What is a blog?
A blog, which is short for Web log, has about as many different uses and formats as there are users — and there are millions. Blogs typically consist of regular posts on a subject, issue, topic or theme (think online journal) and include images and links to other blogs or Web content. Many blogs are interactive – they are open to comments from readers.
Pros and Cons
Pros: Blogs are an ideal way to communicate information quickly and simply, and they are Web savvy. Once set up, you do not need to know html (Web coding), and often blogs have built-in tools to easily add Web 2.0 (multimedia) and to share with social networks (Facebook, etc.). Blogs can work well for a niche audience (a class, for example)
Cons: To be valuable and sustain your audience, blogs should be updated regularly and kept current. This is a negative only if you are unable or unwilling to keep your blog fresh. Also, there are so many blogs that yours will have to be compelling/relevant to gain a foothold.
How do I start a blog?
You will need software and server space for your blog. WordPress is one common blog platform. Many UW blogs run on the WordPress platform on UW servers. UW Technology does not support WordPress, but has good instructions on how to set it up: http://www.washington.edu/computing/web/publishing/wordpress.html
Consult your IT department or Web developer for technical help. The UW Blogs Network is also a free resource for all UW faculty, staff and organizations. There are many other blog options and many solutions. We do not recommend one over the other, but have found UW bloggers to be very willing to share their experience and advice.
When does it make sense to use a blog?
Blogs are ideal vehicles to communicate regularly with classes, groups, stakeholders or any clearly defined audience that shares a common need, interest, passion or desire to follow a blog about a given subject, theme, etc. When deciding whether to start a blog, consider whether your target audience has the commitment, desire and/or need to follow your blog regularly. A blog written for an audience that doesn’t exist is a personal diary. Make sure you understand the differences before venturing into the blogosphere.
Examples of UW blogs that show different uses
- Flip the Media from the Communication Leadership program
- Gallagher Law Library from the Law School
- Computer Science & Engineering Undergad News
- The KEXP blog