Social Media Challenge #4: Blog-a-Day Week

January 31, 2010

Note: This SMC goes live early in order to align with the beginning of February. You’ve already got an post due for that day, so this shouldn’t be a problem.

After blogging for three weeks, you should have a feel for what works, what doesn’t, and how to plan your attack. So far you’ve been doing sprints, but this week will be a 5K. Beginning with Monday, Feb. 1, you will post something EVERY day to your personal blog. This will not be easy, but you can do it, and at the end you’ll have a newfound respect for those who do this every week.

Some rules:

  • The first rule of Blog-a-Day Week is: We do NOT talk about Blog-a-Day Week! This means no posting about hard it is to post every day, or other such metacommentary.
  • You may, however, post a schedule of what you have planned, but this means you’ll need to actually plan what you’re going to do.
  • Likewise, no posting about how you don’t know what to post. Use the skills from previous challenges, ideas from your blogroll, comments from other students … ANYTHING that leads to a substantive post!

Your final post (Monday, Feb. 8 ) should be an overview of the blog-a-day week experience. What did you learn? What was difficult? What got easier over time? Post this link to the comments section of this assignment by noon, Monday, Feb. 8.

DUE: Every day from Monday, Feb. 1 – Monday, Feb. 8 (yes, that’s eight posts)

EXTRA CREDIT: Now that you’ve finished your 5K, try for a marathon! For every week in February that you post every day, you’ll earn a point of extra credit. Post for the entire month – that’s February 1 to February 28 – and you’ll earn 5 extra points total.

All the above rules apply – no metacommentary, no garbage posts – with two exceptions:

  • In Week 3 (Feb. 14-20), you may make one post about the blog month experience so far.
  • On February 28, you may post an overview of your blog month experience.

You might want to check out the National Blog Posting Month website ( for advice and support – you can even sign up to win prizes.

Mainly, though, you should have fun as you learn firsthand just what goes into regular blogging.

Our class is in the news

January 30, 2010

I thought I’d share this link to a story in the Charleston Daily Mail that profiled our class (the WBOY story hasn’t been broadcast yet, to my knowledge – I guess they’re saving us for a rainy day). I wish there had been some student voices in this, but it’s nice that the word is getting out.

(As a side note, have a look at Ryan Tegeder’s DA column on real-time location updating services like Foursquare – rest assured, we’ll be continuing this conversation.)

The outcome of the Daily Mail story brought up a question in my mind. On the day of publication, several people who read the story retweeted it on Twitter and begin to follow my account. This is where I’ve been publishing our class updates, so it makes sense, but it occurs to me that perhaps an account specifically dedicated to the class might make more sense. This way, those interested in the class and YOUR work (rather than my other ramblings) could get a less cluttered feed of what’s going on.

What do you all think? If you think we should create a class-specific Twitter account, how should it be maintained? Should someone be in charge, or should every member of the class have access? I hope to hear some suggestions in the comment section.

Read and Respond – Week 4

January 27, 2010

First, some innovation news: Journalists are trying out Foursquare as a news tool. Metro, a Canadian paper, will begin integrating Foursquare with their content, allowing followers to receive mobile alerts when they’re in the vicinity of a story Metro has covered. Here’s the link to Metro’s own story on the team-up. Keep this in mind as you prepare to develop your own innovation projects.

Also, remember the video Austin showed us in class Tuesday? As if they read our minds, Apple’s making it happen. Check out this liveblog from the New York Times on the announcement. Then check out’s reasons for why it’s not as great for journalism as everyone’s saying.

(While you’re at it, take note of how a liveblog works – liveblogging tonight’s State of the Union could be a nifty post!)

For week 4, we’re going to be talking about links as the atomic unit of online communication. The hyperlink is an obvious use of linking, but social media applications employ linking in their own way. So let’s read about links:

  • David G. Post, in this 1997 essay (ancient history!!!), lays out some common questions and criticisms of the humble link that are still pertinent today.
  • Bill Thompson talks about links as the key component of “the semantic Web.” We may argue, as he puts it, “a link is just a link,” yet often there is more going on in the way the link is used.
  • Finally, here’s a business-oriented strategy guide to “link wheels” focused on getting your site into the thick of bigger sites’ linking process. What’s your impression of what the author describes?

What do you think about links? What is the nature of a link, and what are the ways in which we use them? Do you agree that the link is the fundamental unit of online communication? Finally, what kind of ethics and etiquette do you see as necessary for linking in journalistic and personal work?

