From the Actrix Online Informer April 2008

by Rob Zorn

Blogging all over the world

In the February 2008 Actrix Online Informer we took a look at some Kiwi blogs. Blogs, you'll recall, usually contain opinion as well as personal news. This time I thought we could have a look at some overseas blogs, and I've tried to select a good variety.

Keep in mind, though, that blogs typify the very nature of the Internet. Free exchange of information is both a strength and a weakness. Many blogs allow people to comment and the amount of comment moderation can really vary. It's great that people can say anything they like online, but unfortunately, a lot of people can be crass or impolite when adding comments on a blog site, so please keep that in mind, and step carefully if you're easily offended. I'll try to stick to good, clean, healthy blogs in what's covered below, but there's never any guarantee that you won't come across an offensive comment or point of view.

Boing Boing is like a kidult's grab bag of links to cool, odd and interesting things happening online. There are lots of videos and pictures included as well as simple links to web pages with content of interest  - such as one about oddly named toy sets, or an engineering student who cobbled together an air conditioner using a fan and a bucket of ice water. Digital art and disturbing consumer trends are all fair game for the Boing Boing team, which encourages suggestions from its readers. You could spend hours at Boing Boing, so don't forget to check out the archives.

Lifehacker has won many accolades in the computing world from the likes of Time, CNet, Wired and PC Magazine. According to Wikipedia it's an advertising-supported blog about life hacks and software. The site covers Microsoft Windows, Mac and Linux programs as well as time-saving tips and tricks. The staff updates the site about 18 times each weekday. The Lifehacker motto is: Computers make us more productive. Yeah, right. Lifehacker recommends the software downloads and web sites that actually save time. Don't live to geek; geek to live. The term 'life hack', by the way, refers to productivity tricks help you cut through information overload and simply get the job done. It's certainly not just for geeks!

The Drudge Report is a US-based news site run by Matt Drudge. It consists mainly of links to stories from the mainstream media about politics, entertainment, and current events as well as links to many popular columnists. Occasionally Mr Drudge writes news stories himself. The Drudge Report is most famous for being the first news source to break the Monica Lewinsky scandal to the public after Newsweek decided not to publish it. It's always interesting.

Craigslist is a centralised network featuring free classified advertisements (with jobs, internships, housing, personals, for sale/barter/wanted, services, community, gigs, resume, and pets categories) as well as forums on various topics. It operates with a staff of 24 people and serves over nine billion page views per month, putting it in 56th place overall among web sites world wide. The classified advertisements range from traditional buy/sell ads and community announcements, to personal ads. Simply click the country or city you're interested in and see what's on offer! New Zealand features.

"Humanclock shows a photograph of the current time, with the photo changing every minute of the day (all 1,440 occurring minutes on Earth!) Thus you end up with a rotating picture clock sort of deal. How the time is actually displayed is a whole different matter. A lot of photos have the time written on a crummy cardboard sign, while other photos might have the current time in a more edible format, such as olives. There are photos below sea level and ones over two miles above sea level. There are even clock pictures with people who played at Woodstock." What a great idea!  

The Dilbert Blog is written by Scott Adams, the creator of one of the most popular cartoon characters ever. However, you will not often find a reference to the comics. Nevertheless, it is an entertaining blog revealing a lot about this great creative mind. One point of a blog, of course, is to provide some insight to the mind of the writer, and you certainly get that via Adams' musings about the everyday events in his life.

Salt and Pepper is part of a thriving community of online food bloggers. Giniann, who writes this blog, offers clear descriptions of delicious meals. She's been blogging for quite some time and her site has a wealth of recipes. She's also a really fine photographer and often blogs about herbs and flowers. It's a beautifully done site, indeed – mouth-wateringly so!

Okay, so now you've seen a few blogs and you think you might like to try one of your own? Its actually a lot easier to do than you might think – after all, so many people do it. Michael Hyatt writes a pretty good introductory guide, but if you don't like this one, just Google "starting a blog" or something, and you'll be inundated with material. Oh, and in most cases, it won't cost you a cent.


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