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Blogging 101 (Univ. of Calif./OLLI Reg #052-AHO-K55)
September 14 - October 19, 2005; Wednesdays, 1-3 pm
(6 meetings at the Annenberg Center in Rancho Mirage, CA)

Weblogs, more commonly called "blogs," started out as personal diaries posted online, but they've developed into much, much more. This course helps you understand all the buzz surrounding blogs, while providing a wide-ranging overview of blogging and how it affects public discourse. The class will explore the short but eventful history of the blogosphere, its impact on our culture, and the major players who are shaping world opinion and plotting the future of information distribution. The course includes a lesson on how to start your own blog.

Annenberg Internet-projection screen + back of Jerry Heisler`s head + il Professori. Photo by Ramon Mena Owens, The Desert Sun.Alan C. Baird
Mr. Baird (coauthor of the 9TimeZones.com book) started manually programming an online journal in early 1996, before the term "blog" was coined, and long before automatic blogging software was invented. In addition to regularly tending his own blog and moblog, he designed and now maintains a member-news blog for the Palm Springs Writers Guild.


Blogging 101 coverage: The Desert Sun newspaper (10/14) and KWXY radio (9/19)


Week 1 (9/14):
Overview. This session defines--and provides a context for understanding--terms like "blog," "moblog," "meme storms," "blogosphere," "RSS," "Blogdex," "Daypop," "Blogpulse," and "Technorati." We'll cover historical issues--including the emergence of "weblog" as a concept--and the invention of blogging software. We'll also discuss the uses of blogs, with examples from the Internet (on a proprietary eSyllabus).

Week 2 (9/21):
Blogs and the Public Discourse I. This will be a freeform discussion, using items from BlogHerald.com as starting points. In addition, we'll examine the traditional media's major blogging-related news stories from the previous 12 months (Time, Newsweek, NY Times, etc.).

Week 3 (9/28):
Kids and Blogs, Celebrities and Blogs. First, we'll discuss teenager issues: kids getting suspended, threats against teachers, gossip too hot for the classroom, etc. Then, we'll survey and vote on the best celebrity blogs (Barbra Streisand, columnist Dave Barry, author William Gibson--has he really quit?, rocker Moby, etc.).

Week 4 (10/05):
Blogging and Journalism. Julie Varnau, who blogs for The Desert Sun, will be our guest speaker. We'll also take a look at CNN's blogging segment, and alpha bloggers like The Washington Post's Joel Achenbach ("Achenblog"), Slate blogger Mickey Kaus, Matt Drudge and his Drudge Report, Jim Romenesko, Cory Doctorow at Boing Boing, etc.

Week 5 (10/12):
Book Deals/Blogging for Bucks. Case Study 1: Salam Pax, who blogged from Baghdad during the early part of the war, published a book in October of 2003. Case Study 2: Belle de Jour, the anonymous diary of a London call girl, came out with a book in January 2005. Case Study 3: Wil Wheaton, the actor who played "Wesley Crusher" on Star Trek, snagged a three-book contract, with two already published. Case Study 4: Jessica Cutler, who blogged for two weeks as "Washingtonienne," managed to get a book published in June 2005. We'll also discuss: (a) Jason Kottke, who quit his day gig to blog full time; (b) Rafat Ali, who runs PaidContent, a blog which shows people how to make money on the web; and (c) Nick Denton, whose Gawker Media blog empire was recently valued at $274 million.

Week 6 (10/19):
Blogs and the Public Discourse II. As class members gain more ability to understand and focus on the blogosphere, we'll begin to discuss student-initiated topics and delve further into issues which might have been held over from previous weeks. There will also be a step-by-step tutorial for creating a blog.