1. Introduction a. My name is Kris Bell and I’m a technical trainer and web designer for NPower Oregon. NPower New York asked me to give this talk today, as I have kept a personal weblog in one form or another since 2001, and have consulted with numerous libraries and non-profits on weblogs as part of my work at NPower and as a private consultant. b. A few matters of business before we begin i. Remind participants that they are on mute on the phone, so if they want to ask a question they should use the "Ask a Question" button in the bottom right corner of the Live Meeting console. ii. For tracking purposes, we'd like to make sure we know how many people are participating in the training. If participants have more than one person from their organization sharing a computer to view the training, ask them to either send a note to firstname.lastname@example.org letting her know how many people are participating from their organization or use the "Ask a Question" feature in LiveMeeting to send us this information. iii. Verbally, can you please let people know (a couple of times just before and just after the start of the training) that if they are having trouble accessing the web portion of the training, they should send an email to email@example.com. Alternatively, we can use the separate conference call room as another way to troubleshoot - let's talk about that as an option tomorrow morning just before the call. iv. I think that Ali is going to have everyone fill out a survey at the end of the training. In the past, the way we have done this is to add a web slide at the end of the presentation that is open to first page of the SurveyMonkey evaluation. That way, everyone can just click on the survey and start taking it on their screen - since they all get to navigate the web on their own when you use web slides, we can capture all the evaluation data right there. Can you get the link from Ali to the evaluation survey she wants to use and add that in as the final slide in your presentation? c. Today I want to talk to you about weblogs, and specifically how they can be used in your non-profit. Generally, the information we’ll cover today extends far beyond the bounds of the non-profit world, and can certainly be applied to business and personal pursuits. In fact, many of the examples I’m going to give are business examples; after all, as non-profits, we need to bring in funds to survive, do we not? I’ll just imagine one hundred heads out there nodding in agreement . . . More specifically, I’ll talk about what weblogs are, common myths and misperceptions about weblogs, and why you might, as a non-profit, want to keep your own blog. Conversely, I’ll talk about why might want to start reading weblogs, if you haven’t already. 2. Kottke.org a. Before we dive into the nitty gritty of weblogs, I want to start off by telling you the story of Jason Kottke. Jason runs one of the most popular weblogs on the web, Kottke.org, a personal weblog, which provides dozen of interesting links daily, and covers such diverse topics as web design, music, movies, internet geekery, pop culture, and Jeopardy! He was the blogger, in fact, who last fall broke the story of Ken Jenning’s defeat last fall, days before it happened. b. Jason’s story is interesting, because in many ways, his blog is typical of many blogs out there: he writes about geeky things for a geeky audience. But due to his long history on the web—he was one of the earliest bloggers, back when there were only a few thousand bloggers—he’s particulary revered and influential. He also is personal friends with a lot of the early and important bloggers on the web—A-list blogging celebrities if you will, most of whom are also very influential and enjoy a wide readership. c. OK. So Jason Kottke is popular. So what? Eearlier this year he decided to take blogging to a new level, going full time with it. He quit his day job as a web designer in Manhattan, and dedicated himself to the site full time. His first order of business was to start a three-week microfund drive, soliciting his readers for donations to support him as a full-time blogger. And he was overwhelmingly successful, reaching his goal of ½ a year’s salary in three weeks. Now, I don’t know what a web designer in Manhattan makes, but we’re probably safe in assuming he made more than $100. d. Of course, Kottke is not a non-profit organization. But he’s the perfect example of internet fundraising: he knew his audience, he gave them a reason to donate, and he orchestrated a successful compaign. It wasn’t easy for him: it took him years to build the cachet to be able to ask for money. But it does go to show that with effort, patience, and great content, money can be made on the internet. e. Fundraising through blogs is something we’ll talk about a bit more, but first let’s step back a bit, and talk more about what weblogs are. 3. Weblogs a. What are weblogs? i. Short answer: a frequently updated log of links and commentary on a particular topic. ii. Long answer: it’s up for debate. Some think that unless it points to other websites or internet resources, it’s not a weblog. Others contend that personal journals count as weblogs, even if they’re autonomous and self-referentials. iii. Might be easiest to identify a weblog by its characteristics: iv. Anatomy of a Weblog (annotated screenshot—refer to handout) 1. Reverse chronological. Newest topics occur first on the page (this assumes regular readership) 2. Each ―entry‖ or ―post‖ has its own individual page on the web. As new items appear on the front page of a blog, older items drop off, but are preserved for eternity. These archived posts are often referred to as ―permalinks.‖ (Show permalinks.) 3. Usually allow others to comment on posts. 4. Blogroll. A list of related weblogs. If your weblog is personal, this could be a list of your friend’s weblogs. If your weblog is a niche subject, it will most often be a list of weblogs similar to yours. 5. RSS feed. v. Other Characteristics 1. Current. Weblogs are harness the ―now.‖ 2. Almost always, with the exception of group weblogs, a weblog is written in a singular, informal voice. b. A Bit of History i. Almost as old as the web itself ii. First Weblogs were ―news,‖ ―recently updated,‖ or ―journals,‖ written most often by hand on personal websites. iii. First weblog software was in 1997 (Manila) iv. Blogs exploded starting in 2001 because of new software the allowed for easy updating. No need to write HTML; you could write in plain text, and the rest would happen automagically. v. Today, the Pew Research center estimates there are over 8,000,000 blogs. vi. In January, they estimated that 27% of internet users read blogs. (32 million people) vii. Still, only 38% of Internet users today know what a blog is. c. Common Myths i. Blogs are poorly written journals written by 12-year old girls about boys, fashion, and pop music. 