Saturday, January 9, 2010

How do I use a blog?

“Well I got the link you sent Eric, but I’m not sure how to use a blog.”

This comment made during a conversation on my mobile phone yesterday made me reflect on how we adapt to new things. Mobile—or cell—phones are a good example. I had read about them of course, so the first time I saw someone using one, I knew it was like a telephone. But the first time I actually used one I was tentative as I found my way around—and nothing happened until I realized I needed to press a “Call” button! After a few uses though, it became second nature, and I could soon navigate around to get to functions I didn’t even know about.

Instructions help, but use and practise is always the best way to learn.

We have been sending a link to this blog by email, so I know everyone getting it will at least have an Internet connection—and if you are reading this, you will already have managed to get to the page.

A blog typically has the most recent post at the top. If you scroll down, you’ll see the last few posts with a link to other older posts at the bottom.

The title of any given post is a link to a standalone version of it, so if you click it, you will see just that post—and the browser bar will have the address that can go directly to the post, so you can bookmark or copy it.

Since both Katharine and I will be posting to the same blog, we use labels that differentiate between our posts. The navigation bar at the top filters the posts by our names.

Other labels we use in posts are displayed in the “tag cloud” on the right. If you were to click the word “flying” for example, it will filter all of our posts to show just those we’ve tagged with that label. The tag cloud is updated as we add new posts, and the most commonly-used labels are set larger.

In this blog, our navigation bar also includes pages with links we are currently using and a map that lets you see pictures we’ve put up on our public Flickr site—and shows them in context on a map.

So how do you use a blog? Well, you can’t break anything, so just jump in and click to explore your way around it!