Blogging 101 – My Presentation at BarCampGR

For the last two posts I’ve mentioned BarCampGR, a local Ad-Hoc IT conference, where I gave a presentation on Blogging, and I’ve said that I would post the lecture. It’s required by BarCamp to make the lecture available on-line, so here it is.

First, a couple of definitions – which I totally forgot to do in my lecture on Friday, 21 August 2015. I will try to be brief.

What is a blog? A blog is a series of usually written entries on a website that appear in reverse-chronological order (most recent first).

What is a blogging platform? The blogging platform is the website that hosts many blogs. Live Journal, Dreamwidth, Blogger, Tumblr, and WordPress are all popular blogging sites.

What costs are involved in blogging? Time. That’s about it. Blogging, especially if you are serious about it will take time. But any enjoyable hobby takes time. A hobby is something you enjoy spending your time on, so if writing isn’t something you enjoy – don’t blog. Most blogging platforms are free.

How much money do you make blogging? Zero. Zip. Nada. See previous paragraph. Actually, not only do I not make money off any of my blogs – it really irritates me when people ask this question. No one asks someone who’s into antique cars if they make money or someone who’s in an amateur sports league if they get paid. But me – they ask.

I think that’s it for the FAQ that I totally forgot to include as part of my lecture at BarCampGR, and I think that covers most questions I was asked by the audience.

So away we go.

Presentation on Blogging for BarCampGR – 21 August 2015


I have been blogging for about ten years. I currently have four blogs, but I primarily use two of them and the other two are mostly archives. I’m a technical writer, and I have been always interested in doing at least some time of writing.

Three Types of Blogs

There are three types of blogs, first, purely Personal Blogs, second, Semi-Professional Blogs, and third, Professional (Company) blogs. This presentation will focus on the first two: Personal and Semi-Professional blogs. A purely personal blog, is a blog one launches for personal enjoyment and satisfaction. It may be about your personal hobby or interests, or it may be a general blog about everything in your life that you are willing to share on-line. When blogging started, most blogs were personal blogs, and personal blogs still exist.  My WordPress blog is a personal blog – I don’t limit my content to a specific topic, and I frequently include the best content from my other, older, blogs. And, again – a personal blog can be about anything: your favorite TV show, your hobby, anything you want. Or, it can be about everything. Personal blogs are frequently havens of creativity and they don’t have a lot of rules.

The second common type of blog is a semi-professional blog. This is the type of blog you might want if you have a hobby that you hope to eventually make your profession. For example, if you are an amateur photographer, but you hope someday to be a professional, a semi-professional blog is perfect for you. – You can display your best photos on your blog, write about your photographic experiences (share your stories), even include a résumé. In essence, your blog becomes your on-line portfolio. And it isn’t just photography – any art or craft can become the subject of your blog. Do you love to cook? Start a blog with recipes, tips, and tricks. Cooking and recipe blogs some of the most popular places on the web. And if you want to include video – don’t forget youTube. It’s extremely easy to embed youTube videos in a blog these days. You can even establish statistics – followers, likes, etc., which you can use in a “pitch meeting”, or job interview. Semi-professional blogs are exploding right now. And if you are a student, a career-changer, or you just want to see if you can make your hobby into your dream job and still make a living – a semi-professional blog is a great place to start.

The third type of blog is a business blog. I don’t intend to spend a lot of time on business blogs, beyond explaining what they are. A business blog is usually part of a larger business website. Business blogs are meant to drive customers to your website, and thus create new customers. They are also meant to help your business retain customers and keep them from going to your competition. The best business blogs aren’t hard sell, used-car-salesman-like places. The best business blogs offer something – and something concrete. They seek to instruct. They include special offers – discounts and coupons. They inform. And they listen. All business social media interaction, including blogs, is about building a community with your customers.