Remember to respond to this post by noon on Monday, Feb. 1. As always, responses should be around 200 words, and links to arguments or evidence on your own blog or elsewhere are strongly recommended.

Social Media Challenge #3: Doing the Read-Write Web

January 27, 2010

Last week you built and annotated a blogroll to follow in your own blogging pursuits. As Dan Gillmor tells us, though, the Read-Write Web isn’t simply about taking what you need – you also have to become part of the conversation. This week you’re going to make your voice heard.

Part 1: Start talking! – DUE: All comments made by Noon, Monday, Feb. 1

You must post at least 10 substantive comments to the blogs you read (I will only count one comment to an individual blog, and will deduct points if too many are made at once). The majority of these should be to blogs in your blogroll, but some outsiders are acceptable. Be sure to include your email and blog address when you post, or it won’t count! To verify your work:

  • Go to your Dashboard
  • Click “My Comments” (under “Dashboard” in the top left)
  • Print this page and turn it in at next Tuesday’s class.

Note: A substantive comment goes beyond saying “Great ideas” or other spammer-speak to build on and extend the conversation. Run with their ideas! This brings us to part 2 …

Part 2: Keep the conversation going – DUE: Noon, Monday, Feb. 1

Since the blogs in your blogroll are all aimed at your focus, you should be able to synthesize several of the ideas they present into something new that takes their ideas further. For this assignment, you will construct a blog post that brings together posts from at least three members of your blogroll and says something new about all of them.

Add a link to your post (not your main blog page) and a one-sentence description to the comments of this post by the due date.

Note: Although some summarization will be necessary, that’s NOT the point of this assignment. Instead, you must build an original discussion or argument upon these others’ ideas. Be sure to link as needed in order to give credit where it is due.

And in the meantime …

From now on, updating your blog is your responsibility. For the rest of the semester, each week (including this one) you must post at least two original posts (class assignments don’t count) to your personal blog. The majority of these posts should be in line with your focus – some deviation is natural as your ideas develop – and your posts must fall at least 24 hours apart (no posting all at once to get it out of the way).

In addition, you must add a calendar to your sidebar:

  • Go to your Dashboard > Appearance > Widgets
  • Drag the “Calendar” widget to your sidebar (on the right) and click “Save”
  • Check to make sure it appears on your blog.
  • DUE: Monday, Feb. 1

Social Media Challenge 2 – Find a Focus

January 26, 2010

In your first post, you introduced yourself and suggested a focus for your blog. This assignment required you to solidify that focus and identify sources of information that will contribute to your writings.

(A reminder: This assignment is already complete. From now on, you’ll be posting your Social Media Challenge links directly to the comment section of the relevant assignment’s post.)

Part 1: Find a focus – Due: Noon, Thursday, Jan. 21

Post a blog mission statement. This can be the idea you touched on in week 1 or something new, but it must be clear and focused. You want your focus to be specific yet rich enough for regular updates. Avoid being too broad (e.g., “pop culture”) – if you say you will write about something general like “sports,” you’ll need to spell out what a reader might get out of reading your site compared to the countless other sports sites out there. In 3-4 paragraphs, tell your readers what they can expect from your blog and how that subject will be informed by your perspective.

Part 2: Identify sources to help you – Due: Noon, Monday Jan. 25

Blogging isn’t something you have to do on your own. With your focused topic in mind, it’s time to identify some sources to help you on that path. You will identify 10 blogs to follow. Each of these blogs should inform your topic in some way – for example, a social media blog might draw on You’ll need to complete the following steps:

  • Post links to each of your 10 blogs in your blogroll
  • Add their feeds in Google Reader
  • Write a blog post explaining (in 1-2 sentences each) how each of these blogs will inform your own blog – don’t forget to include links to each blog in your post!
  • ALSO add,, and the course blog to your Google Reader (not required for your blogroll)

The links below are to each of your mission statements. To read the annotated blogrolls, you’ll need to click to the main page of that blog.

