I am writing this article purely to encourage others to join the Pomona blogosphere, or to help encourage the blogfaded. Also, given that us Pomona bloggers are going to have a blogger’s float in the Pomona Christmas Parade this year, I thought an article to help even more Pomonians to join us would be a timely adventure.
First I’m going to talk about what a blog is, and then the various methods of starting one. So read on about what blogging is all about and as you do, consider joining us as a Pomona blogger!
What is a blog?
In all technicality, “Blog” is a shortened version of the name “Weblog” and that is what it is, a journal really of whatever you want it to be: from your life generally to something very topic based, such as restaurants of your neighborhood, or your latest painting, or perhaps gardening projects. It is a medium to share knowledge. This medium is different from things like Facebook, and Twitter, in that it is often much more thought out and composed, and not just terse and instantly up-to-the-second: “I’m at the Eifiel Tower right now! Check out my cool picture I just posted to Flickr with my Iphone!”
As such, though, every blog is typically a reflection of the person who is blogging there. Everyone has their quite unique individual interests, passions, and talents — and all of those are thoughtfully reflected in one’s individual blog. Here are a couple of Pomona examples:
My blog, The Goddess of Garey Avenue Blog, is a personal journal about my life living mostly in the Lincoln Park District of Pomona. I don’t have resources such as a digital camera, or video editing software, so my blog doesn’t use those forms to express itself. What I do have are lots of comic books, old children’s books, and some proficient knowledge of scanners and image editing. Also, I consider myself a very skilled writer. I worked as a college writing tutor for about four years. I also love having a very strong social network. All of these things and more, woven together make my blog what it is.
Original Skrip has such a talent for humor, a keen eye for so many things visual, and a superb talent for image editing. Ze loves to enjoy all kinds of beverages and is so passionate about all things political. Ze has also lived in Pomona for a lot longer than me. All of these things working together make hir blog the most wonderful creation that it is. Also, I think hir blog has such a phenomenal blogroll in the left sidebar, that it serves as such a lovely hub for the rest of the Pomona blogosphere.
Ren at the Images of Pomona blog has a camera for pictures and video which none of the rest of us can match. Ze has an astounding talent for video and image editing too, and fun humor that ze adds to so many of hir creations. Ze is so well connected in Pomona and to the downtown area, and has lived in Pomona all of hir long life, giving hir a profound knowledge to share about all things Pomona. The visual tapestry of hir Pomona images blog shows off all of Pomona and especially the downtown.
The M-M-M-My Pomona blog is a group blog, having an assortment of writers (email them to join them!), with an array of talents and resources. They share their great passion for this city, it’s various neighborhoods and the wonderful things which transpire here. They share information about various events and their great enjoyment of them.
The David Allen Blog is a local newspaper blogger. So hir blog posts not only reflect hir wonderful eye and knowledge of this area, but connect us, the Pomona blogging community up to the larger local regional stuff that is about.
And there are other blogs in Pomona too, but that is just a sampling of the more personal blogs. Pomona also does have quite a few businesses with blogs too – which promote the events and other activities of those business, a couple of good Pomona examples of this are the Fairplex blog and the Repertory Opera Company blog, both showing off their wonderful activities and contributions to our city!
How to Start a Pomona Blog yourself!
I only started my blog after months and months of the Goddess of Pomona, another Pomona blogger, saying to me “You should join us!” I finally did, and it has been such great fun! Depending on your level of internet savyness, there are three primary ways to go about starting a blog:
1) Use a free online service (such as blogger.com)
2) Get a server through a host-provider and then do a one-click install
3) Either at home or through a host-provider, get a server and set it all up yourself.
I did number three, but most bloggers in Pomona do number one. Number one is the quickest and easiest if you don’t have a ton of internet knowledge. If you do have more knowledge of html and want a lot more control over fine grained details of your blog, then numbers two or three might be better.
To understand all of this more clearly, I need to explain what the internet is and how the blogophere works.
What is a website, or blog and how does it work?
A blog is a dynamic website, and not a static site. This difference is important to understand, especially if you decide to start a blog on a your own server or through a host-server. The dynamic web is interactive, and often referred to as “Web 2.0” while the old style web is made up of static sites and often called “Web 1.0”.
The internet is basically a bunch of computers from around the world connected together. If you have a website or blog, your site or blog is located on the harddrive of one of those computers (such computers are often referred to as “servers,” because they “serve up” the files of a specific directory to those accessing them). In early days of the web, the mid 1990s, most websites were static, html files. That means that the only way a website changed was if you went directly into that computer directory and changed the static files themselves. Today, approximately 15 years later, the web certainly does have sites that are static, but most websites, including blogs, are not.
