the writing and photography of Neil Kramer

Blogging Tools #3

It’s time again to talk a little bit about all the different applications out there for us bloggers.  It seems as if every few months, there’s a whole bunch of new toys.  Sophia really hates these posts, calling them “in-groupy,” so please don’t tell her that I am writing this.

Previous “blogging” posts —

(Blogging Tools #1 — 3/06) 

(Blogging Tools #2 – 6/06)

I’ve noticed that Twitter is popular with a few of the really cool kids.   It is a mini-blog that enables you to tell others what you are doing 24/7.  It is a cool idea, but I’m not sure why anyone would care if I was eating a turkey sandwich for lunch.   If you use Twitter, in what way has it enhanced your online life?  Or is this narcissism gone wild?

The always cool Eileen Dover using Twitter.

I’ve seen MyBlogLog on many of your blogs.  I’m curious if this tool has helped create comraderie with other bloggers or is this just another way to create online insecurity (boo-hoo, he has more friends than me!)?

The fabulous Finn uses MyBlogLog.

I DO like the concept of the “shared” posts from the Google Reader.   It tells me what a blogger is currently reading, and lets me learn about some new blogs.  Unfortunately, who has time to read even MORE blogs?  Information overload is becoming a very serious problem for me.   In fact, if I haven’t commented on your blog lately and you want your birthday gift back, please email Danny.

Plain Jane Mom “sharing” her Google Reader “starred” items on her sidebar.

I’m a big fan of using to keep all of my “bookmarks” online.  I like the fact that you can make your bookmarks public so you can share your finds with other people.  It is fascinating to see what others are bookmarking.  Sometimes, you get a better sense of a person through their bookmarks than their blog.   This is my page.  It used to be more interesting before I got into blogging.  Now, my bookmarks are mostly about blogging.  You can also track the bookmarks of other users by creating a network.  I don’t know if they are aware of this, but I know a lot more about Communicatrix, the Delicious Life, Jurgen Nation, and Schmutzie than they realize because I have included their bookmarks in my network.  Sorry folks, there is very little PRIVACY online!

My network

I frequently think about many of you when I am out on the street, doing nothing related to blogging.  I always thought it would be cool to interact with another blogger without having to be on the computer.  For instance, I know Dave from Blogography is obsessed with actress/model Elizabeth Hurley.    What would I do if I was walking in Beverly Hills and  I saw Elizabeth Hurley eating a hot dog on Wilshire Boulevard?  I would want to contact Dave, but I  wouldn’t know his phone number.  I could wait until I get home later in the day OR I could try this new application called Jott, which would allow me to send an email over the phone… using my voice.  


The steps look pretty simple.   I would dial some 800 number and say the name, “Dave.”  It would recognize his email address because I would have already added it to my Jott database.  I would speak a message, such as, “Dave, you sucker, I just saw Elizabeth Hurley eating a hot dog on Wilshire Boulevard, something she would never do in dull Seattle!”  I would then have a choice to send the message as a voice attachment or as text transcribed by workers in India! 

And so far, it is free.  Cool?

Elizabeth Hurley without her hot dog (via chance98).

I’d like to experiment and see if Jott really works.   Later today, I’m going to send “Jott” messages to the email addresses of some of YOU — the first ten people who say it’s OK, five in audio and five in text.   Let’s see if you receive the message.

I’m especially interested in seeing if the transcribing works.  Will the guys in India understand my strong New York accent?  Would I even want others transcribing my personal message?  I would hate to send a message to Charming but Single that says “Good luck on your date,” and have it incorrectly transcribed as “Good f**k on your date.”

A Year Ago On Citizen of the Month:  Is Your Wife An Imposter?


  1. Eileen Dover

    Ooooh, I want to hear an Elizabeth Hurley message from you.

    And thanks for picking the most mundane message from me. Rather grand.


    I am mundane.

    You are excused.

  2. better safe than sorry

    the only one i’ve ever heard of is twitter, there was something the our local paper about it last week. i’m not using any of those applications, i have enough problems with plain old blogger.
    you can send me a message:) okay!

  3. V-Grrrl

    Yawn. So not interested in blog technology. I’ve hit my limit.

    And if you see Elizabeth Hurley eating Hugh Grant’s hotdog on Wilshire Boulevard, be sure to let Perez know.

  4. kapgar

    Sorry, Neil, I use none of the above so I can’t really help you out. Just winds up as more unused clutter in my sidebar.

  5. Ariel

    Lots of technogeekery out there but who has the time? I am still trying to figure out how CSS works, so never mind the rest… As for Liz Hurley, the only people who care about what she does with her life are clearly located stateside. We don’t give a monkey’s here!

  6. PocketCT

    The information overload is starting to make me feel like my finger is stuck in a light socket and I can’t pull away. While I’m plugged in I’d love a message.

