Why Colleges Blog

mStoner.com has a good article about colleges that blog to recruit potential students:

In seizing on the blogging phenomenon, admissions offices and alumni associations are benefiting from the freshness and honesty that the very medium of blogging suggests. There’s an immediacy to blogging, an unvarnished reality to it–even when the feedback function is disabled and the cast of bloggers has clearly been engineered. This aura may fade over time, but for now, it’s potent.

Colleges and universities are competing fiercely to get a good crop of students. With the price of tuition increasing and the nature of today’s economy, colleges that want to make their numbers must aggressively recruit students. One of the important things that perspective students need to know when choosing a school is what life is like at the institution on a daily basis. Blogs can allow students to hear about a school from a student’s perspective:

In admissions, student bloggers write about their experiences. The feedback function is typically disabled; prospective students can contact the bloggers via email. Having chosen their bloggers carefully, admissions offices do not edit the entries–which is, admittedly, a risk. But well worth it: while it’s difficult to pin down the exact impact on applications, colleges and universities say that site traffic increases significantly when blogs are implemented.

Blogs with 6 Strings

The Guitar Blog has “the latest guitar news and guitar-related information from around the world.”

Also, another Guitar Blog (same name, different blog) includes “Guitars and guitarists, basses and bassists, guitar news and products, weird guitars, bizarre guitars, wonderful guitars… Links to interesting guitar sites and products found on the internet.”

Needing Critiques of Blog Software

I am giving a presentation with Nancy Stimson, author of the Stark County Law Library Blawg, next Tuesday at a joint meeting of the Cleveland Special Library Association and the Northern Ohio Chapter of the American Society for Information Science and Technology. Nancy is doing the ‘about blogs and blogging’ piece, and I am going to do the part about the various blogging software options.

I have used a number different blogging systems, but only on a trial basis. Before I decided on WordPress, I tried out Movable Type, Radio, and Blogger. Based upon my brief experiences with the various options, I have a general idea of the pros and cons of each blogging system. However, I would definitely appreciate knowing what others think about the system they are currently using.

I am posing these questions:
What blogging package are you using and why?
What seems to work best about the blogging system that you use?
Have you tried other options? If so, why did you switch?
How could the blogging system be improved?
Who would you recommend the blogging system to?

Thanks in advance for any feedback you can provide. If you like, you can comment on this post, or email me your answers to cfboeningerDELETE@THISearthlink.net.

More Blogging Tips

I have blogged about using blogs for internal communications before, but the folks at Advanced Business Blogging have a good post about the topic. They too have grasped the idea of using a blog as a knowledgebase:

As your team becomes accustomed to accessing the knowledge they need from this internal blog, they win with nearly instant access to the info they need to perform. And you win with more free time because now you only have to answer questions and provide guiding knowledge once.

The same folks also write about using a blog to update clients and employees. If you change the words “clients” to “patrons” and “business” to “library” this really makes sense for the bibliobloggers:

Do you have employees in multiple remote locations? As part of your business, do you have to supply updates to clients? What about delivering “premium” content to subscribers or clients?

With the organized interactive format of your business blog, paired with the power of the RSS feed (already incorporated into your blog,) you can bypass email, Spam filters, and unreliable delivery to make sure your message gets through instantly – every time.

Update every remote employee or every premium content client instantly, reliably, and all at once. Then drive them back to the blog for posting, interaction, and commentary.

Once again, a major part of the power in this application of your business blog is the categorized historical data that is right here on the blog adding content and relational value to all the users.

WordPress Upgrade

I have finally gotten around to updating this blog with the latest version of WordPress. Everything ran pretty smoothly, although I did have some problems with my comments template. It turns out that my previous iteration of the comments template (which I have had since WP 1.0) needed to be tossed. I simply copied the default comments template and placed it into my Library Voice templates folder. I may tweak that a little later if needed.

I have been using this latest version of WP on a number of other blogs, and I have been really pleased with the update. The ability to change themes with the click of a button is incredible, and the spam blacklist seems to be working quite nicely. While I have yet to tinker with all of the new features, I am anxious to investigate all of the other new options. If you are looking to create a new blog, or are unhappy with your existing setup, I encourage you to give WordPress a try.

WordPress 1.5 Released

I am a little late with this, but WordPress 1.5 was released last week. I updated two of our library blogs on Sunday in about an hour. The directions offered by Podz made my upgrades a snap. I followed everything to a “T” and it worked flawlessly. Now I simply have to find time to upgrade this blog and a few others. Hopefully by the end of the week, all five of my WordPress blogs will be up to date.

