Thanks For All the Fish!

We made it to the end of the month, you and me! I blogged every day in June and successfully completed the Freelance Success 2014 30-Day Blogathon. Thank you for reading, or at least hanging in there. (I only got one “unsubscribe” during the month.)Leslie Lang, Writer, Memoir, Biography, Content Marketing, Hawaii

My goal was to take some of the things out of my head and get them onto my website. I wrote some articles about how much I love the genre of memoir and biography, and a little about some of my work in this area:

And about my other specialization, content marketing, including what that is and some examples of work I’ve done:

And I wrote about books and the power of words:

and a little about Hawai‘i, too:

I will now give you a bit of a break and will stop pelting daily emails at you — though this did get my blogging muscles back in order, I must say, and I will probably be blogging here more often than I had been.

Therefore: “So long!” but only for now, and Thanks for all the fish! (If you don’t know the reference, you should probably read the book.)

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Were They Blogging On Cave Walls?

Remember those free AOL disks that used to be everywhere? They came unsolicited in the mail, and it seems like they were packaged with every magazine you bought (remember buying magazines?).

Things have changed a lot in this online world. Today I’m thinking about how ubiquitous blogs are these days, when they really haven’t even been around that long. Before blogs, there were digital online communities (now they seem kind of primitive to me) like the moderated discussion groups at Usenet, GEnie, the early CompuServe, email lists and bulletin boards.

I can remember getting on those boards and lists and thinking the whole thing was so cool, but also pretty limited. Back then, I would have loved knowing where we were headed with this Internet business. Those were the dial-up days. Before that, people drew their messages on cave walls. Leslie Lang, Writer, Ghostwriter, Blogger

I wonder what’s still to come.

Justin Hall is said to have been one of the first bloggers. He started writing online in 1994 while a student at Swarthmore College and he’s still going.

We didn’t even have the rather ungainly word “weblog” until 1997, when Jorn Barger coined the word for web + log.

In 1999, Peter Merholz jokingly turned the word “weblog” into the phrase “we blog” in the sidebar of his, well, blog, and gave us the word “blog.”

Shortly after that, Evan Williams started using “blog” as both a noun and a verb, and he concocted the term “blogger” (he was helping to create the blogging software Blogger at the time).

That’s about when blogging really took off as a result of blogging “tools” coming on the scene. Open Diary started in October 1998 and had thousands of online diaries. That was the first blog community where readers could comment on other writers’ entries.

Also in 1998, the Charlotte Observer live-blogged Hurricane Bonnie, and that’s thought to be the first known instance of a blog on a traditional news site.

LiveJournal started in March 1999. Blogger.com started in August 1999 and brought blogging to the mainstream (Google bought it in February 2003).

Popular American political blogs started appearing in 2001, how-to manuals started appearing for bloggers, and established journalism schools started researching blogging and noting the differences between it and journalism.

Leslie Lang, Writer, Ghostwriter, Blogger
Steve Case, CEO of AOL back then, recently responded to a Quora question about how much money AOL spent in the 1990s sending out all those disks. “A lot,” he said, among other comments. Another Quora reader calculated it at $300 million.

Movable Type, which spawned TypePad, started in September 2001.

Since 2002, blogs have gained increasing notice and coverage for their role in breaking, shaping and spinning news stories.

WordPress started in 2003.

In 2004, blogs have become increasingly mainstream. Political candidates were using them, the Columbia Journalism Review began covering them regularly, and Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary declared “blog” the word of the year.

In 2006, I set up a blog for Richard Ha, and I continue to help edit and write posts. We have blogged close to three times a week ever since – eight years now! – and we’re still going strong.

Since then I also spent a couple years with a business partner running the now-defunct blogs Honolulu On The Cheap and Big Island On The Cheap, blogged here at my own website, and blogged for clients at various sites including at Fodors.com and Ancestry.com (alas, no byline at Ancestry, but I write some of the posts at that link).

This month, I’m participating, along with a lot of other writers, in a 30-day blogathon. I really enjoy blogging. There’s a nice rhythm to posting to the same blog over time, and it’s a comfortable way to bring your message – one that resonates with and is important to you – to your readers. The writing is often a little less formal, while still being professional. Readers can respond to what you post, and sometimes there’s some back and forth. It’s a very satisfying style of communicating.

