Tag Archives: Twitter

Are you ready to blog?

The CIBAS ‘Blogging for Success’ event on Tuesday evening attracted a mixed crowd of people some already bloggers, some thinking about it and some who may well have gone away with itchy fingers for the keyboard.

The speakers were Alison Baverstock, a publisher, trainer and writer on all aspects of publishing and marketing, and Yemisi Blake an active creative writer, blogger, poet and photographer.

Alison started with a brief history of how blogging evolved and then moved on to explain its relevance and usefulness for the creative writer.

She explained the advantages of blogging, who could benefit and how it might enhance and fuel a creative writing talent. For newer writers, it can be simply a matter of starting, then keeping up the practice and discipline of writing something regularly. For other already published writers it can be a means to keep in the public eye between actual publications.

Alison suggested that would-be bloggers should consider a number of points before starting – such as whether they had the time and energy to maintain such a project, and more importantly to decide and define exactly what the blog is intended to achieve, how personal it will be.

On the downside, Alison mentioned legal issues – be careful because you are not immune from libel and copyright issue just because you are online and not in print. It can help to draft posts offline, check facts, names and links and ask permission before quoting more than very brief extracts from other people’s work.

Her advice was to read other blogs before starting your own and suggested a few – see links at the end of the post. Another technique is to comment on other people’s blogs and also to try to get yourself involved in multi-contributor blog projects.

Yemisi Blake’s slant on blogging, was rather more technical, discussing the ‘how’ rather than the ‘why and why nots’ of blogging. We were introduced to the places online that can host your blog free or the options you have if you wish to pay for a domain and web hosting.

Yemisi showed on screen, how easy it was to set up a blog on the free site WordPress.com and how he had constructed his blog, with static pages as well as the active posts. Yemisi’s blog is a little different from what you can do with WordPress.com as it is on his own webspace and this gives him far more options in terms of construction and layout.

He also mentioned the ‘microblogging sites’ Twitter and Jaiku – micro in the sense that your posts are short messages, in the case of Twitter just 140 characters. Rather than use the shortened words you might use in an SMS text, it can encourage creativity and good use of language by forcing you to be concise and create an impact while still using complete words.

Both speakers talked about how to get your blog noticed via:

  • a signature line on all your emails and forum posts
  • word of mouth – don’t be shy, tell all your friends
  • commenting on other blogs, leaving a link to your own
  • putting tags on blog posts which will be picked up by Google and other search engines
  • letting other people blog about you

There was a chance for audience members to ask questions and to comment on what the speakers said, and handouts were available to help people get started.

I am putting together a resource sheet which will be downloadable here and will contain links to the information handed out and also some of the blogs that our speakers recommended reading. Please bookmark this post and come back in a day or two, ask questions and comment if you wish.

From broadsheets to blogging

Carol Ann Duffy is set to go down in history as the first Poet Laureate to have her first poem featured in the blogosphere.  As mentioned in the News item,  the verse about the MP’s expenses row was featured in a blog called Crust of the Grouch,  although it needs to be pointed out that this is NOT Ms Duffy’s own blog.

From Elizabethan times, poets and political commentators  – often the same people – used  ‘broadsheets’  to publicise their work around the streets of London and other great cities. This is how the term came to be used more generally for newspapers.  It is strange that the term is now used for the more traditional and heavyweight end of the market whereas today’s tabloid press and its typical reader might be closer to the vernacular of the original broadsheet.

Blogging is becoming respectable and respected and also a useful way of getting news out to the world that might take several days,  by more conventional means, especially if journalists have to get to some remote part of the world, or somewhere that they have difficulty in doing their jobs. Iran in the wake of the recent election is a case in point.

The automatic link between Twitter and the mobile phone network means that it is possible to get news online literally within seconds of it occurring.  We have already had convictions where criminals have been caught by mobile phone photographs.

Of course, this does raise questions about accuracy and truth. What you see in a photograph may be misleading, and items can be posted on Twitter that are simply untrue.  However politicians, Governments and celebrities need to be even more on their guard than ever lest things they would rather hide,  appear on our screens before they can prevent it.

The plus side is that anyone can set up a blog and be a self-publisher. Word gets around quickly and the best bloggers in terms of subject matter and writing style can attain recognition overnight.  We are less likely to find great writers who are not discovered till after their death, or whose works are not appreciated in their own time. 

I wonder how Shakespeare would feel about the plays that were performed for the ordinary people of London at the original Globe theatre are now on every school curriculum. He would most definitely have been a blogger, as would Charles Dickens, Dr Johnson, Samuel Pepys and many others.

The Festival Programme will include an event specifically about blogging, run by CIBAS