A blogging community

Eversince I’ve started this blog, I’ve been experiencing an increasing sense of belonging to a community: the blogging community. According to Wiki’s definition, 

“a community usually refers to a group of people who interact and share certain things as a group [bolding by me].

Previously, when I was just surfing the Web and reading others’ blogs, I was just a reader. However, when I started writing my own blog entries, as well as posting comments on other bloggers’ blogs, I began to experience a sense of belonging to the blogging community.

What do I mean by that? True to the meaning of community, I feel that bloggers do “interact and share certain things as a group”. When you read each others’ postings and leave comments or email each other, you are interacting and sharing information, expertise and experience. 

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that being a reader is a bad thing, but what I’m saying is that one can be more involved by interacting and contributing to a blog and it doesn’t necessarily have to be your own too.

I must say that bloggers are a pretty helpful and friendly bunch of people. When I leave a question or a comment, so far, I’ve yet to not receive a response. I’d get a direct reply to my question. But often, I get more than that! The bloggers I’ve interacted with so far have given me feedback, helpful tips and encouragement, which is pretty important to novice bloggers. I’ve even been invited to a podcasting group meeting in North Carolina!

I always get a kick when I see that someone has commented on my posting and I’ve never failed to respond to them! That’s how you engage in conversations with others on the Web. And isn’t the Web and blogging all about engaging in conversations and making connections? It amazes me how much collective potential there is out there, and it’s all made easily available, thanks to new media such as weblogs!

Sometimes the support may not be so obvious but is still important. The interaction and support may also often come in the form of trackbacks, and links in blog entries, which help to spread your blog message, and increase your site traffic.

I guess there seems to be this tacit understanding of shared purpose, to want to help spread its other blog message and help chalk up blog stats!! Also, having gone through some experience of starting a blog and maintaining it, there’s this reflective sharing of a well, shared experiencel. That’s probably why there are so many blogs out there on blogging, such as this one

A quick search online can easily throw up many links to blogs on blogging  . Recently, I came across Blogology101 which shares some useful tips how to write a great article! 

Of course, one of the best things another blogger can do for another blogger is to put his blog on the blogroll. The blogroll is a list of links deemed useful by the owner of the blog and by putting the link there, you are allowing readers to gain easy access to the other blog. In other words, you are helping to refer relevant traffic to that relevant blog.

I’m pleased to say that I have put the blogs of some bloggers I have come across on my blogroll. i’m also pleased to say that my blog has been put on other blogger’s blogroll! How exciting!

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Group Blogging

I’ve just finished reading Blogging: Genius Strategies for Instant Web Content by Biz Stone.

 Genius Strategies for Instant Web Content

 He gives some useful tips on the technical aspects of blogging such as how to design blog templates, how to add features, etc. He even includes the HTML codes that you could use in your blogs, though he’s tailored it to the Blogger templates. It’s amazing what you can do to your blog and all the various features you can add on!

I’m afraid I’m a bit tech-challenged so don’t expect to see the tech wizardry he mentioned in my blog, well, at least not yet! You’ll need to adapt the codes if you are using other hosts such as WordPress, etc. So I guess I’ll be sticking to the WordPress templates for now.

Anyway, what I found interesting is chapter 9 on Group Blogging. There are many benefits to group blogging.  First a group blog allows for collaborative blogging and encourages the on-going conversations amongst bloggers. It’s also good if you need to take a break for a while – at least someone can help to cover your blog when you are away, and the readers can still ‘tune in’ to your blog, so to speak. Do remember to tell your readers about this as they may be shocked to hear ‘a different voice’. The group blogging function also allows you to invite a guest blogger to your blog. This is also a good way for someone to try out blogging, to see if he or she likes the experience enough to start his or her own blog!

The ultimate group blog has to be metafilter started by Matthew Haughey. He wanted “to break down the barriers between people, to extend a blog beyond one person, and to foster discussion among its members.” At metafilter, anyone can participate by starting new discussion threads or posting comments. This is a useful way to try out the blogging concept.

Another way to get involved is to post comments on blogs when you come across something you find interesting. I’ve been doing that and I find it a great way to make connections with other bloggers. Giving comments show that you have read the blogger’s postings and would like to acknowledge that. In a way, you are participating in the other bloggers’ blogs!

One of the reasons I chose WordPress is that it allows for group blogging, and it’s my intention to turn this into a group blog eventually. Well, until that time comes, my dear reader, you’ll still be hearing from me.

