Friday, April 30, 2010

Well, dear friends, I'm blogging. You guys were right!!!!! It was easy. Thank you for the workshop.
It was super. I learned a lot and look forward to the next session for more info.

Thanks again,

Treehugger

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Poetry and Spirituality

Hello Carnegie Workshop Classmates

I was inspired and armed with a little technical knowledge after a few days of thinking about of the ideas from the workshop, set up a blog!
I am using the blog initially to help me with obtaining information for a research paper on Thomas Merton. I will then use the blog for a more general discussion of poets, poetry and reflection of the spirit of the times as well as how poets reflect their own spirituality and life journey by writing poems.

Poets, as do other types of artists and writers, have a visonary role in their culture.

They need to speak the messages they perceive.
Society needs them to speak and to listen of course to the messages.

Thank you Carnegie Center - I enjoyed the workshop!
Claudia
The Poet Painter Seeks and Speaks!
http://poetryspirituality.blogspot.com/

Sunday, April 25, 2010

carnegie bloggers

So, FYI, I have ported these photos over to our Carnegie blog from my own blog using a "blog this" button. I originally blogged this photo from my phone (the others, too) using several photo apps on my phone (not required) -- i didn't really retouch this one much, but usually do -- and then I used PixelPipe to simultaneously post it to my minglefreely.com blog, my flickr page, to Facebook, and to Twitter. Very efficient! I could have had it also post to THIS blog, but I hadn't set it up that way.



Carnegie Blogging Seminar

Having a great discussion of blogging today with a wonderful, intrepid group and my blogging peers Donna Ison, Morgan Siler-Cecil and Rona Roberts!

Mingle Freely: Farmers Market!

Lunch break at the Carnegie Center blogging seminar with Morgan Day-Cecil and Donna Ison!

Saturday, April 24, 2010

If you want to build a Wordpress blog...

Two flavors of how-tos

Wordpress.com (you don't have to have your own URL)

Wordpress.org (you have your own URL)

Mick likes him some tools: Pixelpipe, Clipmarks

Publish photos from one source to several destinations at one time, easily:
Pixelpipe

Popularize something good and cool you find on the internet:
Clipmarks

These have helped Mick keep blogging FOR FIVE YEARS!

How to build a blogspot blog

If you already have a gmail account and password, you can launch your blogspot blog in five minutes max.

Here are the basic instructions.

If you do not have a gmail account and password, it may take six minutes.

Participants' reasons for blog interest

Reasons to blog:

  • To start a conversation with members of an association
  • Start conversations and collaborate
  • To make events more interesting than standard event info on websites
  • To make an entity more viable, living

  • To attract members and a younger demographic
  • To promote a Christian nonfiction book, to share inspirations
  • To use a blog to write a book
  • To receive information as well as to give ("where can I..." etc.)
  • To promote a kid's Christian book coming out in June without just relying on little direct promotional blurbs
  • To offer little teasing bits in advance of a book's release
  • To create a brand - "Your blog is your brand." (Donna Ison)
  • To build on all the experiences that come from blogging (Mick Jeffries)
  • To experiment
  • To give readers one thing (Morgan Day Cecil)
  • To edit until you get it right, even after publishing (Donna and Mick)
  • To share the internet and links to help people understand what you're talking about -- more a community pull, more interactive
  • To make an outlet for writing
  • To help people find my writing and me, and to build a community
  • To be part of other people's communities

Blogs in the room today

Neuro Overclock

Mildly Mystical

Pam's Ultimate Fitness

plus the blogs here

Basic Blogging Boot Camp info from Gina McCauley

Blogger Boot Camp - from Gina McCauley

Rona's short answers to Morgan's questions

1. What, in truth, is your goal [with this blogging thing]? 

To have fun, express notions that arise, be part of the larger world, and promote what I love (especially Kentucky small farms and farmers and farming and food and foodways and food culture.)

2. Do you have a newsletter in conjunction with your blog, or some other avenue for list-building? If so, what service do you use? What are your thoughts on list-building, in general?

I'm planning to learn from Morgan!

3. What is the first piece of advice you would give to someone who was curious about entering the big, bold and beautiful world of blogging?

Jump in, start, learn from doing, experience the thrill of publishing yourself.

