Friday, June 17, 2005

Blog about blogs is taking an extended rest 

Thanks to all those who participated - not that you had much choice - but thanks anyway!

If you come across this blog and are interested in talking to its creator jump over to my other blog This Teaching Life and leave a comment.

You can leave a commet on blogaboutblogs but chances are I'll not ever get it - I just don't come here that often!


Scott Bulfin

Thursday, June 03, 2004

Getting Linked! 

Our little blogging community has been receiving some attention from various places around the world. Check these links out ...

Jeremy Hiebert's headspacej. This blog actually has a reference to Kieran's blog!

My favorite links. This one mentions blogaboutblogs as a place 'for all your blogging needs'

http://www.iturls.com/TechHotspot/TH_weblog.asp . This is a big blogging resource that quotes blogaboutblogs as being the place to get blogging information



Amidst a tangled web. This blog discusses the need for a new blog catergory called 'metablogs' and suggests that blogaboutblogs might fall into this category

Sunday, May 30, 2004

how true, how true. Posted by Hello

Sunday, May 23, 2004

writing task 5 - corporate and political subversion 

OK, it's time to get on your soapbox ... time to get political and angry about all those mean, greedy and cold hearted people in the world who tread upon us 'bleeding hearts'.

There have been a couple of interesting issues in the media lately that you will research and form your own views about. These issues relate to politics, media manipulation, and the ideal of free speech. Make sure you take the time to read critically and try to understand how the presentation of the issue might be biased.

1. Michael Moore and his latest film Fahernheit 9/11
Research the controversy over Moore's new film. What groups are involved? What are people saying about it? Why has there been this reaction to the film? What were Moore's reasons for making the film? What are his critics saying? What award did the film recently win?(approx. 150 words)

Michael Moore's website
Moore's mission: get Bush (the age)

2. Super Size Me! - overweight culture and the fast-food lifestyle.
Morgan Spurlock ate McDonalds every meal for a month. WHY? Find out what the deal is and why he did it. What point is he trying to make? What happended to Spurlock during the filming? What is being said about the film by critics? How has McDonalds responded? What other problems/controversey has McDonalds been involved in the past? (approx 150 words)

Check out these links to get you started on this one:
Mac attack (the age)
Eyes on the fries (the age)
The good burghers of Macca's (the age)
Super Size Me website

3. Culturejamming and the art of the sniggle
What other kinds of subversive political or anit-commercial activity can you find online? There are thousands of websites, blogs, ezines, games, etc. that satirise (poke fun at) politicans and corporations. This kind of social comment is often called sniggling or culture jamming, and has become a popular way of getting an 'alternative' message across in the media. See what you can find.

What kinds of subversive activities could you become involved in? What needs changing in your local area? At school? How would you go about conducting a campaign to comment on and change whatever the problem might be? How successful do you think you would likey be? (150 words)

Begin with the following links, but you may also want to try searching for relevant terms:
Adbusters Culturejammers
Sniggle.net - the culture jammer's encyclopedia
Corporate Watch

When you have finished the above tasks, have a look at this example of satire

Sunday, May 16, 2004

Writing Task 4 - Micronations 

OK, this week we are looking at 'mirconations'.

Rather than me going on about it - you will first conduct an investigation and then perhaps some other things ...

1. Browse the links below and answer the following questions,

a. What is a micronation?
b. Why do people create them? What are some different reasons?
c. What are the common characteristics of micronations?

2. Find a couple of 'good' micronation examples and 'review' them. Write a report on what you find.

3. Can you find any micronations existing within 'Australia'?

4. What issues exist for 'nations' (online or otherwise) that exist within other 'nations' (land based or geographic) - for a hint look here?

You have a week to finish this writing task

The micronations page
The League of Micronations
Micronations on the web
Yahoo Listing of Micronations
United Micronations
The Commonwealth of Micronations
Nova Roma
The Kingdom of Talossa
The Holy Empire of Reunion
Diplomatically-Challenged Coins

Tuesday, May 11, 2004

Open night stuff 

First of all, thanks to those who have given up their time and come to Open night (I hope you enjoy the pizza!)

You have a couple of options tonight.

1. You should be doing a little (or a lot, depending on where you are up to)of your class work, i.e. your writing tasks 1, 2 and 3. Remember that you have a week to complete each one.

2. When you have finished (or when you get tired of the above) you can have a go at altering your blog template. Now you need to be CAREFUL what you change as you can muck up your blog if you are not careful.
a. Colours are the easiest thing to change. I suggest you have a look at the blogger help stuff first and read up on how to change colours in fonts and in backgrounds.

