Sue Waters Blog

July 15, 2010
by Sue Waters
23 Comments

The Story Behind That Twitteraholic Post

There’s always a story behind what inspires bloggers to write specific posts.

Unfortunately we aren’t always able to include that aspect in our posts :(

Maybe it is me?  But often the story behind the post is just as intriguing and fascinating as the post.

So I thought you might be interested in the story behind A Twitteraholic’s Guide to tweets, hashtags, and all things Twitter?

The Inspiration

Being at a large conference like ISTE, where you have over 13,000 people attending,  reminded me of how much my life has changed as a result of using twitter.

Life before Twitter at a conference was like the first day at a new school — really lonely, isolating experience and take days to connect with others.

While life with Twitter at a conference is like walking into a big party where you know everyone and are meeting up with old friends.   And it’s probably even harder to understand for those that don’t use twitter (or only use it a bit) but often we haven’t even connected with each other online before the conference.

But Twitter brings us together — regardless of whether we’ve already built a relationship online.  And the time we spend together face-to-face enhances our online relationships so the next time we meet up its even better!

Connecting with others was as simple as sending tweets like ‘Who wants to go out for dinner #iste10′, ‘Who wants to go out for breakfast — I’m hungry #iste10′, ‘Where is everyone? #iste10′ or monitoring the hashtag #iste10 to find out what was happening.

What other technology really allows you to connect with some many people so quickly?

And That line…

Off course there is often stories behind specific lines within a post.

My two favorite line in A Twitteraholic’s Guide to tweets, hashtags, and all things Twitter? are:

  1. “Twitter is for people with too much time on their hands”
  2. “using it like a big teachers lunch room that’s open 24/7″

The “Twitter is for people with too much time on their hands” has the best story 8-)

Here’s how it goes…..

The day I flew out to USA I crashed my car — managing to break the suspension underneath my car and damage my left hand.

Unfortunately due to travel commitments I couldn’t get my hand x-rayed until I returned home 3 1/2 weeks later.  So while it was being x-rayed I tried to explain why there had been a delay in getting it done due to traveling as part of my work.

Explaining what it meant to support a blogging company wasn’t working — so I tried the opposite approach by saying blogging is sort of like Twitter since most people have heard of twitter.

That’s when he replied “Twitter is for people with too much time on their hands” — we’ve all had others say exactly that to us.  For me it was we have to that line in the post because too often that is exactly what people think and say to us!

And since I had managed to break my hand in the car crash I can confirm true crazy Twitteraholics don’t let things like a broken hand get in our way of tweeting or writing blog posts.

Here’s the x-ray and my story remains that the concrete pillar was driving on the wrong side of the road!

X-ray

And back to “using it like a big teachers lunch room that’s open 24/7″ — someone on tweeted that on Twitter during the time I was writing the post.  Thanks whoever tweeted it!

Final Thoughts

Hope my story has added more meaning to my A Twitteraholic’s Guide to tweets, hashtags, and all things Twitter? post and makes it as memorable for you as it was for me — especially considering it was written over at least week and from two countries at opposite sides of the World.

And would love to hear the stories behind what inspired you to write your different posts!

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September 18, 2009
by Sue Waters
14 Comments

Here’s My Blogging Story! What’s Yours?

Well I’m a bit late  to help John Connell with his session at BBC’s Glasgow HQ!

But I like the blogging questions and think others would be intrigued by my answers.

1.  How did you get into blogging?

I’m sure lots of people that are very glad I’m blogger would be totally surprised by the fact that initially I really struggled with the concept of blogging — Why anyone would blog and why others read their blogs?

It took almost a year from being shown what a blog was to becoming a blogger.

The turning point were a result of:

  1. Subscribing to blogs (which gave me a greater appreciate of blogs)
  2. My strong desire to reflect on what I was learning.

2.  What were (are?) the motivations?

My podcasts and wiki were excellent for sharing information but weren’t great for other aspects.

Blogging gave me what podcasting and my wiki lacked; the ability to reflect, collaborate, exchange ideas and connect with others.  These aspects plus my strong motivation to help others motivates why I blog.

