Monthly Archives: November 2011
Blogging, like any other media, requires a topic. This sounds really obvious. You’re probably thinking, “Ted, why are you even telling me this?” It almost goes without saying.
But how many of you reading this have sat down to write a blog post and you just end up staring at that little blinking black line?
What am I going to blog about today?
The blinking black line represents that moment where you sit down to blog and you feel like you have nothing to talk about. Having a clearly defined topic for your blog is the first step to curing blogger’s block. If you’ve got a subject that you always blog about, you just need to keep expanding on it. The more you blog, the easier that will eventually become.
But not everybody does that. A lot of people have more open, free-form blogs. That’s not a recipe for disaster. Not at all. But in that case, it’s all about the personality. Your blog really shouldn’t be about you but you should come through in your blog. If you get good at it, people begin to recognize the way you write.
It’s all about inspiration. Sometimes you just need a little help to find a topic to discuss. This is where social media can come in handy!
I’ve found so many stories for Talknowledgy, either the blog or the radio show, on Twitter. Following people who blog or report about the same thing you like to discuss may seem like cheating, but it’s all about your angle. Your readers want to know what you think about the news of the day, within the bailiwick of your blog. Keep an eye out on what’s up, and you’ll never have a shortage of topics to discuss.
But Talknowledgy is, at its heart, a news program. That may not work for you. Why not reach out to friends on Facebook for ideas? Your friends are always posting different things they think are interesting. Do you have several friends sharing the same video or article? There’s a topic!
I’ve found Google+ to be a great resource for funny pictures. My Google+ stream is filled with gif after gif. Your weekly funny picture blog post could benefit from a backlog of great material!
Brainstorming is a process that can take many forms. Generally people do it in groups, and social media can provide a group right at your fingertips. Send out a message on your favourite platform and see if you get a response. Run with it. Bounce your ideas off of readers and non-readers alike. You might even get some new readers out of it.
If you’re really stuck, you can always hit the random article button on Wikipedia.
Just get those fingers tapping on the keys. See what comes out. It may not be great, so draft that and refine it. Work on it and make it better. Sometimes a straight up stream of consciousness can provide insights into something to say.
But never forget to keep your eventual post on-topic. You always want to bring it back to the foundation of the blog.
Next week! My blog on José Eduardo dos Santos.
Not too long ago, Apple released the iPhone 4S. It was pretty underground. You’ve probably never heard of it.
I wrote an article about how wowed I was by its Siri technology. It looked really cool. I loved the idea of a device that reminded me of the computer from Star Trek. I just ask it a question and it gives me an answer. That’s cool! Boys, girls… Get fitted for your jumpsuits — It’s the future!
The only downside for me, at the time, was the fact that I was a Blackberry owner. I just got the phone, I’m on contract so upgrades would be really costly, no new iPhone for me right away. I love my 9800 Torch, don’t get me wrong, but it didn’t have Siri. I couldn’t talk into it in my best Patrick Stewart impression and say, “Computer. Tell me the current temperature in Ottawa” and have it give me a response.
But then a wonderful thing happened!
Well, okay, maybe it wasn’t so wonderful if your phone didn’t work. If you were an Apple or Android person you probably enjoyed using your smartphone in the face of your Blackberry owning friends, but for those of us rockin’ out with RIM it was kind of annoying.
One of those free Blackberry apps is Vlingo, a personal assistant app like Siri. I had it on my phone for about a week before I started using it. I’ve been playing around with it for the last couple of days and I’ve made a few observations about these types of apps.
First: I have no idea what to ask this thing! The last two times I used it, I asked for the current temperature and then what the conversion from Fahrenheit to Celsius was for that temperature. I’ve also posted a couple of Facebook Status updates. Before that I asked for the current temperature.
But I’ve only done it in places where it’s quiet or if I’m outside and nobody’s around. For some reason I have this feeling that talking into my phone looks weird. That’s probably more of a problem with me, though.
Second: Mostly Vlingo just seems to direct me to Google, as if it’s my own personal LMGTFY app. I can already go to Google. I suppose I didn’t have to type it. That’s handy in the cold.
Aside from that, it’ll open my other apps fairly easily by just saying the name. It removes the need to touch the phone anywhere other than the activation button, which on the Blackberry is the convenience key. So now I don’t need to use my touch screen. The touch screen that was kind of the whole point of getting a Torch at the time.
It can also read my texts and e-mails to me, but I don’t drive, so I figure that’ll just annoy people on the bus. And I can speak the words I want to type into it, removing the keyboard, the other reason to get a Blackberry.
Basically, it makes your phone more hands-free. Or at least more fingers-free. You can use voice to do what you’d normal do through keystrokes and touchpad interaction. It’s kind of gimmicky, and I’m not sure I see myself changing all of my phone habits for this one app.
But then again… it is the future!