Time Goes On

May has been a crazy month. Actually, let me back-track. This has been a crazy year. I started working toward my Master's in Strategic Communications in July. I've been struggling with a lot of personal things such as motivation to work out, weight, trying to focus on school, losing my social life, and trying to truly understand being in love. It's been crazy to say the least. A lot has changed and it's difficult for me to express those changes in a short blog post. Let me just stay more recent…

On May 12th, I was let go from my job. It's amazing how time has been flying by. The first week I ran some errands I had been putting off and frantically searched job sites. I had two interviews the week I was let go so I was sitting on the edge of my seat. Needless to say I received good news - I have a job again! It has always been my dream to work at Balboa Park and now I do. I am extremely excited for the next adventure in my life. 

It's the end of May and I am one month away from being done with school. I will have my Master's degree. I wish I felt more accomplished but I don't. I even considered going back to school to get a Professional Certificate in Marketing but I can't justify the eight grand that would be. I've been debating on whether or not I should walk at my graduation. Some people from my program are walking and asked me if I am doing the same. I haven't even applied for my graduation yet… or do I still do that in Grad school? I don't know. 

Where does the time go? This year is moving too quickly. I remember it being a miserable hot summer like it was just yesterday. The miserable, hot summer is back. 

Better Blogging Mini-Series Conclusion

Over the past four weeks, I've worked on a mini-series all about bettering myself as a blogger. I wrote about usability and your blog, writing for your blog, connecting bloggers, and creating networks. Reading the assigned text gave me insight to some concepts I never thought of before. It made me realize that my presence on the internet is not going to be well-known unless I work for it. I want to "link up" to some of my classmates so you, my dear reader, will get better insight to the topics I brought up in my mini-series. 

Rosalinda Writes gives a thorough book review of Steve Krug's, "Don't Make Me Think!" which is a great introduction to creating and maintaining usability on the web. As bloggers, it's important to remember that we create the user experience. Readers come to my blog for a specific reason, whether it's because they know me and want insight to my life, or they are strangers and want a peek into my life via pictures and some text. Understanding your audience is the first step to creating the reader experience. 

Cheyenne Independent does a great book review of "Aim for the Heart" by Al Tompkins. Speaking of creating the user experience, Al Tompkins discusses the need for the journalist to give the reader a chance to be interactive with the news story. In the context of blogging, it's important for readers to have options on my blog: commenting, jumping from story to story with ease, clickable links, photos and text. The reader should be able to come to my blog and have options. Easy enough, right? Actually, no, this is not easy. It takes some thought! 

LaVida News and Reader Inspired deliver with insight on the importance of connecting with others and how closely linked we all really are. "Linked" by Albert-Laszlo Barbasi is a difficult book to digest, the concepts are complex but LaVida News and Reader Inspired do a great job of breaking down the important points. LaVida News discusses how information is passed from one person to another by using "The Party" as a great and easy to understand example. She writes, "at a party with ten guests, none of whom initially knows one another, social ties form as the guests start chatting in small groups. At first, the groups are isolated from each other. Indeed, though there are social links between those in the same group, everyone outside of that group is still a stranger. As time goes on, three guests move to different groups and a giant cluster emerges. Although not everyone knows everyone else, there is now a single social network that includes all the guests. By following the social links, one can now find a path between any two guests." See the importance of linking up? Reader Inspired touches on the weak vs. strong links. Weak ties are important in the blogging world because these ties are where we find inspiration and new ideas. Strong ties are the people at home that support your efforts on the internet but weak ties are the bloggers you create online friendships with and discuss link up opportunities. Linking up will give a blogger better presence on the internet. 

The ending chapters of "Linked" are a lot more difficult for me to wrap my head around so I decided to pick the two writers who sum it up in an understandable fashion. Great Basin Photography narrates an example of the power of hubs and online placement. He mentions that his comment on a news web board went viral due to the placement of his comment, he receive a lot of likes which kept him at the top of the comment series. Think about this in terms of networking your blog and creating relevant link ups. You will sit high on a search engine if the search engine doesn't have to do much to find you. If his comment is your website and the people clicking are people "searching" the web for a keyword on your site or clicking on you from another site, then you continue to gain "popularity" online. Bernard's Blog writes about how everything is interconnected and that we as humans, have always been forming social networks. As human beings, we recognize the "network" and how we interact within that network. He makes a great point by stating, "if we can get our networks in shape and understand how they work, how to feed them and how to keep them healthy we can create great opportunities to succeed in getting our information into the place we intend them to go." In terms of blogging, this means we have to recognize the network in which we want to reside and work to build those weak ties mentioned by Reader Inspired to ensure a strong network. The strength of your network dictates the strength of your blog. 

To Link or Not to Link

After finishing the last few chapters of “Linked: How Everything is Connected to Everything Elseand What it Means for Business, Science, and Everyday Life” by Albert-Laszlo Barabasi my brain is tired. Sometimes the concept of blogging seems simple, right? Create a blog with a relevant topic, take pictures, post blogs, comment on other blogs, and bam! Internet success overnight! Only, it never really happens that way. There are so many pieces to this blogging puzzle that it can seem daunting and overwhelming. I take the time to take pictures of my food, my outfits, and my day-to-day happenings, write an eloquent post (that’s relative), and post it to my blog. It gets a few hits but no comments and certainly no overnight popularity. It makes me question, “What am I doing wrong?”

Technically, I (as a blogger) am not doing anything “wrong.” When thinking about the Internet, we have to consider the code and architecture of our cyberspace. “Code – or software – is the bricks and mortar of cyberspace. The architecture is what we build, using the code as building blocks” (174). The architecture is determined by “code” and “collective human actions” which includes the way we interact with the Internet or in this case, the “blog-o-sphere”. The reason why my blog did not gain popularity overnight is due to my blog having too weak of a voice. Consider the fact that there are many blogs out there basically selling what I’m selling: daily happenings and some fashion. As a reader, you have probably seen and read what I have to say already. The Internet has no way to search me because I’m not part of the “hub.” In order for a search engine to notice me, I must have “twenty-one to one hundred incoming links” (174). This means that other bloggers are linking to me because they agree with my view, liked something on my page (or not), and/or want others to check out something they have discovered. “Your ability to find my Webpage is determined by one factor only: its position on the Web… my node will slowly turn into a minor hub, and search engines will inevitably notice” (175).

By linking, we are creating a network of bloggers who share similar interests and ideas. I believe one thing my blog lacks is a specific topic. At first, my blog was about my weight-loss journey, then it turned into a half-assed fashion blog, and then I just started writing about my daily happenings. In order to have a stronger voice in the blogging world, I have to have a stance. It can be difficult to find when my time to blog is limited and I’m sure you feel the same. “Linked” has given me some great insight to how the internet works and how I can make the internet work for me. At first, you may feel overwhelmed with the topics as they range from networking to viruses (AIDS), but it may help steer your blog and the way you use your blog in a different (and better) direction!

So my lovely bloggers, it’s time to start linking to your favorite blogs to make this hub grow! 

Also - see this video about "Linked" as I thought it was a great overview of the book: "Connected: How Kevin Bacon Cured Cancer".
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