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I’m at Alltop.com

Look where I landed! 

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Online mogul Guy Kawasaki describes his alltop.com this way:

The purpose of Alltop is to help you answer the question, “What’s happening?” in “all the topics” that interest you. You may wonder how Alltop is different from a search engine. A search engine is good to answer a question like, “How many people live in China?” However, it has a much harder time answering the question, “What’s happening in China?” That’s the kind of question that we answer.

We do this by collecting the headlines of the latest stories from the best sites and blogs that cover a topic. We group these collections — “aggregations” — into individual web pages. Then we display the five most recent headlines of the information sources as well as their first paragraph. Our topics run from adoption to zoology with photographyfoodscience,religioncelebrities and hundreds of other subjects along the way.

It’s really pretty cool. Look up any topic you’re interested in here. You’ll find tons of sites you didn’t know about — guaranteed. And if you look on the Hawai‘i page now, you’ll find me!

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New York Times: News Without Newspapers

An article in tomorrow’s New York Times is titled ‘Hyperlocal’ Web Sites Deliver News Without Newspapers.

If your local newspaper shuts down, what will take the place of its coverage? Perhaps a package of information about your neighborhood, or even your block, assembled by a computer.

A number of Web start-up companies are creating so-called hyperlocal news sites that let people zoom in on what is happening closest to them, often without involving traditional journalists.

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It’s very much like what has sprung up over at FBI blogs, to which I belong. (And when I say “sprung up,” I mean “consciously created by forward-thinking Damon Tucker.”)

The FBI blogs site it not quite as hyperlocal (the article talks about areas as small as a block). By definition (“From Big Island”) we FBI bloggers are from around the whole island.

I think it’s really a terrific idea. I’m not exaggerating in the least when I say that I browse the site everyday and learn all sorts of things that aren’t in the local paper.

From the article:

But many hyperlocal entrepreneurs say they are counting on a proliferation of blogs and small local journalism start-ups to keep providing content.

“In many cities, the local blog scene is so rich and deep that even if a newspaper goes away, there would be still be plenty of stuff for us to publish,” said Mr. Holovaty of EveryBlock.

Sounds familar.

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Macario’s Big Island

Macario is publishing a new online magazine and you should have a look. Wow. It’s eye-popping.

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His photography is always great, and in this new magazine, called Macario’s Big Island, he combines his photos, interviews and commentary to illuminate some of the Big Island’s most interesting people in the world of arts, food, music and more.

He just put up what is only his third post there. It’s a feature on the Waimea architect Clemson Lam, and in a stunning turn of events – I’ve just now been able to get my jaw to shut again – he had 300 hits in the first day of it being up. It’s only his THIRD POST! How did he DO that?

He actually made WorldPress’s “Growing Blogs” List, which is a list of the top WordPress blogs in the world in terms of how fast they are growing in popularity. He came onto the list at 97. Isn’t that amazing? I find that amazing.

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FBI Blogs

This blog is now part of a brand-new network of blogs, all from the Big Island and called FBI Blogs — get it? From Big Island?

It’s the brainchild of prolific blogger Damon Tucker, and a terrific idea. I have to say, I learn more about what’s going on this island over at FBI Blogs than I do anyplace else.

Twenty-something bloggers, all with different interests and access to different information — it’s an incredible resource to learn what’s happening on the Big Island, and also to “meet” some Big Island characters. 

I like being a part of this interesting crowd. Go have a look if you’re interested in Big Island goings-on.

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Honolulu On The Cheap

Here goes: A “soft launch” of my new project!

I’ll bring out the balloons and party streamers later soon, but for now, I’ll just tell you: 

I’ve launched a new website. It’s called Honolulu On The Cheap, and it’s all about cheap, discounted and free things to do in Honolulu and on O‘ahu in general. It will be useful, I think, to both visitors and residents; I keep both groups in mind as I select what to post about.

