Elite Blogger: Rendezevous with R.J.J. Jongschaap

R.J.J. Jongschaap, not a veteran blogger but an active contributor to the development of blogosphere is our elite guest today. You may have known him as a top stumbler and here I suggest you to bookmark his frequently updated blogs LinkNotes and ClipsToNote, as they are populated with quality sources posting the buzz across science, technology, design, environment and others.

Rob chooses not-to-be called as a writer or a retired associate professor but says: “I’m a collector, explorer and an envoy. I like to collect information, explore things and explain them to others. Earlier I did that in science; now in blogging and social networking.”

Go with the flow to know more about this would-be seasoned blogger.

• Rob, Kindly introduce yourself to my readers and take us through your usual day at work.
I am one of the privileged who can spend most of the time doing things they like most. In my case that includes exploring the internet. Actually collecting online information has always been a part of my work and after my retirement I continued focusing on news and more general topics. Also, I have ventured into blogging and actively participate across social networks.

Being retired I could hardly speak now of a usual day at work, but let me outline what I’m doing in the context of blogging. Actually it is a never ending cycle of collecting, networking, writing and editing. I usually start my day by checking out messages, and scanning the feeds of many blogs and news sites. When I find interesting stories I bookmark them, for use in future blog posts and if they are really remarkable I submit them to social networks, currently in particular StumbleUpon and Twitter. Later I select a few topics and start writing posts for my blogs. In the evening, my focus again shifts to networking.

• To what extent blogs has become an integral important part of the way people now access information?

Long before I started blogging I used the internet, including weblogs, already as an important source of information. Obvious advantages of blogs are the timeliness, the wide diversity and huge amount of available content. A drawback of course is not everything is of the same quality and reliability, but the current excellent search and aggregation tools very well compensate for that.

• Having spent good years in the Department of Applied Physics of the University of Twente in The Netherlands, what made you venture into blogging as after retirement you could have pursued similar interest.

My switch from science to blogging has been a gradual process. After my retirement I first continued some scientific work. The content of that work was completely different from that of my current blogging, but the process was more or less the same: collecting information, working on it, networking and publishing. Gradually I ceased with professional scientific studies, focused more and more on subjects of general interest and started publishing in the form of blogging.

• What remains the criterion of posts over LinkNotes and ClipsToNote. How are these two different from each other?

The first one, my blog LinkNotes is the one I started with, the second one ClipsToNote, with mainly shorter posts, came later. A common characteristic of both is a focus on items that are remarkable, surprising and sometimes even bizarre or funny. The subjects are often related to science and technology, but also on design, environment, and more. My writings here are always objective and doesn’t depict my personal view point on a subject. I like to select, collect and share information but not my opinion.

Both blogs have posts of a special format: a collection of clips of other sources. Initially, when I started LinkNotes the clips were tiny and the post just annotated links. At that time the blog was essentially a collection of bookmarks. Later by increasing the size of the clips, the posts became a bit longer and also worth reading on their own. This, however, raised the dilemma of how to obtain more or less self contained posts without copying too much original content. The solution I found was: clipping from various sources. My posts are no longer based on a single link, but on various links about a particular item. The major values add I consider here is the concise introduction and overview.

Actually I also have a third blog, of the format I started LinkNotes: annotated links of interesting sites: my pages on stumbleupon. Here my emphasis remains maintaining an interesting blog, thereby enjoying the added value of the networking features of that site. Using StumbleUpon is currently a substantial part of my online blogging and networking activity.

• Is your blog making enough money or you are engaged in other work-related activities as well?

When I started blogging I thought that making money would be an easy side product of the activity. Soon however I learned that such is not the case. I have tried out a few things, but with no success, probably I am not doing it in right manner. You may see couple of ads running but the profit is marginal. Fortunately blogging is for me a hobby and not a source of income.

• With the development of green houses, automobile and gadgets, do you think technology is really going green or it is a sheer PR exercise?