3.  How does your “private” blogging relate to your work?

Well my ‘private blogging’ developed into my work.

And if you had told me when I first started blogging that within 8 months I would end up employed by a blogging company — I’d have said Get Real!’

Key events that lead to this were Darren Rowse’s 31 Days Project that made me a better blogger and James Farmer who saw potential!

4.  How do you achieve a balance of personal voice and authority

Sorry but I really don’t like words ‘authority’ or ‘expert’

We each have our own personal voices and own opinions — when we share and collaborate together we all gain in knowledge and skills.

5. What can be achieved through blogging that can’t through ordinary news/reporting routes?

Any one, any time, any where can share their thoughts, opinions and beliefs. We can now make the news, report the news and connect in ways we couldn’t previously.

6. How do you follow other blogs and other forms of “public conversation”?

By subscribing to blogs and using twitter.

7.  How does your blog connect to others in a “conversation”?

Wonder how John Connell answered this question?  Boy that’s a hard one.

My blogs help others become bloggers, or hopefully better bloggers.  Working together through engaging in conversations in comments  we connect and help with each other.

8.  Are there other bloggers you follow especially, others you think are exemplars of the practice?

Really hate those types of questions.  Reading  blog to me is like reading a novel.  Some people like romance, or horror, or sci fi or ……  PS don’t make me read a romance 8-)

9. How do you feel about “lighter” practices such as Tweeting, facebook status updates etc…?

I think it’s s a mistake to see them as ‘lighter’ practices… a very bad mistake.  They are both complementary and becoming increasingly important for bloggers.

Many readers now prefer to grab links to posts from twitter.  Others like to read the posts as updates in Facebook.

Blogging is all about making your blog be more easily read by your audience.  Twitter, Facebook, RSS feed and email subscription all make it easier for your readers.

FINAL THOUGHTS

So that is my journey… would love to read  your responses to John Connell questions!

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May 27, 2009
by Sue Waters
24 Comments

Latest Statistics Say My Blogs Are……?

Unfortunately it is very easy to misinterpret and/or mis-use any type of statistics.

People often look at the number while failing to consider how the statistic was calculated or what it truly means.

About Misinterpreting Statistics

Here’s an example:

Statistics show that 45% of the population can’t read the newspaper.

Shocking literacy rates! Or is it? How many included in that statistic were too young to read, didn’t speak English, had some form of disability etc? What percentage of the entire population was sampled, what method was used, did the method bias the result etc?

Using Statistics in Blogging

So where am I going with this? Well bloggers love statistics and they love to know how they rank against other bloggers. Since Technorati authority is no longer reliable bloggers have looked at other options.

So some bloggers are using PostRank. For example, here are the top blogs on education based on their ranking by PostRank. Trouble is bloggers are looking at the statistics and the number 1-10; not considering how it was calculated, how blogs are ranked against each other using PostRank or what these numbers mean.

Effective use of PostRank

Let me be clear! I love PostRank. It is an incredibly valuable tool for quickly analyzing and comparing all of your blog posts in terms of number of:

  1. Comments
  2. Bookmarked (Delicious, diigo etc)
  3. Twittered
  4. Linked to

All of which helps you reflect how the different post types impact how readers engage with the posts. For example, if your aim is a long informative post you would expect few comments but hopefully lots of bookmarking and/or linking. PostRank helps you work out if you achieved this goal.

Misinterpreting PostRank

But if you are using PostRank to compared your blog’s performance against another blog, or identify the best blogs for a topic than you need to look more closely at their statistics.

In particular look at those eye icons that represent views. What do they mean? Well they are the number of your readers that click the post title in the PostRank widget in your sidebar.

Should high clicking on the PostRank widget in a sidebar make a post (and blog) high ranking?

Below is a screenshot from PostRank. The example on the left is a perfect 10 from another blogger (educational) whose rank on that post is entirely based on click on the PostRank widget. While The Edublogger post had high bookmarking, linking and comments.

