I signed up recently for a blogging course, which included learning about RSS feeds and Wikis. I was more interested in the latter two components, as I do already have a couple of blogs of my own.
The class was slightly disappointing, as the emphasis was on blogging, and what a blog was. However, there were some useful snippets of information, such as the differences between blogs and wikis, and what purposes each type is useful for. A blog is time-sensitive, runs in reverse chronological order, and each post is written by one author only (usually). A Wiki usually has pages of information which are not necessarily time-sensitive, and each page can be written and edited by many people.
A blog, therefore, is more like a diary, or logsheet (hence its original name, weblog). A wiki is more akin to a combination of a bulletin board and manual, as it may contain both records of events (past and upcoming), information (standard procedures, FAQs and so forth), and profiles (of contributors, notable personalities pertinent to the wiki’s topic and so on). A wiki sounds complicated, but can be very simple to create, maintain and update.
Blogs are good for people who want to maintain online diaries of their activities, or expound on something they are interested in (hobbies, places, history etc…). Wikis are good for collaborative articles, or disseminating information within a group (consolidating multiple sources of information for the same topic, for instance). So it’s good to think about what you want to do before creating a blog or wiki.
I think the class was an eye-opener for many of my coursemates who were not exactly internet-savvy. To many of them, this was the first time they were registering a blog, and learning how to link to videos, pictures and other sites. The instructor’s practical advice on how to maintain a blog was quite good too. He emphasised reading and commenting on other blogs, because that will create a network of people who know you and in return look at what you have to say on your blog. What goes around, comes around.
Everyone seemed quite happy learning these new skills, except one participant who was quite anxious about spam (which is understandable). She was also afraid that posting entries onto her blog would attract the attention of figures of authority, and she would be held accountable for what she blogged. I would like to think that our leaders are far more enlightened than that. I honestly doubt that anyone in a position of authority would find blame with our thoughts on shopping, gardening, pottery or other sundry hobbies.
Many of my other colleagues looked like they quite enjoyed the experience of setting up a blog and perusing different examples of blogs (the food blogs were particularly appreciated). Even for me, it was an eye-opener, as there were many interesting blogs on Singapore heritage, detailing old buildings, trails and activities that were the fashion yonks ago (I bet you didn’t know that Singapore held the Grand Prix in the 60s!). We also had a quick peek at the Rambling Librarian’s many talents, including music, painting and podcasts.
Hmmm…podcasts. That might make for a good course. Perhaps I should write to my instructor.