Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Final Thoughts (Part 2)

KTown kvetches:
The new site looks a lot like the old site. I expected some different furniture and paint on the walls. Does anyone have an opinion on Blogspot vs. Wordpress?
I'm impressed by WordPress. It's a powerful tool that enables you to do some amazing things. There's no question but that WordPress can be used to create a gorgeous blog, as a few minutes spent snuffling around their Showcase proves.

But WordPress also requires that you download the software and install it on your own web host, and there's a learning curve, which I have neither the time or patience for right now. If I had the time, I'd definitely be looking into it further—but then, if I had the time, there are a whole lot of other things I'd also be doing.
CORRECTION: The foregoing paragraph is true for, which I was unfamiliar with, does provide free hosting and does not require installation on your own host. Thanks to Michelle and Randy for the correction.
Blogspot, on the 'tother hand, is completely free and hosted by Google, so basically all you have to do is switch it on. Granted, the standard issue templates are pretty homely, and customizing them ranges from being a bother to a nuisance. But it is the easiest and fastest way to get a site up and running, especially if you're trying to run a blog with multiple contributors.

A third blog engine that's popular with a lot of writers I know is LiveJournal. I actually happen to have a LiveJournal account and associated dormant blog—I had to open one, in order to get permission to post a comment on a friend's site—but I don't much like it. Maybe it's just local Internet weather conditions ("And there's a big packet storm brewing up over the Dakotas, so be sure to pack your umbrella!") but whenever I use it, LiveJournal seems godawful slow, compared to just about everything except some of the more badly Java-infested U.K. tabloid sites.

As for the look and feel of the it's my site, so I picked a design that is comfortable to read with my eyes on my monitors. If you want to use tiny dark purple text on a black background on your site, go right ahead; have fun. Don't expect me to put a lot of effort into trying to read it, though.

There's another factor at work here as well. When you're writing for print, as most of us here seem to be trying to do, I believe you should look at your copy in cold, naked, unadorned text, as an editor would. As anyone who's worked in desktop publishing or marketing communications knows, sometimes a great layout is just compensation for muddled thoughts and having no clear idea of what you're trying to say.

But you know, this whole "form vs. function" argument has been raging for more than a century now and doesn't look like it's going to be resolved any time soon, so maybe it's time for you, KTown, to write a think-piece sharing your thoughts on blogsite aesthetics with the rest of us. Care to give it a try?

Meanwhile, in other news, continues to lurch towards becoming fully operational. I've added The Story Morgue to the left column; anyone feeling brave enough to give it a try? Let me know and we'll work out the details.

The plan at this point is to make the posting schedule a whole lot more structured than was the Ranting Room. I'd like to run a column on Monday, and a book or fiction site review on Wednesday. The centerpiece is the Friday Challenge, of course, which, not surprisingly, posts on Friday. Saturday is open blog day: I was thinking of titling it something like, "What I Did This Week," wherein everyone is invited to share the news of what you've done this week writingwise, and especially to share any success stories or publication news you may have. Sunday, of course, is the WCA meeting, followed by the announcement of the winners of the previous week's challenge, and then, damn, whadayaknow, it's Monday again.

Does this seem like a workable schedule? If you have any thoughts or ideas, or if anybody except KTown has any suggestions for improving the look of the site, let me know.