How does one start a blog? – Blogging Platforms

There are a lot of different blogging platforms out there. I’ve used Live Journal, Blogger, Tumblr, and WordPress. Every time I’ve started a new blog, I’ve learned something. And, in my opinion, every blog I’ve started has been better than the previous one. When you are starting from scratch, it’s good to do a little research, and read blogs on different platforms before deciding where you want to start. But, as with most things in computers, it also depends on your personal likes and dislikes, what you want to do with your blog, and your preferences. Most blogging platforms are intuitive and easy to use – and free, especially to start. You can also simply try a few different platforms before making a final decision, and abandon or delete the old blog on the old platform.

Live Journal (LJs) is one of the oldest blogging platforms. It’s entirely volunteer-run as well. Live Journal doesn’t limit content, and it is open to many different opinions and ideas. However, because it’s so old, the code is very, very old too. Although Live Journal tries to keep up and update its site to add features that users want – it can be slow and buggy. It’s also one of the few sites hosted outside the US, which can cause accessibility issues.

Dreamwidth, which I have not personally used, is, in essence, the US mirror for Live Journal. It uses the exact same code – and you can import your Live Journal directly into Dreamwidth and keep everything intact because it’s the same code and system – but hosted in the US. The problem with Dreamwidth is it is the exact same coding platform as Live Journal. Therefore the bugs in LJs, frequently also exist in Dreamwidth. Also volunteer-run, Dreamwidth seems to be slow in adding new features.

Both Live Journal and Dreamwidth do not play well with other blogs. If you want to re-publish content from another blog, you’ll need to cut and paste. Or you can link to non-LJs content. LJs did, finally, however, add the ability to embed videos from sources such as youTube or Vimeo rather than simply linking to them.

Blogger is Google’s blogging site. Any blog address with “BlogSpot” in it is hosted on Blogger. And when I set-up my movie review blog there, I loved it because design was drag and drop. Finally, an easy way to set things up to look the way I wanted, without having to use CSS, HMTL, JavaScript, or some type of code. The drawback of blogger is interactivity – there is none (pretty much). Most blogging sites host communities – some method to meet people who share your interests. They also allow for commenting, and for the blogger to comment back on comments. Yes, that sometimes means spam or trolls – but you can delete that. You can also set-up a spam filter to prevent seeing it in the first place. But one prime purpose of blogging is not only to express your own creativity, it’s to meet like-minded people. The power of community isn’t to be under-estimated. Blogger has security settings that are so high you are unlikely to get any comments. It’s also hard to get followers on Blogger – harder than any other platform.

Tumblr is a live-stream blogging site. It’s like Twitter – without the character limit. In fact, I became aware of Tumblr because I noticed people I followed on Twitter often simply posted a link on Twitter to blog content on Tumblr. Tumblr is almost entirely tag-driven. The easiest way to find the content you are looking for is to search for tags. You can follow other blogs on Tumblr, and find a community that shares your interests. It’s also very easy to link other blogs or social media accounts to Tumblr, or vice versa – to link your Tumblr account to automatically post a link to your social media accounts. Or, you can manually post the links you want to Twitter, Facebook, or other accounts. The downside of Tumblr is the complete lack of design controls. Even simple widgets – like a tag list, are missing from Tumblr – probably because it’s so in the now, like Twitter. Whereas Twitter makes this fun – for a blog, if you want to provide an archive of your writing, or art, or photography, or pictures of your crafts (everything from jewelry to wedding cakes), Tumblr isn’t the best only choice. But it can be a good additional place, something to use in addition to Twitter or even in addition to a second website or blog.

WordPress is what I’m now using for my blog. The most confusing thing about WordPress is that there are actually two of them. WordPress.Org, confusingly enough, is the commercial arm of WordPress. If you want a company website and blog – check out But you’re going to have to pay for it. I actually use WordPress.Com, which is the free blogging site from WordPress. My blog is a personal one, and although I sometimes think of making it a semi-professional one – at this point, I’m not willing to pay monthly fees just for my blog. Still, has enough for the hobbyist blogger. And, unlike most other blogging sites, you can import the contents of another blog into WordPress, and create WordPress entries from your old blog entries. If you choose to do that, a couple of things to keep in mind. First, only import one blog at a time – or you will be overwhelmed by the new content. Second, proofread your new blog entries – remove extra spaces, and test links – updating them as needed. Third, use WordPress tags and categories to organize the imported content. Do not rely on the tags (labels, categories, etc.) importing correctly or completely – check and update them as needed.

