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Blogs and Blogging

January 1, 2010 Leave a comment

Welcome back! The easy bit is over now and you are ready to tackle the First Thing – Blogs.

In order for you to successfully complete this programme – you’ll need to write and record your progress through the programme on your own blog. First – a bit of background information:

What are blogs?

Blog is an abbreviation of ‘weblog‘. As the name suggests ‘weblogs’ are logs or diaries which are online. Each entry written on the blog is called a ‘post’.

The term weblog is generally attributed to Jorn Barger and was first used in 1997. If you would like to find out more check out the Wikipedia extensive entry on the history of blogging

Who blogs and why?

In recent years blogs and blogging have become pretty main-stream and thousands of new blogs are created every day. Most blogs are written by individuals and focus on the events of their daily lives and are usually read by their friends and family – or often by no-one at all! But it would be wrong to dismiss bloggers as a bunch of slightly self-obsessed nerds who want the world to know what they had for breakfast. Now it seems that everyone blogs from politicians and heads of state to celebrities and captains of industry. Even librarians are at it! Blogging is free (or very cheap) to set up and run and this makes it a great way to get information out to a potentially unlimited audience.

How do blogs work?

Most blogs are written using specific software which is often freely available. This usually involves signing up for an account and getting a free blog or blogs. The software provider ‘hosts’ your blog online which is great as you don’t have to worry about any technical issues (usually!), all you have to do is to decide what you want to blog about and write your post.

In this programme, we’ll be using WordPress.com but there are other blog hosting companies such as Blogger, TypePad and LiveJournal.

Bloggers post, comment, muse and rant about anything and everything. Blogs are also searchable so readers can trawl back through the blog archives to find a particular post. ‘Tags‘ are used to categorise the content of posts and these are created by the blogger and can be used for searching. Of course, librarians have used tags for ages – we just call them ’subject headings’.

Jargon, Jargon, Jargon

As with all this new fangled Web 2.0 stuff, the blogosphere has its own jargon of pings, trackbacks, memes and, well, blogosphere. This useful glossary will have you talking like a true blogger in no time. However I promise that I’ll try to speak in a language we all understand until the end of the 23 Things programme!

Further Information:

Take some time to read these useful resources:

The world’s 100 most popular blogs – With some sites receiving thousands of hits a day the influence of the blog is increasing. See what Technorati have to say about the worlds most popular blogs.

Blogs can be very subject specific – Here is the Times List of the 50 best food blogs.

The ethical blogger by Karen Schneider – How careful do librarian bloggers have to be about ethics and professional standards?

Blogs in plain English from the Common Craft Show Common Craft produce great little films on a variety of Web 2.0 technologies. This 3 minute film tells you all you need to know about blogs.

Finally A word from the host organisation that you will be using to launch your own blog – WordPress. Introduction to Blogging

Categories: Week 2 Tags: , , , ,

#1- Setting up your personal Blog

January 1, 2010 Leave a comment

 

Now you’ve got a bit of background about blogging – its time to start your very own blog.

Below are some activities to get you using and exploring this technology. Have a go, but if you get stuck remember you can either ask a colleague or you can email me at fliss.clooney@devon.gov.uk  and I’ll try to help.

Activity 1– Sign up to Start your blog!

Follow these simple steps to create your own blog.

  • Go to WordPress.com, click on the ‘Sign up now!’ button.
  • Enter your username, password and email address (you can use either your DCC email or your personal email account)
  • Tick the Terms of Service box. You can read the ‘terms of service’ by right clicking on the link and opening the page in a new tab. You must check the box to confirm you’ve read these before continuing
  • Click the “Gimme a blog” box and click continue.
  • Edit your domain name if you want to. Your blog address will be http://yourdomainname.wordpress.com so choose carefully!  If you want to remain relatively anonymous do not use your own name for this!!
  • Edit your blog title if necessary. This will appear at the top of your blog page – choose carefully , but you can always change it later on so don’t spend too long thinking about it!  Same advice as above if you want to reamin realtively anonymous!  I shall be adding your blog title  to the main 23 Things blog when you have set up your blog.
  • Choose your language – N.B. English would be easier for me!
  • Decide which privacy option you prefer – if you want your blog to remain relatively private then uncheck the box.
  • Click the ‘Sign up’ button
  • Check your email account for your WordPress activation email
  • Click the link given in the email and you’re off!
  • Congratulations!
    You’ve created your blog!

