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Essential Blogging by Mena G. Trott, Benjamin Trott, Shelley Powers, Scott Johnson, Rael Dornfest, Cory Doctorow

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Blogging has exploded. Every day 1,500-3,000 new bloggers join the Internet. That’s a staggering number of new voices, new opinions, and new experiences. You can join these bloggers — all it takes is some software and something to say. We’ve written this book to help you quickly get up and running with the software.

There are many different choices for blogging software, with names running the gamut from the obvious (Blogger) to the literary (Movable Type) to the bizarre (Blosxom). Everyone who blogs has an opinion about the software they use and often about software they don’t use. This book tries to take a balanced look at some representative blogging tools and to show you how to use them to produce a unique blog worthy of your thoughts.

We start by defining a blog and how the various blogging tools differ in features, price, and ease of use. The first chapter will help you find a blogging system. The second chapter surveys some programs that can make posting and maintaining a blog easier, regardless of which tool you choose.

The rest of the book is devoted to the tools. For each tool, we show you how to install and configure it, post to and maintain your blog, customize your blog’s appearance, syndicate stories with other blogs, and customize and manage your archive of old posts.

Generally, it takes two chapters to explain all the functions of each tool. Some products might have very simple posting maintenance but complex templates, or have simple installation but complex syndication. For this reason, the division of material between the introductory and the advanced chapters isn’t consistent from product to product.

Finally, we end with advice from experienced bloggers; what to do, what not to do, and how blogging has changed people. We don’t provide much information on the philosophy and sociology of blogging — we don’t address the question “Is Blogging Journalism?”, nor do we try to define just what a warblogger is. Our main objective is to help you select a blog system and get it up and running as soon as possible.

Audience for This Book

If you want to know how to start and run a blog, this book is for you. You can quickly learn which blogging system is right for you, and then you can soon run your first blog.

If you already run a blog, you may still be able to learn about desktop clients in Chapter 2 or learn more about your chosen blogging system from the later chapters. We’ve tried to provide you with the information you’d have otherwise spent a year learning. We do not cover every feature of every blogging tool exhaustively, so if you’ve been using and customizing your blogging environment for a long time, you probably know everything we say and more.

You don’t have to be a power user to run your own blog. The software described in this book runs the gamut of complexity, from Blogger (no deep computer knowledge required) to Blosxom (designed for Unix tinkerers and experimenters).

You don’t have to be a Unix guru or own a PC. There are blogging systems that run on Windows, Macintosh, and Unix machines. None of the systems we describe in this book require guru-level knowledge of the operating system to install, configure, or use.

Although some systems attempt to hide it from you, blog posts are eventually turned into HTML. Most blogs let you write and edit HTML. However, this book doesn’t cover how to design in HTML. For more information on HTML, we recommend Learning Web Design, by Jennifer Niedherst (O’Reilly).

To benefit from this book, all you need is interest, enthusiasm, and some basic technical know-how.

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