Week 2: Get Your Blog On

Today we'll get everyone set up with their own blogs and talk about choosing blog topics. You'll be making blog posts as your homework for a few weeks (and beyond), so it's worth investing some time in picking a topic that will keep you inspired, and also that will let you connect with communities and join webrings, blog carnivals, etc.

We'll also take a look at an online community that started as a simple open letter to the Kansas state school board and has now grown into the official Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, focusing on how the site is built to welcome new visitors, facilitate communication among members, and encourage participation and contributions. We're going to be building an online BECA community, so we'll be looking at lots of examples like FSM; part of the homework for this course will be finding such communities and presenting them to the class.

  1. Pick a topic for your blog and finish building it on Blogger. Make sure you keep all the settings I went over in class today!
  2. Write a blog post that includes at least one image and three links. Remember that your writing voice and style are up to you, but I'm looking for writing that reflects college-level writing proficiency (including mechanics: spelling, grammar, punctuation, etc.).
  3. Post a link to your blog on the Class Blog or e-mail me the link.
  4. James, Shira and Jeannine: Find an online community (definition is pretty wide open; consider what we saw in FSM and see what interesting things you can find) and send me the links.


Welcome to the Blogosphere!

I enjoyed meeting everyone today; looks like great things are in store this semester.

This blog will be the central hub of this course. Each week, assignment info will be posted. Links to important tools, sites, documents (including the syllabus) and other resources will be available in the sidebars. Feel free to post comments to the class blog if you want everyone to see them; if you need to communicate directly with me, please use e-mail.

Today we took a quick tour of Technorati and Google Reader. To get you started subscribing to blogs, and also to start building background knowledge and keeping up with important issues in media, check out the Recommended Reading in the sidebar and subscribe to all of those blogs.

To subscribe, click the orange RSS button (some blogs don't have it; look for a link that says "subscribe" or "feeds" or "Atom/XML"). You might have to look around for the button/link; some blogs have it at the top of a sidebar, others at the very bottom of the main page. Some blogs also have multiple feeds (like EFF has press releases, action alerts, main blog); just decide which ones you like and subscribe to those.

Here's a little refresher on link code: The opening tag is:
a href="http://www.google.com" (put all of that inside < > brackets).

Then type the word(s) you want to light up as your link. The closing tag is:
/a (inside < > brackets).

HTML is extremely picky; you must write the code exactly. Be sure there's a space between a href, but no spaces around the =; also be sure you're using the correct type of brackets (the ones over the comma and period keys), the correct backslash (under the question-mark key), plain quotes (sometimes if you copy from Word or another program, you get "smart quotes" which don't work in HTML). If your link doesn't work, there's something wrong with the code — it's just a matter of scrutinizing until you find the mistake. If you run into trouble let me know and I'll take a look.

1) Set up your Google Reader account (or use another RSS aggregator if you like)
2) Use Technorati or do your own search for 5 blogs that interest you. Go for variety rather than picking a bunch on the same topic. Subscribe to those blogs.
3) Post a comment to the Class Blog that gives a brief description of your 5 blogs and your overall impression: does the writing style suit the content? Who do you think is the intended audience? Does the look/layout of the blog affect your experience? Does the blog have any extra interactive features (chat box, guestbook, polls, quizzes, etc.)? If it were your blog, would you do anything differently? Be sure to include a link to each blog as you discuss it.
4) Start thinking about what kind of blog you'd like to do; we'll start building them next week.