Is Twitter shifting blogging to a new phase?

mosaic1769770.jpg

1. twittervision, 2. Twitter Meta Moo! too far?, 3. Twitter via Blackberry, 4. Twitter Firefox Search Extension

While going through my comments history of my blog to select old time readers for Day 6: Email an old Timer reader of the Blogging Challenge I realised that social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook are shifting the nature of blogging to a whole new phase. Why – because many of the people whose blogs I read or who leave comments on my site are interacting with me in Twitter and/or Facebook; and they are doing the same with their readers.

This means I communicate with many of them, in some form, on a daily basis so to actually email an old time reader and thank them is ……?

I asked the Twitterers their thoughts on if blogging shifting to a new phase

Here are comments by different people:

  • Twitter forms more connecting relationships as most times you get an instant reply and is more conducive to have a conversation rather than comments on a blog
  • The first people I added to my Twitter account were people whose blogs I read; I comment on blogs to blog posts, twitter to twitter posts; more likely to check out blogs more closely than reading in reader after following the blogger on twitter
  • Twitter has made me closer to people I’m friends with online (most met through blogging)
  • To some extent the blogging relationship for me has changed as a result of twitter
  • Sometimes I’ll push a link into twitter if I think it may interest my twitter friends who I don’t think subscribe to my blog. I blog less and I think my twitter friends do also now because of twitter. I try to comment directly on posts, rather than to the author via twitter if I think something is particularly good or worth commenting…but will you twitter to discuss third party’s posts…which may well have previously gone on my blog or theirs.
  • There is more connection with twitter
  • Not overall – not many twitterers compared to blog readers. But some are changing this and my tweet list is mainly my blog list! I think we are creating a change. Same question in 6 months will have a different answer
  • People are becoming aware of my blog through twitter

How it has impact on me

Twitter and Facebook has created more connection with my readers and subscribers to my podcast but in doing so I feel that I have become less inclined to comment on their really good posts. It is like I am taking my friends for granted – and expected them to realise that I think they are fantastic. Sorry every one!!

Here is my explanation of why I am:

What are your thoughts?

BTW in case you are wondering if I have failed the Blogging challenge task – nope – have emailed a few old timer readers 🙂 Remember to read Darren’s post on Day 6: Email an old Timer reader.

Do you believe blogging is entering a new phase? And if so, how will this impact on the different types of bloggers?

Confused about which site to use for your blog?

646678935_de5c16d967_m.jpgIf you have been struggling to decide which site you should use to host your blog I recommend you check out Edublogs. Edublogs has always been good, but since it turned 2 years old it became great!

How do I know?

Here some of the reasons for why I can say Edublogs is great:

  • I have used other host blog hosts
  • I read lots of blogs (refer to my list of Blogs I read) – so I do get to see the good/bad features of each blog hosts
  • I also have several different types of web sites (e.g. podcast site, wiki site) – so am very experienced with dealing with hosting sites

What is great about Edublogs?

Choosing a host for your blog is hard – been there, done that. The great features of Edublogs definitely outweigh the fact that blogger is easier to use (and Edublogs now has support videos to help you).

Reasons why I think Edublogs is great include:

  • Really good customer support – incredibly responsive to its customers. (If you are looking for a wiki host – this is one of the great features of wikispaces)
  • They host your blog for free – you pay nothing and they place no ads on your site
  • Search my blog feature is really good (use chocolate as a search term on my blog to test it – while you are at it join our Chocolate challenge)
  • Great range of blog templates with many plug-in options – now have over 80 blog themes you can choose from

Best new feature

I really like their “What are the hot topics in the edublogs universe?” This displays the tags their bloggers are using – if you click on a tag it takes you to all the posts that Edubloggers have written using that tag. Tags are important because they are the category(s) that you assign when writing a blog post. Tags makes it easier for your readers to find posts on particular topics.

This feature has dramatically increased the traffic to my blog, podcast site and wiki site.

I will definitely be spending time checking out the popular tags (the larger the word the more posts people are writing about that topic) to make sure I am optimising my tag use (e.g. the tag blogging is more popular than blog or Blogs which means it is better to use the category blogging when writing a post about blogs or blogging).

tag-cloud.jpg

Thanks James for the fantastic make over of your web site!

