13 May 2006

How did I create my blog? And Why did I create my Blog?

Quote of the week – “It is not enough to have a good mind, the main thing is to use it well. “ -
Rene Descartes

How did I create my blog? And Why did I create my Blog?

How to:
Step 1 – I decided to read about Blogs. I conducted a literature search using different search engines. I also used my State Library of Queensland database subscriptions to find published journal articles. I also found the ‘About” website very useful - http://www.about.com. I read and found out how Blogs are used, why they are used, who is blogging, what I needed so that I could create a blog and the different software available.

Step 2 – Which software? After reading the literature, and analysing the Blog software comparison chart, published July 14, 2005 in the USC Annenberg Online Journalism Review http://www.ojr.org/ojr/images/blog_software_comparison.cfm
(this is also linked to within the article by Gardner, S, Time to check: Are you using the right blogging tool? http://www.ojr.org/ojr/stories/050714gardner/index.cfm),
I decided that Google’s Blogger http://www.blogger.com/ was the best fit for my purpose of a combined personal & professional development blog. It also met my criteria of limited programming knowledge and minimal system requirements.

Step 3 – What would my Blog be about? And what would I call it? I conducted a search using various search engines and the terms: librarian blogs, library blogs, and so on. Have you seen the Laughing Librarian’s Blogga Blake song? It’s worth a look. I played it over and over for the tune, and then to see the different types of Blogs that are out there. I was going to have an “information literacy” title, but when I did a search on this, there were already a few out there by different derivates, so I decided to ponder some more. A few days later, I had the ‘Lateral’ thought. My creative side kicked in and I wanted something catchy that starts with L to make a three-L logo, with Librarian as the third. I searched for: lateral librarian blogs and none were to be found, then along came literal and look out Blog Land, “The Lateral Literal Librarian” has been born.
Step 4 – How did I create this blog?
Finally, I begin with http://www.blogger.com/
1. Create an account
2. Name your blog
3. Choose a template

I originally chose a different template, then a few weeks later changed it to the one I have now.

Step 5 – How do I drive this thing?
Next came learning how to drive the ‘Dashboard’, (aptly named because there are so many things on the dashboard of a car that tell you what you’re doing with the car if you know what they are for, and there are lots of things on the Blogger dashboard and you need to learn their purpose).
There are 4 tabs, Postings, Settings, Template, View Blog and all have different submenus and associated functions. I needed to learn which one did what. So, I explored these and had lots of fun.
Postings – this is where you ‘create’ a new post, Edit an existing post, Moderate comments made, or view the ‘Status’ of your postings for the session.
Settings – this is the largest section of the Blog and where you spend most of the time in your initial setting up of your Blog.

* Basic – Title, Descripton, and so on.
* Publishing – What’s your URL going to be? And so on.
* Formatting – How many posts to a page, what date format do you want and so on
* Comments - Did I want the ‘Comments’ feature enabled?, Who would I allow to comment? And so on.
* Archiving – Will your posts be archived weekly or monthly, do you want your posts to have their own page?
* Site Feed – Do you want your site feed enabled so that people can subscribe to your Blog? This is the RSS component, but there’s more work you need to do.
* Email – enter email addresses
* Members – who are the members of your blog?

Template –
* Edit your current template – this is where you get to be a HTML whiz and change some things, add links, add Categories or topics, add your RSS feed code, add a Copyright footer, and add Metatags such as meta keywords and meta description in the header so that your Blog can be found by search engines. {this is where a large proportion of my time was spent for the first month}
* Adsense – Only if you want advertisements on your blog
* Pick a new template – Do you want a new look and feel to your Blog?

Step 6 – How do I edit this template?
This was the steepest learning curve in the whole process. I wanted some ‘Categories’ or ‘Topics’ on my Blog. The template didn’t have this in-built, so how could I add this. I knew it was possible, because I had browsed individual Blog pages to look for ideas and saw that other blogger blogs had some nice features that I wanted, including the RSS feed. I used Blogger’s help feature, which led me to a myriad of articles. I found code scripters which did an initial scripting of HTML for me based on the categories or topics I initially chose. A few times I had the < > displaying on the web page, but managed to adjust the code and fix it up. Phew! What an effort, but that’s just the start.
I spent some time reading the code and noticed at the bottom there was a spot for me to add a Footer, so this became my Copyright statement.

