Forgive me if I repeat myself, but I believe the logic holds: One of the good things about the internet is that, now, anyone can be a publisher. Of course, one of the bad things about the internet is that now, anyone can be a publiser.
Thanks to the World Wide Web, it's possible to make a total fool of oneself in more countries than Marco Polo visited in his entire life.
Perhaps the greatest challenge for any would-be internet publisher-that is, someone who puts up a website or a weblog (blog) of any kind- is to sit still for a few minutes and think seriously about what they're doing.
That's not to suggest you should go ahead and express yourself online, but rather that a little consideration would be a helpful thing. Wehather it's aesthetics or content, planning can help turn something average into something exceptional;it can also save you from the aforementioned fool-making
For example, you'll never be able to predict just who will read your online musings: A recent article in The Washington Post daily newspaper noted the growing trend among high school students in the suburbs of Washington, DC, to express themselves via blogs.
Fair enough, but the students were shocked—shocked, they said—to realise that such dreaded people as their parents could (and would) actually read these digital diaries. While there are some ways to deeply restrict access to something you place online, most blog and web page hosting sites are designed to have the widest access possible. If someone has your site's internet address, it's generally an open invitation to stop round and have a look.
This can have some unexpected consequences. Ellen Simonetti, 30, was a flight attendant for Delta Air Lines, a major carrier in the United States. I say was, because Ms Simonetti, a seven-year veteran of the airline, was sacked after publishing a blog with some photos of her on an aeroplane in her Delta uniform, even though she did not, originally, identify the company. Whatever one's reaction to her photos (which were a tad risque, but not obscene by any reasonabl standard), the notion of being fired for doing something in one's private life online was anew concept when it happened to her in 2004.
It's happened to others since, including a journalism instructor at Boston University and, ironically, an employee of Google, which owns the Blogger.com blogging site.
The moral of the story: be careful what you post and where. One may have a legal freedom to say anything online, but there can be unexpected consequences for such self-expression.
ANother consequence, though far less fatal perhaps, is the potential for rather embarrasing stuff to appear online under your name. The "MySpace" (stet) online community now owned by Rupert Murdoch's News Corp is one place where you can find rather intimate postings from people, and while you can easily avoid them, avoiding the actual page layouts can be a bit tricker. Click on one link and it'll lead to another, and another and so forth.
Again, this is a website that is designed for personal expressions; my prpblem is that some of the design elements people use - purple-coloured lettering on a pihnk background for example- are just utterly garnis. The medium, in this case detracts from the message.
So what to do if you wish to become an online publisher? As I said, the first thing is to spend some time thikning about what you want to accomplish. If it's a simple "family" website recounting your vacation or doctoral studies, th3ere are plently of tools, some predefined, that services such as WestNet, AOL, Apple's .Mac and other firms may offer.
I'll confress to being a particular fan of Apple Computer, whose hardware and software are neccessary to create websites using the .Max (that's dot-Mac) service.
Of course, a trip to your nearby computer store can solve that ussue, and Apple's latest software, iLife '06, has a rather nice component called iWeb that allows you to create and post websites that are rather attractive and media-rich.
Whatever your route to online expression, though, I can't overemphasise the need to plan. Make your site unique, but make it attractive, or at least non-offensive. After all, if no-one can see what you're saying, they'll never know what your message is!