Today, a chat with an authority on my other obsession, blogging. Communications expert and author Aliza Sherman, who hosts more than half a dozen blogs (!) on topics ranging from doggie products to filmmaking to food, has just completed "The Everything Blogging Book" all about the why, when, where and how of blogging. As part of her virtual book tour, Aliza was kind enough to stop by at DiabetesMine.com to fill us D-enthusiasts in on the scoop.
DM) What was your incentive to write the "Everything Blogging Book"? What is the book trying to accomplish?
AS) I've always felt compelled to help others understand Internet technology. I did this with my first Internet company - Cybergrrl, Inc. - and with my previous Cybergrrl books, lectures, classes, etc. So when I had the chance to write a book about blogging, it felt like a natural fit. The book is geared toward late adopters -- anyone who hasn't yet embraced blogging as either a reader or a blogger. It is especially good for anyone who keeps hearing about blogs but just can't figure out what a blog is or why someone would want to have one.
AS) I am still thrilled at the incredible diversity of bloggers and blog topics, from the most personal to the highly political. Because of the ease of publishing a blog technically, more and more non-techies are self-publishing online bringing a whole new collection of voices to the global network. I especially enjoyed discovering blogs created by artists or by people who push the envelope of the common blog. And it never ceases to amaze me how some blogs can be so personal and intimate. While blogging isn't really a major technological advancement, it is certainly a significant communications tool that has empowered people on so many levels.
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did you learn in particular about blogs on Health and Wellness? How are
they similar or different to other blogging communities?
AS) I think the value of health and wellness blogs -- particularly of people going through a health crisis who share their moment-by-moment lives -- is enormous. Blogging about health issues is not only valuable to those who read and can relate to the content, but it can be healing for the blogger. When it comes to health issues, the more personal and detailed, the better.
Whereas not every blog topic is conducive to soul-bearing and minutea, health blogs are all the richer for that level of intimacy. People going through health issues are hungry for good information to bring back to their health providers -- information from other people's experiences. While I hope people use health blogs with responsibility and caution (not using the info they find on the blogs without consulting their own care providers), I have found very useful information even for my own health issues by perusing blogs so I can personally attest to their usefulness. And, in turn, through my own blog about miscarriage, I've been told that I've done the same for others.
DM) What are some of the components of the
most successful blogs out there?
AS) Top blogs usually share these qualities:
1. Focused, highly compelling content regardless of the topic
2. Consistent and frequent posts
3. A blogger (or bloggers) with a very strong, distinct voice and personality
4. Posts that stimulate conversation and a well-cultivated comments section
DM) You also cover blog plagiarism. What can bloggers do to protect their content?
AS) Well, just like with web sites, protecting online content is very challenging. The Internet is global and policing your copyrights is next to impossible. But placing copyright language at the bottom of every page is helpful. Ultimately, anything you put online can and probably will be stolen. Knowing this going in is helpful so you have a strategy in place for dealing with content theft (including images, video, audio, etc.) -- but unless you have deep pockets, pursuing offenders by legal means takes a long time and is very costly. No matter what you try in terms of protecting your content, there is no foolproof method out there that can fully protect what you produce and publish online.
DM) What do you expect the big
blogging trends/changes to be in the next few years?
AS) I don't think there will be many big blogging trends since blogging is actually a big Web trend. In other words, blogging is a subset of Web publishing so other than introducing new formats for blogging which is already happening (audio blogs/podcasts, video blogs, etc.) and being able to remote blog (phone blogging, PDA posts, etc.), there aren't a lot of new things to do to blogging that will constitute a major trend or change as far as I can tell. Blogging will go through its evolution just as Web development and publishing has -- both from a technological and content standpoint. Blogs will, of course, become even more ubiquitous than they are today, and then we'll move on to the next Web or Internet "big thing."
That said, I love blogs and blogging
and enjoy it so much more than updating my web sites. I love
their immediacy and ease of publishing and can't wait to start
experimenting with audio and video blogging!
Thank you, Aliza, for the Reality Check -- and your insights. More on Aliza's work, including her "miscarriage poems," can be found HERE.