How does one start a blog? – Design

To start a blog simply go to the main page of a blogging site and open an account. Fill in the required information and follow the on-screen directions to get started. The exact information you need to provide varies by service – but it usually isn’t much, a user name and an e-mail, that’s about it.

When starting a blog you’ll often start by choosing a theme. A theme is the decorative motif for your website. Most sites provide a number of free themes – some more than others. Some sites also have premium (paid) themes. The theme gives you a starting point for how your blog will look. Some themes are customizable – you can start from the basics that are given to use and update colors for example. Others are set as they are. If you see a theme you like somewhat but, for example, don’t like the color scheme – look at the description to see if the theme is customizable – if not choose a different theme.

Once you have a theme, you still might be able to customize the layout of your blog. My Movie Project blog on Blogger has a header row that goes across the top, a navigation column on the left then the main content column in the middle. My WordPress blog has a pinned video post on the top, and three columns: navigation, main content, then widgets. I prefer a two or three column layout column because it looks like a newspaper or newsletter. However, you can have any layout you want – and your projected content should determine the layout. My WordPress theme even lets me have a header photo for each blog post which looks very professional and engages the reader’s interest. But, again, because blogs tend to be customizable – you can do whatever you like and whatever appeals to you.

After determining your theme and customizing it, the next step is to add widgets if you want. Widgets are simply interactive or static “boxes” that hold information in a specific place on your blog. Widgets can import information from another source, such as your Twitter feed, or they can be a static list or piece of information – a quote, an “about you” description, a list of your favorite films – anything that fits your blog and that you want front and center and non-moving. Different blogging platforms offer different types of widgets you can use on their site. This might be another consideration when choosing a platform.

And that’s it – that should complete your design set-up. You are ready to start blogging. To post to your blog, or create a blog entry, sign in to your admin section, click on the “new post” button or icon, give your post a title and write away.

When you finish your post – press the “publish” button (or “Post” or “upload” whatever your service calls it). You also want to organize your posts to make them easier to find. Called “labels”, “tags”, or “categories”, you will want to use a consistent organization scheme, so your posts are identified by general content or type and others can find your posts. The tags you use will vary, it depends on the blogging platform and your actual content. But do not skip tagging (or using categories) to organize your posts and be consistent in the tags that you use. Tagging can get complex, but don’t skip it.

Another common thing you should add to at least some posts is pictures or video. Pictures make your posts more visually appealing and can draw people in to your blog. Pictures can be pictures, drawings, vector graphics, infographics, .jpgs of charts or graphs from Excel, a single Power Point image – anything with visual appeal. All graphics uploaded to blogging sites should be in the .jpg format.

Wrap-Up and Questions

How to Customize Links Inside a WordPress Post

Have you ever wanted to add links to your blog posts? The easiest way to insert a link is to copy and paste the link into your post, then highlight it and click the link button.


However, especially for long links, this simple method can result in messy-looking text.

At first, I was confused about how to update the link title while keeping the link working, especially if it was a hyperlink to a page outside WordPress. Live Journal had a Link Editing pop-up menu, but the similar-looking one for WordPress didn’t seem to work. It turns out I was doing things in the wrong order. For Live Journal I’d write my intro text, click the link button, type the words I wanted to appear as the title in the title line, and copy-and-paste the link into the hyperlink box. This never worked for WordPress.

I recently found out how to do this for WordPress. In WordPress, you actually type the short title into your post, highlight that, then click the Link button. Once the hyper-link pop-up opens, copy and paste the link into the URL box but leave the Title box blank, then click Add Link.


When you go back to the post you are composing, the words you’ve highlighted will be red, indicating it’s a link.

Another cool thing about WordPress is you can make internal links to other posts on your blog. Simply type the text you want in your post, highlight it, click the link button, then search for the post you want to link using the Search box. When you find the post, highlight it and click Add Link.

These two techniques allow you to add cool, “For more information see this post,” items to your posts. It also brings more interactivity to your blog and allows another way, besides categories and tags, to link posts. For readers of your blog, it means they can jump directly to additional content.

