Thursday, May 31, 2007

The Only HTML You Need to Know

I was being a bit flippant in class, but if all you know how to do is code Web links in HTML, you'll be a fine blogger. There are tons of HTML primers available -- this is a good place to start -- but, really, all you need how to do is two things.

One, make a link. The code to make a link is a staple -- and should be the first thing you learn. If you were to take out the spaces, a link to this article -- -- would look like this:

< a h r e f = " " > This is the text you want linked. < / a >

That would show up as:

This is the text you want linked.

I can show you a shortcut in Blogger in class.

The second thing you want to know how to do is how to set aside quotes or excerpted text. That's called a block quote, and that's the code: again, with spaces,

< b l o c k q u o t e >The text you want indented.< / b l o c k q u o t e >

Why do I put in the spaces? To trick Blogger into thinking I'm not really inserting code so you can see the text. There might be a better way. I'll try to find one.

Questions? Email me. I'll do my best to answer quickly.

But seriously, those two things are all you really need to know. Also, don't be shy to experiment. You can't really break the Web, and you can always clean up your blog.

Notes from May 30

The notes from last night's class are now available. They're not as well organized as previous weeks, partly because Google changed how formatting Google Docs works -- and partly because my upload was a rush job. If they're less than useful, let me know!

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Credit Where Credit Is Due Dept.

Tonight, I added an Important Links element to the sidebar of the class blog. In part, I was inspired by the class blog for Cory Doctorow's class Pwned at USC.

When you publish a blog post about something that you found via another blog, I encourage you to give some credit to the blog that turned you on. Thanks, Cory!

Notes from May 23

I've posted this week's class notes. All of the links mentioned in class -- and more -- are featured in the notes.

Political Party Lines

There's an interesting article in yesterday's Minneapolis-St. Paul Star Tribune that compares how the Web is used by the Democratic and Republican parties. We'll spend more time on political blogs later in the course, and this might be some useful early food for thought.

Are Bloggers Journalists?

A writer and editor for a political Web site in Hawaii is embroiled in a lawsuit involving reportage about the failure of a dam, which led to seven deaths. The prosecuting attorney has asked that the reporter, Malia Zimmerman, divulge her sources. Hawaii has no journalist shield law.

What might be more interesting, however, is that one of the issues the judge needs to determine is whether the writer is a "real journalist." The publishers of the Web site don't consider it a blog, and the writer in question worked as a consultant for ABC's program "20/20."

"It seems to me that if a blogger is a journalist, everyone can produce a blog and never be subject to a subpoena," McCorriston said. "Are all bloggers journalists? It's a question that's never been answered anywhere."

Are all bloggers journalists? No. Are all journalists bloggers? No. Are some bloggers journalists -- and vice versa? Of course. It'll be interesting to see how this shapes up.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Chalk Bored

Chalk Bored
Originally uploaded by h3athrow.
This is what I saw before anyone from the class entered the room.

I encourage you to take your own pictures of the class.

Later on -- week seven (7) -- we'll discuss how to best add additional media to your blogs.

For now, if you don't already subscribe to an online photo-sharing service, sign up for Flickr, which I consider to be the best -- and which integrates well with Blogger.

A Tool for Reading Blogs

Also before next class, I'd like you to sign up for Bloglines, a Web-based RSS reader.

RSS stands for Really Simple Syndication and is a tool with which you can subscribe to blogs so new posts automatically get pulled into a reader.

We'll be using Bloglines to read each other's blogs, as well as other blogs we find worth keeping up with over the course of the class.

Tools for Collaborative Browsing

Before next class, I'd like you to sign up for two services.

Medium is a service that enables friends to share presence while on the Web -- you can see where your friends are online when you're using Medium at the same time. StumbleUpon helps you bring the serendipitous browsing we experience in bookstores and other settings to your Web experience -- by randomizing the Web in a somewhat controlled manner.

You can get a sense of how we might use the two tools in class together by reading this post in my personal blog, Media Diet: "On Serendipitous Browsing."

I've already used the two tools with some of the people I work with, and I think we'll enjoy them. Let me know if you have any trouble signing up for the respective services.

Guest from May 16: Maura Johnston

Our first session's guest speaker was Maura Johnston. Maura maintains a personal site and writes for the music blog Idolator, which is part of Gawker Media. Previously, Maura maintained (You can learn more at a fan's appreciation page.). You can also find additional material from that project via the Wayback Machine.

Notes from May 16

Rather than edit down my first-night notes to an outline, I've decided to post them in full online. You can access my notes from May 16's commentary online.

It might be useful to revisit the notes while doing the week's reading -- and while reviewing your own notes from class.

It might also be interesting to post your own class notes, observations, and questions to your class blog in order to further group learning and discussion.

New Mailing List

I've started a Google Group for students of this class. It's a closed group, and only students will be approved as list members. I've invited everyone who participated in the first session last night to join. We'll use the list to continue our conversations between classes, as well as to update each other on class developments, blog-related news events, and the like.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Ruin of the MilBlogs?

Class hasn't started yet, but here's a quick thought exercise:

Two articles make an interesting parallel read this week. In Slate, Phillip Carter considers whether the American military should restrict blogs published and written by soldiers. His verdict? No. The military branches have the right to do so, but not doing so helps bridge the gap between people in the military -- and civilians.

Besides, if the U.S. Army and other organizations did censor soldiers' blogs, our government would be one step closer to that of Fiji. Since the coup late last year, the military might be taking steps to shut down several blogs critical of the regime.

What concerns need to be taken into account when looking at blog coverage of the military? Should soldier bloggers be treated differently than civilian bloggers? Do soldiers give up their right to free speech when they join the military?

Update: The Department of Defense has announced that soldiers serving overseas will not be able to access sites such as YouTube and MySpace. The reason: Increased traffic slows performance of network performance. Possible solutions: Use your own computer and network.

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Syllabus to Ride

You can see the working syllabus online.

If you have any feedback, please leave it as comments here.

Update: I will update the syllabus as the class progresses. Please refer to the uploaded syllabus each week rather than the initial photocopy I distributed in the first session. (5/17/07)

Class Is in Session

I recently learned that six students have registered for this class -- and that the class is a go. I'm completing work on the syllabus in the coming days and am really looking forward to this. Our first session is Wednesday, May 16. I hope others will join us as the course progresses!

Update: One student dropped out before class began, so class size is set at five. Thanks to everyone who came to the first session! (5/17/07)