Sunday, July 16, 2006

Twists and turns of blogging part 1

Played Twister in the sunshine at a park today. Not relevant to my topic, except to give the title and images for the next two posts. Part two is "Why write another post about blogging?". This one is...

My boss asked me to look at blogging and similar tools and how we could use them in our academic library. I was on the reference desk during a public holiday and thought I'd polish off a report in a couple of shifts. That was 3 months ago. I'm now one month into facillitating a two month project for libray staff where we use new technologies- like blogs, RSS and wikis to assess whether they are useful to us. It's called MULTA (My University Library Thinking Aloud).

This week we do blogs. Participants already have blogs within the site. (Its a TikiWiki installation, so they are a bit ''toy" ,but adequate for the project ). I've written a wiki page giving the basics of blogs, which probably anyone who could research could fake. the past three months, I've learned a few things that you couldn't fake without hanging out in the biblioblogosphere:

1. Comments are a huge part of the blogosphere.

A hidden iceberg this one, but a delightful one. Posts make up the starting points and the catalysts, but the comments are where you'll find the good goss. And where you'll make the connections and networks to link your blog posts to others. I know I click through to the blog of everyone who leaves a comment here.

2. Quoting other blogs is not stealing, but creating community.
I hope I'm right on this one. I was worried when I first started quoting and linking to others' blog posts. I thought that it meant that I was being unoriginal and not using my own thoughts and voice. Now I'm beginning to think that it's another way of creating community. One of my posts was mentioned in another blog, then re-quoted by another blogger. I was so flattered, and interested in where they would go with what I started.

3. Be very careful when you talk about blogging to non-bloggers.
Do not presume that non-bloggers know about what type of things are blogged, and how informal and celebratory this can be. Say, for example, you told a non-blogger that you and a bunch of other passionate soccer fans were blogging the world cup. Don't presume that they'd understand that you weren't part of FIFA or speaking on their behalf. You may need to spell it out.

4. Remember the aggregators when you design your template.
Many of your casual readers can become regular readers if you add a feed from your blog. If you do want this, go to a site like feedburner and create a feed, or find out how to add a feed to your template directly.

If the point of your blogging is to get as many clicks as possible, you might was to try these tips from blogger about promoting your blog. Or take a reality check about why you blog in the first place.

5. Remember the aggregators when you design your content.
My last post had an embedded video. Looks great on my blog here at blogger. Does it show up on my PDA ..Naaah. Does it show up on my bloglines feed?...Naaah. Don't presume that your posts will be read at your blog site and add links accordingly.

Now when I get my act together, I should revamp my Flickr account and store the image from this post there. Then I can add the link to my post.

6. Remember the aggregators and searchbots when you think noone's watching.
My groovy stats meter shows me what link brought people to my blog. Who would have thought that a google search on "hot water bottles" or "library sleepover Illinois 2006" would land a reader here...but they did. You can't predict who will get here and how..but they will come.

7. Does it fill a gap for you ?
Recently some participants in MULTA have been discussing what makes something blogworthy. I guess I'm writing the posts that I would like to read, rather than those I think other people want to read. A big difference, but one that I think gives a better voice to my posts, and is more likely to link me to oher people like me. I don't much care for basenjis, so I don't blog about them..but I'm sure some people would like to read about them..they'll just do it on someone else's blog. Me, I'm sticking with my Cornish Rexes.

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