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BloggerCon III: Newbies

November 11th, 2004 · 1 Comment

Highlights from the Newbies session led by Rebecca McKinnon at BloggerCon III on Saturday November 6, 2004.

  • Ed Cone’s story how he convinced others in his hometown to blog and then had a blogging conference

    ….if you want to create blogs, number 1 start one yourself, number 2 encourage others to do it…

    He recommended newbies start on Blogger and then perhaps migrate to a paid product if they think they will “stick with it”.

  • Rebecca McKinnon: I am an html idiot.
    Me too! Lots of talk about tools and how difficult it is for new users to set up their own blogs.

  • I’m not surprised but it was fun to hear that couples are using (sharing) password-protected blogs to communicate with each other.
  • If you don’t link to others, you might as well be a static web page.
  • How do you keep blogging once you have started? You have to know what you want to do with a blog said Rebecca McKinnon. I liked the discussion of what motivates us to blog…I thought it fit well into my session too!
  • Julie Adair of BBC Scotland Interactive shared the story of Island Blogging – very encouraging to hear how these newbies connected with each other, with the mainland and with the world….
  • Where to go to get blogging help? Rebecca showed her wiki and other helpful sites. Perhaps an on-line class would meet needs but I suspect that there won’t be a good substitute found for in-person help.
  • A story about a soccer blog and its impact on the community, including an autisitic child who started talking as a result of his participation on the team was powerful.

    I left the session encouraged by the stories people had shared (stories that would fit well into emotional life discussions also). I agree with Rebecca’s session post-mortem. I think her session actually contained the potential for 3 sessions:

    – one on nuts and bolts, how to blog, trackback, ping, blogger, etc.
    – one on why people blog (would fit well into emotional life!)
    – one on how to encourage others to blog

    Ed Cone’s comment (see partial transcript below) included all three. So did Julie Adair’s Scottish island stories. But often the discussion fit into one of these points or another. I think Rebecca did a great job trying to keep the conversation on track and trying to come to conclusions to answer questions.

    I do fear that the third point, how to get a community or organization to blog, was a bit neglected. I came in hopes of finding new ways to encourage the island where I live to blog. But in a sense, the stories that were shared, especially Ed’s experience, the Scottish islands and the soccer team player, could convince others easily of the power to blog. Thanks to Rebecca for taking on an intense topic!

    I know I left feeling inspired – not only to use trackback more often (!) but to try to do what Ed and others have done where they live, and to continue blogging, despite the current set of tools. And even in my frustrations with the technical aspects of blogging, I know I’m not alone. That encouraged me too, in a session at a conference where I felt incredibly awkward, unable to get on-line or figure out how to turn off my cell phone. Perhaps the newbies session could morph into a conference of its own, in hopes of evangelizing and convincing non-bloggers to start posting…since, as Rebecca said The blogging culture…is going to need to move to the majority who does email and amazon.com and not much else. Newbies = normal!


    What I’ve written below is a partial transcript, my own notes from the session. I am publishing them here in case they are helpful to others. There may be errors. Please correct me if I have posted inaccurate quotes. Thanks.

    RM = Session leader Rebecca McKinnon
    ? = Question from a participant in the room

    RM:… session to take ideas
    basic resources

    Question from participant:
    What kind of people blog?

    We’re at a really interesting time in blog history. The blogging culture…is going to need to move to the majority who does email and amazon.com and not much else.

    Why would someone want to blog? Who can do it?


    brain blogging to a greater purpose

    people trying to figure out how do I use this for a greater purpose

    who is trying to do that?…

    Ed Cone:
    …I live in my hometown and…I love my community…the information flow is very constricted…I’d like to have more. I’d like to have more community. I’d like our politics to be less-constrained…so I turned my blog local.…I started telling people in Greensboro…”you should get a blog”…and then, people who wanted to be journalists …started doing it…and then dozens of other people started doing it. We had a local blogging conference this summer… we got about 60 people….we met in an art museum on a Saturday morning….all you have to do to be on my blogroll….we have about 60 functioning blogs in our county. …encourage other people to blog, link to them, share your ideas, it doesn’t matter if one of them wanted ….if you want to create blogs, number 1 start one yourself, number 2 encourage others to do it…

    RM: What tools do they tend to be using and why? What problems and complaints?