This is not difficult, but you need to be careful. Don't change anything you are not sure about - and make sure you use the PREVIEW button to check what things will look like.

Check out the two 'html colour code websites' (below). These will give you the html colour codes you will need if you are going to change your blog colours.
Colormatch 5K is an excellent way to get the exact colour you want - and the colours that match or look the best with other colours. Just drag the sliding bars to mix the colour you want!

Web Color Reference is another option - html colours are displayed and you can just pick the one you want, making note of the code.

OK, then that should keep you going for hours.

Where's the pizza?


Thursday, May 06, 2004

Writing Task 3 - free write your RRRs off 

OK, folks this week I am not going to give you a set topic so you will be able to choose your own.

1. Choose FOUR TOPICS and write about 150 words on each. Post each on your blog and remember to include links to SOMETHING related to what you are writing about.

2. To get some writing ideas, have a look at the websites below. Remember that you need four topics to write on.

3. As part of this exercise, visit another blog from this class and comment on what has been written - CONSTRUCTIVELY - you might offer some feedback or share something that relates to what someone else has written. REMEMBER THAT WE ARE ALL LEARNING TO WRITE BETTER. BE KIND.

Total word count: 500-700 words
Time limit: one week - due end of week 4

Journal Topics


Wednesday, April 28, 2004

writing task 2 - online 'print' media 

OK, for your second piece this term you will need to find a a couple of news articles on the same issue from different sources (an issue is usually something with two or more opinions, or sides of the argument). You will then need to write an analysis on the ways the issue is presented in different news sources. It's easy!

I recommend that you follow these steps:

1. Using the news links on the sidebar, investigate an issue. You will need to find AT LEAST two articles from AT LEAST TWO different sources, about the same issue. Make sure the articles you find have different viewpoints. It will be best to use editorials, letters to the editor and opinion pieces. Follow the links and see what you can find. Make sure you post the links to the articles you find and give a description of each article and the author's arguments and opinion.

2. OK, now compare how the issue is dealt with in each news source. What are the similarities and differences in how the articles appear in each news source? Does the article or issue appear to be important for the 'newspaper'? How can you tell? You may also want to comment on photos, diagrams, advertisements etc. and how these 'interact' with the articles, i.e. do they reinforce or weaken the arguments?

3. You should also write your own opinion about the issue. What evidence do you have to back up your opinion? Can you provide some links to information that supports your opinion?

Word count: 300-400 words
Time limit: one week


Monday, April 19, 2004

writing task 1 - film reviews 

O.K. Your first task deals with film reviews.

The web contains a lot of information about film. There are a number of good review sites that are helpful and popular. Check the sidebar. Explore these sites.

1. Use these sites to find some reviews of a recent (or favorite) film. Find a positive and a negative review of the film you want to work with.

2. Reread the reviews carefully and then write a REViEW OF THE REVIEWS. This means analysing the effectiveness of the review and how helpful and accurate it is. You should consider the following questions in your own review:
a. What are the main points (contention) the author is trying to make (what do they believe)?
b. Who has written the review? Do they have any special knowledge of film or are they a fan? What difference might this make to how you read the review?
c. In your opinion, is the review accurate and justified?
d. You may also want to include your own view of film and how this is similar or different to the reviewer's opinions.

This should be at least 250 words. Be sure to include links to the film website and the reviews.

term 2 begins 

OK. Welcome back all. Let's get right down to it.

This term we will be doing a couple of different things with your blogs. Hopefully more writing WITH your blog and less writing ABOUT blogging!

First, take note that you are now required to post MORE regularly. You will need to post AT LEAST ONCE PER WEEK (and more if you are able). This is the first requirement for passing this part of your year 10 English class - this is independent of what you are doing with Ms J. You should also have a journal assignment to complete with her - this is different and you should not attempt to double up. This will be difficult anyway as the tasks are different - this is not really a journal.

Each week you will receive a writing task and you will have the week to complete it. Some of these writing tasks will be 'free-choice' and some will be set by me.

To help you with the 'free-choice' tasks, I have put some links to some webpages that might give you some writing ideas. In addition to these 'free-choice' tasks, I will post other activities on this blog from time to time, so make sure you check this blog regularly.

So you have one piece of writing per week. Some set by me and some by you.

Any questions? Email me

Tuesday, March 23, 2004

Are games educating better than schools? 

Jim Gee has written an interesting article about the effects of gaming on learning. Published in an online technology magazine called Wired.

1. Read the article and post a summary of what you consider to be Gee's main arguments and supporting evidence.

2. What is your opinion on this issue? Why?

3. Find some examples of games or online communities that might be seen to function in the ways Gee describes. Post a message about what you find and include links.

