Sunday, November 23, 2008

iPhone mobile blogging: What, why, how

Mobile blogging. iBlogging. iPhone blogging. What am I doing?

[note - double click on images if you want to enlarge]

Readers of my two professional blogs (IQs Corner; the IQ Brain Clock) may have noticed a significant change (enhancement in my mind) over the past few months. I've been using my relatively new 2G iPhone (what I believe is really the first real personal computer) to conduct mobile blogging...or what I sometimes call iBlogging or iPhone blogging.

Why am I doing this?

Simple. I currently subscribe (via RSS feeds) to 70+ other blogs. I use the RSS feed service Bloglines to monitor the posts from these blogs. What this means is that I receive real time notification that new posts have been made to any of the 70+ monitored blogs. A little colored asterisk shows on top of the Bloglines icon in my Windows computer tray (bottom right corner). It tells me that at least one new story has arrived. Typically it means there are dozens of new posts across the various blogs I monitor. I monitor all these other blogs in an attempt to stay abreast of emerging developments in my major areas of professional interest..and to pass links to these posts along to my readers.

Before I initiated mobile blogging, I checked my Bloglines information once a day. I tried to cull posts that I thought were of interest to the readers of my two professional blogs. After a while this became to daunting a task....I frequently would be faced with 200-300 posts...and I would scroll through the various titles and synopses looking for something useful. Many times the sheer volume resulted in me simply deleting them all..and promising to do a more thorough read the next day. It simply became to hard to stay on top of this volumn of information. And....if I was traveling......fugghet about it!!!!!!!!!

Then I purchased an iPhone and learned that I could monitor my Bloglines RSS feeds any time I had down time (waiting in line; during morning coffee; sitting on the BR throne; etc.) via the iPhone (either via the Edge network or any wifi signal). I learned that if I checked it regularly I was only faced with a fraction of the posted stories to review...and I could quickly do so directly on the iPhone screen...without having to boot up a computer. I could quickly cull the wheat from the chaffee. More importantly, I could instantly send information about a potentially interesting blog post to any of my blogs from the iPhone (in combination with a service provided by Blogger for cell-phone based blog posts). My readers could get up-to-date notification of previously ignored interesting posts...simply because I was making efficient use of all the various down time minutes in a typical day.

As a result, I realized that iBlogging could be a great supplement to my regular posts. I even started a personal Mobile IQ blog that I run almost exclusively from my iPhone.

The price for now being able to flag interesting posts from other blogs and share them routinely (and quickly) is that these posts are very brief and often look instead of embedding a hypertext URL link in a word or phrase, the available technology only allows me to email the complete URL to my its full and, often extended glory. I can type a brief message to accompany the "quickie" post via the keyboard on my iPhone...but it is not easy. So my pass-along ("look what I found...maybe you will find it interesting") posts are short, sweet, and often don't look that professional or neat. The only other option was to simply stop these FYI I could no longer keep up. So....I hope my readers recognize that they are getting more information (monitoring the pulse of the mind blogsphere) in a more timely manner....but at the expense of visual asthetics.

How is it done?

The screen shots in this message will help me demonstrate how easy this is. actually is very quick and easy. I can spot an interesting story/post during one of my Bloglines peeks...and in less than a minute flag it and email the URL (with a possible few comments) to be posted at one of my blogs. It is really quite amazing. Let me show you how.

This first screen image is of the first screen of my iPhone. MoBloglines is the icon I click on to see what new posts may have arrived since I last checked.

When I click on the Bloglines icon I see something like the screen below. It shows me that of the 73 different blogs I monitor.....there have been 16 different posts since I last checked (and cleared the system). The screen tells me that Mind Hacks (a great blog) has one new post. So I tap "Mind Hacks" with my finger.

I then see something like the following image. I can see the title of the blog post ("The perils of not....") and can read the first few sentences or paragraphs of the post.....which is enough to decide if I want to go to the complete story or simply check it off and move on to checking the next blog post alert. For this example post....I decided to click on the "the perils of not..." title...which instantly takes me to the Mind Hacks blog site where I can view the original post...all on my iPhone screen.

This is the Mind Hacks blog....and the particular story post. I read the post in greater depth....and sometimes follow links to other web pages or blogs. But, at this point I typically decide whether the readers of my blogs might be interested in this story. If not...I move on and leave it. If I think it may be interesting to my readers, I then initiate a relatively quick "copy and paste" routine (available on the web) that puts the URL to the Mind Hacks page you see in the image in an email message (on my iPhone-----I've still not had to boot up any computer..yippeeee) that I instantly send to a special email address (from Blogger) that immediately posts it to the appropriate blog...along with any text I may have added. Instant FYI dissemination.

I won't bore most readers withe the copy/paste steps involved. Interested folks can view the screens below to see the steps I need to complete...all that go very quickly. They are possible due to a neat little web-app called iCOPY.

Those not interested in the details should skip the next three images. Do not past not collect $ 200.00.

Here is the final product. This is my iPhone email all ready to go. In this example I'm ready to send the post to "Blog Posts IQ" which is the email contact name for the Blogger email address I use to email posts to IQs Corner. As you see.....all it is is a URL....that readers can click on and then go to the Mind Hacks blog post of interest. I often typically type a few comments before the hyperlink...but not always. Frequently I try to convey what the URL is about in the "subject" of the email. Click here if you want to see the actual result.

Thats it!!!!!!!!! It is very quick and efficient. Other variations include me not sending an actual URL, but instead capturing a screen shot image of the post (click here to see an example) and emailing that directly to my blogs...skipping the iCOPY steps.

Technology is wonderful. I hope this post explains why some of my posts to my blogs may not look as polished as they should....and won't compare to those I write off-line or via dedicated blogger software. The goal is to monitor the blogsphere for my readers and provide FYI posts as quickly and often as the expense of glitz.

Trying to stay ahead of and benefit from the technology curve.

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