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Colby and Beyond

As I browse through the posts I realize that this is what I would call a classic blog. (Or at least what I thought a blog was when I first heard about them) We have here brief comments about an article and then a link to it. Our author seems to be a very prolific reader and there is no lack of material to draw from to support his political point of view. What commentary he does offer is well written and coherent, but in my opinion, there is not enough of it.


Truth to tell, when I read someone?s blog, my foremost motivation is to find out what the author is thinking about the world. How they see things from their perspective. And the more of that kind of thing there is, the better. When the author takes the time to dig deep and articulate their thoughts, the results can be enlightening. But it is all too easy to spend time taking pot shots or ranting instead. When I read political blogs, (it does not matter the persuasion) I don?t need more slogans and sound bytes. Those are everywhere. Here in the Blogosphere , we actually have the opportunity to persuade. Why not take that opportunity?

I do however give points to this author for a technically well done blog. As I said the writing is clear and the posts well ordered and made interesting by pictures, cartoons and charts. It almost has a magazine-like quality which is not unpleasant.

If I have one design gripe though, it is the incredibly long list of links on the left of the page. I mean sure, give me the link to World Net Daily, not a link to several separate articles on their site! This much volume is overwhelming and tends to make my eyes glaze over. When I want encyclopedic lists on a subject, I?ll go to Google. If you must link, at least give us the cream of the crop.

I am giving this site a 3.5 because I think it is above average in style and presentation. Though it has the potential to be so much more, if we heard more of substance from the author.

Try this

My first impressions of the site were not good. What I now know to be a negative image of Tom?s visage stares back at you looking like something nasty from a B horror movie. I imagined reading the witterings of a sci fi geek or worse the ramblings of a violent thug.

I had been looking forward to reading through the web log after seeing the title, hoping for some wit and self deprecation. Fortunately the title gives a better indication than the picture.


The design is straightforward, simple and effective. The page has black text on white making it easy to read. It has a left side panel which contains the usual archives, about me including a disclaimer and lists of his stuff, most read web logs and an active most recently updated list of web logs. There are a host of adverts too and it was a little busy for my taste. The about me section was great however and an indication that the wit I was hoping for was present. There is some use of pictures and a gallery of pictures is referred to but has now been removed.

Tom?s site has archives back to August 2003 but I sense that this site has been going longer in one form or another. The first post certainly isn?t one of welcome or introduction and there are other hints to this throughout the posts.

The theme of the blog seems to centre on Tom?s life as a working family man trying with some success to bring up his brood. The posts generally report on the tribulations of living a busy life in a busy home. He regales us with stories of his wife, kids, pets, neighbours and his days at work. He is very self aware and honest and his almost 100% daily posting keeps us up to date with life in Illinois. He collects and discards enemies over time and his latest spat with a neighbour and his lawn mowing activities are highly amusing. His vernacular style works well and the posts are enjoyable and easy to read.

There was a letter from a ?fan? decrying his occasional shift into self analysis and references to current issues or interesting asides. I liked this side of the blog and found his wit and style carried over from his reportage well.

The site makes occasional use of links but they open in the same page which is a hassle. They work and on the whole the site is easy to navigate around. There are some pictures and links which do not work further back in the archives however. A space issue perhaps?

There were occasional comments and a couple of regularish commentators. He occasionally asks for reader?s input and on the whole gets it.

On the whole I found this a great read and refreshing. Given more space in overloaded schedule I might become a regular reader.

As Tom suggests stupid is as stupid does. Give him a visit. I might keep coming back and I?d give it a well deserved 4 out of 5. It?s well above average.

Create something

I wasn?t sure what to make of the site when it appeared in front of me. I?m not the world?s greatest judge of colour co-ordination but the colour choices didn?t work for me. The name could have meant almost anything; so no clues as to where we were going. Unusually the post at the top of the page was the first. I learned from this that the web log is real new. Less than a month old.

A quick hop over to the about C-I link revealed the purpose of the site. An opinion?s site on the why?s and where fore?s of US politics. The parties are not spinning effectively enough for Mr Salyer and he wishes to set that straight and he has a right to his valid opinion.

