Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The End

Seeing as today is the last day of NaBloPoMo, and I simply can't carry on any longer, I'd provide a round-up of my favorite tips and lessons, as published by this blog in the past.

These lessons will (hopefully) aid you in your blogging quests.
When the need for news lessons surfaces, they'll post here, whether or not the month is November.

Thank you, long suffering readers! See you Thursday!

Monday, November 29, 2010

FTC Regulations

One day, you're smart little blog will become wildly successful and popular. You'll have earned your popularity through smart writing, and now companies want you to write about your product! That's great!

But you're a journalist too, so you'll have to follow the rules.The Federal Trade Commission mandates that you disclose payments received for reviews and/or commentary. This includes positive and negative commentary. When you write about a product or service of your own volition you won't need to disclose that your editorial work is independent of the company or service, but you can if you want to.

From the FTC:
Under the revised Guides, advertisements that feature a consumer and convey his or her experience with a product or service as typical when that is not the case will be required to clearly disclose the results that consumers can generally expect. In contrast to the 1980 version of the Guides – which allowed advertisers to describe unusual results in a testimonial as long as they included a disclaimer such as “results not typical” – the revised Guides no longer contain this safe harbor.

The revised Guides also add new examples to illustrate the long standing principle that “material connections” (sometimes payments or free products) between advertisers and endorsers – connections that consumers would not expect – must be disclosed. These examples address what constitutes an endorsement when the message is conveyed by bloggers or other “word-of-mouth” marketers. The revised Guides specify that while decisions will be reached on a case-by-case basis, the post of a blogger who receives cash or in-kind payment to review a product is considered an endorsement. Thus, bloggers who make an endorsement must disclose the material connections they share with the seller of the product or service. Likewise, if a company refers in an advertisement to the findings of a research organization that conducted research sponsored by the company, the advertisement must disclose the connection between the advertiser and the research organization. And a paid endorsement – like any other advertisement – is deceptive if it makes false or misleading claims.

Now, when you're offered a free washed in exchange for a review, you'll be ready!

Additional Resources:
FTC Publishes Final Guides Governing Endorsements, Testimonials

Sunday, November 28, 2010

My Tips Part II

As NaBloPoMo finally begins its end, I thought I'd provide my tips for your blogging experience. Make sure you read Christina's too! Part one was published yesterday.
  • Find a quiet place to collect your thoughts and write. It will prevent mistakes.
  • Don't be afraid to express your opinion. The Internet is full of differing views and perspectives, so you can guarantee someone will always seem less rational and mainstream than you.
  • Treat your work like it's going to print. The Internet may a wild free-for-all, but it's important to take your work and medium seriously.
  • If you feel like you're losing focus, take a step back. If necessary, take a break, and finish later.
  • Stagger your posts. If you have several articles to post, don't post them all at once. If you don't want to schedule advance posting, return the next day and hit publish. This will give your readers some time to read your posts. (I find that when I have several new articles to read at once, I never get the reading done.)
  • See like-minded, Internet-based, individuals. You'll find resources, friends, and new perspectives easily than you imagines.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

My Tips: Part I

As NaBloPoMo finally begins its end, I thought I'd provide my tips for your blogging experience. Make sure you read Christina's too!
  • Check spelling before you publish. If you need to print your post first, do it.
  • Keep a written, running list of your ideas. Use it as a checklist and a reference point so you never ask yourself, What was I going to write again?
  • Read your work out loud before you publish.
  • Always try to include a visual element. Photos, video, and miscellaneous imagery will aid the visual appearance of your work.
  • Always back up your work. You can read more about that here. You might want to save your work on an external hard drive, and you might want to print your work, too.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Photo and Video Hosts

Adding images and video to your site will significantly enhance your posts. It will also pique the interests of your readers. Here are a few sites that will host images and videos for you. Most blogging software will hosts images for you as well, but it's my opinion that some of those platforms will distort your images and/or load slowly. The following sites are free and allow photo/video management. Many provide printing services.

Photo

Flickr
ImageShack
Photobucket
Picasa
Shutterfly
Snapfish
TinyPic

My recommendation is to try Flickr. ImageShack, Photobucket, and TinyPic have bandwith limits, so if too many people visit your site, the image will temporarily be replaced with a gif announcing your bandwith limit and a short advertisement for the site. Flickr won't do that to you. Picasa is provided via Google, so if you have a Google (or Blogger) account, you will automatically hahve a Picasa account. Picasa also provides photo editing software. (Many of these sites let you edit photos online.)