  7. Rhea

    I think I am a closet geek. I love hearing about this kind of stuff. I didn’t know about Jott.

  8. schmutzie

    I tried Twitter, but found no use for it in my life. I can’t figure out what the buzz is.

    Also, you’re not the only one who may know me by my bookmarks. I put them up for the world to see a little while ago:

    I’ve been touring around MyBlogLog for a while, and I kind of like it, but I’m not sure how useful it is. I have noticed a slight increase in traffic, but a lot of people on the system simply go out and add themselves to everyone’s profiles to try to improve their own popularity. This makes the numbers of admirers people have a bit less relevant, and it means that the people who have added themselves to your website community don’t necessarily even read your weblog.

    Jott sounds cool. If only I had a cell phone or knew how to work one.

  9. Karl

    Go ahead, send me a message! Just please make it about Jaime Murray!

  10. Jurgen Nation

    Calling Deer in Headlights…so what bookmarks do you see. The ones on my computer or the ones on de.lici-ou…s (don’t know where the periods go – lazy).

    Interesting. You got me hooked on Google Reader, what’s this all about? I’m not a huge fan of the other ones but this one looks good. And what of Digg?

  11. Finn

    Ugh. There’s just too much. I don’t get twitter either. As much as I like you, I don’t care if you’re eating a turkey sandwich. But if Elizabeth Hurley is eating ANYTHING on Wilshire, I want to know about it!

    I’d love a message from you if your dance card’s not full.

  12. Dave2

    I hope the voice recognition is good with Jott, or else that message could end up reaching me as something very confusing…

    “WHAT did you just call me?”
    “You sawed Elizabeth Hurley in half with a hot dog?”
    “I should never use a doll in Seattle?

  13. Neil

    Jurgen, Digg is a beast of it’s own that maybe someone else could talk about. As an experiment, I once “submitted” a post about my “Penis’s Dating Rules for Men” and got a ton of hits. But the next day, no one returned. I tried again later that week with a post about going out with Sophia, and got ZIP. Digg is mostly good if you only write posts that appeal to teenage boys and male geeks.

  14. Alison

    Ooh, ooh! Pick me!

  15. Jocelyn

    Neil, if this comment reaches you, that in itself would be a miracle, as for those other things…huh? Send me a message please?

  16. JC

    I love hearing about this type of technology.

  17. Kate

    Try me out Neil! I wanna see what this Jott thing can do!

    I think this is my first comment – official lurker unlurking! Although, I know I’m somewhere on your million-something blogroll per my wp stats. So I don’t feel so bad being a lurker to a lurker. 😉

  18. fringes

    WordPress keeps visitor stats? Where?

  19. Churlita

    I don’t know, I think I would appreciate it if someone wished me a good f%$# on my date.

  20. Dave

    I think all these widgets ratchet up my insecurity so much, I think I’m the least popular person on earth and want to close up my blog. And I do. And, then I get insecure and start it again. Etc. And the vicious cycle continues.

    I’ll stick with my simple flickr sidebar. It’s my happy place.

  21. BA

    What kind of turkey?

  22. Blitz Krieg

    I can barely get my post out anymore for all the crap I now have associated with it.

  23. Edgy Mama

    I do the blogmylog thang, but I never check it. It may have upped my readership a bit, but I don’t really care. Not sure what the point of it is.

    BTW, I’m not in LA right now. Sigh.

  24. Neil

    If I sent you a voice message on Jott, was it clear enough to hear?  Sorry about all my usual uhs and ums…

  25. Neil

    Also, here’s an example of a Jott that I sent to my own email…

    (for some weird reason, the audio here only works in Firefox)

  26. better safe than sorry

    awww, you’re so adorable!!!
    every single uh and umm.
    thanks for the jott.

  27. Eileen Dover

    I loved having Neil in my box.

    I mean, Neil in my inbox.

    You brightened my day.

  28. laurie

    OMG people put their bookmarks online for other people to see? I would be terrified for anyone to see my bookmarks. I have an entire folder of nothing but survivor message board and commentary links. WHY WHY would I want anyone to see that?

    In fact, I wish I just had someone to tell me about technology so I wouldn’t ever have to experience it myself. It would be great to have someone read me my mail, and also bring me drinks with umbrellas in them.

  29. Ariel

    I feel special thanks to “Neil calling from Los Angeles”.

  30. Hilly

    I want to wait til I see you this weekend then have YOU try to sound like Elizabeth Hurley in person ;).

  31. Dagny

    Too much to take in at once. My brain has just gone on strike.

  32. Hilly

    Oh I LIED…I totally want a message from you. It might make me feel better.

    Also, I hate you and love you for this post. Now I have all these toys to check out!

  33. Two Roads

    I got to hear you and I don’t use firefox. There is way too many gadgets to keep up with but just knowing about them is enough for me.

