Thursday, January 18, 2007


New blog toy: MyBlogLog

I’ve signed up for MyBlogLog. If you haven’t been there, it’s part stats and referrals, part blog widgets, and part online community. I’ve been spending an inordinate amount of time over there lately. (As if I weren’t already piddling away enough of my time playing with the sitemeter, let alone bloglines, not to mention the blogosphere as a whole.)

So far, I’m intrigued. I like the stats page, with information about where people have come from, what they read and what they click on while they’re here. I even installed a little widget that keeps track of the most popular out-clicks every day and gives a little pop-up window when you hover over a link, showing how many people have clicked that link today. (Try hovering over the comment link from yesterday and you’ll see what I mean. The top 5 outclicks box is waaaaaay down on the sidebar, near the bottom.)

But there are a couple of things I am less sure about. Another widget you can get shows an avatar (photo you upload) and the name of the most recent visitors to your blog. So, if you’ve signed up for MyBlog Log, and the blog you are reading is also registered, even if you are only quietly lurking, your avatar and name appears in the “recent visitors to this blog” widget.

That, for reasons I don’t entirely understand, freaks me out a bit.

I have always liked the anonymity of blog surfing. You can peek in, take a look around, and leave without saying a peep. Yes, your IP address leaves an electronic signature for those who are tech savvy or simply persistent enough to know how to trace it, but it’s a long way from an obscure character set representing my internet service provider to my name and photo right there under the ‘recent visitors’ column.

(I still haven’t figured out whether you can turn off the recognition thing, or whether you have to be logged in for it to work, or whether it follows multiple IP addresses. One of the reasons I actually signed up for MyBlogLog is because they are sadly lacking in useful FAQs and so I signed up out of curiosity to see if I could figure it out as I went along.)

And then there’s the whole community aspect. I’m wondering if I’ll be any better at this one than I am with any of the other social media sites. I’ve got my Flickr account, and a Linked-In account, and I’m still terrible about the ‘friends and contacts’ part of it. (This would probably be why I’ll never have a MySpace or Facebook account!) If I know you and you ask me to make you a contact, I’ll happily do so, but I never actively seek out contacts.

I’m shy about approaching people. MyBlogLog makes it as easy as a single click to join a blog’s ‘community’(you don't need to have the community owner's approval), and when you do your avatar and name are shown on that blog’s community page (here’s mine). I wasn’t too sure about that whole aspect – I was more than content to grab the outgoing-click widget and play in happy solitude on my stats page when one blogger I’ve never encountered before joined my community, and my courage to be social was bolstered. I even ventured out and joined a few communities of my own, mostly because I’ve had personal contact with the blogger. But my barely-repressed inner 14 year old worries that maybe these fairly popular bloggers don’t want awkward me attaching themselves to their blog. (Terrible the scars that high school leaves on you, isn’t it?)

What do you think? I've temporarily installed the 'recent visitors' widget so you could see what I'm talking about, but I don't think I like it. Do you also find it vaguely unsettling to be ‘outed’ every time you drop by for a visit? And of course, if you have an account or you sign up for one, let me know while I’m still in a social phase and I’d be happy to join your community!