Video

Flickr
Photobucket
Vimeo
YouTube

Thursday, November 25, 2010

How to Submit a Link to Reddit

Monday I provided a brief overview of social bookmarking and how it can help your awesome new blog. Today I'll show you how to submit your blog to Reddit.

You will need an account with Reddit for this lesson.

Go to Reddit.com.


Log in with your account. The log in is located at mid-level, to the right.

Click SUBMIT A LINK. The button is in the same area as the log in.

Fill out the appropriate fields, providing the link to your article, a title, and a category for your post. The default option is reddit.com. You probably won't need this. Reddit will provide some topics for you, but you can also assign your own.


Click SUBMIT.

All done!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

How to Submit a Link to StumbleUpon

Monday I provided a brief overview of social bookmarking and how it can help your awesome new blog. Today I'll show you how to submit your blog to StumbleUpon.

You will need an account with StumbleUpon for this lesson. 

Go to StumbleUpon.com.

Log in.


Click your user name (HI, USERNAME!) OR the FAVORITES tab at the top left.


Click ADD A SITE, in the top left of the screen:


Paste the Web address of the site in the URL field and provide a short description of the page in the REVIEW box.

Click ADD A SITE. (If you are adding a blog, click BLOG MODE.)

Fill out the new fields. Provide a category and let StumbleUpon know if the page is NSFW.


Click SUBMIT.


Done!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

How to Submit a Link to Digg

Yesterday I provided a brief overview of social bookmarking and how it can help your awesome new blog. Today I'll show you how to submit your blog to Digg.

You will need an account with Digg for this lesson. You can also connect with Digg via your Facebooks and Twitter accounts.

Go to Digg.com.

 
Log in. The link to log is in the top-right corner.


Copy the link you want to share. (You can grab it from the address bar of the Web page.) Paste it in the text box at the top of the screen. Paste it over the text that says SUBMIT A LINK.


Digg will search to see if your link has been submitted before. Digg might find a similar story. If that happens, there will be a box to check or button to push that will let you submit the link. If someone has submitted your link, skip these steps and add your thumbs up to the link that's available.

Click the box that says CHOOSE TOPIC.


Choose an appropriate topic. Make sure it's related to your article's content.


Click the box that says NEWS. This is the default setting. you are choosing your MEDIA TYPE. If your item is an image or video, click the appropriate option. Otherwise, click NEWS.


Click the button that says DIGG IT.


Done!

Monday, November 22, 2010

A Brief Overview of Social Bookmarking

Social Bookmarking is the act of publicly sharing, storing, and managing your bookmarks. (You can also keep your bookmarks private without sharing them!)

Through social bookmarking Web sites you can find other material on the Web similar to the sites you've added, promote your blog, and participate in a community of similarly-minded individuals. (Well, sometimes.)

In theory, a site or link that is well-received by the People of the Internet will be added to individuals' queue, which, in turn, will make the link or site more popular. As a result, more people will read the link or site because it will have a higher rating on the site.

Because the theme of Lessons for Old People is about blogging, I want to emphasize that these sites are great tools for bringing traffic to your blog. (Especially because your blog is full of high-quality content!) Even a low rating will bring traffic to your blog.

These sites are usually organized by topic—transportation, fashion, arts, humor, etc.—to help users sift through content. It's important that you have a clear understanding about what you've written, so you submit your content properly. These channels will also aid in driving more people you your brilliant blog. 

Most of these sites also have toolbars you can add to your own browser, making submissions and exploring much easier. Moreover, most blogging software offer widgets and extras to allow reader to submit or like your content on their own.

We'll look at how to submit your posts to Reddit, Digg, Delicious, and StumbleUpon this week.


Additional Resources:
Delicious
Digg
MetaFilter
Reddit
SlashDot
StumbleUpon
List of social bookmarking Web sites, Wikipedia

Previously:
Technology Lesson: How to Back Up Your Bookmarks

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Valuing Your Work

Getting paid for your work is a foreign concept on the Internet, so today's soapbox diatribe is a reminder to value your work.

By "now", your hypothetical blog is a bastion of great content, you have developed a loyal following, and showcased your personal voice.

I think it's important you value yourself as a writer. Consider giving your work away for free to other blogs, or printed publications, carefully. If you write a successful blog, if you have cultivated a loyal following as the result of excellent work, you deserve more than "free traffic" to your blog.

