Category: Featured Posts

Blogging: Enjoyable Hobby, or Cruel Addiction?

Photo from blogcritics.org

Addictions can be physical or mental, serious or dismissive, conspicuous or hidden. But when does your hobby or habit become an addiction?  For Some, The Blogging Never Stops by Katie Hafner exposes the details behind one of the newest 21st century addictions: blogging.

Katie gives anecdotes throughout her article of bloggers who are addicted to their blogging.  Blogging addictions can be scary, being serious, mental, somewhat hidden addiction.  They are serious because real needs can be neglected, and hidden meaning no one can pick you out in crowd as the addicted blogger.  The addicted bloggers feel the usual symptoms of an addiction: the feeling of uneasiness and anxiety when not posting, and then the rush of enjoyment or relief upon releasing a new post.  But how bad can an addiction to blogging get, really?

A man by the name of Mr. Wiggins took his laptop with him on an anniversary trip with his wife, only to be caught in the bathroom with his laptop on his knees.  He also began neglecting his work – editing magazine articles – to post on his own blog. As his boss said, “Here he is working all night on something read by five second cousins and a dog, and I’m willing to pay him.”  Another man, Tony Pierce, admitted that his blogging “began to feel like an addiction when he noticed that he would rather be with his computer than with his girlfriend.”

Katie says that usually blogging does not become an addiction, where the blogger stops blogging because either “the novelty wears off” or “the realization that no one is reading sets in.”  However, if the number of readers increases there is a higher chance that the blogger will become addicted.  Thinking about it, I do think I’d spend more time on my blog if I had a lot of people reading it.  

There were definitely similarities between those who were addicted to blogging.  Each one, of course, made me try to evaluate if I was becoming addicted to blogging.  I realize that I do sometimes spend more time than I should on a blog post, using it as a form of procrastination.  This is the same as some students from the article, claiming it was very effective for procrastination because it still felt like they were “doing something important.”

That being said, if you have any of the following symptoms, please consider the possibility that blogging may be becoming an addiction:

  • You find yourself scribbling notes down about blogging everywhere you go
  • You begin neglecting your job
  • If you haven’t posted on your blog in a while, you feel:
    • Anxious
    • Guilty
    • Lazy
  • You find yourself spending way too much time creating the perfect blog post
  • When you are in the company of friends, you think “I would rather be blogging.”
  • You blog as a form of procrastination, to the point of doing poorly in classes
  • You find yourself actually telling people in conversation, “That would make a great blog post.”

Unfortunately, there were not many success stories in Katie’s article who overcame their addiction to blogging.  One did so by changing jobs to something he enjoyed more, and another had no choice but to go cold turkey – no more blogging, period.  The best advice I have gathered from the article is to do your best to find the reasons why you blog so much, and try to alleviate those with other things.

A Blogger’s Identity: How Much of it is True?

“Anonymous Blogging 101: a Quick and Dirty Primer” is an article written by blogger Treacle, and discusses why and how someone would blog anonymously. She discusses that many people like the internet because it allows open sharing without needing to disclose personal information. Additionally, you can even provide made up personal information if you want to portray a completely different personality than you may have in real life. This idea is seen most stereotypically in online dating, but it can even be applied to a person’s blog.

So, why would someone choose to either not disclose their identity, or to make a fake one up in replacement? She gives three reasons: 1) privacy and safety 2) honesty and 3) personality and character. Some people fear that if their identity is online, their friends, family, and job may all be able to find them and there could be consequences depending on the blog topic. Additionally, strangers could find out too much information and get very creepy. Honesty plays a role in the fact that you won’t be as forthcoming with information about a certain topic if you indeed think people you know will read it and judge you. Anonymously, no one knows you and therefore can’t judge you. Personality and character allows anonymous users to be perhaps more outgoing than they are in real life, or maybe even more contemplative. I think they are all interrelated but honesty is the most understood on the actual blog site. By this I mean, if people have their name attached to something, they aren’t going to be as honest as they might have been anonymously. The content will be much more interesting and provocative if someone were to be honest in content and anonymous in identity rather than semi-honest in content and totally revealing their identity.

Now that you know the different reasons why someone would choose to remain anonymous online, how do you make it happen? Treacle gives a few options. As a blogger, you are totally in control of how much information you share with your readers. As such, there are varying degrees of identity you can reveal. You can choose to reveal absolutely nothing about yourself (what she calls “full anonymity”), use a completely fake name and post no photos, no geographical landmarks, blog entirely from hidden IP addresses or library computers so you cannot be traced. You can choose to give only some information out (“semi-anonymity”) by giving a fake name but attaching real pictures of you and few details about the area you live and what interests you. Then there is “secret anonymity” in which you know all the details you have given are fake, but people believe them to be a real identity. Under this method you would have a fake name attached to fake Facebook, Twitter, etc. which makes people believe you are really that identity.

It’s important to understand if you choose to blog anonymously that you must do this from the start. As she says, it is much easier to reveal little bits of yourself over time than try to take back any identifiers you may have provided already. Also, you have to realize that while you are blogging there is always the chance that someone can find out your real identity, so you must prepare for that event as well.

IDK if any of you listen to country music, but I thought this music video went along with the article perfectly (and yes, that is Taylor Swift back up dancing):

Check the Facts

Have you ever really wondered how much effort and thought goes into checking a magazine or newspaper article? In this article, Peter Canby explains how a news paper company is run and how they deal with errors in the articles they have either published or are in the process of publishing them. First let’s start off with a clarification that “errors” in an article are not limited to grammar mistakes. Errors also cover the category of factually correct statements along with “The Talk of the Town,” and pretty much everything else that is included in the article. Everything gets double and triple checked. Canby goes on to tell the reader how things are run in the newspaper and magazine industry.

In the older days, more specifically when Canby first started working for The New Yorker, things used to progress in a linear pattern sort of way. The New Yorker was run by the editor, William Shawn. The writers would work on their articles for as long as they deemed necessary which would more than likely take a few years. After that these articles were edited and fact-checked for about two weeks or more, and then eventually published. Canby believes that it was this manner of publication that led The New Yorker to produce many successful and wonderful writings. I believe that he was absolutely correct in his hypothesis. It is to my belief that the reason these articles would have been more successful and wonderful than later articles was because the writers devoted themselves to the story. Unlike now where Canby explains that writers are treated more like servants where their assignments are already predetermined instead of choosing the topic themselves. In that Shawn era I believe that it was this process of choosing an article that made it more personal for the writer and thus made the article more interesting to read.

Canby goes more in depth to two specific stories he remembers during the Shawn-era New Yorker. The first being a story where the writer, Neil Sheehan, followed the life and story of John Paul Vann who was an army officer who readily talked to the press about military matters. The military eventually disgracefully discharged Vann to try and quiet his ill tempered remarks. However Vann used this to become third in command of the Vietnam War. Anyway Sheehan had been working with Vann on the book about him for roughly 16 year and he took his work to such a personal and devoted level that he made no mistakes in his work. When he would bring his finished article to the fact-checker they would come back to him with no changes in the entire piece. The second piece Canby recalls is like many others. It was a factual piece about a woman who was disinherited by her oldest brother when their parents died. Because it was a factual piece Shawn decided to put it on the back burner and there it stayed for the next twenty years.

When Shawn was replaced by Tina Brown as editor of The New Yorker the rate of production was altered. Brown had her writers working on articles that she determined herself in such a way that it would take only a week at most to get the story written and published. Fact checkers would work all night just to finish up their work so that the article could be published later that week.

Canby finishes his article with the methods in which checkers go about checking an article. First and foremost calling sources and going over the content of their quote without repeating the quote itself. This is because sources more often then not try to change the quote itself which is a huge hassle that can be easily avoided. Next writers were eventually asked to hand in their own personal notes about the topic at hand because when a fact checker is going through the article and hits a dead end, they can always refer back to the notes as a sort of safety net. Also eventually the note taking process became outdated as tape recorders were introduced. It seems to me that the fact-checker doesn’t get nearly enough credit as they deserve for their hard work on the final product of the article.

