Friday, February 9, 2007

Blogging on other people's blogs

Journalism. I knew that, that was the field I wanted to forever be apart of since I was in first grade. It came natural for me to want to look at blogs about this particular subject. I had even looked at a few upon entering this class, let alone have to blog about one.

I was picky when it came to selecting the one I wanted to analyze/write about. Be an audience, be an audience. The words of Morgan, my classmates and Rebecca Blood were circulating in my already racked brain. I looked at several journalism blogs. Some were good, some were poor, and some I just plain didn't understand. There were just some many and none were even a little bit close to being similar. I don't know what it was about the teaching online journalism blog that caught my eye. Maybe it was the fact that I have only known of face to face teaching to become a good journalist. Could it really be effectively learned online? I wanted to find out.

Mindy McAdams was the lady of the hour. Well, the hour I dedicated to step two of this exercise. She was the creator of the Teaching Online Journalism blog and a professor of journalism way down in Florida. As stated in her profile, she teaches university courses about online journalism and changes in the ways we use technologies for communication. She loves seeing multimedia used well to tell journalism stories.

When looking at any blog, I have the habit of first looking at the profile and just reading the author's interests. Mindy, I'm going to go with a first name basis here, likes journalism (duh), storytelling, The Matrix, and Bruce Springstein to name a few points of interest that seemed to pop out to me. As I was looking at her interests I noticed she had another blog entitled "Scooters USA." At first, I thought it was another journalism blog. No, no, it was actually about scooters. A little odd, but I liked its rarity all the same.

Anyway, back to my focal blog. One of the first features I explored on Mindy's blog was what she blogs about. Pretty self explanatory. She has a listing of things that interest her enough to blog about them. They all deal with journalism and other electronic web features. One of the interesting things about this list was that each item listed was linked to further information. I clicked on a few of them to see where else Mindy redirected her audience. There were no listings under books; I assumed that was in the process. When I clicked on photojournalism I was brought to a list of post by Mindy related to the topic. One of the posting was titled People who love photography and people who love stories. I read the post, which was rather short, and it was about transition of journalists to photographers and vise versa. Mindy was explaining in her post that photojournalism was a sort of happy medium for those out there that loved to, well, take pictures and tell stories. The posting revolves around an interview with Rob Finch, who has made such transitions within the two fields. Mindy touches on the interview only briefly, but reluctantly has a link to the full story, which I went on to read. Finch's background is fascinating. The experience he has is what I desire and admire. Finch offers photographs of his photojournalistic journey and offers insight to internship information. The interview, which gets pretty lengthy, is definitely worth reading. Even if his or my current audience doesn't want to read it in full, the photographs are amazingly worthwhile to check out.

Ok, back on track to Mindy's blog. She openly gives her audience a list of stuff she is confident they'll be interested in. The section of her blog was true voice speaking. Mindy was reaching out and giving tips on what else to look for if curiosity arose in this field. Under the stuff we, as readers, were thought to like, were books about online journalism, cool gear for solo mojos, such as digital cameras and voice recorders, and books for web or wanna be web designers. Mindy was right, those interested in her blog, would for sure want to explore her further suggestions.

As long as I'm exploring the right hand side of Mindy's blog, I'll also mention she has a listing of sites she likes to visit and what she thinks her audience should visit. What I liked best about this feature was that she titled it "What I like to visit." Her listing includes the BBC News, Journalism Jobs, J-Lab, which is The Institute for Interactive Journalism, and more. To me, this says that although this blog is obviously set up for the public to view and find beneficial, it is also for Mindy. As Rebecca Blood states in her book, the blogger needs to have a blog for themselves. Good for Mindy.

Mindy McAdams is by no means a newer blogger. Her archive dates back to December 2005 and has regular postings every month until the current date. I like bloggers like Mindy. As a true journalist, she never runs out of things to say. Of course, as we all know, there are definitely days where there is just nothing to blog about, however, with Mindy, she makes up for it in her daily lengthy postings. Her postings are personal, however, as I read into them, I find myself noticing that Mindy's blog really falls under the notebook type category. Although, there are so many links to other blogs and websites, through blog rolls and basic phrase clicking, on Mindy's blog that also makes it seem as if it were a filter. I ping-ponged back and forth, while trying to decide which one it might be when I finally concluded that her blog is a little bit of all three types. Impressive.