4. What has been one of the most powerful post you have ever written? Why do you think it had the impact it had? Link to it so we can read too ;)

oh - I don't have enough time to answer this right now.


Mick's Answers to Morgan's Questions

1. What, in truth, is your goal [with this blogging thing]?

Thanks for asking. :-) My goal is pretty simple: I've collected a wonderful myriad of stories in my life. True stories. Amazing happenings. Grateful instances. I want to collect them so that I don't forget them.

That is the basic goal. Along the way, I've found that I get to share things that I've witnessed (AM witnessing, often). My blog is a personal inspection that has also taken on the additional aspect of me as a kind of Citizen Reporter, in the parlance of Umberto Eco, of the world-at-large and the things in it that I think are worth noting. Sometimes they're Big and Important, sometimes they're Pretty, sometimes their Mine and other times they belong to Somebody Else.

They're all important to me. I'd like for them to mean something to those who read my blog, but it's not my priority.

2. Do you have a newsletter in conjunction with your blog, or some other avenue for list-building? If so, what service do you use? What are your thoughts on list-building, in general?

It's not something that I've ever explored — which makes it something that I might one day explore. :-)

3. What is the first piece of advice you would give to someone who was curious about entering the big, bold and beautiful world of blogging?

Stop thinking about it and just do it. You can set up a blogger blog in 5 minutes. Get your feet wet and don't sweat the details. If, along the way, you get a clearer vision of what you really want to do, then just start another blog. And that one can be your Amazing Famous Blog. But let your first blog just be a tinker-toy. Let it.

4. What has been one of the most powerful post you have ever written? Why do you think it had the impact it had? Link to it so we can read too ;)

That's a hard one, of course, but mostly because my memory is so bad — which is exactly why I blog. :-) In recent times, I wrote a review of Avatar that generated a nice discussion.

I liked my post, regardless of the comments, because it was raw-bone honest. Almost histrionically so, imo. So it's less about the movie than it is about my values and how I sometimes feel very very dark about the world; Even though I think I am perceived — and try to present myself — as a positive and optimistic person.

So I though that in that post, I was being particularly candid. I'm not sure why candor means so much to me. It's not the singular focus on my blog, but it is definitely one of the crown jewels of an aspect of writing for me. This is probably my Journalism degree speaking.

Mick's Answers to Rona's Questions — Part 3

We can find ourselves stuck in so many facets of blogging -- stumped for content, fazed by image management, unsure how to insert a table in a post, lost when it comes to graphic design, fearful others will steal our work, clueless about developing readership or sponsors or advertisers, just for starters. Name a few important resources you use to get unstuck, and identify which kinds of problems lead you to that resource.

I'm a designer by trade — graphic, information, idea, visual, all kinds. And this figures into my blog in a surprising way, which I'll get around to.

But first I want to say why graphic design doesn't matter, and how that is the core of the blogging experience and the blogging explosion. What is amazing — revolutionary, in fact — about blogs is that they take the focus off of the form and put it on the function. Let me clarify: Most people, including me, use one of the many templates that are built into all the major blogging platforms. If I knew how to do the search, I could find dozens or hundreds or maybe even thousands of blogs that use the same template I use.

And that's ok.

Because my blog isn't about my template, it's about what I post there. I don't care how it looks as long as it looks clean, simple, organized and decent. And it does. Most blogs do, in fact. That's kind of the magic. Instead of spending too much time fussing over tiny bits of code — which is what you do if you're a web designer — I spend time fussing over tiny bits of any given post. The blog itself is just kind of a reliable frame for holding my thoughts, experiences, and reflections.

When I do get stuck, I'm surprisingly low-tech, I confess — I'll consult blogging friends, I'll do searches, and as often as not, I'll consult the help pages of my blogging platform (Blogger).

I'm more driven by inklings of "I wonder how I…" and that usually leads me on some kind of search. Principally, I'm always looking for ways to make blogging more intrinsic in my life. Simpler. More organic. I don't want to labor over it (though I totally do). I want to chronicle the interesting things in my life, both for me and also for those who by some crazy serendipity find their way to a post of mine.

