Recently in Weblogs, Blogging, etc. Category

lists are dead? not really...

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To say that listservs (i.e. news lists and discussion lists) are dead is a bit premature. Discussion lists and news lists serve different needs than RSS and blogs, though they do interchange at certain levels. At best, they are complementary to each other.

For example, I have plenty of news and discussion lists subscriptions, as well as plenty of RSS feeds. Over the past year I have supplemented some of my news lists with RSS feeds whenever possible.

However, as far as discussion lists are concerned, RSS is no replacement for those. Some people do prefer to get their discussion lists in their e-mail, filtering each list into separate e-mail folders. The technical difficulty to setup e-mail filters is not harder than the setup of RSS feeds. Webboards also are not a total replacement for discussion lists. Rather, a generic mix of discussion lists and webboards have sprung.

Also, lets not forget that throughout the world there are plenty of places where broadband is not readily available and will not be available in the near future. Thus, e-mail discussion lists are much easier to deal with, since the e-mails come to you, vs. having to browse badly designed webboards with lots of graphics over slow dial-up connections.

So, rather than saying that listservs (that is lists) are dead, I think they will coexist with other tools such as RSS and Blogs and complement each other since their tasks are different.

The Role of RSS in Science Publishing

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December's Issue of D-Lib Magazine brings and interesting article regarding the implication of RSS in the science and research publishing. The Role of RSS in Science Publishing is worth reading. Yet another practical example of how blogs have brought forth a tool that can change the nature of the web as it is traditionally known. Website are no longer the static domains, RSS helps the sites be distributed widely, most importantly as a two-way communication.

Perseus - The Blogging Iceberg

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Perseus - The Blogging Iceberg

"This analysis does not cover nonhosted blogs - blogs that individuals maintain on their own servers using their own tools. Such blogs require more work to set up and will be characteristically different than those blogs created using hosting services."

Thoughts about weblogs in education

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Thoughts about weblogs in education

Very insightful ideas about the use of weblogs in education and learning environments. It presents the faculty, student, and student group perspectives.

Blogging and empowerment

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Blogging and empowerment is another insighfull entry by Tim Jarrett, a reflection from the BloggerCon conference.

Some quotes:

"More importantly, the act of posting thoughts in a blog on the Internet (as opposed to in a private document) enables others to hear that voice. If the blogger’s words are heard, and others enter into dialog, the blogger has ceased to be a passive observer of the Internet and has instead become a creator of it."

"A big conference theme was blogs as mediating transformative connections. By providing alternative outlets for publishing commentary on other materials on the web and for relating first-hand experience, blogs enable individuals to publish opinions and other material that might not otherwise be published—this is empowerment by publishing."

definition of 'blog'

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What is a blog? by Tim Jarrett:

"Blogs are personally published documentson the web, with attribution and date, collected in a single place, generally published with a static structure to facilitate incoming links from other sources, and updated with some regularity and frequency from every few days to several times daily. Blogs are generally understood to be subjective, with no authority other than that lent by their author generally. Many blogs consist of links and commentary—comments about something or some entity with a web presence, links to enable the reader to discover the original object being commented on and explore it for themselves. Bloggers leave link trails, hyperlinks back to the subjects of their commentary, and the link trails enable others to go beyond the blogger’s subjective opinion and find the original source so that they can evaluate it and form their own opinions."

Note the emphasis on connectivity and open communication. My emphasis in bold.

I particularly like the definition of a blog as a collection of "personally published documents". This definition brings forth an objective and not so circular definition. The best part of this definition is that does not define blogs in terms of daily personal journals and/or personal diaries.

The Year of the Blog: Weblogs in the Writing Classroom

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The Year of the Blog: Weblogs in the Writing Classroom provides a set of educational related blogging resources.

Especially interesting are the viewpoints on blogs as writing practice, blogs as class content, and Academics Who Blog (under more resources).

The writings present the 'other' side of blogs and blogging, the side that is less talked about in the press. However, this side might emerge to be the most important one as far as education, academia, and research are considered.

A great resource! Nice food for thought! :)

As I've tried to explain in my comment to Repetition, Repeating, etc, this is a further response to the above as well as Steven's follow-up entry Redundancy all over again.

