samedi, octobre 22, 2005

Welcome to the Blogosphere

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Hello again. Unless you are one of the average 150 people who access this blog daily you must be here after following a link from today’s Times (the Weekender to be exact). Unlike the printed press, the blogosphere has no word limits and problems of space. The length of what you write is only limited by how long you can keep your reader’s attention tickled. I will take the liberty to be your guide to blogs and the Maltese blogosphere today.

Before that a small note. You are now in MY space. I am the only one responsible for its content. The Times has no responsibility from here on. Which is why I will publish in full the Dictionary of Terms that goes with my 350 word contribution to Weekender:

Dictionary of Terms:

Age of the Blog: just after Age of the Mobile and before Age of the iPod.

Blogorrhea : uncontrollable posting on blogs

Dame Lorna: Lorna Vassallo of "Thank God It's Lorna" fame

Insanabile Cacoethes Scribendi: Irresistible urge to write

Oxford Dictionary: 20th century reference book (see also Lorna Vassallo)

Salvu Sammut: President of GWU – expert in humane solutions

Vassalli Maltese: il malti chiph michtub cabel id-Denphil.

Wankellectual: wannabe intellectual

And now to my guide....

Enquire Within Upon Everything

Blogs: You can do it.
The most important thing to know about web logs or blogs for short is that anybody can write them. Beneath this fundamental concept lie many other important pointers. If anyone can write a blog it means that there is nothing to guarantee the content’s veracity or to censor them in anyway. To start blogging all you need is intention. Most blog hosting sites are free. You just create your account, choose a template and start writing. To continue blogging you need perseverance and attention. Most blogs die out after their fourth week. The general sign of a good blog is one that has been constantly updated for months.

Blog Upon Everything
Blogs are now in the news because of the fact that they can be the source of news themselves. The latest fad is in fact that blogs are real time news by the man in the street. But blogs are not only about news. You could blog about your hobby, about your life at an educational institution, about life in general or about society and politics. The blog you are currentlyreading is a mixture of observations on life and politics with a bit of satire and humour thrown in. When chosing to blog your average blogger also decides whether to show his identity or use a pseudonym. There is a fair balance of both kinds of blogger in the Maltese community. The blogroll (list of blogs linked from this blog) in the left column of this blog is actually divided by the type of blogger - e.g. I Soliti Ignoti contains all bloggers who blog under their own identity.

Blogging can be accessed even by the most technologically inept. Blog hosts like blogger allow you to blog using minimal technological knowledge. Most posts on the blogger system are made using a WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) system. That’s lots of buttons which tell you why you are pressing them and windows which explain why they are there. Which brings me to the main words needed to understand blogspeak. A BLOG and BLOGGER go hand in hand. The blog is the journal with a webpage such as this one. The blogger is the person who writes the blog. A POST is a single entry in a blog. Maltese bloggers now speak of “blogg” as in a blog, “bloggejja” as in bloggers and “bloggata” for a particular post.

Look Around You
At the top of this webpage is the ‘masthead’ with the blog title J’Accuse and subtitle - la verite si je mens (the truth if I lie). To the left is the information column. My ugly mug is surrounded by some info about myself and a quote from Julius Ceasar. The next few features are personalisations of mine. First the No to Racism Campaign (which you can still adhere to) and the Music Pick of the Week. I have added a box where readers can input their email to receive any updates of the blog although nowadays blog readers use tools such as which allows you to follow and receive updates from all your favourite blogs. Werzieq is a Beppe Grillo fan club I set up for the Maltese in the Benelux.

Which brings us to the Recent Quills section. This is where you see the titles of the most recent posts I have added to the blog. Some titles are regular features such as “non Sequitur” or “Sibtijiet Flimkien” the weekly contribution in Maltese. The Vault is where you can travel back into the history of J’Accuse - this post you are reading is the 233rd post to appear since 10th March 2005. There have been over 25,000 hits to this blog since when I started counting on the 10th april 2005. Approximately 50% of the hits are from Malta, Belgium 25%, Luxembourg 10% and the rest divided in various countries from Italy to France to Vietnam and Thailand and Peru.

