Academic journal article Business Communication Quarterly

Blogs: Getting Started

Academic journal article Business Communication Quarterly

Blogs: Getting Started

Article excerpt

BLOGS ARE COMMUNICATION TOOLS. As such, they serve as vehicles to transmit messages. Before deciding to blog, devise a strategy on how this medium will fit in with your communication needs. This will also help later in deciding which features you will need to include in your blog.

Develop a Strategy

If you love to talk about politics, then with blogging you are simply opening up a dialogue with other similar-minded individuals. If your interests are business related, then your blog should help implement and support a business plan designed to shape and control the corporate vision and message. In academia and in education, blogs are being used to fill a variety of communication needs, from course Web sites and out-of-class discussion forums to online diaries of students and recent graduates, sponsored by and featured on official university Web sites.

Create Your Blog

Reading blogs can be a great pastime and a good way to learn about blogs and blogging. To become a blogger, though, you first need to have something to say.

Feeds

Unless your blog is only about opinion, you will need a steady stream of current information to assist you. To avoid spending endless hours pouring through journals and Web sites, subscribe to one or more "feeds." A variety of posted writings from journals and dissertations to other blogs can be fed to your computer on a regular basis. Feed programs such as RSS (Rich Site Summary), Atom, or Current Awareness will notify you whenever papers or stories on or containing specific topics appear online (see the resources list at the end of this article for a partial listing of available feeds).

An RSS feed is a summary of information published on other Web sites and blogs, or a way for Web sites to alert you when new and updated information becomes available on their sites. Feeds are generated dynamically in XML format and give subscribers control of what information they see and when they see it. A brief history of RSS is available at http://www.xml.com/pub/a/2002/12/18/dive-into-xml. html, and a more in-depth history and explanation of RSS and associated features is at http://www.mnot.net/rss/tutorial/. A list of RSS development tools is available at http://channels.lockergnome.com/ rss/resources/. And a very good tutorial on getting started with RSS is at http://www.llrx.com/features/rssforlibrarians.htm.

Atom is in a similar format to RSS, developed by people who disagreed with some of the politics of RSS and who felt that it needed more complexity. For more on Atom, see its official Web site at http:// www.atomenabled.org/, and for an overall look at RSS and Atom, see http://www.faganfinder.com/search/rss.shtml.

Current Awareness is an automated service where users can establish a profile in a library database, which then searches automatically for those journals or keywords and e-mails the information back to the user.

When you use feeds, you no longer have to bookmark Web sites and visit them regularly for updates and new information. RSS feeds will deliver news and other content automatically to your desktop. And with RSS feeds, there is no need to keep track of passwords, join a listserv, or manage large numbers of e-mails. This technology is convenient and designed for average people, for nonexperts. A Web site that features an RSS or Atom feed is said to be "syndicated."

Many journals, Web sites, and blogs offer Current Awareness or RSS features that will notify the user of breaking stories on preselected topics, thus automatically sending specific content from producer to interested recipient. This eliminates, or greatly reduces, the need to surf for content. Microsoft is putting an RSS feature into Longhorn, its latest version of Windows, and a new Texas company named Pluck is offering RSS software that will search eBay for new or specific items.

There are several ways to receive regular content feeds. …

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