Readers, check out Edublogs new features.

Blogging Challenge – Day 5: Conduct an About Page Audit

252445473_d421c47de2_mDarren’s task for Day 5 is to Conduct an About Page Audit. His rationale is new readers use your about page to find out more about you and your blog. They will often use the information on this page to decide if it is worth subscribing to your blog.

This is a key conversion page of your blog!

There is definitely an art in writing well – which is probably why I originally started out as a podcaster. Just looking at my about page compared to Darren’s showed how much work I needed to do.

What’s required for those new to Blogging

So tonight I have worked hard on re-wording it. It is definitely better, but still needs more work. I have been avoiding putting together information on tags, RSS and commenting – but Darren’s post on the about page has really highlighted how important this information is for newbies so I have added it to my to-do-list – I want to get it right rather than rush it.

Where is your RSS feed?

One very important issue that I realized while fixing it up was that I did not have a RSS feed clearly displayed on my site. What about your site – have you made sure the RSS feed is obvious?

With everything that I know I am amazed that I did not pick up that it was missing. Part of the problem is I use Google Reader for subscribing to blogs (this is why I use Google Reader). When I add a blog subscription I just use the blog address and Google Reader automatically finds the feed. I believe this is not the case for other Feed Aggregators.

Please Help!

Have looked at my widget options – and I do not see a obvious solution that give a nice RSS button – also checked out the forum – does not really help.

I have checked other people’s blogs. There are a range of options. Please give me advice on which option would be the best – maybe James might have a suggestion?

Blogging Challenge – Day 4: Interlinking posts

992938851_e96f44a0db_m

Darren’s Day 4 task is to Dig back into your old posts and do some interlinking of posts because as you add more content to your blog there will be more and more opportunity to link your posts together so that readers can view more pages of your blog.

What I found most interesting about this task was the fact I had not thought of doing it.

I had done exactly this several months ago on my podcast site by going through my old podcasts and:

As a result of doing this I have increased traffic movement following between my different Mobile Technology in TAFE web sites. Yet I had not stopped to consider doing it for my blog.

What you gain going through old posts

The gain, by going back through old posts, is more than just getting readers to view more pages. When you spend the time doing this house work (chuckle what happened when I did housework on my podcast site) you:

  • Reflect on how your site looks to visitors and you make time for improvements (today I changed my sidebar widgets and added Blogs I read – which I have been meaning to add for months)
  • Reflect on posts you have written e.g. what you liked/didn’t like about the post and from what improvements are needed for future posts
  • Reflect on posts you maybe should have written
  • Learn more about how easy to navigate your blog is e.g. Michelle found that Typepad does not have a mechanism for searching her blog for a specific post, only allowed editing by date. Whereas with Edublogs (which I use) the search feature is built into the blog so it is really easy to search terms or phrases (give it a try and see how well it works – try Chocolate as a search term), then all I had to do was click on Edit on the post I wanted to edit to take me into my dashboard. Most people who use Blogger embed a technorati search on their blog which I am not so fussed with.

This process does take time, but it is well spent. Here are some of the posts I made changes to today:

Blogging Challenge — Day 2: Run a First Time Reader Audit

Darren’s Day 2 task is to Run a First Time Reader Audit by watching a friend or family member, who has not read your blog, surf your blog. The reason why is because you learn a lot from watching how a person reads and uses your blog.

Early this morning I asked my husband if he would help me with an activity. With a gleam in his eyes, and a cheeky smile, he said “I would love to but the kids are awake.” Fortunately a husband can read your blog while the kids are around, so first part of the task has been achieved – find a First Time Reader.Rule clarification – he does not read my blog, would rather watch sport, and willingly offers opinions.

What I observed from watching him use my blog:

  • Read – top to bottom 915328930_2b4fd69b8d_m
  • Pictures grabbed his attention more than text – especially Lynette’s snippets which he liked to read the quotes [image by Lynetter]
  • Liked video provided loaded fast – Really liked video on aquaculture students using PDAs whereas workshop video took too long to load so he gave up trying to watch it. I am going to have to do some research to why the video loaded so slowly because that is definitely not what you want when you embed a video
  • Read entire page then read each of the pages at the top of my blog – as he is fairly new to reading blogs did not think to click on link to previous entries or check out blogs in any of my categories (tags).

