Thursday, October 13, 2005

How to read blogs and how not to write blogs

I usually do not have articles here saying basically "check out these articles in other blogs I liked them". Basically this is because I think if you, dear reader, have found this blog you will be able to find others that you like as well, so no need for me to point you around the blogsphere. And , honestly, I don't think too many people read this blog, anyway. I don't have access to the server's log files and I do not have a counter (I must say, I hate counters because often they delay loading a page a lot). But it happens more and more often that I meet somebody in person and she/he tells me that she/he has read this or that in atdotde. So in the end, I might not write for the big bit bucket.

My reporting on Loops '05 was picked up in other places so that might have brought even more reader to my little place. I even got an email from a student in China asking me that he cannot read atdotde anymore (as well as for example Lubos' Reference Frame). Unfortunatly, I had to tell him that this was probably due to the fact that his government decided to block from the Chinese part of the net because blogs are way to subversive.

So as a little service for some of my readers who not already now, here is a hint on how to read blogs: Of course you can if you have some minutes of boredom type your friends names into google and surf to their blogs every now and then. That is fine. Maybe at some point, you want to find out, what's new in all those blogs. So you go through your bookmarks (favourites in MS speak) and check I you've seen everything that you find there.

But that is cyber stone age! What you want is a "news aggregator". This is a little program that does this for you periodically and informs you about the new articles it found. You just have to tell it where to look. This comes in form of a URL called the "RSS feed". Often you find little icons in the sidebar of the blogs that link to that URL. In others like this you have to guess. All the blogs on it is in the form URL_of_blog/atom.xml so for atdotde it is You have to tell your news aggregator about this URL. In the simplest form, this is just your web browser. Firefox calls it "live bookmarks": You open the "manage bookmarks" window and select "new life bookmark" from the menu. I use an aggregator called liferea, that even opens a little window once it found anything new, but there are many others.

Coming back to the theme of the beginning, I will for once tell you which blogs I monitor (in no particular order):
  • Amelies Welt(in German) I know Amelie from a mailing list an like the variety of topics she writes about.
  • BildBlog They set straight the 'news' from the biggest German tabloid. And it's funny.
  • Bitch, PhD Academic and feminist blogger. I learned a lot.
  • String Coffee Table you can chat about strings while nipping a coffee.
  • Musings The first blog of a physicist I came across. Jacques still sets standards.
  • Die Schreibmaschine Anna is a friend from Cambridge, currently not very active because...
  • Broken Ankle Diary a few weeks ago she broke here ankle
  • Lubos Motl's Reference Frame Strong opinions on physics , global warming, politics.
  • hep-th The arxiv now also comes in this form but still I prefer to read it in the classic way.
  • Jochen Weller One of the Quantum Diaries. Jochen was in Cambrigde while I was there.
  • Preposterous Universe Sean's blog is dead now because he is part of...
  • Cosmic Variance Currently my best loved blog. Physics and everything else.
  • Not Even Wrong Peter Woit has one point of criticism of string theory that he keeps repeating. But he is a very reasonable guy.
  • Daily ACK I met Al on a dive trip in the English Channel. Some astronomy and some Apple and Perl news.
  • Physics Comments Sounded like a good idea but not really working at least in the hep-th area.

    Have fun!

    Now I should send trackback pings. This is such a pain with

    Ah, I nearly forgot: This article and how academic blogs can hurt your job hunting scares me a lot! (I admit, I found it on Cosmic Variance.)

    Anonymous said...

    Thanks for the helpful tips. I was still in cyber-stone age up to my neck. But I'm afraid this trick will exponentially increase the risk of blog-addiction.

    Wolfgang said...


    just wanted to let you know that I am a regular reader. By the way, if you like scuba diving, you should visit The Bahamas.

    PS: I wrote about your Loops 05 report here:

    Anonymous said...

    About PhysComments, let me to stress that I had no access to the email addresses of the people in hep-th area for recent years, because this list was the first one removed from the daily listings and I was barred from querying the author emails. So the "Referenced Author" mechanism was not possible in this field. Now, after one year, there is no more "Referenced Author" mechanism for any group; after all it can be seen that most people voluntary identyfied themselves.

    In exchange, as you remark, non-anonymous the physcomments blog entries are now trackbacked in the ArXiV. The mechanism is voluntary on both sides: the ArXiV reviews the recent trackbacks, and our users must explicitly start a comment with the words "A Comment by..." in order to be pinged towards the ArXiV.

    Physics Comments is funded now (from my money) for two years more. I'am keeping with it as a kind of blog for people not having a personal blog. I hope hep-th people will also give a try.