From the Kenosha News on 3-19-06

Blogs provide an outlet for self-expression

   I’m fairly new to blogs, and it’s taken me a bit of effort to understand the concept. Short for “web logs”, the term points out a blog’s purpose as a journal, making it easy for an individual or other entity to publish a running history of what they do on the web without having to know how to create web pages. Most “bloggers” post new information to their blog frequently – sometimes daily.

   An analogy that I find helpful is comparing a blog to the photocopied Christmas letter most of us get from friends. If you want to tell your friends what you’re up to more often than just at Christmas, put it on a blog. If you’d like to chronicle your travels, rave about your favorite music, or keep an on-line journal that friends and others are welcome to read, a blog provides that capability. Not surprisingly, young people are the biggest users of blogs. If you’re an aspiring writer, musician or artist, a blog is an inexpensive way to get some exposure for your work.

   The most popular blog-hosting service is myspace.com; blogger.com is another. For a list of hosting services and info on how to select the best one, check out http://www.thefreecountry.com/webhosting/freeblogging.shtml. Once you select a host, you can begin creating your blog, customizing your space with backgrounds, pictures, text, and even music. All of this is done without knowing any coding language, and no special software is needed on your computer. Anyone who can type and click can create and maintain a blog. You determine who can see your blog, and who – if anyone – can respond to your postings. In that regard, a blog is like a discussion group, but only the owner can start a new topic, and the owner has control over what responses are allowed and from whom.

   An example of a useful blog I found is Chris and Mac’s RVing blog at http://www.bestfitrecruiting.com/ouradventure.htm. I think their disclaimer is appropriate: “Like most full-time RVers we'll babble on about all the mundane aspects of our daily lives.  Some will find it interesting, and others will use it as a sleeping aid.” Their site contains information about full-time RVing and places they have visited.

   Part of the current problem with blogs is that they’re not well indexed in search engines, so finding someone with a blog that interests you is not easy, and if you have a blog, you’ll need to spread the word about it yourself. Blog hosts generally have a Search feature for blogs hosted on their site, and you can specifically search blog content at blogsearch.google.com.

   Parents should keep an eye open if your kids have blogs. As in any kind of communication – electronic or otherwise – they need to be advised what information to give out and what not to and how to act appropriately. Much of what I see on myspace.com has “danger” written all over it.

   Finally, as with any free service, if you use myspace.com or another free blog hosting service, be prepared to see tons of advertisements.

By Carol Sabbar from the Kenosha News on 3-19-06