Discover Your Inner Geek!

RSS has made me addicted to Blogs

This is a way past due catch up entry. I had to drop off the geek sphere for a bit there – but I’m back!

I’ve been an RSS user for a long time, pulling in my podcasts to fill my walks to and from work with strains of CBC and TVO. However, I’d never used an RSS reader to subscribe to blogs or news sites and as such never regularly followed a blog or news site beyond checking my Google News.

Google Reader changed all that. In fact it initially was the cause of some information overload as I eagerly subscribed to blog after blog.

The feature of Google Reader that really pulled me in was the list of feed bundles, found in the Browse for Stuff section. These bundles offer to subscribe you to a group of feeds on a particular topic – anything from Africa to Yoga. I found myself eagerly subscribing to topics that I’m engaged in. There was even a feed bundle on Accessibility, which has turned out to be great for work. 

Now it’s time to trim down the number of feeds in my Reader I think.

Tag this

Okay, I know I’m late on this, but here are my thoughts on tags. My main thought about tags is more of a question than a comment: How do we know what tags to use? Since there’s no standard, and I guess that’s the point, we could be using tags that people may use to search for something completely different. Perhaps what we’re doing is making ourselves searchable to people whom we may never have expected to reach. Are there any rules for good tagging?

Also, I put the UpbeaT blog through TagCrowd and here’s what I got:

created at

Seems it’s not working in cloud format, but a couple of things stood out to me. Clearly, our bloggers are using the word “really” too much! But where the heck did “ve” come from?


– Chris G

My Opinion of Blogs v3.0

My opinion of blogs has changed three times over the last six or seven years.  I attribute these changes in opinion to prolonged exposure leading to understanding and, ultimately, acceptance of the medium.  The most recent shift in opinion came only a few months ago…

January 1, 2001 to some-time-in-2007 | Angst (v1.0)

Oh, the LiveJournals – the LJs – the online diaries of secrets and woes.  This was blogging to me during this time period.  No, I was not the one divulging my innermost desires for the world to assess, but I certainly had a handful of friends that would pour their hearts and souls upon the unsuspecting interwebz on a quasi-regular basis.  Was it for validation?  Was it for attention?  Was it to better their writing skills?  I know not.  What I do know is that I considered blogging to be an opportunity to release some semi-anonymous, passive-aggressive energy into the universe.  With regularly occuring gems like, “Some people [we all know it’s Rob] should learn how to communicate with their team [we all know Carol’s angry]” written hours after a meeting went terribly arye caused me to pretty much boycott the entire medium.

some-other-time-in-2007 to mid-2008 | Curiosity (v2.0)

One day, perhaps it was a Tuesday, blogs became useful.  I had just finished university, I had just moved to Toronto, and I had just started transitioning into my new life.  Who knows what to do in T.O.?  Random bloggers.  Who knows where the hot music scenes are?  Random bloggers.  Who knows where the most awesome place for a haircut is?  Random bloggers (and the answer to this is Grateful Head).  I started running into blogs whenever I wanted to research on what new camera to buy, figure out what the best Winterlicious feast would be, or muse about far away lands.  Random bloggers were proving themselves to be far more helpful and far less concerned with conveying despair.  I wondered if I could blog about something, but was intimidated – did I know enough about something to write about it – all the time?  If so, what would that topic be?

late-2008 to Present | Acceptance (v3.0)

I heart blogs.  I can say that now.  Blogs are useful in so many ways – I have outlined some, many of you have outlined others, and many others have yet to be identified.  Even better, I think I may have figured out what I want to blog about!  I miss studying philosophy, I am saddened when people shirk away from discussing politics, and I enjoy sharing random facts – I think I can make something of this – now all I need is time.  I believe that the conveyance of information, wisdom, and humour is the most imporant aspect of blogging and (with the possible exception of wisdom) I think I’ve got a handle on it.  Odd that what I lothed a few years ago is what excites me today.  Looks like I’m growing up…  Damn.


community around the soap box

When I was first introduced to blogs I wondered at their popularity. I’ve never been that person who wants to read anothers diary and creating a blog seemed like a lot of work for little reward. While I was considering blogs this week I was stuck by the community that forms around them. Perhaps community is the reward that I’d missed when I first considered blogs.