Mindy's most recent posts, along with almost all of them, were very interesting to read. The posting on February 8th was about Arthur Sulzberger, owner and publisher of The New York Times. She included a quote from Sulzberger that made me laugh: "I really don't know whether we'll be printing the Times in five years, and you know what? I don't care either."

"The idea behind this blog is that it can serve as a place to keep my notes, observations and ideas about teaching. Mostly what I teach concerns online journalism. I also teach about the Internet as a communication medium and about technologies of communication in general." This quote was pulled from one of Mindy's first posts. Several, if not almost all, are all over the place when it comes to journalism. Some are about her thoughts and frustrations about teaching an online course, others, like the one about Arthur Sulzberger, were just plain good writing.

I think that just by reading Mindy's blog, an audience member can become a better writer. As soon as I typed that previous sentence I darted back to Rebecca Blood's advice about writing like someone else for a little while, but still finding your own voice. Before I really didn't know if that was doable, however, after reading through a few handfuls of Mindy's posts, I saw myself putting my writing into words like hers. Ah, the point of her blog.

I could go on for pages and pages about where I found myself by clicking and reading on Mindy's blog. It seemed literally endless. I decide to conclude after I've covered highlights, lowlights, and maybe even touched on the in between. As a hopeful future journalist and successful blogger, I have made Mindy's blog a top-of-the-list favorite. I know that I will often refer back to her blog, not because I want to study journalism online (which I grew to find out wasn't the main purpose of the blog, like I had originally thought) but because I am fascinated by the knowledge and talent Mindy holds.

Wonderful Blog of OZ

After analyzing the journalism blog, I felt like an old pro. Well, maybe not quite. I found myself back at square one. Be an audience, be an audience. The words were running a hundred miles an hour through my mind as I searched for blogs about shopping (boring), photography (too similar to journalism), Harry Potter (I’m a big fan) and then it came to me. I am a Wizard of OZ junkie. I knew that I wasn’t the only one in love with the classic, so I began my search.

There are a lot more blogs out there regarding the Wizard of OZ than I thought there would be. Most of them were pretty strange. I was looking for a something on the more personal side of the blog. I wanted the author to share my interest in the movie and see what kind of ideas they had about it.

I came across the, “The Wonderful Blog of OZ.” The title was cute. It spun off the movie/book’s popular saying, “The Wonderful World of OZ.” So far, I was impressed and I hadn’t gotten past the title. The first thing I did before looking at the posts of the blog was just run the curser down to see what kind of material I was dealing with. I saw a lot of pictures, posts and videos. I found a keeper.

The creators of the blog had a unique background/profile. Eric is the site’s head honcho. He is a 41 year old male, not the typical OZ fan in my mind, but then again, a blog has no rules or stereotypes. He made a blog for himself. It poses as his personal OZ journal. Eric is a substitute teacher from Bainbridge Island. This blog is his journal of his experiences, sharing his successes, discoveries, and other random thoughts. Eric is an acknowledged Wizard of Oz expert and runs his own website on the subject (as posted on his profile.) Under his profile information on the OZ blog were links to other blogs. This guy is all over the place! I read his blog entitled “I am a teacher” to learn a little bit more of what he teaches. His blog on teaching is what Blood would describe as a journal. He talks about how stressful his week of teaching was and gives the readers his schedule. He keeps his teaching posts pretty regular and updates often.

Laura is the sites co-creator. She goes by the nickname Tegan and also had a listing of all of her personal blogs. As soon as I tapped into Tegan’s profile, I realized that she was Eric’s wife. I thought it was cute how they’re each other’s blog audience and maintain blogs together as well as separately. Tegan has her own blog entitled Bloggity- Blog- Blog-Blog. Wow, say that five times fast. Her subtitle: “Is the FBI interested in Laura "Tegan" Gjovaag,” was very clever. I knew I was going to enjoy my Wizard of OZ blog.

Anyway, back to reason for this whole post/assignment, The Wonderful Blog of OZ. Now that I had a little background information on Eric and Tegan I began reading the posts. Some were longer than others and some didn’t make a whole lot of sense to me. They were updated regularly, only skipping a couple days, if any. Some of the posts followed a pattern. There was a few that kept track on the process of the “OZ room.” Eric turned his room into an OZ room and posted photographs and updates of cleaning off his desk and revamping his bookshelves. He received comments from people wishing they could get their OZ paraphernalia organized and similar thoughts. He posted on the development he was making and helped his audience follow the process:

‘I've made some real progress already, but I still have that whole mess on the floor you can't quite see yet, a set of shelves to put into one of the bookcases and the doors to hang, and lots of non-Oz things (comic books and teaching materials, mostly) to figure out what to do with. But the overall shape of things is coming along, and I can start dealing with the little fiddly bits later. So it's looking good and doable, but I suspect it may get a bit cramped in here by the time I'm done.’

