Friday, January 12, 2007

Blogs, Wonderful Blogs!

I missed an opportunity to post...but never late than never! Right? Right!

I recently listed several of my favorite international blogs in a seriously-overdue Feeds Favorites list here at Resolution. I read most of them frequently. Since posting those, I've gone on and found several more blogs --I happened to be in a Kenya mood... Once I've had a chance to find some more favorites, I'm sure I'll add to my list.

I encourage you to check them out. You can gain great exposure to what the world is like in some third world countries. Here are a couple of favorite posts as examples, from Togo, Kenya, Togo and Indonesia:

How are white folks perceived?
How are black folks perceived?
What kind of education is available in developing worlds?
What, er, sort of facilities are there in these places?

Now, keep in mind that these are NOT all typical, which is why I remember them. But they are nevertheless enlightening, and actually very fun to read. I'm seriously amazed at how good some of the writers are. (Maybe I shouldn't be so amazed, because of how the magic of technology and networking works... You never hear about the zillions of crummy blogs. Even searches will tend to find popular blogs, which tend to be popular because they're better written than other blogs.)

For my less blog savvy friends, here are some suggestions to make blog reading simpler and more enjoyable.

1) Subscribe to the blogs you like. There are many many ways to do that. What I think is simplest and most effective is to have the "feeds" delivered to your home page.
2) If you haven't already created a home page, well then I would suggest that this is yet another good reason to have a home page. I've chosen Google, but I used to use Yahoo, and they're both pretty flexible. In either case, you can have your computer remember all the right stuff and easily view new blog entries with little effort.
3) An advantage of Google is that subscribing to new blog feeds is made very easy if you have installed the Google toolbar. Somehow, the toolbar knows what sites have "feeds" and turns on a subscribe button. Clicking that button adds the "feed" to your Google home page. (Sometimes, there are multiple feeds to choose from. I pick one at random and can't tell the difference.)
4) Read. Read the new posts that pop up on the feeds. For the more interesting posts, you'll probably enjoy comments that others have left. Click on them. You don't have to read ALL posts or ALL blogs or ALL comments.
5) Leave comments. Bloggers love them and you get a chance to join the conversation.
6) Follow links from one blog to another
7) Check blogger profiles for blogs that you find interesting. Amazing what you learn about people and perspectives. You think a blog is written by a resident of Nairobi, but, nope, turns out they live in London. Or similar. You thought they were Christian, but turns out they're Buddhist.
8) Share! Email your favorite blog posts to your friends. There are some wrinkles here... Blogs have their own URL (i.e. web address), but what appears at that address may change quickly. If you want to share the whole blog, then use the blog address (usually that's the shortest address). On the other hand, if you want to share a specific post, then you will want the "permalink". How do you find that? Sigh. Well it depends... If you see the name of the post under "recent posts", you can click on that and you'll usually get the "permalink" in the navigation bar of your blogger. In "blogspot" blogs (like this one), the permalink is available, rather cryptically, in my opinion, by clicking on the time marking just following the post. In my browser, hovering the cursor over the time causes a little message to pop up, saying "permanent link".
9) Want a different perspective on something? Anything? Search for the topic using a blog search tool. True to my Google bias, I use Google Blog Search. Pick a tool (or two or three) and bookmark them for easy reach.

So now you know everything you need to know! But maybe not. I've probably lied a bunch without knowing it. If I have, and you know it, then please leave a comment for the benefit of me and others. If you think I told the truth, but aren't sure, read the comments! Wiser folks than me will tell the real story!


Anonymous Julie said...

Way to plug Google, dude. :)

1:33 PM  
Blogger Chris Watkins (a.k.a. Chriswaterguy) said...

Thanks - I knew there must be an easier way to keep track of blogs.

I still wish everyone just used LiveJournal though (sorry Julie!) or, more realistically, I hope Google quickly catches up with LJ's far superior commenting features and friends page. So I'll use LJ cuz it's easier to connect with other people, but I'll try your tips for reading other blogs on my Google homepage.

2:24 PM  

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