Blogging Advice for Businesses – Review

I found this post this morning,  After a rocky start, “Maybe because, unless you’re one of the few people who actually like writing, business blogging kind of stinks.” – uh, would I have four blogs if I didn’t like writing? But, at least Rachel Sprung, the author, didn’t out-and-out state, “of course everyone hates writing,” which is one of the most annoying assumptions I see on business Internet sites. Anyway, after the predictable rocky start, the article gets into some good advice, which you may read for yourself if you’re interested.

I felt point three was the weakest. Yes, it’s common advice to speech-givers and writers to “start with a joke”, but, in today’s world – online a writer is literally addressing the world. What you might find funny can be very offensive to someone else. Better to leave your funny posts and memes to separate posts that break-up your website flow, than to start every business-oriented or advice or how-to post with, “Did you hear the one about the corporate CEO, the accountant, and the IT professional who walked into the bar?” Metaphorically speaking of course. And, I know, I’ve been so turned off by an offensive business post, that I’ve not only stopped reading – I’ve left sarcastic, angry comments on the post – much to my shame. Anyway, I simply felt point three, like the introduction, was weak.

The other point I felt was weak, or rather, annoying, was that the “product”, a free download of templates, was mentioned five times plus a pop-up came up that actually covered the blog post I was reading. I had decided to download the templates within a few paragraphs – it was totally unnecessary to remind me five times.

Overall, though there’s some good advice here, and always the acid test for me, there was advice I thought I could actually use.

Social Media Master Post

Social Media has become a buzzword, in the last few years, but it is often misunderstood. I have been using various social media platforms for a several years and I am active on several of them daily. This gives me a little bit of authority to say that I know what I’m talking about, though I learn new things myself if not daily then weekly. There is a lot of confusion and this post is meant to clear up some of that confusion.

1.  Social Media is not One Thing – Got that? Social Media is several different things, that have similarities and differences. Not only do different Social Media platforms work differently – they have different best uses, and different limitations.

2. Social Media is not just a business tool – One of the best things about Social Media is that using it is free and how you use it and the content you post is pretty much up to you. I’ve seen lots of posts on-line from various “Social Media Experts” about growing your business with Social Media – and although that’s possible, it isn’t restricted to business people, the Forbes 500, the elite, or any other privileged group. Anyone with a computer or an Internet-capable mobile device can use Social Media.

3. Having said that, Social Media is about more than business or advertising – if you do own a business, especially a small business, and you aren’t using Social Media, you should be – it’s free advertising. And especially if your customers are young, or professional, or in any way part of the modern world, at the very least get a website or blog, a business Facebook page (not a personal one) and a Twitter account and use them.

4. Creative professionals and non-profits also really need to use Social Media, though what platforms you use and how will very by “industry” and even the level of your career. But writers, musicians, bands, artists, photographers, actors, – anyone in a creative field, and anyone trying to break into a creative field needs Social Media. It’s a great networking tool, a place to find others in your profession, a place to find mentors, a place to find a job, and a place to get excited about your work and your career.

5.  Social Media isn’t just for kids and teens anymore. I’m tempted to say ‘Nuff said; but on-line research shows the single biggest new group to join Facebook are senior citizens; and the largest and most influential group on Twitter are young and relatively young professionals as well as creative professionals. Get over the idea that Social Media is “a kid’s toy”.

Specific Social Media Platforms

Live Journal:  This blogging site is the first one I joined, in about 2005 – 2006. LJ’s was developed as a community site as well as a personal blogging site. It’s completely volunteer run, has been around for close to twenty years, and in terms of trivia, if you saw the movie, The Social Network, it was the blogging site Facebook’s founder, Mark Zuckerberg, used while studying at Harvard. Live Journal was designed to allow users to keep an on-line journal, join communities (posting boards) that fit their own interests, and even post photographs. The site has an impressive amount of individual blog designs, and allows individual “userpics” or icons on each post or community post. It’s an oldie but a goodie; however, having been around for such a long time – it has problems caused by legacy code, and lack of server space.