So I'm often looking for tools or perspectives towards this end. I'm mostly looking for bits of software to help. With that in mind, I browse a lot. Because I'm not entirely sure what I'm looking for. I browse Firefox extensions because I might (and have) find some tool that I didn't even know I needed. I follow a crazy breadcrumb trail that swerves and veers its way occasionally to something that revolutionizes my blogging.

A couple examples:
  • Clipmarks: A Firefox web browser extension that is the closest thing that I've found to a tool for snipping pictures and words out of other web pages (as opposed to a simple HTML link) and adding them to my blog. I have such a need to do this. I still puzzle over why it's not easier. Clipmarks does it, although it's not always as elegant as I would like. This is a classic quandary where I feel like I'm missing something, something obvious. Until I figure out what that thing is, there's Clipmarks. (Maddening aside: Even Clipmarks seems to be veering from this path with their new, seemingly-similar app called Amplify, which basically does with Clipmarks does — but it only seems to support the social networking world of Facebook, MySpace, etc. and leaves out the blogging world. And again, I wonder: What am I not getting here?)
  • PixelPipe: This app is my dream, my savior, my friend. I call it a personal aggregator. What it does is simple: it posts content for me (mostly photos from my phone) to my blog, Facebook, Flickr, and Twitter. Can you say amazing? I use it relentlessly, every single day. It exists as a smartphone app, a computer app, and as an extension for a variety of browsers and image editors like iPhoto and Adobe Lightroom. I owe my current blogging life to PixelPipe.

Morgan's Questions to Mick, Rona & Donna

1. What, in truth, is your goal [with this blogging thing]?

2. Do you have a newsletter in conjunction with your blog, or some other avenue for list-building? If so, what service do you use? What are your thoughts on list-building, in general?

3. What is the first piece of advice you would give to someone who was curious about entering the big, bold and beautiful world of blogging?

4. What has been one of the most powerful post you have ever written? Why do you think it had the impact it had? Link to it so we can read too ;)

Donna's Tardy Answers to Everyone's Questions

Why would you suggest that somebody blog?

Blogging is a fabulous forum to share ideas and opinions with the masses. With one post you can reach a multitude of people. Whether you are just updating family and friends abroad on the goings-on in your life or alerting the world about a mass alien conspiracy, a blog can do it. It is also a way to virtually meet and amass your army of like-minded people.

On a professional note, as a writer it is a vastly valuable tool for getting your name and work out. Keeping an on-line presence between books or projects can make all the difference. It gives your reader's a chance to get to know you as a person and gives you a chance to discuss upcoming events and work.

Do you have a favorite underrated or secret blogging tool/technique/modivator?

Since my Bourbonista Blog is a platform for my rants and ravings, I keep a notebook that I constantly update with a list of potential topics. Also, I read other blogs for motivation. And it never hurts to have your reader's post on Facebook and in your comments about how disappointed they are not to have seen a new blog that day despite the fact that you swore, in Scarlett O'Hara style, "God as my witness" that you would blog every day until June 14...which leads me to the next question...

How important is having a following? Be honest! Say why or why not!

At first, I thought I was purely blogging for myself and to use that function on my website to get my money's worth. Then, someone left a comment. I was thrilled and humbled and flattered. Someone had not only read my post, but was moved to leave an opinion. That moment I felt the mysterious power of the blog and knew the importance of having followers. Why? Because words are meant to be read...they die on the screen if someone doesn't consume them.

What is one surprising change in your life since you began blogging (at least semi-) seriously?

Loss of anonymity. For some reason, I felt invisible in my blog. This despite the fact that it is on donnaison.com which is my real name and my photo is right beside it. So, I wrote all my deepest, darkest opinions and relayed my worst behaviors and revealed my vulnerabilities openly. Then, out at dinner one evening a total stranger came up and said, "My husband cheated on me too. Did you ever decide how you were going to shave it?" (Refer to "Brazilian or Rain Forest" post) I realized that I opened the door to my life and there was no closing it. Since then I have been committed to keeping it as real and honest as I did in the beginning when I thought I was wearing the frock of invisibility.

What blogging platforms (Blogspot, Typepad, Wordpress, etc.) have you tried, and which do you like best, for what reasons?

Friday, April 23, 2010

Mick's Answers to Rona's Questions — Part 2

What blogging platforms (Blogspot, Typepad, Wordpress, etc.) have you tried, and which do you like best, for what reasons?

