Professional Blogging

April 26, 2008

I will admit, I’ve looked into making money with a blog. That’s why I even started that one blog, though Blogspot is nothing compared to WordPress. Blogging can be so competitive, but making money should not be the reason one should start blogging. Here are some ideas I got from searching around. I won’t post all of them because one of the tips from 10 Blogging Tips suggested making it brief.

Be interactive. Problogger.net has an article called 12 Ways to be a More Interactive and Accessible Blogger. I can tell you from experience that this is an asset. There is a blog out there called Generation Y (those of you who go to sites like digg.com should recognize this one) where, because of political restraints, she cannot post very often. It is basically a blog about Cuban life from the point of view of a Cuban. It is so popular, other than its controversial subject matter, partially because she is so informal in her writing. She is relating to the others, inspiring her readers to comment on her material. Listverse, a blog with lists of trivia, is another blog I go to on a regular basis. Jfrater, the person running the site, occasionally posts both question and answer sessions with her readers as well as lists about the mistakes with the site she’s made in the past. Both of these blogs are made so much more interesting by their interaction. I think that’s what I need to work on with my AI blog, since I felt its first post was a bit flat.

Be passionate about the topic. As problogger said (can you tell I like their blog?) in their How to Choose a Niche Topic for your blog, you have to not only like the topic enough to talk about it for over a year, it has to be a topic people will read and one that has a good amount of information on it. Granted, this is the internet, and weird topics pop up everyday, it’s the really popular topics that get all the hits on the blogs. I think I’ve covered this well myself, though I do have to have more initiative about blogging. Maybe I should make a schedule. “Okay, Nicole, note to self: you can only write to your personal blog after you update the AI one, and you should update the AI one every Sunday, or whenever you feel you need to update your personal one.” There, like my personal note? Got that covered…

That should cover the basics. There are other tips I’ve seen, such as consider blogging if you have good communication skills/writing skills, or are you social enough to start a blog, but I believe those two tips are ones that are most relevant to me as well as the most important in starting a blog. If you want more information, I love problogger’s Blogging Tips for Beginners. It lists several articles they’ve posted that is informative to us newbie bloggers.

I looked into blogging professionally because I needed the money, to be blunt. I am not the business type, but it intrigued me that a person could actually make money blabbing about some topic for a couple of hours a day. Eh, maybe I’ll find a good niche topic and fly with it. Heh, it’d be funny if we made a class blog with Adsense on it that we all contributed to. Anyone game?

My Blog(s)

April 25, 2008

My AI-hosted blog is here: http://np069.aisites.com/blog/. I hope to have my first post by this Sunday. I’ll edit this post if it’ll be something otherwise, or if I change my topic from what I said in class. I’m so bad about leaving comments in blogs generally, so I’m hoping the nice pingbacks I’ll get from my AI blog will help push me to talk with the other people in the field.

I do have a personal blog that I’ve updated for awhile that is on Andean culture. I would’ve used that subject, but I wanted to not only keep that one nicely updated (something I’ve failed with so far), but also have a blog where I can more effectively connect with people. There’s also the fact that there are so few blogs on the subject that are in English, and my Spanish isn’t good enough to get anything more than the gist out of an article in Spanish. It is here: http://andesculture.blogspot.com/ in case you do want to peruse it (I hope you do, cause I want some suggestions on what to do with it). My AI blog comes first, though, so don’t expect this one to be updated that often.

Collective Intelligence

April 19, 2008

To me, collective intelligence is the intelligence of a group. The knowledge of one person is shared amongst the group. This concept is shown most clearly in the form of wikis.

The blog Wikinomics (a great blog that everyone should subscribe to, by the way) had a great article called Wikinomics Applied to Traffic that showed this concept working in the real world. While this is an odd article, and it might be a stretch to reference it for class, it does show how people working together create their own entity, in this case safer streets. As the article says, “It’s a great model for how pushing out central authority and decisonmaking to end users can result in more optimal behavior.” This sort of test is applicable to other parts of real life, including online wikis. Though, in a wiki it is information that is monitored instead of the actions of others. The people gathered their collective intelligence to form what they wanted themselves.

In Expert or Amateur? Both the author reasons that the web is taking a shift from collective intelligence, but not a complete shift. He quotes Tony Dokoupil from Newsweek, showing that while “everyday” people edit Wikipedia, the majority of articles are being edited by experts in the field the article is about. The author reasons that, while everyone submits content to Web 2.0 websites, it’s the experts that really shine through, that, “Today, an expert is someone who is expert in the network; connecting, sharing, sifting, ordering, and always taking the pulse of the wisdom of the experts and the crowd.” This is collective intelligence. The expert lends his knowledge to the group so that they, too can gain such knowledge.

