Category Archives: blogging

China’s Social Media Channels

Learn about the top social media channels and how to begin implementing a social media strategy to reach and recruit international students from China.
Presented at the 2014 Annual NAFSA conference.



Tags vs. Categories

The best news is that you don’t have to choose.

Both tags and categories are important for successful blog indexing.

I have read a number of posts on tags and categories, and have wanted to post on this topic for awhile, but hadn’t discovered what I felt to be a solid explanation of why you should use both tags and categories on your blog.  I have also been searching for a clear illustration on the difference between the concepts of tagging and categorizing.

Social Media Today recently featured Elissa Nauful’s Tagging 101, which is one of the best pieces I have seen on the discussion of tags and categories.

The best line that sums it all up:

If you organize your blog like a book, your categories would be its table of contents, and your tags would be the index.

I remember in my tag/categories research I read one article that said “don’t even bother with tags, categories are really what matters.” Yet as Nauful says in her piece both tagging and adding categories can help search engines create your blog entries as results.

Well worth a read of the full article on Social Media Today’s blog.

Image Credit

Best Productivity Apps for Your Smartphone

I often receive comments about how well I leverage my smartphone.
I don’t just use it as a phone or email device. My phone serves many functions in my daily life from secretary, scanner, telecommunications device, access to news, and keeps me on top of tasks, projects and deadlines. I believe apps are what make these small units indispensable and essential for boosting productivity and efficiency.

I currently use the iPhone 4, but many apps are available on a number of devices including Blackberry, Android, Palm. I have noted which device platforms offer the applications I have reviewed below.

I will briefly review some of my favorite and most frequently used productivity iPhone apps. Keep in mind, these are just a few to get started. I’ll be sure to feature more in a future post.

Awesome Note-This is by far my most frequently used iPhone application. Awesome Note lets you take down notes and categorizes them in custom folders.  The multiple views lets you create To Do lists, view all notes on a calendar, set reminders (with alarm) as well as geo-tag, add photos, and email the files. The interface is beautiful with a variety of templates and fonts. The thumbnail view is akin to a virtual bulletin board filled with post-it notes where you can view your To Dos, ideas, work projects, book recommendations, and more. The other feature that makes this application a must-have is the ability to sync your information into the cloud, using either Evernote or Google Docs. (You have to be on a wifi connection to sync). This means that you always have a back-up of your information and can access your lists when you’re on your computer.

JotNot Scanner Pro-For anyone who travels or occasionally works remotely. This application lets you take a photo of a document, receipt or other physical page and converts it to a PDF, JPG or PNG file.  It provides numerous options to send on the file including email, fax, send to Evernote, send to Google Docs, send to Dropbox, Send to WebDAV/iDisk, and more.  This works great if you need to get a hard copy of a document to someone and you don’t have access to a scanner or fax machine. An essential mobile office tool. *Available on Blackberry and Android.

Dragon Dictation-Dragon Dictation is a voice recognition application powered by Dragon® NaturallySpeaking® that allows you to dictate your speech to text and send on as text or email messages. They makers say that speaking is up to 5 times faster than typing, so it can also improve your efficiency. Dictation takes some getting used to, and while the software recognition is fairly good there are still times when it doesn’t process your speech correctly. Proper nouns can be especially challenging. A nice feature is that you can tap the incorrect word and it will come up with options for replacement. *Available on Blackberry and Android.

Pulse News-A great news aggregation application that lets you customize your news RSS feeds. The interface uses a grid system that showcases rows for posts from a specific site and columns for different feeds. You can send links out via email, Twitter, Facebook and other social networking sites from within the application. *Available on Android.

Skype-Skype’s application lets you make and receive free calls, and have recently added the video feature. For any travel you do outside the US, or if you want to avoid racking up your phone minutes you can make free calls on 3G and wifi connection. This application also allows you to IM/Chat with your online contacts.  With the 4.0 OS multi-tasking feature you can stay signed into Skype while you’re in other applications or your phone is in standby. Your contacts can still see you’re online/signed in and can call or IM you (which comes up as a notification alert). *Available on Blackberry, Android and Palm.

