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A trade journal of a still-emerging field, written by Adam Tinworth.

Posts tagged OM&HB

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It’s my blog anniversary (blogiversary?) and today, this blog is…

14.

Yes, fourteen years old. Terrifying. 14 years since I published this drivel. I’m one of the longest-running bloggers I know of now, just through sheer bloody perseverance. Once you get past the decade, it’s hard to see exactly what would stop me, short of serious illness or death. I’ve now been blogging here longer than I’ve lived in a single house. The blog is older than my marriage – if only by a few months. It’s certainly a lot older than the work I do now – but it might be responsible for it.

I’m not quite sure why I feel the need to make this a part of my week pretty much every – but I do.

So, here’s to 14 years of bloody-mindedly writing for internet. I’ll probably carry on doing it for years to come. Don’t moan. Nobody’s forcing you to read…

14 image by Deb Etheredge, and used under a Creative Commons licence

So, how was 2015 for One Man & His Blog? Pretty good, all things considered. I had much less time than usual to devote to the blog, due to a very successful working year, but I still managed a 15% increase on 2014’s traffic. I hope (and have plans) to significantly better that in 2016. Much of that gain was down to a handful of very successful posts, which you’ll find out more about below.

I really hope to write much more – and do different forms of journalism – through 2016. While training and helping others to do journalism is gratifying (and lucrative), I have a real urge to write more myself. If I get to this time next year without doing so, I’ll be very disappointed indeed.

On the back end, I finally migrated from an ageing Movable Type install to a brand spanking new WordPress install on WP-Engine, considerably upping the server power behind it. Downtime has been minimal this year, which is gratifying.

Anyway, without further ado, here’s the top 10 OM&HB posts in 2015:


 

1. Bookerly: Amazon’s new Kindle font

bookerly-eink

The top post of the year was huge in terms of traffic for me. And I’m very smug about that. For a while I’d been slightly concerned about the disconnect between teaching SEO for journalists – and the fact that I rarely work hard on SEO for this blog. I write it for the regular readers, not the “drive-bys”. When my Fire Tablet got an update adding a new font to the kindle app, and I couldn’t find anything good online about it, I saw the opportunity to write something heavily SEO optimised about it – and reaped the rewards. A couple of links from big sites when the font hit the e-ink readers added to the success. Nice to know that I can do it when I want to.

2. Want to read your iPad in the bath?

2014’s SEO test is still doing the business. And I do, in fact, do this, on the rare occasions I have a bath.

(I shower every day, before you go getting any ideas…)

3. Why your big custom CMS project is doomed

A short, link-based post hitting number three? It’s the content. Too many people out there who have been badly burned by disastrous CMS projects.

(more…)

Last Friday’s rather cryptic post (I even tagged it as such) was about more than just the switch to WordPress. I’ve been keen to slightly switch around my approach to writing One Man & His Blog for a while now, but a quirk of my personal psychology means that it’s easier to do at a point of discontinuity. A shift in blog platform is certainly that.

Last year, one of the most personally profound moments I had was at the Dots conference, arranged by Brilliant Noise and curated by Neil Perkin, both friends of the blog. Neil did a superb job of curating an event without a single weak speaker, but two in particular resonated with me.

Great artists steal – from a long way away

Mark Earls at Dots

First of all, Mark Earls made a compelling case that innovation is, in effect, stealing from far away:

Look a long way away from what you’re doing if you want to reinvent it. The man that invented boutique hotels took the idea of a nightclub and built hotels in that way. Marginal advantage is an idea from sport which borrows as many sources as possible. The sign of a good poet is someone who copies from far away, said TS Elliot. It’s easy to copy from next door…

Stagnation through introspection

That resonated with me because I’ve had a growing feeling that the discussion about digital journalism is stagnating, because it’s all happening internally to journalism. We’re looking at Buzzfeed and paywalls and what each other are doing, instead of casting our eyes outwards and seeing how technology and culture are changing. The former leads to copying, the latter to innovation.

