A Weblog Primer
by Matt Lerner
part of the New York State Bar Association's efforts to expand its presence on
the World Wide Web, the Association has created weblogs for its sections and
committees. TICL has its own weblog located
here. Like TICL's listserv and webpage, TICL's weblog is
an information resource. This primer explains weblogs, how
to use them, and how to read them in an extremely efficient
you will see, among other things, the TICL weblog is different from its listserv
and webpage because the weblog unless a central location to engage in
discussion. This feature is known as "commenting" on the
individual posts. I encourage you to comment on the posts,
thereby avoiding having TICL's weblog solely consisting of one author's posts
and opinions. You can comment on each individual post by
clicking on the word "Comments" at the footer of each post. Doing so will bring you to a template for your name, email address, web
page (if you have one; not necessary to have one), and text of your comment.
Your ability to comment on an individual post or many posts is
unlimited. You can submit your comment by clicking on the
button stating "Post."
will also notice that the word "Comments" at the footer of each post is followed
by parentheses with a certain number. The number in those
parentheses indicates how many comments are currently posted for each individual
post. The ability to comment on posts is but one feature of
weblogs. The following discussion explains the
What are weblogs?
Weblogs are frequently updated webpages on which
writers, known as bloggers, post brief comments about news items, interesting
websites, and more. Weblogs are known colloquially as blogs
among those who read them. Blogs dedicated primarily to
legal content are known as "blawgs."
Blogs allow individuals to present ideas beyond the confines of the
frequently stale news sources of which the general public has grown accustomed
to rely. Their power to publish issues that the more
established media outlets ignore makes blogs extremely
How are weblogs
The content on a
blawg's main page is displayed in reverse chronological order. An author's most recent "post" to his or her blawg will appear just below
the blawg's banner (the blawg's name or description). Posts
are the main part of a blawg's content. Generally, posts
are brief summaries of a specific point or topic. Each
blawg's post stands on its own as a discrete "news" piece. The post's content appears under its title that the author gives to that
discrete "news" piece.
post's content is usually in a digestible form, offering the reader direct
access to the original source through a hyperlink. Generally, numerous words contained in the post
are highlighted. These highlighted posts may link to the
author's weblog, either his or her own or another, another website, a document,
or an image. A post frequently provides a short analytical
summary of a denser, longer news piece, linking to that news story.
Here is an example of a post on our own TICL weblog:
Posts are also usually subdivided into categories. An author creates these categories and assigns them to a particular post
for archival purposes. Posts can have more than one
category. The category of the particular post will usually
be indicated in either the post's header or footer. By
clicking on the category for a particular post, you will be able to view all the
posts on that blawg contained within that category. The
posts within that particular category will be displayed in reverse chronological
order. Here is an example of our own TICL
Practice archive section. The archives section on TICL's weblog is located
on the right side of the screen under "Categories."
Why Read Weblogs?
Weblogs can provide
up-to-the-minute information without ever leaving your Web browser.
Bloggers post important information throughout the day, and
technology allows you to receive this update information
without actually visiting the actual weblog page. This
technology is called Really Simple Syndication, which allows you to receive feeds from a
weblog without actually visiting each individual weblog. Really Simple
Syndication or RSS for short, allows you to read limitless weblog posts from
numerous blogs in one central locations. For example, you
could have learned about Governor Spitzer's veto of Bill 06306 by simply
checking your designated feeds on your web
browser and reading the TICL
How Do You Read Blogs on Your Web
newest versions of Internet Explorer and Firefox allow
you to designate your favorite blogs and other webpages that have RSS feeds and
read them right on your browser. Here is a step-by-step way
to do so on Internet Explorer and Firefox.
The RSS feed feature
is instituted in Internet Explorer 7. To designate weblogs
that you want to read from your Internet Explore browser, go to "View" and
choose "Feeds." The left side of your browser will now have
a separate window that will display your feeds plus some pre-loaded feeds from
Microsoft. This is the universal symbol for a
weblog's or webpage's feed.
Anytime that you visit
a weblog or a webpage that has RSS feeds, you can subscribe to that particular
feed by going to the feed symbol picture above -- which is located on the
Internet Explorer toolbar -- and clicking on it. When
clicking on the symbol on the toolbar, you will usually be able to choose RSS
1.0, RSS 2.0, and ATOM. Whichever you choose, you will now see on the left side of you browser
that you have subscribed to that particular feed. Once
doing so, you will now be able to read feeds from that webpage or weblog without
visiting that particular webpage or weblog.