  34. Caron

    I thought it was Wednesday for most of today. I think if have to try to understand any more gizmos and gadgets my brain would spontaneously combust.

  35. gorillabuns

    the only thing that made sense to me was google reader but other than that, i’m totally confused and quite untechnical.

    and how many times can i use that in a sentence?

  36. Lynnster

    OK, long answer here…

    Several of us in the Nashville local-ish blogging community have been using Twitter lately and there has been a lot of recent conversation among the group about it. I am going to take the easy way out here and copy/paste my previous input in one of those many conversations with the Nashville blogging community about what’s the use of it all:

    I kind of tend to use Twitter as a “mini-blog” more than a conversation tool – like when I was on my out of town trips, Twittering away about what was going on – but I think there are benefits to using it both ways.

    The mini-blogging aspect is definitely more beneficial for any interested blog readers. One of the problems there for WordPress users is you can only post Twittering in your sidebar via RSS feed because the made-for Twitter stuff is all Java and Flash. But a lot of WP users have been requesting Twitter widgets for WordPress so maybe that will happen. I hope so, ‘cos the scripted Twitter updaters are pretty neat, but I think they also definitely have some security issues that would need to be resolved if Twitter was ever adopted for WordPress like Flicker/Meebo/etc. have been. My MySpace account got hacked for the first time ever a couple of weeks ago and it was after I’d put the Twitter script on my MySpace profile, so I wondered if that was how my account got hacked. But yeah, I would LOVE to see a safe Twitter widget approved for WordPress use.

    I think if I were actually living in Nashville (where most of my Twitter friends are) I would probably use the conversational aspect more. I think one way Twitter could be lots more efficient than other communication means would be things like if I was in Nashville and going to lunch, I could Twitter “I’m at X restaurant, come join me” and any number of my Nashville buddies could show up. Or if, say, I had a flat tire on the interstate, chances are if I Twittered that, that would get faster response for help from friends than trying to track people down by phone or whatever. Just thinking out loud but I think things like that are definitely pros about Twitter use.

    Certainly, for me, I was still kinda “ehhhh” about Twitter until my mother said how glad she was to be able to see my Twittering when I was on the Chicago trip and know I’d gotten there and everything was okay and etc., etc. So that was a big turning point for me towards the pro-Twitter side.

    By the way, that last part was also very beneficial on my L.A. trip a few days later (oops – sorry Neil! – it was a last minute decision and I was only in L.A. for about 12.5 hours total though, EXTREMELY short trip and I need to write a blog post about it soon). That whole experience of it being really easy for family to see you’re OK really won me over; plus I think I would have given an arm and a leg, when I worked down in the Medical Center, if the surgeons I worked for would have used something like this so I could quickly see what they were doing, where they were, if they were busy, etc. (Granted, getting bosses and such to USE something like that and update it as they should would be the biggest hurdle.)

    I think one of the most stunning things in my experience with it is that one of the bloggers who was very much against it and thought it was stupid in the beginning is now one of the more active Twitterers (Twitters?) in our community, and I’ve seen some more start to use it that I didn’t expect to see.

    We all differ a little though on how we use it. Many of my peers use it more as a communication tool between/among themselves, whereas I and some others use it more as a “mini-blog”. I have found that especially cool during days or periods of days when I just really didn’t have time or inclination to sit down and write a whole blog post, or was otherwise occupied. My Twitter posting was how most our blogging community here initially found out about my car wreck a few weeks ago, and that made a Twitter believer out of one of them.

    I also like being able to text message my Twitter posts (Twits? heh). That’s fun for things like when you’re sitting in a restaurant with a crappy waiter taking forever and feel like sharing some sarcastic snarky thought with the world, and things like that.

    Much of our community also adopted MyBlogLog early on, but I think most of us soon lost much interest in it. I think it’s something that has good potential, but it has some definite problems (like right now, I can’t even get into my account because the system won’t recognize my password changes), and I also think it’s sort of falling victim to the global spam machine. If I can ever get back into my account, I plan on checking on how things are going because it’s been a while, but I think for the most part we’ve all been less than impressed with MyBlogLog. Other than having the option to have photos/avatar and a list of who your last several visitors were is kind of neat.

    OK, my $0.04 there.

  37. Lynnster

    (PS I do think those and many of the other newish blogging tools can probably all be very valuable in increasing readership, if one is really interested in that sort of thing. Though for me, like, say, if Churlita and Margaret are my only participating readers every day – which some days they are, heh – that’s as OK with me as if I had 100 or 1,000.)

  38. CiCi

    Another way to store bookmarks for use anywhere is It lets you choose what you make public if anything. It’s been great for me since it lets me access bookmarks I created at work so I can get things done at home.

  39. MichelleV

    Did I loose my chance to get twitter or Jotted or something? I’ve been offline soaking in the Hot Springs in the mountains of Colorado and getting sunburned, so I didn’t get to read the post day off. Poor me.

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