The Death of Blogging?

The Death of Blogging?

Okay, okay. I admit that the headline is absolute click bait, but three things happened this week that made me think that the death of blogging is truly upon us.

1. On September 4th, The Atlantic published an article called “Can Mommy Bloggers Still Make a Living?” It tells how a blog (Dooce) that used to make enough income to support both Heather Armstrong and her now ex-husband (plus two kids and an assistant) to being barely active in 2015.

Several quotes are rather telling. The article quotes “well known blogger” Jason Kottke as saying, “The short window of time in which individuals could support themselves by blogging is closing rapidly.” Susan Bidel, a senior analyst at Forrester research, at one point is quoted as saying, “If you can generate enough content to attract a good enough audience by working all by yourself, and you’ll be happy with an income of $50,000 a year, you’ll be fine.” But the last paragraph which is a quote from Armstrong herself is the one that most of my blogger friends on Facebook pointed out:

“I wrote a blog because it was fun, and I loved doing it,” she said. “Then it became my job and I hated it. You never want to get to the point where you’re like ‘Ugh I have to go do that thing that I love? Ughhhh.’”

2. The Cul de Sac comic strip by Richard Thompson that was published on September 8th was next. You can click to link to go see it, but this is what happens:

Little boy: Did any puppets come with this puppet theater?
Little girl: Yeah, there’s a king, a queen, a princess, a wizard, a dragon and I don’t know what this one is.
LB: It’s a blogger!
LG: Oh, what great puppet theater!

As I posted on Facebook, blogging – Oh, what great puppet theater indeed.

3. Then, yesterday, on the MacBreak Weekly podcast, guest host Mike Elgan offhandedly referred to bloggers as “floggers”. Hmmm…

See, here’s the thing – $50K from blogging full time? I don’t think I know any blogger who can claim that and I know a lot of bloggers. Most of us are thrilled if we can make enough to cover the costs of our web hosting and domain registrations.

We blog (or publish web content, if you prefer) because we have a passion for the topic. Years ago, Merlin Mann and John Gruber pointed out that a successful blog needed three things: “obsession + topic + voice”. I’ve written about this before and it’s still true.

But, in a world where apps and songs cost 99 cents, is that enough any more? If no one is willing to advertise with you or pay for your content or give you any respect (see Mike Elgan’s comment above), it may not be.

— Carla

Facebook Facts?

Facebook Facts?

The image you see above was created in reaction of all of the so-called facts we see floating around social media, not just Facebook. I named the image “Facebook Facts?” because, in our TL;DR world, we have gotten into the bad habit of sharing without clicking way often. We just see a pretty picture and pass the possible misinformation along.

A while back, I wrote about a quote that I had found that was supposedly from Albert Einstein. As a novice social media user, I had passed it along without doing any research because it came from a friend.

Later on, as I was teaching my Public Speaking students the importance of citing sources, I decided to look up exactly when Einstein said this. Unfortunately, there is no proof that he ever said anything like this. But, thanks to a 2004 self help book author, it was misattributed to the Nobel prize winner who was known to have a learning disability.

I wrote the post I linked above as a way to address this problem and I pinned it on my Pinterest account. And it got re-pinned over and over again. People usually put it on boards named things like “Inspiration” or “Things to Remember”. Which meant that they hadn’t bothered to click the link and read the post. Last week, I couldn’t take it any more and I deleted the pin.

So I would like to ask Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, etc. to add a new feature. No sharing, re-tweeting or re-pinning can be done until the social media user has actually clicked the link and read the article linked to the image. It would be even better if the social media user had to take a quiz on whether they comprehended what the article was saying, but that’s probably too much to ask.

— Carla

Why Disclosure Matters

The issue of users of social media disclosing their connections to the content they are sharing has been around a long time. In fact, it pre-dates social media and actually goes back to journalism (both print and broadcasting). But, with the rise of citizen journalists and easy to use blogging software, the issue needs to be addressed repeatedly so that the folks who don’t have a J-School background understand.

I first realized what a major problem this was back in 2009 when I attended BlogHer in Chicago. It was a rude awakening in many ways, but one thing that really stuck me was how demanding (and clueless) some of my fellow bloggers were. At the trade show, a representative from a major camera company shared a story of a blogger insisted that they “had” to send her two cameras (one to giveaway and one for her). Why? Because she blogged.

