Wednesday, April 25, 2007

My blog has a name: Anne's Spot

My blog finally has a name: Anne's Spot for Anne's Stories, Perceptions, Observations, and Thoughts on People, Behavior, and Change. I originally used aafromaa as the title because I could not could up with anything particularly creative and I thought I wanted to stay anonymous.

I quickly gave up on being anonymous because if I wanted to share and others share with me, then they needed to know I was a legitimate professional whose knowledge and opinions are relevant. Having an online identity is important.

Most of my professional friends know me as someone in technology. So why am I writing about many different topics--not just technology? I have an interest in many areas beyond technology. I write about people because those who have demonstrated courage, leadership, innovativeness, and perseverance are fascinating.

I write about technology too. Technology solutions are really about creating solutions for people. My interest lies in how and why people respond to different situations and how and why they adopt technologies. Why do some people adopt technologies more readily than others? The decision-making process for adoption of technology is similar to other kinds of decision-making. In my dissertation research I used an established research methodology for assessing people's decision making processes in health behavior change (like eating better, exercising more) to that of adopting technologies.

Like most Extension professionals I am passionate about helping people, thus I will continue to give tips on using technologies. My posts will not always be about technologies. But, my posts will always be about people.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Concerns for VT

Mark David Milliron describes so very well why the tragedy at Virginia Tech hurts so much.

"...violate the very nature of learning. Learning is genesis. It's supposed to lead to new and better life. It's supposed to nurture the seeds of promise ..."

and VT has ...

"... the love, care, and concern of millions flowing your way."

Stories from Hancock County, MS and Enterprise, AL

Everyone has a story to tell, especially those who have experienced tragedies. Their stories tell the trauma, frustrations, emotions, and changes to their lives. By telling their stories, survivors make a record of their experiences and help us to understand and to empathize with their situation. We will never be able to experience the tragedy as they did, but we can give the victims our thoughts and prayers and possible assist them.

This post is about stories of tragedies that happen a six weeks ago and 19 months ago. These two stories were written for two different purposes after two different storms. Commonality in these stories are adapting, perseverance, generosity, hope, and faith.

The Katrina Recovery Trip 2006
The Katrina Recovery Trip 2006 document was written in an effort to call for assistance for the citizens of Hancock County. In addition to describing the needs for assistance, Gwen Smith, Hancock County Extension Director, describes how she adjusted Extension programming to meet the needs of citizens of Hancock County, after Katrina. The devastation in Hancock County is still overwhelming, even more than one year after Katrina. The Katrina Recovery Trip 2006 document is a call for help.

Enterprise High School Teacher's Email
Amy Covington, an Enterprise High School teacher, wrote an email one month after a tornado ravished the city of Enterprise killing 9 people (eight Enterprise high school students). Amy's experience, like others from Enterprise, has changed her outlook--changed her forever. She is dealing with the loss of the stability of her life. Amy and others in the Enterprise school system have adjusted to shared building space with a local community college.

George Bush in his visit to Enterprise on Saturday, March 3, said “Out of this rubble will emerge a better tomorrow,” and referring to the student government president, “she will have the opportunity to help rebuild” and learn that hope can follow tragedy.

Through the generosity and kindness of others, survivors of tragedies are able to see that there is hope and that there is goodness in this world. The kindness that comes out of bad situations is what breeds hope for those whose lives have been devastated.

Sunday, April 1, 2007

Tips from a New Blogger

When I started blogging I said I would share what I have learned. Although, I am still a toddling blogger, here are a few tips for those who are considering blogging.

Use a news reader
Before you start blogging, start using a news reader. For those in my organization, use Internet Explorer 7 and click on the little yellow news reader button. Eventually, you will want to migrate to something like Google Reader which is more versatile and integrates well with other Google applications. Ben posted a how-to use a news reader for his mother.

News readers are efficient, convenient, and useful in keeping up with developments in your favorite blogs. News readers are less intrusive than email lists. You will soon start wondering why more websites are not using news feeders (Atom or RSS feeds). Besides, most people who will read your blog will be using a news reader to prompt them that you have posted an article.

