Clay's all purpose guide to blogging

My goal: To give people ideas so they know what to do when it's their turn to blog here. Sorry people who aren't signed up, this post is not made just for you, but I will try to keep it entertaining anyway.

So here we are: college graduates; civil servants; people in a strange land; people from all over the world interacting; loving, hating, scared, happy; poked and prodded and under the microscope of public scrutiny; and generally of near genius intelligence (well at least I am *wink wink*). And yet some of us have trouble thinking of what to blog about, hard as that is to believe. I have some suggestions for topics and blogging styles to overcome this writers block hurdle that each of us seems to face. Keep in mind that these are suggestions only; so please take no umbrage to anything I say.

First of, I think some people could honestly be confused as to the purpose of a blog. Wikipedia suggests a blog is
comprised of text, hypertext, images, and links (to other web pages and to video, audio and other files). Blogs use a conversational style of documentation. Often blogs focus on a particular "area of interest", such as Washington, D.C.'s political goings-on. Some blogs discuss personal experiences.
Blogs can be hosted by dedicated blog hosting services, or they can be run using blog software on regular web hosting services. In the early 21st Century, blogging has quickly emerged as a popular and important means of communication, affecting public opinion and mass media around the world.
Now what this means is a)you can do about anything with a blog, b)blogs are great tools for informing and being informed, and c)blogs are your mouthpiece to the world, so speak up and be heard! I'm sure all the other JETs are dying to hear what's happening to you.

So there are many different types of entries one can do. I'll list some ideas, with links to good examples in our very own archives. Also, I'll list the darker side of blogging that is possible at the same time, as a way to point out things you may want to avoid. Remember, the "The dark side"'s that I am going to mention are just suggestions too, and one should not take offense if they have a contrary view.

  • The photo entry. Now this is a very useful tool that many of us don't make use of, and that's a shame, because many of us have super cool digital cameras and keitais that take stunning pictures of the beautiful landscape or what have you. I uploaded a picture of the built in part of blogspot that does this (seen below)
    Now, this may look slightly familiar to you. Go ahead and click on the pic to zoom. We'll wait for you to come back. Okay, so the button that is supposed to be hit first is the one that opens up the upload window. This button is up top when you compose a post. I circled the optimum options so you will know what to do. If you want to know what else you can do with photos, I suggest taking about a half hour to google some basic html tips.
    As an aside: I think posting your photo with your post, so people can connect a name with a face, is a nice idea, but of course some people will want to hold on to anonymity, and we should respect that too. If you're shy, why not use a stand in picture (like how an avatar in a forum is used).
    The dark side: Posting naked pics of yourself. The less said about this the better.

  • The news article. Generally, this means referencing a news article, maybe quoting it, and giving your opinion on the topic. Pretty straight forward, eh? I'm going to try to remember to add more links to newspapers over on the right there.
    The dark side: I might take some heat for this, but I don't think this blog should be your personal forum to attack political figures outside of Japan. This is the Saga blog, it should relate in some way to our experiences as JETs, or life in Saga, or Japan in general. If you wanna bash Bush, just wait till the next time he visits Japan. If you wanna talk about world affairs, surely you can put a nihonocentric spin on whatever is happening?

  • The humorous entry. You live in a funny place. Really, or maybe you haven't noticed the engrish. Also, I don't think there's a single one of us that doesn't have a funny kancho story up his or her sleeve. The beauty of the humorous entry is that it can take so many forms.
    The dark side: Humor in poor and/or raunchy taste. I would really like to get away from the sort of penis humor that is rampant at the infamous bigdaikon forums. Why? Because I think we're smarter than that for one thing, but also because JETs have a really bad reputation in Japan for things like bigdaikon. Believe me, I've seen the howls of indignation from the JET hating blogosphere. Let's not give people things to use against us. Besides, your supervisors might even know how to read English and find this page.
    Sidenote: If you are super-tempted to link to something that may not be in the best taste, I suggest amending a NSFW (Not safe for work) warning to your link and an explanation as to why. The NSFW tag is common net-etiquette these days. For example, I think this NSFW "How to score in English" textbook is very funny, but be warned there are naughty words and crude cartoons. Seriously, that page is funny. Moving on...

  • The slice of life. This is the most common type of entry at sagablog, and with good reason. People's lives are fascinating; why else would Big Brother and Survivor still be around? People wanna know what you did today. Did you get kanchoed? Didja? We're on the edges of our seats here, waiting to know! You live a unique life, yet there are elements that all of us that read this blog regularly can recognize and sympathize with. So share.
    The dark side: "I ate a sandwich today." No one wants to know that you ate a sandwich today. Unless you got it from the emperor or something like that (that would probably be one fine sandwich mmmmm...). The point is, don't post boring, everyday stuff.

  • The rant. This blog remains an outlet for your woes and frustration. So let forth with the primal scream. Tell us why you're upset. Mutter about shakken. We'll support you in the comments like the friends we are.
    Special request:If you visit saga blog, please click that comment link and give feedback to the writer of the post. It really feels good to know people are reading. I also refer you to this guide to commenting.
    The dark side of the rant is quite easy to see. You can go too far, especially if you start naming names or badmouthing mothers. Speaking of which, try to keep your language at least semi-clean. I recommend using words like wanker and bloody if you are pissed, because Americans don't know that these are swear words. Just like Brits and New Zealanders don't really know what being pissed means. Anywaysmovingrightalong...

  • The travelogue. As people in a, well, privileged position, we get the opportunity to travel a lot. So tell us where you went, what you did, and post pictures!
    The dark side: Please don't tell us about the Clamidia you caught from the boy-girl in Thailand.

  • The informative post. Found out something interesting about Saga-ben, what "oni wa soto" means, or esoteric Japanese customs? Discovered a great way to conjigate a verb to sound tough? Illuminate or muse about strange/relevant facts here.
    The dark side: Telling us what natto is. Or a kancho. We know. However, don't let that stop you from posting your thoughts on these subjects (see the linked example).

    So, I hope you got some inspiration from this post; once again these are just suggestions. Now start planning your posts, because you may be called upon next!

    BTW, I've heard strange misconceptions that I would like to clear: I do not run the sagajet site. I merely moderate this one. Also, I did not write more than a handful of the posts on the Saga JET blog, and they were a while back yet. Proper credit goes to the person who's name appears at the top of any given post (you would think that "written by だれだれ" would be a big enough clue), so congratulate them, not me. This is another reason why I recommend a photo of the writer at the beginning of each post.