Blogging 115: The Blogroll

A blog’s Blogroll plays two main roles. When you add a link to your blogroll you are typically either saying:

  1. “I have found this site helpful, and I would like to share it with you” or
  2. “Here is a blog that covers some of the same subject matter as mine, and if you like my blog you might also enjoy this one.”

So politically oriented blogs tend to include like-minded others in their blogroll, for example. And blogs that are about social media often have blogroll links to others that have a similar focus.

The SMUG blogroll has been rather spartan because I haven’t updated it for about 18 months. Here’s how it looked before I began this post:

So I’m taking the opportunity of this course to both demonstrate blogroll management and to bring the SMUG blogroll up-to-date. Or actually, it’s what it looked like immediately after I did this first addition.


Here are some more blogs that fit both of the above criteria, and which I’m therefore adding to my blogroll:

These are only a Baker’s Dozen of the 230 or so feeds in my NetNewswire feed aggregator, but they’re the ones I think will be most interesting for the SMUG student body. I also added links to some of our Mayo Clinic social media sites (on Facebook, YouTube, our News Blog and our Podcast Blog.)

Also, this course is the first one for which I’m using a YouTube screencast instead of a narrated slidecast. I’ll post about how I did it in a future course. I obviously have some things to learn to improve the quality of the screencast (and make it a snappier presentation), but I think having the ability to show exactly how to do things instead of narrating still frames will be really helpful in the show-and-tell courses.


  1. Go to the sites linked above and subscribe to their feeds. See Social Media 102 on RSS feeds if you need a refresher.
  2. If you have a blog, create or update your blogroll. You get extra credit points for adding Social Media University, Global.

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Social Media 107: Introduction to Flickr

Jeff Jarvis advises media companies wanting to survive to “focus on what you do best, and link to the rest,” which is why he thinks 15,000 journalists covering the major-party national conventions is a waste.

I’m taking his advice in the SMUG curriculum, and taking advantage of some recent posts from Scott Meis, a SMUGgle from Chicago. Read these posts and you’ll have a solid introduction to Flickr.

Flickr is essentially YouTube for photos, although as Scott points out, you can upload video to Flickr if you have a Pro account.

If you mainly want to share photos only with your friends, Facebook is your best choice. That’s why, according to comScore, it’s the #1 photo-sharing site on the Web.

But if you want your photos to be available to anyone, Flickr is a great site for you.

And as usual for these Core Courses in SMUG, Lee LeFever has a helpful introductory video, Online Photo Sharing in Plain English.


  1. Create a personal Flickr account.
  2. Paste the URL of your Flickr photostream in the comments below. (Scott’s photostream is at

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Twitter 101: Intro to Twitter

I’ve written previously about some possible practical uses for Twitter (here and here), but if you you need some basics on the idea behind Twitter, there’s no one better than Lee LeFever to put it in plain English:


Update: Check out Twitter 140 for a helpful further explanation.

Homework Assignments:

This is just the 101 class, so the homework is limited:

  1. Sign up for Twitter.
  2. Follow me (I’ll follow you back).

Intro to Blogs

Note: This Social Media University, Global course is cross-posted as Social Media 105 and Blogging 101.

Many people have misconceptions about blogs. Some of this is based on misinformation or disinformation from the mainstream media about mysterious “bloggers.” Like we’re a completely different breed, if not a full-fledged new species that should be prevented from procreating.

In essence, a blog is just a Web site that allows comment and conversations. Thanks again to Lee LeFever for his “plain English” overview:


The best part about blogs is that if you are reading this, you can have one. And it won’t cost you anything, except perhaps two minutes of your time. But we’ll let you prove that as part of your homework assignment.

So, if you don’t already have a blog, SMUG can help you get started. You can pay to have a TypePad account if you wish, or you can get a free one from Blogger, a Google service. In the spirit of academic freedom, SMUG doesn’t require that you use for your blog. But we do recommend Why?

  • It’s free. Not a 14-day free trial, but completely free for the basic service.
  • You get 3 GIGABYTES of storage at no extra charge, and there is no limit on bandwidth, which is pretty impressive.
  • SMUG uses Everything you see here (except for our domain name) has been accomplished without spending a penny, and with no support from an IT department. So if you see something you’d like to replicate on your blog, you can just ask the Chancellor (see box at upper right, or put your questions in the comments) how to do it. does have some limitations on the kinds of scripts or widgets you can embed. And you can’t use Google’s AdSense program to monetize your content. (If you’re seeing Google ads on this blog, they’re from, not SMUG.) But then again, the service offers an astonishing level of benefits at no charge to me, so I think it’s great.

