A Weblog Primer
by Matt Lerner
TICL Information Technology Committee
As part of the New York State Bar Association's efforts
to expand its presence on the World Wide Web, the Association has
created weblogs for its sections and committees. TICL has its own weblog located here. Like TICL's listserv and webpage, TICL's weblog is an
information resource. This primer explains
weblogs, how to use them, and how to read them in an extremely efficient
As you will see, among other things, the TICL weblog is
different from its listserv and webpage because the weblog unless a
central location to engage in discussion. This feature is known as "commenting" on the individual
posts. I encourage you to comment on the
posts, thereby avoiding having TICL's weblog solely consisting of one
author's posts and opinions. You can comment
on each individual post by clicking on the word "Comments" at the footer
of each post. Doing so will bring you to a
template for your name, email address, web page (if you have one; not
necessary to have one), and text of your comment. Your ability to
comment on an individual post or many posts is unlimited.
You can submit your comment by clicking on the button
You will also notice that the word "Comments" at the
footer of each post is followed by parentheses with a certain
number. The number in those parentheses
indicates how many comments are currently posted for each individual
post. The ability to comment on posts is but
one feature of weblogs. The following
discussion explains the
Weblogs are frequently updated webpages on which writers, known as
bloggers, post brief comments about news items, interesting websites,
and more. Weblogs are known colloquially as
blogs among those who read them. Blogs
dedicated primarily to legal content are known as
Blogs allow individuals to present ideas beyond the
confines of the frequently stale news sources of which the general
public has grown accustomed to rely. Their
power to publish issues that the more established media outlets ignore
makes blogs extremely powerful.
How are weblogs
The content on a blawg's main page is displayed in
reverse chronological order. An author's
most recent "post" to his or her blawg will appear just below the
blawg's banner (the blawg's name or description). Posts are the main part of a blawg's content.
Generally, posts are brief summaries of a specific point
or topic. Each blawg's post stands on its
own as a discrete "news" piece. The post's
content appears under its title that the author gives to that discrete
A post's content is usually in a digestible form,
offering the reader direct access to the original source through
a hyperlink. Generally, numerous words
contained in the post are highlighted. These
highlighted posts may link to the author's weblog, either his or her own
or another, another website, a document, or an image. A post frequently provides a short analytical summary of a
denser, longer news piece, linking to that news story.
Here is an example of a post on our own TICL
Posts are also usually subdivided into
categories. An author creates these
categories and assigns them to a particular post for archival
purposes. Posts can have more than one
category. The category of the particular
post will usually be indicated in either the post's header or
footer. By clicking on the category for a
particular post, you will be able to view all the posts on that blawg
contained within that category. The posts
within that particular category will be displayed in reverse
chronological order. Here is an example of
our own TICL weblog's Appellate
Practice archive section. The archives section on TICL's
weblog is located on the right side of the screen under
Weblogs can provide up-to-the-minute information without
ever leaving your Web browser. Bloggers post
important information throughout the day, and technology
allows you to receive this update information without
actually visiting the actual weblog page. This technology is called Really Simple Syndication, which allows you to receive
feeds from a weblog without actually visiting each individual weblog.
Really Simple Syndication or RSS for short, allows you to read limitless
weblog posts from numerous blogs in one central locations.
For example, you could have learned about Governor
Spitzer's veto of Bill 06306 by simply checking your designated feeds on
browser and reading the TICL post.
How Do You Read Blogs on
Your Web Browser?
The newest versions of Internet
Explorer and Firefoxallow you to designate
your favorite blogs and other webpages that have RSS feeds and read them
right on your browser. Here is a
step-by-step way to do so on Internet Explorer and
The RSS feed feature is instituted in Internet Explorer
7. To designate weblogs that you want to
read from your Internet Explore browser, go to "View" and choose
"Feeds." The left side of your browser will
now have a separate window that will display your feeds plus some
pre-loaded feeds from Microsoft. This is the
universal symbol for a weblog's or webpage's feed.
Anytime that you visit a
weblog or a webpage that has RSS feeds, you can subscribe to that
particular feed by going to the feed symbol picture above -- which is
located on the Internet Explorer toolbar -- and clicking on
it. When clicking on the symbol on the
toolbar, you will usually be able to choose RSS 1.0, RSS 2.0,
and ATOM. Whichever you choose, you will
now see on the left side of you browser that you have subscribed to that
particular feed. Once doing so, you will now
be able to read feeds from that webpage or weblog without visiting that
particular webpage or weblog.
