Cat Diaries (NMC Presentation)

This morning at the NMC Summer conference was my presentation on More Than Cat Diaries: Publishing With Weblogs… maybe it was the small room, but it was pretty full. I threw a whole lot of kitchen sinck at them. The gist of this was to address the dissmissive commonly uttered description of blogs as “online diaries”. The session was billed as:

Blogs are “in” but often viewed as just for “online diaries.” However, once the templates are harnessed, weblog software can publish sophisticated web sites. See how the Low Threshold Applications site was converted from a tedious manual editing job to a more coherent and automated site using MovableType. Other examples include project sites and eportfolios, all published via blogware. Learn some of the secrets that have been extracted for doing more than what comes in the box.

I recently found and used this most excellent Corante Strange Attractor article Exploding the Diary Myth:

At the root of this problem is the confusion between the blog tool and the blog content. A blog is no more a diary than an empty notebook is a diary. Blogs become a diary when people use them to publish diary entries in the same way that a notebook becomes a diary when you write a diary entry in it. But an empty notebook can also be a sketch book, a novel, an exercise book, a dictionary, or an infinite variety of other things, depending entirely on content. Equally, a blog can also be a tool for disseminating important news, or a project log, or a team building tool, or a marketing tool, or whatever its user chooses to make it. In fact, blogs are a lightweight content management system which are easy to use, have strong archiving, cross referencing and search facilities, and are cost effective and flexible. That is what they are. A diary is what some people make them.

I built this presentation entirely as a Blogger site, but subverting its form and function to act like a presentation. It has image and text slides, a button to reveal and hide notes (they appear at the bottom of the screen), and a drop down navigation menu. In the presentation I provided some examples of web sites published with blog software that does not look or act like your typical blog, as well as going into detail on 3 projects where I used blogs to publish content in different web sites:

* Our Feed2JS site uses MovableType tp publish the RSS feed for the code updates, as well as the summaries that appear on the main and history pages.
* The Low Threshold Applications site which is published noiw entirely by MovableType repalcing a static hand edited site.
* And this very presentation, done in Blogger.

I think I hit the audience with a firehose. I tried to provide a lot of detail for those that wanted access to the templates and code examples. They were polite and eager, but I had to try and explain that these were examples from the far edge of what was possible.

But it was fun to assemble.

I would right more, but I am almost late for the luau.

Profile Picture for Alan Levine aka CogDog
An early 90s builder of the web and blogging Alan Levine barks at CogDogBlog.com on web storytelling (#ds106 #4life), photography, bending WordPress, and serendipity in the infinite internet river. He thinks it's weird to write about himself in the third person.


  1. Although they may “look” more like traditional “diary” blogs, I think part of your point here is blogs that do more than just “journal” the individual’s ideas. In my mind, blogs winning awards for defending freedom of expression (http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/technology/4099802.stm) seem to support this “beyond diary” idea based on their purpose and audience. I guess this supports the article you mention about “exploding the diary myth.” As a rhetorician, I agree, purpose and audience is KEY.

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