Traverse City Record-Eagle

September 28, 2013

Kathleen Gest: Blogging with the Senior Center Network

BY KATHLEEN GEST
Local columnist

— A blog (short for “Web log”) is an interactive, personalized web journal — like a forum — with a very short history.

In the past five to 10 years, blogs have taken off and become an important part of Internet culture. But it wasn’t until 1997 that the term “Web log” was coined. It was shortened to “Blog” in 1999.

There are several features that make blogs different from other websites: readers can leave comments or questions, the entries are published in chronological order and the content is updated regularly.

Blogging is not dominated by any single age group or interest. Blogs are completely nonexclusive — that is the nature of the Internet. Scientists, writers, politicians, sport fans, gardeners, chefs, travelers, teachers, students, grandparents, artists, philanthropists and couch-surfers all are among those blogging, Allison Peters, NMC Extended Education instructor said.

“Perhaps that’s what older generations are growing to like about it,” says Peters. “I wouldn’t say younger people blog any less, necessarily, though they might be more adept than the senior crowd at navigating new microblogs and social media networks over traditional blog sites.That being said, the style and function of the blog has changed drastically over the last 15 years and now a blog can be a magazine, a scrapbook, a character or a business. The Internet has only the limits the imagination has.”

As to how many older people are blogging, Peters says, “The Internet is such a vast, illusive thing that I can’t quantify it so simply. But not every senior blogs about “senior things.” Many of these blogs written by seniors are hobby/interest- or business-related.”

Peters says, "There are great blogs written by people young and old, of all histories, of all races and ethnicities, of all languages, all voices. Whether you explore what individuals have in common with you or not in common, sharing ideas on the other side of the world or right next door, blogging connects us."

If you have an email address, you can start a Blog. It’s easy to start a blog, but it’s work to maintain one.

In her “Blogging & Tweeting: Writing for Social Media” course through NMC Extended Education, Peters begins the first day of class by having students create individual blog accounts, as well as learn the fundamentals of a blog.

“We move quickly to focus primarily on how to build an audience and update a blog regularly with images, interactive polls, comments and clear, concise, distinctive writing,” Peters says. “We delve directly into how to maintain and grow a blog to its fullest potential. Technology changes so rapidly that there is always more to learn, practice, engage with and apply creatively to unique interests.”

Peters maintains that the future of blogging is happening right now.

“The Internet is an overflowing, ubiquitous sharing space for thoughts, feelings, ideas and information … the blog is a global self-publishing tool that has done strange and beautiful things for us in the Age of Information, and I expect it continuing into the future,” she says. “Namely, blogs have helped us to understand each other better. As long as people have thoughts, feelings, ideas and information, there will be blogs.”

We’re trying a new blog on the website, tcseniorcenter.com. Readers of the blog, “Words with our Friend Kathleen Gest,” can keep current with the topics of my Record-Eagle column, make comments or ask questions.

For more information, or to register for Allison Peters’ “Blogging & Tweeting: Writing for Social Media” non-credit course in October, visit nmc.edu/ees or call the Northwestern Michigan College Extended Educational Services office at 995-1700.