Annenberg Internet-projection screen + back of Jerry Heisler`s head + il ProfessoriAlan C. Baird instructs the audience during a blogging class
for over-50s at the Annenberg Center in Rancho Mirage.

Desert over-50s are jumping into blogosphere

Maggie Downs

The Desert Sun
Friday, October 14, 2005

When Toni Carver said she was interested in the blogosphere, her 33-year-old son laughed.

"What're you gonna do?" he said. "Start your own blog?"

Thing is, she just might.

Carver is one of 19 students in the Blogging 101 class at the Annenberg Center at Eisenhower Medical Center in Rancho Mirage.

For those who haven't taken this class, a blog is short for weblog, an online publication that is periodically updated and is typically written in reverse chronological order.

The course - no credits, no tests and no grades - is part of a continuing education program for people over age 50.

While younger generations are growing up online and plugged in, this class targets an entirely different audience - the folks who still think spam comes from a can.

The six-week class was designed by Alan C. Baird, an author and pioneer in the world of blogging, through the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute.

The course has covered computer basics, like shortcuts for cutting and pasting text, as well as the history of blogs, the different genres of blogs and how to start a blog of one's own.

"I wanted to cover as many aspects of the blogging world as possible for people who knew little to nothing about it," Baird said.

Jerry Heisler, 67, of Palm Desert only knew one thing about blogs coming into the class - he wanted to use the medium to help his direct mail advertising company.

"It's so easy to do. You can spend your time thinking about what to write, not programming a complicated site," he said.

Student Dotty Marks of Indian Wells doesn't even have a computer.

"My household was always so involved in books. We always thought if you get involved with a computer, you had to give up reading," she said.

Then Marks heard the story about how blog postings led to the retirement of TV anchor Dan Rather and she grew curious - how could this new medium be so influential?

"This has opened up a whole other world for me," she said. "I don't feel so left behind."

Meryl Nesbitt of Indian Wells was intrigued by the potential to read unedited news and uncensored views through blogs.

"I'm particularly interested in life experience," she said. "It's wonderful that I can get all these different views online. Plus, there's an immediacy there."

The students see blogging as an important tool for the elderly - a way to pass along information, make global connections and gather ideas in an ageless forum.

"The seniors understand that blogging is just another way to remain relevant," Nesbitt said.

For more information about future courses, visit

Blogging 101

What is a blog?
A blog, short for weblog, is an online publication that is periodically updated and is usually written in reverse chronological order.

How many senior citizens are online?
Age 50-54: 9.6 percent of total online users
Age 55-64: 11.3 percent of total online users
Age 65-74: 5.4 percent of total online users
Age 75+: 1.6 percent of total online users
Source: International Demographics

How can I get my own blog?
1. Explore free blog sites, like, or All offer step-by-step instructions. (Other sites charge a small fee, but come with additional features, like
2. Decide how you want your blog to look. Most sites allow you to choose a layout or create your own.
3. Write something. Your blog could focus on anything, like politics, genealogy, crafts, technology or creative writing.
4. Gain readers for your blog by sending the address to your friends and family.