Your first post

Writing on the web is typically:

  • Shorter than the traditional academic sort, because you are engaging in a conversation as you go along, insuring relevance
  • Less abstract and theoretical, because you are dealing with practical issues or theoretical issues that people you want to join are discussing them now
  • More timely and relevant, because the older deeper stuff is often published on paper and stored in libraries, which are very good at that, and the current, conversational stuff is on the web, which is good at that

I learned how to put it this way from a lecture by law professor and blogger Lawrence B. Solum.

To get started, forget long and detailed and write something short and engaging. Outline what you've found in just three sources, include 2-3 sentences on each, introduce them with a story of how you got there and conclude with a story of where you might go next. After you see what others have done you'll have a better idea of how to build on your first draft.

Write in a way that will invite the sympathy, support, engagement, and advice of your classmates. If you keep your first post to one page they might even read it!

What’s so special about blogging?

  • To work out in small, what with term papers, the BA Thesis, and beyond, you might otherwise be left to work out on your own in big: how notes and essays are transformed into presentations
  • To win feedback, from your peers and others, months before you might earn a formal grade
  • To work in teams, a chance to develop important communication and working skills
  • To learn the web, how the underlying web technologies work, including the interaction of databases, logic, interfaces, and communication protocols
  • To learn about publication design, how the outlining your work learning in class translates into document structure and design
  • Self-publishing, to bring your work out into the open, and so shift your audience from teachers to peers and professionals

For example

  • Best Business Blogs, where I’ve collected links to many fascinating websites, many updated daily to discuss the issues of the day
  • When Information is NOT the Answer, by MIT business professor Andrew McAfee, a professor at MIT, and where you will find in the highlighted article I often discuss in class
  • Acknowledgement of prior work, detailed, respectful (highlighted in green)
  • A claim the author takes issue with (blue)
  • McAfee’s counter-argument (magenta)
  • Presentation of his evidence and argumentation (purple)
  • A reframing of the issue as a question leading to a larger, conceptual discussion of business information (green)

Six Ingredients for a Good Online Comment, Tom Davenport

Blogging Professionals

The professional blogging on the web that concerns me is best summarized by Lawrence B. Solum, who in 2006 described how modern legal scholarship in the USA has

  • Become shorter (from “the long form” to “the short form”)
  • More accessible, meaning less exclusive and more open rights
  • More topical and timely, meaning less theoretical
  • And “disintermediated,” meaning self- or collective publishing outside of formal journals

A more popular explanation of how modern web technologies support such changes is readily available in a three minute video from 2007

where one learns how blogging support everyone and anyone discussing topics they have in common with others.

A quick survey of the web offers many fine examples

And you will find many fine examples of HWR student blogging by following my pinboard links tagged “alumni”

For professional blogging my favorite example remains

That is, I am inviting you to treat professional blogging and bloggers as

  • A tremendous resource for understanding of current business trends
  • An accessible “short form” which will help you work with research fundamental
  • An engaging research and writing activity that will help you connect with your interests, topic, and relevant professionals

To work out in small

To win feedback

To work in teams

To learn the web


Blogging Teams

  • Authors, whereby each of you agrees to publish one post on the assigned topic on one day in the week so that your team posts a new post each day
  • Commentors, meaning everybody in turn, because each of us needs to know others are paying attention, supporting us, and offering little bits of perspective or help, because it is no fun, and dumb, to do this alone
  • Webmasters, with webmaster rights, as somebody needs to figure out how to create the class blog on, how to use WordPress Support, how to create individual accounts for all team members and how to set up widgets for authors, categories, tags, and for each team the “week in review”
  • Category and Tag Managers, because someone needs to create some order in the tags, those keywords that you make up to identify your content in a way that, when others go looking for something, they might find it
  • Week in Review Editors, who will also be “mind mappers,” because someone needs to take the lead in figuring out who does what, when they will do it, and what might be done next

How to make it meaningful

  • Figure out what you need to know. To start we’ll work with the Key Questions, but we can crowd source any topic on the syllabus or which comes up in discussion. Each week for your Portfolio, write up a list of questions or “things to do”.
  • Offer substantive support to others as you would have them offer substantive support to you.” Maybe best explained in Six Ingredients for a Good Online Comment, Tom Davenport; Techniques for Responding, Ohio State Writing Program; Techniques for Responding, Derek Box Center for Teaching and Learning, Harvard University
  • Think and write in collective terms, refer generouslly to others, actively solicit the opinions of others, and so take a break from doing it all yourself
  • Write in pairs, bounce ideas off of each other, explore each other’s differences, and use such rhetoric as “they say … / I say …”
  • See your work in common, best through mapping that you produce by discussing your work together, as it grows and changes course and as collective work is fascinating and fun!

Blog Design

Sub-heads matter

Readers expect to find sub-heads — high-level generalizations — that break a text up into bite-sized pieces, that tell a story, and that help one navigate a text — as you will learn from

Images matter!

Include (non copy-righted) images that tell 1,000 words, that one remembers, and which you can use to start telling your story.

  • Collect those used by others to learn how the pros do it
  • Watch what is going on behind Lessig as he tells his story and collect images that might work like that
  • Invite a friend for coffee, bring quick prints of your favorite images, tell a story about them, and write it down
  • If you can’t tell a good story about an image, don’t use it: your audience wants to be informed before it is entertained

Design a clean, well-lighted place

Examine the above links so you will understand the following

  • Choose a simple, clean theme, so that the content of your blogging stands oiut
  • Reduce noise. Remove the Search, Archive, Category, and Meta widgets, and add Recent Posts and Recent Comments instead
  • Offer your visitors a human face. Create a globally recognized Avatar with an image that relates to your wonderful you, and add an Author widget to display these images
  • Help us survey everyone’s posts before we drill down, by using Excerpts and the MORE tag
  • Keep your illustrations consistent in width, such as 120, 240, or 360 pixels wide (learn how to resize)
  • Keep it short and sweet. Limit paragraphs to 2-3 sentences, aligned left, with only one space only between paragraphs: if you've got a lot to say, use bullet points (an "unordered list")

WordPress Support

  • WordPress Account Signup
  • WordPress Support
  • Video Quick Start
  • Customize explains how to manipulate the WordPress administrative interface
  • Mobile Ready Themes are the ones you want to start with (so your website will work equally well on tablets and mobile
  • Widgets you add to display authors, links, tags, posts, pages, etc.
  • Author widgets when clicked will show all of your posts, and for that you’ll need first to Invite Contributors
  • Gravatars will be blank until you set yours up, and what you are at it you might better establish your web presence by creating an page like me and my buddy Birkenkrahe.
  • Tags explains the WordPress widget, and to understand its power you’ll want to read Tags and Folksonomies
  • Links explains the WordPress widget, and like the first one you’ll want to make is to your Delicious (or Pinboard) site, as you’ll learn in this Social Bookmarking video
  • Posts and Pages explains the difference, and Posts explains how to create one
  • More you most definitely want to learn how to use, so your visitors will have a chance to survey most recent posts before reading any one of them, and to help them do that, you do well to write up a summary of your posts and publish them as Excerpts


  1. “Download wamp”, “download wordpress”
  2. Install wamp/mamp
  3. Copy “wordpress” to mamp/htdocs
  4. Turn on MAMP/WAMP so both Apache and MySql servers are running
  5. In phpmyadmin, add “wordpress” database
  6. Browser navigate to “http://localhost:8888/wordpress/“
  7. Follow instructions on “wordpress install”