On a side note, I don’t know if this was done on purpose to be a funny joke but at the bottom of the article there is a correction to the article. Meaning that a fact-checker would have missed something and it had to be fixed after it was published.

Live Blogging, The New Trend

“Live blogs provide commentary and analysis alongside breaking news rather than summarizing the event after it is over” is the description of live blogging as defined by Roy Greenslade. Live blogging has become a huge trend especially to this new generation where the majority is always on the go and multi tasking.  In other words, Live blogging is a quick and easy way to get current information about what is happening in less time rather than wait a few hours to read a large text and this is exactly why is has be shown the high demand and the popularity of live blogging.

Roy brings a great point up describing that Live blogging provides the reader with quick and accessible news at any place more specifically at work where reader are supposed to be working instead of reading the news.  I personally see this happening to many friends when they are in class and there is a very important soccer game on. Many of them access live blogging websites where they provide live news in of scores and key moves that is happening during the event. This type of website allows one to do two or more things at the same time such as writing an essay using half the screen and the other half of the screen reading quick phrases of scores and special actions taken during a certain game.

A second point that Roy brings that is extremely important that makes live blogging so popular is the idea of “involvement”. What does he mean by this? He states that readers don’t just simply watch or look at live blogs they also tend to get involved a lot of times by their comments.   Most live blogs that I have visited have a chat room on the side of the news where users are constantly chatting with one another and bringing up different comments and different ideas that have been just presented on the live blog.  This brings massive interaction and involvement between users and in addition it makes people more connected in a way.

Of course there are many advantages to live blogging, but we cannot forget the downsides of this new type of delivery information.  Roy emphasizes that the downside of this type of blogging is that the information a lot of times are not fully complete. Since the main goal is to provide quick and accessible news features, one might not get the full scope of the information like they would if they were live at the location or reading a full text on the topic.

I believe this type of blogging should not be the only source of information one should be reading. Instead readers should use live blogging as a foundation for the most recent information and latter read more about the news to fully understand what is happening and get the full insights about the information that they are reading.  If you haven’t tried yet live blogging, you should definitely experience this new way of getting quick and short information throughout the duration of an event or a news story that supports such platform.  You can even create your own live blog when doing a presentation and incorporate this type of tool. WordPress has its on plugin and below are a few websites that incorporates live blogging.

Thank-you,

Jordanna Oliveira

Expanding Exposure with Guest Blogging

This article goes over the importance of guest blogging and the necessary strategies to take to maximize its impact. Guest blogging is where you write or publish an article on someone else’s blog or website. In order to do this though, you obviously need to get the blog owner’s permission. Foster’s Guest Blogging: A Beginner’s Guide comes in handy when trying to decide which sites would get your article the most exposure.  Foster states, “you should always make sure that where you’re placing your post has a high relevancy to what you ultimately want to accomplish.”

So the first thing that Foster says is that you have to do your research. She says that the easiest way to do this is by using Google search and searching keywords. The idea is that if you can find it easily so could your potential viewers. After doing this with the most common keywords relating to your topic, you should make a list based on priority and relevancy. You have to decide whether you can trust that side and its information and make the decision whether the site has too much spam. Once you do that, begin to make a proposal specific to each site. Make sure that you proofread and that the topic shows your writing and your knowledge. At this point, she says you should be patient and not push the blog owners after you send the proposal. Once you get approval, Foster says to constantly follow your topics and to if possible, establish yourself as a professional in the niche. That way people would be more likely to accept and listen to want you are saying. These are the basic tips for guest blogging.

Honestly when I read this post, I am reminded of sending resumes for a job. You definitely have to research the job and the company to see if you could both enjoy what you are doing and the company. You have to make cover letters specific to each position. Then, you obviously prioritize your applied jobs to see which the best choices are. Your actual resume is also very similar to guest proposals as they are short and concise but at the same time say a lot about the topic. After you send in your resume, you can only wait until you get a call-back.

I can definitely understand the importance of guest blogging. It really does seem like an effective way to spread your name and content among bloggers who follow your genre of topics. All of the people who visit that site will probably already have a basic knowledge or interest in the topic since they had to search for it so there is a decent chance that they may like your guest post as well. This can also be used as a good opportunity to connect with the community that also blogs about the chosen topic. The members of this community can offer you new opportunities and create a mutual follower sharing system. Maybe you may even find friends in this group since you already share one interest.

