Category Archives: Thing 04

Thing 4 update

Being the glutton for punishment that I am, I clicked on every link in the sidebar at the 23 Things Blog. Yup, that’s right, I looked at every single 23 Things blog at Oxford. It was an interesting experience.

Common themes included not having enough time ‘for this blogging thing’, that RSS readers take too much time to get through, or just plain not seeing the point of some ‘Things’ at all. There were also a few people deeply concerned about privacy issues, especially when it came to photographs.

Maybe it’s just that these technologies have been part of my life for a long time, but in all honesty, none of those issues occurred to me. I’ve had a blog of some kind for 4 years now, an RSS reader for 2, and I can’t imagine starting my day without either of them. My mother always used to say that if you do something for 30 days it becomes a habit, and the lines of checking feeds and blogs are so ingrained in my mind that you’d need sandpaper to get them out.

So, who do I follow? I’m going firstly for colleagues at my library, then former colleagues at other libraries. After that, it will literally just be ‘whoever looks interesting’. Maybe the more pertinent question would be ‘who do I not follow?’ I instantly closed tabs for blogs where the font or colour scheme was hard on my eyes, or where I found the layout hard to follow. It’s made me think about the design of my own blog and what it says about me when you first click into it. Yes, it’s easy to read, but it’s nowhere near as friendly-looking as many of the others I went to. That’s definitely something I want to solve. I also want to build up a good blog-roll and get commenting on other people’s posts. Unfortunately all of this means that I will have to wrestle with Blogge’rs templates and designs (not to mention how to make a jump cut, because I have such a tendency to ramble!). After 4 years of using Livejournal, this could prove tricky!

On the privacy front, again, it never occurred to me to worry about it. I’ve always worked on the principle of ‘if you don’t want people to read it, don’t put it out there’, and I’m intrigued as to why people want to erase their identities once the 23 Things programme is over. Not that they’re wrong to want to do so, I just don’t understand the impulse. If the blog is successful, then it’s a great tool for showing off your skills. If it’s not, then…does it really matter? If anyone happens past (unlikely but you never know), maybe you could explain that one to me.

Incidentally, following on from my ‘multiple identity’ post a few days ago, I had a moment of indecision when asked if I wanted to add a profile picture to Blogger. On my personal blog, I have an icon that is one of the main things people associate with me. I tried changing it a few months ago and thoroughly confused a whole bunch of my friends. Sad as it may sound, I’ve even designed my Livejournal’s colour scheme around it, since it’s my online ‘face’. Choosing something else would be like having plastic surgery. So I wasn’t sure whether I wanted to use it for my Blogger ID as well. On the one hand, I wanted to keep my personal and professional blogs separate, on the other, that’s mostly because I don’t think professional colleagues are particularly interested in hearing my thoughts on last night’s Doctor Who or whether or not it rained on my way to work. There’s not actually anything in my personal blog that would embarrass me to colleagues, (I don’t think…) so I decided I’d keep the same face. Otherwise, it would be like looking in the mirror and seeing a stranger looking back at me. I’m honestly not sure what it says about me that changing my online picture would cause me an identity crisis!

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It’s raining…er…blogs

There are a lot of people taking part in 23 Things. No really, even more than that. I’ve barely had time to work my way through the ‘a’s and the ‘w’s (I tend to start at the top, realise that I always start at the top then skip to the bottom. I may never get to read anything beginning with ‘m’)

Trying to read them all will be impossible, but a quick sampling has proved interesting. It’s striking how many very short entries there are, where people have just noted “this is my Thing” then moved on. Then there are some very long entries from people who have experience with blogs and are therefore willing to talk for longer.
Personally, I love blogs, although I find Blogger very un-instinctive after several years of using Livejournal. One of my big incentives for participating in 23 Things is to get the hang of Blogger better, as I’d like to have a personal/professional blog I can direct people to, rather than my personal/writing one. I find other people’s lives fascinating, so I subscribe to lots of personal blogs as well as a few ‘professional’ ones. The one thing I don’t do is subscribe to any ‘news’ blogs, since I have news feeds on my iGoogle page that I use to catch the headlines.
As with any piece of work, a blog is usually only as good as the amount of effort a person is willing to put into it. If you’re willing to write regularly, interestingly and entertainingly, engage with your commenters and go out to comment on other people’s posts, a blog can be a successful and lively place to be. If all you do is drop a one line post in every now and again, it’s probably not going to be. I’d also say that the commenting is essential. The key with Web 2.0 technologies is engagement – if you’re not prepared to go out into the wider blogosphere, you can’t really expect people to come to you. And if you’re not providing them with content when they do click the link, why would they come back? With all these programmes, you have to decide what you want to get out of it, and how much work you’re prepared to do to make it happen.
Now, I’m off to do just that before I get even more philosophical about it…

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