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Wednesday 30 October 2013

Rueful Ruminations on a Humble Nippo P-200 Portable Typewriter

Bitter and twisted? Losing the plot? One can always find solace in a little Nippo P-200 portable typewriter (aka the Argyle) - which, regardless of its unflattering reputation, looks charming and can churn out ruminatory words at a fine old rate of knots:


Joe V said...

As always, I enjoyed this blog entry, some very insightful thoughts. For my own blog, I decided at the very outset, back in 2006, not to count visits or worry about metrics as much as to just enjoy the feedback, however often it comes. Keep up the good work.

Miguel Chávez said...

Robert, I speak for myself, but I think I'm not the only one who thinks this: sure, there might be robots and spiders crawling your blog and indexing it for search engines, that is an inherent feature of any web page, but the reason why you register so many visits every day is, plain and simply, because your blog is so fantastic that many people, yours included, visit it several times a day to read your many interesting and thought-provoking posts. You're a genuine newsman, like Richard Polt said, in that you can take a subject and research it and write it into a very attractive and interesting piece, and that's an ability I know I'll never have.

As for who owns your blog, my personal opinion is that we are in complete liberty to blog about whatever thing we like and whenever we feel like doing it. The moment there's some kind of retribution to your work or that you start being pressed to meet a deadline for your scheduled entries on a predetermined subject, that moment you can be sure that you no longer own the blog. And that will hardly be the case.

Now, regarding search engines and the way they use the information we post on the Net, perhaps we are being a tad too paranoid. The very reason why we post our entries online is because we want them to be read; the typosphere might be growing, but still it is a rather small subset of Internet users. And the way new users have to find our information is by means of using the metadata created by ourselves or by the same robots and spiders that crawl the sites in order to index the huge amount of information available online.

Now, a little mantra I follow and suggest to all my friends: the reason why you blog, the reason why your blog exists, and why it is updated, is just because it makes YOU happy doing it. It doesn't matter how much we, your readers, enjoy your blog; the main, first and foremost user of it it's you, and only you. So, don't feel forced to update, don't feel that you have an obligation to those stats or numbers; your only obligation, with respect to this blog, is with yourself. Blog about the things you like, when you want to do it, and don't worry about the rest.

Three quarters of a million visits is indeed a milestone, and you've worked real hard to achieve it. We are all very happy for you, and also very grateful to you for all the information and all the knowledge you've shared with us. So, if you feel like continuing blogging, rest assured that at least a few of those mysterious visits to your blog will come from Mexico, and yours truly will be responsible for them.

Happy blogging!

Rob Bowker said...

Hi Robert, I understand your concerns. It is easy to be mesmerised by stats - try not to take them too seriously. Despite the best efforts of SEO hawkers, there really is no accounting for traffic. If you were running a business, your stats would be validation of the quality of your input and a hard-won audience. By allowing your site to accept comments, you are actively seeking feedback. You have to take the rough with the smooth, but using captchas as you do will have weeded out the robots at least. Comments are of even higher currency than page views because they represent active engagement with your readership - thus a relationship which, in the commercial world is the platform for a selling opportunity. They are an expression of customer loyalty. If you were 14 with a floppy fringe and vlogged on youtube about stuff, you'd be earning a small crust from ad sales.

Strictly, blog comments aren't spam because you actively encourage reader input. I suppose you just have to weigh the pros and cons. If one outweighs theother significantly, your course is set.

I have always thought that the "correspondence" use of post commentaries is flawed and not really suitable for any kind of sensible discussion. Online forums are much better suited to this but are increasingly going out of favour due to the need for active moderation. In the Typosphere, such a forum might work well. There are a couple of Yahoo groups which constitute forums which you are most likely a member of. Email is pretty good if you decide to turn off comments. Then again, there's always the good old postal service.

To address the ownership of your blog. The soap box upon which you stand (bear with me) is rented from its ower, Google, for the price of your willing presence in front of its advertising hoardings. The utterances made from the soap box are yours, though don't be surprised if someone takes them and uses them for their own use.

The concerns about these issues used to bother me but I decided that I was sufficiently resilient to suffer the consequences without coming to any great harm. I THINK I still contribute content to Typewriter Heaven for the same two reasons as I always have: self-expression and community. If I turn off commentary, I would deny the latter possibility to a great extent. In short, I need an audience - always have.

