Blog Indiana 2008 Reflections

Panel on New Media and PoliticsThis past weekend I attended Blog Indiana 2008, a conference by and for bloggers in the region, which I mentioned here a few months ago. Overall, I would call the event quite a success. For $50, participants had access to a weekend packed full of rich and informative sessions, great networking opportunities with friendly and good-natured people, good food, and a lot of fun - a pretty excellent deal by most measures, especially in the world of tech conferences.

I really appreciated that it was a "grassroots" conference, organized by Noah Coffey and Shawn Plew of Indianapolis, and not a big corporate conference organized by people trying to sell us stuff. Sure, there were corporate sponsors (Summersault was one of them), and there were some grumblings about session leaders spending too much time promoting their own products/services. But on the whole, this was a group of people who are passionate about new media and wanted to get together to see what else was out there, talk about some of the issues that come up, and just get to know each other better. Oh, and we also totally geeked out on Twitter.
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Request for tips on blogging basics

In a few weeks, I'm presenting at the Blog Indiana 2008 conference, and my first session is on "blogging basics." My hope is that anyone with any comfort level around blogs and website tools will be able to leave the session with what they need to know to start blogging that day.

I'm putting together my own notes and tools for bloggers just starting out, but I thought I would also put the question out to you, constant readers, about what tips, tools and conventions you would have found useful or even essential when you first entered the world of blogging? Even if you're not an active blogger, I'd still enjoy hearing your thoughts on how you think blogs (especially newly formed ones) can be made more useful, engaging, exciting, etc.

What advice would you give to a blogger just starting out?

Upcoming conference for Indiana bloggers

Blog Indiana 2008Are you a blogger in Indiana? Are you interested in learning more about blogs and blogging? Consider attending the upcoming Blog Indiana 2008 conference in Indianapolis on August 16th and 17th, 2008. The event is a 2-day blogging and social media conference that aims to promote education, innovation and collaboration among Indiana’s fast-growing blogging community. The lineup of sessions looks great (even if it didn't include me as a presenter and panelist, and even if it wasn't sponsored in part by Summersault). You can learn about blogging basics, legal issues, corporate blogging, monetization, podcasting and videocasting, analytics, and much more.

The cool part is that the conference is only $49 for both days, and even cooler, I've got a 15% discount for you if you use this link to register. If you're interested in blogging and social media at any level, I hope you can make it.

A few new blog interaction features

I've upgraded the WordPress software powering this blog to a more recent version, and added a few more ways to interact with my posts at the same time:

  1. I'm now using Gravatars - "globally recognized avatars" - to display user-uploaded images next to the comments that people post. This creates a little bit better sense that you're interacting with real humans, and even adds a dash of color. If you want to try it out, just visit gravatar.com to upload your avatar today.
  2. You can now choose to be e-mailed about follow-up responses to a particular post that you comment on. While you can always subscribe to a post's RSS feed to track comments, sometimes getting an e-mail is the easiest way to go - and don't worry, you can just as easily unsubscribe too.
  3. Some time ago, I added a post rating system to the blog, allowing you to indicate what you think on a scale of 1 to 5 stars (5 being the best, of course). Posts with high ratings get a little more attention elsewhere on the blog, and each star you add also help an angel get its wings. It's a way to give feedback without typing out a comment - "thank you for helping us serve you better."
  4. Also added some time ago, but now more prominently featured, you can see posts that are related to a new blog entry, listed right below the entry itself. I tend to circle around some similar themes, and so this is at least a helpful way for me to see how things tie together; I hope it's a useful way for you to explore my other writings too.

There ya go. Let me know how this stuff works for you; as always, this space is a work in progress.

Links and Feeds for the Week - April 12, 2008

The feeds reminder and redux edition:

April Fool's Day 2008, So Far

MineWell, you know my criteria for good April Fool's Day jokes. Here's what I've kept track of so far for the day:

What else ya got?

Links for the Week - March 26, 2008

Bill Clinton Visits Richmond, Indiana

Shaking Hands with Bill Clinton - 2008I spend a lot of time on this blog and elsewhere encouraging people to avoid ceding too much power over their lives to the individuals who would claim it for the wrong reasons (or in many cases, claim it at all), or to institutions and organizations that may not truly have our best interests in mind. But despite my own wariness of those things and of participating in a superstar celebrity culture, it's still pretty hard to ignore the excitement and intrigue that follows around a former President of the United States. This is amplified when he appears in a place quite unexpected, like Richmond Indiana.
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Right now I'm blogging about Twitter

At the office today, a few of us were discussing Twitter, the website that lets people broadcast mini-updates about their life, thoughts, whereabouts and other news in chunks of 140 characters or less, all the time. People do it through their cell phones and desktop computers, and they do it from home, the car, the airplane, the airplane skyway, the airport lobby, the baggage claim, press conferences, government meetings, trade shows, beaches, you name it. Barack Obama uses Twitter. So does CNN, so does Wil Wheaton. There are YouTube videos explaining how Twitter works. There are how-to articles on how to get more people watching your Twitter updates.

The one question I have is...
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Links for the Week - February 17, 2008

The "I'm too busy with the dog show to blog for real so I'll grow them a linkfarm" edition: