At universities across the UK, student clubs and societies are known as “socs”. Each of these socs is intended to bring together people with common interests, and nearly every campus has a Japan Soc.
With its Japan-related news and stories, the website of the same name has done a good job of focusing on the “Japan”. Now, though, I’d like to give as much attention to the “Soc”, by sharing with and learning more about the JapanSoc members themselves!
What is the JapanSoc Community Blog?
The JCB is an open blog that allows anybody to post a blurb about anything. It’s a blog, forum and Twitter hybrid, that can be used for Sharing, Promoting, Asking Questions, Updating and Organizing, or as I prefer to call it, SPAQUO!
Examples of SPAQUO
“Do you have any good photos from New Year? I’m writing a post about New Year in Japan, and would like to include other people’s experiences. Oh, and if you want any old Japanese textbooks, I’m giving mine away.”
“Just a normal day today, but I found time to post a video of my toaster oven on YouTube. It makes great cheese on toast! Tell your friends. The Japanese toaster oven phenomenon will take over the world!”
“I’m thinking of getting that seishun 18 kippu summer train discount thingy, has anyone used it before? Is it worth it?”
“I’ve just got back from three days in Osaka and Kyoto. I’ll have the pictures up on my blog tomorrow. It’s goooood to be back!”
“I’ll be at the Aldgate in Shibuya on Sunday evening. Join me for a drink! If you’re not in Tokyo, I’ll buy you a virtual beer at the Japan Resort in Second Life tonight after 11pm.”
You can see in the examples above that you don’t have to say anything funny, intelligent or useful. It’s not a competition. No points, no genki karma, just good old community spirit.
The possibilities with JCB are earth moving!
The JapanSoc Community Blog enables tagging, which is incredibly useful for tracking a topic. For example, imagine a group of you are organizing a get-together next month. If you all use the same tag, e.g. “meetup”, you can track the latest developments by searching for “meetup”, or even subscribing to the RSS feed for the topic “meetup”.
Technical bits and pieces
Registration for JCB is separate from the main JapanSoc site, so you’ll need to register again. Of course, it’s a good idea to sign up with the same username and password you use on the main site so that you don’t confuse your JapanSoc login info.
After you’ve registered, you’ll see a form at the top of the main blog page where you can type your SPAQUO in. This saves the trouble of going into the WordPress Dashboard and writing a full post.
Avatars on the blog are also different to the avatars on JapanSoc. JCB uses Gravatar, a global avatar which is quickly becoming the standard across the blogosphere. If you have a gravatar, you’ll need to register with the same email address you used when you got your gravatar, otherwise it won’t show up.
RSS feeds are abundant on JCB. The main feed shows the user updates, but you can also subscribe to individual author feeds and topic/tag feeds. If you’d like to show off your JapanSoc updates on your own blog, just import your author feed.
HTML is allowed in the post form, and since all users have Author status, you can always correct any mistakes afterward.
Each “update” on JCB is technically a blog post. The only difference is that you don’t have to go into the Admin panel to write it. Bearing in mind that these are blog posts, please refrain from tiny updates such as “I’m bored”.
Also, please avoid the temptation to make too many updates. One or two a day at the most is more than sufficient. Of course, you can use the comments section as much as you like.
An experiment in group twittering
This kind of group blogging is quite revolutionary, and is made possible with the new WordPress Prologue theme. It will be interesting to see if JapanSoc’ers take to it and find it useful. What are you waiting for? Go to the JapanSoc Community Blog, sign up and post a SPAQUO!If you like, you can find me on Twitter at @nick_ramsay. I'd love to hear from you!