Getting up to speed with the Blogosphere!

Three Quick Steps to getting started

This is a graphical help page on how to start using the latest internet tools to increase your online organizing skills! The creation of email and the worldwide web have been two of the most important online tools ever developed. Now there is a third set of tools that is changing the online world once again. These new online programs are driving the dramatic expansion of the blogosphere. The three tools are the blog, RSS Reader, and blogging (clients) software.

Step one: Blogs

The blog is a web based database program that is structured to help organize online forums or communities. It comes in a variety of designs, all of which are setup to publish or discuss anything under the sun online. Well run blogs, have played a major role in the recent elections, as well as being used as an organizing tool to pressure the corporate media. It can be used as a family scrapbook, post your favorite pictures, news stories or as a diverse political community working together, on hundreds of blogs, all linked together. There are now over 80 million blogs being used as online communities. Some of the most influential liberal blogs like The Daily Kos or The Democratic Underground are monitored by a huge community and are major players within the democratic party and progressive circles. For an online definition of blogs go here.

The most popular growth of the blogosphere is with Rupert Murdock's where the fastest growing segment of bloggers have organized themselves into online friends-networks. The blogosphere is at its essence a way for online users to organize themselves into interactive communities, whether the community be for a few people or millions! Blogs are designed to simplify the process of organizing and publishing content of any kind. Probably the most important role blogs have played recently, is as a networking base to counter the mainstream media's corporate agenda.

Many activist communities have yet to understand or take advantage of the blogosphere. For example, the anti-nuclear community has yet to start any kind of online use of blogs. For example, Greenpeace has an online, blog, just as Amory Lovins does. However, both of these important environmental groups are using their blog to produce news content. They also have Myspace blogs where the built in structure of Myspace allows you to quickly create an extended community of other groups, friends or allies.

Meanwhile the nuclear industry has developed an extensive network of blogs, being led by the Nuclear Energy Institute. Their paid blogging team can be seen promoting nuclear power online across the country. In the recent attempt to open California up to new nuclear development, California republican Chuck De Vore used an online blog that was crosslinked directly to a conservative Orange County Newspaper, to promote his bill, which failed in mid April 2007.

Whether you want to create your own online scrapbook for your own poetry, artwork, music, photography, writings, opinions, or interesting links you want to share with friends or the world, putting it on a blog is easy to do. Really easy! This presentation will help you take the steps to use blogs as an online organizing resource. For this purpose, I urge you to consider starting your own blog. You don't have to, but having your own blog when entering the blogosphere is kind of like going to school with a notebook to take notes home from school.

Setting up a blog can take as little as a couple of minutes and can be done for free. All you need is a valid email address to set up a blog at,, or the Democratic Underground. Go to one of the above links and follow their online instructions. Each of the above online blogging services is easy to do. Starting a blog for yourself, whether it is for a hobby or to become involved in a online community. If you are a beginner and not very computer savy, I suggest you start with Myspace.

Or, rather than starting your own blog, can get involved in any of the larger national blogs like the Daily Grist, or Kos... Whether you want to setup your own blog or become an active member of other blogs, doing so as an activist means learning how to network with others who are also using the blogosphere.

When you start looking around you will start to notice blogrolls at each blog you go to, or on Myspace, you will see friend's networks, where little icons or images are grouped that link you to other online blogs. This blogroll, or friend's network is the most important part the blogosphere. The blogroll is how extended communities start to find and link to each other.

If you are reading this to help expand your group or your own online activist skills. Then please, consider starting a blog. You can spend a few minutes or an weekend afternoon learning how to organize it. There are other several other free online places where you can set up blogs like, but I suggest you start with Myspace as it is easy to start. It is a bit trickier to add things like themes and figure out how to configure, but once you get the hang of it, it has the most potential to reach out to others due to its size. (The primary downside to Myspace is all the advertising you have to suffer through). All you need to do is go to their site, and follow their graphical directions. If you don't like your results you can just as easily close down your blog. It can take as little as two or three minutes to set up the blog. Yes, that's it. Just go do it, or move onto the other critical steps in working with the blogosphere.