NotifyMe-This is a great application for reminders. Sometimes people like to use their calendars for tasks or reminders such as making phone calls, working on a project, or a reminder to send a specific email. Nowadays many of us share our calendars with family members or colleagues so these “tasks” or reminders tend to clutter our calendars and are taking up a time frame on our calendar but aren’t really appointments. This applications lets you type in your task or reminder, as well as additional content, and alerts you when it’s due. An overdue tasks comes up in the upper right corner of the application icon (I keep this application on my homepage to ensure I don’t miss my alerts). This has an online version you can sync with and also allows you to connect with other users to put tasks on their Notify Me account.

Evernote-Another note-taking application that offers a few features that Awesome Note doesn’t (although the interface isn’t as pleasing) There is a desktop program as well as a web clipper, which lets you store content from a website you’re visiting with a touch of a button on your web browser.  You can input text, photos, and audio files. Another great feature Evernote offers is text recognition within photos. This means you can take a photo of a book cover, sign, or document and search for a part of the phrase later without having to actually create categories and tags (which it does let you do as well).  All of your clips and notes are saved in the cloud. Evernote has been featured as one of the top productivity apps on numerous websites and books. *Available on Blackberry, Android and Palm.

WordPress-A great way to blog on the go!

*Available on Blackberry and Android.



Have an app you love and want to recommend? Please post it in the comments.

The Birth, Death and Revival of Vietnam’s Blogging Culture

An interesting article on the history and culture of blogging in Vietnam from AsiaLife magazine.

The Birth, Death and Revival of Vietnam’s Blogging Culture
A brief history of the curious lifespan and rebirth of Vietnamese blogs.
By Chi Huyen Mai

Source: AsiaLife Issue 27

The Rise
Once upon a time, five or six years ago, a neologism introduced a whole new way of
life to Vietnamese who were embracing the cyber world. That word was “blog.” “For the first time, my opinions counted, and I was listened to,” recalls Tu Nguyen, a 20-year-old blogger. For many like Tu, blogging presented the chance to voice one’s mind and heart in a culture that traditionally approves of communal consensusand disapproves of individual expression. Blogging was a new sort of freedom.

From behind their keyboards, bloggers could reflect on life, their peers, fashion, music, pets—anything that interested them. That freedom extended to social, economic and even political subjects, which had hardly ever been discussed on any public platform before the arrival of blogs. Trung Tran was in his early twenties when the blogosphere exploded. “It was the only space where I could speak my thoughts at length about my generation, society and all that surrounded me,” says Tran. “It was a whole new horizon in which one had a chance to parade her personality,” says Van Nguyen, who would become a blogger for Asia Scout Network, a research initiative that monitors emerging youth culture within Asia-Pacific.

As blogging grew in popularity, the world beyond the computer screen took notice. Starting from a personal wish to express themselves, some bloggers rose above the crowd, making up a trendsetting group that Vietnamese media at the time dubbed “The Hot Bloggers.” “Hot Bloggers are those who had a strong personality. That’s the numero uno standard,” says Robbey Le, a well-known, long-time blogger. Robbey has been blogging since 2006. He writes about pop culture, from music to movies to the world of celebrities, “with no attempts to stir up faux scandals,” he says, referring to the many Vietnamese blog pages that attract enormous traffic by posting gossip, eyebrow-raising news and plenty of chest shots.

Many other bloggers also rose above the lowest common denominator. At its peak, Vietnam’s blogosphere saw the rise of Co Gai Do Long, a journalist by trade who reported behind-the-scenes stories of celebrities. It also witnessed the increasing fame of Bo Cu Hung, a reporter who offered insights into more serious topics such as politics and journalistic practices. Then there was Cuong Oz with independent multi-series research and features on the underground youth culture of alcohol and drugs. The list goes on.

