Here follows alittle bit of a end of the working day rant. To be honest I always thought the word blog was annoying. Now that I have one and read some I am coming around a bit, but have yet to perceive their great value in promoting community.
I am yet to be convinced. I don't know if I am a Scrooge, but 'bah humbug' springs occasionally to mind when I hear people effusing about blogs. Mind you my opinion has slightly changed over this. My participation in FOL has to do with following Leigh's blog. I suppose that is the heart of it, trolling through blogs, eventually finding one or two you admire and respect, RSSing them, learning, commenting engaging, following links to things you may not have found out about yourself. All well and good.
The bad as I see it mirrors problems with the internet as a whole. Miles wide and an inch deep. In the end we can spend a lot of time reading through the opinionated blogs of others with no vetting of what they say. Using your own noggin is a valuable way to do this I know and will probably help in formulating your own ideas and constructs. Yet some external measurement, support or correlation with authenticity would be nice.
Here are some rambling thoughts on potential issues when trying to use blogs as a community-building/facilitating/sustaining tool:
- it takes time. there are too many blogs fed into my reader to bother going through them all. There is limited time at work, and I like to spend time with my family. I am happy to hear what people ahve to say but I don;t want to have to open their feed have a look to see if is anything useful.
- related to this is the disorganisation of the content and the difficulty in browsing previous content. It is categorised usually chronologically. How do I know if that person has blogged something useful? I might be able to search if the blog has the facility to do so and I knew exactly what I was looking for. But often I wouldn't have a specific idea and identifying worthwhile posts/topics is difficult. Chronology lacks a great deal of value as a way of storing information. Tags are ok, but limited. This is where a website/wiki is a better option. Put what you think is your 'good oil' on the front page or provide clear links to it with short descriptions. Then it takes a small time commitment on the viewer to ascertain yes I will look further or no I will wait till next time.
- People probably get their favourite blogs and then ignore the rest. If a blog has been quiet for a while (like mine) then many people will probably be less likely to look, even if they see that new post has been made in their reader. I wonder if there are people out there who feel a little disenfranchised because they perceive their blog is less well visited or even largely ignored.
I am sure for many of those who have or dedicate the time to perusing the blogs, making the comments, going to another blog, and so on, are establishing productive connections with others and mutually enagaging in productive learning. I will try and find a blog of someone in here who waxes enthusiatically about a blogosphere and obtain their perspective.
Even the group email we have makes it difficult to read through., Not sure if I am using it incorrectly, but a flood of emails come in, and when I go online to the google groups site, it doesn't seem that much better. I'd like a nice threaded discussion list.
I feel that an online discussion forum is a better idea, structured on ideas rather than time, collated rather than dispersed, easier to skim through. Occasional comments by peripheral users are more likely to be noticed and responded to. Yes, a nice threaded discussion board, such as http://meetro.lefora.com
Well time to go home. As I said a bit of a ramble, not 100% thought out, but then general feelings and considerations play a huge role in how people interact anyway. A blogosphere may be of use for a bundle of tech-savvy time free bloggers, but not so great for the vast majority of everyone else. There are other better ways.