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Monday, April 24, 2006

So, I want to talk about the writers conference this weekend in general, but the blog session in particular.

The blog guru was Sreenath Sreenivasan, Dean of Students at Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism - an enthusiastic, intense, knowledgeable associate professor who has embraced the world blog and runs fast and jumps high in the ether-world of blogland...

(the picture is posted here as an experiment...I am learning how to copy it onto the template page.)

According to Sree, blogs are a kind of condensed website. To me blogging is an amalgamation of an email and a website...kind of the best of both worlds, or the worst of both...however you want to view the fact that you can spend an exorbitant amount of time sitting motionless infront of a computer screen, with only fingers flailing away.

Enough commentary...down to the brass tacks of the session. I figured I might as well create a blog and then I could practice what I learned.

Sree gave us a brief demo on how easy it is to set one up, and this one, by google, can be created from - it is free, cause google gets money from the residual advertising. But there are also others out there that are free, such as
www.MSN and

[NOTE: I created the links you see on this posting with a link icon that is located to the left of the alignment icon. It is easy if you have any knowledge at all of the standard icons. If any of my links dont work, you can always google them) For example, you can make things bold, center them, change fonts, do spell check (although I tried and was unsucessful in that effort) and do bullets and dots and change the color.]

One very popular blog is which has a lot of condensed news on it. Sree says this is a must-visit site.

Political pundits on either side of the fence have their own sites where they rant and rave to their hearts' content. (Personally, I used to be a news and gossip junkie, but then I decided to get more interested in my own life and gave that up. I have my views, but honestly I am not interested in changing the world at the moment.)

Another site you may have heard of is "bloggish," meaning that it is a website really but has blog characteristics -

All blogs have a reverse chronological flow, meaning that the latest posting is the most recent, so that is how you get sucked in, because you have to be a frequent blogger to keep up with the discussions.

Definitions in blogspeak -
Bloggosphere - everything in the blog universe.
MSM - main-stream media - Sree prefers to call them "traditional."
Blog - "web log"
Mob Blog - a group of writers writing together on the same blog.
When you host a blog, you are the only one that can post headings - unless you participate in a mob blog - but the comments on postings, ah, that is where the interaction is.

The key to having a good blog according to Sree is having a lot of links.

There are about 20 million blogs out there and growing fast, but most will be like mine...viewed by only a few select friends.

Some of the more interesting blogs mentioned were the following:
Boing Boing which has wonderful things in it says Sree. where their logo is "We watch FOX, so you don't have to." which is an Arts and Letters Daily.
there is a joke blog that is very very funny, called the dullest blog in the
Another tidbit of interest is mediabistro daily news - which he says is a daily roundup.

Sree said that if you are writing a book a blog is a good thing to have, because you can put parts of your story and open it up to feed-back and maybe develop a fan-base for your work. He said not to put your best stuff out there though.

The idea is to write short little missives and then let it go...of course my discourse here is going on and on, but that is because I am writing my notes of the session.

There is often a tip jar icon where you can put a dollar or two in - whatever you like, to support the blog. Sree encouraged people to give a little to support the grassroots effort of blogging. That being said, some people, like Matt Drudge, actually make a very comfortable living at this...but then some people completely dig the concept of being in front of a PC day and night...not my cup of tea.

So, again, write small, which takes discipline. Some well-known "MSM" or traditional journalists have really embraced the communication avenue - such as Carl Zimmer and Walter Kern. Carl says that blogging has improved his writing.

So, I hope this was helpful...kind of a hodge-podge of information from the lecture.

Oh, another thing that distinguishes blogs is that it posts the date and time of the posting after each post.

So this was fun. Hope you learned something too. I know I did by just re-writing my notes. Now back to my article on cream puffs!
The dictionary defines paradigm as "A set of assumptions, concepts, values, and practices that constitutes a way of viewing reality for the community that shares them, especially in an intellectual discipline."

It is a given in our society. And the crazy thing is that as our world is structured - the "given," is really appalling. What I find particularly upsetting is those who rail against the status quo of the political climate as an excuse to vent their pent-up anger at themselves for leading non-authentic lives.

I understand the seductive power of that desire, considering I have been swimming in it most of my life...probably since about the time that I actually did learn to swim for reals.