Blogs breathing new life into old texts

Just about a week ago, I came across a short article in the local papers about how blogger Phil Gyford started a blog with daily entries taken from 17th C diarist, Samuel Pepys: Diary of Samuel Pepys .

The site presents the diaries of Samuel Pepys, who lived in London, England in the 17th Century. Gyford has been publishing a new entry written by Pepys each day over the course of several years, starting with the first entry for 1 January 1660 which was published on 1 January 2003. So if you look at the blog now, you should be well into Pepys’ diary.

I found this interesting as it seems that an old text has been given new life via the new media of the weblog. In a way, the weblog does suit the purpose of a diarist pretty well, with each daily blog entry corresponding to his daily reflections and musings. In addition, the blog also demonstrates how the traditional text has been reformatted to fit in with the web style. The reader can also now interact with the text! Read it and see what I mean!

Before the rise of the novel in the 18th Century, many writers serialised their works in episodic accounts in publications. Daily blog entries do seem to parallel that kind of episodic publishing as well. There’s a pretty retro feel to it as we seem to have come full circle. Of course, there’s a modern high-tech twist to it.

Now, what other texts can be serialised this way, and be given a new lease of life? They need not be from centuries back. More modern texts can be updated too. I won’t be surprised if we start reading the daily whinings of Helen Fielding’s Bridget Jones or the comical insights of Sue Townsend’s oblivious protagonist Adrian Mole in blogs soon. After all, Adrian Mole already has his own website. And that’s just about a step away from having his own blog.

Who let the blogs out?

I received some offline feedback from friends that they didn’t recognise my blog as my identity was no where to be found! I’ve been going by the moniker Blogscape Artist and it struck me that readers wish to know the person behind the blog.  So who let the blogs out? Who are the authors of the blogs? I guess while it’s possible to conjure an impression of the blogger, people still feel more comfortable getting some info of the author from the blogger himself.

Thus, if you click About, you’ll find that I’ve added a little bit more info of myself. (Perhaps still not as much as you would expect, but I believe that’ll do for now?)

I’ve also been looking at what other bloggers have been saying about themselves and really, there’s no hard and fast rulesabout what you say and how much you say. Some provide a photo, while others provide an image icon, while some offer no visuals at all.

Some, like one of Singapore’s famed bloggers, Xia Xue provide personal particulars: 

Wendy Cheng

 

Then others have something that reads like  CV. A good example is author of one of WordPress.com’s most popular blog: (I’m showing a tiny part of it here).

  

Robert Scoble  

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Robert Scoble (born January 18, 1965) is an American blogger, technical evangelist, and author. Scoble is best known for his popular blog, Scobleizer, which came to prominence during his tenure as a technical evangelist at Microsoft. He is married to Maryam Ghaemmaghami, and has a son, Patrick, from a previous marriage. He and his wife currently work at PodTech.net[1], a video-podcast startup. He is also author of Naked Conversations: How Blogs are Changing the Way Businesses Talk with Customers.

It’s interesting how many bloggers describe themselves in the third person. Some are even very self-conscious about it such as the

Technopreneur

Who’s Blogging This?

This is one of those rare opportunities I get to write about myself in the third person, and it’s also my own futile attempt at convincing you I’m no narcissist. I promise to keep it short.

ABOUT KEVIN

Kevin Mansour Singarayar is a self-proclaimed, independent Internet Technologist who writes for Technopreneur and ChalkTalk. He coaches and collaborates with entrepreneurs on current, new and emerging internet technologies.

 

So it really depends on how much and how little you wish to reveal. For some, the identity may not be as important as the content of the postings. The content is often more revealing. After all, don’t all authors reveal something of themselves in their writing?

What’s in a blog name or blog title?

 Today is the COMING-OUT DAY of this blog!

Wait a minute, in case you are starting to get strange ideas, let me clarify. By coming-out, I mean I made my blog known to the people around me. Since I started the blog a few weeks back, besides the readers out there in the blogosphere who have read the blog, I’ve only told a very small handful of people about it. These are people I know who have been reading blogs. In a way,  I guess they have been my sounding board (or guinea pigs! I’m sure you don’t mind, right?)

I know it may seem ironic that those who do not know me personally might have seen and read my blog before those who do know me personally. So why am I telling more people about it now? I guess I felt that it was time-I had to be sure I would be able to sustain it. It does take effort and there’s the pressure of writing new posts on a regular basis. Initially I thought I would update the blog weekly, but lately, it’s been more regular than that, and I figured it’s about time that I let others in on it as well. 