In contrast to conventional media sources readers of a blog are able to participate by commenting back to the author. I think that this trait intersects with the typically narrow topic of a blog to bring people together. Regular additions of content seem to breath life into these communities making more active blogs more populous. These communities also grow as bloggers link their blogs to other blogs.

Perhaps a blog could become another tool I use to create community among the group of students I work with. Perhaps I would find myself becoming a part of a community of related professionals too.

An aside: As I explored the blogosphere this week I happened upon a blogish website created by the Author of a book I’m reading. (Ray Kurzweil’s “The Singularity Is Near” and It was very engaging to see the arguments put forward in a book published in 2005 being debated and updated today.


Making room for blogs

I’ve had a lot of conversations with a lot of people over the last year about blogging and about Web 2.0. I’m hardly an early adopter – I’ve been involved with blogs, mostly on a personal level, for about two years, but I’m hooked now. I love reading blogs, and I love the medium. Why? Because it’s easy to follow, easy to keep track of, and easy to discover new and interesting things. (Of course, it’s also a huge distraction, and can take me places I shouldn’t be going when I’ve got other stuff to do.)

But I certainly don’t think blogging is a solution to all our problems.  And I don’t think it’s the greatest medium there is – just one of many. I also love to read about what my friends are up to on Facebook. I love that I can find out just about anything by Googling it. I also love books, and long-form journalism (my favourite magazines are The Atlantic, Harper’s, The Walrus and The New Yorker). And I love spending time with the newspaper on the weekends.

I guess what I’m saying is that I don’t really believe that blogs are going to replace anything. I won’t pretend that print is going to have a smooth ride, but I do believe that there will always be people who want to read paper versions of books, magazines and newspapers. These media just won’t take up the same amount of space in our lives as they used to.


Chris G

The Evolution of Blogs

It’s amusing how only several years ago, I was trying to wean myself off blogging. Now I’m trying to figure out how blogs can be used to further enhance student learning. Ah, the irony… 

/me takes a moment to reminisce

When I was still a n00b on the interweb and when text-based computer computer games were all the craze (circa 1998), blogs were essentially non-existent. (There were maybe BBSes, and IRC? Oh, don’t forget free dial-up internet from Altavista, ICQ, and the the mouse-moving program hack. Hahaha… oh wait… I’m sidetracking). Perhaps it was the rebellious nature of youths who were looking for unique outlets (away from adults) to express themselves. Or maybe there was a shortage of moleskines. Whatever the reason, “the blog” has somehow managed to establish itself as a commonplace phenomena on the internet within last ten years. I can’t wait to tell my grandkids that I was totes part of this. 

The notion that blogs are cool still manages to perplex me. Even though there are a huge variety of blog topics now, when I first started blogging it was primarily about your day’s happenings, current mood, and current song. How does this have any entertainment/ educational value to it? Now the even more perplexing thing was that I used to do it religiously. (Indeed I am a lemming).

I’ve personally felt that its “private-public nature” would be a turn-off for most people. That’s why the majority of people will blog under a pseudonym, with the material written for an intended audience. Though you were never sure, someone who could always be lurking and reading your posts. I know of instances where Mr. XYZ /facepalm-ed because someone who wasn’t supposed to, read Mr. XYZ LiveJournal. But playing devil’s advocate here, maybe the partial anonymity IS attracting because it affords the writer(s) the capacity to speak their minds while being just a little judgement free. Having been a part of a wordpress blogging project, it was interesting to see all of the different opinions and ideas being thrown out into the open. The only words I would use to describe it: uber cool

Although I can’t pinpoint the reason behind the popularity of blogs, the one thing I do know is that they are a ubiquitous web phenomenon and probably will be for a while (okay, two things). But with the ever-evolving nature of internet communication tools, maybe we should be thinking further ahead. Not merely how to use these tools as they are today, but to push the envelope and find new ways to use them for tomorrow. 

C.F. New way of using youtube –>[]