The Fall
Much of the boom was built on Yahoo 360, a social networking and blogging platform that was the first to enter the Vietnamese market. But while Yahoo 360 caught on in Vietnam, it was radically eclipsed in the rest of the world by other services such as MySpace and Facebook. By July 2009, Yahoo decided to close the service. It was little noticed elsewhere, but the decision had a dramatic impact on the blogging community in Vietnam. The death of Yahoo 360 spawned the annihilation of millions of online journals and a scattered exodus to a plethora of other sites, from WordPress, Multiply, my.opera, Tumblr, Blogspot and Yahoo Plus (successor of Yahoo 360) to locally-supplied Zing, Yume, tamtay and others.

In 2009, the number of Internet users visiting blogs dropped from 46 to 41 percent, and blog writers declined from 27 to 20 percent, according to market research agency Cimigo. Some bloggers continued. Robbey Le, Co Gai Do Long and others have survived and retained their loyal fans, but other pop culture bloggers either completely gave up or slowed down after moving to other hosting sites. “There was no point to invest feelings and thoughts in prose just to see everything suddenly vanish one day,” says Trang Tran. “

Things’ve changed so much. There is no concentration of blogging culture anymore,” says Joe Ruelle, the most acclaimed—and only—Western blogging star in Vietnam. Joe, known by Vietnamese people as “Dau Tay” (a pun on his name that translates to “Western Berry”), became a phenomenon through his blog, which was written in uncannily fluent Vietnamese with adept observations about Vietnam’s life and culture. “It’s natural,” he says about the fall of the Yahoo 360 blogging community. “Vietnam is very receptive to fads. Everything can quickly come into fashion and quickly fade away.” From Robbey Le’s viewpoint as one of the most talked-about blogging stars, “Vietnam’s online world still lacks strong personalities. Even in commenting, people fear backlash unless they keep their real identity in the closet and stay behind a mask.”

The Renaissance
Despite the fall of Yahoo 360, the online world has continued to evolve. In the present online world of Vietnam, sex and scandals are flooding popular websites., a notorious site overflowing with sexual clips, provocative photos and scandals has become a model for other blogs and amateur entertainment sites. Contagious online “journals” of “hot boys” and “hot girls” (the words, remaining in English, were invented by Vietnam’s online community) are passed along via whispers and mischievous winks, primarily among younger cyber citizens.

On a lower key, the literary, social and political enthusiasts gather in esoteric sites of their own. Online literature has been an emerging trend; Trang Ha and some other writer-bloggers initiated a website (online literature) as a new cyber turf for more serious writers. Teenagers have also joined the party and concocted a communication style for themselves. Translating the incomprehensible passages on her friends’ blogs, my 18-year old sister explains: “We now write ‘p’ for ‘b’, ‘j’ for ‘i’, ‘w’ for ‘qu’ and ‘k’ for ‘c.’” Thought it looks like code, there’s no discernible function; the substitutions are simply in fashion.

For some, blogging has turned into opportunities in other media. Joe’s online fame led him into a career as TV show host and film star, as well as the publication of his blog entries as a book. Recently he again picked up the craft as a blogger for Dan Tri, a respected local news website. Other bloggers have also ventured beyond the cyberworld. Ha Kin signed a book deal for New York Love Story, a compilation of her blog entries under the same title. And Trang Ha, who at first translated a Chinese fiction translated as “Sorry you are just a slut” on her blog, later signed a book deal which was followed by a stage adaptation offer in 2010.

Still, the heyday of the blogging craze is over, perhaps never to return. “It used to be a communal, eclectic house where I could learn from different blog pages. Somewhat like an information buffet,” says Trang Pham, a PR executive. “Now I don’t know where I can find the prose to my taste. I have no clue where my favorite bloggers have gone. It’s all a big muddle.

Image Credits: