I remember the early days (1994 or thereabouts for me, at least) of Internet search and search engines. In fact, according to a History of Search Engines, when Lycos first went public in 1994, its index had something like only 54,000 total documents. In those days, when someone posted a "how to" guide it became prominent and likely was pretty intelligent, too.
I contrast that now to a recent task I set for myself: Find the "best" listing of "how to" guides for setting up a purposeful, content-driven blog. In other words, find the best analogs to the guide I am preparing myself on my experience in entering the blogasphere (alternative spelling: blogosphere).
I can first report that the number of such items has increased greatly from the days of the early Internet — we’re now dealing in thousands or tens or thousands of postings, not simply a handful. Second, I can report most all is dross and self-serving. I guess we all know what the astrological symbol looks like representing the Age of Aquarius; I wonder what the symbols for the Age of Spam or the Age of Hype should look like?
These issues are emblematic of some broader problems. Namely, when everything is online, when everyone is a publisher, when many can figure out how to jimmy the system, how can one efficiently find and distill the best? Hmmm. This is not so easy ….
I pride myself on being a "1%"-er in terms of search and information discovery. Indeed, for many years I can proudly say my search tutorials were often deemed the best on the Web, or at least very good. Sure, I continue to learn techniques and elsewhere on this blog I frequently sum them up or re-cap them. But my experience in trying to find the definitive "how to" guides for professional, content-oriented blogs makes me feel pretty humble.
I’ve tried many of my tricks to find definitive blogging guides (with Yahoo search counts shown for each):
Despite these tricks, and some others not enumerated, I was singly unable to find a "high yield" set of search results pointing me to what I wanted. Granted, each search, esp. the refined ones, surfaced some possible gems or OK results, but the general yield was poor.
Why is this?
Well, certainly, one reason is the growth of blogging. Having more blogs online means much larger numbers of postings and more difficulty in finding the gems. Another reason is that the sheer growth and popularity of blogs attracts those interested in making money. For example, Build a Better Blog System is a pretty comprehensive guide but its insights come at a price ($49). Other sites use "how to" come ons for drawing visitors into their marketing, advertising or PR services. Finally, still another reason is that some of the better guides are specific to a specific hosted service such as Blogger or specific blogging software such as WordPress or Movable Type.
Nonethless, these investigations did produce a few additional guide references:
I welcome additional suggestions for worthwhile guides.