Many articles and pieces on blogging have been written from different perspectives and viewpoints. Different people blog for different reasons depending on their background, education, profession, current situations, world view, etc...

Most blog entries appear to be taking the form of responses and comments on other articles or blog entries, as well as links to relevant resources. Yet others, as has been explained in "Scholars Who Blog" in Chronicle of Higher Education have taken a form of research and academic publishing. Some are personal diaries. There are class discussion blogs, etc...

In any case, I don't believe bloggers should worry whether they are 'repeating' things across the blogsphere and apparently creating 'redundancy'. As you have noticed, I've put both redundancy and repetition within quotes to denote that perhaps it is paradoxical to talk of such functions in the blogsphere.

Individuals have things to say and blogs have opened another venue for doing so. Indeed a venue much different than before, because blogs and the corresponding blogging related tools provide an open communication and interconnectedness amongst individuals with similar interests.

For example, the new semester is about to start in September. Many graduate classes are conducted in seminar form and thus provide a platform for discussing interesting and relevant issues. For me, this will be another trigger point for writing blog entries. For one, writing about issues one is concerned ensures better understanding and comprehension of the subject. Maybe an interesting individual will comment on a blog entry with a twist that can bring new learning experience and a viewpoint not initially and readily available considering constrains resulting from previous experience and materials read. If nothing more, it is a learning experience that can expand beyond things immediately reachable.

One could argue that all of this could be done via discussion lists and posting on a regular personal page. Perhaps it could. However, there is an advantage to blogging vs. regular personal page because blog entries are usually fed into aggregators, read on regular basis by those interested, and interconnected with similar entries on other blogs. Thus, in a sense facilitating targeted information finding and learning.

As far as mailing lists are concerned, one difference comes in mind. While mailing lists are topic centric, blogs are multi topic centric, with more than one topic centers in a blog (i.e. categories). Thus, blogs provide more rounded profile of an individual expressing his/her opinions, ideas, and thoughts. In addition, besides blog entry interconnectedness, the categorization of entries can facilitate topic of interest interconnectedness. Following the traces (i.e. links) from one blog entry to another ensures multiple opinions as in mailing lists.

Needless to say, any such discussion whether facilitated through blogs and blogging, discussion lists, class seminars, or other discussion platforms, will result in same or similar issues being discussed more than once. But this is good as each instance has its own peculiarities and surrounding which makes it unique for the participants.

For this reasons, when viewed from participants' perspective, the issues of redundancy and repetition are non-issues. Even when viewed from the blogsphere ecosystem perspective repetitions of issues discussed tell much about the blogsphere itself and the topics/issues being discussed in particular.

how blogs effect each other
blogs, minds, documents, representations
Information Relevance

Blogs for Libraries

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Greg Schwartz of Open Stack has written an interesting and very informative article on why Blogs [matter] for Libraries.

"Blogs are perfect for this kind of information dissemination as the system of dated entries makes it easy for viewers to identify new content. The Suburban Library System has gone so far as to make a blog the central content of their home page. A number of the system's libraries have caught the fever as well. Librarians at St. Joseph County Public Library in South Bend, Indiana are being encouraged to use their respective knowledge domains to publish topical blogs. So far, they offer a Book Blog and a Sights and Sounds Blog. Notice that blogs can represent both the collective voice of the organization and the diversity of the individuals that comprise it."

Nicely said ...

blogs and ranking (real time)

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Yet another 'how' to blog and blogging article. Provides a good summary of what blog and blogging is, with some insights about how to start, what to expects, etc... Via Open Stacks, courtesy of BeSpacific ...

From What Are Blogs and Why Is Everyone So Excited About Them?:

"Search Engine Rankings – the Advantages of a Blog

(DK): A blog can really put you on the map and Ernie can probably best attest to that. I was shocked by the impact a blog has on search engine placement. Not only does your ranking improve, but the speed your pages get added to a search engine like Google is astonishing. It used to be that I’d expect a three-month wait for a new page to show up in Google, no matter what technique I used. If I mention the page in my blog, it shows up in just a few days."

a list of blog and blogging resources

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The THE INTERNET COURSES Weblogs by Dr L. Anne Clyde, is an extensive weblog/blog and blogging resource page.

