Weblogs and RSS For Non-profits by legalstuff1


									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 ali@npower.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 ali@npower.org. 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
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
     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
     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
               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
      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
                       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
                       b. Example 2—Food blog? Knitting blog? Suit cutting
     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
               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
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
       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
             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
                                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
                        2. You look really cool.
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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