own entertainment, I don't attempt to pretend to be neutral. However, I am not trying to hide my opinions which many blogs do. If your blog is too biased towards a specific viewpoint it can be considered unreliable. Hiding your bias makes it even more unreliable.

7) Is your blog ironic, humorous, or a spoof?

Humor and irony are not a way to make a blog authoritative. Most people will consider humor in a blog to be a sign of unreliability.

8) How can you satisfy questions about a blog?

If I was really serious about this blogs authority, I would include a faq (frequently asked questions) sheet. This will cover most of the questions people ask. Also if you answer your comments on a blog, you are given a lot more credibility. Blogs which erase comments or limit ability to ask questions are taken less seriously.

9) What is the writing style?

Is the writing style formal or informal. Does the blog use recognizable business or technical language? My blog uses an informal, some people would call whimsical writing style which detracts from its authority. I also tend to put more than one subject in a post and meander a bit.

10) Has the site been reviewed?

Have people reviewed the site on other websites or magazines. When a website has been talked about and reviewed it automatically is considered more authoritative. If I did interviews on other blogs, it would make this blog more authoritative. Even better, if I was mentioned at CNN, or an article was written in the local paper about my site, it would become more authoritative. Daisy the Curly Cat's blog was briefly mentioned on CNN. This increased her authority as a fun place to visit.

11) What is the purpose of the site?

Is it a personal site? Is it a commercial site? Why was the site built. I know my site originally was an attempt to see if I could sell books on a blog. It didn't work so it became a personal site to discuss books, librarianship, and literature. It still remains a log where I tell you about the books I have read and my experiences with librarianship and publishing.

12) Is the site measurable and findable?

If you left the site would you be able to find it again easily. This means is the url easy to remember. If I searched for it in a search engine like google or yahoo would I be able to find it quickly. Is the site easily findable on multiple search engines, yahoo, google, fast, and others. Does the site measure itself? Does it have a sitemeter? Can you track it easily?

These are a number of questions you can ask in evaluating a web site. I hope this was somewhat helpful.

I am going off to the mall to visit the bookstore. I went to the mall and acted like a typical mallrat. I went to Boston market and had lunch. Then I went to Barnes and Nobles. I didn't buy anything at Barnes and Noble. I like to go there sometimes to check their selection. Quite a few librarians and booksellers do this. It is a time honored tradition.

I took some notes in the science fiction aisle, the manga isle, and the graphic novels aisle for some things which looked interesting. A science fiction books which looked like they might be worth getting are When The Tide Rises by David Drake. There were a couple of new graphic novels which looked interesting, Jon Muth M (this is the graphic novel adaptation of the Fritz Lang film M), Ironman Beneath the Armor, and The Eternals by Neil Gaiman (This appears to be a takeoff on Jack Kirby's Eternals. Also there was a compilation of the newspaper strip Pearls Before Swine.

Thinking back to the New York Comic Con show. I saw a few titles there which intrigued me. Kyle Baker's Nat Turner, a historical graphic novel, Emily the Strange (A kind of odd little goth comic), Osamu Tezuka's Buddha (a manga version of the life of buddha), and Superman All Stars. They were also advertising heavily for the Speed Racer film which is coming out soon as well as the movie, The Spirit, which is based on Will Eisner's spirit, and scripted by Frank Miller who wrote Sin City and 300. I haven't seen either of these films. I am not in a hurry to, because I like story more than I like violence, and both of these films are quite violent. I really do want to see The Spirit which is supposed to be coming January 2009. Some fantasy violence as long as it is cartoony doesn't bother me.