Teague's Tech Treks

Learning Technology and other Tech Observations by Dr. Helen Teague

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How to Craft Blog Posts to Optimize Online Reading

Differences abound between hardcopy horizontal and online vertical reading.

Vertical Reading Requires Different Specs

There is no commonality among the digital proletariat. Connection speeds, screen resolutions, hardware variations all have the potential to interfere with your reading audience.

Blog posts with Script font and 200-character screen-width are meandering trails. Most blog readers want a straight 50-yard dash. Unless you are publishing free verse poetry or you received the William Faulkner Prose prize, keep column width to 80 characters and font choices simple (I like Georgia or Garamond).

Editing: It all goes back to cake

Editing posts is similar to mixing a great cake batter: do it and the end blog result is light and springy. Lack of editing leaves holes of redundancy and sloppiness in your blog batter. Punctuation and Spelling errors are the egg shells that give the wrong crunch. Punctuation matters. So does spelling.

Also, consider the global reach of your online posts. Some colloquial slang is cute and lively. Too much, though, results in audience head-tilting. My usage stats show I have only one loyal reader in Oman, so, most likely, it’s safe for me to “Yee-haw” and “Gaw-Dang” my way along, but you probably will have more global appeal so carefully consider slang usage.

Blog Readers Scan

“A website or blog is missing the usual cues that let us know how long an article is,” says Annabel Candy in this post.  “Pick up a book or cast your eye over a newspaper article, and you’ll instantly be able to gauge how long it is and how long it will take to read.”

Blog readers scan posts, looking for key words. Appealing layouts, headlines, and subheads cast a spotlight. Always preview your post since layout may appear wonky (tech term) after publishing.

Sometimes, it’s fun to include a word cloud that highlights what’s included in your post. Here is the word cloud for this post:

word cloud of the blog text

Word Cloud created by Helen Teague using Wordle

Blog Readers May be Commitment-Phobic

My readers may just not be that into me. My rambling posts with long paragraphs and complex sentences taunt and daunt readers who may click off to other posts with longer legs and prettier features, so to speak.

“Even if the headline appeals to them, with no other clues about the content, people will be reluctant to start reading,” says Annabel Candy. Long posts require commitment and winding sentences causes the eye to stumble.

Keep copy between 300- 800 words. Search engines optimize content at 300 words and this is one invite you can extend for a long-term relationship with your blog. For post exceeding 1000 words, consider a series with “Next” and “Previous” linking threads.

Personally I would read any length of post from Alia Indrawan  or Nic Peachey . But generally, keep post concisely written, unless you are writing a white paper or you have a P.Hd. (BTW: this post tops out at 600 words.)

Taglines and By-lines: the Gift that keeps on Giving

Blog post writers are not commitment-phobic. We want a long-term relationship with our audience. So we leave no post untagged. Always tag yourself, give yourself a by-line, and link-cite those that you reference. I have a love-cringe relationship with by-lining myself. I vacillate between humility and scary self-promotion. I also reasoned that that since it was my blog, it was obvious that all posts were mine. However, in the blogosphere, ease and linking reign and it is just easier and more linkable for readers if I get over myself.

Beginning with this post, I am by-lining myself on every post.

With virtual pen and ink,

Helen Teague

Word cloud created from text

Word Cloud created by Helen Teague using Wordle

Feel free to add your own ideas in the comments section below.

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Mystery Couple Starts “Magical” Chain Reaction

It played like a scene from a holiday movie — a mystery couple, who didn’t leave their names or numbers, walked into a restaurant, finished their meal and then set-off a chain reaction of generosity that lasted for hours.

That’s just what employees at the Aramingo Diner in Port Richmond said a man and a woman did during their breakfast shift last Saturday morning.

“It was magical. I had tears in my eyes because it never happened before. I’ve been here for 10 years and I’ve never seen anything like that,” said Lynn Willard, a waitress.

Willard and other waitresses told NBC Philadelphia that the couple started the chain reaction by paying double: for their own meal and for the tab of another table of diners at the restaurant. There’s no evidence that one group of diners knew the others.

“I could not believe it … and it continued and continued, it was very nice,” said Willard. “They asked us not to say anything until they left, but we said ‘Merry Christmas, that person picked up your tab.’”

For the next five hours, dozens of patrons got into that same holiday spirit and paid the favor forward.

The diner’s manager said not one person was concerned about price of the check — which averaged between $12-$30.

“It was a surprise to all of us, the girls were even taken aback,” said Linda. “Those who took the check also tipped the waitress. So nobody had to do anything other than pass it on and that’s what they did. They just passed it forward.”

It’s a true holiday story that proves how a small gesture of kindness can create some magic.

News Source:  http://www.nbcphiladelphia.com/news/local-beat/Mystery-Couple-Pay-It-Forward-79179347.html

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New Year’s Wish

Good Habits are not made on birthdays, nor Character at the new year. The workshop of character is everyday life. The uneventful and commonplace hour is where the battle is lost or won.  Maltbie D. Babcock

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A New Type of New Year’s Resolution

This year I will join 100 million other folks and  make New Year’s Resolutions. Some are destined to fail right out of the gate because they exude negative energy. This are the Resolutions which begin with the words, “Stop,” “Lose,” “Avoid,” and/or “Quit.”

Some Resolutions are so wordy they are forgotten before the Times Square ball finishes it descent.

For this upcoming year, how about positive, one-word Resolutions:

Breathe
Observe
Flourish
Awaken
Soften
Laugh
Thank
Pray
Embrace
Savor
Challenge
Remember
Wellness
and…

and…

and…

(send in yours!)

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Before…

Before I was a Mom
I made and ate hot meals.
I had unstained clothing.
I had quiet conversations on the phone.Before I was a Mom,
I slept as late as I wanted
I never tripped over toys
I never forgot words of lullabies. Read More

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Author’s Websites Article Snags Cover

 Author’s Websites Liven Up Literature Lessons, is the cover choice for the April, 2008 edition of Connected Newsletter. This article wrote itself ( almost) after a delightful lunch in Roma, Texas with author Terry Trueman and Leticia Cadena, RISD Instructional Technology Director.

Connected Newsletter, a magazine under the editorship and nurturing of Paige Meredith and Sharon Wheeler will be sorely missed when it goes on hiatus this summer. Thank you Paige and Sharon for all of your many, many hours of service and extremely hard work.

Click Here to read the article.

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Assessment Data Article Snags Cover

HTeague crcnewsletter.jpgcrcnewsletter.jpg crcnewsletter.jpgcrcnewsletter.jpgcrcnewsletter.jpgcrcnewsletter.jpgUsing Assessment Data to Enhance Your Reading Program,” an article I wrote whose title is almost longer than the article itself, is the cover story for the March, 2008 edition of Connected Newsletter, a delightfully innovative print and electronic magazine under the editorship and nurturing of Paige Meredith. Click Here to read the article.

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