Through his postings of the OZ room, Eric was learning self-awareness, as Blood calls it. He was learning that he was making process to cleaning his room, while putting up pictures to remind him of what he had left to do. He even has a label entitled OZ room that can be clicked on to put all of his postings and pictures of the room together, instead of disbursed throughout the other postings of his site. I liked the little Tin Man hanging alongside his desk in one of the photographs. I want one!

The videos on the blog were what initially caught my eye. The latest video on the blog (which appears first) was a London production of Wicked that Laura found. Eric gives a brief introduction of the video, which I found a good idea instead of just throwing it in on there. He lets the audience know who the actresses in clip were, also very useful. It relates to the Wizard of OZ because the witch in Wicked is very similar to the Wicked Witch of the West in OZ. After watching the clip, I want to see the whole production!

The video clip under the title, “And now a word from our sponsors” was a commercial about shoes and ended with the infamous Ruby Slippers and key phrase, “There’s no place like home.” I left a comment under this post with my thoughts on how appropriate it was for the blog.
A few of the other youtube clips on the blog were in a different language. One doesn’t relate to OZ at all, as Eric states, however, the man in the clip is being interviewed by an OZ fan. It’s a little quirky, but it’s his blog and he can post whatever he wishes.

Of course, I can’t go on and on forever about this blog, however, as you can see, I really enjoy it. The material displayed seems endless throughout all the links available and although I realize that it isn’t just a site about OZ, OZ, OZ, but its unique and good design. Props to Eric and Tegan for making a blog worth looking at!

Labs and Blogs

As I began looking for my third and final blog in this blogging blogs exercise, I decided I wanted to do something fun. I tried searching plain old "funny blogs." Most of the numerous "funny blogs" I looked at had some humor in them, but nothing extravagant that I would be willing to write about. So began the thought process, all over again.

During my thought process, my mom called. As we were ending our conversation she said, "Gunner misses you." Gunner is our 5 year-old yellow lab. Then it clicked. I could search blogs about labs. I might find out things to teach Gunner. My dad trained him as a champion hunting dog, but is always looking for new tricks and suggestions. What a great idea!

There are more blogs on labs than I had anticipated there would be. As I had suspected, there were several blogs dedicated to training tips on what age is appropriate to begin which techniques. To be honest, after looking at about seven different blogs, I was ready for a new blog topic to search. Then, I stumbled across a very different kind of blog. In fact, it was so cute I could not, NOT write about it.

The blog I found was about Timber, The Trail Running Lab. What made this blog so unique was that the author was none other than Timber himself! Call my corny, but I thought it was pretty clever.

Timber is a female running coach from Leveen, Arizona. Her nickname is the Big Yellow Bus and she enjoys trail running, hiking, camping and of course, eating. All of her favorite movies, books and music deal with dogs in some way. I enjoyed that one of her favorite songs was, "Who Let the Dogs Out?"

The last time the blog was updated was Sept. 2006, so not very current, but I guess not too long ago. Her most recent posts was about how her mom and dad got new mountain bikes and she stays home to take mega naps while they ride. She also included a link as to where the mountain bikes came from. Who would have thought a dog couldn't do PR for a mountain bike shop?

Timber has a lot of pictures of herself out on the trails; with captions under each explaining what she was doing or feeling at the time the photo was taken. To go along with the pictures Timber has displayed is a listing of all the races she is scheduled to participate in. The blog is nothing short of a self-expression blog that Rebecca Blood discusses in her book. Timber is letting her audience in on the details of her racing in the trails and what it is like from her canine point of view.

As I read through some of the older posts in the blog I noticed an obvious pattern in them being a form or recap of the races Timber had been partaking in. She also talks about how busy her mom is with a new job and the mountain bike races. Its neat how ultimately Timber's mom is realizing the hectic life she is leading through apologizing on the blog she made for her dog.
Timber talks about visiting her uncle, Koda, who by darned, is also a yellow lab. Koda scares Timber sometimes and they end up barking at each other a lot. Timber hopes they can someday work through their differences. So cute.

