So I had decided that 2015 would be my year of writing, and thought I’d start a little earlier to give myself a little ramp up the runway. This exercise would also be to test various blogging platforms after a hiatus of approximately 5 years as well as for the purposes of potentially integrating blogs at my university (unitar.my). My first and only blog was started in 2004 focusing on Islam in Kuala Lumpur, and then I migrated to using Facebook Notes, mainly to know who actually read my blogs (blogger didn’t provide page views at the time) as well as reaching out to people I already knew. I had also experimented with using WordPress on my own shared hosting, which was mainly used for an event I co-organised, but somehow it didn’t seem too user-friendly (and I didn’t really make the time to properly customise it).
This meant that I had to go Blog Shopping. I wanted to explore the various popular platforms that I had used, and some that I hadn’t. Blogger was a natural place to start, having been my first platform. The first difference was that if you have a Google account, it would take you straight into choosing your Gmail account login after Pyra Labs was acquired by Google in 2003 (dunno when the Google integration was done though, although Google+ integration was late 2011). The Blogger interface, thankfully, remained as simple as I had remembered and I was up and running right away; thus SIKALIPATKU (colloquial Malay for ‘my folding bike’) was born yesterday. I purposely made it a text and picture blog, also in order to test graphics layout formatting capabilities of Blogger, which I found rather wanting (could also be because I hadn’t fully explored it, to be fair – will update more later). Typing in HTML tags directly into both subject and main text areas seem to work fine; however the biggest noticeable difference was its Blogger Stats (yaay!), although many report that Google Analytics is more accurate than the Blogger variant (and both still include author’s visit, although there are workarounds I haven’t got round to investigating). In short, if you want to hop, skip and blog, Blogger’s your answer.
This Sword of Gnosis blog sits on WordPress.com. Now WordPress is somehwat known as the most ‘respectable’ blog site, or even for ‘serious’ bloggers. From a systems perspective, WordPress is even considered to be the most widely used Content Management System or CMS in the world (beating both Joomla and Drupal in this respect). And it certainly has grown up from its early days – even at registration one is given a whole array of purchasable upgrades, including a domain name registration (it offered me wansaifuddin.com which I gladly took as it was unavailable before) as well as increased hosting and e-commerce capabilities (which I did not take). It has options for a classic Dashboard view (which users of yore would be more familiar with), fairly extensive tagging and categorisation options, as well as various encouraging messages when one is drafting a post. I could easily set the timezone for it, whereas I am still searching on how to do the same with Blogger. Definitely the more polished blog system with various customisations, many of which you would need to pay for (professional templates vary in prices). As a mainstay blog, WordPress is my choice.
Nothing quite prepared me for Tumblr. Many had recommended it, and with more than 200 mil users it certainly is one to watch. The registration experience was psychedelically graphic, socially nudging (you had to follow 5 sites before being allowed to complete registration) and the navigational experience is like Twitter, Pinterest and Blogger all rolled into one! A little too early to get a feel of Tumblr, but if you are looking for an edgily immersive experience this might just be right up your alley. I decided to start “tekblaja”, a blog dedicated to Learning Technologies for the University, which is at this moment not up yet (though look out for it folks!). Tumblr has the rep for being one of the most powerful reposting tools for multiple websites, and I shall certainly try those features out.
At this juncture I decided to limit myself to these three tools and know them in much greater depth. The other reason for this is that all three have their own dedicated Mobile App, which I have downloaded to my iPhone 6; at first glance they are certainly a far cry from the mobile blogging tools I tried on my Blackberry a decade ago. More on this when I have run them through some hoops.
So that’s it for my maiden post here; hope this was useful and please come back and check out future posts!