Activity 2:

Email your blog details to me

Just send these details:

Your name

Your blog address: that will be the one that looks like this – http://yourdomainname.wordpress.com

You will not receive an email confirmation. After about a week, your blog will appear on this page. Your real name and library affiliation will NOT be included. If you don’t see your blog’s name after about a week, please send another email. I promise I’ll get round to it in time!!

A note about privacy and responsibility
Remember that your blog is public, so anyone might be reading it. For this reason, it is recommended that you use caution in what you post on your blog. Don’t post anything you wouldn’t want to be revealed to the world. In fact, this same caution holds as you start to explore other Web 2.0 tools. Additionally, you may also want to avoid using your real name or library affiliation on your blog.

Activity 3:

 – Write your first post

You will see a page with your blog title – and a blog entry that says something like “Hello World” – this page gives the option of editing this post. This is what you should do now. Delete the Hello World message and add one of your own. How do you do that?  Follow the instructions below….

First,  you will see a screen where you can edit the post or delete it.  Now is your chance to have a look around the site and to type your very first blog post.  Maybe you can take this opportunity to say hello to your fellow 23 Things participants.

Be sure to give your post a title. If you want to see what it looks like – click Preview. You can change this draft post as many times as you like until you are happy with the way it looks. When you’re ready , click on “Publish.”

Congratulations on writing your first blog post! Now, you can see what your blog looks like to visitors. Just click on “View Blog.”

Each fortnight you will be expected to post an entry on your blog. This will be the way to record your progress on the programme but it also the way that you will set the tone for your own personal blog.  Eventually this blog could be about anything that you are particularly interested in.  You may have a hobby or an interest that you would like to explore further.  You may have had an idea for extending your library services through an information blog – or you may just want to use your blog as an online journal.  Several libraries have started their own blogs to keep customers and staff up to date with news, events, photos etc.  The only limit is your imagination!

However – initially the blog will be a way of recording your own journey through the 23 Things programme – so one of your first posts could be about blogs and blogging and maybe what you think of the 23 Things programme so far.

Activity 4: – Explore templates and widgets

There is a lot more that you can do to make your blog more personal. There are many options that you may want to experiment with over the next couple of weeks. You can change the way your blog looks, you can add different widgets, you can change how posts are displayed etc etc. So now is the time to play around – here are a couple of options you may want to try out:

Changing the look of your blog through templates

  • Click on the ‘Design’ tab in your dashboard and select ‘Themes’
  • Click on the template to preview how your blog would look
  • If you don’t like it, click the X in the top left corner
  • If you do like it click ‘Activate’ in the top right corner and you’ve got a new template.

Explore widgets

A Widget is a fancy word for a variety of tools or content that you can add, arrange, and remove from the sidebars of your blog. Widgets make it easy to customize the content of your blog sidebar – the part of your blog to the left, right or sometimes top or bottom of your main content. For example you can add a calendar, or a list of your most popular posts.

Note:  Some “Themes” that you may have chosen above do not support the use of widgets. So if you can’t see a Widget option and you desperately want to add a calendar then you will need to choose a new theme for your blog!

To find out more about your blog and the different options you have for customising it then follow this link to WordPress. It will take you to a very comprehensive guide: First steps to Blogging

If you really want more in depth information about how to customise your blog – or, if you get really stuck and don’t have a clue what you are doing then here is a link to the Help section in WordPress. Help Section A word of caution to beginners – some of this information is very “techy”!!

So – here we are – you have completed the first “Thing”.  Congratulations.

Enjoy playing around with the look and the style of your blog – experiment, make mistakes but, above all, enjoy! In the next part of the programme we are going to be looking at using images, uploading photos , sharing them on Flickr and playing with online image generators.

See you in a couple of weeks 🙂

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