I have been talking BLOG’s through with Tom, trying to understand their characteristics and potential uses and have some initial observations and thoughts.
One key point is that BLOG’s represent a person rather than a virtual place – that is they are person not place centric. The implications for this are many, not least is the sense of ownership and empowerment it brings. BLOG’s belong to individuals, the content and the way in which they chose to allow others to interact with it is the individuals choice.
One of the central tenets of Ultralab’s approach to online community is that privacy is important – that is knowing who can read and respond to conversations. BLOG philosophy turns this on its head, by their nature they are very ‘public’ (although it is possible to make them private) and an important question is does this significantly change the nature of discourse? Are we at Ultralab too precious about the need for privacy? It seems to me that there will be occasions when a high level of disclosure is desirable and a public BLOG may deter some from contributing. There will also be instances when sensitive issues are discussed that would be impossible if access to conversations were open. However, I wonder if our use of electronic means of communication might be maturing sufficiently so that we are comfortable sharing far more online. The default position should maybe be open access with recognition that particular conversations should be private.
Lastly, how empowering BLOGS are for individuals who wish to get their ‘voice’ heard. No gatekeepers, just listen to me if you want to. The online ‘speakers corner!’
Hi Stephen, I think the blogs have to be in addition to more confidential spaces, like FC & our learning journals proper on our home computers. I do think Ultralab can be a little dogmatic about the”keep it in the small community” line but there must be room for both surely? The people centric/virtual space debate is interesting. I feel ownership of my blog in the same way as I did of my jelly pages & that’s what drew me to blogging in the first place. Fascinating all this stuff isn’t it? Still back to the AE:) Linda H
‘person not place centric’ has been a key feature but it doesn’t always have to be. Now that the software and facilities are out there, spurred on by the impetus which personal blogging has created, they can be used in other ways as well. Another key feature of blogs is that publishing is done via an ordinary web browser, and it’s relatively quick and easy. You don’t have to be a designer or programmer, just a writer.
So groups of writers can collaborate on a common theme in one blog, with a multiple login feature. All sorts of static websites can now sprout a lively blog attachment, and blog discussions can take place at the group, organisation or any other level. It’s just that the boundaries are much less clear, because potentially anybody might join in.
So will this enhance or dilute the discussions?
I would agree Andy, the technology blurs the boundaries significantly. There are additional tensions for formal communities such as Ultraversity, in that issues of entitlement come into play. So in the short term, like Linda, for a programme like UltraV I would see BLOGS as an adjunct not a replacement. I can, however, see certain MA level programmes using BLOGS where typically smaller numbers of students are engaged upon a particular module.
It may be that with some thought and planning a large programme like Ultraversity could be based on BLOG technology. It is more a question of doing some serious information architecture (permissions, navigation, etc) thinking rather than an inherent flaw in this technology.
What happened to Stephen’s reply? I’m sure he posted one as a comment right here, but now it seems to have disappeared.
It’s OK, I can see it again now. Strange effects in my browser – Movable Type and Opera not always completely compatible.