Facebook:  Most computer-literate people know at least something about Facebook. The easiest way to describe it is, it’s like a perpetual on-line high school or college yearbook. You post (write) on your “wall” or visit your friend’s page and post on theirs. It’s very image friendly – not only for posting your individual pictures, but for creating photo albums. It makes sharing easy – and much of the content comes from the cross-posting and sharing of content posted by others. And it’s full of ads.

Business owners, especially small and micro-business owners, should be aware of Facebook Organization (business) pages. A business or organization page is an open page – with no content locked as “Friend’s Only”. Think of it as a Yellow Pages ad without the space limitations. The wall of a business or organization page should only contain relevant, focused posts. However, that doesn’t mean it should only contain ads. Relevant information is the key. Customers should want to read the page, not feel they are being bombarded with spam.

Linked In:  Linked In is like a combination of a Mega Job Search site like Monster and Facebook. This is another site I have been on for a really long time. When I originally created my site, and Linked In was still fairly new, it wasn’t much – you created a profile, then filled in sections that basically created an on-line job application. Yes, you could upload a picture, an write a short summary of who you are – the on-line equilvalent of the “elevator speech”, and connect to others, but there wasn’t much to it. Linked In has offered more services recently, however. You can now join career-focused groups on Linked In, a great way to keep up to date with your professional career. You can network. You can attend events. Linked In now has it’s own Timeline – you can post career information there, or relevant news about your professional life. And, from what I’ve read, Linked In has made it easier to post an professional portfolio to the site. I highly recommend it to college and high school students. I also highly recommend it to career changers, or people who have been out of the job market for awhile and are suddenly looking for employment.

Twitter:  Twitter is a bit different from other Social Media sites, in that you don’t really have a page to design per se. You can put a banner profile picture on your page, fill-in a brief description of yourself, and upload an icon picture of yourself, and that’s about it. Twitter is the first micro-blogging site – it limits you to 240 characters – not a lot. But the attraction of Twitter is that it works in “real time”. Thus if a topic is “trending” on Twitter – that means it’s suddenly become very popular, and lots of people are using that hashtag at a particular moment. A hashtag is the Number Symbol on a standard keyboard (#). On Twitter, a Hashtag makes a term searchable, thus #SocialMedia, makes the term “social media” a searchable term – anyone who searches the term “SocialMedia” can find the post that includes that hashtag. On Twitter the @ sign is used to send a Direct Message (or DM).  Therefore, @SocialMedia would send the message to the account “SocialMedia”. I recently learned that when a @ sign is placed at the beginning of a Tweet – the Tweet doesn’t even post to your timeline. To fool Twitter if you want your DM to also post to your timeline, place characters before it, even a dot (.) will work.  (Shout out and Thanks to @TweetSmarter the best resource for learning about Twitter that I’ve found.) Because Twitter is significantly different than other sites, I found it had a steeper learning curve – I’ve had my account for three years, and I’m just starting to really understand it.

There are three things about Twitter than make it fun:

  1. Following celebrities and Notable People in your industry, career field, or even hobby. Lots of famous people are on Twitter – you can follow their Tweets, without needing to be invited to their page or liking their page or anything. It’s PR for them but also interactive – and for you, it’s fun.
  2. Twitter is real time – want to know what is going on Right Now – look to Twitter.
  3. Because of the character limit – it tends to be light, fun, and you can read lots of posts in a short amount of time. The other common thing on Twitter, is that because space is limited, people often simply post the link to longer content such as a news story or a blog post.

Tumblr:  It’s the blog counter-point to Twitter. Like Twitter it’s Real Time, though when you go to your dashboard you’ll see a number of new posts to you from the blogs to which you subscribe. You read them on your dashboard. Anything you “reblog” will re-appear on your own Tumblr page. But I first became aware of Tumblr, because I noticed that if someone wanted to post longer content (or, originally – pictures or video, before Twitter added that capability.) to Twitter, they first posted it to Tumblr, then posted the link to Twitter. Tumblr has a very active feel to it, and a lot of back-and-forth – through notes, reblogging, mail, etc. It’s a type of blogging site.  The only thing I don’t like about Tumblr is your actual page is so limited. I would like to be able to see a list of my tags, a list of my posts, and a calender of my posts – like I can on Blogger or Live Journal. And even if a calender would give it a more static feel – at least a list of tags (labels) would be useful.