Step 7 – Can you keep up the ‘posting’ of articles?
It is time consuming, so don’t do it if you aren’t prepared to post regularly. People just won’t come back to your blog, neither will they subscribe to it. My Blog was born in February 2006 and it has been added to 3 separate Library, Librarians or Information literacy websites. Now the pressure is on to perform. Where do I get my ‘post’ ideas from? Most of my posts so far have come from personal experience and reflection and so are reflective. However, this post has come from a very recent activity, whereby I read the literature and I have referenced these at the end of this post, just like one does when publishing a journal article. Some of my ‘post’ items are ‘seeded’ from discussion lists, and the “contributors” are acknowledged. I will also post ‘outside’ my background when I read through the ‘folders’ of literature in my filing cabinet and email Folders. I am interested in public libraries also, particularly the funding, leadership, and outreach aspects. The leadership & management posts are based on articles I have read and my preferred styles of leadership. We all have room to develop personally and professionally and this blog is definitely proving a valuable tool for me.

Why Blog?:
I created this Blog for a number of reasons. I wanted to find out more about emerging technologies in libraries as I am currently a full-time mum looking for librarian work in my local area. I wanted to be as ‘current’ as possible on returning to work. I also have a lot to contribute to the library arena having worked in an academic library for 11 years. When you are in the daily rush from one task to another and have a family which also means a busy home life, there is limited time to reflect and often is something which rarely happens. This blog has given me the opportunity to indulge in many hours of reflection upon what was, what should have been, what could have been, what would be good, and what can I share, were the many directions I took when deciding what to ‘post’ (write) about. It has helped me personally and professionally and inspired me to ‘read’ about what others are doing. I also keep my ‘searching’ skills refined as I need to rely quite heavily on Internet-based literature as the subscription databases which I have access to are limited in title coverage.

Why not blog?
1. It can be time consuming if guidelines aren’t established. In my experience, I write my ‘posts’ when my boys are sleeping. I write ahead of time in Word, so that I can keep my blog alive.
2. If you can’t type, then a Blog would be a challenge, but not impossible. You could view it as an opportunity to improve your typing skills.
3. You need your own personal computer with Broadband (speed) Internet, so that you can ‘post’ when you wish.

Bartlett-Bragg, A. (2003). Blogging to learn. The Knowledge tree An e-Journal of Flexible Learning in VET, (4) Retrieved March 6, 2006, from http://knowledgetree.flexiblelearning.net.au/edition04/pdf/Blogging_to_Learn.pdf.

Ferdig, R.E., & Trammell, K.D. (2004). Content Delivery in the Blogosphere. The Journal: technology horizons in k12 education, February, Retrieved March 6, 2006 from http://thejournal.com/articles/16626.

Fichter, D. (2003). Why and how to use blogs to promote your library’s services. Marketing Library Services, 17(6), Retrieved February 21, 2006 from http://www.infotoday.com/MLS/nov03/fichter.shtml.

Instone, L. (2005). Conversations beyond the classroom: Blogging in a professional development course. Paper presented at the Australasian Society for Computers in Learning in Tertiary Education Conference 4-7 December, 2005, Brisbane. (Retrieved February 29, 2006 from (http://www.ascilite.org.au/conferences/brisbane05/blogs/proceedings/34_Instone.pdf).

Manuel-Coggins, S.A. (2006) 6 Tips for beginning bloggers. Retrieved March 6, 2006 from http://weblogs.about.com/cs/blogcreatetools/a/beginblog.htm

Quible, Z. K. (2005). Blogs and Written Business Communication Courses: A Perfect Union. Journal of Education for Business, 80(6), 327. Retrieved March 13, 2006, from Business Source Elite Ebsco database.

Richardson, W. (2004). Blogging and RSS - The "What's It?" and "How To" of Powerful New Web Tools for Educators. MultiMedia & Internet@Schools
The Media and Technology Specialist's Guide to Electronic Tools and Resources for K-12 Information Today, Inc, 11(1), Retrieved March 3, 2006 from

Stiler, G. M. & Philleo, T. (2003). Blogging and blogspots: An alternative format for encouraging reflective practice among pre-service teachers. Education, 123(4), 789-797. Retrieved March 13, 2006, from MasterFILE Premier Ebsco database.

Volke, S. Encouraging interaction online: the emerging roles of blogs/wikis/RSS in fostering and encouraging user participation. Paper presented at the VALA Connecting with users, 13th Biennial conference and exhibition 8-10 February, 2006, Melbourne. (Retrieved March 6, 2006 from http://www.vala.org.au/vala2006/2006pdfs/67_Volke_Final.pdf).

Williams, J.B., & Jacobs, J. (2004). Exploring the use of blogs as learning spaces in the higher education sector. Australasian Journal of Educational Technology, 20(2), 232-247. Retrieved March 12, 2006 from http://www.ascilite.org.au/ajet/ajet20/williams.html.


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