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Blog Carnivals and my 'Makes-Me-Smile Monday' Post

May 14, 2007 • blogging, general

My wife Shannon has really gotten into blogging lately. It brings out the writer in her and reminds me of when we were first dating and sending e-mail to each other every day. In her blog, Shannon has hit upon an interesting concept called the Blog Carnival. The blog carnival is a way of getting everyone in your blogging circle to make a special post about a particular topic on a certain day. For example, the Rocks in My Dryer blog (Shannon's inspiration for the idea) has a regular "Works-for-Me Wednesday" post, in which the author announces a theme for the week, and everyone is supposed to write a post on that theme on Wednesday. (The "works-for-me" adjective refers to a tip that works for you (which you post on Wednesday)).

Everyone in the Rocks in My Dryer site adds their post (via a tool called Mister Linkey) to the bottom of the original Rocks-in-My-Dryer-Works-for-Me-Wednesday post. The links from the participants look like this:

Carnival

Carnivals provide community and structure to the blogging experience. You aren't just reading a random posts on topics you subscribed to. You have entered into a community of people organized around a common theme. I think it's quite cool. Here's the Wikipedia definition:

A Blog Carnival is a type of blog event. It is similar to a magazine, in that it is dedicated to a particular topic, and is published on a regular schedule, often weekly or monthly. Each edition of a blog carnival is in the form of a blog article that contains permalinks links to other blog articles on the particular topic.

There are many variations, but typically, someone who wants to organize a carnival posts details of the theme or topic to their blog, and asks readers to submit relevant articles for inclusion in an upcoming edition. The host then collects links to these submissions, edits and annotates them (often in very creative ways), and publishes the resulting round-up to his or her blog.

(Actually, in reading the Wikipedia entry, the carnival seems more like "synchronized blogging," which it says is a variant, but the concepts are nearly the same.)

Anyway, blog carnivals are not only a neat idea, they have tremendous potential to influence Google search rankings. The blog carnival organizer benefits most (the Rocks in my Dryer author is ranked around 240 in Technorati -- this is near "blogebrity" status). But so does each individual participating in the carnival, because the blog organizer is linking to each of them (through the Mister Linkey feature, shown in the image above).  

I would like to start up a regular "Tech Writing Tips for Tuesdays" carnival, and I think I just may do it.

My Makes-Me-Smile Monday Post

So here's my Makes-Me-Smile Monday post, linked back to Shannon's original post. The theme is what makes me smile about my mother (mothers is the theme).

My mother has taught me more about generosity and patience than I can do justice here describing. But what makes me "smile" right now is somewhat trivial — I'm thinking about the signature foods my mom makes. As a kid growing up, my mother would always call me into the kitchen so that I could see how she was making this or that. For example, she would say, Tom, here's how you make a white cream sauce for these peas. You just add some of this white powder stuff (forgot the name), add some milk, and stir. Notice I keep stirring so that it doesn't burn. ... (You get the picture.)

As a kid, I thought this was torture. However, the other week my mom was here in a family gathering and she brought some food with her: cooked candied apples. I hadn't eaten cooked candied apples for 10 years or more, and it made me think about all the other food that I associate only with my mother: the peas in white sauce, egg custard, the egg nog with nutmeg, bread crumbs over noodle casserole, candied apples, runny eggs over toast cut into little squares, and more.

What makes me smile is that while I never enjoyed the kitchen lessons, I look back on the food and realize that I fondly associate this food uniquely and distinctly with my mother.

It seems everyone has a few unique dishes — food that is unique to you, and only you. My dad makes some crazy curry dishes. My wife makes chicken taco pie. I make orange-julius shakes. Avery makes peanut-butter and jelly sandwiches. I attach certain foods to the memories of certain people in ways stronger than I imagined.

Happy Mother's Day!

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About Tom Johnson

Tom Johnson

I'm a technical writer based in the California San Francisco Bay area. Topics I write about on this blog include technical writing, authoring and publishing tools, API documentation, tech comm trends, visual communication, technical writing career advice, information architecture and findability, developer documentation, and more. If you're a professional or aspiring technical writer, be sure to subscribe to email updates using the form above. You can learn more about me here.