Introduction to Blogging

Full-day Tutorial

Blogs (web logs) are a mainstream fact of life these days — newspapers host them, researchers cite them, and political candidates hire people to write them. They're a powerful tool for disseminating and discussing knowledge, and the networks they form are already more important for identifying and nurturing communities than the far-older forms of the newsgroup, the mailing list, and the bulletin board system. Hypertext scholars have found it interesting to observe the re-emergence of practices such as two-way linking (via Trackback) in the blog context. Hypertext system builders are being challenged to consider how their systems may feed into, assist us in understanding, or interoperate with the world-wide blogging phenomenon.

This tutorial is for people who are interested in blogs, may have read some, and perhaps have even started one - but seek a more detailed understanding, some advice, and some hands-on experience. The morning will be an introduction to blogging. We'll talk about what makes a blog, some of the history of blogs, and some of the different types of blogs are out there. We'll see blogs used in academic research, knowledge management in business and for breaking news. We'll see personal blogs driven by diverse concerns ranging from socializing to tracking an obsession with cell-phone photography. We'll talk about some of the tools for blogging (e.g., Movable Type, Blogger, Tinderbox, Blosxom, LiveJournal, de.lico.us) and their differing strengths and emphases. We'll look at blog standards such as Trackback, RSS, the Blogger API, and Atom. We'll look at blog community building and analysis tools (e.g., Technorati, Blogdex, Blogrolling) and aggregation tools (from Blagg to Meerkat). We'll discuss related developments such as wikis, the larger field of social software, and blog tools for specific purposes (e.g., blog courseware).

In the afternoon we'll go hands-on with the topics discussed in the morning, get down to practical advice about blogging personally or as part of your work, and provide the opportunity for tutorial attendees who are SIGWeb members to start blogs that they can keep going after the conference ends. The hands-on session will involve composing a blog entry, posting and editing it using different blog tools, and making connections between individual entries and different blogs. The practical advice discussion will focus on different approaches to blogging, setting realistic expectations for yourself and your audience, and making blogging (and blog reading) a help in your work/research rather than a chore.

Finally, attendees who don't yet have them will create their own blogs, and will be guided in how to use them as stand-alone entities or integrate blog functions into an existing web page.

The tutorial's guest speaker, Mark Bernstein, will discuss and demonstrate notetaking and blogging tool Tinderbox (of which he is the primary author) as well as share his tips for writing the living web.

Technical Details

For the hands-on session, attendees need to have (laptop) computers that can connect to the wireless network at the conference.

Attendees need only to know how to use a web browser and text editor, although a basic understanding of markup languages (e.g., HTML) would also be beneficial.

About The Presenters

Noah Wardrip-Fruin
is a hypertext writer and scholar. He is coeditor of The New Media Reader (with Nick Montfort) which was published in 2003 by MIT Press and brings a number of seminal hypertext documents (paper and digital) back into print. He is also coeditor (with Pat Harrigan) of the forthcoming First Person: New Media as Story, Performance, and Game. His first presentation at a Hypertext conference was of the zooming interface Pad++ and a fiction written for it, Gray Matters. He is one of the authors of the collaborative blog grandtextauto.org, and is a Director of the Electronic Literature Organization.
Matt Webb
is an engineer and designer, working in R&D in BBC Radio & Music Interactive looking at how to support the changing nature of listening. Previously, he has worked on UK e-government projects with the location-based information publisher UpMyStreet.com, created a collaborative semantic network (Dirk - currently offline), developed a range of IM bots (including Googlematic), and spoken on social software for small groups at O'Reilly's Emerging Technology Conference 2004. He maintains a forward-thinking technology and culture weblog at interconnected.org/home and lives in London.
Mark Bernstein
is founder and Chief Scientist of Eastgate Systems. He came to hypertext after a brief career in chemical research. Since phasing into computer science, he has created HyperGate, a hypertext authoring system for the Macintosh that predated Apple's HyperCard, Fontina, Macintosh font management software, and Link Apprentice, a research tool received with considerable interest by the hypertext community. He was primary developer of Storyspace for Windows and of the Eastgate Web Squirrel. He was program co-chair of Hypertext '96 (Washington DC) and Hypertext '97 (Southampton, England).