At a panel later in the conference on the topic of disclosure, the discussion among the members of the panel and the audience got a bit heated. Finally, one of the bloggers shouted, “But journalists get things sent to them all the time!” I couldn’t take it any more and yelled back, “But they send them back!”

A recent post on the Six Pixels of Separation blog raised the issue again. As Mitch Joel points out, with the FTC now monitoring blogs and now holding publishers responsible for “misleading consumers with native advertising”, disclosure is even more important now. Even Facebook or Instagram likes can be taken as a sign of you and/or your blog endorsing a product. Same can go for retweets on Twitter and so on.

Lack of disclosure also does something else. It makes your personal brand less authentic. And when it’s less authentic, it’s less valuable to your readers and to you.

On both and Hoperatives, I’ve tried to be totally open about when I’ve received a review unit or been invited to a soft open to try out a new better beer location as their guest. But, I’m planning to go back through all of my posts to make sure I was as authentic as possible.

I had an interesting Twitter conversation with a long time blogger and friend recently about this issue. She mentioned that she had started waiting to review Disney events/attractions later rather than sooner. She was skipping the private events and going when the general public could also go. She mentioned that it was “funny when you want to post a disclaimer that you did NOT get anything for free.” I replied that I had seen (and done) that on occasion and think it adds authenticity to the review or post.

It’s true. Unfortunately, because of lack of disclosure too often in social media/blogging, I’ve come to assume that when certain users use social media to talk about being at a play or new restaurant opening, I immediately think they must have gotten comp tickets or a free meal. At that point, nothing they say about the event or location is valid for me.

I’ve written before about how you need to be careful what you blog. It’s even more important now with the FTC watching. Now, please be careful how you share on social media too. If you are live tweeting an event for any kind of compensation, be sure to make an early tweet about whether you are being compensated or if you have a connection with the event or product.

And those of you who are trying to get your clients and their products placement in blogs and other social media? Please stop rewarding the ones that violate disclosure rules all the time. How valuable is that placement if the person giving you coverage isn’t authentic?

Zombies Run 5K – Completed!

This past Sunday, I finally completed my eight weeks of training using the Zombies Run! 5K app. It felt really good to wrap it up and get ready to move on to the regular Zombies Run app.

I knew I could do the five kilometer length because I had done it before (soon after I wrote this post about my training). But one of the best things was that I also had my best pace of this training. In fact, my 18:40 min/mi pace was much better than my previous best of 19:03. And it felt good. That truly was the best part.

If you just did the math on when I started and when I finished, you may have noticed that it was longer than eight weeks. I ended up having to stop for over a month due to injury. Nothing serious, but I tried some different shoes that once again tore up my heels badly. In fact, six weeks later, I’m still having to cover my heels with large band-aids in order to be able to wear any walking shoes.

So, along with the red Fit-Bit wristband I treated myself to after completing the training, I’m also going to finally get some new walking shoes. I’ve got a recommendation for Tri-State Running in Edgewood, KY and hope to go there soon. I plan to take the two old pairs of shoes I’m currently using to show how shoes wear when I walk in them. Hopefully, they will have a solution to my heel issue. This keeps happening far too often.

I’ve purchased the regular Zombies Run! app and I was happy to see that all of my 5K training “runs” (I’m still walking) carried over to this app. I’m looking forward to starting this new program and hearing more about the adventures in Abel Township as they fight off the zombies.

Runner Five reporting for duty!

Zombies Run! App

More Thoughts on Walking and Zombies Run! 5K

Due to a bit of slacking off this weekend, I finished the fifth week of my Zombies Run! 5K training this morning. After my review of the app last week, I wanted to add a few more observations on using it as a walker.

Zombies Run 5K

1. I solved the problem I had with the app pausing over and over. Turns out the issue wasn’t the Mophie Juice Pack at all, but rather the juice pack headphone adapter. I ordered two replacement ones and they work like a pro. The old one has been pitched.

2. Because of my Chondromalacia patella, I am never going to be a runner. Even walking must be done carefully and usually combined with water aerobics.