His answers to the questions:dave1

  • First impression of what blog was about – Said hard to answer as he knows what I blog about however he did suggest that people who be curious to learn what mobile learning is about.
  • Easy to read/navigate/understand – Yes
  • What did he feel when first arrived at blog – curiosity, what is this all about
  • Improvements – make it more obvious how to post comments (as he is new to blogs would be interested in opinion of experienced blogger), improve loading speed of workshop video
  • Questions about blog – none
  • Words to describe blog – Easy on the eye, well laid out, good colours, liked the use of pictures as it engages you more and makes it more human

His final thoughts were – wow – you have a lot of knowledge about all this stuff – mmm .

Doing a First Time Reader’s audit is a really good idea. I have checked out the results from how other bloggers have gone. Definitely important to grab someone who is patient and willing to spend the time checking out your blog. It would have also been good to get an experienced blogger, who was a first time reader, and watched how they interacted with my blog.

31 Days Blogging Challenge has become serious!

I decided to take part in 31 days to build a better blog (where Problogger Darren Rowse will give a new assignment each day) as a result of Michele Martin’s (The Bamboo Blog) post 31 Days to a Better Blog–A Personal Learning Experiment and a Blogger Challenge (Michelle will provide alternative homework when Darren gives assignments on monetize your blog, if you are not interest in that part of blogging) because I am interested in being a more effective blogger.

My girlfriend Frances from My Technology Addictions has decided to join me, and it looks like others are going to as well (will advise when confirmed). Now to say my friends are a bit competitive is an understatement. When Leonard at Mobile Learning had a competition for his blog’s first birthday Frances, Evil Sue and I really jumped into the challenge in a big way. You can check out Evil Sue and my video entry below (shows lots of different ways you can access blog posts on iPods and PDAs).

[kml_flashembed movie="http://video.google.com/googleplayer.swf?docid=-5264929757220372219" width="400" height="326" wmode="transparent" /]

The 31 Day Competition

So Frances, being competitive, has challenged me to take the Blogging challenge to the next level. She feels that we should make it interesting and give a prize to the winner – the loser has to buy a kilo of chocolate. I have decided that, me also being competitive, this is a really good idea. With us, it is not about the prize (although chocolate will be good) it is about winning.

Am I worried that I might lose – yes. When Frances decides to do something – she throws herself into. Look at the sacrifices she did for A Day without Google, and what she gained from doing it.

So we invite you, bloggers of the World, to join us in this blogging challenge, to gain from what you learn, and to be in the winning for a kilo of chocolate (you can add your preferred prize if you are not into chocolate). If both Frances and I lose we will be buying the prize for the winner (and paying for postage). You can email me at suewater [at] gmail [dot] com to let me know you are joining the competition (remember to write a post on joining the competition).

The rules:

  • We understand that you may not be able to do your assignment each day – this is okay, you can catch up, provided the work is done
  • We will decide as a group on who is the winner – we need to decide what criteria(s) we will use for selecting a winner so I invite all readers to comment or write a post on how we should select the winner at the end of the competition
  • Add names on all people involved in the challenge to the side bar of your blog, so we can see how we are all going (please let us know if your friends are joining you so we can add their names).


The value of ranting

I have had a good laugh about the fact that my ranting has attracted more attention, than in my view, my great articles on technology. Does this mean that I think people are more interested in others misfortunes? NO. I know many of my audience value my technology posts but they also value learning more about the person who posts because it helps them connect and relate more with that individual; really not different from interacting with a person f2f. Ultimately there needs to be some connection for you to want to social network online with individuals. Which I believe is something Alex has hinted to me for a long time. Always good to get mentoring from the old and the wise (although he may well be younger than me?)

