Thursday, March 03, 2005

Thoughts After Digging Out from Under the Instalanche

Hoo boy. I always heard about Glenn Reynolds' power, but I never realized its full impact until now.

I just looked at my SiteMeter numbers. Hosting the 16th Red Ensign Standard resulted in over 2500 site visits in one day. This is almost double what I've had in the entire existence of this blog (about 6 months' worth of posting). I guess that must be typical of what they call an "Instalanche" in the "long tail" of the blogosphere.

About putting the 16th edition together:

First, I opted for an HTML table format because I felt it would make the Standard easier to read. It also gave me greater flexibility in presenting everyone's blog entries because I didn't need to try to work in the blog titles in the presentation.

As it happens, Microsoft Word allows you to save documents as Web pages. I figured all I had to do was prepare the Standard in Word, save as a Web document, and copy/paste into Blogger's HTML mode. Right?


As it turns out, Microsoft Word has proprietary tags in HTML, including a few that Blogger doesn't recognize. And a lot of those tags consist of specified code definitions to achieve Word effects, including a few that highlighted so-called misspellings (i.e. words and names that Word doesn't recognize). I spent all of Sunday night and a good part of Monday morning deleting code and proprietary tags from the Standard, and adding more traditional (and therefore universally-recognized) HTML table tags. (Note to self: look for a good HTML reference book next time I go to Chapters.)

I don't know if future editions will keep the table format: every Brigadier who hosts the Standard has different ideas about layout and presentation.

Second, about blog entry selection. I really had only one criteria for outright exclusion: if a Brigadier hadn't written a blog entry during the period of the Standard, they were put in an "inactive" table and came in at the bottom.

Picking and choosing entries for inclusion: because the Standard's presentation has generally been as a collection of entries from Canadian blogs, I tried to select entries dealing with current Canadian issues. Of course that wasn't always possible, especially with our non-Canadian members, which is where I used my second criteria: original content. By that I mean original thoughts written by the Brigadier, as opposed to just linking and quoting. If you've read the Standard, I hope you've read some of the Brigadiers' entries; if you have, I'm sure you'll agree that we do have a lot of bright, erudite thinkers in our Brigade.

One other criterion: I'm always impressed by good photoblogging and often wish I could do more of it myself. Which is why stuff from Nathan and Rebecca were definite keepers for the Standard.

Conclusion: A lot of hard work, but definitely worth it. I don't know that I want to do it again, though.