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September 12, 2008
by Sue Waters
7 Comments

Blogging, Chocolate Murray Cods And Let’s Not Forget Bubble Wrap!

Iamge of chocolate fishLet’s be honest, I’m not sure about others, but I don’t expect gifts when I do presentations but it’s always nice to receive. But I usually give them away (usually to a participant) ’cause I don’t drink.

But thanks to Kerry J I received the absolute prefect presentation gift for EDNA’s Blogging – it’s a conversation — two wonderful chocolate Murray Cod’s. Honestly what else would you give a chocolate loving fish farming lecturer. Image of letter

About Haigh’s Chocolate Murray Cod

Murray Cod is the largest freshwater fish species found in Australia and occurs naturally in Eastern parts of Australia. Unfortunately wild Murray Cod numbers are declining. We farm this species in ponds and intensive recirculations systems.

Haigh’s Chocolates has donating part proceeds from the sale of chocolate Murray Cods towards Waterfind Environment Fund for improving the health of Australia’s river systems (the fish even came with their own letter!!!). What an excellent idea!! And they tasted delicious!

The Extra Gift

What Kerry J didn’t realise was that she had sent two gifts not one! Shhhh don’t tell her :) . Mr9, my youngest son, saw the chocolates (apparently weren’t appealing to him) and stole the bubble wrap which he spent hours playing with (check out this video!).

FINAL THOUGHTS

You can check out the podcast from my online session for EDNA’s Blogging – it’s a conversation here!! Thanks Kerry J for putting so much thought into the present from both me and Mr9 — we both enjoyed them a lot.

Meanwhile what is the best gift you have received as a presenter or participant at a conference?

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April 26, 2008
by Sue Waters
22 Comments

The Messy Aspects Of Blog Cleaning

Don’t you get frustrated with mess? I do! But I’ll procrastinate how I can clean up the mess until I can’t take it anymore. Only then will I take action.

Today was my blog cleaning day! I’ve finished what I can but still not happy (are we ever totally happy with blog cleaning?). Anyway let me show you what I’ve done so you can give me your thoughts :)

Importance Of Blog Cleaning

1484354764_18f80608a6_m.jpg

Unfortunate fact of life, we do judge a book by it’s cover! People are more likely to both read our posts and subscribe to our blog if it’s pleasing to their eyes.

We need our blogs to immediately engage first time readers, highlight that we offer great information that they will like, so they want to subscribe to our blog.

Photo from Flickr uploaded on October 4, 2007
by metz79 licensed under Creative Commons ShareAlike 2.0.

Changed Block Image Header

I use Cutline theme for my blog because I want a clean template, with pages along the top and ability to add a tagline.

The concept behind a blog tagline is to create a memorable phrase that sums up the tone and premise of a blog. Ideally all blogs should have a tagline since they instantly tell first time readers what your blogs all about and whether you write posts in topic areas that interest them.

Unfortunately Cutline doesn’t include a tagline but it does include a customisable header which means I can add the tagline to the image in my blog header.

But I’m not the most creative person so wasn’t happy with my image. Hoping my new image header with a person staring at the ocean and my tagline Helping Others With Web 2.0, e-learning and m-learning are better.

This is what my previous header looked like:

previous.jpg

Decluttered My Sidebar

Sidebar clutter is bad because it can make your blog look messy and pulls readers attention away from what you want them to do (read your posts)!

Saying all that I think Kirsten’s comment on my I’ve Gone Widget Crazy post is important to consider:

I sort of view sidebar widgets as being partly for the blog owner and partly for their readers. So I guess if they make you happy then that’s what counts. I don’t see them as distracting, but then I’m a total global spatial and my mind is probably full of widgets.

But some of the clutter had to go!

1. Removed my blogroll

Bloggers often feature a list of their favourite blogs in the sidebar of their blog; this list is commonly called a blogroll and these are important to edubloggers. One of the reasons for adding a blogroll is so your readers can use this list to locate other blogs worth reading — you are saying “these are some blogs I like – which are worth checking out!”

