23 Things on a Stick – Thing 1

Staff at the Morrison County Historical Society have decided to participate in an online course to learn about various Web 2.0 applications.  The course is called 23 Things on a Stick and was designed for the state’s library system.  For those of you not familiar with what Web 2.0 is, all it refers to is applications on the Web that allow for user interaction and content creation, rather than standard static web pages that users simply read (Web 1.0).

The first task of 23 Things on a Stick was to create a blog.  Well, Skimming the Cream is a blog insofar as we are using blogging software, but it isn’t a blog in the sense of the content we put on it.  Blogs have earned the reputation of being online journals wherein the blogger pours his/her soul out for the world to see.  That’s the popular definition, but blogs really can be whatever you want them to be.  They can contain the content you want them to contain.  When stripped of the emotional connotations, blogging software is no more than an application that allows the user to quickly and easily add content to the web.  (And, if you’ve ever had to write html coding for a web page, like I have, you come to appreciate the simplicity of blog applications.)

We refer to our blog as a newsfeed because it helps us to focus on bringing you news from MCHS.  Further, our rule for posting to our blog/newsfeed is to only post things here that we would be willing to print in our newsletter.  The ethics of blogging is a topic unto itself and is still being worked out as the application becomes more popular.

One of the requirements of 23 Things on a Stick is to post about each part of the course as we complete it.  As the first Thing was to create a blog, but we already have one, I’d like to touch on the differences between blogging applications that I’ve experienced.  23 Things on a Stick suggests using a Blogger blog.  Blogger, which started as a stand-alone company, is now owned by Google.  I had/have a personal Blogger blog and it was fine.  Easy to use, easy to modify the appearance, but there was something it wasn’t doing for me.  It wasn’t allowing me to track how many people were reading the blog.  (I think I could have gotten the stats by signing up for Google Analytics, but didn’t want the hassle of an extra program to track.)  So, after about a year with Blogger, I switched to WordPress, which gives me blog statistics right in the program and also does a great job of allowing bloggers to find each other.

When it came time to set up Skimming the Cream, after having a good experience with WordPress, I decided it was the right application for the museum.  WordPress allowed for us to run our blog/newsfeed through our website, giving it our own url address, rather than giving it a WordPress address.  To do this, you have to download WordPress through a program at the level of your website server.  Our web server uses Cpanel, which enables us to use this feature.  While this may sound like gobbledygook, the point is that you can use WordPress in more than one way, depending upon your needs.

As we track through the rest of 23 Things, we’ll keep you posted.

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