What a blog is how and why its better than email a la yahoogroups
Recently I started another group weblog called CELPEC. CELPEC is group of individuals who worked in one particular lab at Punjab Engineering College. One of the friends asked what is weblog and why should we start using it instead of our good ol’ mailing list at yahoo. What follows is my reply to him.
Here is link to good introduction to weblogs, donâ€™t forget to also read part 2
There are links to very good articles on blogging just in the beginning of part 1.
I will also try to explain it in the context of CELPEC.
What do we do on CELPEC:
Talk about any thing and every thing, more on technology and related stuff. Idea is to have some form of conversation where one starts by saying â€œHey dude did you hear about this, or you know what happenedâ€ But this thing happens in the virtual world.
With weblogs in picture, idea will still remain the same. But we are opening our conversation to the whole wide web. So be sure that you donâ€™t want to put some thing like my company sucks. As it would be viewable to everyone, would be indexed by google, tracked and pinged by you donâ€™t know whom. But consider putting something like hey I have this neat theory about how Indiaâ€™s population can be reduced 😉 Or I read this book. You get the idea.
How do we do it:
With the CELPEC mailing list, it is a real simple interface, you send an email to a particular address, mailing list host accepts this email from certain predefined addresses, which were put there when we subscribed to it.
With CELPEC weblog, the most simple interface would be to visit the site http://blogger.com or whatever. Login to make a new entry and post to your heartâ€™s desire. This is the basic one.
Now onto more exotic ones, almost all blogging systems provide something like â€œBlog Thisâ€. Idea is to have a link to your browser toolbar. You would see this orange symbol on google toolbar. This is really neat. You might be reading a website and you feel the urge to blog. You select some text of your interest on the webpage and click the â€œBlog Thisâ€ link on your tool bar. This would popup a window with the selected test and the link to it. Now you can enter your comments on this and publish this. It would be posted to your weblog.
Third and most widely used by regular writers is to have clients like w:blogger (http://wbloggar.com) etc. These are your regular applications you give your server address and your credentials in the beginning. Then write stuff inside this client and once done press publish. Just like the above â€œBlog Thisâ€ interface your post is published and ready to pleasure worldâ€™s eyes.
On the mailing list we simply reply if someone feels like and everybody gets the reply. Idea is limited to our selected group. But with weblogs your post is opened to the whole world and anybody can comment on it. Another nice and powerful feature is trackback. Let us say you read a post somewhere and you want to write about it, or you mentioned it in your blog. By using the trackback feature you can let the author of that post know that you have published an entry that references his post.
How do we get it or syndication:
With mailing list we get in our inbox. With blog, you can goto the site regularly to check if there is something new. But there is no fun in it. For this almost every weblog publishes a feed. For example celpec feed is at http://celpec.blogspot.com/atom.xml So there are weblog feed aggregators like SharpReader(http://sharpreader.net) where you can specify which weblogs you are interested in reading and just like your email client check this regularly to see if anyone has something new to say. There are online aggregators like http://www.bloglines.com/ also.