Of course, there’s also the initial tentativeness about revealing your thoughts and feelings to others who know you as you’re more likely to be judged..you know what I mean. Anyway, time to take that risk.  After all, blogging IS about making connections, so the more connections you make, the better! So, new readers, do feel free to read and leave comments and feedback.

Now, before you start wondering what this post has to do with blog name and blog titles, I’d wanted to name this blog post Coming-Out Day but then I thought about how it would look in a list of searches and the audience/reader/user who would be keying in those search terms!! Not quite the readership I’d be expecting and they would be sorely disappointed too.

I read somewhere that the blog name and blog titles should be terms that people often key into search engines. It needs to be snappy and memorable and should say something about you or the business you do. According to Elliott Back’s article, What do YOU call your blog?, the top three search words are “blog”, “life” and “weblog”, so if you have these terms in your title, it’s more likely that your blog would be featured in search results and hence is more likely to be read. Des Walsh in his article Choosing Your Blog Name  advises businesses to include their business terms in the titles. So if you are a plumber, you should have a name such as plumbingworks.wordpress.com.

Looking at my title Blogscapes, I wonder how anyone would even key it in as a search term! Oh well. Perhaps I should have named it “Blog about weblogs” (2 out of 3of the top 3 search words ain’t bad). Looking back on the previous post titles, I realised how old-school they are. They would work pretty well as titles of articles in conventional texts such as papers and magazines, but given the nature of the Internet and search engines, they would hardly be picked out by search engines, and they don’t give a clue about what they are about.

Looks like my blog titles will need to get more literal. Tell it as it is. Avoid anything too  literary or  metaphorical.  So what’s in a name? A lot. It’s search term, summary, key word all bundled together. Best to KISS: Keep it simple, stupid!

 

It’s more than (blog)skin deep

Well, I’m still on the same blog template… for now. I received a comment that this one has a warmer and friendlier feel to it (which is great) and is not as serious as the first two (hm… not too sure how I feel about that). Must be the natural brown and green shades that are reflecting the warmer feel. There’s also a certain autumn-ish look to it-I think the leaves (at least I think those are leaves) have something to do with that. As much as I love nature, I don’t quite fancy the leaves, though. Can a blog deal with serious issues with leaves like that? Can a blog be taken seriously with leaves like that?

The leaves notwithstanding, there’s a lot going for this look and how it functions, so I’ll keep it and see how it grows (pun intended).

Cheers

About blog templates: Is it only (blog)skin deep?

For those who have visited this blog before and are back, thanks for coming back! I hope you are not shocked by the change in the look of it. Since I started the blog a couple of weeks back, I’ve been through many looks for the blog, and in a way, the one you are currently viewing now is the third more permanent one. The rest, I just try for a moment and then decide nah, let’s change it. I guess this whole process is something all novice bloggers go through, no?

It’s actually quite fun to experiment with the different looks, just like you are experimenting with fashion! Is the blogskin only skin deep I wonder. I’ve been paying pretty close attention to the looks of the various blogs I visit as I trawl the blogosphere. There are just so many looks as there are blogs! Some have one column, most have two or three. According to some of the sites and books I’ve been reading, it’s better to have at least two columns so readers can at least access the side navigation panel easily.  

Then, there are the colour schemes to think about. Some just make your blog look to old, too cute, too bright, too dark…it’s really not easy choosing the right match. It’s like finding the perfect foundation (if I may continue the fashion-beauty analogy) to match your skin tone (which can take a lifetime for some!) .

Then some allow your tagline to be shown, and some don’t. So many choices, so many permutations. Yet, it’s hard to have the perfect combination.

So, what’s my ideal look? Something that looks modern without feeling cold. Something that shows my blog title and tagline clearly. Something that has two columns to show my posts and navigation panel at the same time. Something that shows a certain demarcation for each posting. Surely something that requires so much thought and consideration signals that it’s more than just a superficial choice. Just like our clothes, i think the blogskin does communicate something about its owners too, something about the message to be shared, and I guess as people and thoughts and feelings evolve, so will the looks of the blogs.  

First, I started with this:

 

I like it for its clean look and the picture of the pen. I guess it signified my tentative transition crossing over to the blogside at the start. I guess the  pen was a nice symbol of the bridge between the old and new forms of writing. 

Then I had this:  

 

I began to feel that I needed a more modern look for the blog. After all, it is about the new media! I like the blue shades in the colour scheme (somehow blue always connotes a sense of cool tech, doesn’t it?) and the curves suggested a sense of the blogosphere.

Now, I’m trying this out: 

  Current theme preview

Well, what do you think of this one?

What do I think of it? Come back another day and you’ll find out.

Cheers