Blogging Away

Blogs, a contraction of "Weblogs," are the common person's publishing tool. You can sign up for a free blog account today and immediately start publishing your daily journal, random musings, orderly lists of books, or favorite recipes. Anything and everything has been tucked into millions of blogs all over the Web. Technorati, a blog search engine, releases an annual "State of the Blogosphere." In the 2008 report, the number of blogs posted just in the last 120 days was 7.4 million and approximately 50% of Internet users were also blog readers.

Recently, there has been a rise in microblogging, or recording short snippets of thoughts and actions. Such sites as Twitter and the social networking giant Facebook encourages maintaining relationships through communicating these bite-sized pieces of information about your life (called a "feed" on Twitter). A very cool site, Tumblr, acts as an aggregator and a microblogger - it allows you to easily post quotes, links, photos, and even pull in your feeds from a full-fledged blog.

The cutting-edge quality of blogs make them extremely attractive. Often news will appear first in local blogs or Twitter from people who witnessed the event before news is officially released in media channels. That also means that mistakes are more prevelant and opinions are often presented as fact. Double-checking things presented in blogs is an important step in assimilating information.

Blogs' ability to incorporate multimedia is another reason why they are such a powerful media tool. Now instructions for creating a craft project can be accompanied by a short video demonstrating the process, or a colorful anecdote can be punctuated by a home movie. Photos and audio clips can easily be embedded. A single blog entry can take you to ten different Web sites.

If you are interested in getting your own blog or simply visiting a few, look at the links below to get started.

Get Your Own Blog

 Blogger
http://www.blogger.com
Free blog service run by Google. You can have your own blog up and running within a few minutes. Fast and simple.

Typepad
http://www.typepad.com
Relatively inexpensive but feature-rich blog service with the ability to add photos, change your templates, and more.

WordPress
http://wordpress.org/
This robust software does require that you find a Web host and then download and install it, but WordPress has lots of devoted followers.

 Microblogging

Twitter
http://www.twitter.com
Keep friends, family, and admirers in the know with status updates, thoughts, anecdotes, etc.

 Facebook
http://www.facebook.com
Social network and microblog with your status updates.

Tumblr
http://www.tumblr.com
Post quotes, links, photos, and pull in feeds from other blogs or flickr.

 Stay on top of your blogs

Too many blogs to stay on top of? Use a RSS aggregator to see which of your favorite blogs have new postings. Just sign up for an account and start adding your favorite blogs' feeds. It's easy to get started. Both choices below are free and easy to use.

Google Reader
http://www.google.com/reader/

Bloglines
http://www.bloglines.com/login?r=/myblogs

The library also has some books about blogging, but they do quickly become out-of-date. A few promising ones include:

Blogging for Dummies
by Brad Hill
Find out what makes a blog a blog, how to start one and choose a host, and how to keep your blog updated

Building a WordPress Blog People Want to Read
by Scott McNulty
Provides step-by-step instructions on using WordPress to create and maintain blogs and Web sites.

No One Cares What You Had for Lunch: 100 Ideas for Your Blog
by Margaret Mason
Tired of filling up your blog with boring posts? Take the next step and get inspired to create something unique.