Last year, when I was trying to use the Ease Into 5K app, I would try to walk faster when the disembodied voice told me to run. The problem was that I used up so much energy in those fast walks that trying to complete the entire workout was really difficult. One day, when the voice said to run, I said nope. And getting through the workout didn’t make me not to ever work out again.

With the Zombies Run! 5K, there are weeks where you are instructed to do heel lifts or leg lifts. While I ignored any run commands, I tried the lifts at first. But, I would lose my momentum and my pace suffered too. That’s when I realized what I really wanted to do was to build up my endurance and slowly pick up my pace.

3. So about my pace… Back when I was doing the training for Half Pig in 2009, my starting pace was about 18 min/mile and I was down about 16 min/mile after eight weeks of training. That’s when that nasty chest cold hit me hard and the few walks I had the next month were in the 17 min/mile range.

When I started doing Zombies Run! 5K, I was in the 21 min/mile range. This past week for the first time, I was under 20 min/mile for the entire week. That feels pretty good.

4. Before today’s workout, I got looking ahead to some of the future workouts. I’ve been averaging 2.66 miles in the 50-52 minutes allocated to the most recent workouts. I knew the last workout was a 5K so I wondered how much time was set for that. 51 minutes. Ouch. That means about a 16 min/mile pace. I don’t see me getting to that pace in three weeks.

But it did inspire me. Today, I concentrated on keeping my momentum up while adding on as many little side trips to me route to see how off 5K really is. Plus, when the workout was finished, I just kept walking. And I came really close. 2.98 miles or 4.8 kilometers. I can do this! Add another loop or two and I’ve got it.
So Wednesday’s workout goal is to reach 5K. I’ll let you know how it goes.

I think that’s it for now. And I’ve glad to get this written down. Even if no one else reads it, I have something to refer back to later in my training.

And if someone else does this? Hey, thanks! 🙂

— Carla

Saturday Sayings: Respect


In many ways, this saying (or, to be more accurate, song lyric) was the inspiration for my Saturday Sayings feature. For years, I have loved The Staples Singers’ song “Respect Yourself”. It has a R&B / Memphis soul sound that makes you have to get up and dance when you hear it.

A few years ago, I actually took the time to listen to the lyrics:

If you disrespect anybody that you run in to
How in the world do you think anybody’s s’posed to respect you
If you don’t give a heck ’bout the man with the Bible in his hand, y’all
Just get out the way, and let the gentleman do his thing
You the kind of gentleman that want everything your way, yeah
Take the sheet off your face, boy, it’s a brand new day

Respect yourself, respect yourself, respect yourself, respect yourself
If you don’t respect yourself
Ain’t nobody gonna give a good cahoot, na na na na
Respect yourself, respect yourself, respect yourself, respect yourself

If you’re walking ’round think’n that the world owes you something ’cause you’re here
You goin’ out the world backwards like you did when you first come here yeah
Keep talkin’ bout the president, won’t stop air pollution
Put your hand on your mouth when you cough, that’ll help the solution
Oh, you cuss around women and you don’t even know their names, no
Then you’re dumb enough to think that’ll make you a big ol’ man

Respect yourself, respect yourself, respect yourself, respect yourself
If you don’t respect yourself
Ain’t nobody gonna give a good cahoot, na na na na
Respect yourself, respect yourself, respect yourself, respect yourself

Respect yourself, respect yourself, respect yourself, respect yourself
Respect yourself, yeah yeah respect yourself, respect yourself

yeah, respect yourself
You oughta you oughta respect yourself yeah, respect yourself

According to Wikipedia, “The song was written by Stax Records singer Luther Ingram and Stax house songwriter Mack Rice. Ingram, who was frustrated with the state of the world at the time, told Rice “black folk need to learn to respect themselves.” Rice liked the comment so much that he built a funk groove around it, then gave the song to the Staples”.

The entry goes on to say that the “confrontational song had resonance for a burgeoning self-empowerment movement for African-Americans during the post-civil-rights-movement 1970s, as well as women demanding more respect during those same years.”

The song “Respect Yourself” is probably one of the best examples of what Rolling Stone calls “the Staples’ commitment to making secular music with a message“. For me, I have even more respect for the group knowing that they always remembered where they came from (gospel music).