Note, part of the goal of this presentation is to get antinuclear activists, or any other group that has yet to understand the blogosphere to start using this important new resource. There has been a recent number of attacks upon blogs. Most are concerned about the potential dangers to individuals by criminals, or even concerns that the online public is splintering into tiny groups that are no longer connected to reality. These are certainly real issues that will evolve as this new way to form online communities evolves. Please, don't let these issues stop you from getting involved!

Myspace startup notes: Myspace, as mentioned is very easy to start. However, learning how to configure it to do fancy backgrounds, video etc. can take a bit of time. Don't worry about more advanced work! You can work out many of the more interesting configuration at your own leisure. Here are some of the key features in order of importance that you will want to develop for your myspace blog.

  1. Your email address is required to setup a Myspace blog;
  2. A picture of yourself or Icon you want to represent yourself or your group;
  3. Then log onto Myspace and click on "sign up" in the very upper right.
  1. Your home page contains all of your main tools to add posts, email other people or edit your blog;
  2. Getting comfortable with this page is the key to organizing your own Myspace blog.
  1. Look around on Myspace, using their search engine or other blogs to locate blogs you like;
  2. Each Myspace blog has a "Friends" button, usually on the left side;
  3. Click on the button to add them as a friend.
  4. This will send a message to them that you want to be a friend! If they Respond, their Icon will show up in your Friends Box;
  5. While you are at their blog, you can also add them as a favorite!

If you want to do more online research about the blogosphere, here is a good starting list of links to go to.

Step two: RSS Readers

Using your browser as an RSS (Really Simple Syndication) Reader is an important new internet resource that allows you to read online news services, blogs, google news or yahoo groups just as you do your email. The bad news is that we are all overwhelmed with the volume of news we receive. The good news is that RSS readers makes it far more efficient to quickly review your favorite news sources for stories you do want to see. Digging through an online website like the NY Times, or the SF Chronicle can be a pain. Below is an image of how RSS feeds simply a website's content to allow you to quickly review its content.

Setting up your own RSS reader

There are many free downloadable RSS readers that you can get and install online. These packages have advanced options similar to your email client software like Outlook Express, Eudora or other email software. However, to simplify the proccess of getting started, I urge you to use the built in RSS reader that comes with the latest version of the Mozilla Firefox web browser software. If you don't currently use Firefox, you can download a copy of it from Firefox is an open source software package, which allows independent programmers to add or change the program to benefit the public or their own private use. Simply download Firefox from the above site and install it. If the below graphic guide to adding an RSS reader is too daunting for you, an alternative is to switch to another browser called Flock, which is also based on the Mozilla Firefox browser software. Flock has been designed to automatically read RSS news formats. You can download it from


Click on this link to open an online RSS feed as a way to check and see if you have the latest version of Firefox!

If your browser comes up with a page similar to the below page. Then you are able to read RSS feeds. You can skip to step three, or check out how to use your built in RSS Firefox reader to bookmark RSS feeds.

Daily Nuclear News Feed

If your browser doesn't display a page similar to the above, then you very likely have an old browser. If you are using Firefox, click on the tools option, as shown below, then click and open the options box.

Opening Firefox's configuration option

Once you have opened up the options page, you should see the following page, with the orange icon that says Feeds. If you don't see the Feeds option, then you are not using the latest version of Firefox and should go download the latest version and run the install package to upgrade your current version. Make sure to click yes when firefox asks if you want to import all of your bookmark and password settings so you don't lose them when you install the new version.

Latest Browser Options that includes RSS Feed

Once you are up and running you can search for RSS feeds which exist on most major online newspapers.

Look for the orange RSS logo! On the NY Times, its at the bottom of the page.

Open that page and you will see all of the NY Times RSS feeds that you can then pick from.

NY Times RSS feeds.

Clicking on the orange RSS icon will then open one of their RSS Feeds.

