It's never too late to blog

Blogs, once the domain of the young and tech-savvy, are slowly gaining a following among senior citizens. Blogs &

short for Web logs &

are on-line journals with the most recent postings at the top of the page. They can range in topic from a personal diary to political opinions or travelogues. Although older people may have heard of blogs, many aren't quite sure what they are, says Ashland resident Sharry Teague, 66, who is planning to teach a class in blogging to seniors in November.

"People who are my age, my friends, are very well educated and very sophisticated about culture, but a lot of them haven't really encountered a blog," Teague said. "What a blog really is is a simple way to publish what you have to say."

More than half of bloggers in 2006 were under the age of 30, while 14 percent were between the ages of 50 and 64 according to the Pew Internet and American Life Project. Only 2 percent of bloggers were older than 65. But efforts are underway to assist seasoned citizens in the on-line world.

"For the older generation, it's very much an alien medium so they have to work hard to get close to it," said Derek Gordon, vice president of marketing for Technorati, a firm that tracks blog use. "To the extent that they are on-line, they're either journaling in the classic sort of way or they are keeping track of family and friends or they are documenting their travels."

Teague started blogging in 2005 and now has 10 blogs. She has one to post family pictures and keep in touch with her daughter in Boston, one to post SoulCollage cards that she designs, and one called Embodied Aging, used to connect aging bloggers around the country. When her neighbor had a baby, she set up a blog so distant relatives could see pictures of the newborn.

Blogging programs are easier than ever to use, Teague said, and even if people discover they don't enjoy blogging after trying it, there are no consequences for stopping.

"There are lots of abandoned blogs out there, but no big deal," she said. "It doesn't matter if you post or not. If you want to just try it and abandon it, so what!"

Betty Bangs, a member of Senior Aces, the group where Teague will teach her class, uses her computer for almost everything except blogging. She pays her bills on-line, puts out newsletters using desktop publishing, listens to music and is starting a Web site to display her paintings with the help of a more technical friend.

"I would go to a class just to find out what blogging is," she said. "At least I'd know why I didn't do it."

She said she prefers to spend her time walking or painting, not staring at a computer screen.

"I think the blogging is probably for people who need the social contact," she said.

Gene Krumlauf, 72, owns three computers, and he said e-mail helps him keep in touch with friends better than blogs could.

"You get a lot of people out there who want to tell everybody everything about themselves," he said. "If they don't have close friends or relatives to do this to, there's a blog. It keeps them active; it keeps their mind active."

Teague said she prefers blogs to crossword puzzles or other games that are traditionally recommended to prevent memory problems.

"Why not keep up with technology to add to your mental skills bank?" she said.

Teague will teach her first class at the Senior Aces computer users group Nov. — at Rivergate in Ashland.

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