In one post, Timber describes the 90 degree heat she ran in and how her mom kept nagging on her to drink her water. Timber taunts her mother by not doing it right away and finds it humorous. The more I read, the more I love how unique this blog is. Timber also writes about taking her mom's socks and running away. The voice in this blog is almost as if it is coming from the dog. The way the words, "She then has to chase me all around. She now tries to ignore me when I do this, but before you know it....there she is saying...give...give...give...finally I drop the sock and the game is over," make me forget for a spilt second that Timber is not actually writing this! Don't call me crazy either. I'm not the only one that thinks that. There are several comments on the blog talking to Timber and commenting her on her races and giving her advice on how to outsmart her mom and dad in the "taking the sock games."

This blog is very basic, but as I've said from the beginning, is very unique. Not a lot of people would think to make a blog for their dog, let alone adding several posts and pictures to spice the place up. One feature I haven't seen in other blogs was a picture of Timber with the words "Big Yellow Bus" printed over her head. It was posing as some form of logo for the blog and was placed at the beginning of every post. Little things like that act as a big feature to how personal the blog is.

My guessing is that Timber's "mom" created this blog as a form of keeping in touch. Whether it is with family, friends, or fellow runners, this blog keeps them up to date on how their racing, biking, or daily lives are going. It also lets them look at pictures of Timber, who seems to be an only child, just as they would look at pictures of children on any keeping in touch blog.

After taking my time to view this blog, reading the posts I find myself a little jealous of how creative some people can be. I don't know if I would have ever thought, or maybe even wanted to make a blog for Gunner. All in all though, it was a cute idea and I think it fit the requirements for this exercise. It really does prove that there are literally blogs out there for everything.

Tuesday, February 6, 2007

I'm not boring after all!!

Rebecca Blood is a genius. Well, in any sense I am really starting to like her writing. Chapter 4 was an eye opener about blogging. I had the thinking that everyone else in my Weblog class was more interesting than me and was doing better work than me. Rebecca even said herself that, that feeling still happens to her! Who would have thunk??
Chapter 4 deals with the freedom you have in your blog. It is seriously YOUR space. Rebecca encourages bloggers to write about what interests them, what they think is funny, and what they find in their junk drawers. Weird? Maybe.
This chapter also touches on the fact of audience. As bloggers, we should be thinking about who we are writing for. Or...who we AREN'T writing for. I think that makes a little more sense. Audience is key. Rebecca encourages bloggers not to write about anything you wouldn't say in a job interview. That makes a lot of sense. Also, if your blog is to keep up with friends and family, as many are, don't write something you wouldn't want grandma reading.
Blogs are all about self-expression. They're a place to vent, observe, gloat or be silly. I want my blog to be more of a self-expressive blog. If I have a bad day, don't worry, you'll probably hear about it. Blogs are also a great way to keep in touch. Take facebook for example. I find facebook a form of a social network blog. I can keep in touch with my friends that go to school out of state way better than I could without it. Blogs are really a great solution!
Rebecca comments about the reputation a blog and you have. Again, be careful what is said in blogs. Take note of who has access to it. Webloggers can educate themselves through blogs. They essentially become experts on a given subject(s).
A weblog's purpose is up to the creator. We are encouraged to write what we are interested in. A good weblogger updates often. It doesn't have to be every day or every week. Just enough to update on life. Don't stray away from who you are. Don't focus posting things just to make other people happy. Make yourself happy! Someone will always have a larger audience than you do. Don't try to compete with them, you'll never come out on top.
All in all, our blog are our space. We need to have fun with them, speak our mind, and switch it up every now and then. I think that I've come a long way in just two weeks with my blog and Rebecca has reassured me that I am right! Keep up the good work, Emily!

A new Bloody post

I've done nothing all day. It isn't even that cold out. As I mentioned in my last post, I don't have classes on Tuesdays. It really nice, actually. I took today to settle down for the nonstop running I've been doing the past two weeks. It caught up to me and I slept until noon. Yay me! Anyway, four o'clock has come around and I've decided to comment on chapters 2 and of Ms. Blood's book.

Chapter 3:

I liked this chapter. I'm glad that its apparent how difficult it is to write every day. I found myself wondering if I should post something just to post something. After reading chapter 2, I realized that if I did that, I'd be putting you all to sleep with my ranting and raving. I also found myself enjoyed the self-awareness portion of the chapter. The more I write about something, I might realize if something is bothering or making me happy. I know writing can do that, but maybe its different than writing it down on paper. On something like a blog, the information flows freely.