If you really think you’re going into blogging as a for-profit enterprise, you might consider TypePad. Or, you could start on, register your own domain (like I did with and use domain mapping. Then if you decide you want to move on to full-blown WordPress on a leased server for maximum customization, you can move it and re-map without breaking any links or losing Google juice.

Homework Assignments:

If you don’t already have a blog:

  1. Think a few minutes about a name and URL for your blog. But don’t think so long that it keeps you from taking the plunge and actually starting. If you later decide you don’t like your URL, you can always get another blog on They’re free.
  2. Get a timing device of some kind. It can be an old-fashioned analog wristwatch, or better yet one of those digital athletic ones. If you have some kind of stopwatch function that would be ideal. But don’t spend any money for it (you could even use the clock function on your computer, if necessary.) We just want to get a rough idea of how long step four takes.
  3. Start your timer.
  4. Start your blog on In the curriculum for the SMUG Blogging major we will be working through lots of lessons that will use WordPress as the blogging platform. So if you use WordPress instead of Blogger or TypePad it will all look more familiar as you doing your homework. Click here to get a preview of what it will look like when you start your WordPress blog, and click here to actually sign up for your account.
  5. Stop your timer.
  6. Add a comment to this post, including the URL of your new blog and how long it took you to get started. Was it two minutes or less?

For All Students:

I plan to create a post of SMUG student blogs, so if you don’t want your blog listed there, please also indicate that in your comment.

If you already have a blog:

You’re one of our advanced students, so help please help your classmates by sharing your experience. Leave a comment below indicating

  1. what blogging platform you’re using,
  2. what you like and dislike about it,
  3. how long you’ve been blogging and
  4. your URL.

Social Media 104: Intro to Social Networking

Note:  Social Media 104 is part of the Core Curriculum for Social Media University, Global (SMUG).

Visiting Professor and honorary SMUG doctoral candidate Lee LeFever, whose material also has been indispensable in Social Media 102: Intro to RSS and Social Media 103: Intro to Wikis, again has a “Plain English” video to introduce new users to the benefits of social networking sites like Facebook, MySpace and LinkedIn. Watch it:


If you want to use social networking sites for business purposes, here are a few introductory tips about each of the top three sites:

  • “MySpace is for middle schoolers.” That’s the assessment of my youngest daughter, the wise-beyond-her-years high school junior. It’s an overstatement, but it does match the demographic reality that the MySpace demographic skews young. Which is why it’s a bit disturbing to me that on MySpace I get far more porn spam “friend” requests than anything else. MySpace claims a much larger user base than Facebook, but somehow I doubt that Alla, Alyson, Anna, Clarice, Esperanza, Estella, Evelyn, Gertrude, Ivy, Jaymie, Judy, Judith, Jennifer, Karan, Keeley, Mertie, Michaela, Maritza, Norine, Nisha, Patricia, Ramona, Traci, Thelma, Vanessa, Valeria and Zada are real people. But if you are an aspiring musician or otherwise want to reach a young fan base, you may want to have MySpace in your mix. For example, my friend Scott Meis with the Donate Life Illinois initiative to increase organ donation has found MySpace a great way to reach young people with his message.
  • LinkedIn is the most popular strictly professional networking site. I call it “Social Networking without the social.” I know others swear by it, and I’m happy to be a member, but I don’t see it involving its users as much as either Facebook or MySpace do. If you work for a professional services firm and are looking to do hardcore networking, LinkedIn could be great. It gives you ability to provide and ask for references and recommendations.
  • Facebook, with its Ivy League college roots, strikes a nice balance between the two. It’s far less susceptible to spam than MySpace is. I’ve devoted a whole section of this blog to Facebook business uses, so for Social Media 104 students who want to read ahead for extra credit, go to the Facebook Business page.

Homework Assignments:

  1. Visit my MySpace page. If you want to send me a friend invite, that would be great to actually have some non-spam requests. I don’t spend much time in MySpace, though, so if we want to have a SMUG class about MySpace, we probably should have a guest instructor. Any volunteers? If you think I haven’t been fair to the biggest social networking site, I’d be glad to accept a guest post about the advantages of MySpace. If you want to create a MySpace page to get more hands-on experience, that gets you extra credit, too, but it’s optional.
  2. Create a LinkedIn profile. Find at least five current or former work colleagues and add them to your network.
  3. Join Facebook. This is a remedial assignment, as it was part of Social Media 101, but if you haven’t completed this step yet, now is a great time to do it. Then you can enroll in SMUG and Friend me.

Class Discussion

Answer the following in the comments below: 

  1. Which social networking sites have you joined?
  2. Do you find one of them more useful than the others for your business purposes?
  3. If so, which one, and why?
  4. Do you belong to a social networking site not mentioned above? Which one(s)? Why do you find it helpful?