How To Lose Readers and Influence No One

Do you want to have fewer blog readers? Are you tired of pesky commenters who disagree with your posts? Is there something to be gained by frustrating users? Here’s how…

Just set up your blog so users have to create accounts and log in to post a comment. Heck, they already have 50 gazillion accounts, what is one more? And by the time the poor fools actually wade through a registration form, wait for an email.. they have forgotten what they wanted to criticize you on! And, for an extra added, evil twist.. never email them the password!


You will be free of readers in no time.

I just had this lovely experience and could not wait to pull out the canine teeth…

Okay, so this post on “Henry Jenkins on Emerging Technologies” parrots the list of topics from the 2008 NMC Horizon Report. But the author has a beef we keep hearing:

No mention of games and virtual worlds? Jenkins notes that “”¦the presenters, and some of the attendees, signaled some disappointment that Virtual Worlds did not make the final cut this year, suggesting that there is still some disagreement about their viability and long-term impact on education.”

Disclaimer- I work for NMC and participate in the process.

Okay, if anyone does their homework, they might see that virtual worlds was on the shortlist for this year. But more notably, the purpose of the Horizon Report is not to ID every possible technology, but the top 2 as researched and voted by the advisory board. And hold the runaway train, virtual worlds were on the 2-3 horizon in the 2007 Horizon Report, as was Massively Multiplayer Educational Gaming for the 3-4 year horizon. And educational games were on the mid and far horizon going back to 2004 and 2005… stuff stays on the horizon, even if it is not in a report the following year– is that so hard to see?

In a general summary, 2007 saw a lot of growth in virtual worlds, almost that it became less on the horizon, and moved up rather quickly. On the other hand, there were not significant major developments or changes in this space to somehow write something different from 2007… there are hints of this to come maybe this year with more virtual world platforms becoming viable and developments in the metaverse or grid concepts.

If you want a big crystal ball that includes everything, go hop on a Gartner Hype curve. The Horizon report does play the prediction game- as Paul Saffo writes

Predicting is about certainly, and forecasting is about appreciating uncertainty. Forecasting gives decision makers to act in the face of uncertainty.

So for one more time, just because something from the 2007 report, put on a horizon out to 2009-2010, does not lose that place because it was not highlighted in 2008.

So remember bloggers, you will have more time and fewer bothersome comments if you make it frustratingly impossible to post a comment. For whatever that is worth.

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An early 90s builder of the web and blogging Alan Levine barks at CogDogBlog.com on web storytelling (#ds106 #4life), photography, bending WordPress, and serendipity in the infinite internet river. He thinks it's weird to write about himself in the third person.


  1. Sorry you had difficulty with the registration system. We are experimenting with various ways of managing the spam problems our site has been facing. Unfortunately, because of the high volume of links to the site, we attract a massive amount of spam, much of it for products that I don’t particularly wish to be advertising on an academic site, and unfortunately, I travel a great deal of the time. I have zero desire to censor any legitimate post but when we set it up so that I have to approve each response, readers complain about the long delays in seeing their material online. We’ve been experimenting with alternative systems and thought that the registration system would allow people to get their materials up more quickly, but it sounds like there are still some kinks to be worked out. I’d welcome alternative suggestions if you’ve found anything that effectively blocks out unwanted spam and allows more immediate access for legitimate posters.

    I am really sorry for any problems the current system may have caused you. If you tell me which parts of the post here you would have liked to see posted on my site, I am more than happy to accommodate you. Certainly, you provide background here which would be helpful to my regular readers.

    I am perplexed, though, by the tone of this message, starting with your use of the word, “parrot,” which implies mindless repetition. I thought I was helping to publicize your report and generating precisely the kind of discussion which was being solicited by its authors. Surely, the point of any such list is to spark dialog about what is or is not included and thus to generate further reflection on the state of educational technology.

    In any case, to suggest that I have a “beef” the report because I make a simple statement that the people issuing the report had acknowledged questions about the exclusion of virtual worlds is also a strangely hostile turn of phrase. If you read my post, you will see that I am simply reporting an issue which will be of interest to my regular readers, many of whom work on serious games and virtual worlds. It is the only point in a lengthy post which could be taken in any way critical of the report’s contents.

    The post goes on to stress points of contact with the report’s findings and expand upon its treatment of “collective intelligence,” another reason why it is silly to describe my post as “parroting” your report.

    You have taken one sentence out of an over-all complimentary post and treated it as if I was waging war on the NMC. Nothing could be further from the fact: I’ve delivered two keynotes for the NMC in the past five years and I was giving a keynote at the organization’s sister event earlier this year. I saw my post as supporting your efforts to spark serious reflection on the future directions for instructional technology.

    If the point of your post was to get my attention, you have it. But attacking anyone who asks questions about the content of your organization’s report is an odd way to encourage public engagement with its contents.

    It seems to me that there’s more than one way to alienate readers!

  2. Henry-

    I was NOT referencing your blog post about the Horizon Report, which was quite brilliant in its analysis we were so excited that part og your keynote had focused on the horizon top of collective intellgence, and that you had noticed the two different layers we wrote about for that topic.

    To the contrary, I’m a major blog fan/regular reader, continually amazed at the depth, breadth, and sheer content you manage to write on a regular basis, and use it often as the exemplary of blogging. I would never even come to a conclusion that you “parrot”.

    The post I was referencing was on someone else’s blog who linked to you:

    and somehow it must have pinged yours. My comments, yes harsh (bad day is not a great excuse), but they are mine and not speaking officially for NMC, are directed there.

    We monitor two regular reactions yearly:

    * People in the field, technologists, pan the report because to them, it is “nothing new” – and forget they are on the edge. When you look at many campuses, the percentage of educators regularly using what are passe tools to techies (tagging, blogging, wikis, RSS) is quite low, from a few of our surveys in the 8-15% range.

    * Others fail to see their favorite technology list in the current report (like the web site I was mentioning)

    And many of the other blog posts we track merely announce the report is out and list the six topics (or as happened last December, the Chronicle somehow had gotten their news that the 2007 report had just been released). Echoes are fine, as like to see the word spread, but we are more interested in thought pieces / analysis like yours that add to the conversation – its my own belief that blogging ought to be more than link sharing.

    Hopefully in your busy schedule you’ve get this message.

  3. I read this and thought, yeah man that really stinks! But then out of “just-in-case” fretting I checked my own blog and found I had a restriction on commenters to only allow those with a Google account. Not that I have a lot of readers anyway, but thanks for pointing out how annoying this can be in the context of the other matters you commented on.

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