Trouble is my blogroll list overwhelms my side bar so I’ve relocated it to a page on my blog. Sure some won’t be happy with this but it was that or no blogroll. And now have a pretty link to it :)

Check out my blogroll here!

2. Rearranged My Subscribe To This Blog Links & Information

I want new readers to subscribe to my blog!

Your RSS feed, email subscription and advice on how to subscribe to your blog needs to be obvious! So I’ve made it look nicer and hopefully it’s grabbing readers attentions with the icons I’ve added (check it out at the top right hand side of my blog).

3. Added a Translate This Page Widget

I’ve added a Google translator widget to my blog to make it easier to read my posts in words other than English as I have many readers that English is not their main language.

I also tried to find an Aussie slang translator but had no success. My readers definitely need this! As Kate Quinn pointed out in comments I used this aussie slang “main drag to refer to the main road through the town” in a post.

4. Changed the name of My Categories Widget

Tags, categories and search widgets are important because they help your readers locate the information they want on your blog (read more about the difference between tags and categories here).

I’ve changed the heading of my categories widget to “Some of the things I write about” because I felt the word Categories didn’t have much meaning to many of my readers.

5. Customised My CoComment Widget

Kirsten convinced me of the value of having a Cocomment widget on my blog when she said on my I’ve Gone Widget Crazy post:

As a blog surfing addict I like the cocoment reader widget – if something you have commented on else where catches my attention then I can follow it and explore further. I also know can come back to your site and follow other comments of interest – so I like that widget

So I’ve adjusted the size of the widget and changed my cocomment widget’s title to “My Comments on Others Blogs.”

6. Where I Share

I wanted to add a Show Yourself Widget like Vicki Davis has on her blog (located in her left sidebar under the title of “Where I Share”). Unfortunately this is one code I can’t seem to embed in this blog. So instead I’ve added an About Me Widget from MyBlogLog but it’s not really what I wanted.

If you know of a better widget please let me know :)

Added A Visitors Map

While I was busy decluttering my sidebar I couldn’t help looking at more widget to add.

I fell in love with Ronaldo Lima Frappr visitor’s map and had to have one. Absolutely no logic in my desire and since it caused clutter I’ve added it to my About page — which makes completely no sense!

But cheer me up add your name to my vistors map!

FINAL THOUGHTS

What have I missed? MyBlogLog for “Where I Share” isn’t working for me. Can you recommend a better option?

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April 9, 2008
by Sue Waters
37 Comments

Share Your Blogging Experience & Tips For Participants From Open PD

247807303_132355739d_m.jpgGreat news!!! I’ve been asked by Robin Ellis and Darren Draper to talk about blogging with educators participating in Open PD.

Slight problem! Minor really — hardily worth mentioning but it’s at 5.00 am tomorrow morning my time (their local time of 5-6 pm US Eastern Time Zone on Wednesday April 9).

Time for a confession — I’m not good at waking up in the morning. I never hear the alarm go off when it wakes up my hubby. So I’m enlisting hubby’s help to make sure I’m awake on time. He’s not 100 % reliable at this either forgetting or, worse still, waking me way too early to find out what time I want to be woken up. Image by VanitasPhotography.

So I’m thinking perhaps I could also get you to help out in two ways?

1. Join us for Open PD

Open PD session is from 5-6 pm US Eastern Time Zone on Wednesday April 9. I would love you to share your thoughts on blogging and help out if hubby forgets to wake me up.

Anyone and everyone are welcome. Ustream and Skype (here is the link so you can join the session) to encourage global participation. I always gain so much from attending these Open PD session.

2. Share Your Blogging Experience & Tips For New Bloggers

I like to stress that the most important aspect of blogging, and where the true learning happens, is in the conversations. So I’m hoping you will write a comment on this post or write your post (which links to this post) so I can show them how blogging conversations work.

So can you please tell us about:

  • Where you blog and how long you have been blogging for?
  • Why you blog? How does it benefit you or your work?
  • How blogging has helped your students and how long have you been blogging with students (if applicable)
  • Why you feel blogging is important
  • What are the 3 most important tips you would share with a new blogger?

