What is Blogging anyway?


I’ve got a Murray McLaughlin album in my stack of records and there’s a line that he uses that I’ll never forget.  He was talking about salespeople and the line goes something like “We’re all selling something”.  I wish I could find it on YouTube but couldn’t.  This will have to do.

I was inspired to do some thinking about blogging today during my morning reading.  I have been writing and producing “stuff” online since at least February 1998.  I had always shared my learning and thoughts with others in my job via a paper newsletter and this was the first one that was electronic.  It was right about the time that the Board of Education for the City of Windsor amalgamated with the Essex County Board of Education.  My partner, at the time, Harry Groves and I worked together to move a newsletter fully online.  We were using the best tool at the time – the web editing program in Netscape Communicator.  It took a long time to put together for formatting and navigation, design a logo, learn how to FTP, make links relative or absolute as necessary, and the rest of it.  The newsletter evolved over time and tools like Dreamweaver and FrontPage were editing tools that evolved from the process of putting the newsletter out monthly, and usually on time.  Believe it or not, all of the newsletters are still online (broken links and all) at this location.

In 2008, the newsletter was still there but I had moved to a blogging platform – this case, WordPress.  All of the posts there are still online and I’d determined how to create an archive of posts and that list is available through the blog itself.  Over the years, I’ve played around with a number of different themes before settling on the existing one.  I had even considered a long time ago moving to a self-hosted blog but elected to use free public services just to show that anyone can create their own presence.  After all, if Doug can do it, anyone can.  I’ve got a few other services on the go that are part and parcel of the complete package.  You’ll find my Diigo, Posterous, etc. pages here.  As I flip through them, the words of Murrary McLaughlin ring true for me.  I’m selling ideas about education.

But, what struck me as I think about it, is that all of the platforms have a learning curve at first.  The biggest curve was in the beginning doing a newsletter with web authoring tools.  A pixel here; a pixel there.  Later on, I migrated to blogging tools like Qumana, ScribeFire, or LiveWriter.  They all need some configuring depending upon your host but, once set, you blog and post.  Now, it’s not learning that I regret.  After all, I’m a computer nerdy type of guy and am always looking to learn something new.  But, should everyone have to go through the learning curve just to publish themselves?  In fact, the bigger question is, how many people are sitting on great ideas but don’t share them because they elect not to or can’t learn all the ins and outs.  How many great ideas are sitting unshared?

If I was getting started in the blogging business, I sure wouldn’t have to go through the heavy lifting that I did.  After all, when was the last time that you had to use FTP to put a blog online?  All of this explains the popularity of a Tumblr or Posterous as blogging platform.  They’re both so easy to get things up and running immediately.  Or, to use Diigo, Pinterest, LiveBinders, or Scoopit to share things with others.  After all, if you’ve found something of value, shouldn’t you share it with others so that other don’t miss it?

Shouldn’t we all be selling what we are passionate about?

How could things get any easier?

I found a way this morning.  A new web service makes it so simple to sell your content.  It’s called Checkthis.  No Dreamweaver required.  Nothing at all.  From idea to sales, here’s now it goes.

What do you want to do?

Get Started

What kind of content?

What will it look like?

Add your content

When you’re done typing, Publish it

Where?

and it’s done.  No account is needed to publish (unless you really want).  There’s no bells or whistles to configure, settings to load, local software to configure.  Just create and sell your ideas.  Isn’t that what blogging really is about?

Powered by Qumana

Curating Groundhogs


In case you missed it the first time around and are looking for Groundhog Day ideas….

It’s pretty hard to keep a secret on the internet when you’re transparent.  That came to bite me this morning.  I’ve been working on something and had a couple of people uncover what I was doing.  One actually tweeted about it.

So, I guess I’ll have to come clean with it.

One of the big events in primary classrooms is Groundhog Day.  All kinds of activities happen in classrooms and crafts, drawings, songs, science, etc. all make the day for the big event.  I’ve always maintained a list of resources for this day that I update.  This year, I thought that I would migrate the otherwise boring website to one of the online sites that I’ve been using to curate things.  But, which one?

I was just monkeying around when Tim happened to stumble on it.  He must have been looking at my Scoopit account and noticed that I had this work in progress.  It’s a collection of my resources for Groundhog Day – scooped.  But, I don’t think he’s seen the others!  I’ve also started to curate the same resources at Pinterest and LiveBinders.  I was looking for the best possible scenario.

Scoopit
This was one of the sites. I have the Scoopit bookmarklet stuck in my bookmarks bar and adding resources was just as easy as going to the page and bookmarking it.  Scoopit identifies images on the page as well as a short descriptor.  To use it, just click the title and you’re at the target site.  For this purpose, Scoopit did a nice job although one of the sites wouldn’t allow the bookmarklet to work.

Pinterest
Pinterest similarly has a bookmarklet for finding and bookmarking resources.  You get to choose up front which of the images will be the face of the pin. Rather than the two column format of Scoopit, Pinterest takes a pin to wall approach so that none of the sites are lined up.  It’s an engaging approach.  Sadly, Pinterest absolutely requires an image on the page in order for the pin to work.  So, not all of the sites ended up getting pinned.  But, find a story that looks good, click it, and you’re there.

LiveBinders
LiveBinders takes a different approach.  Instead of giving you one of the catchy images on the target website, you get the entire website embedded in the binder.  The URL is presented at the top and a click leaves the LiveBinder and takes you to the actual website.  Since the actual website is embedded each time, everything that I wanted to include appears in the binder.

In all three cases, there are more resources than would fit on an entire computer screen.  Well, unless you had a big honking screen, I suppose.  Scoopit and Pinterest scroll up and down to see all of the resources.  LiveBinders requires that you click the navigation arrows to move left and right unless you organize the tabs by categories.  I suppose I could have all the Wiarton Willie’s in one tab, the Punxsutawney Phil’s in another, science in another, arts and crafts in another, and so on.

LiveBinders also has the advantage of the presentation mode so that you can visit the sites and not lose the curation page.  That’s handy if you are browsing your way through everything.

Anyway, all three did a nice job of bringing them together into one spot.  Feel free now to use or share with anyone who might take advantage of the resource this Thursday.

OTR Links 02/02/2012


Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.