Posted by: lrrp | April 19, 2007

Your blog , your space

This is one of a six-part series on key WEB 2.0 technologies.

Blogging

About 10,000 new blogs are created every day. I would like to say that it should give you a picture of what’s going on in cyberspace but that would be a gross understatement. Of all of the Web 2.0 mediums, blogging has made the biggest impact. They are almost as good as a personal website, far simpler to set up and as easy to use as email. Even though I can’t honestly discount the possibility that there may be a few bloggers out there who have hidden agendas for world-domination, blogging has become the phenomenon that it is today simply because a healthy proportion of bloggers out there have something interesting to say.

As a method of getting your writing and ideas in front of an audience of potentially millions, there are few methods more effective than blogging. Even though hardcore bloggers will demand that a blog be updated at least once a week, your blog is your space to say what you want, when you want and the way you want. You need not be a great writer to have an active and popular blog, because blogs these days can have audio, video and pictures – making them versatile tools for self expression, irrespective of your medium of expression.

The key advantage of a blog is that you need not know a single HTML tag to be able to customise your blog and to start posting even though a little bit of technical know-how and common sense will take you an extra mile or two. And when it comes to posting, you can even email pictures and videos to your blog to post them instantly. It is no wonder that such pictures and mobile-phone captured videos published on the “blogosphere” (I promise that’s the last time I am going to use that word!) became the first and most intimate accounts of the tsunami catastrophe and even from the scenes of terrorist attacks.

Most of us bloggers will only ever need the functionality and ease of use that a Blogger.com account offers, but for the more tech-savvy who are looking for more than just a personal Blog would find many uses for the professional features offered at WordPress.com for free. There are also other free and paid blog services offered by different providers, but for all practical intents and purposes, Blogger and WordPress can match up to any of them.

So how do you get yourself a blog? Well, first ask yourself whether you have anything interesting to say or show. If you do, read on to find out how you can become a blogger in another 20 minutes.

Try and make sure that you have a general theme for your blog – an idea about what you want it to be. It can literally be about “anything and everything” if you want it to be so.

Then go to http://www.wordpress.com/ (we will be using WordPress.com in this example, but you may choose Blogger.com or any other blog service of your choice. Note that Blogger.com now requires that you have a Google account before you can sign up for a free account) and click on “Start a Blog in seconds” and even though that promise is not positively an honest one, you can still get your blog in ‘minutes’ but following the simple instructions on the site.

You can host your blog with most providers for free, or if you already have a registered domain, it is quite simple to direct your blog to the registered URL.

If you host your blog on your own specified server other than that of your blog provider, you may almost certainly have to download a piece of software from your provider and install it on your web-server before it can host your blog.

You can customize the look and feel of your blog by choosing a theme, the sidebar arrangement, by adding external links, changing the header image, adding RSS feeds and so on.

Perhaps you may want to circulate your blog only among your friends or you may want to advertise your blog and draw in as many visitors as possible.

To get the mildly offensive advice out of the way; the key to making your blog popular is by having something interesting to say. If the popularity of your blog is important to you, then you can also promote it on ‘democratic news’ or ‘social book-marking sites such as Digg, del.icio.us or Furl (we will talk about these in the coming weeks) and also promote it on Blog tracking services such as Technorati. If the contents of your blog is targeted at a Sri Lankan audience, you can submit it to community blogs such as http://moju.lk/ or http://www.kottu.org/ Also make an effort to engage yourself constructively in blogger communities by commenting on blog posts that interest you and sharing thoughts and ideas with others who may be able to appreciate your input. Make sure you are polite and courteous towards other bloggers and respectful of the right of others to hold opinions that may not only be different but opposite and sometimes even offensive to you.

Techno Page welcomes bloggers to write in with their thoughts, ideas and any information they want to share. Please forward your epistles to technopage@gmail.com

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