Consider the name of your blog
Think of a name you can stick with. My blog name is AAfromAA. That name has now become an identity and I really need to think of a good name for my blog page. Daily Blog Tips gives some tips for creating an effective names. I need to consider those tips, and I am looking for suggestions.

Create your own domain
Your own domain gives you a one-stop place. Also, the domain name makes it easy for you to share your blog address. When colleagues ask for my blog address, it is a lot easier to say "" than to give the blogspot address. The domain name helps readers associate you with your blog.

A Daily Blog Tips post also says to make a decision on www or no www (i.e., http:/ /www. domainname. com or http: // By settling on one, then you solve backlink count and search engine indexation problems.

Or you can use a redirect code. This is an important point if you are analyzing your site's search count. Decide on the front end of your process whether to use www or no www.

End your links with a slash
When using links, use the slash / after the link. The slash indicates the end of the address so it will load a little faster.
The improvement on the loading time of links ending with a slash will not be astronomical, but when it comes to speeding up a website every small bit helps!
Make paragraphs short
Reading on the web is different than reading on paper. Most people scan the web; they do not read the web like a book. Forget what you were taught in 8th grade language class about paragraph formations. Breaking up the paragraphs makes it easier to read. Also, use headings to help direct the reading.
A 100-word paragraph looks pretty long on a Web page. Long paragraphs send a signal to the reader: This will require effort. .... Short paragraphs send a different message: I'm easy! This won't take long at all! Read me!
Though, I have not investigated its applicability, this tip seems very pertinent for writing email messages, too.

Your blog is your own
Your blog is your own (unless your organization has limitations on your writing freedom). Write about what you know, your opinion, and what you want to express. Remembering anyone may read it, including your mother. Absolutely do not write in an offensive fashion--there is no reason too. You will be more effective if you keep your posts to a professional level of respect.

Blogging is your opportunity to share your knowledge. More people are interested in what you have to say that you may think. Do it professionally and readers will keep coming back.

Write to a particular person or a small group with similar interest
This is favorite my blog tip. When writing a post, think that you are writing to a particular person. For instance, I am writing this blog to any of my colleagues in my organization who are thinking about blogging. In particular, Tim who is particularly accurate in predicting gas pump prices could easily post his predictions in a blog. His short paragraphs of explanation would make for a quick, easy read in my news reader.

When Kevin Gamble in our dinner conversation was encouraging a colleague to blog, he responded to my question "Who do write to? The world?" Kevin gave this advice which I later found on one of his posts.

If you've been thinking about blogging, and don't think you have anything to say, think about your closest colleagues and family (think of your list of eight) and write for them. They really do want to know what's got your attention, what's important to you, and what you're thinking.
For every post, I keep this tip in mind.

Use links
If you read something that sparks your post, link to it. By linking to it, you are 1) giving credit for your inspiration and 2) giving the reader an opportunity to delve into the topic for more detail and explanation.

Other considerations
Questions that I have not answered are 1) do you need to stay with a certain topic area? and 2) does length matter? A colleague once discussed that he did not read a particular blog because the posts varied widely.

I like reading a variety of topics. It never occurred to me that variety would be a major problem. Though you might stay within a certain arena, variety should not be a big problem. The answer probably lies within the purpose of your blog.

My guess is length does not matter. If you write to a particular person or a small group with similar interest, then you will write effectively and length does not matter. Though, Missouri Small Business Center suggests that web text should be 75% of printed text.
Reading online is 25 percent slower than reading on paper. Therefore, web content needs to be about 75 percent the length of its paper equivalent.
This indicates that I need to work at taking out an extra words. That is going to be hard for me.

An example of a blog that can get lengthy, but interesting is The Fischbowl. I like the perspectives that Karl Fisch provides, albeit they are a little out of my professional arena. His perceptions make me think; I'll keep reading his posts.

His presentation, "Shift Happens / Did You Know?", is one of my favorites. The Scott McLeod version can be found on YouTube.

These are only tips
I don't consider any of these tips as absolutes. Do what you want. My only rule is respect the readers which means never be brutally offensive.

I need to learn more about Creative Commons Copyright and I need to develop my domain, (it's there, but does not have the effect and information I want on it).

Do you have tips? Or would you consider sharing your mistakes and corrections on Dailly Blog Tips.