1. Pew Center for Internet Research shows demographics as being 57% males. 2. Many are actually smart, well-written, and heavily researched a. Example 1—Volokh Conspiracy b. Example 2—Talking Points Memo ii. Blogs are the equivalent of right-wing talk radio 1. True. Some are. But many are the equivalent of left-wing talk radio. a. Example 1—Daily Kos 2. Many more are non-political in scope, and most are fairly moderate or seek balance a. Example 1—Gizmodo: Non-political, covers gadgets. b. Example 2—Food blog? Knitting blog? Suit cutting blog. iii. Blogs are going to kill off the New York Times 1. Although detracting from the NY Times audience a bit, most bloggers still have day jobs. 2. Furthermore, few blogs have the credibility or cachet of the Times (even after Jason Blair). 4. Questions? 5. Activity—Ask for audience member who knows what weblogs are, wants one, but doesn’t have one currently. Have someone (Abe? Kurt?) help setup blogspot weblog in back, with promise to report back in 30 minutes. 6. Why Should a Non-Profit Blog? a. Simply to disseminate information about their non-profit. b. To point others to news, other weblogs, and internet resources related to their mission. i. Example 1—Creative Commons c. To capture organizational knowledge as it exists at a certain time. Blogs don’t have to be for an external audience only. i. Example 1—MSDN Blogs d. As a marketing tool. If your non-profit has a website with events, services, items for purchase, etc., a weblog is a great way to promote those. Or if you host events or classes, it is a great way to capture knowledge about those—posting anecdotes, fundraising figures, photos, etc. i. Example 1—Compumentor? e. For transparency. You don’t want to go overboard in your marketing, as people are becoming increasingly jaded about marketing efforts, and don’t want to feel manipulated or sold to. People are more comfortable with both non-profits and businesses if the feel the leaders are open, honest, and forthcoming. i. Example 1—Blog Maverick (http://www.blogmaverick.com/) ii. Example 2—Boeing Blog (http://www.boeing.com/randy) f. Fundraising. There haven’t been too many examples of this yet, but it is an area with a lot of potential. i. Example 1—Star Wars Kid (Waxy raised $4,334.44) ii. Example 2—Kottke (http://www.kottke.org) g. To increase traffic to your website. 7. What Makes a Good Blog? a. Message: You must know what message or messages you want to communicate and why. b. Desire and need: You must have a desire – and the need – to do a better job at communicating. (In other words, if you are totally happy with the way in which you communicate your message to your colleagues, funders, constituencies, and the public, then there is no need to have a blog!) c. A clear goal: Know what you want to accomplish with your blog. It may evolve over time to accomplish things you hadn’t expected, but without a clear focus at the beginning you won’t develop traffic because people who visit the site will see it has no focus. d. An audience: This may just be your funders, your members, or the people in your immediate community – or it may be a global community of people who share concern for your issue. But you need to have some idea who you are speaking to. (If your blog is public you’ll gain audience from unexpected places, but you must at least start out knowing that you have something to communicate to SOMEBODY who is interested in hearing about it.) e. Commitment: 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. 8. So, Should You Blog? a. Sure, if you frequently have news you want to share on your site. b. Sure, if you currently have no website. You can setup a free, professional- looking website in a matter of minutes. c. Sure, if you are frequently finding resources you want to share with the community. d. Sure, if you want feedback on news items, or if you want to engage readers in an open dialogue. e. Nope, if you don’t feel like increasing your search engine traffic f. Nope, if you have nothing say. g. Nope, if you don’t get buy-in from management. 9. Tools for Blogging a. Hosted Tools i. Blogger (free) ii. Typepad.com iii. Xanga.com (free) iv. Yahoo 360° (free) v. MSN Spaces (free) b. Tools For Your Own Site i. Movable Type (single license is free; non-profit discounts) ii. WordPress (free and open source) iii. Expression Engine (pay) 10. RSS a. What is RSS? i. First answer is Really Simply Syndication. Doesn’t mean much. ii. Second answer is, it’s a version of your website with the style (color, formatting) stripped out, which is then readable by ―newsreader‖ software. b. Why RSS? I don’t get it. i. RSS offers a structured framework for information ii. When information is structured, computers can parse that information iii. When computers can parse information, the information can be presented in ways different originally intended iv. How many websites do you read every day? This means going out to 20 or 30 different web addresses—typing in each URI, or choosing them from your bookmarks. Believe it or not, this can take up a lot of time. v. Using a newsreader lets you go to one place for most (or all) of your websites. vi. Demonstration 1. Diagram this. 2. Demonstrate Bloglines (fake account) a. Show how 20 blogs are organized into three categories. b. Show how clicking one category shows all news items for all sites in that category c. Show how content mimics content on website d. Show how items disappear after they are read, or that you can save them for later. 3. Demonstrate Feed Demon 11. Check in on new weblog a. How was it? Easy? b. Add new weblog to Bloglines 12. Back to RSS i. How do you know if a site is using RSS? XML button. ii. Are blogs the only sites using RSS? 1. Example 1—CNN 2. Example 2—Seattle Public Library 3. Example 3—Netflix iii. Other benefits of RSS 1. Other websites can include content from your site— perhaps things like upcoming events, if you have an agreement. 2. You look really cool. 13. 14. In closing. Lots of tools, lots of options. If you have time, energy, and things you want to share, go for it! 15. Questions?
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