Many people still don’t understand the power of blogging. And many others who think they do, try to run before they can walk, in my opinion. So to begin with often you first need to explain what a blog is, and often “online journal” does not come close to describing what a blog can do for you. Even when you feel you have adequately explained it, you may still get glazed-over eyes staring blankly back at you. Because, really, who wants to read the ideas of some random stranger rambling on and on, and worse still promoting themselves shamelessly?
So first take baby steps before trying to run. I think you really need to read and listen to others first before launching yourself straight away into preaching to the masses. By reading varied blogs from many different sources it educates you and you learn many important steps in the process – some technical, some social, some literary, and much food for thought. This all helps you to develop as a blogger before you set yourself up and start adding your voice to the noise.
Having a list of favourite blog sites in your delicious account or favourites list on your pc is a clumsy way to manage this regular reading task. The backbone of blogging is the RSS delivery method, so the easy way to do this is to set up a blog (RSS) reader. Google Reader handles this beautifully. I can’t understand why so many people don’t get this part of the process because in my experience this has been the major means for my online learning and professional development.
In 2004 when I first set up a blog reader and started subscribing to blogs to read I had 28 feeds from different bloggers. I surveyed the Australian libraries at that time to see who was supplying news via RSS feeds and I found only two. Now you would be hard-pressed to find one that doesn’t use this means as part of their marketing and advertising program. I presented a how-to session to a group of local librarians so they could set up blog readers for themselves and hopefully launch themselves into an efficient and effective learning experience, like I had done.
Setting up the blog reader is The Tool for becoming a Master Surfer of the Web.
It allows you to tailor your information needs to suit yourself and effectively ignore the things you have no interest in. It allows you to listen first, then learn, then grow, then develop, so that finally you might be worthy of publishing your own ideas online and finding an audience for those ideas.
Now in 2009, this week I have sorted my RSS feeds. I had 116 feeds. Of those 15 had not updated in the last 12 months or more and I deleted these. Another 12 had not updated in the last 6 months so I am watching those and may delete them too. I now have 94 feeds and these are organised into the categories of: Art, Books, Creativity, Design, Education, Football, French blogs, Friends, Humour, Jobs, Library, Marketing, News, Real Estate, Travel, Web Technology, and Zen.
After reading blogs first, then learning, in 2006 I felt I was ready to write online. I wrote a blog titled Blog of a Footballer’s Mother chronicling my son’s experience as he worked towards AFL selection. This blog had a single focus and a necessary end point.
I began my personal blog Sues Bent in March of 2008 and it offers ideas that come to me in my work as a Librarian. I simultaneously write about my interest in French lifestyle and culture at French Accent. I am humble and hesitant about offering my contributions to the growing noise and garble online. I continually question the validity of the process and try not to publish if I have nothing worthwhile to say. I always use my own original ideas, text, and images and never steal from others online or otherwise. It is obvious when people do this and it immediately robs them of credibility and integrity. It is heaps more fun to be original anyway, so start creating your own images to illustrate your blog posts.
See my presentation on this topic here.