Follow these steps to add TICL's
weblog to your Internet Explore feeds:
1. Go to "View" and choose
2. Type" http://nysbar.com/blogs/TICL/" into your browser's search
3. Click on the feeds icon
(pictured above) on your Internet Explorer toolbar;
4. Choose "Atom (new)" or "RSS
5. You will now see a
page of TICL Blog's feeds. In the tan box at
the top, you will see an icon with a star and plus sign followed by the
word, "Subscribe." Click that
icon. A dialog window will appear that will
allow you to subscribe to the TICL weblog. Click on the button stating "Subscribe";
6. You have now subscribed to
the TICL weblog;
7. You can hover over the
particular weblog or feed you want to read. When you do so, you will see two green arrows to the right
side. By clicking on that feed, it will
automatically search for updates on that webpage or weblog.
You will then get the weblog's posts in reverse
chronological order in the right window pane.
I am extremely partial to Firefox's Web
browser. Firefox has something called "live
bookmarks." The concept is the same as
Internet Explorer, but Firefox allows you an easier way to add webpage's
and weblog's feeds to your Firefox Internet browser. The process of adding a feed is just a simple drag and drop
process. Here is a step-by-step way of
adding a feed as a bookmarks to your browser.
1. Type " http://nysbar.com/blogs/TICL/" into your browser's search
2. Go to the
address window and double click on the feed icon;
3. A dialog window
will now pop up asking whether you want to add this feed as a live
bookmark. You can either add this live
bookmark to your toolbar folder or to your list of
bookmarks. I suggest adding it to your
bookmark toolbar. In doing so, you go hover
on the particular webpage or weblog right on Firefox's toolbar and a
list of feeds from that webpage or weblog will appear.
By adding numerous feeds to your Firefox toolbar, you
will not have to visit any of those site, and merely have to hover over
each live bookmark.
Going Beyond Internet
Browsers: Reading Weblogs Through An Aggregator
Aggregators are just programs that collect feeds and
allow you to read them; they share the same concept as the feeds
explained concerning Internet browsers. Some
aggregators require you to download programs to your computer, and some
do not. An excellent, free aggregator that
does not require you to download a program is called Bloglines.
Bloglinesis a web-based news aggregator for browsing weblogs and other news feeds via syndicated feeds utilizing
technologies such as Really Simple Syndication and ATOM. Unlike other feed
readers that download posts directly to one's
device, Bloglines is a server-side aggregation system, where
blog entries are downloaded and updated on the server on a frequent
Bloglines is free, but you have to sign-up to use
it. Here is how to activate your
1. Go to http://www.bloglines.com/.
the upper right-hand corner, click on
3. You will now be asked for your email address, password, to
re-type your password, and your timezone;
4. After entering in this information, go to your email inbox and
click on the verification link sent from
5. You have now activated your Bloglines
Here are step-by-step instructions to add feeds to
Bloglines once you have activated your account:
1. Go to http://www.bloglines.com/
2. Go to tab on upper-left corner and click on "My Feeds"
3. Left window displays the feeds you currently subscribe
4. Right window displays the feeds content.
5. There are tabs in window for feed directories and searching for
6. You can also use a "Subscribe to" button using the "Easy
Searching for Particular
1. Go to right window and click on "Search" tab.
2. Go to the pulldown window that says "Search for
3. Change this pulldown bar to "Search for
4. Type in your search terms in the search bar.
5. Click on Search bar.
6. On the bottom of each particular result, you can click on
"Preview feed" or "Subscribe to
feed." There are also "Matching Posts" to
the right that you can click on.
Subscriptions Sent to Bloglines
1. Go to the left bottom window to "Extras."
2. Click on "Create Email Subscriptions."
3. You must have Username in Bloglines.
4. Type in description of that particular email
5. When you are finished, Bloglines will create that particular
6. Cut and paste the email address and use it for the particular
newsletter and your subscription will now be sent
7. You can even have listserv emails go to
Trying Out Sample Account on
For ease of use, I have created a sample account for all
TICL members to use. The account comes
pre-loaded with some non-legal and legal feeds for you to look
at. Here's how to access this ready-made
1. Go to http://www.bloglines.com/.
2. In the upper right-hand corner of the screen, click on "Log
3. In the email address section, type in: firstname.lastname@example.org.
4. In the password section, type in: "TICLCHARLIE" (all in capital
5. On the left-hand window, you will now have two folders:
Non-Legal Feeds and Legal Feeds.
6. You can expand each folder by pressing on the +
7. By clicking on each individual feed, the contents will appear
in the right-hand window.
8. If no content appears, that means that there are no recent
posts to that particular blog or site. To
read older posts, go to the pulldown bar in the right window and choose
a time specification to look at older posts.
Once you get the hang of RSS and blogs, the concept will be second
nature. However, sometimes the weird words and technical aspects
can be a little intimidating. Hopefully this primer clears up some
of the mystery. Nevertheless, please feel free to contact me if you get
stuck or have a question. I will be more than happy to help out