So this morning’s post is more insight into Sue Water’s the individual. As I pointed out in yesterday post people are always interested in how I ended up being an aquaculture (fish farming) lecturer. In fact Sean O’Driscoll even commented in the interview “I was wondering what your real job is?” Luckily enough aquaculture and technology are both my real job! As a result of my work with e-learning/m-learning I work half time as an aquaculture lecturer and half time teaching other lecturers how to use e-learning/m-learning with their students.

work.jpg
Did I plan to end up where I am? Nope! My mum only wanted one thing from me; to get a University education. So I went to University and got a Science degree – did a triple major in botany (study of plants), biochemistry (chemistry of living organisms) and microbiology (study of diseases). Finished Uni and decided I wanted to work as a botanist; my lecturer recommended a company who had just started up and were farming a microalge (a form of fish farming). Not quite the type of botany of was thinking of – but a job is a job. When this company retrenched most its staff, including me, one of the people knew someone who was managing a fish farm. So now I was working on a fish farming doing research and development on farming Mahi Mahi. mmmm fish compared to plants very similar. Eventually this job came to an end and one of my friends was working in Challenger TAFE’s R & D Hatchery, so I was lucky enough to get work doing research in the hatchery (involved in research on lots of different aquaculture species).

Time eventually came to have kids. Working in the hatchery at Challenger TAFE did not fit being a mother so I changed over to their training section and have been an aquaculture lecturer since. I have two kids (boys – 8 and 12), work full time and manage the household full time. Key is effectively coordination and a fantastic ability at multitasking (e.g. a person asked me how I manage to write my posts early in the morning – easy blow drying my hair with one hand – although I wish I was more like Graham who does it on his PDA but when I am at work I am normally multitasking so don’t have any hands free).

Best bits

  1. Mahi Mahi is the absolute best fish I have ever worked with
  2. Love working with the students – they keep me young and I learn so much from them
  3. Love working with technology – always having my ideas/thoughts challenged and networking with others
  4. Challenger TAFE is fantastic – I am lucky to work in such a great work environment – can they move the College closer? 45-60 minutes drive each way is too tiring

New day – new Rant!

One thing I did not mention in yesterday’s morning rant – was after all my traffic and meeting woes – I could not a drink of coke (cocoa cola). Unfortunately I have a serious addiction to coke – I have my own step program to give it up. So after getting stuck in traffic yesterday I thought I will just calm down with a nice drink of coke. Wrong – vending machine would not accept coins. Canteen does not sell coke. Canteen at the far end of campus is closed for renovations. So went for a walk to the vending machine at the far end of the campus – it also would not accept coins. So had to walk a reasonable distance to a shop to buy a coke – see there is my step program. In the meantime got by with a Choc Chill (just not the same).

So imagine my frustration this morning when I thought the machine had been fixed (as I had seen the vending person in the room yesterday afternoon) when not only did I discover that the machine did not work but he had replaced the Coke with Pepsi!!!!!!! So even if I could get a drink, it would be not good. (PS a can of coke is not a Coke – has to be a bottle only!!!)

coke.jpg

Well they heard my yells all over campus. The person in charge of the canteen (who looks after the vending machines) enjoyed my ranting emails. Has implemented some changes to cater to my coke addiction and in the meantime sent me a virtual coke machine game link to play with. Guess what – can not get the virtual coke machine to work so it will not pour me a glass of virtual coke. Why don’t you give the machine a try and see if you can win a virtual coke!

Why is this important to me – well if you are an coffee or tea drink imagine trying to get through the day without your drink. I do not drink hot drinks!!!!! Although I could relate to Tama’s It’s all about the Coffee post although the word should be Coke. And if they had a coke quiz like the coffee quiz I am sure I would rate at 100 % addict.

Oh well time to walk and find a drink of coke, and remember that tomorrow is the day I give up drinking coke!

Tips for blogging with Edublogs

It has been a great week of tips and “how tos” for blogging with Edublogs.

First John Pearce showed me how to make my posts more colourful by showing me how to access the advanced wysiwyg editor by clicking on the visual editor and pressing Alt+Shift+V (if you are using FireFox). Thanks John and yes I did copy your use of pretty colours. Check out his detailed instructions on his Colourful post.

I also came across the great videos that Edublogs have created – for their new support structure they are in the process of organising? Check out their new videos here! Currently they have 4 “how to” videos. The quality and streaming speed (i.e. they play without the stop/starting that you get with some videos) of these videos are excellent – definitely worth watching.