It may seem silly to insist that you at least consider compensation, but as print continues to disappear, and talented writers take to the Web to share their talent, it seems ludicrous to treat writers—in whatever capacity—as non-valued labor.

How you negotiate this is up to you, and it's a tricky road. Many blogs pay freelancers by page views (Examiner.com pays pennies for every X00 views) and some blogs don't pay freelancers at all (like The Huffington Post). Your level of experience and success will dictate your bottom line.

Of course, if you're just starting your journey through the blogosphere, it might be awhile until you face this issue (if at all). It never hurts to remember to value your work as a writer!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Four Little Easy Ways to Promote Your Blog

Promoting your blog may be a necessary way to draw new readers. Friends, family, and random Google searches may not be enough for you (personally). Here are TK easy ways to promote your blog without being terribly obnoxious (or involved).
  • Add your blog to your social media profiles. Update all of your accounts—Facebook, Flickr, message boards, etc.—with your blog's address as your official Web site.
  • Add your blog to the signature of your message board messages. I've been told Old People love participating in message boards. I think they're a free-for-all, but a small link at the bottom of your signature won't hurt. Make sure there's nothing frivolous though, just a link and title, so you don't look obnoxious.
  • Add apps to your social media profiles that will automatically post a link to your blog's new posts. Facebook has several options, and since other outlets want to compete with Facebook, they will have apps, too. Twitter also has apps that will post your articles. (Tumblr will post automatically via its own software.) This also saves you the trouble of sharing the link on your own time. Do NOT add links to comments on other people's statuses or walls on Facebook, especially when it is not relevant. (Don't wish someone Happy Birthday and include a link to a post about your new project. It's rude!)
  • ...But it's not rude to post a link when it is relevant. If you've updated Flickr or another photo sharing site and the photos are related to your new post, include a link to that post with your photo update!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Vocabulary Lesson: TrackBack

A TrackBack is "one of three types of linkbacks, methods for Web authors to request notification when somebody links to one of their documents. This enables authors to keep track of who is linking, and so referring, to their articles. Some weblog software programs, such as Wordpress, Drupal and Movable Type, support automatic pingbacks where all the links in a published article can be pinged when the article is published. The term is used colloquially for any kind of linkback."

A TrackBack/linkback/pingback is important to a blogger if he or she wants to know if other blogs and sites are linking to his or her blog and who those other blogs and sites are.

Some blogging software will ask if you want to participate in trackback. You should say yes, in case you're ever curious about how people are relating to your work on the Internet.

Additional Resources:
Trackback, Wikipedia
How Trackback Works, cruftbox.com
TrackBack Development, MoveableType
TrackBack, Webopedia

Thursday, November 18, 2010

What About Meanieheads?

What If Someone Is Mean To Me On the Internet?

...I don't have any idea. I've been really lucky—this blog hasn't attracted trolls or any angry mob, because it's only moderately popular. (And I've been slipping on quality and attribution, so I'm really lucky.) The Internet is a free-for-all when it comes to bad behavior, and it's a battleground when it comes to misunderstandings within tone and syntax. (One might argue that a good writer will be able to stave off misunderstandings of that sort, but that person clearly hasn't been using Facebook.)

There's really no good way to arm yourself against the masses. Even the best and nicest bloggers will attract the wrath of some, especially if that blogger finds some level of success. A tough skin will help you here, but I'm not able to tell you how to develop that tough skin. Hopefully your age and experience will help you here. (I'm hoping it will help me, eventually.)

Take some solace that what you are doing is moving people, even if it's not the love and accolades you'd prefer. Ignore the trolls, and feel free to bask in a smug sense of self-satisfaction when the meanieheads employ manners and grammar that are less proficient than your own. (This is hard for me to say, as I routinely bicker with my mother at dinner when she reprimands athletes on TV, because they had less socioeconomic advantages than I did.)

Some bloggers and publications institute a no anonymous commenter policy. (I do, too!) You can refuse to publish anonymous comments if you think it will cut down on the poor behavior. (Remember, it's not silencing free speech if the speech is harmful or threatening.)

Previously:
Culture Lesson: Trolling

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

A Tour of Google Analytics:: Traffic Overview


I use Google Analytics to monitor blog and Web site traffic. Blogger is part of the Google network, which includes Google Analytics, a service that allows its users to analyze and understand Web data. If you have an account with Google, you have an account with Google Analytics.