Both I think. Fortunately more and more people are aware of the need to take care of environment and our natural resources. The interest in developing green houses, automobile and gadgets is a logical consequence of that attitude. On the other hand, given that it is popular, also makes it a perfect marketing strategy: call your product Green and it will sell. It is clear that environmental concerns are often misused in this manner. This, however, is one of the few cases where misuse does not do much harm. Even if the involved products are not green at all, the marketing campaign can still be considered as a contribution to environmental awareness.

• How would you define an ideal blog? Which one is your ideal blog at blogosphere?

Just like there is no such thing as ideal music or ideal art, I don’t think that there is something like an ideal blog. A blog can be realized in many different manners ranging from daily reports of someones hobby to periodical scientific essays. In all cases when this is done with dedication and care it is OK. Moreover there is a highly competitive market of blogs where what will survive and become popular finally is determined by the acceptance of the visitors.

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

Initially, I indeed had a few favorite blogs, which were my daily-reads, but also because they were Dutch, it would not be very useful to mention them now. What I would like to emphasize, however, is that currently I have no favorite blogs at all. In my feed reader I am subscribed to more than 700 blogs and other media which I follow with no particular preference. Some sources that I use often (not all of them are blogs) are:

Mail Online Science & Tech

Science Daily Computers & Math

TFOT-The future of things

Science Daily

Trends Updates

• Provide us with your five favorite posts you have written to date.

My blog Linknotes already contains more that 4000 posts and ClipsToNote about 1000. All of them are a kind of snapshots and I can hardly say which are my favorites. What is remarkable however that a few remains consistently popular. Strange enough for LinkNotes these are not the elaborate ones but rather some simple small bookmark-like posts like

LinkNotes: Earth and Jupiter viewed from Mars

LinkNotes: Headache Illusion

LinkNotes: Project Free TV

Strange enough, some of the most popular posts in ClipsToNote are a bit longer, e.g.:

ClipsToNote: Alain Robert—French Skyscraper Climber

ClipsToNote: Sneakey Teleduplicationof keys from Photos

• Name your favorite bloggers (if any) that have won your heart whilst your 3-years of stay at blogosphere. What makes them different from the myriad of bloggers?

Before I started blogging myself, I indeed had a few – most Dutch – bloggers whose blogs I read with great admiration almost every day. Currently, I have no blogs which I read daily and even no favorite bloggers. As I said, I follow a lot of blogs and other media in feeds and in social media without focusing upon any of them in particular.

In general I would say that what makes a blogger different from the myriad is the ability to express complex thoughts or opinions on a clear and concise manner. Online readers do not want to read long stories; they want to be informed quick and clearly. A blogger should attempt to meet that need as much as possible.

• How would you like to be called as:
a) Blogger b) Retired associate professor c) Writer d)Social media person

None of them I would say: I still see myself a starting blogger who still has a lot to learn. Being professionally no longer involved with scientific research, it would not be appropriate to call me a retired associate professor. My blogging style is clipping, rather than writing, so I would definitely not call myself a writer and despite I’m often using social media, I would not like to be seen as a social media person. Let’s say that I’m a collector, explorer and an envoy. I like to collect information, explore things and explain them to others. Earlier I did that in science; now in blogging and social networking.

• Quick bites:

Biggest mistake you did:
Having starting blogging without any experience, I have made many mistakes. For example in social networking: initially I use to share all my exclusive and latest posts (hardly any other links) with Stumble upon friends, leading to suspension of my account there. Currently I’m doing the opposite: I use Stumble Upon as a social network, sharing many interesting links without any promotion at all.

One hidden truth:
Favorite items for me to blog about are gadgets and design. I must confess, however that I seldom buy gadgets and that in my home you will find almost no interesting design. In that sense I am – like in my former scientific work – a theorist.

