Connecticut’s 23 Things

A Learning 2.0 Program

Week 2: Blogs

Posted by kabery on December 6, 2009

What is a blog?

A blog is a website with regular entries of commentary, discussion of events or other material such as graphics and video. It is usually maintained by an individual (or organization) and blog entries are commonly displayed in reverse chronological order.  (Thanks to Wikipedia)

Enjoy watching Blogs in Plain English, a Commoncraft production on YouTube


Why are blogs important for libraries?

  • Provide up to date information on events
  • Low cost/no cost way to promote library programs
  • Blogs can be updated quickly
  • Good way for staff to keep up with professional news

WebJunction has an interesting posting on Blogs in Libraries that describes the benefits of blogs.


What are some examples of blogs?

You’ll notice blogs everywhere. Since blogs are websites, you may not even realize that the site you’ve been visiting all along is a blog. Explore these blogs to get an idea:

kidlit

ALA Tech Source Blog
Connecticut Judicial Law Librarians’ Newslog

1000s of library blogs & the biblioblogosphere are monitored at http://www.daveyp.com/hotstuff/

See how Connecticut libraries are using blogs.


Blogging Software

What distinguishes a blog from a regular website? Actually, not much. A blog is a website, but unlike a more “traditional” site – it is published using blogging software (e.g., Blogger, WordPress, Movable Type, TypePad, or LiveJournal).

Blogging software makes it painless for authors to publish content to the web. Blogs don’t require authors to know html or to have special web editing programs (e.g., Dreamweaver or FrontPage) installed on their computers. To publish to a blog, you only need a web browser. In fact, you can publish blog entries from any web-enabled device, including smart phones — all you need is a connection to the internet and a browser capable of interactivity.

If your library runs a website and a blog, it’s possible that your blog “lives” on a third-party’s server, such as those run by WordPress or Blogger. Alternatively, the server your library uses to host its main website could also be used to run blogging software (e.g, the WordPress open source package – see WordPress.org).

The News from CSL, for example, currently lives on WordPress.com, though the latest entries appear in the home and news pages of the cslib.org site.

No matter where your library’s blog lives, the nature of the web makes it easy for your website and blog to be linked and/or combined. The technology that makes such combinations possible is the RSS feed that is automatically generated by blogging software. For more information on RSS, fast forward to week #5.

In some cases, the blog itself can be an organization’s entire website. Blogging software, such as WordPress, can double as the organization’s web “content management system”. Full web content management systems usually include their own blog modules.


Are blogs indexed anywhere?

Try one of these sites to find a blog / blog entries on topics of interest to you:


Learning Activities

Now it’s time to create your own blog.

Now that you’ve done some exploring around blogs, it’s time to set up your own.  We’ll use our blogs to record and share our discoveries and experiences as we work through the Connecticut’s 23 Things activities. For this program, we’ll use Blogger, a popular free online blog hosting service that is extremely easy to use.

FIRST

  1. Go to 
  2. Create an account, be sure to save your login and password, and the name you give your blog
  3. Name your blog
  4. Select your template

Once you’ve created your blog here are two important things to know:

To add posts: The maintenance interface that you will use to add posts, edit or change the set-up of your blog is accessed online at http://www.blogger.com. Be sure to write down your login and password.

To view your blog: Your blog address is http://(xxxx).blogspot.com, (xxxx)=the unique identifier you entered in Step 2. Be sure to also write down your blog address.

If you run into problems or would like more information about blogs and using Blogger use the Quick Tutorial

NEXT

Post some observations about what you’ve learned so far to your blog. For instance which fun blogs you found, other ways your library might use blogs.   Each of your posts should provide insights into what you have discovered and learned. Share what has worked…and what didn’t…what suprised you….what frustrated you…and what amazed you.

PLEASE NOTE: You will be creating a post for each of the “Learning Activities”.  Please label each blog entry by titling each post with the week number and activity to which it refers. For example: Week 2: Blogs , Week 3: Wikis, etc. 

FINALLY: Register your blog and JOIN THE PARTY!! Send an email with the URL of your blog (http://xxx.blogspot.com) and “Connecticut’s 23 Things” in the subject line to Kris: kabery@cslib.org . Once registered, it may take up to 24 hours for your blog name to appear on “Participants” page.

If you do not want your blog to appear on the “Participants” page, that’s ok! Include the phrase “PRIVATE BLOG” in your registration message. Only the program administrators will view it, and it will not be shown on this page.

**Use of Blogger is only a recommendation. If there is another blog hosting site that you are more comfortable with, please feel free to use it.**


Are there any guidelines or rules for blog posts?

While there are no rules per se, these are a few things to keep in mind as you blog your progress:

  • Privacy? There is none! Everyone can read your blog. This is the nature of blogs in general. Remember, you can remain anonymous by choosing a generic name for the blog and hide your user profile if you wish.
  • Keep in mind the type of posts you make and use discretion in mentioning names/places.
  • Copyright issues and intellectual content also apply to blogs.
  • Photo posting – When posting identifiable photos of other people (especially minors) it is advisable to get the person’s permission before posting their photo in a publicly available place like Flickr. Never upload pictures that weren’t taken by you (unless you have the photographer’s consent) and always give credit when you include photos taken by someone else in your blog.
  • Respect your colleagues’ thoughts and comments, but feel free to disagree. That’s how discussions ensue and change happens!

What do I blog about? And how do I write effective blog entries?

Maybe you’re wondering what the key to a good blog entry is.

Take a look at the following resources for guidance:


Did you know?

  • that a blog is sometimes seen as a replacement for the traditional library newsletter? (for Internet Explorer users, you may be interested in this OPAL presentation on “A 21-st century printing press: blogs as a publishing mechanism”)
  • that the addition of blogs to your web presence can enhance the search engine ranking for your library’s main website?
  • Many library conferences use specific tags to make it easy for you to follow the conference online. Bloggers who attend those conferences tag their entries accordingly. So even if you can’t attend, you can get some of the conference buzz. Simply run a search on (or monitor a feed of) that conference’s tag. For example, in Technorati search on CIL2008 (or link directly to http://technorati.com/search/CIL2008?authority=a4&language=en) to pull up the Computers In Libraries 2008 entries.
  • “micro-blogging” is a hot new segment of the blogosphere. Twitter is the primary example of a micro-blogging site. We discuss Twitter in the Social Networking section of Connecticut 23 Things because it is similar to communicating via a social networking site, such as Facebook. For more on micro-blogging, see: Micro-blogging



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One Response to “Week 2: Blogs”

  1. kabery said

    Some additional blogging resources to check out:
    How to Start a Blog
    Blog Software Comparison
    State of the Blogosphere

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