In the event that you have an account with Google or Blogger, this may assist you!


This is the main page after you log in. (Now you know my numbers, which I like to keep private!) If I click DAY, WEEK, or YEAR (since MONTH is currently highlighted), the numbers will change to reflect my page views in the last 24 hours, seven days, or 365 days.

When I click VIEW REPORT in the second column, this is what I'll see:




Notice that the data is still per month, because that's what I had chosen on my dashboard, the previous page.

The left column will take you to data about your VISITORS, provide TRAFFIC SOURCES (which is the one I'm concerned about), CONTENT, and GOALS. (GOALS is something you set up yourself. I've never done anything with it, but you'd say you want visitors to stay longer, or visitors from other locations, and Analytics lets you know if you're achieving that GOAL or not.)

In the middle, you can see data at a glance for pageviews, number of visitors, where your visitors are from, and below, an overview of your traffic sources (that's the one I click on the most), and which pages are viewed:


If you choose to use a different publisher, fear not! Other software provides similar options.

If I click the pie chart under TRAFFIC SOURCES OVERVIEW or TRAFFIC SOURCES in the left column, I get this:


The graph provides numerical data, and a breakdown of that data is below. How users are finding the blog are at the bottom, and search terms are to the right. If I click VIEW FULL REPORT below TRAFFIC SOURCES a full list, including blogs and sites linking to my blog, search engines, and direct traffic, will be listed for me.

If I wanted to know where these users were located, I'd click VISITORS in the right column and get this:



From here, I can find out the language, location, and browser information of my visitor.

And there concludes our tour. Google Analytics does much more, and I'm sure with some exploring, you'll find more information in your hands than you could ever need.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Attribution

Attribution is a dying art on the Internet. As a responsible adult, and a conscientious Old Person, you are probably aware that in printed material, one must cite his or her sources.

I think you should cite everything that isn't yours. You don't have to provide a reference page at the end of your posts, or cite your sources like you might in a research paper (but that would be funny, so I won't stop you), but you should provide credit when it is due.

When should you do that? Allow me:
  • Post inspirations; If an article, blog post, or column inspires original comment, mention that article, blog post, or column somewhere in your entry.
  • Videos, photos, and miscellaneous visual material; Most videos include embed code, making it easy to post the video in your blog. Credit the creative force behind the video (even if it's just a YouTube username) and the source that provided the content to you.

    Photos are a trickier situation. You should never publish a photo without permission from the photographer. (I know this goes against everything the Internet is doing.) If you see a work you want to share, contact the photographer for permission, and be sure to include the photographer's name, studio (if applicable), and a link to his or her Web site. Many artists have a blog (or Tumblr, which provides attribution for you) and have a published policy, so look for a policy before proceeding.
  • Text; This should be obvious, but when you read something you want to share, make sure you list the source the text is from, the person who shared it with you, and a link to the work.

Remember, you're a journalist. You are the writer, editor, and publisher of your blog, and you have some responsibility to credit the person who published the work originally, the person who shared it with you (this may have been a personal heads up, or a blog you read on your own), and a link to the material. Those are the best ways to say thank you and provide attribution.

Additional Resources:
What is Plagiarism, and Is it Always Bad?, Consumerist

Monday, November 15, 2010

Writing Prompts

This blog has put some emphasis on finding a topic or focus and sticking to it, but if you'd like a little freedom, or if you hit blogger's block, you might be interested in writing prompts. (Personally, it reminds me too much of school. I should probably work on my feelings.)

If prompts is what you need, here's a list:

Easy Street Prompts Easy Street provides video, images, random words, and standard prompts daily. I had a professor in college who recommended Google Image Search for students who needed new ideas.

Meme Express This blog is on an "extended hiatus" but provided 630 prompts before its break.

Mind Bump Mind Bump will refresh its prompt at your command and also allows you to promote your blog.

NaBloPoMo prompts NaBloPoMo runs year-round, and writing an entry every day can be very taxing. You don't have to be a member to see these prompts.

Plinky Prompting and inspiring you is Plinky's entire goal. Yay!

Weekly Writing Assignment This site provides weekly contests as a resource for writers.