    Ed Cone:
    Start on Blogger. It’s free. It’s vastly improved…it works for a lot of people…if you’re going to stick with it, you might want to go to a paid product. Generally they start on blogger. My son uses Blogger. It’s free, it’s cheap and you’re up in literally minutes. …that’s your starter kit right there.

    RM: back to the total new users…

    Question from a participant:
    I don’t understand how to use trackbacks. I’ve tried using it on typepad and I find the whole things bewildering.

    Shimon Rura:
    …a way to let you know when someone responds to your blog post.

    a really great way to bring other people to my blog.

    I use simple Blogger. Do I just use a link? Do I buy a product to implement trackback?

    Haloscan for Blogger

    RM: creating a web of conversation….if I’m putting an on-line diary on this, that’s not the entire point. My use of Blogger…I didn’t see any trackback activity.

    …you’re not sharing. There isn’t any difference between that and a static web page. It’s a real culture issue.

    …Joe Trippi…it’s been a constant battle since they lost that site…it you go back to July, it was all inwardly focused, have been in there pounding…unless you engage in dialogue, it’s another marketing tool…

    it (trackback) causes you to lose control …at the same time it’s really broadening your conversation….fear of losing control and the sharing…it’s philosophically so different…let’s get more questions from new users.

    George McDonald:
    I’m interested in people’s best practices….I don’t think I’ve ever gotten connected to other bloggers…part of it is an emotional thing…part of it is finding a good set of tools…it’s kind of an open question for other people…

    I keep playing around with switching tools too. As users the dream tools have yet to be invented it seems to me.

    Participant (commenting on how to know what to blog)

    1) content interesting enough to forward to other people
    2) Net NewsWire and MarsEdit – read something and post to my weblog

    I started to use it as a log of work practices and as a bookmark spot, that is, when I read documents, I’m doing a whole lot of background reading…that’s giving me an awful lot of value…here’s a way that has value…

    Gene Becker:
    it’s why do you want to blog? Is it about personal expression? trying to become a corporate blog? …a memory device?

    you have to know what you want to do with a blog …

    (not just because interesting or cool)….if an organization is going to use a blog effectively, it has to ..have some consensus…

    what are the implications of blogging? …in effect you become a public figure…

    what are the implications when I actually do?

    RM: NGO ….is this really good for their security? …should we be making this an internal blog and only showing some of it?

    ? is there a generally agreed upon model for when would you use email and when would you blog?

    Blogging can be very intimate, between two people, password-protected, just to throw in a mix…it can be the emails to your friend, only….that’s probably where a lot of real newbies are going to come from….

    lots of couples starting blog for themselves…those blogs work because people have a real purpose in communicating..

    it should be a natural expression….

    James Schultz:
    ….I think I want to get into corporate intranet blogging

    RSS – corporate intranet – weblog from each department…

    RM: RSS?

    aggregator discussion

    ?: we actually did have an internal blog that we used

    ? The theory was…that we would give people the freedom to comment back to the organization….this is a hard thing to sell to an organization…that you should give

    Julie Adair from BBC Scotland Interactive:

    island blogging…BBC there was an …initiatve, about 8 islands were all given a free PC…and we had to follow that up…we came up with a particularly quick, dirty interface for folk to create their own content….and helped people learn what they could do and what they could write about it…
    there’s about 20 or so really vibrant blogs…for us it was fascinating way to create digital literacy…we had a lot of blogs on the BBC website writing blogs about United States elections….we have community now, vibrant community of thought…from the islands to the next island, …to the mainland…to the world…what I’m calling it virtuous content circle…

    the islanders stole the whale jawbone ……it moved from a tiny little microcosm into regular news…it validates for bloggers what they are doing….an island of 70 inhabitants….my colleagues…20 blogs to hundreds of blogs is going to be difficult…more than just text and pictures, their audio, their video….

