Archive for the ‘Technology’ Category

Lifehacker

Vitals

Lifehacker

URL: http://www.lifehacker.com (Australian version here)

Affiliations: Part of the Gawker Media network
Launched: January 2005
Author(s): Various, listed on masthead
Google Links: 78,000
Technorati Rating: 16,800 / 6th most popular blog
Run On: Not identified, probably proprietary

Lifehacker is a bookmarked favorite for cubicle dwellers with geeky tendencies everywhere. Every day, over a dozen new posts are made on simplifying life using technology. Lifehacker lives up to its motto to “Don’t live to geek; geek to live.” The idea that you can “hack” life, much in the way a coder may introduce a “hack” to solve a problem in a computer script has its appeal, and the traffic Lifehacker generates proves it. Although Lifehacker’s posts tend to be about open-source software or free or cheap ways to get things done, it is a commercial blog.

Much like other blogs found on the Gawker Media network, totaling 14, Lifehacker fills a niche that has a loyal and dedicated following. The parent company, according to estimates by an article in New York magazine, is that Gawker may be breaking the $2 million dollar mark, thanks to lower operating costs and credibility with advertisers. Lifehacker has gained credibility through its longevity as well as the previous expertise the editors and authors bring to the blog.

The blog is designed to give lots of different options to advertisers on where they could advertise on the page (between posts or skyscraper ads, for example). Much of the material for posts is sourced from other blogs or online publications, and like any courteous blog, Lifehacker gives a prominent link to these websites. Their tone is genial and colloquial, and break complicated geek-talk down into simple steps so that the material is accessible even to the biggest Luddite. Lifehacker also frequently creates top-ten lists and recommends certain products or services. However, they have a strict rule that they never recommend a product or service that they haven’t tested themselves.

Lifehacker also encourages user interaction through a comments feature and an email address for visitors to send tips to, and then Lifehacker often uses these comments and leads to generate more content. This cycle of feedback helps Lifehacker retain and gain more users.

Lifehacker makes it simple for a user to educate herself and expand her technical know-how, and that it a winning formula when the advertising becomes secondary to the useful content the blog’s editors and author generate. That’s how blogging should be.

Flying Spaghetti Monster

Vitals

FSM BigURL: http://www.venganza.org/
Affiliations: n/a
Launched: August 2005
Author(s): Various, run by Bobby Henderson
Google Links: 4,500
Technorati Rating: 1,679 / 996th most popular blog
Run On: WordPress

The Flying Spaghetti Monster is the god in a parody religion created by physics students Bobby Henderson in 2005. Infuriated by the Kansas State Board of Education, which was seriously considering instating the mandatory teaching of “intelligent design” theory in science classrooms, Bobby Henderson sent a letter explaining that if they wanted to have ID taught, they should have Flying Spaghetti Monsterism taught too, as it was just a valid of a theory of how life began. (To learn more about the tenets of FSMism, click here.)

What began as a joke fueled by anger in 2005 snowballed into something bigger online, as more blogs began to link to Verganza.org and pick up the story. Soon, more people began to visit and call themselves Pastafarian. A quick search on Facebook reveals that thousands of people have listed “Pastafarian” as their religious orientation. Today, the FSM blog keeps abreast of the latest science and creationist-related news, written in an irreverent tone. News in the FSM community, particularly the plight of Pastafarians standing up for their religion, is also highlighted.

FSMHowever, there is more than just a blog here. There are discussion forums and live chat, and a range of other pages about the FSM. However, the blog represents the public face of FSM, which has gained a cult-like following among students in particular.

The stakes in this debate between the role of religion in school classrooms in the United States are high to the educators, non-Christians, and others concerned with the erosion of the separation of church and state in the US. Naturally, the creationist/intelligent design groups also feel that their children’s faith is threatened by the lack of consideration of a more fantastical explanation for the beginnings of life. But Verganaza.org tackles this religious versus secular debate in a completely novel manner that manages to appease the science-minded who have a sense of humor and completely knock the traditional creationists off their rockers.

The beauty of this website is how it continually evolved from just a blog to a full-fledged community where the words of others, such as in the hate mail they publish, or the last issue of National Geographic, build a tongue-in-cheek case for worshipping spaghetti.