NYT national RSSfeed

You can then bookmark your favorite news feeds, just like you would any web page. By opening your bookmarks in the sidebar, you can quickly review all of your feeds. In Firefox, click up at the top of the browser on View. The below box will open up. Click on Sidebar option (highlighted below) which will then open up to the right to allow you to click on Bookmarks. When you do so, your browser page will open up a new window on the left side, as shown below, that gives you a list of all your bookmarks. In the image below, you can see that the bookmarks folder called Feeds is shown, which you can then use to quickly check any RSS feed.

Bookmarked Feeds Open in the Sidebar


You can also use the feed reader to monitor any blog! For example. On the below blog, you can click on "Entries RSS", near the lower right below, which will then open a feed for the blog.

Click on the "Entries RSS" at the lower right to feed read this blogs news stories

Lastly, Yahoo Groups can also be read, and bookmarked using your RSS reader. Below is the sign-in page of a yahoo group. At the bottom of the group you will notice the orange rss icon at the bottom right of the page. By clicking on it, you will be able to


End of part 2. Its just that easy, and you have now learned the latest and best way to monitor newspapers, blogs and yahoo groups using the built in RSS reader in Firefox.

Step 3: Blogging Clients

The last step in developing your blogging skills is creating a blogging client for Firefox. A blogging client is a software package that helps you cut and past articles or images from one website onto the blog of your choice with a few key strokes. Normally to do this, you would need to carry out a whole series of steps that could take several minutes to do. In this step, I will show you how to add a blogging client directly onto your Firefox browser. You can also create stand alone blogging clients, just as you can create stand alone RSS readers. However, having both the RSS readers and the blogging client built right into Firefox means they come up far faster, and are more convenient to use, once you get the hang of it. Let's start.


First, with Firefox open and you online, click on the the tools button at the top of the browser, which will open the drop down box, which will then show you the "Add-ons" button (see below). Click on the Add-ons button.

Opening the Tools box in Firefox and selecting the Add-ons option

You will then be given a new window showing you Firefox's optional themes, addons and updates (see below). Highlight the extensions icon in the upper left of the window, and then click on "get extensions" in the lower right of the window.

The Firefox Add-ons Window that will direct you to firefox add-ons

Once you have clicked on "Get Extensions" Firefox will direct you to their website, where hundreds of small add on programs can be obtained to do specialized actions for firefox. In this case, we going to pick a blogging tool called Scribefire from the search window in the upper right of the webpage.

Searching for the "Scribefire" add-on at Mozilla Firefox's website

The Firefox add-on search will then send you to the below page. Click on the Scribefire link.

Completed search page showing link to scribefire

You will then be sent to the the Scribefire download page which is shown below. Click on the green install icon to download the new add-on to your firefox browser.

Scribefire Download page.

You will then be shown a window showing the download of the add-on to your computer. When the download is complete, you will be given the below page, from your browser asking you to restart your browser, before the new add-on will work. Click on the Restart Firefox button in the lower right of the box. Firefox will then shutdown and restart with the new Scribefire add-on ready to configure and use as your own blogging client. If Firefox doesn't immediately restart itself. Just reopen it as you usually would do for the first time.

The restart window for scribefire

With the browser open, you are ready to start using Scribefire as your blogging tool. Below, is an article, say you want to post to another blog that you are subscribed to. First high light part of or all of the article you want to send, then right click on your mouse button. The below browser window will open up. Note that there is now a new option, Scribefire available for you to select. Do so, and a second sub-window will open up, with four options, including "blog this page". Click on blog this page.

You are ready to use Scribefire!


Your browser will immediately be split in half, with the new blogging client, scribefire, now taking up the bottom half of the original browser window. See below image. The first time you use scribefire for blogging, you will need to create new accounts for the blogs you use. Note the add option in the very lower right. Once they have been configured (not shown here), you can then click on the orange publish button, which will copy the article you want sent to the blog with a single click! Note there are all kinds of tools to add images, links, change font sizes and much more in scribefire...


Scribefire Window and options


You now have the basics of how to use blogging clients to help increase your efficiency within the blogosphere. If you have any feedback or ideas for additions about how to make this page more user friendly for beginners, please send a message to abalone "at"