Crop. Journaling. Stickers. Ribbons. Die cuts.
If you know what I'm talking about, you likely are a scrapbooker who is just itching to get your hands on some templates, photos, pens and pinking scissors.
But wait, before you do, let me introduce some new lingo into your scrapbooking vocabulary.
Blog. Upload. Font. Post. Layout.
Welcome to the digital scrapbooking world. It's a whole new way to preserve your memories, expand your imagination and show off your creativity.
What can you do with a blog? Many of the same things you can do with a scrapbook. You can add pictures, write up memories and creatively arrange. But you can also do so much more.
Blogs are interactive. You can share your digital scrapbook with your family and friends. And then they can leave their own thoughts and memories. With a shared link via blog comment or e-mail, you can look at their blogs and read up on the life experiences of your friends and family.
This interactivity expands to the types of blog elements you can add. Want to upload some of your favorite songs to a playlist that will play when people look at your blog? See Playlist.com. Or how about including a slideshow of your favorite pictures? See Slide.com. You can also add advertisements, favorite Web sites, progress meters, book and movie reviews, quotes you love and more.
With a camcorder and the right cable, you can post videos to your blogs. Show me a scrapbook that can do that.
And the technology is just beginning.
So with a little know-how, a little creativity and a few hundred dollars of equipment you may already have, you can share your thoughts, memories, pictures and other glimpses of your life with an online audience. Enjoy!
How to start your digital scrapbook
Step 1: Assemble your materials. You will need a computer with Internet access and transfer capabilities (USB ports, firewire ports and/or card readers are the most common). A digital camera with USB or firewire cord and/or card is preferred; however printed photographs can be scanned using a flat-bed scanner. A word-processing program and a photo-editing program can be helpful for rough drafts but are not essential.
Step 2: Click onto the Internet and find your blog space. There are myriad free blog hosts, including the popular "Blogspot" (www.blogger.com) and "Wordpress" (www.wordpress.com). A quick Google search of "free blog" will generate other options, or you can also pay for your blog space, like at "Typepad" (www.typepad.com). You will need to register using your e-mail address and think of a unique name for your blog.
Step 3: Lay out your blog. You can use the provided templates to begin, or you can Google search for a more personal theme (Google search: blog template).
Step 4: Decide on privacy levels. How out-there do you want to be? Do you just want to included invited readers? Do you want people to be able to stumble upon your blog? Will you provide an RSS feed so that others can see when you've updated? Read up on the privacy options at the blog space host.
Step 5: Choose blog elements and place them (see the main article, above). These are easy to change if you decide you want to.
Step 6: Start blogging! Write up journal entries, muse on life, throw out discussion topics and start uploading your photos. Don't worry if it is slow going at first. You will learn what works and what doesn't, just like with physical scrapbooking, but with a lot less mess!
Step 7: Need more help? If you want added information on how to start your blog, most blog hosts include tutorials on how to get started and likely have the answers to your frequently-asked questions, so just surf around a bit.
Words you need to know when starting your blog/scrapbook
Blog: A Web log. A blog can be used as a journal, a forum, a scrapbook, a news outlet and more.
Blogger: Someone who reads or writes the posts in blogs.
Blogroll: A list of blogs you frequent posted on your blog.
Blog archives: Past posts, usually organized by year and month.
Browse: To search through files on your computer, especially when searching for photos to upload.
Download: Pulling something from the Web to your computer.
Font: The type of type you type. You can choose all sorts of typesets from flowery to formal.
HTML: HyperText Markup Language. This is the preeminent language used to structure the blogs (and much of the Web for that matter). Knowing how to use a few HTML programming tags can make blogging a little easier, but it is not necessary.
Post: As a verb, to put something on your blog. As a noun, what has been placed on your blog.
RSS Feed: Rich Site Summary Feed. This is how blog content is delivered when it is updated. Someone can use a reader (see below) to keep tabs on all the blogs they are interested in, thus knowing when something new is added. If you have strict privacy on your blog, the RSS feed will not be activated.
RSS Feed Reader: You can personalize a Web-based RSS feed reader like Google Reader or MyYahoo and subscribe to the blogs that interest you. It then becomes one place you can check to see if there are updated posts.
Spam: Unwanted advertising, solicitation or comments on your blog. Many blog hosts have built-in protections that keep spam out (i.e. a word that the commenter has to type to prove they are not a computer spam generator). But you have to select that you want these safeguards, called "captchas," on your blog
Upload: Pulling something from your computer to the Web.
A word about digital safety
You may enjoy blogging so much that you are tempted to stop compiling a physical scrapbook.
Don't do it! Archivists and librarians from around the world are unsure how long these digital records will last.
"Don't expect digital documents (computer generated) to last," said Chris McAfee, senior conservator at the LDS Church. "Currently, it is safe to assume that 'modern' storage methods hard drives, floppy disks, compact discs and other digital media will be outdated after 10 years. Even with saved backups, the best option is to print your word documents onto acid-free paper with an ink-jet printer using pigmented inks (nonpigmented inks are not permanent) or with a laser printer."
And you never know when a hard drive or Web site crash can zap away your precious memories, so ...
1. Keep compiling your physical scrapbooks.
2. Save your blog posts by printing out your photos and your thoughts every few months.
There may well come a time when you thank yourself for preserving your records to enjoy and be enjoyed for generations to come.
Putting a digital spin on physical scrapbooking
A different spin on digital scrapbooking is the digital templates you can find, buy, download, use and then print.
Buy: These are similar to the templates you buy at the scrapbook store, but you can use them over and over again. The downside is that you have to print them yourself.
Download: You download the file to your computer and then open it into a scrapbooking or photo program. Be sure to follow the copyright restrictions (most templates are for personal use only).
Use: In the program (such as Adobe Photoshop) you can add your photos, journal entries and other personal touches.
Print: In a few moments, your finished, or almost-finished, product comes out, ready to be placed in your scrapbook.
Each week, Emily W. Jensen writes the Bloggernacle Back Bench, a column highlighting the best of the LDS-themed blogs. These include the collaborative blogs as well as personal blogs. Check it out online at MormonTimes.com. Send comments, questions or a link to your blog to firstname.lastname@example.org.