The blogging portion of our workshop has really been interesting. I have been fascinated to hear people talk about their impressions of online communication, about how much they do or do not want to share, about how it feels to them when they read other people’s blogs.
Personally, I have little interest in most blogs that are determinedly upbeat, chipper, always inoffensive, and always trying to sell me something. There is no reason for me to read those unless they offer serious content. Retro Renovation is a good example of a blog that is admittedly like that, but that I do like, and read every day.
It’s got ads, EBay carousels, and it is relentlessly chipper, but hey. No one pulls the mid-century mod together like Pam Kueber, and she’s full of great links and has a really organized, easy to read web presence. I love the way that she adds in Twitter and Facebook. It’s simple to have your blog automatically post to Facebook; all you have to do is sign on to Networked Blogs on the Facebook site.
the adorable Pam Kueber of RetroRenovation.com
Andrew Thornton’s blog is another example of what I think is a very nice balance between original, meaningful personal content, paid content, ads, and shoutouts. I always get enough Andrew that anything else he chooses to present is simply additional; I can click it if I’m interested or skip it if I’m not. And I’ve found literally hundreds of fascinating things and people and events and artworks over the years, following him on Twitter and bookmarking his blog.
Neil Gaiman and David Byrne are two artists and writers whose blogs I read every time they update; I don’t think I’ve missed a single entry from either one. It’s easy to keep up this way if you subscribe to a blog (most people have some type of “Blog In Your Email” type of link, or a feed that you can sign on to.) Neil uses Twitter well and often, and I am a part of his daily life through his Twitter feed. I don’t mind if their blogs update once a day or once a month. I know that I won’t miss anything, if I subscribe. I also rely on my Top Sites window in Safari to let me know if there is an update on my selection of most visited sites. It’s easy to see if there is, because when you click on the overview window, all sites that have updated since you last visited show a blue star. In this photo, you can see that the New York Times has a star. I’m current on everyone else.
Using this feature, I can lock in sites I want to monitor constantly, or let them self-arrange based on my frequency of viewing. I lock in my top three bars, and let the bottom float.
How and where you set up your blog will have a significant impact on how easy it is to load, read, and update. Some people choose to make their blogs a function of their own website, hosted either on their own servers, or those of a service provider. Self-hosted blogs may have the down side that (depending on your own personal connectivity and web-savvy) they may need to be updated from your home computer, and if you don’t have enough server space, and you get a rush of traffic, they could go dark. Neil Gaiman breaks web sites all of the time by linking to them. We call it neilwebfail. If your site can’t handle 500,000 people clicking on it all at once, you could easily miss your moment of fame if a celebrity or news site links to you.
Neil’s blog has a charming feature- it gives you a random photo of Neil in the upper right every time you log on or refresh. I love that! Keep things moving to keep people interested.
I don’t ever want my blog down, and I don’t want it hosted or updated from my own servers, and so I have moved my entire web presence to WordPress, Facebook, and Twitter. Cloud-hosted blogs, like those written on Blogger or WordPress, can be updated from anywhere, don’t crash when traffic spikes, and are easy to format and use. WordPress is significantly more sophisticated than Blogger, and can be more confusing to a first-time blogger, but I prefer the range of features it offers.
Other blogs I like and read regularly are Marcia DeCoster, Allison Shock, Patty Lakinsmith, Ken Thomas, Ruth Reichl, Lysa Schloesser, and Kyle Cassidy. Those people are all quite different, and the reason I read them is that I like them as people, their blogs are clean and easy to deal with, they don’t annoy me senselessly with a lot of Captcha code (please, Lord, take it off of your comment screen if you have it on there) and they update regularly.
coffee roasters, photo by Lysa Schloesser
Nothing leaves me colder than a blog that is hard to read (careful with those black backgrounds) and rarely updated. I find Ken’s black background and light font almost impossible to read, but his content is worth it, and so I click Command-Plus to enlarge the font, put on my readrers, and wade in. David Byrne writes only once a month or so, but when he does, holy moly. It’s good. Lysa’s photos are so stunning that she earns a spot in my Top Sites window even though she updates so rarely that I could have her on Feed. I want to see those photos all of the time, and the little window she occupies makes me happy with it’s beauty. Allison Shock is simply fascinating. I want to hear everything she has to say, and I never want to forget she exists, not even for an hour. Having her little window there gives me joy.
Doriot’s new blog is stunning- I would have thought that the busy background and transparent window of scrolling text would be hard to read, but it isn’t. It’s gorgeous. I wish half of what I saw in life was half that pretty.
Which blogs out there in the world are your favorite to read? Why?
Please leave a comment, and give us a link or two.