Do you have a favorite resource? Share it in the comments!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Your Blogger Toolbar

If there's one thing Old people struggle with, it's Internet iconography. Many of the symbols in this lesson are universal--you'll see them in text editing software, your e-mail client, and other blogging platforms. Since it's blogging month on Lessons for Old People, I've taken the toolbar in the New Post editor apart bit by bit for your convenience.


This is what the editor looks like. The toolbar is at the top, above the area where you input your clever thoughts.

These are the first two "buttons". The one on the left is your undo button. It's pretty great. I'd like one for the real world for Christmas. The one next to it is the redo button. Less exciting, but makes a great stocking stuffer, I guess.


These are your text modifiers. The fancy "F" will modify your font (your options are Arial, Courier, Georgia, Helvetica, Times, Trebuchet, and Verdana). The Ts next to the fancy "F" will modify the size of your text.


The not-picture "B", "I", "U", and "ABC" will also modify your text, making text bold, italics, underlined and stricken, respectively. (Journalistically, I caution you to use the strikethrough wisely. You can't strikethrough a mistake and call it a day. Blogs do this frequently and I think it's lazy.)

But wait, there's more! The giant "A" will modify the color of your text:


And the icon next to it will highlight your text:





These icons will insert media! The link button will insert a link. It looks like this when you press it:

TEXT TO DISPLAY is the text a reader will click to visit the link. The box below, TO WHAT URL SHOULD THIS GO? is the Web page your reader will visit post-click. You can highlight text and skip the TEXT TO DISPLAY step.

The picture of a mountain, next to the link icon will insert an image into your post. You can upload from your computer:


or from the Internet. The other icons insert video sor jump breaks, respectively.




More text modifiers! Here you align text, make a numbered list, make a bulleted list, indent quotes, remove formatting, and check spelling. When you align text, you align right, center, left, and justified:

Spellcheck is ridiculously helpful. When you mistype something, you'll see a red dotted line under the word in question:


Spellcheck will highlight the word:

And when you double-click the word, the tool will provide suggestions. You can click the correct word, or ignore.

That's a lot to learn. Hopefully my colloquialisms haven't stood in our way. As always, if you have questions, you can leave a comment. (And if you're my mom, you have my number.)

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Naming Your Blog

When you've decided on a course of action for your blog, you'll need to name your blog. This can be fun or laborious, depending on your love for puns and creating headlines.

You'll want to choose a name before registering your blog. In fact, you'll want to choose your name sometime after you commit to the idea of blogging and have chosen your blog's focus.

You want a name that relates to the theme/focus of your blog, isn't too hard to remember or spell, and isn't too long. (Check the resources for more tips, opinions, and bad examples.)

Before you register, you should make sure your clever title isn't already in use. Many blogs are protected by copyright, and many bloggers will sue over use of their blog title. (And in some cases, rightly so. You'll usually be politely notified as to the infringement first, in which case you should just apologize and find a new name.)

So before registering your blog, Google the name of your new blog. Try other variations as well. For example, in addition to Lessons for Old People I might try Teaching Old People About Stuff and Technology for Old People. I also input my search as "Lessons for Old People" (so Google would search for the full title) among other variations. When I was absolutely sure that no one else had been struck with brilliance and named his or her blog Lessons for Old People I was ready to move forward.

It won't be too long before you're ready to move forward, too!

Additional Resources:
10 Quick Tips for Naming Your Blog Blogging Startup (Note: I disagree with number 10. This can still conflict with a copyright issue. For example, you could never name your blog Purple Dooce and get away with it.)
How to pick the perfect name for your blog or startup, CNN
What Not to Name Your Blog., Slate

Friday, November 12, 2010

A Quick Lesson in Libel



Libel is really, really, really bad. And you're an adult, so you know that defamation, whether true or not, is really, really, really bad, so it's imperative that you treat the Internet like printed media, because the rules of libel apply to the Internet. Just as the Internet is a land without copyright, the Internet is subject to the rules of defamation.

So just because Trang Pak did makeout with Coach Carr doesn't mean you should publish it. And it's just as important that you don't publish anything that isn't true. (By the way, using the word "allegedly" will not protect you.)

Think carefully about each statement you assert as true. Are you sure it's true? Can you provide at least two sources? (You should provide them, by the way.) You should also think carefully about work you re-publish. (However, if you re-publish something that isn't true, you aren't responsible. That isn't to say you won't be hauled into court, but you are protected.)

Make sure you read the links below for the ins, outs, and fine print regarding libel. And heed my warning: don't do it.