Blood points out the audiences we are building. I spent the last half hour or so skimming blogs online for our project in class. I found myself searching several similar, yet very different blogs about subjects I enjoy. As I bookmarked a handful of blogs, I tied it back into this chapter. I was becoming the audience. The blogs I found had links to blogs I liked better or found more interesting.

Blood tells her readers’ that the happiness derived from a weblog will depend on your interest and your ability to devote sufficient time to the project, and your commitment to keeping the rest of your life in balance. (p. 35) Does she know me?? It seems like she is saying exactly what I keep trying to tell myself to do to keep on top of this and all my other classes. She is a genius.

Chapter 4:

Trying to maintain a blog can only show us if we'll enjoy it or not. Thus far in Morgan's class, I've found myself liking keeping up on my blog. I don't know that I've very good at it yet, or if anyone else likes it. I take that back, I don't care what you think. ANYWAY, Blood tells us the only tools we need to form and maintain a blog is our own minds. We create everything on our own, no software or strings attached. Blood reassures us that most new webloggers do not have a technical background and for them there is a vast mysterious expanse in the world of blogs. Easy and free are the guidelines for anyone weblogger. We're not supposed to get ahead of ourselves and make this into a complex activity.

Page 43 of chapter 3 has questions a blogger (like myself) can ask themselves about their blogs. I went through and read them, I'm doing ok.

Blood breaks down what a blog entitles: Archive, copyright notice, email address, sidebar, permalinks, search, comment systems. Along with these basics, blogs can be designed any way. Templates are rare, but a blogger can make them their own. I personally, like to change mine up. Its like rearranging my room, I'll always get sick of looking at the same old thing.

Chapter 3 also touches on the name of the blog. Make it unique! The name a blog is given sets up its reputation. I chose my blogs name because of my last name and how much fun people have with it. I'm thinking so far, I'm doing ok in the blog world :)

Monday, February 5, 2007


It is really cold today, my brain is frozen.

I really hate Mondays'. I know you're thinking, everyone hates the first school/work day of the week. I really hate them because I happen to be a genius and schedule pretty much all of my classes on this day. Super, Emily, super.

Just to refresh my memory: 9-10: work/10-11: weblogs/11-12: intermediate writing/ 12-1: int'l relations (beech will make me laugh)/1-2: adv. comm. seminar/2-3:40: media ethics. Seems long?? Oh wait, I have to leave ethics early because I have a digital photography workshop that runs from 3 to 8. Yes, a five hour class. Whoopie. Wow, thats a fun word to say in my head. Go a head, say it in your head.

When I get done today I am going to get Rachel and making her go eat with me. I don't care if she's busy, by the time 8 p.m. rolls around, I'm going to be hungry.

For anyone else with a long, hard Monday, I feel for you. Good luck.

*I don't have classes on Tuesdays!!

Thursday, February 1, 2007

So far, kind of interested...

Chapter one in the Weblog Handbook by Rebecca Blood really surprised me that there was so much information on blogs. To be honest, I had no ideas blog are as huge as they are. The idea rooted in my mind was that they were something tagged on to social network web sites such as myspace or facebook. I also knew that on e of my mass communication professors used a blog to keep us updated, even so, I didn’t know they were so wide-spread. In my mind, chapter one, “What is a Weblog?” jumped all over the place, but at the same time, stayed clearly as an introduction for dummies like myself J

I’m amazed how a weblog can literally be about anything and people will read it. Anything from politics to humor to everyday thought to minute by minute updates on the September 11 attacks.

I enjoyed learning about the importance of links on blogs. Any piece of work can be brought to an infinite number of reader’s attention through linking.

I like Rebecca Blood’s statement that bloggers unexpectedly turn out to be experts on all kinds of topics. This is so true. Someone that knows a lot about automobiles can dedicate a blog specific to this knowledge and potentially help out any number of people. I think I better star searching blogs on things I find interesting!

I like the verification that journalism can exist in weblogs, but doesn’t usually. I like having the understanding that my entries don’t have to be prim and proper. They don’t even necessary have to make sense!

Overall, this first chapter helps possibly answer a lot of question I had or probably would eventually have about blogs. I like that my blog is my own and I have no guidelines other than to make it so I get an A in this class.