Personally, this shows a much more open way of sharing information. For me, this means that much more knowledge is available to me than would have been years ago. In my PLE, networking is vital. I remember back when I used to always frequent message boards. We would share our knowledge amongst each other, and I learned so much more from them than I would have ever from a book. They would give advice on what to read, what to expect, who’s the expert in the field, as well as information on whatever we were discussing. It was a treasure trove of information. My PLE works in the same way (well, those message boards in a way were my PLE, even though I didn’t think of it that way), where others deal out whatever they know and can recommend and I do the same back. Looking up facts and discussing them among others is a much better way to learn than having a teacher lecture because it forces everyone to know the facts they are discussing (or writing about in a wiki).

When I first read about Personal Learning Environments, the first thought that came to my mind was: why wasn’t I told this before? The concept should be incorporated into every classroom. This would really help limit the hand-holding that many teachers seem to do.

Using a PLE would get me in touch with others out there who are trying to learn the same thing I am, which would help me understand the information that much more clearly. Content aggregators would be so helpful in organizing links involving the class, and would help others find the information. To be really immersed in learning something would be ideal, so I would like to try making my own PLE.

This blogger really goes into detail about what she uses in her PLE. She has such good tools, I think I’ll try to emulate what she has. Maybe. That may be to complicated for a PLE-newbie like me.

I read a blog (here) that mentioned a class wiki. Does that sound like a good idea for this class? It would not only put the information we learned in class into one location, it would also force us to think about the topics. Maybe it could even be an IMD-wide wiki, so that the students who are about to graduate could help contribute. That way, the upper levels would be more likely to network with us who are just starting. What does everyone think?

What about keeping in touch with each other using IM? I would prefer Skype, personally, but some people may be unable to download such a thing. Maybe setting up something that can be used with meebo.com? The problem with that would be coordinating people’s schedules.

What about Flock? Anybody use it? It’s a browser with social networking tools built into it. It sounds like it would be useful to help organize our PLE’s.

RSS Feeds

April 10, 2008

It is mostly agreed that RSS stands for Real Simple Syndication. Basically an RSS feed is a tool that lets a person view site updates without actually going to the website. They can be accessed using Live Bookmarks, or through a feed reader such as Google Reader. This way, the person only has to go to one place to view the updates. It is only one of many ways to organize information found on the web.

Happy Birthday, DARPA!

April 8, 2008

DARPA, the government organization that sponsored the creation of many things that we take for granted today, including a precursor to the internet (ARPANET) and the computer mouse, turned 50 yesterday. I hope they stuff themselves with cake.

Here’s the article: The Idea Factory that Spawned the Internet Turns 50

Gigaom put out an interesting article about the 10 Ways the Internet Will Die. It seems pretty doomsday-ish, but it is interesting nonetheless. How do you guys think it might end?

Web 2.0 for Designers

April 6, 2008

I wasted a huge amount of time trying to find a meaningful article on sites like Youtube and what it means for copyright, but I give up. I wasn’t happy with what I found, so I decided to give in and look up the differences between Web 1.0 and Web 2.0 design. Here’s what I found: Web 2.0 for Designers. While it was one of the first links I found on Google, it is also widely referenced and did provide some good information.

As the article states, “These tools… will become the frontier of design innovation.” They barely mention the actual look of the pages, instead opting to talk more about the programming and design aspect; the back end, if you will. They mention such things as RSS feeds, XML, and folksonomies.

I have to agree with them on the move from static to interactive. Websites nowadays focus more on participation than forcing the content upon the people. Instead of flashy displays, it’s the content that drives people to the site. It has become more flexible, more workable than the HTML of Web 1.0.

The move towards a more semantic web is also something important, and I’m glad that they mentioned it. The ability to describe the content on the site not only helps search engines find the most relevant sites, but also enables such things as RSS feeds.