Additional Resources:
Exclusive: Bloggers, Protect Thyself (From Libel Lawsuits) And The Future Of Journalism, Mediajobsdaily
Web of Lies, American Journalism Review

Thursday, November 11, 2010

How to Auto-Post in Tumblr

So you've decided to use Tumblr for your blog, and you've decided to write posts in advance! This is great news, because auto-posting and Tumblr are both very easy.

As a warning, Tumblr sometimes suffers horrible glitches wherein it dumps your queue in one fell swoop. This is irritating, and it's happened at least twice since I jumped on the Tumblr Bandwagon with reckless abandon. With that warning out of the way...

Log in to Tumblr, go to your dashboard, and choose the type of post you want to make.

You can write your post first or later, it's up to you.


The column on the right is where you distinguish whether this is a draft or not. Click the drop down menu, and select PUBLISH ON.


Tell Tumblr when you want your article published. Fill out the other fields, too.


Click SCHEDULE POST. If this was a draft, the button would say save, and if it was going to publish now, it would say PUBLISH POST.


Now your article is scheduled to post in the future! Awesome!

Previously:
Tumblr posts

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

How to Auto-Post in Blogger

I like to write my lessons in advance. Actually, I like to write several posts in one go, and finish a month's worth of posts well in advance. You might want to your posts to publish at a specific time, or within the work day. If you want to do that in Blogger, here's how:

Write your post (or skip to the end and write it later). When you're ready, click POST OPTIONS at the bottom of your text box.



Fill out the information that has dropped-down. You can disregard the comments and backlinks. What matters here is POST DATE AND TIME. AUTOMATIC will schedule your post to publish now. This is the default setting.

CLICK the radio button for SCHEDULED AT. Fill out the pertinent information--type your date and time.


Click PUBLISH POST when you're ready.

Blogger will confirm the date in time in your Dashboard:

 
If you make a mistake, this is easily fixed. (I do it all the time.) Just edit your post and repeat these instructions to remove the post from you blog and schedule it for future publishing.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Your Work is Yours

I suffer at the hands of righteous indignation daily, but today's brief lesson was a real doozy: Monica Gaudio found out that a piece she'd written five years ago was lifted from the Internet and published without her permission. When Gaudio asked for compensation, the magazine, Cooks Source, replied that the Internet is "public domain."

It's not.

The non-apology from a Cooks Source editor, as re-published by Consumerist:

Yes Monica, I have been doing this for 3 decades, having been an editor at The Voice, Housitonic Home and Connecticut Woman Magazine. I do know about copyright laws. It was "my bad" indeed, and, as the magazine is put together in long sessions, tired eyes and minds somethings forget to do these things.

But honestly Monica, the web is considered "public domain" and you should be happy we just didn't "lift" your whole article and put someone else's name on it! It happens a lot, clearly more than you are aware of, especially on college campuses, and the workplace. If you took offence and are unhappy, I am sorry, but you as a professional should know that the article we used written by you was in very bad need of editing, and is much better now than was originally. Now it will work well for your portfolio. For that reason, I have a bit of a difficult time with your requests for monetary gain, albeit for such a fine (and very wealthy!) institution. We put some time into rewrites, you should compensate me! I never charge young writers for advice or rewriting poorly written pieces, and have many who write for me... ALWAYS for free!

It doesn't matter where or when the work was published, it's never OK to borrow or lift work without permission.

In fact, Gaudio made this point easy to prove on her LiveJournal, by linking to the University Maryland University College Web site. Here's the boring facts about the Internet:

Copyright and Electronic Publishing

  • The same copyright protections exist for the author of a work regardless of whether the work is in a database, CD-ROM, bulletin board, or on the Internet.
  • If you make a copy from an electronic source, such as the Internet or WWW, for your personal use, it is likely to be seen as fair use. However, if you make a copy and put it on your personal WWW site, it less likely to be considered fair use.
  • The Internet IS NOT the public domain. There are both uncopyrighted and copyrighted materials available. Assume a work is copyrighted.

Tips for the Internet

  • Always credit the source of your information
  • Find out if the author of a work (e.g., video, audio, graphic, icon) provides information on how to use his or her work. If explicit guidelines exist, follow them.
  • Whenever feasible, ask the owner of the copyright for permission. Keep a copy of your request for permission and the permission received.

Glad we could clear that up.