It has been a full on week of networking (in person) with friends and I was lucky enough to spend the week with my girlfriend Frances. Although I did leave her to talk with our other friend Daniel, in my kitchen, because I am definitely not a geek and had absolutely no idea what they were talking about (this is to be expected when two expert PDA programmers meet f2f). Note my husband also retreated to watch sport in the other room.

Getting back to the point, Frances had been nagging me for weeks to try out Microsoft Livewriter. So to make sure that I did she installed it onto my computer when I was not looking. Livewriter is a program that is a desktop application that lets you write your blog post on the computer and then lets you publish it to your blog. I must admit that with all her nagging I was not sure why I need to be able to write it on the desktop of my computer when I post it directly from within my account.

However it is always important when a friend gives you a present to actually use it (or they might not give you anything again); especially if they are staying at your house and can see what you get up to. I must admit that I was very pleasantly surprised how excellent Livewriter is, and how much easier it is writing the posts using it rather than writing from within my blogging account. I have to say though, what is the point of having friends who are programmers, who are sitting next to you, when they will not answer my questions about how to use the program and tell me to google the questions (all my programming friends are like this!!!). As a result I came across this great Review of Windows Livewriter which has some great tips for using this program.

I am amazed by all the things that you can do with Livewriter especially how you can insert pictures into the post inside the program and you can do lots of fancy things to your picture. When you publish your post it uploads the picture at the same time.

And LiveWriter lets you insert lots of great things like maps from directly within the program. If you click on the map and follow the link you can click on my pushpin and read my message.

And it grabs your categories from Edublogs so you can select the categories directly from within LiveWriter.

However was a bit annoyed when I could not work out how to embed a SlideShare presentation in my post using either LiveWriter or Edublogs. Back to Google I went. Unbelievable thought I had tried everything. But must have been tired the other night. You just copy and paste the code for WordPress from Slideshare. Switch to HTML code in either LiveWriter or in your edublogs post and then paste the code from SlideShare. This is the PowerPoint presentation from Michael Coghlan’s great presentation on using your voice online.

Final point I did find that if you use LiveWriter it is best to edit the post using LiveWriter because when I edited my post in Edublogs it caused problems to my image layouts (mostly likely I am tired and it is user error – because Edublogs rocks!!) And I have to admit it LiveWriter also rocks (you can even change view to Web Preview to see how your post will look when published).

[slideshare id=49308&doc=beyond-text-2-11359&w=425]

How to Embed ToonDoo comics in Edublog blogs as a scrollable flash

Yesterday, I checked out ToonDoo and created my first comic. Unfortunately I had a bit of a problem embedding it into my Edublog blog so the nice people from ToonDoo helped me out.

Here are my instructions on how to do it so you can also enjoy the benefits of adding ToonDoo comics to your edublog blog.

Step 1: Click on the embed swf icon.

swf.jpg

Step 2: Insert the following code into the swf popup box but make sure you change the username and the toonID to your username and the toonID of your comic.

toonid.jpg
http://toondoo.com/viewEmbed.swf? imgPath=http://toondoo.com/public/dswaters/toons/cool-cartoon-9055.jpg & goURL=http://toondoo.com/View.toon?param=9055

However make sure that there are not spaces in your code (e.g. remove any spaces when you copy my code as it needs to be all as on word to work. While it may not be obvious the image below of the code is one word:

swfcode.jpg

This is how your code should look in the popup box.
swfpopup.jpg

Step 3: Click ok. You will now have a box open up to ask you for the width of the flash. Enter 450 for width and click ok.
swfwidth.jpg
Step 4: Now you will have a box open up for height- enter height as 320

swfheight.jpg
I hope this has been of some help to you. Happy Toondoing!

While I was writing these instructions my son created the following comic he wants to share with you. Please remember he is only 8. For me what an excellent way for him to work on spelling, writing and creative skills.
[swf width=”450″ height=”320″]http://toondoo.com/viewEmbed.swf?imgPath=http://toondoo.com/public/dswaters/toons/cool-cartoon-9223.jpg&goURL=http://toondoo.com/View.toon?param=9223[/swf]