Week 1: blogs

In this first week we’ll be looking at blogs.

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’.

How did blogging begin?

The term weblog is generally attributed to Jorn Barger and was first used in 1997.  Wikipedia has extensive entry on the history of blogging if you’d like to learn more about where all this started.

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!  And, of course, there are a large number which feature amusing pictures of cats.

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 write your post.  It’s also possible to use blogging software which is installed on your PC, but most bloggers go for the easy hosted option.

In our Learning 2.0 programme we’ll be using WordPress.com (because it’s the software we’re familiar with) other companies providing hosted blogging include Blogger, TypePad and LiveJournal.

Bloggers post, comment, muse and rant about anything and everything.  What blogs have in common is that they still retain the diary format with entries displayed in chronological order with the newest entries first.  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’.

What’s with all the 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.

How do I find people’s blogs?

Finding blogs can be a bit of a challenge but there are many search engines dedicated to just this activity.  Probably the two best known are Technorati and Google Blog Search.

Now you’ve got a bit of background about this technology let’s start blogging!

Go to the blog activity page for your instructions.

Further reading

The world’s 50 most powerful blogs – With some sites receiving thousands of hits a day the influence of the blog is increasing. See what the Observer newspaper considered to be the 50 most powerful.

What’s the Ballyhoo about blogs? – Librarian’s opinions on the pros and cons of blogs and blogging. N.B. This article is hosted by ScienceDirect, so if you’re off campus you’ll need to do the signing in thing.

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 – OK, this is watch and listen rather than read.  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.


One response to “Week 1: blogs

  1. Just to say that I blog at http://www.meanboyfriend.com/overdue_ideas reasonably regularly – including extensive coverage of any events I attend for work.

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