If this happens to you, contact the publication/thief. (Plagiarism happens everywhere, at the hands of all kinds of people.) Remind the publisher that you have rights, darn it, and if you are compensated and/or the piece isn't removed, you will look into other action.

Feel free to threaten additional action, and if necessary, feel free to follow up on your threats.

(Don't let a story like this one scare you, or prevent you from blogging!)

Additional Information:
Magazine Copies Entire Story From Web, Tells Writer She Should Pay Them For Publishing It, Consumerist
Copyright Infringement and Me, Gaudio's LiveJournal
Copyright and Fair Use in the Classroom, on the Internet, and the World Wide Web, UMUC Library Services

Monday, November 8, 2010

Blogging Tips from Christina Lee

My friend Christina is a brilliant writer. A freelance journalist, she's written for Paste, Washington Examiner, and Washington City Paper. I asked her for some tips for Old People who want to start blogging, and she enthusiastically provided the following:

  • Focus on creating the content first, and not the layout. I find that holds a lot of people up when it comes to many types of project when it shouldn't, like Ted Mosby when he was starting his own architecture firm and worrying about the types of pens that he'd use instead of calling clients.
  • Write how you want to write. By this, you're free to take on whatever tone you'd like -- it's your blog, after all. Some people are more comfortable writing authoritatively, which is great if you're writing a how-to blog. But if you're writing about how your day is going, don't be afraid to write as if you would to your neighbor, your best friend or your husband.

  • Proofread by reading it aloud. I catch 99.99 percent of the spelling and grammatical errors I make this way.
  • Don't be afraid to get personal. Here's what I mean: If you have personal experience working with a type of gardening tool, say so. If your granddaughter really enjoyed those cookies that you made, take a picture of her eating it, or have her provide a video endorsement. And if you have your own take on, say, a magazine shuttering its print publication, don't be afraid to spill your guts.

You can read Christina's blog here.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

How Much Do I Write?

How Much Do I Write?

When I was in college my public speaking professor had a cheesy saying for his essay requirements. “How long are your legs? Long enough to reach the ground.” Having survived arduous AP classes in high school only a few months prior, I was more than pleased to to turn in a one paragraph “essay”.

You blog posts only need to “reach the ground.” Whether it takes you 5,000 words or 20 words to get there is entirely up to you.

You should keep in mind, however, that reading your brilliance on a digital display is taxing on one's visual organs (and the Kindle to Blog audience is rather small), and your readers' attention spans are limited. It's nice to sit down and savor a blog post, but it takes time to cultivate an audience, and you won't be able to do that with Melville length screeds.

I think a good guideline is no less than 200 words—unless you have a really good reason—and no more than one page scroll. The Internet has its own “below the fold” and you'll want to make sure everything good is above “the fold.” The fold ends where you start to scroll to read more. This length is subjective, since font and display sizes vary, so make your best judgement based on what you see in front of you.

You'll find a good middleground as you go.

Additional Resources:
How Long Should A Blog Post Be?, Pro Blogger
3 Things to Consider When Deciding How Long Your Blog Posts Should Be, Copyblogger

Saturday, November 6, 2010

How Often Do I Have to Post?

How Often Do I Have to Post?

How often do you want to update your blog? Everyday? Once a week? Monday through Friday? This is all up to you. You can post randomly or on a schedule. Let your other priorities dictate how frequently you post updates to you blog.

It took me awhile (a few years, at least) to decide that writing posts in advance and keeping to a schedule worked for me. As a young woman with too many blogs, trying to "post somewhere at least once each day" was too stressful for me. (I'm not sure why I decided on that rule either.) When I set expectations, and limits, for myself, it made writing and publishing content much easier. You don't have to do this, of course, but you can if it helps.

I like to look at a calendar and write down the dates in the month ahead. I like the write the posts after work (or on the bus to Maryland, as is the case right now) a few weeks in advance. If you want to write only when you feel like it, that's OK too. Or, maybe you know you always have one night a week where the house is quiet and no one will bother you. (Maybe you're lucky and it's always like that.)

Think carefully about what will work for you and your blog. (You might want to post more in warm months if your blog about gardening, for example.) Realize there's no requirement for frequency or content, that you make the rules here.

If you feel overwhelmed, post less. Consider posting a few times a month or less. Take an extended break until you're ready again.

You are your own publisher. You have the say here!

Friday, November 5, 2010

What Do I Write About?

What Do I Write About?

