Congratulations, It’s A Blog!
These days the term “blog” (which is just a shorter way of saying “web log”) has been stretched to include so many kinds of projects that the word is almost useless. The popular news site The Huffington Post is a blog. Your Twitter account is a blog. Pretty much any site that records content chronologically counts as one. So don’t feel as if there is some grand mystical requirement you have to fill in order to start one. There isn’t! You just have to begin, putting one foot in front of the other until you see where it takes you.
For many people, the hardest part of creating a blog is deciding what it will be about. It’s not always easy to settle on a topic that feels like something worthy of your own time and other people’s. If you aren’t quite sure what to write about, at least try to decide what your intentions are. Do you want to entertain? Inform? Organize and focus your academic interests? Find other people like you? Get better at writing? It could be any or all of the above. If you have many interests, you can house them in a single blog by sorting them into different categories, or you can branch them off into totally separate blogs. And since you’re 100% in control of your content, you can always go back and reshape your project by changing or deleting what you’ve already posted
OpenLab provides you with the opportunity to create websites that reflect your professional or academic interests, but you also have the ability to make personal sites based on any interest whatsoever — as long as it’s something you don’t mind having linked to your OpenLab profile. Who would you like to become known as? Your blog is a tool that can help you explore and establish that persona.
Here are a few examples of what people use blogs for. Most blogs use at least one of these formats — some use all of them. Perhaps exploring others’ work will help you get started.
Academic Blogging: Your current course of study can be a launchpad for ongoing discussions, criticism and analysis, and getting to know others in your field. When people want to know more about your career trajectory, they’ll look at your blog. Or even better, people who meet you via your blog may seek you out as a established voice on your subject.
- Savage Minds – A group blog on anthropology
- Smart Mobs – Telecommunications, social networking, and collective action.
- Archiving The City – An environmental psychology student’s blog
Keeping A Journal. Who are you, what do you think about, where are you going? You can use your blog to tell your story as it unfolds, and also to catch people up on your backstory. How much to reveal is up to you, but play it safe: avoid sharing anything about yourself that you don’t want to become common knowledge. Here are a few interesting examples of this kind of blog:
- Dementia Be Damned – A woman chronicles her sister’s early-onset dementia.
- Fosterhood in NYC – A blog written by a young New York foster parent.
- Brie Fit – A record of one woman’s everyday life and fitness goals.
Tracking a Specific Project/Quest: Referred to jokingly as the “Give me a book deal!” blog. This is where you set out with a specific, finite goal in mind, blogging so that readers track your progress.
- I Live In My Van – “Just a man and a van”
- Huxtable Hotness – A fashion blog that critiques all the outfits on The Cosby Show, one episode at a time.
Showcasing Your Work: By creating a record of your finished works, or even works in progress, you open yourself up to criticism and/or approval from a whole new audience.
- Terry’s Diary – the photoblog of fashion photographer Terry Richardson.
- Moonlighting – A young comic book artist posts her new book one page at a time, as she completes them.
Building a Community:
- MetaFilter – A community weblog where members gather to post and/or discuss unusual web content
- Trans Group Blog – A community that provides a safe space to discuss issues related to transsexualism.
• Sharing a Hobby or Niche Interest:
- Cake Wrecks – A compendium of the very worst professionally-made cakes.
- Arizona Writer – An insect photography specialist blogs about sharing her interest with her young son.
Reporting / Raising Awareness:
- The Fix – A news and pop-culture blog that focuses on the topic of addiction.
- Insecure Fences – A blog about immigration issues, written by a activist volunteering in a Mexican bordertown.
“Weblogs: A History and Perspective” by Rebecca Blood