List Grid

Blogs Media Lab

Resources for writing.

I took notes and looked up some resources for my previous post that didn’t get worked in because i didn’t want that to become a link dump. Writing for the Living Web from A List Apart is full of helpful advice for writers. Building an Audience Rebecca MacKinnon has a good pdf on her blog […]

I took notes and looked up some resources for my previous post that didn’t get worked in because i didn’t want that to become a link dump.

Writing for the Living Web from A List Apart is full of helpful advice for writers.

Building an Audience

Rebecca MacKinnon has a good pdf on her blog called Blogging for Change. I wanted to especially call out a couple of quotes from the 4th and 5th pages of the PDF.

Blogs help you to build your “ information community” with like-minded

individuals and organizations by cross-linking to their sites

If you enable visitors to leave comments to your entries, blogs allow you to

easily interact with the people who visit your site, enabling them to

participate in a discussion about what you do, thus encouraging their

participation or support for your activities.

You need at least one person in your organization who is

committed to updating the blog regularly with clear, interesting writing

and useful links. The material may be pre-existing, it may or may not be a

full-time job, but the blog will not succeed with out somebody’s

committed efforts.

There was a list of advice on onPhilanthropy about Blogging as an Effective Fundraising Strategy. I would especially point out these 4 items their tip list:

- Pick people who like to write. The benefit of a blog is its immediacy and its voice.

- Update your blog frequently. This keeps it more relevant and fresh in search results ratings.

- Be generous with links. Put links within your blog to your own sites and related sites.

- And simply, write good content. This is why your blog will be successful.

In August 2004 tech soup posted a Profiles of Nonprofit Weblogs. I pulled Andy Carvin’s response from the article.

TS: What are the main challenges in the production of your weblog?

AC: Time. After a long day at work, sometimes you just don’t feel like talking. But if a blog is part of your mission and integrated into your work day, that becomes a lot easier. Even if that’s the case, though, you’ll still need to pace yourself; Too many bloggers start by posting 30 entries a day, then burn out after a few months. Blogging is a marathon, not a sprint. Also, there’s the issue of quality control; as a personal blog, my site occasionally will have a slip of the keyboard, but most blog readers tolerate that. But higher quality is expected from blogs associated with organizations rather than individuals.

Graeme from Civiblog had a good quote from the same article:

TS: What are the benefits of your weblog?

G: Weblogs allow us to easily create and maintain an online community. The ability to allow anyone — regardless of technical knowledge — to share experience from the field is invaluable.

Beth Kanter also had some interviews on her blog about nonprofits blogging. I grabbed this quote from her post Carnet Williams: Nonprofit Technology, Blogging, Aggregating, & Surfing …

I don’t think we should too hung up on blogging itself… We need to realize that the digital age has created a ripe environment for quickly disseminating and absorbing information. We are becoming a multi-tasking and connected society. Most folks now demand news and information from more than just their local papers. Nonprofits need to take advantage of this change in personal engagement to the world, and make sure we have a place in that new window.

Regular readers of this blog will notice we took trackbacks off while ago largely because of the reasons listed in this Ant’s Eye View article. In short trackbacks were making an insane amount of spam and generating no useful comments.

** UPDATE 7/6/05 **

I forgot to add these links that i had been collecting on our Wiki.

About blogging:

Although this page is about academics blogging I think it has a number of relevent ideas for our new bloggers to consider.

Cyberlibris writing about Bloggercon

* Note: It seems like typepad has some problems in their CSS right now so the content gets pushed way down the page. Scroll down it’s down there and worth reading. I pulled a choice quote to entice reluctant scrollers.

What changes for academics when they blog ? : This is the point: Academics are afraid more often than not of what could change the pace of their academic life. One professor in the room said that blogs were “disruptive for the Ivory Tower”. Great, that’s what we want! Another professor added that “the University has never been great at distributing knowledge”. That’s why they nicknamed it the Ivory Tower. Well, it doesn’t have to be so, especially in the so-called knowledge economy. Blogs are wonderful tools to expand the reach of knowledge. This would be an oxymoron not to take advantage of it.

More about Blogging as a teaching tool on Abject Learning

The WordPress documentation seems over nerded so I picked out the most relevent pages for our non-technical authors.

Introduction to Blogging

Writing Posts

  • Peter says:

    Thanks for these links. This is a great blog resource list for nonprofits.

    The marathon vs. sprint quote is very true. It not easy to keep blogging especially when comments are rare. I blog more and more as a ‘backup brain’ (which is the name of an unrelated blog).

    It’s been interesting watching the blog evolution at the Walker. One thing I’d like to see is a full calendar feed – not just today but out at least through 30 days. I can email events to myself and friends from within my reader (Bloglines).

  • eric says:

    Peter,

    That is a good suggestion about the calendar. We just did expand our calendar feed (as per Brents last post) and we are on the verge of launching our iCal/Outlook feed. The thing we were struggling with on the Calendar RSS feed was having all 30 things show up at once then after you see them once they expire and you don’t see them again. I’ll make sure we talk it over as we are addressing RSS again now though.

  • Peter says:

    Eric,

    I would suggest two feeds, one for today or very recent (as you have now), a second for a 30-day outlook. And what the heck, a third that feeds everything that’s planned for the rest of the century (or however far out that you plan).

    I mean, why not? As long at the feed updating can be automated, why not offer the choices?

  • I certainly like choices, though I think the question becomes, when do we post an event to the feed? Do we post events as soon as they go into our database? Do we post them when they’re a couple weeks out?

