Monday, 22 April 2013

Thing 1: Set up a Blogger blog

Okay here we go with the first Thing: blogs and blogging. If you've not already done so, have a look at the introductory blog post and the About page for more info on how this whole course works.

After Thing 1 and 2, you can choose to take or leave any of the remaining Things - if you think the tool is not for you, or you just don't have time in a given week, that's fine. But this one is essential, because it's through the blog you'll set up today that you'll be exploring all the subsequent tools in the coming weeks. Remember, you can always delete the blog after the course finishes if you don't want it anymore.

What is it?

There are technical definitions of blogs and blogging, but what matters is this: blogs are regularly updated webpages, which people can easily share online, comment upon, and discuss. Each new update appears at the top of the page, and is called a blogpost. You can think of blogposts as short articles - there are no real rules about blogging, you can do more or less whatever you want, but generally the tone tends to be more informal than a journal article, standard website, or press release.

This page you're looking at now is a blogpost on a blog. The Library also ran a blog about the refurbishment. There's one about Digital Scholarship. There's an eLearning Development Team blog. There are industry news blogs. But it's not just departments and institutions that have blogs - library and IT staff have blogs too, in fact there are millions of them. I have two just on my own... Tom Smith writes a blog. There's a really useful online community we can all tap into, to give us ideas, support, help in our work, and a voice.

Tom has a list of several good University of York blogs, plus some excellent guidance on blogging, on this Google Site.

Why is it worth doing?

Blogging is a brilliant way to become part of a larger community than just the staff who work here. It's a platform for your views on your profession and your industry (if you have any views!), and it's something to greet people with when they Google your name. Blogs can be used purely for reflection, or they can be used as ways to disseminate information, to gather ideas, to spark debate. They can also help you to build up your knowledge and experience of areas your current job doesn't allow you to explore.

For the purposes of 23 Things, we'll be using our blogs to write about our experiences with, and opinions on, the rest of the tools we try out. You'll be able to see who else is blogging about the same things as you, read their posts, leave comments and generally interact. At the end of it all, you can choose to leave your blog, to delete it, or to carry on with it - many blogs start as 23 Things blogs and then become something more general on an ongoing basis.

Activity: set up your blog

This activity should only take around 10 minutes or so to do.

We'll be using Blogger, which is a blogging platform owned and run by Google, so you won't need to set-up a profile - your York log-in means you already have a Blogger account.

1.Go to (clicking that link will open Blogger in a separate window or tab, so you can keep this guide open)

2. Log-in with your York username and password if you haven't already, then click the New Blog button

3. Give it a Title - you change this later so don't worry too much about it

4. Give it a URL (web address) - preferably containing the title, though that's not essential. The only thing that really matters with the URL is thinking of one no one else has already taken...

5. Pick a Template - this is how your blog will look. There are 7 to choose from initially, but again you can change this later

6. Press the orange Create Blog! button. You should then see a screen like this:

Click the title of your blog and you'll be taken into the Dashboard of your new blog - sort of like the headquarters. It's from here you'll be able to write posts, edit posts, check your statistics to see how many people are reading, and so on.

7. The final stage is to go to Settings from the menu on the left-hand side. When you click on it, the top of the screen should look something like this:

Click Edit next to Description and put in a brief tag-line for your blog - anything from 'A York 23 Things blog' up to something more creative... If you want to you can change the Privacy setting so that people can only find your blog if you tell them the web-address - click Edit to do this. We'd recommend you leave the setting as it is by default unless you particularly want to be private. Finally you can edit the title from this page if you wish to.

You can now register your blog using this Google form. We'll make the list of blogs available to all participants later on. 

That's it! Feel free to look around Blogger a little more if you want to, but you don't need to do anything else for now. If you get stuck try and help each other, or email me (ned.potter) and I'll help you out. If you're really keen and want to explore further, take a look at this presentation on blogs and blogging I delivered at a conference a couple of years ago. (It's a bit library-centric I'm afraid, but the principles apply across the board.)

Coming up...

Now we all have blogs, we need to start actually blogging - but that's Thing 2, coming up later in the week. If you've not already done so, stick your email address in the box on the right hand-side of this page called 'Get new posts emailed to you as they arrive', and then the next post will appear in your inbox once it gets published.

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