Sunday, February 24, 2008

Starting a new blog on Semantic Web technology

Although I have not yet decided where to focus my excess energy once I transition from being full-time at The Evil Empire to part-time work with a stealth startup, I have mostly decided that going deeper into Semantic Web technology will very likely be one of my personal sidelines. A great place to start that effort, a step 0, is to start a blog dedicated to that effort. Since blogging has evolved a bit over the past year, I also intend to chronicle the back story of my efforts on this new blog.

The initial issues that come to my mind when starting a new blog are:

  1. What the overall focus will be
  2. What the initial focus will be
  3. What the audience will be
  4. What the name will be, both title and subtitle, as well as the domain name
  5. What infrastructure technology to use
  6. Whether it will be standalone or embedded in a larger web site or portal
  7. Whether to run ads or not
  8. The general tone and qualities of voice for postings
  9. Level of effort to invest in overall template and peripheral features
  10. Level of effort for professional graphic design

I actually do not have great, laser-focused answers to all of those questions. In fact, I am not so sure that I can get answers that really satisfy me in the near-term. For example, I do know the general focus, namely Semantic Web technology, but that is a very broad field which I cannot cover fully in any great depth. Similarly, I do know that the audience will be people interested in Semantic Web technology, but once again that is a very broad audience, most of whom may have little interest in whatever aspects of Semantic Web technology I happen to blog about on any given day.

I have no idea where my Semantic Web journey will lead me, so the idea of coming up with a crisply targeted brand is out of the question. At best, I will come up with a fairly lame and provisional blog name, title, and subtitle. My intention is to refine my brand as my journey begins to settle into a path with a little bit more clarity about its destination or goal(s).

Although my initial efforts will take on more of the character of a hobby and be somewhat amateurish, my clear intention is to transition to a profitable business opportunity ASAP. Although I may make a little money off the blog via AdSense, my stronger intention will be to become enough of an expert on niches of Semantic Web technology that my knowledge and expertise begins to open doors for consulting opportunities.

As far as blogging infrastructure, I already have a fair amount of experience with Blogger, so that is my default choice. OTOH, WordPress certainly has a lot of appeal. I am tempted by WordPress, but I am concerned that it might require too much additional effort compared to the mindless point and click mentality of Blogger. Still, I would welcome input about WordPress compared to Blogger in terms of setup and ongoing management. Also, AdSense is now integrated with Blogger, so I wonder whether WordPress can even come close in that area.

As far as AdSense, to me that seems a no-brainer. I am in this for the money, period. I have been using AdSense in Blogger for over two years, so I have a bit of experience with it, although its financial value has been very modest. When I started, you had to manually insert the script code in your template. Now, it is a clickable option in Blogger. I did look at it some months ago and could not figure out how to specify the AdSense tracking channel id, but I'll give it another try.

Blogger also has some new layout customization features so that you are not completely constrained by the pre-built template library. These features may simplify my task, although I do not intend to get fancy.

As far as professional graphic design, that is simply outside of both my budget and my personal ability, at least for now. So, my graphic design will be as basic as can be imagined, no better than whatever Blogger gives my by default. OTOH, I will be open to anyone who wants to volunteer to offer graphic design work in exchange from a linkable credit on the bottom of my blog.

Although ultimately I may choose to have a dedicated domain name and possibly even a portal, I will most likely initially simply use a blog name on Blogger's In a couple of months I will revisit this decision and consider a dedicated domain name.

I already have a portal dedicated to software agent technology that I might utilize for my new Semantic Web efforts, but it may make sense to keep the two distinct, at least for now.

My initial blogging efforts will probably focus on general Semantic Web background and maybe making a valiant effort to explain in as simple English prose as possible what the Semantic Web is really all about. I have never been satisifed by any of the descriptions that I have ever seen. Yes, the Semantic Web has a lot of deep, conceptual power. Yes, the Semantic Web has wide-ranging applications. But none of this really explains what the Semantic Web is really all about and how it differs from traditional software technologies that have been able to enable applications from Amazon to eBay to Yahoo to Google to YouTube without relying on the full power of the concepts of the Semantic Web.

Now, my immediate problems are focused on:

  1. Name in Blogger (
  2. Title
  3. Subtitle
  4. Pick the initial layout and enable AdSense
  5. First post

Stay tuned. And feel free to chime in if you see me do or say anything really stupid or even if you think I should be aware of any options that I have not mentioned.

-- Jack Krupansky


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