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Archive for September, 2009

Blogging 101: Adding Images

Some of you are already using images in your posts. Like you. And you. And you, over there.

Since Blogger (and similar applications) make adding images pretty easy, you should consider using them if you aren’t. Not all the time maybe, but they can help break up long blocks of the text, and add not only color, but provide additional information, or convey things that are better expressed through pictures than words.

So, let’s say you were writing an entry about Henry David Thoreau. You might want an image of him, so your reader could visualize him while reading what you wrote. There are four simple but important steps:

  1. Find your image.
  2. Save it.
  3. Embed it. (That is, “put it in your post.”)
  4. Credit it.

Directions, and a story, after the jump. (more…)

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1) Remember not to use real names. Yours, your teachers’, your friends’, your ex-boy/girlfriends’, etc. The exception: if it’s public information you’re talking about, something about a Kennedy person who’s in the news in some way, then their names are fair game when talking about that topic.

2) If it’s private, best to keep it private. This is not the place to bring gossip and grudges, and it’s not a diary under lock and key. We’re well into the Facebook/MySpace era now, and blogs are certainly a part of that. But part of what we need to do in this class is consider and discuss the ethics of saying things in online situations that feel private but are actually public. For one example, check out this NY Times piece on lawyers and facebook.

3) I suppose this is a good place to remind you that if you write something for class in which you tell me that you are being abused, or that you are participating in illegal activity, I am required by law to report it. It’s called being a “mandatory reporter.” Same with all teachers, in all fifty states. Just so you know.

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Making a Blog

If you weren’t here last Thursday when we walked through making the blogs, check out this cool flash tutorial made by Hide the Elephant blogger (and former AP-er) Nicholas Wood.

Nicely done, Nick.

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Ideas for Blogs

Coming up with topics for your blog can be tough when you’re first getting started, especially if you’ve not read a lot of blogs in the past. Here are a few examples of different

Blogs focused on a perspective

These blogs tend to have a bunch of different topics that don’t appear to be related. What keeps them tied together is the interesting person who likes all those things, and writes about them in an engaging way. In other words, the writer comes first in this type, not the topic.

Blogs like this might include Andrew Sullivan’s “Daily Dish,” or Ta-Nehisi Coates’ blog on Atlantic.com. Last year, lots of students’ blogs fell into this category: Don’t Worry and In Depth are two. I’d also add that my own blog falls most comfortably into this category.

The risk of doing this kind of blog is that if you get lazy, this can become a stream-of-consciousness,  whatever-springs-to-mind kind of blog. Those are sometimes fun to read, but they’re not the best for class.

Blogs focused on a topic

Plenty of bloggers limit themselves to one topic, or a set of closely related topics. The benefit of this is that it’s easier to figure out what you’re supposed to do, because the blog has a clear identity right away. The Wooster Collective is a blog about street art. Good student blogs in this category include The Panacea (politics), First Impressions of Earth (music & pop culture), and Hide the Elephant (video games).

Blogs tracking a project

Sometimes people have one particular kind of thing that they’re trying to do, like cook their way through The Art of French Cooking (like the Julie/Julia Project), or posting the collected diaries of George Orwell online in blog form, or visiting all the roadside burger places they can find. Nobody’s done this sort of thing for my class yet; it had never actually occurred to me before now. Generally, these should be projects with a clear end. If you have a good idea for such a thing, let me know. It should be interesting and unique. Sports/performance seasons are not good enough for this category unless there’s an awfully good twist.

If you’d like, here are some more blogs I posted elsewhere last year. I’ll come up with some additional links for you, but this’ll have to do for now.

UPDATE: My Question Mark is another great example. I’d put this in the second category.

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Blogs Emeritus

I’ve already linked a few blogs to the site, over on the side there, under “Blogs Emeritus.” Strictly speaking, it’s not the most appropriate title I could’ve come up with, as these bloggers haven’t retired. In fact, the whole point is that they’ve continued blogging after they could’ve stopped. It’s an honorary thing, designed to continue funneling traffic in their direction. I may add more under that category later. Take a look at them to get a sense of what good blogs might look like.

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