Apart from the blog and blogging resources it also provides a list of LIS related blogs.

However, the most interesting link on this page is the one pointing to a test that can answer the question Are You a Blogaholic? Try it.. it is fun :)

Blog Change Bot

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Courtesy of Blogroots:

"Blog Change Bot Blog Change Bot (blogchangebot on AIM) is a blog monitoring service which updates you via AOL Instant Messanger when a blog you are interested in is updated. Subscribe via AIM or iChat to be automatically notified when the blog is updated."

mapping geo locations to cyberspace

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I came across an interesting website (GeoURL) that maps geo locations to URLs and most interestingly provides 'neighborhood' functionality so you can see who is blogging near you or what other things around you are present in cyberspace. Nice ... :) Wanna see who is bloggin near you or has cyberspace presence?

"Bloggers Gain Libel Protection"

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From Bloggers Gain Libel Protection:

"The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled last Tuesday that Web loggers, website operators and e-mail list editors can't be held responsible for libel for information they republish, extending crucial First Amendment protections to do-it-yourself online publishers.

Online free speech advocates praised the decision as a victory. The ruling effectively differentiates conventional news media, which can be sued relatively easily for libel, from certain forms of online communication such as moderated e-mail lists. One implication is that DIY publishers like bloggers cannot be sued as easily."

AOL's poor choice of words (re: AOL Journals)

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This is a further response to Beth's Origins of 'weblog' and 'blog' and her comments on my blog entriy.

I guess AOL is settling for a very poor choice of words by calling “AOL Journals” what everyone else is calling ‘blogs’ and ‘weblogs’. While AOL might not be helping in the ‘blogging’ discourse, their choice of words will not make the phenomenon any less of a phenomenon.

It appears though that AOL is trying to appropriate part of the “AOL Journals” ecosystem (see, what would AOL call the new ecosystem if not ‘blogshpere’?). Why would someone contribute with content that AOL might use it for further profits? I would like to believe that AOL’s move is not initiated for profit purposes, but, what is the corporate incentive?

One can also argue that AOL’s choice of words is actually counter productive because it seems to remove from the bloggers the most powerful incentive: the feeling that their individual blog is their own and not AOL’s.

the blogsphere topology

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In The Network Is The Computer John Hiler presents an analogy between ants and their colonies and the blogs and blogsphere. An interesting analogy.

How does one go about analyzing this analogy further and perhaps providing explication about the topology called 'blogsphere'? What should the properties of the blogs and the way they are connected amongst themselves be to construct a blogsphere?

Perhaps we should be talking about multitude of blogspheres categorized based on topical, temporal, spatial, methodological, contextual, situational, or cognitive relevance.

In how blogs effect each other I've suggested to use the actor-network theory its methodology as the appropriate framework to study the way blogs (the actual actors) are interconnected amongst themselves into a network topology (or the blogsphere).

blogs, minds, documents, representations

on the origins of weblog and blog

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In IDblog: Origins of 'weblog' and 'blog', Beth Mazur presents a short but concise information on the origins of the words ‘blog’ and ‘weblogs’.

Just when do we expect these two words together with 'blogging' to enter the English language (and other) dictionaries? :)

In Google, Blogging and the Australian Web Model it is argued that:

"... Different to the States, the Internet and more specifically the web [in Australia] is dominated by large companies. In America the web is seen to be a place where the one-man-band and large companies can co-exist and to a large extent it is the little person who drives the agenda for the web rather than a large company."

"In contrast with other countries, there is relatively little real information developed for the Internet by grassroots people."

It is indeed apparent that in the States large companies do co-exist with the ‘one-man-band’. However, the coexistence is not at equally comparative levels and it does not appear that ‘it is the little person who drives the agenda for the web rather than a large company.’