FINAL THOUGHTS

Thanks for helping out :). Open PD will be talking about blogging for the next two weeks (April 9 & 16) so there is plenty of time for you to add your thoughts to be part of this conversation.

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March 8, 2008
by Sue Waters
20 Comments

Do You Subscribe To Your Own Blog Feed? Maybe You Should!

Image of RSS iconIf you’re not already subscribing to the RSS feed from your own blog using a feed reader e.g. Google Reader it’s time you did! You can’t always guarantee readers will tell you there is a problem :) .

What happened to Martin Weller (The Ed Techie) yesterday is a classic example of the need to subscribe. Martin uses Typepad which unfortunately experienced a brief problem with their feed service on TypePad. Some TypePad users were affected, where another blog’s entries appeared to be coming from their feed.

Yesterday in the feed from Martin’s blog was 10 new posts on motherhood which surprisingly enough weren’t his, but were from Jumping Monkey’s blog. I read his blog and didn’t realise the problem due to the sheer number of blogs I subscribe to; I thought I must have added an unusual blog to my readings.

motherhood.jpg

He wasn’t alone in experiencing this problem; Craig’s Movie Blog and Not About Tech were both replaced with The London Blog. Michael Willits (Not About Tech) contacted Typepad who advised him that the problem was with Typepad and not Feedburner.

Added benefit of subscribing to your own blog feed is you see your posts how they are seen by readers. Means you pick up any problems such as issues with font sizes, image size/alignment and removal of content (e.g. embeds like SlideShare, Voicethreads and videos may not appear in your post when viewed in a feed reader — appears to be influenced by which blog platform you use).

While I’m at it! My personal request is if you want me to subscribe to your posts please make sure you have your feed set to full feed not partial. I virtually never click on the more link for posts that are partial feeds — I don’t have the time SORRY.

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February 23, 2008
by Sue Waters
7 Comments

Can You Really Identify Features That Makes A Good Blog?

Image of numbersSo what does make a good blog?

Tara Ethridge asked the Classroom 2.0 community “What are your top 3 blogs you’d recommend others to read about web 2.0, collaboration or anything technology-related?” so that she could create a list for teachers at her school of the most commonly recommended.

While I like the idea of helping teachers locate blogs to read — there is no way I would ever consider promoting 3 blogs!

Image by Brothergrimm.

People Are Individuals

Graham Wegner’s What Makes A Good Blog masterfully captures the essence of why it is an issue for me. Several weeks ago Graham and I had a discussion using twitter on what we like/don’t like in blog posts. As Graham says:

We found that we both appreciated very different qualities in the readability of blogs. What I might find artful and clever wordsmithing might be painful reading for another. Step by step instructions with annotated screengrabs and how-to-be-a-great-whatever appeal to some people but have me reaching for the “Mark As Read” button.

As individual’s we each have our own personal preferences of what we like and don’t like. Now that Google Reader has linked Reader with Google Talk so now all your shared items will be visible to your friends from Google Talk, and vice versa its become plainly obvious how unique individuals are in terms of what they see as a good post/blog.

If someone asked you to recommend books to read — you would start with first finding out what type of books the person likes to read. Pointless recommending Murders, Mysteries or Thrillers when they liked romances; or better still they actually hate reading books but love watching movies.

Trouble is when a person hasn’t been exposed to reading blogs — they don’t know their personal preferences. Provide a limited selection of Shakesharpe like blogs when Barbara Cartland better suits their style or vice versa — may mean they don’t learn to appreciate the value of reading blogs.

My Advice

My advice to educators new to reading blogs is to:

highlight that as individuals we each look for very different qualities in the readability of blogs — perhaps start with Aseem Badshah Top Education Bloggers or edubloggers based upon Technorati’s rankings. When you find blogs you like — take the time to check out blogs in their blogroll since these may include similar type authors

While personal preference influences what people identify as a good blog; there are practices that will make you a more effective blogger — here are My Advice On Being A More Effective Blogger!