I find it funny that they mention that Web 2.0 is a move from design to programming because there are places that say it is the other way around. Other places state that the advancing technology requires that the designer have not only a good grasp on such languages as XML and HTML, but also on elements of design so that the page comes together as something that is both functional and eye-catching. I feel that web design is the art of programming because the two elements of art and science have to come together and coexist in such a way to make the sites work. I have a cousin (yes, storytime, kids) who studied computer programming in college in the mid 90’s. He wanted to be a web designer. I find it funny that I’m in art school to learn how to do the exact same thing. The difference between the two was that the technology at the time he was in school provided a much more limited design capability, where HTML was king. Web design nowadays has shifted to a much more fluid programming capability, letting the designer actually design.

Also check out 7 Things you don’t see in Web 2.0 from Web 1.0. At the end of the article, they provide a link to yet another good article. If you’re interested in the graphic design of the web, those are very good.

The first article I found for homework is actually referenced in Wikipedia’s Web 2.0 article called Market Ideology and the Myths of Web 2.0 by Trebor Scholz. It is in a larger collection of articles called Critical Perspectives on Web 2.0 by Michael Zimmer. I wouldn’t have used it except for a statement made in it that struck me. In the section titled The Shifting Definitions of Web 2.0, they state that, “In 2004, the founder of a large technology publishing house, open source software proponent and multi–millionaire Tim O’Reilly coined the phrase Web 2.0, together with a colleague.” Remember that link from mental_floss where it shows a mention of Web 2.0 in The New York Times? That was in August of 2000. Not only that, but I remember a friend of mine in 2001, the designer of a Three Stooges fansite, addressed the high loading times of his site by saying that he wanted it to be “Web 2.0 ready” (though I don’t agree with my friend’s definition of Web 2.0 because he seemed to think it meant flashier, pseudo-interactive content that in fact was still only trying to pimp his fandom; though he did have a message board on the site). What the article may have meant was that Tim O’Reilly helped bring the term into the mainstream and provided a definite definition for the phrase.

The article itself isn’t too bad. It refutes the claim that Web 2.0 is a revolutionary change. Scholz basically states that using the phrase “Web 2.0” dumbs down the concept of what’s going on with the internet; that it phrases and hypes it for the mainstream. He does not deny that the internet is changing; he merely states that it is changing much more fluidly than one concept can capture. He claims that, while the Web 2.0 hype helped boost the use of the internet, it is “one that is build on false pretenses.”

In it, they reference the fact that much of the technology used has in fact been around for years. I say that, while it is true that those technologies were around for years, it is the application of such technology that makes it unique. Our use of the technology is maturing, and that is the beauty of Web 2.0.

Even though there were “Web 2.0” sites around for years before the dot-com bubble, the majority of the sites were one sided places where one could not provide much feedback. At that time I remember most websites were connected using webrings. There were a few sites, such as Yahoo Picks and Cool Site of the Day, that provided a site to go to per day, though those tended to be based solely on the preferences of the webmaster (ha, archaic term). The biggest thing about those old sites that stands out for me is that the user could not comment on these sites. Those sites’ Web 2.0 counterparts, such as i-am-bored.com, have user submissions and a place to comment. Many sites in the mid-90’s had guestbooks, but those were annoying as anything. The article only takes a look at the forerunners and does not look at the state of the majority of the sites at the time.

The article is right about the change being more gradual; it’s just that the article was that the author downplayed this shift by describing it as he had. Sure, it was more gradual than Tim O’Reilly makes it out to be, but many cultural shifts in history have labels that “dumb down” what happened. My first home computer was a Sony Vaio PCV-70, bought in 1996 (awful computer, full of bloatware). I connected to the internet via AOL using a 56k connection. Yet, I got into the game late; a friend of mine recalls accessing BBS’s using a 1200 baud connection. At least I had graphics, even though most of those were animated gifs and garish colors. There was a change between what my friend saw when he first connected and what I saw when I connected, just like there is a change in the ways people connect nowadays. The technology has been maturing and evolving for years at an exponential rate, and labeling this shift is only human nature.

The author annoyed me a bit at his description of Web 2.0. Labeling something does not dumb it down for the public, it’s only tries to substantiate a phenomena into a catchy term. Contrary to what the author states, the web has shifted its focus, as it has in the past, and will change for years to come.

Another Link

April 4, 2008

Before I get my articles posted for class, here’s a link that’s relevant to our homework. The mental_floss blog has a series called The First Time News was Fit to Print. In it, they dig through the New York Times archives to find the first time a major topic was mentioned in the news. If you scroll down, you’ll find Web 2.0. The link is here: The First Time News was Fit to Print, IX. It’s interesting that the Times article mentioned was written soon after the dot-com bubble burst.

Now I swear I’ll get to the homework.