— Carla

Saturday Sayings: Einstein or Not?

Einstein quote

A friend of mine sent me this quote many, many years ago. It’s been so long that I don’t even remember who exactly it was so I can’t ask them where they got the image from. I pinned it on Pinterest over two years ago and it’s been re-pinned over 300 times.

So, when I was working on this week’s Saturday Sayings, I thought of this quote. But, after last week’s Mark Twain misattribution, I thought I had better check Quote Investigator again. You got it… the quote (and many variations on it) were said by just about everyone but Albert Einstein. Though the Quote Investigator discussion doesn’t mention it, I personally believe that people are more likely to believe that Einstein said something to this effect because of the popular misconception that he had a learning disability.

The sentiment is nice, but thanks to a 2004 self help book author, it was woefully misattributed.

ArtsWave Toast “2” the Arts

I am so happy to announce that I was asked to be an ArtsWave WeDidIt Ambassador. Over the next few weeks, I will be sharing with you great ways to celebrate the arts in Cincinnati and how you can help ArtsWave. My first post is on a really simple way to help. Just enjoy a glass of a specially selected wine from the list of restaurants below and they’ll donate two dollars per glass to the ArtsWave campaign. How easy is that?

Cheers and support the arts!

— Carla


Area Restaurants Join in a Toast to the 2014 ArtsWave Campaign
Great for Valentine’s: Cincinnati’s First-Ever Toast “2” the Arts

Cincinnati, OH (February 13, 2014)– Twenty local restaurant and hospitality leaders are helping the 2014 ArtsWave Community Campaign get a little closer to its $12 Million goal with a Toast “2” The Arts, designed to boost the campaign’s audience as well as garner new contributions between now and April 22.

Participating restaurants have agreed to donate two dollars per glass sold of specially selected wines to the ArtsWave campaign, which is being chaired by P&G’s Group President-North America, Melanie Healey. In conjunction with Mariemont-based distributor Cutting Edge Selections, partnering restaurants, hotels and bars to-date include:

The Anchor (OTR)
Bistro on Elm at the Millennium (downtown)
The Celestial (Mt. Adams)
Ash (formerly Cumin) (Hyde Park)
Daveed’s (Loveland)
Jeff Ruby’s Steak House (downtown)
Jimmy G’s (downtown)
Jean Robert’s Table (downtown)
Local 127 (downtown)
Mantra on the Hill (Mt. Adams)
Nada (downtown)
Obscura (downtown)
The Palace at the Cincinnatian Hotel (downtown)
Cricket Lounge at the Cincinnatian Hotel Palm Court at the Netherland Hilton (downtown)
The Precinct (Columbia Tusculum)
Prime 47 (downtown)
Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse (downtown)
Trio Bistro (Kenwood)
Zula (OTR)

“We are thrilled to be able to partner with so many excellent destination restaurants and local hot spots, and give the public a way to make a difference at the same time they are enjoying some great wines,” says Alecia Kintner, president & COO of ArtsWave. “With an ambitious campaign goal in front of us, we need new ways to involve even more people in supporting the arts.”

“It’s a win-win for our region’s restaurants,” says P&G’s Executive Meetings & Events Manager Holly Hehemann, who was tapped by Ms. Healey to direct the initiative. “Our restaurants and hotels benefit from thriving arts organizations in their neighborhoods, and Toast “2” the Arts offers an easy way to give back. They are also able to tap into ArtsWave’s large base of donors and fans through cross-promotional efforts.”

Through a combination of on-site advertising, social media and email, ArtsWave and its partner restaurants are getting the word out about this new collaboration. The Cincinnati Symphony and Pops Orchestra, which is among ArtsWave’s 100 grant recipients, is providing a complementary voucher to restaurant wait staffs as a thank-you for promoting the program to customers. The suggested price of the wines is an accessible $8 per glass.

“Two dollars as a donation from each glass sold will add up quickly,” says Mark Maher, president of Cutting Edge Selections. “We’ve chosen a very fresh, easy-to-drink red wine, Honora Vera Garnacha, and a lively, fresh white — the Tarima Blanco – for this year’s promotion. I’m optimistic that we will drum up a lot of support for a great cause.”