Sorry for going on a bit.

If you want any tips about reducing your page views, drop me a line, I've been pretty successful in keeping them under 100k :-) I put it down to beer and typecasting. Typecasts dont really show up in search engines, so neither does their content.

Meanwhile, congrats on the big 750000! Just take it with a pinch of salt. It is either stupendously high or crushingly low. It depends on what target page views you set for yourself. If you didn't have any expectations, maybe just removing the counter would help reduce any negative feelings you have about the big numbers.

Anonymous said...

Congratulations on reaching that milestone, Robert. It is a truly rich website and probably draws many readers searching for the non-typewriter history you write about so well.

You ask how Murdoch "can be stopped." I have taken his shilling and enjoyed the work, but I might light-heartedly suggest that his age answers your question.

Rob Bowker said...

PS: what Miguel said too.

Richard P said...

Your conclusion is inspiring!

My paranoid tendencies were enhanced by The Circle. But in my more moderate moments what I'll say is that we need to preserve perspective on the Internet and digital technology -- we need to preserve some distance and keep in touch with alternatives to it. That doesn't mean that we leave it all behind. With the help of our writing machines, we'll take advantage of the digital while keeping it in its place.

Carry on!

Bill M said...

Another one of your great posts. Many good points stated very well.

Congratulations on the pageviews!

I am probably like many visitors. I like your good writing and learning about all the different typewriters. I return often after searching for information on specific typewriters or ones I put on my wish list after reading about them here. Then if I get one I know where I can find a bit of its background.

Sometimes I do not find anything -- like my last Underwood of which I only posted the insignia from the front.

Most of the time though your blog provides insight to specifics of the Typosphere. Other times I find incentive to search out certain typewriters to add to my collection.

And today I should have more time to post on who owns my word, blog, photos and me.

As you, no one can own one's own words, works, or being. As long as I can speak, write, type I can fully express my thoughts, So can we all.

TonysVision said...

Ownership of a product, whether a typewriter model, an individual hand-thrown ceramic cup, or a blog, will always be established through uniqueness and quality. The thoughtful comments inspired by this and all of your posts are proof of both of those characteristics of your blog, and leave no doubt about "ownership".

Richard P said...

By the way, I don't think people who post questions about the value of their "typewrighters" are spammers. They are ignorant, curious, and have run across you as a knowledgeable source. Annoying, perhaps, but probably not malicious.

The spammers are the ones who will post at-best-tangentially-related comments that include links to their commercial sites. Sometimes the links are within the "name" of the spammer. Fortunately I have had very few of these since I prohibited anonymous replies.

Piotr Trumpiel said...

How do you reply to such a post... I needed a quiet moment to digest all you said and I wanted my reply to be unhurried.
Your blog is a joy to me. There are things to learn I would have never found out for myself. About places I'll probably never visit, people both living and long gone who did their tiny bit and vanished into the void. It gives them at least a small amount of recognition as their ways and inventions may have had touched - even indirectly - our own lives. And possibly that knowledge passed through your posts will one day light a spark in somebody else half a world away to do something for a greater good.
It is a credit to your old school ways of journalism. It is a fresh escape from the world of quick news "who killed who and how many of them" (and its variations as you can substitute the word "killed" with so many others that describe the atrocious things people do to each other).
Certainly the amount of work you put into the blog is enormous. I'm always astounded by all the information you're able to find on the subject. Suffice to say I generally open your posts only when I can spare a solid chunk of time for a peaceful reading to enjoy them fully and out of respect for the effort you put in them.

The number of visits - utterly enormous I admit - though most likely scored by people that admire your writing and return regularly to read the new ones, comment on them, read the older ones again (as sometimes you may not even record on your first read all the facts included unless you encounter a bit of history or a typewriter somewhere else and you suddenly realise you read that before). As a newbie to the Typosphere world I feel myself sort of lucky I have many of your older texts yet to read through so you may expect this number to go up.

And for all the "typrighter" messages - as noble as it is of you to try to help many people by sharing your knowledge - they will survive without it sometimes. As with pebbles in your shoe - you don't terminate your journey because of them. You remove them and continue. And they will be forgotten before long.

Thank you again for your work.