Today, when you access a website, your browser is usually not accessing static files on a remote computer, but instead, a computer program (often called a CMS or Content Management System) on the server is connected to a database and template files, and when you access a site, that computer program pulls information from the database and elsewhere on the web, processes it, sticks it into a template (the visual layout of the site), and then sends the site to your browser as an html file. This is the dynamic web – web 2.0. Let’s say you leave a comment, then the CMS takes the comment, stores it in the database, and then when you access the site again, the website is once again put together as you access it, and will display your comment accordingly. It is an interactive web.
Method 1: Use a free online service
For method number one of starting a blog, you simply find a service. When you access their website and set up a blog, they are doing all of that CMS and database stuff for you. They’ll usually have a very wide array of templates or “themes,” which you can even customize to your liking or even create your own from scratch, you’ll pick a subdomain of their site (like myfabulousblog.blogspot.com), or if you purchase a domain from somewhere, they’ll often let you use that domain while using their service!
Prominent places to sign up for a free blog are:
• blogger.com or blogspot.com — Most Pomona bloggers use their free service!
• wordpress.com — also a great free service for blogging
• livejournal.com — a good place to blog, but the ads/links are more prominent
A major drawback of these services are that your blog will likely have very minor ads or links displayed, either in the top header or elsewhere depending on the service; a major advantage is that maintaining your blog is super easy, you don’t need a lot technical knowledge, and really it’s as simple as using a very basic word processor on your computer.
Method 2: Get a server through a host-provider and then do a one-click install
For this method of starting a blog, you need to sign up to have a server through a host provider. For a one-click install, after you pick the domain/URL for your blog (like myfabulousblog.com), you’d go to the section where they have the one-click install, click it, they set it all up, visit your site and log into it, and away you go. One-click install means, that you get to pick a CMS to use from among those which your host provider accommodates for one-click installs, and you let them take care of the technical details.
CMSs of which many host providers provide one-click installs:
• WordPress (this is the computer program itself, not the service)
• Your host’s sitebuilder
WordPress is by far the most popular blogging platform out there. Drupal is also very popular, but from my own experience, I’d say WordPress is the most user friendly. Also, most hosts also provide their own site/blog building platform (a CMS) to build a blog or website with. The host GoDaddy is very popular among many for their sitebuilder/CMS called “Website Tonight.”
Many hosts out there provide one click installs or have their own easy platforms for building a blog or even a website. Here are a few of the most popular host providers out there who provide such services:
The major disadvantage of having a one-click install or hosted sitebuilder is that you won’t necessarily have as much control over the blood and guts of the site – but the advantage of choosing a CMS through a host provider, over that of a free online service, is that you will be able to extend the program more. Let’s say you wanted your blog to have a calendar section, or an online forum — extending your site beyond it’s uses as simply a blog are greatly enhanced.
Method 3: Get a server at home or through a host-provider, and then set it up yourself
For this method, either follow the steps in method two by getting a server through a host (such as Dreamhost or GoDaddy), and then instead of doing the one-click install, install everything by hand yourself — or set up a computer at home, connected to the internet 24 hours a day and turn it into your server, setting up everything yourself (you can use a server program like Uniform Server on a home computer). With this method you are afforded the most control over the blog. If you are a potential business, or an actual business in Pomona, this is probably the thing to do. By installing everything yourself, you have both a large array of CMSs to choose from, but also can extend the capabilities of your blog as much as you please. For a full list of CMSs for blogging or otherwise, check out opensourcecms.com.
Jumping in the Water
For myself, I’ve gone with method three: My host provider is Dreamhost, I chose them because they were a local, independently-owned business out of Brea, and I use a custom installation of WordPress. Professionally I’ve installed, built, and maintained sites using many of the above hosts and CMSs/platforms. And depending on your knowledge-base and desire, you can jump into blogging in Pomona as easily as getting an account through blogger.com or as complex as setting up your own server at home, or anywhere in-between.
If you need any help setting up an account through blogger.com, please email any of the Pomona bloggers who happen to use their fabulous service, if you want to join the M-M-M-My Pomona blog, a communal blog in Pomona, please email Pride in Garfield Park for help signing up and contributing to their wonderful blog, or if you want to set up a more extendable blog, please email me and I will be most happy to help you to set up one on a server. Also, be sure to email several of us once your blog is up and going so that we can add your blog to our blogrolls, thus linking our community of blogs together!
See you around Pomona, and around the Pomona blogosphere too!!!!