After the vault you can see what is called the Blogroll. In my case I have called it Blog Boulevard. This is also where I introduce you to the Maltese blogosphere. The categories are as follows: (1) De Rerum Novarum - new blogs; (2) I Soliti ‘ngoti - bloggers who use their own identity; (3) Mascherati - bloggers who I know but who use a pseudonym; (4) Figli degl’Ospitaleri - bloggers whose identity I do not know; (5) In Absentia - bloggers who have not blogged for a while; (6) I Frustieri - foreign blogs. The list is personal and subjective. There are other blogs on the Maltese blogosphere but they have either not grabbed my attention or I personally do not find them worth a peek every once in a while. For example I have a general dislike for blogs that read like personal journals or diaries - but that is a matter of taste.

Via delle Novelle is a list of links to major sources of news from around the world while AMBC is a list of useful buttons and the stat counter that keeps track of all visitors to the site. Is-Suq is a market where according to the laws of flawed economics I will only get money once a cow jumps over the moon. If you click on the brown box (Cafepress) you will accede to the minimarket of J’Accuse souvenirs including mugs, mousepads and women’s t-shirts. Finally there is a collection of quotes which have been said about this blog.

Say What?
So once you start blogging you will probably be cited by another blog and be promoted (generally - and if the folks at maltamedia are not feeling particularly threatened - it’s Bob at Wired Temples who does the spotting). You do not have to be a blogger to participate in the vibe though. Some people prefer to just read blogs and Comment. Oh yes Comment. That famous button. At the end of every post there is a link named Comment or if it has been personalised it will be something like REPLIQUE on mine. That is where all readers are allowed to give their feedback on what they have just read. This is one of the great advantages of blogs. Most blog ‘conversations’ are either a post and reply between two blogs which will constantly cross-refer using hyperlinks or more commonly using comments in their respective blogs.

{Small Pause: At this point it is worth noting that this is an exceptionally long post - very uncharacteristic for this or any other blog. It is also not in the usual style of the writer. For sample of that please go to previous posts or come back later on today when normal blogging service will be resumed.}

Show me the Money!
So what is the big buzz about blogs? Expression . That is what a lot of it is about. Bloggers discuss, argue and share opinions or ideas. The difference between blogs and other forms of communication is that they are organised, develop a ‘personality’ and are more immediate and interactive. A very common blog subject are current events. Whether it is a hurricane tragedy, illegal immigration or the latest football result ... so long as it is bloggable. This blog and its fellow project called Postform (see list of links on side) are also about politics and promoting a new way of thinking.

I think I have said too much today. Just one last thing. If you have a question or have an urge to say anything (and I mean anything) to me just click on REPLIQUE at the end of this post. I am one blogger who is very prejudiced against anonymous posts so be nice and leave a name or even a pseudonym. One of the most encouraging things that helps keep a blog alive is reaction from readers. Nothing is more painful to a blogger than a post without comments - at least to this one. The blog world can really be fun and interesting but do not let the electronic world deceive you. Behind every keyboard and screen lies a human being. Be nice to each other and help make this world a better place... a corny wish... but what would you expect from a blogger who is typing in a cold and wet luxembourg at 1 am after coming home from a late night screening of “Wallace and Gromit and the Were Rabbit”.

Next week we will discuss how to make a Tartiflette with the best gruyere and lardons fumees!

A big thank you to Stanley who helped put this blog in the place where it feels most comfortable - the spotlight!

Did I tell you I was arrogant and rude? Happy Surfing!

note: This post was originally published at 1 am but I subsequently changed its time to keep this post at the top for the day (after posting "Dead Parrot Society")

3 commentaires:

Athena a dit…

Is the weekender article online? Maybe I need more caffeine.

Jacques René Zammit a dit…

no. unfortunately Stan the man tells me that us expats will have to wait one week before seeing the article. Weekender goes online one week late ... hence week ender. Bah... bad joke!

Antoine Cassar a dit…

Prosit ta' l-inizjattiva, Jacques.