What do you know more about than anybody? What is it you wish you could say to the world? What do you care about? Do you love books? Do you take pride in your garden? Do the most ridiculous things happen to you on a daily basis? Do you read the paper and think you'd make a better columnist because...? What have your friends and family been begging you to write about?

That's what you write about. You don't have to write about your personal life in your family. (Such topics have been a source of trouble for writers for centuries.) Of course, you can if you want to. (But you should consider writing anonymously and discuss this with your loved ones.)


Find that one thing you know better than anyone else and start there. If you make a great cocktail, start a blog about bartending. If you have an unnatural ability to rescue dying plants, start a blog about gardening. (My dad should do this. Just saying.)

Think of your blog as a go-to place to share your knowledge with people who are in desperate need of your insight. Because, as an Old Person, you have plenty of it. It would be a shame for the clueless Young People to wander life without the valuable information you have gleamed over time. It's time you made the world a better place.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Vocabulary Lesson: Blogroll

A blogroll is a list of blogs you read, support, or recommend. The list can include friends, family, or strangers. Typically, it's best to include blogs that focus on the same topic you do. For example, you might want to list blogs about gardening if you write about gardening, instead of listing, exclusively, blogs about dogs.

This is what my personal blog looks like:


The column on the left is where the posts are (where I look very cute with my grandma) and the column on the right is where people can read about me, find my blogroll, and my other projects. I've listed blogs I and read regularly.

In the early ages of the Internet, bloggers would exchange links on each other's blogrolls for exposure. These days there is no guarantee that because you list a blog that your blog will be listed in return. In some circles it's considered bad form to ask for a blogger to list you.

It is, of course, never bad form to thank someone for listing you.

Finally, with all of that in mind, remember that what you write on your blog, and who you list, is your call.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Technology Lesson: Blog Hosts

While it's true that some bloggers host their blog on their own server, you don't have to. Blogging is remarkably convenient—you can do it from your cell phone—you can sign up for an account and start blogging in minutes. (This blog has showed you how to do that with Tumblr.)

This is a list (but not an endorsement) of platforms that will let you get started:

Blogger
DiaryLand
LiveJournal
MoveableType
Textpattern
Tumblr
TypePad
WordPress

The involvement required from you varies from one service to another. Make sure you explore your options before committing to anything!

Previously:
Tumblr posts
Blogger posts

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Why I Want You to Blog

You're a smart cookie, did you know that? You're an adult, an adult with opinions, and decades of life experience. You're intelligent, are able to reason, and are both and mature and responsible. Technology may not be your strongest suit, but you know how to e-mail, and you know how to type. (That's all you need to know when it comes to blogging, really.)

The Internet offers blogging as a free service. It's also a method of communication for billions of people. Regrettably, the Internet is an outlet for plenty of morons. But you are not a moron, and that's really important to me.

You see, there's enough drivel on the Internet. It's time you spoke up with your valuable opinion. (You might not think your opinion is worthy, but I believe that everyone has a right to express him or herself--even if I don't agree with that person.) I think it's time you took your place in the World Wide Web, set up shop, and started to hear ye hear ye.

I don't care what you write about (well, I'd prefer it isn't a hate-filled screed), as much as I care that you write.

And if you're worried that the blogosphere is full of Young People, you'd be wrong. A Pew report found in February that the kids these days blog less than they did three years ago. Moreover, adults are blogging more now than before, up from 11 percent to 18 percent. That doesn't sound like a lot to you, but it sounds like a lot to me!

Are you ready? This is going to be a great month.


Additional Resources:
Blogging is for old people, Pew report finds, SF Gate
Teens: Blogging Is, Like, For Old People, CRN

Monday, November 1, 2010

Happy NaBloPoMo

Happy NaBloPoMo!

Every year bloggers vow to post one entry each day for National Blog Posting Month (NaBloPoMo). Lessons for Old People participated last year and will join in the fun again this year. For 2010 Lessons for Old People will focus on blogging. (Much in the same way that this blog focused on Tumblr in July.) We'll talk about blogging platforms, "why" you should blog, and how to navigate the blogosphere.

Many of you already blog (especially those of you who are here from NaBloPoMo),  so I apologize for the inconvenience. I hope you can chime in with your own experiences and advice.

To learn more about NaBloPoMo, last year's lesson is here.


Additional Information:
NaBloPoMo

Previously:
Technology + Culture Lesson: NaBloPoMo
Tumblr lessons