Kristina has some great advice for building readers and buzz about your blog. She writes:

I was just thinking of driving traffic. One thing I forgot to mention is how powerful Twitter is for driving traffic. Anytime an article has mention of another site/blog/company, I would recommend finding their @Twitter account and then tweeting something like “Hey I wrote this exciting blog post about____ and link”. I see this on the other side of things. For instance, the other day someone wrote a tweet about the great content they wrote about what to wear during pregnancy. It was a great article so I RTed and 17,000 people potentially saw it. This drove a ton of traffic and in turn drove traffic to our ecommerce site. Even if that site/company does not retweet if anyone searches the company/sites name that entry will be shown in search results. Also, if the content is good or you are driving traffic to another site (i.e. if all the students in the class clicked on the link), that company/site might reward you. For instance, if there is a small blog with great content, I will RT or @reply them. Also, I will product test them and they MAY/or may not write a post driving more traffic since they have an exclusive product. I also may give a blogger an exclusive scoop, if they even mentioned the company in a post.

Also, even if they don’t necessary link, it could be pulled. For instance, I use Radian6, a monitoring program and there is also a more simple version for anyone that is free, social mention. This allows people to search a keyword and find anything related to it i.e. blogs and micromedia like Twitter.


Before the assignment details, a quick word about assessment. Your constant assignments right now are to: twitter 3x/week, blog on your individual blog 3x/week, and blog on your group blog 5x/week. It is very easy for me to see if you are doing this, and some of you are falling behind. This is not okay. It’s not going to work to “catch up” on a week’s worth of posts in one day, or on two weeks’ worth in one week–it’s not how real bloggers operate because readers abandon your blog without regular infusions of new content. We have have three weeks of class left (it’s true!). So make yourself a schedule. Use the weekend or the Thanksgiving break to stockpile some posts in your queue–remember you can set them to post in the future on a day when you’ll be too busy studying for an exam. I am keeping track…

On to the weekend assignment:

First, read this post by blogger Theremina, and then, read this one by blogger Rachel Mercer.

Finally, listen to this story from Marketplace, (you could just read the transcript, but it’s more fun to listen to the story, in my opinion) and read Sally’s blog post about her media diet.

These texts raises several questions I think we need to discuss. First, what do you think about Mercer’s point that “curation is actually a necessary step in the creative process”? Or do you think reblogged content is less valuable in some critical way, or that it cheapens the blog? What do you think of Theremina’s call to take a break from blogging: “Because if we all turn away from this big, hot communal hall of scrying mirrors for a bit, and focus inward instead, upon the true, white spark that sits in everyone’s belly, maybe we won’t feel so hollow and lonely and dependent on energy from outside sources.” Phew! A bit overwritten, sure, but accurate? Are you getting something from your online relationships and the creation you do digitally, or do you feel it turning you away from “real” life in a negative way?

Comments most welcome, but not required. It would be great to have some honest discussion below before we tackle these issues in class.

Here are the links I used in class about how to increase your blog traffic and build community:

Darcie Dennigan’s teaching blog

the 2009 webblog awards



For this Wednesday, 11/18, please continue blogging and tweeting, and conduct the following experiment/challenge/assignment:

Write a post that explains something complex connected with your project. This could be how to do something, or it could be a concept that your more general readers would not understand without your very clear explanation. Think about how Robert Irion used metaphors, strong verbs, short sentences at the ends of paragraphs, and descriptive language to make his points about black holes comprehensible.

In addition, or in combination, write a post that contains part (or the whole–think about using the jump link) of an interview you do with someone about your topic. You could use this interview to explain your complex thing, or it can stand alone. So these can be two posts, or just one–it’s up to you.

First, here’s how to make your individual author pictures show up above your posts in your group blogs [THANKS, WHITSON]:

  1. Go to your group blog dashboard and click “Customize”
  2. Click “Theme” and when the HTML window appears, search for {/block:Title}:
  3. Paste the code below after {/block:Title}:

<p><img src={PostAuthorPortraitURL-64} /></p><em>Posted by {PostAuthorName}</em><p>&nbsp;</p>

That’s it!

Second, please read AND PRINT FOR CLASS this article. Then, answer the following question in a comment to this post:

The ways black holes work is a subject unfamiliar to many readers. What techniques does Robert Irion use to help his audience understand this unfamiliar subject?

Then, please answer this unrelated question, also in the comments: what else do you want to learn about blogging between now and the end of the course?


Here’s a roundup of some interesting blogging/social networking news links. A reminder that you can send me ones you discover!

Facebook alibi exonerates man (thanks, TJ)

UM has the best online media buzz of any school (thanks, Kristina)

Please email me your group proposal by midnight on Saturday. I should receive ONE email from each group. The proposal should include the following:

  • a description of the cabinet of wonder blog you hope to create on Tumblr, including who the ideal audience for this blog is and how you will keep the blog coherent–by which I mean the posts should have some connection to one another
  • a brief explanation of why you chose this particular topic/angle/theme/idea
  • a brief breakdown of who will be responsible for what in this group project
  • an explanation of how you will stay in touch with each other and discuss the blog as it develops in order to make changes, add new ideas, expand or reduce scope, etc. I’ll give you some in-class time to discuss these things, but I want to know how your group will work together–meetings in person? online contact? using what tools? status reports?

In addition, please continue blogging on your personal blogs as usual, thinking about building community and addressing the larger issues associated with your topics.

And please read the following short articles about Tumblr and be prepared to discuss on Monday. Some additional Tumblr links are below; exploring the site may give you new ideas about your group project. How might you think about the project differently now that you know you can easily post audio clips from your phones, for example?

Would You Take a Tumblr with This Man? (for discussion)

What the Hell is Tumblr? (for discussion)

An interesting news-based (or is it?) tumblr blog (I’m refusing to use the word “tumblelog”. I’m an English teacher, so I can do that.)

Tumblr group on Ning. If anyone wants to do a presentation on Ning, that would be interesting…

These links from Mashable might be slightly dated, given recent changes to Tumblr, but contain some interest even so

Tumblr’s own help page

Theme Garden! Make your group blog look really original!

Tumblr staff blog

For your final blog evaluation, please choose two blogs that you have been reading. Some caveats: these cannot be any blogs we have already substantially discussed in class, or your classmates’ blogs. This is your final formal blog evaluation, so please take care with it and think about being critical in the following ways:

  • avoiding value judgments
  • paying attention to the major pieces of rhetoric we have discussed in class: audience, tone, post length and depth or shallowness, visual elements, design, use of multimedia, and community.
  • on Monday I’d like to return to our conversation about democracy in blogging, so please review the audio clip from On the Media and the Technorati link below and think about the blogs you read–how many are written by people who are similar to you? How many are different?

Happy Halloween!

There are TONS of interesting news articles and tidbits to share today:

The Times reports on how Twitter is evolving (soon!) based on users’ ideas–giving the people what they want, again. This is a must read.

On a similar topic, a fabulous article in Wired reports on how users took over Twitter. (Thanks, Adam)

Author Neil Gaiman is going to start tweeting a new book. (Thanks, Sarah)

An NPR music critic is tweeting his music reviews–get an opinion on a whole album in 140 characters. (Thanks again, Sarah)

This summer, Time Magazine reported on tweeting the world’s longest poem.

Finally, here’s a link to the DemoGirl video for beginning tweeters we watched in class yesterday. So now you can look up other DemoGirl videos, or make your own with ScreenToaster.

Have more links to share? Send them to me, or comment on the post–or tweet them yourselves!