If you haven’t upgraded and don’t want to, I encourage you to reconsider. The new interface is really slick, and the spam blacklist alone should merit a second look from many. I’ll post more about the new WordPress when I have a little more time to get under the hood.

Blogs, Balrag, and the Wikipedia

There is no better way to describe this than to give a play by play. This is sort of how it happened as I have ad-libbed a little here and there to make it a little more intersting. And the names have been changed to protect the innocent.

Jim, Bill, and I are having a conversation over our cubicle walls about blogs.
Jim observes that the word “blog” is a very ugly word.
Bill says, “Yeah, it sounds like that monster in Lord of the Rings.”
“Which one?” asks Jim.
“The one that Gandalf fought at the end of the first book. Where we were left hanging about what happened to him,” Bill explained. “I think the dwarves called it ‘Darrien’ or something.”
“Wasn’t that thing a dragon of some sort?” I ask.
Laura, Jim’s student assistant, chimes in, “Just Google It and find the answer.”

I start to type something in the Firefox search box for Google, but can’t quite think of what to type. How do I phrase monster thingy that defeated Gandalf in the first book/movie of the Lord of the Rings whose name, according to Jim, is just as ugly as the word ‘blog’? Instead, I turn to Wikipedia, which is a first for me. I had looked it over a couple of times before, but never to look for actual information.

Once there, I type ‘Lord of the Rings’, and then click ‘Go’. I look at the Search button as well, but ignore it for the time being. I still haven’t quite figured out what the difference is, but I’ll look into that later. ‘Go’ results reveal an article about the Lord of the Rings. I scroll down a bit, and in the Contents I click on a link to the storyline. Then I follow a link to The Fellowship of the Ring. At the end of the short synopsis, I discover the name of the monster whose name sounds like ‘blog’. It’s Balrag. And following the link for Balrag results in a page containing more information that I ever cared to know about the monster.

After my first use of Wikipedia, here are my thoughts. Would I put my English paper on the line and only use Wikipedia articles for my sources? Absoulutely not. There have been plenty conversations around the net and on listservs about the authority (or lack there-of) of the Wikipedia. However, I believe this is one particular case (and I am sure there are many more) that knowing about the Wikipedia and using it sure proved useful. I saved a little time as the actual time it took to find the information was much less than it has taken to read this post. I also learned a little bit more about this collaborative, free, web resource. Also, Bill, Jim, Laura, and I will all sleep better knowing that the monster thingy that defeated Gandalf in the first book/movie of the Lord of the Rings whose name, according to Jim, is just as ugly as the word ‘blog’ is Balrag.

Business Blogging Tips

The folks over at Advanced Business Blogging are doing a series called 21 Applications of Business Blogs for Small Business Growth. Over the next 21 days they will be posting a new idea about how blogging can help your business. They are going to look at 13 external applications of blogs, as well as 8 internal applications. In many cases, if you simply substitute the word “library” for the word “business”, many of the points offered are very relevant to the business of libraries.

The first tip is to use a blog as an FAQ page:

The native organization feaure of blogs that puts the newest post at the top of the page makes it easy to find the most recent questions. And the built in navigation of blog software using categories makes a FAQ business blog more intuitive than a forum for most users. Combine these two features with the right strategy and you�ll have a powerful, convenient, and interactive FAQ resource that not only answers questions for your clients, but also becomes an intuitive online learning resource for your products or services.

Many libraries are already using blogs in this way for internal communications. Our Reference Blog, as discussed in a previous post, serves as an FAQ page for our reference staff and students. Our staff can look at the page, view the most recent post, and be prepared to face the issue or question of the day.

The comments feature of blogs might be particularly useful in this area as well. If the question in the FAQ page is not answered satisfactorily, then a reader of the page can comment and ask a more direct question. The question could then be answered in another comment, or in another blog post. Because the question was posted as a comment, other readers who might have had the same question will know that the question is being addressed, or perhaps this will raise additional questions.

I originally set up my Business Blog to serve as sort of an online FAQ. Since many of the students that I deal with are all working on very similar projects, sometimes it is useful (and much easier on me) to post some hints online. Now I don’t tell the students the page numbers of books that have the particular statistic that they need, I just point them to appropriate resources for the project. This saves them time and in turn, it saves me from answering the same question over and over again. When I first set up the blog, I had lofty dreams that this would be a very interactive resource. I imagined that business students could post comments about what resources worked for them, or perhaps suggest an entirely different resource. I had hoped that they might ask questions in the comments, which I could answer in the comments or another post. Unfortunately, this has not been the case. While the blog has gotten a lot of use, the comments feature has not been used at all. Unless, of course, all my students are doing projects on texas hold-em online poker.

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