After all this time…

My husband, who works for a foundation helping communities that are facing development pressures plan for their future, came home from work last night and asked me if I would walk some of his colleagues through my blogging. He thought that they might want to start blogging, either singly or on a group blog, and he was wondering if I’d share my experiences.

Well, after four years of his watching my efforts at blogging in the classroom and on my own (sometimes into the wee hours), four years of my urging him to bring blogs to his foundation, four years of my traveling about to talk about social software in general and blogs in particular, he’s really seeing how social software can provide an effective vehicle for communicating within an institution, and for working with colleagues and commmunities spread out across the country, and for engaging in topical, timely, urgent discussions with online communities about this vital work.

So, of course, I said yes, and to that end, I want to use this post to point them to some interesting, effective uses of blogs by individuals with ideas to get out there, and groups engaging in dialogue with one another and the world around a specific subject area outside the strictly academic realm. (The list below will not include many of my favorite edubloggers)

I’ll talk with them about wikis and text-based blogs for starters, but will probably try to touch on podcasting and folksonomies, too if I haven’t overwhelmed them.

A few thoughts and links to get them going:

Wikis:
Wikis work well to spark and organize collaboration on specific group projects and reports where, as Sarah Lohnes points out, “content is developed collaboratively.” She points, too, to Ross Mayfield’s discussion on on Wikitorials over at the excellent group blog Many2Many.

Blogs:

Linkrolling:
To post links to resources, news items, RSS feeds (see
Elise.com on what RSS is and why it is useful)–linkrolling, as it is sometimes called, is a way to keep up with developments in the field and in the world. This kind of frequent and brief posting also gets your news out. Roland Tanglao keeps up with everything having to do with technology, for instance, using his blog as a portal of sorts. The archiving of the posts encourages the emergence of portal blogs, used by others to find out what’s going on in the field.

Group Discussion Threads
Group blogs work well when they combine active linking to the outside world and thoughtful commentary on these discoveries as well as issues of particular interest to the group. Contributors to group blogs usually also have their own blogs (or multiple subject-based blogs). For instance, the contributors to Many2Many, such as Dave Weinberger blog on their own as well. The same goes for the scholars featured on Cognitive Architects.

Inside the institution they can foster idea development and creative thinking; opening the blog to the outside world by inviting guest bloggers, or by creating a group blog for scholars and leaders in the field at large creates opportunities for collaboration and debate.

For example, ArtsJournal.com has sponsored 10-day blogging events during which invited journalists discuss a specific topic, and the public can chime in via comments. They’ve experimented with other kinds of short-term guest blogging, such as the recent on-the-road blogging of the violinist Midori during her two-week tour through Asia.

Solo Blogs:
Keeping your own blog linked to a group blog offers opportunities to write more extended essays, musings about the field, outside the stricter confines of the group blog. Blogging is wonderfully fluid, informal to formal way of capturing your thinking on the fly and getting feedback on it. Instead of the one-to-many or the one-to-one transations we are accustomed to when we communicate via writing, blogging encourages ongoing and expanding dialogue through the comments, linking and trackback. Bloggers are interested in growing and testing out ideas rather than in merely delivering them. I return again and again to E. M Forster’s “How do I know what I think until I see what I say” contention. By blogging my thinking, I am asking myself to think more clearly and more deeply AND to consider what others might be saying along these lines. Then I wait to see if anyone has something to say in response. Blogging as public reflective practice is both humbling and exhilirating.

Blogs as Archives:
The use of categories creates archives of your thinking and writing as well as a record of the development of your thoughts. Linking (as long as the links don’t die) also keeps the most interesting encounters with others’ thoughts right there at hand.

Some examples of blogs (for design and content considerations):

Journalism:

Jay Rosen at NYU .

Columbia Journalism Review’s Group Blog

Rebecca McKinnon’s excellent blog–her description: “I am currently a research Fellow at the Law School’s Berkman Center for Internet and Society. My main project there is Global Voices: an experimental effort at creating a global citizens’ media index and blogging community. I also consult, speak, and write on global participatory media.” She uses Flickr, podcasts and links to a staggering number of resources and useful blogs.

Harvard Law’s Berkman Center for Internet and Society Group Blog

Other Blogs:

David Wilcox’s Designing for Civil Society (terrific links and up-to-date)

Neighborhoods blog coming out of England

<a href=”http://www.smartmobs.com/index.html”target=”_blank”Smart Mobs

<a href=”http://www.realclimate.org/”target=”_blank”Real Climate Science Blog–A Group blog

Lee Bryant’s HeadshiftBlog . He knows more about blogging for organizations than just about anyone.

Be the Change coming out of the UK

Deborah Elizabeth Finn’s Technology for the Nonprofit and Philanthropic Sector Blog

Personal Democracy Group Blog

Lawrence Lessig

Jyrie Zengstrom’s Blog

John Perry Barlow

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5 Responses

  1. Barbara,
    I am not surprised that he finally caught up with the new age of communication. I am glad that more and more people are getting into blogging. It is so weird, every day I find more and more blogs on so many different topics. And you, you blog all the time. You know it is so diffilcult for me to get used to actually sitting in front of the computer and write something. I feel that what I have to write has to be meaningful enough so that other people are interested in reading it. But what is meaningful? How do you do it? that is, how do you just get on and write and what do you write? is it just things on blogging, or things that just come from your experienmces with blogging? I looked over Bryan’s Dracula Blogged and found it very interesting. Writing a novel on the web. Wow!

  2. Hi Amaury,

    I’m glad to see you here on my blog if not on yours or EL170’s ! 😉
    I blog here on bgblogging for several reasons:
    –to gather my thoughts about my experiences as a teacher exploring blogging in the classroom;
    –to make sure that I am doing what I ask my students to do (I have to do more than theorize that blogging will enhance your experience in my classes; if I ask you guys to blog, I had better really understand what that means. If I ask you to create digital stories, I had better make them or at least to have made them recently; the same goes for podcasting.)
    –to push my thinking about the effects of technology on education and our world
    –to write.
    I don’t use this blog to write about the personal unless things going on at home or in my fiction writing intersect with my blogging and teaching worlds. Some people do very interesting things by bridging both. Some people keep multiple blogs.
    I’ll be interested to see what you do with your Brazil blog this fall.
    Don’t be afraid to wade right in and write what is on your mind.

    Barbara

  3. A good why-businesses-should-blog book is Hugh Hewitt’s book, Blog. It’s short, about airport-business-reader length.
    meb

  4. Dear Barbara: Thanks for mentioning my blog! You are always welcome to post comments to it as well. Best regards from Deborah

  5. This is my first time here and was wondering how often posts are made?

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