I’ve just started putting up copy there, and here’s a sampling of what I’ve got up so far:

• A printable coupon for Jamba Juice’s $1 deal on its oatmeal with real fruit and fresh brown sugar crumble (good at any participating Jamba Juice)

• Free kids’ workshops at Home Depot on the first Saturday of every month (they make a project and even get a free, kid sized, orange Home Depot apron to take home)

• Where you can stay in Waikiki for only $79/night (click here for the answer)

• And how to get a free ice cream cone at Baskin Robbins

Other content, including articles, interviews and even downloadable “special reports” having to do with Honolulu On The Cheap, is coming soon.

This site is part of a new, nationwide network on “of the cheap” city websites, and you can see the ones that are live on the left sidebar of my website. More are in the works. Each is independently owned and operated (kind of like a Dunkin’ Donuts) but we are collaborating, sharing and cooperating as a network.

I also just signed up for Twitter. I’ve not been interested in the Twitter phenomenon and never thought I’d say that! However, I can see how it can be useful to promoting my site. If you’d like to follow me, I’m “LeslieLang.” If you do, I promise to spare you news of me brushing my teeth or stopping to fill up the car with gas.

I’d love to hear what you think about honoluluonthecheap.com! And let me know if you hear of anything I might want to feature there.

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Hamakua Springs Blogging Tidbits

One of my favorite jobs is managing the blog Ha Ha Ha! over at Hamakua Springs Country Farms, and this week I got to write a couple posts that I especially enjoying delving into.

The first was about Brudda Skibs, who recently participated in a sustainability festival Hamakua Springs owner Richard Ha helped coordinate. What an incredible person. Skibs and the crew he’s attracted over the years volunteer their time and labor to clean up Big Island lands near the ocean and turn them into beautiful parks. There is so much more to his story than just that, though. He is really making a difference.

Watch the video at that post and you can see right into his heart. 

The other post was on the Pacific Century Fellows, a group of up-and-coming business leaders who visited the Big Island (and Hamakua Springs) as a part of their year-long program. Interesting people, and ones we’ll all be hearing about in the news, I suspect, in years to come.

In the course of researching that post, I learned a couple things that didn’t make it into the story: Such as that, in exploring the issues and challenges in areas as diverse as the criminal justice system, education, agriculture, the military and many others, they started one of their days in a prison block, and on another day were flown out to an aircraft carrier.

The things I learn as a freelance writer! It keeps life interesting.

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The Orwell Blog

I love that someone who’s been dead since 1950 is posting daily to a WordPress blog. 

George Orwell (1903-1950) is not doing the posting himself, of course. It’s his diary entries that are being posted, one day at a time, exactly 70 years after they were written. What a neat idea.

From the blog‘When one reads any strongly individual piece of writing, one has the impression of seeing a face somewhere behind the page’, wrote George Orwell, in his 1939 essay on Charles Dickens.

From 9th August 2008, you will be able to gather your own impression of Orwell’s face from reading his most strongly individual piece of writing: his diaries. The Orwell Prize is delighted to announce that, to mark the 70th anniversary of the diaries, each diary entry will be published on this blog exactly seventy years after it was written, allowing you to follow Orwell’s recuperation in Morocco, his return to the UK, and his opinions on the descent of Europe into war in real time. The diaries end in 1942, three years into the conflict.

Must go reread some Orwell now while I follow along.

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Hamakua Springs: The Blog

One of my jobs these days is to blog for Hamakua Springs Country Farms, a 600-acre, progressive hydroponic farm here on the Big Island.

We started that blog more than two years ago. That’s when the farm’s owner, Richard Ha, hired me to create a website, and then a blog, for Hamakua Springs. My husband Macario, a photographer, did all that website’s photography, and that’s how he and I got to know Richard and June.

The blog is called “Ha Ha Ha!,” which is meant to represent the three generations of the Ha family who farm there. We have some fun with the blog while also tackling some big topics.

Richard and I have posted to his blog three times a week for more than two years now, and it is one of my absolute favorite gigs. He is a gem to work with. He is an amazing person who is using his very successful business not merely to make as much money as possible, but to do good for his community. That sentence may sound trite, but know that I don’t at all write it lightly.

Here is just one recent example. There are many, many others.

It is such a rare pleasure to work with Richard Ha. He is truly a man of character and he radiates ethics in everything he does. I know he doesn’t realize how much I’ve learned from him — about business, about community and relationships, about life. He is one of the best people I have ever met and I am honored to be a part of his trusted team.

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