Wednesday, February 18, 2004

blog task 6 

OK, for this task, you will be setting up some sidebar permanent links and a comment function. This enables you to demonstrate to your readers (or potential readers) the kinds of things you value and spend you time doing (or looking at). Comments help make your blog into something like a discussion board, where people can offer comment on what you have written (or what you have not written!). It's a little tricky if you are not a computer geek.

1. First, the sidebar links.

To do this you need to use the TEMPLATE menu in your 'blogger space' (this is where you post new messages etc.). Depending on your blog template (the style of your blog) you will probably find the links section further down the template. Try and find the google.news link and just alter this by typing over the old link with one of your own.

Repeat this process by cutting, pasting and modifying the link sention (between " and ") and the label section (between > and <).

See me for assistance.

2. Adding Comment Functionality to your blog

Open a new browser window (ctrl-N) and go to www.haloscan.com). Register and then go to the 'instructions/code' section and follow the instructions. Make sure you paste the extra html code into the correct postions in your template (you may need to experiment a little).


Frequently Asked Question # 6: Who blogs about what?  

This is an easy one. Anyone can blog about anything, for any reason; think of it being as a slightly more sophisticated way to bang on about yourself and your pet topic, with a potential audience of millions and you’ll know why so many people do it.

Blogs can be used practically, as a study tool or journal, keeping a record of a project underway, or as a forum for users to have conversations (especially in “shared” or multi-user blogs).

More and more blogs are being written by professional journalists and writers, who use them as a cross between a soapbox and a filing system.

I like this quote, from science fiction writer, media commentator and blogger from way back, Cory Doctorow:

“I consume, digest, and excrete information for a living … As a committed infovore, I need to eat roughly six times my weight in information every day or my brain starts to starve and atrophy.”

Doctorow says that blogging is a way for him to make quick and dirty sense of the information he comes across, to put it in context and make it available for future reference.

Artists like Melbourne’s Looby Lu (aka Claire Robertson, an actual “award winning” blogger – there are already blogging Oscars, believe it or not), use their sites as visual diaries, regular diaries and as a promotion for their work. (Her visual diary takes after a guy in New York called Jorge Colombo who posts one drawing a day of the people he sees on the streets there.)

But there’s something more to it than the practical. I think that a large part of the appeal of the blog goes to question 'What about me?'

Blogs do what personal home pages were supposed to do, but didn’t; they give their owners a place on the Web that’s uniquely theirs. Personal home pages tried to do this with a few photos of the person’s dog, kids or car, a few lines about their hometown and a hopelessly outdated resume. The Web is littered with abandoned “home pages” that were set up and never touched again.

A blog, on the other hand, is easy to make (have I mentioned that?), and by its very nature demands regular updates. There’s no need to write lame “about me” sections; a blog can work perfectly well without you ever knowing whether the author is male, female, American, African, 17 or 74. What you respond to is the voice and the topic.

Because blogs can be about a topic instead of just about the person, but at the same time don’t demand expert knowledge, and because of the time-based, journal element, they tend to have a certain momentum of their own.

The way I’ve seen blogs used most often (partly because these are the kinds of blogs I like most) are as traditional diaries with a performative twist. Their authors know that other people, perhaps friends, perhaps complete strangers, will be reading the blog.

At the same time, the blogging culture as it’s developed so far doesn’t necessarily demand good grammar, perfect spelling or even having something particularly interesting to say.


blog task 5 

OK, by now you are becoming an expert at knowing about blogging, and hopefully you are getting the hang of actually blogging yourself.

After you have read "FAQ5 Who reads blogs and why?" ask yourself the following questions and post a response on your blog.

1. Do you agree with Sinclair about blogs 'providing a sense of community'? How does this relate to the idea of 'connectedness in the virtual world'? Can you find a number of blogs that relate to one another and form a sense of community? Or a blog that is a central place for a number of people (several people can post to the same blog) See The Aula Point of View blog for one example.

2. See if you can find a blog related to the Semptember 11 bombings - perhaps by someone who was in New York or even in the buildings.

Frequently Asked Question # 5 Who reads blogs and why? 

Blogs can do several things for readers:

1. They can provide a sense of community – the classic case is when teenagers read each other’s blogs to find out what they’re thinking, and to help them realise that they’re not alone in their teenage angst. I’m not just talking about “real life” friends, but young people with a shared interest in, say, manga or surfing or stamp collecting from anywhere around the world.

2. Blogs can provide an expert guide and perspective to a topic. If I want to know what’s going on over at the powerful Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, I might look at their Web site – or I might go to ICANN Blog, a news digest and commentary site that definitely doesn’t follow the official ICANN line.