I've been a Blogger guy from the beginning, though I am about to do some experimenting with Wordpress, and suspect that I'll come to love it, as a seasoned blogger who, after years, is seeking a little more granular control over my blog.

BUT! Blogger has some profoundly winning features:
  • It's free.
  • It's unbelievably easy to set up. You can quite literally have a functioning blog in five minutes. No, really.
  • Since it's a property of Google, you can be reasonably well assured that your blog is going to get preferred treatment in searches on Google. That shouldn't be underestimated, if you're wanting to build traffic. Also, Google seems dedicated and invested in Blogger. There is a wealth of help and FAQs to be found directly within the Blogger webapp.
  • Their dashboard interface for blogging is absolutely adequate for a huge population of folks. And if you want to add content that for some reason isn't supported, there's usually a browser extension that will let you do whatever it is you're wanting to do. Or you can tweak the code to directly embed things you want on your blog.
  • Did I mention that it's free?

Mick's Answers to Rona's Questions — Part 1

What is one surprising change in your life since you began blogging (at least semi-) seriously?

I blog "non-seriously" almost as a position, I sometimes think. Partially this is an insecurity that — were I to blog seriously — I would be met with indifference. I strive for candor, and I would contend that my blogging style — while multi-faceted — is an outgrowth of a lifelong education in expository writing and journalism. The core value for me is creating, a grain at a time, a sandbox of my life and some recollections of the wonderful things that I've gotten to do or see or be involved in. Or thought about.

There is a surprise, though, which is always amazing to me: People pay attention to the honest stuff. I will confess here that, on some level, I'm always concerned with who — if anybody — is reading. This has always caused me problems with the idea of Journaling. I tried to journal in younger years and as a product, have some embarrassing tomes that I hope will be burned were I to die suddenly. That's because of the forced and awkwardly intentional tone of much of that writing — as if I'm writing for some invisible audience. As a blogger, I'm constantly fighting this urge — I just have more tools to do so (like photo-blogging, which removes my narrative semi-entirely).

But, to get back to the original question: I have seen quite a few times that bearing my raw innards illicits a response from readers. Ironically, I'm often initially dissatisfied with this kind of post — because I think it's not yet fully-borne or somehow under-featured. But if the topic contains enough passion, I'll post it anyway. And it's those raw posts that generate commentary. I'm always surprised, though, when they do.

aka Procrastination

Before I get to answering your questions, can I say:

Collaborative Blog! I like it!

I think it would be cool to find a collaborative blogging topic that a handful of people could tear up.

Mick's questions for Donna, Rona, and Morgan

Offered up intentionally without looking* at Rona's questions or Morgan's answers:
  • Why would you suggest that somebody blog?
  • Do you have a favorite underrated or secret blogging tool/technique/modivator?
  • How important is having a following? Be honest! Say why or why not!
*Okay, I glanced.

Morgan's Answers to Rona's First Questions

Hello Bloggers of Lexington! This is fun, I'll jump right in. Thank you Rona for creating this space for us....

Hi, I'm Morgan Day Cecil and here is a little bit about what I've learned so far as a "blogger"...

Why question:What is one surprising change in your life since you began blogging (at least semi-) seriously?

The process of getting clear about my intention with blogging (i.e. to do it 'for real'/as a profession) was a gift in re-getting to know who I am. It was also a process of gaining confidence in that unique message I get to share with the world. I think as bloggers we all occasional struggle with "does what I say really matter?" I began blogging 3 years ago with no clear purpose or point in my sharing. I was just sharing my life from the simple need to share life. I was a single mom who had nothing to do with her nights while her young babe slept, and so starting an online journal of my life/i.e. "blogging" seemed like an interesting way to deal with the silence in my room.


I've grown through several stages in my blogging and my blogs have changed shape and theme over time. I'm still experimenting in fact. But what began as "willy-nillyness" has matured. I have more clarity now and discretion. ;) I've learned a lot. Made a lot of mistakes. (Still allowing myself to make several more).


Where I am headed now comes less from the need to share my life with the world--I married now to an awesome husband (hooray!) and what I once shared publically I now get to treasure privately in relationship--and more from the need to give back and create community in a way that can benefit "my tribe." I spend more time thinking "how can this post be of value to others?"

