All 5 entries tagged Blogging

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February 07, 2005

Blogs statistics

Some interesting statistics about the usage of Warwick Blogs:-

New blogs requested per month:

  • Sept: 688
  • Oct: 1126
  • Nov: 482
  • Dec: 188
  • Jan: 277

Unique authors per month:

  • Sept: 407
  • Oct: 914
  • Nov: 765
  • Dec: 491
  • Jan: 712

Total number of blogs: 2,755. But…

  • that number is misleading, because 1,075 (40%) of those blogs are empty, so they shouldn't (yet) count for anything.
  • and a further 536 blogs (20%) of the total have just one post in them, so we might want to exclude those blogs from a count of "active" blogs.
  • there are 400 blogs (14%) with 10 or more posts.
  • there are 248 blogs (9%) which have 10 or more posts in them, and which have been updated in the last two weeks.

So the headline figure, 2,755 blogs, is arguably not the one we should take as signifying anything. The more relevant numbers are 400 blogs/bloggers who gain enough value from the process to keep doing it, and 248 active blogs which are frequently updated and have accumulated significant content. Those are obviously smaller numbers, but I'm still impressed by them.

September 06, 2004

Beautiful blog

Writing about web page

This is a wonderfully designed blog. Notice:-

  • In the right-hand sidebar, the various panes like calendars, categories, blogroll and the like, are all collapsed by default until you choose to open them, making the sidebar much less busy unless the user chooses to expand it.
  • The different functions across the top are elegantly rendered with tabs, and – even better – the short-cut key which activates each tab is easily findable because the appropriate letter is underlined (so pressing alt-i will select the Imagery tab).
  • I really like the idea of putting the dates to the left of the posts rather than having multiple levels of headings between posts, as we currently do. Very artfully done.
  • The colour scheme and photography are beautifully blended.

June 10, 2004

Why blog?

Over the summer vacation, we'll be preparing BlogBuilder for wider use than its current pilot; every first year will be offered a blog, and other students will also be able to request one if they wish. In preparation for that, we will be working on a whole bunch of supporting information to make sure that everyone knows what a blog is, where you find them, how you work them, and, crucially, why you might want one. I'm working at the moment on some notes about this last point, and I'd be interested in any comments from other users, especially students:-

Why would I want a blog?
  • It's a way to share things with friends, family and peers. Ideas, events, words, photos, available to anyone you want to share them with.
  • It's a way to reflect on your work and life at university, rather than focussing solely on the work that's part of your course.
  • It's a record of your time at university that you may find useful at various points. Extracts from your blog may be relevant when you're looking for a job, considering your options, talking to your personal tutor, etc.
  • It's a way to become part of a community and to find people with similar interests or viewpoints to yourself.
  • It's a way to develop a different style of writing – an authorial voice, if you like. Writing a blog is not like writing for course work or exams; blogs can be interesting, amusing, thought-provoking, charming or insightful – not all of these stylistc traits are necessarily developed or required in course work!
  • Your blog could be something which might benefit other students, either now or in the future. Your experiences at university, how your course works out, the choices you make while you're here, could help to inform and guide other students when they come to university.

May 25, 2004

Five BlogBuilder improvements

Response to prompt "Five things to improve BlogBuilder" (View all responses or all Autology: John Dale's blog responses)

My suggestions:-

  1. Go back to the old "showall" model where you see all of each entry. I agree with Chris ; seeing just the first few characters achieves nothing except being irritating.
  2. Add an option to expand the "showall" page so that each entry is shown with its comments (if any) as well, so there's no need to open a pop-up for each entry.
  3. Fix the "two spaces after a hyperlink" bug.
  4. Make it possible (and easy!) to upload and include an image within a post.
  5. Where there are comments to a post, divide them up more clearly. Change the comments icon at the bottom of a post to stand out more if the number of comments is > 0.
  6. (I'm over the limit now, but I don't care!) Take out all those insanely annoying "Operation succeeded, redirecting you" intermediate screens. Human beings don't say to each other "I have heard what you've just said and am contemplating my reply"; nor should our software!

May 22, 2004

Privacy and community

Writing about web page

There's an interesting problem with blogs at Warwick, which is to do with the tension between privacy and community. It's easy to see that some types of blog entry should be private to the author and a group of people who s/he wants to read the post. But part of the value of the blogs system as a whole lies in the way it could help to foster a sense of community at Warwick; already it's really interesting to read the "aggregate" page which shows you all the new posts from all the authors. And as we get more authors, we expect to introduce other ways of reading blogs – all the entries on a particular topic, or all the entries from a particular group of people (everyone taking module CS205, perhaps, or everyone who's resident in Claycroft?).

But this won't work so well if users restrict too many of their posts to too small an audience. In some cases, of course, this won't matter; photos of a party, say, or posts about an event are probably only really interesting to those who were there. And reflective posts about one's own life (or rants about one's employer!) may well best be published as private to the author. Outside of these sorts of categories, though, it's going to be important to encourage posters to set the privacy options as loosely as possible, so that the community aspects of Warwick blogs develop as strongly as we intend.

There's another interesting aspect of this privacy/community tension, which Danny O'Brien has discussed on his blog :-

… Openness is viral. When one lives or works with someone who is more open or free with their own personal information, you find yourself becoming less able to maintain your own privacy. Your information is part of their information.

He's concerned about the reuse of email within GMail (where it becomes searchable) and in blogs. But I think something similar may come into play in Warwick blogs; if you publish something which only five of your friends can see, but then one of them chooses the "Blog this!" option and creates a public post on the same topic as your private post, some of your privacy has been eroded. Your posts might only ever be as private as the least private person who reads them.

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