The Virtues of Blogging

Andrew Sullivan, has, I think, hit upon one of the key virtues of the blog as a tool for journalism; he writes in his “Blogger Manifesto” that “Peer-to-peer journalism, I realized, had a huge advantage over old-style journalism. It could marshall the knowledge and resources of thousands, rather than the certitudes of the few.”

Blogging-as-journalism then shares the advantages of open source software—you have hundreds, perhaps thousands, of bug finders, fixers, and coders working because they want to. And I think this “open source” effect is one of the potential side effects of using blogs for instruction. You are helping students find a voice, a personal commitment to their words and thoughts, and you are teaching them to think about audience, one of the central requirements of good writing. These are all Good Things.

Since I started really thinking about blogs—and deliberately reading and researching them—I’ve slowly realized that one could argue that my central Celtic Studies Resources site is a blog, a blog with categories, and stories.

Cascading Style Sheets

I’ve looked at articles recommending Cascading Style Sheets before, but I’ve always been frustrated by the browser incompatibilities and bugs. For the last month or so I’ve been following css discussions more closely, and I’m going to try using css again. I still don’t quite understand why people hate tables—I find them to be very useful—but the ability to use a style sheet for my sixty-something pages does appeal to me. So I’m taking a closer look.

I’ve found some good resources—this series of Apple tutorials, for one, and WebMonkey’s Style Sheet Guide then there’s Dave Raggett’s guide—and his useful “ccs readiness” checker HTML Tidy (I’m using Terry Teague’s BBTidy BBEdit plug in port). I’ve also found WDG’s Quick Tutorial and the New York Public Library Style Guide helpful, not to mention all the resources at the CSS Pointers Group.

Next of course is xml.

Text Tools for HTML

I’m old fashioned in a lot of ways. I use a text editor, BBEdit 6.5, to be precise, for my HTML (and for javascript and perl). There’s a version of BBedit, BBedit Lite, that’s free, and supports OS 9.x and OS X, and I started with it. My friend Nicholas Urfé swears by TexEdit Plus accompanied by Dean Allen’s Scripted Writing for the Web AppleScripts (yes, Apple Script is Mac only–including Mac OS X). I have them both on my list of things to look at.

But if I weren’t one of the fortunate users of the blessed Celtic computer, I’d use Arachnophilia by Paul Lutus for html under Windows. He’s announced that he’s rewriting Arachnophilia in Java2, to make it platform neutral because it “is immoral to write programs that only run on Windows.” That’s right—he’s asking users to boycott Microsoft. The new version of Arachnophilia is still CareWare.

Userland Radio and Blogger Pro

Interesting article at Byte by John Udall on Userland’s Radio 8.0.5. He does a better job of differentiating Radio from Blogger and other tools than anything else I’ve seen. I’m thus far unimpressed with user support at Userland; I’ve found places where the documentation, such as it is, is just wrong, as well as numerous instances where Windows information has been left intact in the Mac version of the software; that’s pretty unprofessional. And they don’t respond to user help requests, even though I’m registered and sent very specific information.