Blogger (by Google):  Blogger is another Blogging Site – and it’s my favorite of the three I use regularly. What I really love about Blogger is that it doesn’t assume the user knows anything about HTML or CSS (Cascading Style Sheets), Java, Flash, .Net, C++, or C#. In other words, you don’t need to take a computer science course, prior to using the site. Setting up my Blogger page was easy – everything is drag and drop, and What-You-See-Is-What-You-Get. And if you’re in doubt, you can have the design studio open in one tab and your blog open in another, and then all you do is refresh the blog page as you tweak.  Also, once you’ve set your page up, the individual “Widgets” and/or sections of the blog can be edited separately, for quick updates. I’ve added, and occasionally deleted, names from sections like “Favorite Directors” and “Favorite Current TV Shows” — without having to re-design the entire blog. Blogger, like most sites (but Twitter) has several themes and skins to get you started in designing your blog. But it also has different options (3 column, 2 column, etc), besides simply the background image.

The second thing I like about Blogger, is it supports a full service RSS Reader that not only imports other Blogger blogs, but it imports any blog, on any RSS-compatible service. The only problem is, as far as I can tell, all the mobile apps do not support the RSS Reader. That means, you can only read the blogs you’ve subscribed to on your computer screen, not your phone or tablet.

Google Plus:  Google Plus is Google’s attempt to get in on the Social Media action. Do I have a Google Plus account?  Well, yes, since I use Blogger and Gmail.  Do I use it?  Not really.  Part of the issue with Google Plus is that everything you “Plus 1” you are doing so publicly.  To me, there’s a difference to posting a link to my Facebook page as “Friend’s Only”, and putting my face as an advertisement on that link or page.  (“This link was Plus 1’d by: …).  It just feels so, phony.  And if someone wants me to hawk their products – they can pay me.

However, one cool thing about Google Plus, is that  when you take photos with your Android phone, those photos are automatically backed up to your Google account. And the photo editor for organizing albums is beautiful. It’s easy to use and makes sense.  Icons and words are obvious and do what you expect them to do. And those albums are yours – not public, unless you want to share them. But on the negative side, you can’t share your Google Plus album(s) to another site like Facebook. It almost feels like Google isn’t playing well with others.

Similarities of Social Media Platforms

All Social Media platforms and Web 2.0 sites do have one thing in common – user-generated content.  What that means is the content of a website like youTube is created by the youTube users themselves. Without the video makers – there would be no youTube. Yet visiting the site to watch videos doesn’t cost anything – it’s free. Getting an account on youTube (now, also through Google) is also free. From what I’ve seen, some video makers run ads on their videos and some don’t. Presumably, those users actually make money by allowing ads. And the site itself, like most Social Media Sites – is ad-supported.

Social Media is also social – it allows interaction with friends and family. It allows the free exchange of ideas. One thing I’m fascinated with is the idea of Social Media and Citizen Journalism. There have been several cases of Social Media having a definite impact during disasters and major events.

See this post

– which in part inspired inspired my post.

Differences to Different Social Media Platforms

In my explanations of the different social media outlets, I’ve explained some of the differences. I definitely use different Social Media services differently. Live Journal is my general blog. I don’t use it much anymore, though lately I’ve been backing up some of my posts from other platforms there. Facebook is my general mailbox, and I’m a lot less touchy about what I will or won’t post there. Linked In is strictly professional – I don’t let anything auto-post to Linked In, and I don’t use the new time-line feature. Twitter is fun, and a place to plug my Blogger and Tumblr posts. Blogger is home to my movie review blog – I don’t let anything else clog up the blog, especially politics.

Also – Rans

These are services I know of, but do not currently use. This doesn’t mean they are no good – I’m sure plenty of people use these. Social Media is time-consuming, and you simply cannot do everything. Also, I’m more verbal than visual – and my creative, fun side – and my professional research side – thinks in words.