3. They can provide firsthand information; the blogs of New Yorkers gave me a much more “on the ground” feel for the events of September 11 than the TV reports with their big-picture footage of crashing planes and George W. Bush’s speeches. New Yorkers uploaded photographs and wrote of their experiences before sunset that day- some images and words came from people who actually escaped the buildings.

4. Along the same lines, blogs can provide insight; never before have so many people gushed out their feelings on so many personal topics so personally.


Monday, February 09, 2004

blog task 4 

1. What do you think ‘the medium is the message’ means?

2. Who was Marshall McLuhan? Find some information about him (create some links to worthwhile stuff) and also find some quotes of his that you like and explain why you like these (at least three).

3. Find out more about ‘hypertext theory’, what is it and how does it related to blogging? Read again Sinclair’s comments about "connectedness in the virtual world" and have a go at trying to explain what she means. You might want to have a look online and use other information you find (link these to your blog).

4. See if you can find the hypertext narrative Afternoon by Michael Joyce. 'Read' the narrative and post a message about what you think of it and what you think it is trying to do.

Frequent asked Question #4: what makes blogs different from paper journals? 

You’ve got linkage: The medium is the message.

It’s an old chestnut from last century, but Marshall McLuhan was right; the way you say something affects what you say.

It’s not unique to blogs to have links to other sites, but it is their defining characteristic. There are blogs without links, but to me, they may as well be written diaries transcribed, or an online episode of Big Brother. They lack connectedness to the virtual world, which is increasingly becoming a mirror of the real world.

Leaving those aside, most bloggers link and link actively. They find things that interest them and point them out, or they use their blog to leave themselves pointers to information that they’ll need in the future – a bit like a list of favourites, but with a lot more depth.

Any time you’re reading a blog, you are offered numerous chances to jump off the page onto another one. No self-respecting blogger would talk about something without providing a link to what they mean – so when I write in my blog “I’m going to talk at the VATE conference tomorrow,” the words “VATE conference” would be written as a hypertext link, just in case a reader wants to find out more about the conference by going to the official site.

If I was writing about Daniel Dennett’s theory of consciousness in a study blog, I’d link to a university site explaining it in more depth, and probably to several others providing counter-arguments.

If your students were blogging about Britney Spears’ new album, they might link to the official Britney site – a link is a link is a link.

Hypertext theorists love this stuff; they see Web links as the embodiment of the connectedness between pieces of information that began as mere clumsy footnotes in traditional academic writing.

But blogs aren’t defined by the links alone – the kind of links they use explain a lot of their popularity.

Computerised hypertext writing programs have allowed links to be embedded in writing for fifteen years. Since Michael Joyce’s Afternoon made nonlinear narrative real, stories and non-fiction that rely on the reader making choices have become more common. Computer games are arguably the state of the art when it comes to texts that respond to the “reader” - but these all tend to be closed systems, with the choices limited to what the authors put in, plus perhaps the actions of other players in the case of online games.

Blogs, by contrast, get a lot of their energy from outside sources, by linking to news reports, sites that prove a writers’ point and to like-minded people. Their commentary isn’t perfect – no one expects it to be – but it is incredibly timely and immediate.

The blogging culture, not incidentally, condemns stealing other people’s links without attribution, or using their images and designs without permission; you’re allowed to borrow, but you’re supposed to do it nicely, and give “respec’”, as Ali G calls it.

Since the Web was created, a written piece that links directly to its sources has always been possible – but to do it, you needed to be able to write HTML, to FTP and sometime even to ASP (have I lost you yet?).

What blogs do is to make that linking process a simple cut-and-paste exercise. And the culture that’s developing around them defines linking as its main currency – links can be praise or criticism, but they certainly mean you’re getting attention.


Sunday, February 08, 2004

blog task 3 

1. Find some examples of blogs created for different reasons - work, study, family, writing, politics, dissent, fun, animals, sports, whatever, etc.

2. In your opinion, what makes a good blog? Review a couple of the good ones you have found and some of the not so good ones. What are the characteristics of good blogs? Generate a list.

3. Create some permanent links to the blogs you have found that you like, and give your reasons. You may also want to link some other class members' blogs to yours.

4. "It doesn’t guarantee you quality, and certainly not objectivity – but it does give a certain deep authenticity that most sites don’t have." What do you think Sinclair means by this statement? Explain.

Frequently Asked Question #3: why do people blog? 

Some bloggers put a huge amount of work into the design and appearance of their blogs; others have multiple blogs for different purposes - work blogs, study blogs, family blogs, writing blogs.