  • Brittany Nelson writes about “The happenings of my life, with a little dabbling into entertainment, splashed with some spontaneity.”
  • Gabrielle Ash‘s mission is to amuse, entertain and provide useful tips for all things cat.
  • Casey Hofmann went ahead and created a whole new page for her mission statement.
  • Austin Sanders is going to focus on soccer, and I will also talk about other sports and new technology.
  • Julia Day hopes the world can gain the courage to Sing it From The Rooftops!
  • Kaitlynn Anderson
  • Gavin Matela
  • Heather Tawney
  • Ashley Alford explores the transformation of college life to life in the “real world.”
  • Chip Fontanazza provides his take on sports in the surrounding (Morgantown) area.
  • Rachel Davis will be looking at media, media effects, how different media are interconnected, and how the media relates to society and individuals.
  • Matt Armstrong will be making obscure arts & entertainment items important.
  • Ray Zawodni has specified the mission of my blog to focus on athlete performances and acting performances. For example: Who should win best actor? who are the top ten quarterbacks of the decade? Who are the main factors in why the underdog Jets have made it so far in the playoffs? or why is Johnny Depp the most overrated actor in Hollywood? etc…
  • Greg Carey
  • Garrett Cullen will focus on mostly Mountaineer sports and also a more in-depth look at Major League Baseball as the 2010 season approaches.
  • Chelsea Fuller
  • Travis Crum
  • Cambia Stubelt – Awaiting Link
  • Evan Moore – Awaiting Link
  • Hillary Baum – Awaiting Link
  • Paden Wyatt – Awaiting Link

Social Media Challenge #1c – What blogging means for the future of journalism

January 25, 2010

Concluding our first series of posts, here are the group’s thoughts on what the good and bad of blogging mean for where journalism is headed. You can review the good (both posts) and bad through these links.

An additional note: I’ve noticed that this approach to posting responses is perpetually out-of-date, so I’m revising it. From the next posting assignment on, you’ll be posting your links and descriptions to the comment section of each Social Media Challenge. Since you’ve already gotten (and completed) SMC #2, I’ll post those responses in the old way, but from here on in, post your links in the comments for the relevant assignment.

And now … The FUTURE!

  • Casey Hofmann urges you to check your facts, or the bloggers will do it for you.
  • Gabrielle Ash believes the future will involve more blogging and less journalists.
  • Austin Sanders considers how blogging and the future of journalism have changed from 1995 to the present and how even facebook and twitter can be used through your tv.
  • Brittany Nelson is thinking about using blogging to make money, create Internet celebrities, and engaging the mobile movement.
  • Garrett Cullen talks about the future world of journalism possibly moving more towards video blogging as the next step on the Internet.
  • Gavin Matela‘s thoughts are a mystery …
  • … and so are Hillary Baum‘s.
  • Rachel Davis discusses how the futures of blogging and journalism are secure because of the trend of Journalists becoming bloggers and the need for blogging as a check on journalism, and journalism as a source of information for blogs.
  • Julia Day is being coy with the content of her post …
  • as are Ashley Alford
  • … and Matt Armstrong.
  • Greg Carey offers a description of how blogs will impact journalism in the days to come.
  • Chelsea Fuller
  • Chip Fontanazza considers how blogs are evolving through video and other social media devices.
  • Ray Zawodni thinks if journalism and blogging can work together and create a common ground, the future of journalism looks bright.
  • Heather Tawney
  • Paden Wyatt
  • And Evan Moore just thinks journalists should be more like Stephen Colbert.
  • Cambria Stubelt – Awaiting Post
  • Kaitlynn Anderson – Awaiting Post
  • Travis Crum – Awaiting Post

Read and Respond for Week 3

January 22, 2010

Supplementing your text for next week – the introduction and chapters 1 & 2 in We the Media – are a few readings/viewings that address just where the Internet came from and where it’s going. This kind of historical grounding is vital if we’re to have an idea about where to take online communication.

First, take a look at this piece from the Internet Society, “A Brief History of the Internet.” You might skim some of the more terminology-heavy sections, but be sure to focus on the motivations of the players involved.

As a companion, here’s a timeline of the stages of development for how the Internet came to be. I’m also including Hobbes’ Internet Timeline (now up-to-date!), which is an EXHAUSTIVE listing of events – don’t try to read the whole thing, but DO use it as a reference.

After this grounding in the past, let’s take a look at what we’ve built upon that foundation. Consider this trio of links from the SITE readwriteweb(.com): First, that social media is actually social (no!), yet there may be cases where social media should be avoided. Second, social networking might actually be surpassing searches as the dominant use of the Web (but, as they note, it kind of depends on just what you consider YouTube to be).

Finally, let your reading muscles relax and watch this video on just where the Internet came from:

Is the Internet something invented by an individual? Just where did it come from, and in what forms has it existed? How do its origins inform the things we use it for today?