Dreamwidth – A blogging site with a close relationship to Live Journal. I’m seriously considering trying it out.  Sigh.

WordPress – Another blogging site, with a relationship to blogger. I’ve just joined it, and I’m still poking my way around, but so far I really like it.

Pinrest / Delicious – These are “Social Bookmark Managers”. Apparently, they allow you to save bookmarks and organize them. They are social sites, so you can share your bookmarks with others.

Instagram / Vine / Imgur – Social Image sites – I have the vague idea that the cool pics and .gifs one finds on Facebook? If they weren’t created as photosets on Tumblr, they started on one of these sites.

MySpace – Oh, dear, poor MySpace gets no respect. My impression is that it’s full of teenaged girls – and bands. Seriously, if you are a singer/songwriter, musician, or in a band – look at MySpace. It’s also been around for awhile. But I’ve never used it – and my impression might need tweaking, at least a bit.

Tagging – How to tag blog posts

I’ve recently imported my entire Tumblr (over 500 posts – who knew?) and my Blogger blog, The Movie Project, to WordPress, and now I’m going to be concentrating on applying titles, updating the categories and adding tags (or conversely adding categories) to all those posts.

Why bother?

Well, besides the fact that I want my blog to be organized – I imported everything so it would be all in one place. Well, almost everything – I haven’t imported my LiveJournal yet. But tagging is very important, because it’s the tags that allow others to find what you’ve posted by doing a search.

Tagging is tangentially related to database, which is my area, so I understand how it works.

The first rule Be Consistent!

When tagging posts, or assigning categories, be consistent. If you tag a post about the BBC TV Series Doctor Who, “Doctor Who”, don’t tag you’re next post about Doctor Who, “Dr. Who”, and a third post, “DW”. You want to pick a single tag for a topic you frequently post about, and use it. Which isn’t to say you can’t use multiple tags, but don’t constantly change the tag you use for the same topic. If possible, look to see how others tag your topic. For example, you can check for the related Twitter hashtag if it’s a hot topic and use that without the pound (#) sign and with any applicable spaces. You could also tag both with and without spaces (e.g. Doctor Who, DoctorWho). This will help direct traffic to your posts and blog because you are using a tag that is likely to be familiar to your audience. Think of your tags as keywords. If you were to look on Google for information on a topic, What phrases would you use?

Wrangle (Update) Tags

Don’t be afraid to go back and update (wrangle) your tags – modern blogging sites even have management sections that help you to do this. Update your tags to improve consistency.

Spelling counts

Spell your tags correctly, especially proper names. Use IMDB or Google to check spelling of proper names.

Watch Tag Length

Don’t use overly long tags – unless it’s necessary for the topic. For example, for my blog, The Movie Project, one tag I apply to each post is the title of the film. This can result in a long tag, but the film’s title is the most likely phrase that someone might use when looking for posts about the film.

Tag in Groups – for Consistency and Logic

Also try to think of tags in groups, this will also help you to use consistent tags. For example, if you review films, you might want to consistently create tags for:  the title, the director, the cast (individually), the year the film was made (or, as I did, go by decades), etc. For my imported posts, I’m tagging them with where they were imported from – such as, From Tumblr, or From Blogger. You can tag on type of post too:  Video, Picture, Reblog (or cross-post), Meme, etc.

Or think of groups as either this or that or one of a group of things. So you could use a category of Sports, then tags of Swimming, Baseball, Soccer, etc.

Having a system in place for tagging your posts will help the tags to be relevant, consistent, and logical.

Apply several multiple tags, rather than a single long one

Finally, apply multiple tags to a post that accurately reflect the post.


First Post on WordPress

This is my first post on WordPress.  I intend this blog to focus on technology, gadgets, computers, science, technical writing and social media writing.  It may occasionally branch off into television and film too, since those are passions of mine.  However, in the coming weeks, I hope to post some solid information, instructions and advice for using modern technology, social media, software such as Microsoft Office or Adobe Acrobat, and other topics.