Comments areas become de facto discussion boards and virtual communities of bloggers form between people with like interests. Mutual admiration societies have sprung up in a world where the ultimate compliment is to put another person’s blog on your list of permanent links.

And it’s this personal aspect that, I believe, has driven the popularity of blogs and is the key to using them productively.

Unlike, say, the New York Times’ Web site, a blog’s editorial board can be one teenager in their bedroom at 3am.

It doesn’t guarantee you quality, and certainly not objectivity – but it does give a certain deep authenticity that most sites don’t have. (There have already been “hoax” blogs, but more on that later.)

In the same way as you get to know people, you get to know bloggers – what their interests are, how they like to talk, whether you like their outlook on life and the way they put it across.


blog task 2 

1. Check out the other blogging programs mentioned and compare the features offered with those we are using on BLOGGER.

2. After reading Sinclair’s arguments, and in your opinion, what reasons explain the increased popularity of blogs? You may want to look for some other ideas/opinions, in which case make sure you reference (use a link to) any material you make mention of in your response.

Saturday, February 07, 2004

Frequently Asked Question # 2: What makes a blog different from a plain old Web site? 

OK, here is the second FAQ, comparing blogs and regular webpages ... this is from the same site as the above.

So the Web’s been around for ages – at least eleven years. Why have blogs taken until now to become the meme of the minute? Technically, having a frequently updated diary-style site has been possible since the Web was first started.

The most obvious answer is that it’s suddenly got much, much easier to make and publish a good-looking Web site.

In around 1999 and 2000, a rash of “blogging” services appeared on the Web.

Blogger, Pitas.com, Diaryland and MovableType are all free blogging services that allow users to set up a perfectly working, well-designed site in about five minutes. Things can get complicated after that, but there’s no reason they have to.

But the cool technology alone isn’t enough to explain the hundreds of thousands of blogs that have appeared in the past two or three years. After all, there are lots of new Web technologies that go nowhere.

Blogging, though, is becoming almost compulsory for any frequent Web user.


Tuesday, February 03, 2004

blog task 1 

HINT: When working with blogs it is easier to have a couple of browser windows open at the same time. Instead of using the ‘back’ command you can easily switch between windows using ‘alt-tab’.

1. Make sure you have successfully set up your blogger account. When you have done this EMAIL me the address so that I can regularly check your work and writing. (bulfin.scott.s@edumail.vic.gov.au)

2. Make sure you have a decent blog name and explanation. You can change these details at anytime, so make them work for you in helping to explain your blog and why you are bothering to keep a blog (even if it is for school).

3. OK, when you have done this 'housekeeping' your first writing task is a letter/autobiography to me. Make sure you include links to important things (or small and insignificant things!) like your favourite films, books, interests, hangouts, whatever. Also include your goals and SWOT information from our first lesson. This should be at least 500 words and contain at least 5 links. This is due Friday 13 February.

Monday, February 02, 2004

Frequently Asked Question #1: What’s a blog? 

OK, let's begin with the basics. This information is from another blog about blogging written by Jenny Sinclair. You can visit it if you like, or I will post here what I consider to be the important and useful stuff for students. This woman also writes for the Green Guide section of the The Age newspaper. A nod to Jenny for her advice on how to use blogs etc. It is important that you acknowledge the work of others when you use it in your own blog - that means creating a LINK.

OK, here's where it begins - read the bold text and then have a go at the questions. Answering the questions will often mean POSTING a response and including some links within the text:

The only thing I can come up with that defines a blog absolutely is that it’s on the World Wide Web, and it’s a log – Web-Log equals “blog,” for short.

Some common, but not necessary, characteristics of blogs:

-A consistent Web address

-Regular new “posts” or entries, usually arranged chronologically, sometimes by topic. Most blogs have datestamps so you can tell exactly when something was posted.

-Links – both permanent and in posts, to supporting material and/or other blogs.

-A theme, however rough. A blog can be personal – just about the author – or it can stick to a topic, whether it’s a personal interest, like pop music, a project underway, or more objective, like a news blog that collects independent reports on, say, AIDS research from all over the world.

Blogs often also have “about” sections defining who writes them and why, images, a comments function for reader talkback, archives for past entries, and many are attached to a more permanent site – so an artist’s blog could have daily sketches entered, but the main site might list the artist’s fees and have a complete folio.

A lot have “hitmeters” that record how many visitors they get – this can range from one or two to tens of thousands every single day.


OK, Let's get going 

OK, this is a kind of HELP blog. I'm not an expert by any means, but this blog might give you some ideas and links to other blogs that information that might be helpful.



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