“We hope this is the start of an amazing new tradition of collaboration between ArtsWave and the region’s restaurants,” says Kintner. “I see this growing every year… but in the meantime, we hope that people this spring will choose the ‘ArtsWave wines’ as they are enjoying Cincinnati’s fine dining, arts and entertainment!”

To see the current list of participating establishments, visit /connect/toast2thearts. To find out how your restaurant can get involved, call 513.632.0146. Follow the campaign on Twitter at @ArtsWave #Give2ArtsWave and #ArtsWaveWine.

The Problem with Diner en Blanc

I remember last year when I first heard about Diner en Blanc (or if you prefer, Dîner en Blanc), it sounded interesting. A pop-up picnic where everyone wore white. This year’s Cincinnati event was described on their Facebook event page as “This très chic picnic, imported from Paris, is equal parts mystery tour, pop-up feast and je ne sais quoi.”

Then we learned more about it. For the cost of $35 a person, you got the “privilege” of eating your own food and drink (that you brought with you) plus you had to bring your own table and chairs (only white and certain sizes, of course). And you had to bring all of this on a bus and then haul it to the secret location. Okay…

But it raises money for a great charity, right? So it’s worth it, right? Guess again. The FAQ on the Diner en Blanc website lists the following information:

Is the Dîner en Blanc associated with a humanitarian or social cause?
What makes the Dîner en Blanc so popular is that it’s a “distinct” evening. There are no sponsors, no political or ideological agendas. Le Dîner en Blanc is simply a friendly gathering whose sole purpose is to experience a magical evening, in good company, in an environment which is both unusual and extraordinary.

It’s that last part that got me: “in an environment which is both unusual and extraordinary.” Last year’s Diner en Blanc surprise location was Lytle Park, right outside the Anna Louise Inn. This year, it was in Washington Park in Over-the-Rhine. It’s a wonderful park, but it’s also a stone’s throw away from people struggling to survive and barely able to afford food. Someone I know who attended Diner en Blanc later said, “What bothers me… is that I didn’t leave feeling like, ‘Wow! What a great event!’ I left feeling like, ‘Wow. I feel really dirty and shallow.'”

I made the decision not to attend mainly because it sounded like it was going to be a royal pain in the butt. But, looking back, I decided I needed to do something about how I felt. So today, I made a donation to the Drop Inn Center in the amount of $35. And in the Dedication section of the online form, I wrote this:

“Instead of going to Diner en Blanc, I’d rather see the money make a difference in Cincinnati.”

By that one simple act, I am experiencing a magical evening knowing that I am making a difference in Cincinnati. I would love it if you joined me.

[By the way, while researching this blog post, I discovered that there’s also Dîner en Blanc – Haïti. Wow…]

Fat Person’s Clothes Dilemma

It’s August and it’s back to school time, even for college instructors like me. And, since my classes start in just a week, even I am thinking about whether I need some new clothes for the school year. But clothes shopping always leads to what I call the “Fat Person’s Clothes Dilemma” or FPCD.

First of all, understand that it is a rare person who is happy with his or her body when he or she is overweight. There’s always the next diet or the next workout plan hovering in your future and that will change everything (supposedly). But that uncertain future leads to unrealistic expectations related to future weight loss and what clothes sizes you can wear in the future. That thinking, in turn, leads to FPCD, i.e. “I’m going to lose weight so I should wait and buy new clothes then.”

Right now, I’m suffering from some of the worst FPCD I’ve ever had. I know I need to get some clothes that fit me better and generally look better than what I’m currently wearing. But I hate to shop as it is and the thought of shopping at my current weight makes me want to scream. Loud.

It doesn’t help that the clothes in women’s sizes seem to be made for short people. Short people who like sweatshirts with cat appliqués on them.

So, tomorrow, I’m going to try to find some new clothes. I can’t buy pants off the rack because my legs are so long, but I can try to pull together some pieces. At this point, I’m thinking tops and maybe some crop pants.

But I could use some help. What are some good pieces I should look for? I tend to wear neutral solids with one brightly colored or patterned item like a t-shirt or maybe a scarf. Should I be trying something else? Current plans are to start at Target, then jcpenney and finally Dillard’s.

God help me.

— Carla