Follow these steps to add
TICL's weblog to your Internet Explore feeds:
1. Go to "View" and choose
2. Type" http://nysbar.com/blogs/TICL/" into your browser's search window;
3. Click on the feeds icon (pictured
above) on your Internet Explorer toolbar;
4. Choose "Atom (new)" or "RSS
5. You will now see a page of TICL
Blog's feeds. In the tan box at the top, you will see an
icon with a star and plus sign followed by the word, "Subscribe." Click that icon. A dialog window will appear that
will allow you to subscribe to the TICL weblog. Click on
the button stating "Subscribe";
6. You have now subscribed to the TICL
7. You can hover over the
particular weblog or feed you want to read. When you do so,
you will see two green arrows to the right side. By
clicking on that feed, it will automatically search for updates on that webpage
or weblog. You will then get the weblog's posts in reverse
chronological order in the right window pane.
I am extremely
partial to Firefox's Web browser. Firefox has something
called "live bookmarks." The concept is the same as
Internet Explorer, but Firefox allows you an easier way to add webpage's and
weblog's feeds to your Firefox Internet browser. The
process of adding a feed is just a simple drag and drop process. Here is a step-by-step way of adding a feed as a bookmarks to your
1. Type " http://nysbar.com/blogs/TICL/" into your browser's search window;
2. Go to the address window and double
click on the feed icon;
3. A dialog window will now pop up
asking whether you want to add this feed as a live bookmark. You can either add this live bookmark to your toolbar folder or to your
list of bookmarks. I suggest adding it to your bookmark
toolbar. In doing so, you go hover on the particular
webpage or weblog right on Firefox's toolbar and a list of feeds from that
webpage or weblog will appear. By adding numerous feeds to
your Firefox toolbar, you will not have to visit any of those site, and merely
have to hover over each live bookmark.
Going Beyond Internet Browsers:
Reading Weblogs Through An Aggregator
Aggregators are just
programs that collect feeds and allow you to read them; they share the same
concept as the feeds explained concerning Internet browsers. Some aggregators require you to download programs to your computer, and
some do not. An excellent, free aggregator that does not
require you to download a program is called Bloglines.
Bloglines is a web-based news aggregator for browsing weblogs and other news
feeds via syndicated
feeds utilizing technologies such as Really Simple Syndication and ATOM. Unlike other
readers that download posts directly to one's device,
Bloglines is a server-side
aggregation system, where blog entries are downloaded and updated
on the server on a frequent basis.
Bloglines is free, but you have to sign-up to use it. Here is how to activate your account:
Go to http://www.bloglines.com/.
2. In the upper right-hand corner, click on
You will now be asked for your email address, password, to re-type
your password, and your timezone;
After entering in this information, go to your email inbox and
click on the verification link sent from Bloglines;
You have now activated your Bloglines
Here are step-by-step instructions to add feeds to Bloglines once
you have activated your account:
1. Go to http://www.bloglines.com/
2. Go to tab on upper-left corner and click on
"My Feeds" tab.
window displays the feeds you currently subscribe to.
4. Right window displays the feeds content.
5. There are tabs in window for feed directories
and searching for feeds.
6. You can also use a "Subscribe to" button
using the "Easy Subscribe Bookmarklet."
Searching for Particular
1. Go to right window and click on "Search"
2. Go to the pulldown window that says "Search
3. Change this pulldown bar to "Search for Feeds."
4. Type in your search terms in the search
5. Click on Search bar.
6. On the bottom of each particular result, you
can click on "Preview feed" or "Subscribe to feed."
There are also "Matching Posts" to the right that you can
Having Newsletter Subscriptions Sent
1. Go to the left bottom window to
2. Click on "Create Email
3. You must have Username in
4. Type in description of that particular email
5. When you are finished, Bloglines will create
that particular email address.
6. Cut and paste the email address and use it
for the particular newsletter and your subscription will now
be sent to Bloglines.
can even have listserv emails go to Bloglines.
Trying Out Sample Account on
ease of use, I have created a sample account for all TICL members to
use. The account comes pre-loaded with some non-legal and
legal feeds for you to look at. Here's how to access this
the upper right-hand corner of the screen, click on "Log In."
the email address section, type in: [email protected].
the password section, type in: "TICLCHARLIE" (all in capital
the left-hand window, you will now have two folders: Non-Legal Feeds and Legal
can expand each folder by pressing on the + sign.
clicking on each individual feed, the contents will appear in the right-hand
no content appears, that means that there are no recent posts to that particular
blog or site. To read older posts, go to the pulldown bar
in the right window and choose a time specification to look at older
Once you get the hang of RSS and blogs, the concept will be
second nature. However, sometimes the weird words and technical aspects can be
a little intimidating. Hopefully this primer clears up some of the mystery.
Nevertheless, please feel free to contact me if you get stuck or have a
question. I will be more than happy to help out ([email protected]).