    How we handle events internally doesn’t always work for an RSS feed. Some events go up very early, but don’t have all of the detailed info about them filled in until later. Usually we update the detailed events when our print calendar has gone through editorial, and thus we’ll put up two months worth of events in two days. Is having all that come through bloglines in one shot and then having silence for a couple months useful?

    The best I can think of is having a “Today at the Walker” feed and a “Coming Soon to the Walker” feed that shows what’s coming 2-4 weeks from today so one can plan for it. It wouldn’t show events as soon as they go online, just once they got within a few weeks of the event date.

    Thoughts?

  • Peter says:

    This may get long so you may want to use the restroom before you start to read.

    QUOTE

    How we handle events internally doesn’t always work for an RSS feed. Some events go up very early, but don’t have all of the detailed info about them filled in until later. Usually we update the detailed events when our print calendar has gone through editorial, and thus we’ll put up two months worth of events in two days. Is having all that come through bloglines in one shot and then having silence for a couple months useful?

    END QUOTE

    I’ll argue the other side of this and provide an example. I think giving me the option to see what’s planned at the WAC — even without details — would be valuable and popular (as RSS moves to the mainstream). I would use it and I would mark my calendar with events way off in the future. I’d also let my friends know.

    The Example. Let’s say you’re planning a retrospective of the films of Robert Siodmak for October and you have the dates set so it goes to the ‘all events’ feed that I proposed. I subscribe and I see it and I let Roy know right away because he’s more of a film noir buff than I am. He, in turn, lets his film friends know.

    (FYI, the LA County County Museum of Art is planning such a retrospective – hope this link works, if not see below.)

    Meanwhile, I do some research on Siodmak including getting a DVD of one of his films from Netflix. After I watch it, I’ll blog my impressions (I try to blog about all the films I watch) and I will now mention that a retrospective of his work is coming to the Walker in October and (if I like the Siodmak films) I’ll tell people they should check it out, this guy (Siodmak) is as good as Hitchcock (or almost as good or whatever).

    Now we have a buzz going in July for an October event at the Walker. So far, you haven’t spent any real money on marketing the event.

    As you get more details (like Kenneth Turan, the LA Times film critic, is going to speak or host a panel on Siodmak), it should update the RSS feed so that it reappears as new in my aggregator where I’ll see the new information. Then, I email Roy again, he tells his friends, I blog it, etc. More buzz. Hopefully, there will be a way to comment on it within the Walker blogosphere too.

    And I still subscribe to the ‘Today’ feed and the ’30-day’ feed. It is information I might need and no sweat to just subscribe to it and read when necessary.

    Of course there is a dark side to this too. If I watch The Killers (one of Siodmak’s great film noirs) and I think it sucks, I could start blogging about how Siodmak is overrated and the Walker is nuts for having a retrospective. Now the three or four people who read my blog might not go to the retrospective.

    How to communicate with RSS and what are its limits (some are predicting the end of Web sites as we know them) are questions that remain to be answered. A feed of all the events into the future is a potential answer. May work, may not work, but I think this is a good time for experimenting, before the rush for feeds begins. RSS is still a new thing but it’s going to grow fast once Microsoft releases the next IE with subscription features.

    So, in conclusion (finally), I think the ‘all events’ feed is worth exploring if it’s not too much effort to put in place.

    I am very happy to see you folks blogging and providing the RSS feeds. I have never been more engaged with the Walker and what’s going on there.

    Here’s that link from above in case the html doesn’t work.

    http://www.calendarlive.com/movies/cl-ca-siodmak3jul03,0,3266333.story

  • Roy says:

    I agree with Peter, except what he sees as a dark side, I say there is no such thing as bad publicity. If a Walker event is being argued over in the blogs, that’s genuine controversy, and reflects/builds interest.

    A shout out to the top of the page too, many interesting ideas and links.

  • eric says:

    Peter,

    I think the point about showing events even when they aren’t totally fully detailed in the calendar is smart.

    The other point I think Brent was addressing was one of our scheduled calendar updates. Just because of the way workflow is inside the Walker our events tend to come in mass. So even if we are updating our RSS feed 6-12 months in the future it will look something like 30 events showing up on the RSS feed all in one afternoon. Then nothing for about a month. Then 30 more. etc.

    Our idea for the “Today” feed or Brent’s suggested “2-4 weeks” feed was to regulate the flow of events in an attempt to make it more useful. We are open to showing longer ranging news feeds, but do you think it would be useful to just dump events from the calendar as they get entered into the database, or is there a slower stream of events that would be more appealing? Is there anybody using RSS well to solve these problems that we can check out for use case?

    The update schedule of our events programers is not likely to change so it is up to us to figure out a solution to make this managable for users.

    It’s great to get learn how other people use RSS, thanks for the input.

  • Peter says:

    I understand the workflow issue with scheduling with 30 events appearing one day then nothing for 30 days.

    I still would like that far future feed and I would mark events of interest to stay new in my Walker calendar feed so I wouldn’t forget them. From my view, I can’t see a good reason not to at least try it and see what the response is. Folks can only subscribe to the thirty-day calendar or the daily if they want.

    You folks will figure it all out, I’m sure. I’ll be happy with something that lets me look a few weeks out; I’ll be happier with a full feed that lets me see your schedule thru December and beyond.

  • eric says:

    Peter,

    We just launched our iCal feed yesterday if that helps you see events into the future the way you want. I’m writing up a page about it today but in the mean time you can use this webcal://calendar.walkerart.org/ical.wac?id=all to link to the calendar.

  • Peter says:

    Sigh. I don’t use iCal or anything that would take advantage of that format. (I’m still using Palm Desktop and an older Handspring Visor. One of the curses of being an early adopter.) I will see about plugging into this next week and try to give you some feedback.

    Escaping to Duluth for the weekend…