I’ve been a blogger for awhile, having had a writing blog on Live Journal since about 2005.  I’ve been on blogger for at least three years, with my blog, The Movie Project.  I’ve been on Twitter the same amount of time, about three years, and I’ve been on Tumblr for a couple of years.

I’m hoping to keep this blog focused on technology, software, gadgets, and social media, but not as tightly focused as my Movie Review blog, The Movie Project.

Consolidating Blog Posts

It seems it’s possible to import blog posts from other sites, therefore I thought I’d give it a whirl.  This means I’ll be sharing posts related to my other interests, especially film, television, and media, rather than directly related to technology, software, and writing.  But it will add content, and hopefully everything will be accessible in one place.  It also means I’ll be able to categorize and tag my posts in an ordered fashion.

A Blog of Their Own – Blogs as Cultural History

This entry original appeared on my Live Journal blog, 3/17/2011 posted at 7:56 PM.  It has not been updated or corrected, except for minor typo corrections.

A Blog of Their Own – Blogs as Cultural History

What is cultural history?  Sometimes dismissed as “women’s history” — cultural history is the history of ordinary people.  People who aren’t presidents, kings or queens, or even the lord and ladies of the highest levels of society.  Yet, it often isn’t the lowest levels of society either – because even with the invention of the printing press, and the implementation of widespread public (or free) education — to be poor meant to be illiterate and to be illiterate meant to be poor.  In other worlds, when it comes to documenting the past — the poorest of the poor still slipped through the cracks.

However, in the 1800s and early 1900s letter-writing and the keeping of journals and diaries were quite common.  So much so that often even the literature of the period was sometimes written as letters, journals, or memoirs.  And cultural historians of today look to the letters of the past to understand the normal people — not just women but anyone who was, at the time, just average.

While watching the extra features for Sherlock I found one of the producers (I don’t remember if it was Gatiss or Moffat, sorry) when talking about updating Sherlock Holmes made this curious statement:  “Dr. Watson wouldn’t keep a journal or write memoirs – he’d keep a Blog”.  Which got me thinking:  Blogs and all social media (and user-generated content) are the social history of today.  Or, at least for the historians of the future, you’d think.

This is an important development.  In the 1980s and 1990s letter-writing virtually disappeared as phone calls replaced letters.  Not that the telephone didn’t exist before then, but long distance calls were expensive, and international calls unreliable and extremely expensive – and the time on the line might even be limited by outside forces.  As e-mail also came on the scene in the late 80s and 90s – it replaced letters as well, but was ephemeral – e-mail was often read and deleted.  It wasn’t going to be around for years.  Cloud computing (web services like Gmail) have increased the length e-mail sticks around but probably not to archive status.

However, now, blogs, Facebook and Twitter entries, etc, are allowing normal, average people the power to not only air their opinions and interests in a public forum, open to debate with often like-minded individuals, but hopefully to be kept for future historians to look at to understand the normal people of today.

And even in contemporary times – social media is becoming a force for breaking news.  During the recent unrest in Egypt (2011) — one of the first things the government did was block social media sites like Facebook and Twitter – to prevent the unedited broadcasting of information by individuals.  And Twitter published a hack to get around the foreign government censorship.  (I personally saw the Twitter Hack post – I was impressed).

When the earthquake hit in Japan, at first services were down — but soon pictures were being sent, literally around the world, by smart phone.  BBC News even had a story covering the content being generated by normal, everyday, average people in Japan – calling the Earthquake the first “viral” disaster – and pointing out how “for the first time” a natural disaster was being covered in real time, instead of in pictures later.

And, I actually still remember being on one of the Doctor Who forums when news of the London underground bombings hit.  (No, I don’t remember which bombings, unfortunately, that is to say – what year.  I know the blame on the board started with the civil service (It was thought to be a “normal” blackout at first), then the IRA, then terrorists, before the news finally figured out it was quite the literally the “lone nut with a bomb”.)  But I do remember finding it weird that I was finding out about this stuff going on in London, via a Doctor Who posting board.  I also remember having an argument with a friend afterwords when I tried to point out all the theories I’d heard.

So, anyway — getting back to the point.  Blogs – journals of today, possibly the cultural artifacts of the future.