Monday, November 20, 2006

Kiko's House Celebrates Its First Blogday

Although December 1, 2005, was the "official" debut of Kiko's House, there was a soft launch a week or so earlier, which means that this blog celebrates its first birthday today. It will be a low-key observance with crab quesadillas and an avocado salad for dinner and a wee chocolate mousse with a single candle atop it for dessert.

Kiko, who is a brilliant hunter, has disposed of every mouse, shrew and other rodent in the neighborhood and wanted me to pick up a pet shop mouse and bake her a mouse (as opposed to mousse) cake, but I resisted. Dealing with the fur is such a drag! But I will make sure that I set aside some raw crab meat for she and Kimba to nosh on.

I did agree to Kiko's suggestion that she interview me on our first anniversary, and here's a transcript of the tape:

Kiko: Where did you come up with the name for the blog?

Me: Los Lobos released it's marvelous "Kiko" album about the time the Dear Friend & Conscience rescued you as a tiny runt of a kitty of six weeks and brought you home.

A few days after your arrival, I was playing the album and grooving on the great beat when you did something quite amazing -- you shot up the underside of the open staircase in the living room
backwards, then turned around and came down the same way -- all to the beat.

"Let's call you Kiko," I said, and the name stuck.

Kiko: Why did you start Kiko's House?

Me: My muse had been bugging me to write more, and I already had been putting out a limited circulation email newsletter called Web Blatherings. A blog seemed like the logical next step. The DF&C, my son Cassidy and Country Bumpkin, a cousin in New Zealand, all urged me to blog, but I was afraid that it would take over my life.

Kiko: Has it?

Me: Absolutely.

Kiko: Do you have a blogging philosophy?

Me: I didn't initially, although I had a gadzillion life experiences as a journalist, traveler and bibliophile to draw on. Taking that and how crazy the world has become into account, I thought it unlikely that I'd run out of thing to blog about. I was right.

After I got a few months of blogging under my belt, found my blogging voice and
Kiko's House started to attract some attention, I settled on a mix of current events and cultural stuff, with the occasional offbeat obituary, and as much original content as possible.

Kiko: Why original content?

Me: Because I don't want Kiko's House to be just another blog the regurgitates the news of the day.

Kiko: You seem obsessed with the War on Terror and the war in Iraq.

Me: Why shouldn't I be? As I noted in this post, the blogosphere plays an important role in covering the war in ways the mainstream media doesn't.

At Kiko's House, this has included a focus on the kind of conditions that American troops are fighting under, the blurring of the so-called rules of engagement because of their commander and chief's shifting rationales for the war, and the instances when these men-boys snap in places like Haditha and Mahmudiyah.

It also has included efforts to get beyond the numbers, including in-depth posts on the methodology behind a study on Iraqi civilian deaths that provoked such a firestorm after an article appeared in The Lancet, and a big piece on the forgotten victims of the war -- the millions of Iraqi children robbed of their childhoods.

I've also tried to link to some of the many fine Iraqi bloggers whose first-hand accounts are invaluable, and too often horrifying.

Finally, I've tried to stay on top of the Bush administration's efforts to undermine the courts system and civil liberties in the name of fighting the War on Terror. That tends to get lost in the drumbeat of daily news.

Kiko: How do you judge the success of Kiko's House after a year.

Me: Success is a relative concept in the blogosphere. The blog has grown nicely and we've had visitors from over 80 countries, but our numbers are still very small compared to the big boys.

I have wanted to do more original stuff and feel like I haven't. Then I look at this list of my 25 favorite
Kiko's House stories from the past year below this post and about 20 are arguably original, so maybe I'm not doing too badly.

Kiko: How do you plan to grow Kiko's House in the coming year?

Me: Other than word of mouth, I don't. I think of Kiko's House as being like water. It will find its own level. I do hope to wean the blog from Goggle's Blogger blog software, which is unreliable, and get my own Web site.

Kiko: Why doesn't Kiko's House have advertising?

Me: Because it is not popular enough to generate more than beer money in ad revenue. But more importantly, because I would have little control over ad appearance and content, and most blog ads are butt ugly. Kiko's House has a clean, uncluttered look and I want to keep it that way.

Kiko: Is there anything of which you've been particularly disappointed?

Me: Other than not doing enough cultural stuff, I've been a over the top at times. And there have been way too many typos. Every writer needs an editor, and while you're a great mouser, you can't spell any butter tham I cam.

Kiko: Is there anything of which you've been particularly proud?

Me: Our international readership, which on an average day makes up about a third of our visitors, as well as our ties to Iraqi bloggers.

Also, the number of people I've pissed off, who include some flaming conservatives with whom I've eventually found common ground after we get beyond the red vs. blue bullshit.

Finally, not trying to do what too many other blogs do.

Kiko: Such as?

Me: The November 7 mid-term election is a good example.

Many blogs struggled to post lengthy lists of results available in real time on MSM websites and then microanalyzed the results just like the MSM.
Kiko's House looked at the big picture and tried to explain what people should care about -- and what they shouldn't.

Kiko: Are there any posts of which you are particularly proud?

Me: All of them. (Laughter.) Well, I am quite fond of the very first one on a bullying crow that used to hang out at the bird feeder outside the kitchen window over there. And there are a few others that I've taken the liberty of listing below this post.

Kiko: Thanks for talking.

Me: Just a sec. I'd like to thank some people . . .

Kiko: Is this going to take long?

Me: Nah. I'd like to thank fellow bloggers Steve Gandelman, Will Bunch and Dan Rubin, who all have a far greater audience than I do, for their support.

Kiko: Now would you mind taking a break from signing autographs and clean my catbox?

Me: (Red-faced.) Of course, Kiko. Of course.

1 comment:

highwayscribery said...

So that's the name's origin. (Let me know when I can send you a gratuitous kitty shot of Norma, my 17-year old Maine Coon who's been to Spain and back with me).

Good for me as a blooger to read your approach.

Re: More readers. You might consider an extension of your blog to My Space. That system allows you to sift through "friends" of other people, read their profile and invite them to become a friend. My Space has a blog and what I do is just post twice. As your friends network grows, you can post a single bulletin and they are all obligated to accept it. This helps you on days when you have an important post you want to use for juicing your numbers (ain't easy is it?) Also, as a "friend" of others, you maintain a permanent presence that other perusers can click on and check out.

I put up one My Space for my protagonist "Vedette." She picks the music and the blog is in her voice. I review a few profiles every night and it's a no-brainer seperating those who would be interested in the book from those who haven't. I've made good sales from it.

Just an idea. Give it a look