How to blog

Blogging is a social activity, not a solitary activity. Blogging is about connectivity. But, how you write is up to you. Many bloggers write short essays, like Steve Wheeler on Learning with ‘e’s, or Steven Warburton’s Liquid Learning. Some write very short annotations to links, like Stephen Downes OLDaily. You do not have to be named Steve to blog. Or be male. Josie Fraser’s Social Tech and Dana Boyd’s Apophenia are key texts on the sociology of the Internet.

When you write a blog, the individual entries are called “posts”.

The main thing to notice about blogs is that almost all posts have links embedded in them to other blogs or websites. They often start with phrases like, “I was reading in xyz blog…” and then go on to offer a comment on that blog.

Which illustrates my key point. Blogging is a social activity, not a solitary activity. If you just blurt out your ideas it is unlikely that many people will read them. Of course you can use a blog as a semi private journal. Many people do. But, why would you want to put that on the Internet? You can, but the affordance of the Internet is connectivity.

There are a five key ways that connectivity works with bogs:

  • links
  • permalinks
  • track backs
  • comments
  • blog rolls

Links are when you put a link from your blog to something else. It may be a blog or any other website. I did this in the frst paragraph. This is pretty much a one way link out of your blog on to something else related. You are setting your reader off on a journey. They might not come back to your page. That’s ok.

Permalinks (Wikipedia entry) are what the links to individual posts in blogs are called. When you link to a particular post in someone’s blog (blogger x said this here…) it starts a process called “trackback”.

Trackbacks (Wikipedia entry) are very important. Most bloggers use them. All the main blogging platforms support trackbacks. When you embed a link to another person’s post a comment will automatically appear below that person’s post, on their blog saying that you have made a link to the thing they wrote. Think about this. When you comment on someone’s post in your blog, they will know about it. If you just want to tell your friends that so-and-so is an eejit, and you do it in your blog, they will know what you said about them. Blogging is social. Blogging is public. By all means get into arguments. By all means disagree with people. But if you say something about another blogger, they will hear you. After all, that is the point of blogging. It is a conversation, a dialogue that takes place in public.

Comments are when you post a comment directly on someone else’s blog, or they do it to you. Sometimes the comments get longer than the post. This is especially true of blog sites like the BBC has for current affairs: everyone has an opinion and tacks it on below.

Finally, a blog roll is a list of blogs that you read. Most bloggers display their blog roll to one side or another of their posts. Your blog roll sets you in a context of people and ideas.