Initial belles lettres
I’d been writing my own travel diaries and sending postcards to loved ones during my sojourns around the globe. Naturally I took up blogging, once I was aware of it. Way back in March 2005 I was about to start the next venture into a mysterious culture… Japanese! I started writing in the (Google hosted) blog o vfowler during preparations for my first work gig as an English language teacher. In 161 posts, such as Ending of Sleepless in Brunswick, and bike police, I began to indite some of my misunderstandings and musings for the next year and bit.
Fulfilling a personal multi-purpose
As a public travel diary, my first blog served several purposes brilliantly. First, it allowed me to communicate with family and friends back home. Second, it gave me a place to practise writing and publish some news style articles combined with my photos. I’d started my flickr account at the same time, so it was a great tie in. Third, my travel narratives sufficed as the base script upon which I proudly produced my DVD trilogy – something like a slide-show on steroids.
This blog that your reading right now, vfowler blog, didn’t have a lot of direction initially. Mostly it was my laboratory for experimentation in what was possible on a self hosted WordPress powered blog. With the bells and whistles of additional media formats (audio and video), mapping, tags, categories, search, monthly archives, RSS, podcasts and vodcasts, interactive polls, calendars, communications and so on… I guess this is a web 2.0 blog. Currently vfowler blog is doubling as my required course blog for NET11.
Blogs for others
I kicked off a blog for my English students to practice writing with a real audience. At http://hawthornenglishclass.wordpress.com is where most of my class first understand the term blog – I still find this amazing. Thanks largely to my best friend, I’ve come to learn the flexibility of WordPress as a Content Management System (CMS) and have been punching out a couple of sites for friends using it.
Citizen Journalism – unlikely
The News is NowPublic.com, albeit with a by-line of Crowd Powered Media. Generally I agree with James Farmer’s post Citizen journalism sucks, that there ought to be a level of professionalism associated with the term journalism. (Farmer, 2006) Sadly, I’d also concur that the average citizen is not very good at the skills involved. Only through teaching English as a second language have I come to realise how poor the average punter is with his/her first language. I studied photography at university and have some awareness of what makes a better photograph. Now the odds of the average camera wielding person producing an acceptable shot are improving. Still, my preference is to see the kind of photos that get into Lonely Planet publications rather than the rubbish that comes from my mobile phone camera. Needless to say, it frightens me when garbage is published.
Content is king
Whilst the average citizen isn’t skilled enough for publishing to a broad public audience, there are no fewer than millions of high calibre blogs out there appealing to our many niches and interests. Blogs are at home when new content is frequently published. Just like newspapers, one way to measure the quality of the content is by readership. The really great content is always forwarded on to others, similar to the way we discuss news articles that have impacted upon us. Although, how far reaching a blog post is, may be less important than reaching the right audience.
Farmer, J (2006 , October 5). Citizen journalism sucks. Retrieved August 18, 2008, from The Age Blogs website: http://blogs.theage.com.au/media/archives/2006/10/citizen_journal.html