Elite Blogger: Rendezvous With Ryan Block

Blogging has earned success in revolutionizing the functionality of the Internet ecosystem. Whilst there were days when search engines like Google and Yahoo use to dominate the homepage but current scenario makes more sense and befits the niche-needs of a person.Engadget, the daddy of technology-driven blogs ruling blogosphere is now seen as the homepage of many geeks’ desktop. No, that’s not a technology bug but a conscious move. And holding the flag high is Ryan Block, editor-in-chief, Engadget who marked fourth anniversary of his stay here this month.

Currently residing in San Francisco, California with Veronica Belmont (his girlfriend) and two cats, Ryan shares that writing for a site like Engadget isn’t as easy as it looks and at the same time it’s even more fun than one would expect.

Technophiles are familiar with Ryan’s voice (remarkable reach of his weekly podcast initiative), bloggers are fond of his coverage of products and events and Media doesn’t take a step back in recognizing and appreciating the efforts he delivers from time-to-time (was honored as one of the Forbes’s 2007 Web Celeb 25) but unfortunately if you aren’t familiar with the he behind Ryan then allow yourself to go through this interesting read about Ryan Block, Engadget, Technology, CES, Blogging & Veronica Belmont.

Introduce yourself to my readers and take us through your usual day at work?

Well, one of the best things about doing what we do is no two days are ever alike. Even after four years there’s nothing monotonous in writing about technology. That isn’t to say it isn’t difficult and a grind — because it is, and we all work really long hours — but there is always something interesting happening in the tech world, and the crew at Engadget is guaranteed to keep it lively. I think I’ve only taken one vacation and called in sick once or twice since I started Engadget — I just can’t stay away.

When did you join AOL (earlier Weblogs Inc.)? Take us through the journey of your entry into the network as a reporter and then becoming current editor-in-chief after taking it from founder Pete Rojas.

I started in June of 2004; Engadget was three months old then. We were acquired by AOL in October of 2005, and I actually became, to the best of my knowledge, one of the (if not THE) first bloggers hired full-time (and with full benefits, etc.) by a major media company. There were lots of bloggers then, and lots of professional writers’ blogging, but I think we were on the first wave to cross the threshold of bloggers as media. Pete and I had always worked really closely on the site, so I think we were both pretty comfortable with my eventually taking the mantle. It’s a little different now, of course, but I’m just as proud of what we’ve accomplished since Pete moved on.

What is the number of hands engaged in delivering 24×7 updates at Engadget? Don’t you think the full-time involvement into blogs is more demanding than a regular 9-hours job?

More than a dozen on the US sites, and dozens for our various translations worldwide. It is absolutely more demanding than most jobs, and the expectation is that as news breaks at any hour of the day; it ought to be up within minutes. Granted, we helped set that expectation over the years, so I’m not exactly complaining.

Tell us about five of your ˜daily-reads’ or favorites blogs?

I’m a big fan of well-run and executed aggregators, so the top of my feeds are sites like Techmeme and BuzzFeed. I also geek out on stuff like Joystiq, Alley Insider, and quirkier stuff like PhotoshopDisasters.

We are impressed with your speedy coverage of CES. Which electronic product from CES 2008 invited your attention the most?

Probably the Optimus Maximus — I got one shortly after CES, it’s unbelievable. Not very practical, but very well done!

And what are your expectations’ from CES 2009?

Lots and lots of products. Very little sleep.

Engadget and Gizmodo are undoubtedly the Wall Street Journal and New York Times of the techblogosphere. Did you ever felt the sense of rivalry with your peers or take it as an alarm that makes you always stand on toes feeding your readers with the latest updates?

I think the supposed rivalry gets played up because people really like that kind of a story, whether or not it’s actually real. There was a time after Peter left Gizmodo where, for a few years, they weren’t really trying to play the game like we were — constant, timely updates; even when they weren’t trying to outdo us, we were pushing ourselves to provide the best possible coverage to our readers. I try not to get too caught up in the specifics though, it doesn’t really benefit anyone. There are a lot of other sites out there, you know?

Can you imagine a day when Gizmodo an Engadget merge to offer a wider platform before technology-driven audience? Isn’t be possibility sensible?

No, I don’t really ever see that happening from a business and ownership standpoint. It probably wouldn’t be good, anyway — the two sites have very different styles and objectives, and any time you take away competition the consumer (in this case, the reader) suffers.

Introduce us to your three gadgetry possessions that you can’t afford to miss while stepping out.
I really only take out my phone (which is an iPhone right now; my last phone was an HTC Hermes) and sometimes my camera (depends on which I’m using at the time). I don’t carry a lot of devices with me if I can help it.

Tell us about your experience co-hosting a weekly podcast. Is podcasting the need of future and can bring revolution?

It was one of my favorite parts of Engadget, but it’s hard to do well without taking a lot of time. I’m looking forward to podcasting again in the future.

Quick bites:

Biggest blogging mistake you did: There have been many! It’s a constant learning experience, and I think I’ve grown a lot personally and professionally in the last few years.

One hidden truth: Writing for a site like Engadget isn’t as easy as it looks — but it’s even more fun than one would expect.

If asked to post only on one blog (not Engadget), which one would that be? Ryanblock.com

Advice you would have given yourself five years ago? Never underestimate the influence of Engadget.

If not a blogger, then I used to be a sysadmin, but that takes an entirely different kind of masochist. Maybe one day I’ll retire into design.

How long could you survive without the internet: As long as I need to, I don’t have a hard time unplugging.

One thing you hate about Engadget: The hours and constant pressure.

Count of professions you have been into: Three.

First gadget you kept your fingers upon: Perhaps the NES.

How would you like to be known as? Technology writer and editor.

If asked for giving three tips to a greenhorn blogger, what would that be?

Start writing, keep writing (even when the initial luster has worn off, even if you’re not collecting droves of readers), and with any luck you’ll hone your skill and catch your break.

They say blogosphere (especially tech-blogs) is a male dominated society. What is your take on this?

I don’t know if I entirely agree with that; yeah, sometimes it seems there are more men in tech than women, but I don’t really feel like the ladies are locked out. It kind of bums me out that there aren’t more active female gadget writers, because we’ve been really lacking that at Engadget for quite some time now.

Is it good to have an individual identity of a blog or run it as a part of a community?

Depends on you, your goals, your subject matter, etc. There’s no one answer.

Whom would you recommend for being featured as my next EliteBlogger?

Veronica Belmont

Veronica Belmont

At the end, I daren’t skip Ryan’s interesting engagement with iPhone’s history as he covered the birth of the Apple iPhone, from the earliest anecdote of its existence in 2004 to what he considers the ultimate review in 2007 and counts it as his small personal triumph. We thank Ryan for such an interesting set of responses and wish him luck to take Engadget to another level of success.
Elite Blogger: Rendezvous With Ryan Block Blogger, Elite Blogger, Interview, Ryan, Ryan Block, Engadget, AOL, Weblog Inc., Consumer Electronics Technology

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