(Also, for the nerds, the graphics used in this video are a new flavor called PICOL icons. They’re an effort to create a standardized electronic sign system, and can be altered by users – a neat idea, if not exactly new.)

Since I’m a little late getting this up, I’m pushing back the response deadline for this week to noon on Tuesday (future responses will still be due Monday). Responses should be around 200 words, and feel free to include links to arguments or evidence on your own blog or elsewhere. Remember to post a response to the comments of this post no later than that deadline.

Social Media Challenge #1b –Why blogging is bad for journalism

January 20, 2010

Part II of this project focuses on reasons why blogging might be a bad thing for journalism. Read students’ discussion of why blogging can be a good thing for journalism here and here.

  • Casey Hofmann doesn’t believe bloggers will ever replace professional journalists.
  • Rachel Davis suggests blogging and other aspects related to citizen journalism are removing objectivity from the news, and are forcing professional journalists to compete with writers who are willing to work for free and are often unfamiliar with the ethics behind journalistic writing.
  • According to Garrett Cullen, too many rumors get started on blogs about stories where there isn’t much proof.
  • Evan Moore explains why blogging and interactive journalism have an edge on the traditional media.
  • Brittany Nelson writes that blogging gives those a voice that aren’t necessarily experts, which could also lead to sloppy journalism.
  • Kaitlynn Anderson hopes you enjoy the link in this blog.
  • Matthew Armstrong says blogs can often disregard facts in favor of the blogger’s personal beliefs.
  • Chelsea Fuller will leave it up to you to find out what she’s writing about.
  • Chip Fontanazza just thinks blogging “puts more useless crap on the internet”.
  • Ashley Alford
  • Hillary Baum
  • Greg Carey
  • Ray Zawodni says blogging makes it easy for bloggers to act irresponsibly.
  • Gavin Matela
  • Austin Sanders considers being addicted to blogging, how posting on your blog can become too time consuming, and how blogging can hurt the way people write.
  • Gabrielle Ash proposes that blogging is bad for the journalist, not for journalism.
  • Paden Wyatt
  • Heather Tawney
  • Julia Day – Awaiting link
  • Travis Crum – Awaiting link
  • Cambria Stubelt – Awaiting link

Social Media Challenge #1a – Why blogging is good for journalism II

January 19, 2010

The second half of the class posts on why blogging is good for journalism (see the first part, and a description of the overall assignment, here). Next: Why blogging is bad for journalism!

  • Julia Day
  • Matt Armstrong: With the mainstream media facing hard times, any innovation can be helpful.
  • Ashley Alford: Blogging allows for anyone to become a journalist, creating more variety in the media.
  • Hillary Baum
  • Ray Zawodni: Blogging can be good for journalism as a tool for paid journalists, as a quick way to get news, and as a way to see how the public feels about what is going on in the world.
  • Heather Tawney
  • Evan Moore: Blogging is good for the heart and soul of journalism even though our wallets still may be hurting.
  • Paden Wyatt
  • Travis Crum – awaiting link
  • Chelsea Fuller – awaiting link

Social Media Challenge #1a: Why blogging is good for journalism I

January 19, 2010

Today I will begin linking to the components of your first set of posts. Links to your responses to this assignment will be posted here in the morning and afternoon over the next several days.

This project had three distinct areas for you to discuss, which were posted in installments to your personal blogs:

  • Part 1: Why blogging is good for journalism
  • Part 2: Why blogging is bad for journalism
  • Part 3: What this means for the future

These posts were to be based on your own perspective, but not on this alone. I required examples of the good and the bad, as well as for your own predictions. These examples should begin a conversation or continue an existing one, as well as make a compelling argument. We’ll do more with this conversation in class this week (hint: start reading your classmates’ work now).

A reminder of the tips and rules to abide by:

  • Once again, keep it in short chunks (but longer than a sentence)
  • Examples are vital. No “References” page is required, but each post must refer to at least 2 examples via links (e.g., “The Drudge Report shows how …”)
  • Use links! Not only for your examples – use them to explain the terms you use and to show us where your facts come from. (photos are not required for this)
  • Once again, SEND ME THE LINK and a short (one-sentence) overview to post.
  • SPELLCHECK. Don’t give the trolls a reason to attack you, people.

This morning: Eleven perspectives on why blogging is good for journalism.

More to come this afternoon!