Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Finding Blogs to Read

Blogs are among the most important content sources today and finding and following appropriate blogs is a key part of the "Consume" portion of digital literacy. Here are some ideas for discovering blogs to follow. First, it's important to understand some major divisions among types of blogs.

There are "big" blogs (blogs associated with conventional, big media, like the New York Times blog, or blogs that are very popular and whose posts get tens or hundreds of comments). These big blogs are good to know about to stay current on things, but not as good with respect to communicating with others. They help you get the pulse on things, but they aren't strong with connecting you to communities or individuals. It is most often the smaller blogs where you can have personal interaction with the blog author. So look for those as much as for some of the big-content or top blogs.

Blog Search
This is an obvious starting point, but perhaps not always the most direct or efficient way of finding blogs to follow. But give it a try. The two most important blog searching services are Technorati and Google Blog Search.

Both of these services include mini, general directories to blogs you can browse. Technorati also has an authority ranking for blogs, which is a very interesting concept. Both services also list top blogs and categorize these. (And both index blogs generally, not just big ones)


Top Blogs

Technorati maintains a well known list of top blogs, the "Technorati Top 100." This list has a heavy emphasis on news and politics (Huffington Post; CNN, Politics Daily, etc.) and especially technology blogs. Given the focus of the Digital Civilization course, some of the tech blogs are certainly worth following. I particularly recommend Read/Write/Web. Unlike some of the gadget-oriented blogs, it deals with larger principles and social trends, the effects of technology. Mashable is very current for Web2.0 and social media.

Blog Directories
Browse the categories in such blog directories as blogcatalog or blogged. There are also directories maintained by the major blog platforms. You might visit the Typepad Featured Blogs site. I find these directories have a more diverse set of categories (often more appropriate for academic purposes). If you are interested in connecting with LDS blogs (the "Bloggernacle"), you should consult the Mormon Archipelago or LDS Blogs directory.

Education Blogs
Especially appropriate for students are the many blogs hosted by teachers, educators, professors, students, and people in the ed-tech community. A good starting place for these is blogged, but the best is probably EduBlogs.

Institutional Blogs
Governments, universities, libraries, museums -- they are all getting into blogging as a way of communicating with constituents and featuring content. Try out the Library of Congress Blog, or any of the Smithsonian's blogs for starters.

Finding Blogs through "Social Discovery"
However, the best way I've found to discover blogs is indirectly, looking not so much for topics as for people, and by associative searching (by seeing who follows whom online). This is part of "social discovery," a key concept in digital literacy that we will be talking a lot about.

Essentially, what this means is that if you are involved in a social network (Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, etc.) you click on your friends and followers and see if they have a profile or a link to their own personal blogs. Or, if you find a particular site or blog that fits your interests, and it has the followers feature enabled, you can usually find great blogs by seeing who else has shown enough interest in the topic of the blog to register as an official follower, then click through to see if they have a blog. This works great through Twitter, too. (See my brief video tutorial on this here).

If you are using Google Reader or Google Buzz, these also have follower features enabled and you can go see the profiles and websites of those that are following you. For example, take a look at my own Google profile. You can see the many places that I show up online. Indeed, almost any of the media content sites now have following/ friending features and some sort of profile that can lead you to discover interesting people and their sites and blogs. I've found people through SlideShare, for example, a site devoted to posting and sharing PowerPoint presentations. You can do the same via Flickr (for photos) or Goodreads (for books).

Have you looked up the people that follow you on your blog? They just might be producing content you want to channel your way.

1 comment:

Brandon said...

Thanks. I've been looking forward to connecting with others and this will help a lot. It'll be great to find people with the same interests.

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