If asked to post only on one blog (not yours) which one would that be?
That should be one with short posts and remarkable news on gadgets, design, science, technology etc. maybe the present Elite Choice.

Advice you would have given yourself five years ago?
When I would start blogging again I would – instead of trial and error - have chosen for more systematic approach, with a well defined goals, subjects and categories, a better webdesign etc.
If you wouldn’t have gone to school of Applied Physics, then

I would definitely have chosen something in science and technology. When I started my career there was hardly any school of learning offering computer and information science and technology. Maybe I would have chosen that if I got a chance.

How long could you survive without the internet:
One, maybe two days :-)

One thing you hate about Social networks:

Hate is not the right word, but a quandary is that when you enjoy it and use it more intensively, it soon starts taking a lots of time.

Count of professions you have been into:
That’s not very exciting in my case. After finishing my studies I started my career in teaching and research on University and I stayed there for more than thirty years.

If asked for giving three tips to a greenhorn blogger, what would that be?
1. As state above: take some time for a careful preparation: goals, subject(s), categories, layout, etc.
2. Try to make your blog a bit unconventional (I did it by choosing the clips-format)
3. Be consistent: a fixed post frequency, length of the posts, style of writing,

• Your favorites:

I am very happy with my own city: Enschede in The Netherlands, but of all cities I have seen in the world, in particular New York impressed me very much

No pop and other kinds of contemporary music, but old Jazz: Duke Ellington, Count Basie, … and Classical musid: Beethoven, Chopin, Schubert, …

I read a lot, but almost all online. The last time I really read a book is many years ago. I also have no favorite.

My favorite gadget is my Nokia E71 smartphone.

I like movies with much excitement and fun, the James Bond movies are among my favorites.

Color: Green

• You are visible across all social media sites. Which one is your favorite and also name the one you dislike the most and why?

That I am visible on many social media sites does not mean that I am using them all. I tried out a lot but i am currently using just a few. Initially I used sites like Propeller, Mixx, Digg, Reddit etc. to promote my blogs, but I noted that doing this effectively takes a lot of time. Finally I stopped completely with that part of social networking.

What remains, is a very intensive use of StumbleUpon. As mentioned above, initially I used that for promotion too, but now I just enjoy daily the contacts with many friends. My effort to collect and maintain good content there has given me there the status of Top Stumbler for a long time already.
• Whom would you recommend for being featured as my next EliteBlogger and why?

I would like to recommend, one of my online friends, who often has been of great help to me with valuable advice about blogging: Mihaela Lica, an excellent blogger, online public relations media consultant and founder of Pamil Visions.

• Give us your views on EliteChoice.
The nice thing of EliteChoice for me is that is covers a lot of my fields of interest: trends, technology, design, and more, in a style that I like: short and clear articles. Moreover it is of interest to me as an example of a blog that performs excellent in certain aspects where for me improvement is needed: a professional approach, a nice layout and very well organized.

• Your turn! You can ask me one question.
Let me first thank you for inviting me for this interview. At first I thought that what I could tell here would be of not much interest, but after going through it I am glad that you gave me a chance. It was really nice to become aware in this manner of my motivations and goals in blogging.

What I would like to ask you is: having obtained so much insight about blogging and bloggers with these interviews, if and how you are going to share this insight with us.

Rob, I tend to learn from people achievements and failures, besides my own- :) And here having interviewed 30 plus famed bloggers, we implement that set of learning to our writings and the way we present them over our blog. Also, it has widened our approach towards discovering prospective feeds and generating visibility for co-bloggers and our savvy readers. Through this series, I have managed to reach all famed bloggers and take pride in having an affirmative response from all of them to participate in this series. What I really like is the transparency maintained by each of my elite blogger that ends up offering various solutions/options to our dilemmas.

I would like to thank Rob for sparing our time and penning down details to questions asked by our curious readers and colleagues. Rob, we wish you luck for your future endeavors in online and offline space.

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