A Lesson on Internet Etiquette

Before I start, let me just say that this article was a pain in the butt to read. Hopefully my condensed summary can help you guys write up a good response.

Anna Emilia’s article goes over social media etiquette that one should practice when interacting with others over the internet. She basically comes to the realization that interacting with others is no different over the internet than it is in person. That means staying attentive in conversations, showing the others respect, etc. To help her reinforce this idea, Anna called upon the many blogging gurus to share their wisdom in only 7000 words!

In her wonderful summary of basic do’s and don’ts of social media, Anna outlines what you should and should not do when using things like Facebook and Twitter. I read through the list and thought to myself, Isn’t this stuff pretty obvious? It’s like asking, would you run through the streets maked while screaming profanities at others? The correct answer is no. If you wouldn’t do it in public, then why do it online? It is true that staying anonymous on the internet is actually quite easy, but karma does exist. People see what is posted publicly, and if you’re the guy who is ranting about how he hates black people, expect to receive some hate.

Another good point about blogging that she makes is to keep blogging content relative to the blog. I actually have to keep this in mind myself since I maintain a music blog. It’s good to go on tangents every once in a while to keep everything nice and diverse, but that doesn’t mean to suddenly post about why frog legs taste just like chicken. That also means not to flood your reader with content. Anna calls it “overshare”, where the blogger drowns his or her readers in massive amounts of posts, relative or not to the actual blog. That is the quickest way to kill off current and potential readers.

The one part that I found really helpful from Anna’s post was on tone. Yes, tone. I see it all the time on Facebook and tumblr; people come and they rant nonstop. A high school friend of mine is actually a perfect example of this. He’s a nice guy in real life, but online, he’s just a cynical asshole (can I use this word in a blog post?) that spews his hatred over the newsfeed for all to see. It’s a mess. Please don’t do this when you blog. This apples to her other points as well, but you should also remember who is going to read what you post. If it affects somebody else, don’t forget that there is someone else on the other end of computer who is the object of your writing, regardless of its intention. Saying something nasty about someone else could come back to bite you one day. Treating others poorly will only result in more hostility. Feels like grade school, doesn’t it? Treat others the way you want to be treated. It might seem obvious, but you would be surprised at how many people forget something as simple as this. There’s a reason why teachers even bother with the saying: it’s true.

The next section is on how to act properly for the different social media platforms, such as Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, etc., but I won’t go through the details. I’m sure most of you already know how to behave properly online. As for my thoughts on the remaining XXXX amount of words left in the article, I have to say that most of it was pretty…boring. It might be interesting for someone who uses social media as a second identity, but I really only use Facebook (for chatting and what not). Looking at what Emily Henderson had to say on personal pet peeves, I had no idea what she was talking about when dealing with big companies screwing up Twitter with bad twittetiquette. It didn’t really have to do with social media etiquette for us bloggers, and it just seemed kind of silly in general. If you don’t like the way someone writes, then don’t read it. Anyways, I won’t bore you guys any longer with more details, so here’s the tldr on what awesome bloggers think about social media: don’t hate, appreciate.

Again and again and again…did I say again?

Jenna Wortham announced two terms that I have never really thought about. The real time Web and the Replay Web. Fancy, huh? In her (thankfully short!) article, she begins with how she wanted to keep away from social media platforms the night she missed an episode of the Breaking Bad. She logs on to Twitter the next day, and BOOM- she is taken aback with the constant conversations, tweets, and updates- SPOILERS, about the episode. She states the obvious: The internet is always moving and constantly updating with new information, but why do people still linger on yesterday’s episode?

Why do people STILL talk about Miley’s dance at the VMA’s that happened ages ago? Why do people create GIFs and create remixes and funny videos of different events? Now introducing: the concept of the REPLAY web.