Martin Elliott

The power of that idea was driven home by the brutally compelling talk by Professor Martin Elliott, about how the cardiac surgeons at Great Ormond Street Hospital radically reduced death rates by borrowing from Formula One:

The Formula One teams always meet at round tables, they plan for what goes wrong and they mentally rehearse what’s going to happen. They mapped the process – and found the surgical one was 10 times more complicated. They tried engineering a new bed – but it was too expensive. So they focused on human factors. And every situation is a web of complex relationships that could go wrong.

So they focused on leadership and choreography. Leadership is transferred via a checklist as needed. The most important person they hired was a dancer. No-one knew where to stand. Ballet had the knowledge they needed.

Formula One saving children’s lives in hospital? That’s stealing from a long way away – and that’s innovation.

Mental reset

At some point over the last couple of years, I’ve drifted into thinking of One Man & His Blog as a journalism blog, rather than Adam Tinworth’s blog. Now, the majority of my work currently is in journalism, so it’s always going to be heavily flavoured with journalism. But I’m granting myself the mental permission to write about wider issues that are informing the working part of my brain.

If we’re going to reinvent publishing and journalism, we need to get back to stealing from far away, as we did a decade or so back, rather than the circle-jerk of copying each marginal digital improvement that a particular site manages to create.

So, reboot time.

The days when I switched my blog design every few months are very long gone, but here we are again with a new look OM&HB, only 20 months after the last one.

Here’s what it looks like right now:

Responsive OM&HB

And this is why it is significant:

A responsive OM&HB

Yes, I’ve finally gone mobile-friendly and responsive.

I pretty much had no choice: tablet and phone traffic is nudging towards 50% of my site traffic – and it gets even higher than that on “big hit” posts. If I care about my readers – and I do – I should be catering to their device choice.

Also, frankly, when I’m talking to publishers and journalists about mobile strategy, having a design that’s not mobile-friendly was getting rather embarrassing.

What’s changed?

  • Responsive design! Yes, I said that above. But it’s the most important thing…
  • The sidebar returns. Yes, I tried to bury it all at the bottom of the page, but it didn’t work. A single sidebar is still useful.
  • Sharing buttons are gone. An experiment: I want to see if the lack of sharing buttons has any traffic impact.
  • Pagingation. You can actually (at long last) page back through older entries from the homepage of the site.
  • Taupy RIP. Yes, the lizard finally bites the dust. Here, for a final time, is Taupy, the mascot of this blog for the best part of eight years:

taupy.png

What do you think?

What now, oh Bear

Hey, all. I hope you’re having a good Friday.

I have two apologies to make.

The Accidental Spammer

I was informed yesterday that several people were getting completely blank e-mails en masse from my e-mail address. They do appear to have originated from this server, and either changes made by me or my webhost seem to have put a stop to them. My apologies if you got hit by it.

Silence of the Blogger

In a possibly-related incident, my webhost blocked access to my blog’s software late yesterday evening, and followed that up by suspending my account entirely. I’ve not had a complete explanation as yet – depending on what they do say, I may be looking at moving hosts, which will be fun.

Because of this, yesterday’s long form post never got done (and, indeed, for a few hours there was no published blog for it to appear on). That means that sometime between now and the end of the month, I’ll have to do two posts in one day…

Eleven in the sky

This blog is eleven years old today.

But really, who cares on a day when:

It’s interesting tracking the relative ages of those things, though. BBC Three is less than a month older than this blog – it was launched on the 9th February 2003. While Metro newspaper dates back to 1999, the website appears to have launched in 2004 – making it younger than this blog. Flipboard and Zite are both whippersnappers, both around three years old.

So, I need to face it. This blog, while not even teenager, is old. But while it may be old, at least it has stamina…

(Can I just extend my sympathies to Kevin and John, both of whom are big Zite users, and both of whom are probably in mourning right now…)

Photo by Martin Snopek, and used under a Creative Commons licence

View from EasyjetI’ve been travelling for work, which has kept me busy and quiet – here at least. 