At this point it kinda depends on the guy?s savvy as to whether this was gonna work for me. I?m a politics graduate and have done my time reading half baked politicalese. I wasn?t optimistic.

The design is straightforward. The text used is readable, blue on yellow. It has a left side panel which just didn?t fit in my browser (IE6). There are a bunch of links to blog related sites which seem cool. A links page to ?insightful? stuff, the aforementioned about C-I page and an archives page which as yet does not contain any archived posts but a categorised list of Scott?s articles. Political, environmental and minutia. The majority of this works. A couple of links to Blogdump and Bloghop didn?t producing a file not found error.

Scott has posted fifteen times in his first month and kept to his political agenda for a couple of weeks before veering off into the world of ?cool stuff on the web? and what he calls minutia. Trivia by a different name ? and uninteresting trivia at that. The political and environmental posts tend to end prematurely and link to a fuller post on a separate page. I don?t get the reason for this. It makes reading a hassle. I don?t like that back button. He also links from the posts to his articles or small essays on the political and environmental issue du jour. Like I mentioned the guy?s political ?savvy? was gonna make or break this for me and unfortunately it doesn?t work. His mission to make a better job of presentation proved impossible. His writing has a mixture of straight academia, vernacular, unsupported opinion and sarcasm. He appears to be politically na?ve which is no bad thing, but the site doesn?t do what it says on the tin. It muddles the muddled www.

The site makes a liberal use of links and they open in a new window which I like and all work. The down side was a porn pop up. I don?t need this kind of thing in my life thank you.


Common Insight posseses a simple layout with an appealing close up of an eye with the Earth reflected in it. This is a very new site containing only 15 entries. The author states in the About section that he started writing because of his frustration with shallow bickering in political thought, and wanted to see a deeper discussion take place. He intends to state his opinions and defend them, but remains open to new ideas. Hmmm, an open mind! Sounds interesting. Let’s check it out.


I began to read the entries, starting at the beginning. Imagine my surprise when the title of his first essay turned out to be ‘Why the Gay Marriage Debate is Over’. This did not quite jibe with the stated purpose of his site. But let’s not be too hasty, what else is in here?

Each entry contains numerous links to his essays or pertinent information elsewhere on the net. He admits there might be too many links and I would agree with him there. Topics range from politics to Extinction Level Events, including tsunamis, or whatever else captured his attention that day. When I clicked on a link to read an essay and then used the ‘back’ button, I was taken to more essays. This made it necessary to go back to the opening page and scroll down to the entry I had been reading, making for some frustrating navigation.

Since there are not that many entries and this blog is so new, it is hard to tell how it might evolve over time. If his stated purpose is to engage in intellectual debate, it would seem imperative to include a comment function, so we might join in, and see what other readers are saying. The only thing I found was his email address, which is fine, but one of the points of open debate is that it be…. well, open.

This site is very much like other political blogs. Lots of linkage, convicted opinion and succinct commentary on current events. However I think it fails in it’s stated purpose, which is a give and take of ideas with readers.

I would consider re-visiting this site in a few more months to see how it develops. In my opinion, it is a little too soon to tell. The potential is there, it just needs some tweaking.

Life in the ether

What is life like in the ether? From the opening page it looks to be somewhat plain, but holds a promise of meeting a heroine. No pretty pictures to look at, but lots of words to read and find out what the site is all about. Or you could just read this review and get the skinny on it.

I was interested in most of what the author has to say. She has an up and down relationship with her mother which was brought up in the earlier postings, but seems to be settled down now that she moved from Kansas City to DC. The posts range from figuring out what she wants in life and talking about problems with her mother to trying to quit smoking and finally being able to make a decent pot of coffee. Sometimes there’s links with descriptions of what stuck out to her. It’s a good read, and not a whole lot of rants. However, sometimes the posts are about the average everyday that you can find anywhere.


As I said earlier, the page is kind of plain. It’s all black and white, with very little visual stimulation. The neatness of the site is great. Everything is very well organized.

The about page has lists and lists of things the author is interested in, favorite movies, books, music and general interests. It does say a lot about the author, but I wished there was more on what the author thought of herself or what she thinks is most important about her.

The posts on the site are good, and it’s updated often. The more meaningful posts are great when they come along. It turns out that life in the ether is much like life on earth.