The Replay Web “co-exists with the real time Web”. Unlike the Real Time Web, which is constantly updating with the latest news, the Replay web enjoys the past. People comment, make videos, add more information, create funny video responses, etc. on what we deem as ‘older’ news. Internet users make vlogs and blog posts about events that may have happened a while back. We ‘replay’ past news, as if it was just updated onto the web. I believe it’s a great thing because it helps us realize how much has changed or how much is alike from the past! We as a society can grow while looking back at past faults and accomplishments.

Alex Chung, who helped created an upcoming website, described the web as “ripple effects”. It makes sense because some news do not reach the public as quickly as other news. For example: A small group of people find information on the web that is amusing. Then they get tired of it, and it doesn’t reach the mass medium. Then it may one day just get popular and viral. Like THE FOX VIDEO!!! It didn’t take much time to get popular, but it was introduced in the summer and people STILL TALK ABOUT IT. The web works its mysterious ways. For famous TV shows, it is a definite that people want to talk over and over about their favorite characters. People will always linger in the past news until something greater tops it.

(Supposedly there is an app on the iPhone that records videos in slow-mo. It’s kind of strange, but it seems fun to play around with. This app makes me feel as if I want to hold on to the past and never let go!)

Others disagree with the Replay Web. Douglas Rushkoff (ironic how his last name has the word RUSH!), the author of “Present Shock: Everything Happens Now” believes that the general population and social networkers are focused on the Real Time Web. I totally agree with him too. He states how we are constantly refreshing our Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and other social media platform’s feeds, craving for more information. We constantly want new information about others and constantly search for more juicy news. The internet is filled with so much information…

The web is an interesting place to always be updated with news. Sometimes I enter the Replay Web and constantly update statuses about how hot Steven Yeun looked on an older Walking Dead episode. It’s fun looking up past gossip of celebrities and seeing how much they changed! Sometimes I want to be updated with news about our economy. It is a constant mix of both webs. It isn’t bad at all. I personally believe that people need integration of the past and present to be more knowledgable.

Enjoy the video below!!

LK

 

This Means War With Hyperlinks

After reading the article “The Hyper Link War” by Laura Miller it really made me realize the emphasis most writers place on hyperlinks.  Hyperlinks are used so writers can help readers understand the material they are talking about better.  However, some people like Sarah Hepola would say “jokey links that don’t really add anything to the story; they strike her as “lazy,” an inconvenience to readers who are prodded to check out how clever the writer is.”  I totally agree with her stance, in fact I feel as though when you are transferred to a meaningless link, the content of the writing loses some of its value.  Readers would tend to lose focus on the previous content, and the article itself won’t be as meaningful and strong.

Miller talks about the difference between hyperlinks within the text and hyperlinks at the end of the text.  She performs an experiment by writing with end text, placing the hyperlinks and references at the end of the article.  She was able to achieve this by using Readability, which is browser plug-in that takes away all hyperlinks within a text and transfers them to the bottom.  The significant result from the experiment was, hyperlinks at the end of text forced writers to explain the material in more detail.  It becomes harder to write because you can’t place the task of having your material explained by someone else.  The writing has to be expressed completely and the author needs to decide what to leave in and what to leave out.  More writers should start using end-text links and instead of in-text links because it clearly evaluates the writers true potential.  The in-text links are only bothersome and most of the time people don’t even look at them, I know for a fact I don’t bother with them.  This only makes their writing confusing since the material doesn’t fully explain the topic.

I really like how Miller compared writing with end-text hyperlinks to the stages of cooking.  Without using the hyperlinks, the writer shows originality in their work.  This is just like how a chef prepares a meal from scratch with fresh ingredients to make a delicious meal.  With in-text hyperlinks on the other hand, the writer uses the links as a basis for their article.  The text isn’t fully explained unless you read the hyperlink, which is a substitute for doing actual work.  In comparison, it would be like chefs using frozen preservatives and premade vegetables to make a meal just for the convenience.  The end result, the use of preservatives isn’t as good as the use of fresh vegetables and this applies in the use of hyperlinks as well.

Writing should be able to explain a topic without the need to rely on hyperlinks; the links are only there for support.  The use of hyperlinks may be helpful in some cases, but it shouldn’t be the focus of the article.  Good writing is a balance between the use of hyperlinks and a detailed explanation.

