This isn’t a blog, strictly speaking. What we have here is a blog inserted into a Homestead website. I know about these, because that’s how I started out. For those not familiar with Homestead, they are a great solution for those of us uninclined to coding and more concerned with content. There’s a point-and-click interface which can give you a decent-looking traditional website, and your domain, hosting, visitor tracking — the whole nine yards, are all included in the price. The problem enters when you try to drop in a blog.
In my case, it took a full 16 hours to get my first blog going, and then my visitors hated it. That’s because the blog opens in another window within the site, giving you two sliders to deal with, which is confusing for those not familiar with this kind of configuration. Any links within the blog also open up in that little window. What I eventually did was to get my blog hosted elsewhere and link back from the free-standing blog to the Homestead site for the rest of my ‘zine.
The blog contains only a portion of their journal, which focuses on their travels across North America since May of last year. A link marked “Journal” takes you to entries on traditional website pages. Once you get in to the “Journal,” it’s hard to get back to the blog. There are also articles which are apparently not part of either the journal or the blog. The effect of all this back-and-forth navigation is that the reader is never quite sure where she is. The pages and blog look different, and the entries on both are written by two different people. A bit more cohesion and organization in this project would go a long way to help, because it has plenty of potential to be well-read and frequently visited.
I’d also like to know more about Geoff. He seems to contribute a full share of the writing, but I was unable to find out as much as I’d like about why he’s part of the project, or if he’s just along for the ride. Perhaps there’s something there in this maze of links I overlooked.
The writing in this ‘zine is excellent, of near-professional quality. I’ve done a lot of traveling myself and enjoy reading about other people’s trips. The content is never boring. It’s the kind of thing you can read in bits and pieces during a busy business day, and be transported to the wilds of Alaska or the Colorado River rapids for a little while. It’s very easy to like these kids and wish them well on their journey. The entries themselves almost make up for the technically-awkward presentation.