FINAL THOUGHT

Thanks to Tara Ethridge for starting this great conversation, Dan continuing it and inspiring Graham to write his response. Although Graham – I’m thinking I need some screengrabs to finish it off — ROFL.

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February 10, 2008
by Sue Waters
28 Comments

How To Effectively Manage Your Comments on Other People’s Blogs

Blogging is all about having the conversations — not talking to yourself! True conversations, which is what we want to achieve, is when we all, author and commenters interact.

Managing Comments on Other People’s blogs

I’ve many tips for keeping up the conversations on blogs but I believe the most important is being very effective at managing my comments on other people’s blogs. I use co-mment, which tracks my comments, and it notifies me automatically by sending the comment to my Google Reader account. This way when a person comments on a post that I have commented on I can choose to immediately respond back if I want. Co-mment means I can effectively manage my conversations, and they can be near instantaneous.

Setting up Co.mment Account

  1. Go to co.mment and click on Get an account to set up your account
  2. Click on Tool/Setting link and follow instructions to add bookmarklet to your web browser

Diagram of how to set up Co.mment account

Add A Post You Want To Follow To Co.mment

  1. Write your comment on the post you want to track
  2. Then click on the Co.mment bookmarklet in your web browser — make sure you are logged into your co.mment account

commenting.jpg

Subscribing To Your Comments From Co.mment Using A Feed Reader

There are a few options for recieving updates of new comments on blog conversations you are following:

  • Read them directly on your tracking page at co.mment
  • Subscribe by email — means you receive e-mail alerts when new comments are posted
  • Subscribe to your tracking page RSS feed using a Feed Reader i.e. new comments are delivered to your Feed Reader

Subscribing using RSS is the most efficient method because you can use it to manage all the information you receive e.g. comments from your co.mment tracking page, latest posts from blogs you read, your friends Flickr photos.

Subscribing to RSS from comment

Responding Back To Comments

By subscribing to my co.mment tracking page using Google Reader I’m quickly notified when a person comments on a post I’m tracking so I can quickly choose to respond back if I want.

responding.jpg

FINAL THOUGHTS

Do you use comment tracking applications? If so, do you prefer co.mment or cocomment and why? What are your tips for achieving true conversations on blogs?

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January 16, 2008
by Sue Waters
17 Comments

A New Journey Begins: Introducing The Edublogger!

theedubloggerFinally I can shared some really cool and exciting news of my latest venture. A few weeks ago James Farmer, founder of Edublogs, approached me to ask if I was willing to be the editor of The Edublogger, a blog set up by Edublogs dedicated to helping educational bloggers with using emerging technologies in education, share their own experiences and promote the blogging medium.

The concept was that I would keep doing the kind of stuff that I already do well, but also do it at a central place within Edublogs. My passion has always been about HELPING OTHERS learn how to use these technologies; so I jumped at the opportunity! Bit of an understatement — but I am extremely excited to be involved with The Edublogger because it increases my potential to interact and connect with a larger community, hopefully helping even more people.

What This Means?

Well I will be continuing to blog, as usual, here at Mobile Technology in TAFE and will be blogging at The Edublogger. To be honest, at the moment, while it is all exciting there is also a sense of fear as you can probably imagine moving to blogging in a more central location.

I would really appreciate your help and support as The Edublogger journey gets underway. Definitely feel that I need to do more tweaking with The Edublogger. Would love some help with an audit of The Edublogger. How does the About page sound? Were there better words I could have used? Does it need more images? Not convinced by the tagline “Tips, tricks, ideas and help with using web 2.0 technologies and edublogs” — what are your thoughts? Can you recommend a better one? Are there any widgets I need to add/remove?

Also if you can tell me what interests you, in terms of what topics you would love to read on the Edublogger, that would also be great!

FINAL THOUGHT

Special thanks to Chris and Kate (quinncd) for letting me use their photos (of me) on The Edublogger site! For those that were wondering about what keeps me going — look closely at the photo!

Thanks to all my readers who take the time to read my posts and for letting me know that what I write makes a difference in your life. Hopefully you will also join me at the Edublogger – here is the link to it’s feed Subscribe in a reader

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