Women in a Bustle writing for Bustle

Brian Goldberg, a young man with minimal knowledge about the interests of women, starts up a new website for the female demographic called bustle.com. As the founder of the Bleacher Report, a sports website that features articles solely written by fans rather than professional writers, Goldberg was able to raise money and investment to start up Bustle.

The Bleacher Report was a huge success. By a means of crowdsourcing, the website profited greatly because of the low production costs and huge population of interested sports fans that had the opportunity to interact with the posts. According to Goldberg, fans were the best and most cost efficient type of writers for the website–why pay for a more established writer if he/she doesn’t have as much passion and knowledge about particular sports teams? It makes perfect sense to me. I just feel as though Goldberg should’ve expected the criticism that he received because of the quality of the writing. It’s almost obvious that the quality of the writing would be subpar to the other journalistic sports websites with professional writers.

Taking this into account, Goldberg hired a small team of more experienced writers and journalists for Bustle. Critics of the site say that it’s a feminist publication but Goldberg agrees–that is exactly what he wants it to be. He realized that the various interests of women tend to outnumber those of men. Why not combine all of these interests to create the ultimate online magazine for women? Why not pair politics with fashion or books with trending topics and beauty? From a business perspective, I feel as though Goldberg is pretty brilliant–he saw the lack of online resources for this particular demographic of hard-working, busy, young women and made something for them. However, he received a lot of criticism when he first introduced his website. What the hell does this man know about women and what they’re interested? He didn’t mean to offend, but it’s true–how could he possibly know what he’s talking about? What he failed to elaborate on was the fact that the site is completely run by young women–the exact audience that the website is intended to attract.

I decided to take a look at the site and it’s actually pretty cool. It has a very large variety of topics concerning anything from politics to fashion. From the looks of it, it doesn’t seem too female-oriented but once you read it’s content it becomes more apparent. The layout is very clean-cut and professional. After browsing for awhile, I decided that I might actually like to revisit this website again. I guess Goldberg was successful in this sense–he attracted his ideal reader, the young woman.

Typography…It’s Important!

This piece was a little difficult to understand and so I am a little confused about what exactly the author is trying to get at in this piece. I could be interpreting this all wrong, so bear with me. From what I understand, typography and text, when written down (on a computer, for example) has dimension, occupying space and time, and a fixed location…or something. As such, this has a very different feel to it than a written (by hand) work. The evolution of typography over time has also changed the way we read and create texts. According to the author, the text on a computer is supreme to the written word in a book. Due to technology, text and typography has become much more fluent and liquid than ever before. There are four ways that this has changed our lives: errors, spacing, “linearity”, and the user.

It is so much easier to detect errors today than it was, say 150 years ago, when everything had to be written down (and even with the typewriter); errors were so common and not so easy to detect and fix. This is obvious. Of course technology has made our lives easier to proofread our work. The problems are right there in front of us, and fixing the problem takes all but a few seconds to do.

A written piece, like an article, is like a type of art.  Spacing is important and integral to a written work(noonewantstoreadorwritelikethis), but it shouldn’t dominate it. Again, pretty self explanatory. No one wants to read a piece that has as much white space as actual text; despite how lazy we have become with reading, we still want to read something.

The next part, linearity, is a little confusing. Here, the author claims that since writing occupies space and time, the reader is, or has the potential to be, “liberated” from the linearity that we are so used to. Although technology can be so nonlinear, we so often see this linearity, such as the ticker on the bottom of the TV screen was one watches CNN. Word and PowerPoint are also linear by using a “one-way flow of speech”. One of the premier examples of a nonlinear form is a database, which is a structure behind electronic games, magazines, and catalogues. I’m not exactly sure what the difference between a “linear” work and a “nonlinear” work is, though. Nonetheless, the author thinks that we should stray away from linear media and turn to nonlinear one’s more.

Finally, the birth of technology and the Web as brought about “the user”. The user controls pretty much everything, including the significance of a given text. The use has also become significantly more impatient as the years and decades have gone by; this is due to the fact that the use of technology gives the user a different expectation of what to expect over a written work (productive vs. contemplative). Without the user, the Web is basically useless.