    RM do people have the option to choose their own tools?

    Judy: it’s very geographically based right now.


    coming back to the tools issue – there’s no one set that does everything that everybody wants…

    (explaining why she had to move her blog)

    …but then, as the thing got bigger and more trafficked, nobody in China could access it , South Koreans …had to migrate to MT on a server…cause I don’t know how to install stuff on my own server..cause I’m an html idiot….there’s a lot of groups using typepad or blogger doesn’t work for them…..the tools that are available that you install on your own server are a lot less learner friendly….I’m just using this as an example….I wantn to do this…how do I do that? …why can’t we just have some function that when you install WP ….I don’t know unix or how to do ftp transfers, why isn’t there drag and drop? I imagine there’s a lot of other newbie questions like that. If for instance you are a human rights group…the tools you are giving your activitists out in the field to use…they’re not able to use the blogger stuff…it becomes harder to move blogging to more people because of the lack of flexibility of the tools…

    it’s extremely difficult to do what you j ust asked for…drag and drop capabilities is actually very hard…the vendors are going to have two choices….or make it extremely easy….they are trying to do that on the hosted version..

    I’m totally a non-techie…that’s why I’m a personal user…I started with a cell phone…lots of my first posts were just pictures…for me blogging is not about my ideas…it’s just snapping pictures…sometimes I’ll moblog 5 or 6 times a day. I think that’s what most people get to.

    those who do photoblogging – who is your audience? I’m always thinking the blog is more related to the dialogue it creates….

    at the beginning …it comes back to the comments and trackbacks…meeting people I would never have met otherwise….I’ve met several off-line….we decide to meet up…even though it’s just photos…they have opened up to me…somethings I’ve blogged about have touched somebody….it’s social….I didn’t realize the value in terms of a diary…I didn’t even think about it when I started.

    I don’t blog my daily life….it’s also my father is in the UK….the person you write the blog for is you…

    in learning about blogging…I launched a blog for the soccer program that I run in my town….there are competing programs in town….the other programs were throwing away our flyers…try to create a community about youth soccer in our town…we would attract people into a site that would promote youth sports and soccer…what’s happened is that we’ve been able to grow a program of 400 kids. Specifically recruit kids with special needs…they can’t play on Saturdays for example, everything we do is now on-line. We now do on-line registration, the cost of running our program…using the blog to create a community…has a real impact….we had a kid who was autistic…who’s been playing soccer with us…as a result of being recruited through the blog..he’s now talking to his parents….they were in tears, emotional, because of the changes…they became aware…the reason they knew about it was that we used the blog…

    I have my national debate thing..but the thing that’s been meaningful in my life as been personal..

    One thing, this is not done yet, but we are working on it, I live in a small community and we have horrible phone service…people are either physically isolated or socially isolated…

    when groups are asking me why should we blog….just because you can have so much effect for little money..there was human effort and time but little money…that power of people who don’t have access to lots of capital to invest in the system is what I’ve found …..an individual with no technical ability and o capital can do this thing…

    ? where do we go to get help when we have a problem?

    it doesn’t exist…maybe somebody can start an on-line class….I ended up calling friends who are techies and bugging them until they helped me…

    ? Userland…these companies are trying to make money…but what we do is we have tutorials on our website…it’s amazing how much people are willing to share…

    Blogging is a support group on yahoo…virtually all my intiaties from my site….has anybody done any analysis on whether you’re better off releasing part of you feed…

    If you just publish a couple of lines – people with either click to your blog…many people prefer to have their whole post in their aggregator….

    ? Blogging may not be the solution for what you need. There are lots of alternatives to blogging…

  • Tags: bloggercon

    1 response so far ↓

    • 1 Michael Levin's Weblog // Nov 12, 2004 at 2:37 am

      Podcast from the Swamp goes to San Pedro!

      Here’s a new Podcast from the Swamp !

      GatorJUG Podcast RSS 2.0 feed MP3 (25Mb)

      Thanks to Tod Maffin for the lead-in magic!

      Today’s Podcast from the Swamp discusses Podrolling and lots more!
      Topics include:

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