It’s also given me some time for thought and reflection, and that means I’ve made a few decisions, and come to some conclusions in my own head, which I need to clarify for myself by writing them out. I actually have a blog “calendar” for myself for next week – with the intention of writing one long-form piece a day through the working week (Thursday might be the exception for reasons that will become clear). 

Things change. Two years ago I was so terrified of flying that I refused to get on a plane. This week, the London / Berlin flight was a chance for quiet reflection. Sometimes you need to take stock of those changes, and figure out what they mean for what you believe. That’s what next week will be all about. 

Those of you who have missed my occasional rants here over the past few years will probably find it quite fulfilling… 😉

Adam Tinworth in 2003

Ten years ago today, the alarmingly brown-haired chap above put finger to keyboard and wrote the words

And so it begins…

And so it did – One Man & His Blog came into being. At first it lived on Blogger and at the URL http://adam.tinworth.name (.name never really took off, did it?) and now it lives on Movable Type and http://www.onemananandhisblog.com. This time next year, it’ll probably be on WordPress, but all will otherwise be the same. It’ll be here – if I am – and I’ll be blogging away merrily.

(I have to say, looking at that picture above, I’ve aged…)

This site has been in continuous publication for a decade. I’m slightly staggered that it has survived – and thrived – over that time. This has been the backdrop to nearly a quarter of my life, through my marriage, my mother’s death, my redundancy and the arrival of my beautiful baby daughter. So many other blogs have come and gone in that time. Those of us with the stamina to stay put and keep on going seem to be a vanishingly small bunch. A signifiant proprtion of the links in those early posts are now dead, the sites they pointed to long gone from the net. Indeed, the first link in that very first post is dead.

This blog represents the largest continuous body of work I’ve ever done, and I’m immensely proud of it with all its mistakes, wrong turns and failed experiments. There’s been some great writing, some great conversations, some fun photography, more links than I’d care to count, and the odd great argument along they way. It’s got my name into national papers, lead to speaking gigs, and been behind every piece of work I’ve done for the best part of seven years. 

I did my “decade of blogging” post 18 months ago – there was a blog that preceded that one – but I didn’t want this anniversary to pass unremarked. 

And I’m not going to mark it with a long self-indulgent post – just a short(ish) one. 🙂 I am going to make it with a series of changes to the way I run this blog, and the posts you’ll see coming through fairly quickly. In preparation for the anniversary, I’ve been looking through my own archives, looking for things I can learn from; ideas that drifted away that can be brought back, elements of the blog I never explored to my satisfaction. Over that decade, my blog has actually moved to the centre of my working life. Without this here database of content, none of the work I’ve been doing over the last year or so would have materialised. Now that I’ve had a couple of months where I earned more than I did in my corporate job, but for working fewer hours (Fridays are devoted to childcare for my daughter), I have a lot to be grateful for, and to the work I put in here particualrly. But the blog got a little neglected in recent months. I was too busy working or being a family man to give it the attention it deserved.

It’s time to repay that with some investment back into this site. So changes are coming – indeed, they started yesterday and will continue through the next few months.

Thank you for coming with me this far, and I hope you’ll join me on the journey to come. It’s been a hell of a lot of fun.  

As I said a decade ago:

I’ll be your host on this particular Blog until I run out of things to discuss or you run out of patience for my words.

Luckily, neither of those things has happened just yet… 

A hack's desk

Nothing encourages you to get your head down and posting like appearing in the list of 50 blogs by journalists, for journalists

So, hello, new readers. Welcome. It’s normally rather busier around here, but between childcare and a slightly-over-committed consulting business, I’m rather under the cosh.

You can grab the RSS feed if you want to keep up, or there’s an option to subscribe by e-mail, too. You’ll find it right at the bottom of the page.

Feel free to say “hello”. 🙂