Bluegrass Romance is a fun family project, but really it's just been a healthy way for me to transition. What I'm working on now (still in development) is a more over-arching project (MorganDayCecil.com) that will enable me to offer more help/guidance/advice/tools to those who have expressed interest in learning more about love/social media/personal development type stuff. My readers, over the years, have given me the gift of telling me what there needs are, but until now I didn't know how I could serve them. My free spirit tendecy is to just begin somthing without a clear plan for what I'm beginning, but in this next project, there is a lot more strategy going on-- a reflection of my own growth and one surprising change since I began as a blogger. It's taken me a few years, but I finally feel equipped to "put on my girl pants". ;)



How question:What blogging platforms (Blogspot, Typepad, Wordpress, etc.) have you tried, and which do you like best, for what reasons?

I started with a .wordpress blog. It was free. I set it up in an evening while drinking a glass of red wine. My first post was just a ramble about how much I loved the movie Love Actually. It got no comments ;) I was making conversation with the void for a long time before the void ever spoke back...still, it felt nice to share.

Anyway, back on track: I now use the wordpress platform for my blogs but my blogs are self-hosted (i.e I have purchased my own domain and installed wordpress on my own "web space". I use Bluehost for my website hosts if you are wondering). I've done all the design myself. Spent HOURS learning CSS by trial and error. (This little app called FIREBUG made things a bit easier for me).

I don't know about typepad or blogspot, because once you start with wordpress you rarely every find a reason to switch-- plus each require a learning curve I imagine so once you've gotten familiar with one, you kinda want to stay put. ;)

One little blog platform I've discovered recently and am having fun with exploring is Tumblr. Check it out.I think it's a great avenue to start with if you are just getting your feet wet as a blogger. It has a nice community component and it reminds me a little of Twitter in the sense that you can "reblog" another blogger's content if you find it interesting-- like the "ReTweet" function on Twitter.



More how questions:

Here are my fave resources re: blogging


URGH! Just spent 30 min on this section and lost it. Dang internet connection! Wish I would have saved as I was going. (I should know this by now, right??) Okay, I'll do a quick sum up, but I'm really sad you missed out on my longer description of each...


1). Problogger Darren's 30 days to a better blog series is a must read for all new and old bloggers.

2). Woothemes Free and premium themes for wordpress

3). Third Tribe (affiliate link) This is membership site to learn about the business of blogging created by Chris Brogan and the like. It's internet marketing strategies with integrity and an emphasis on community building. I've been a paying member for a few months and feel like I'm learning a lot.

4). Copyblogger Great education on copywriting

5). Smashing Magazine Design elements and vectors to sprouse up website and blog posts


What else? Lot's more. Enough for now though! Must save before I loose this again... ;) THank you Rona for these questions. Looking forward to hearing from each of you!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Rona's first questions for Morgan, Mick, and Donna

A why question:
What is one surprising change in your life since you began blogging (at least semi-) seriously?

Rona's quick answer: Falling in love with images, especially ones that move, and falling a little bit out of my life-long love affair with words. See my recent Lexington Farmers' Market post for an example of hours spent with images instead of words.


A how question:
What blogging platforms (Blogspot, Typepad, Wordpress, etc.) have you tried, and which do you like best, for what reasons?

Rona's quick answer: Wordpress for power (three blogs so far) and Blogspot for ease and speed (five blogs, most of them private)

Another how questions:
We can find ourselves stuck in so many facets of blogging -- stumped for content, fazed by image management, unsure how to insert a table in a post, lost when it comes to graphic design, fearful others will steal our work, clueless about developing readership or sponsors or advertisers, just for starters. Name a few important resources you use to get unstuck, and identify which kinds of problems lead you to that resource.

Rona's quick answer: Most recently the most AMAZING thing has been the Digital Studio at the Northside Library. Both the classes, which are free and exceptionally user-friendly, on topics you need for blogging but even more so, the presence of instructors in the room during weekly open studio hours. Get stuck, ask a question, get unstuck, keep working -- all in about a minute, as opposed to the hours and days I have spent being stuck before this.

Four Blogs and Bloggers Involved in the Carnegie Center's Saturday Seminar