This is not to say that the ‘little person’ does not have the venues to drive the agenda for the Web. Indeed, the open source Internet does provide the capability and the potentials for the little person to drive the agenda. However, just because the capability is there, it does not seem it is exercisable. For one, large companies in the US that are involved in one way or another with the Internet (access or content providers) are interested ultimately about the bottom line (i.e. their profits). Needless to say, if the little person’s agenda does not fit the agenda supported by the large companies, the ideas, opinions, and thoughts of the ‘one-man-band’ will be suppressed from the public discourse by means of restricted access and restricted content distribution.

Having said the above, I should emphasize that I do believe that the open source Internet as we know it today does posses the properties and the attributes to empower the ‘little person’ or the ‘one-man-band’ to impose certain agendas (to some extend) on the large companies. In the open source Internet as a possible antidote to corporate media hegemony I have argued exactly this. The open source Internet, as a result of open source movement, manifests itself as a possible antidote to the corporate media hegemony, not only in the US but also throughout the world.

What makes the open source Internet as a possible antidote to the corporate media hegemony? It is its open nature: open content and open communication. Unless the access points and other ISPs start policing anything and everything that is published and communicated via personal web pages, blogs, and e-mails, the possibility will always exists for the masses to communicate, organize and set the agendas for the discourse and therefore push large media corporations to seriously address them. This however requires a critical mass. And, unless the agenda of the critical mass is in line with the ‘profit’ agenda’s of the large corporations, they will be pushed in the sidelines, away from the eyes and the minds of the public discourse.

In any case, it is quiet apparent that the use of the open source Internet has provided a venue for the ‘little persons’ to make a difference and be heard. The blogging has provided another genre and a unique venue for the ‘little persons’ to communicate and set the agenda(s).

Certainly, so far the large media corporations have appropriated any such capabilities and properties of the Internet exclusively for ‘profit making’. How is this different than Australia?

Is blogging any different such that to escape the ‘profit making’ machinery of the large media corporations? Only history will tell…

From The Blogging Revolution:

"Think about it for a minute. Why not build an online presence with your daily musings and then sell your first book through print-on-demand technology direct from your Web site? Why should established writers go to newspapers and magazines to get an essay published, when they can simply write it themselves, convert it into a .pdf file, and charge a few bucks per download? Just as magazine and newspaper editors are slinking off into the sunset, so too might all the agents and editors and publishers in the book market.

This, at least, is the idea: a publishing revolution more profound than anything since the printing press. Blogger could be to words what Napster was to music - except this time, it'll really work. Check back in a couple of years to see whether this is yet another concept that online reality has had the temerity to destroy."

Indeed, established writers do not have to go to newspapers, magazines and book publishers for wide distribution of their writings. However, the fact that they are established is the key point. How does one become an established writer only through online presence? 

An online presence does not have the credibility and the authority of the printer press, at least not yet. And, sooner or later such credibility and authority, unlike until now, would probably come directly via the web. Linking and ranking is perhaps one way. Some sort of online-publisher-certification might appear here and there. Nevertheless, if the online work itself is to be the basis for authority and credibility, the blogging is just leading it.

Additionally, wide distribution of writings is usually one of the key reasons why writers prefer one publishing venue over another. The point is to be read. So, unless an online presence attracts a massive audience, how can a writer be widely distributed? A good comparison would be to the innovation of the printed press and the rise of the book as an agency for social change.

Perhaps it is neither a revolution nor evolution... it is both at the same time as previous work, independently of the medium of distribution, almost certainly affects the future works of an author... First however, instances of purely online credibility and authority have to happen.... and if it already has not happened, it probably will soon. Second, a critical mass is needed both for gaining the credibility and authority and at the same time having the readership. This also will take a mixture of online and offline publishing for some time.

Would this make blogging to online publishing as the printing press was to the book?

The Book and Information: Social and historical context and forces

'quality' content is always a winner

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From Search Results Clogged by Blogs:

"Bloggers attribute prominent placement to the frequency with which they publish new material and the fact that other sites often link to their blogs. These are two factors most search engines take into account when determining rankings."

Needless to say, content quality is directly related to the number of links other blogs will link to another blog. The challenge arises from the ambiguity in deciding what good quality content is. Perhaps it is related to the understanding of relevance. When we decide that a particular content is of good quality, we usually mean that:
• it either informs us about a topics, event, or a concept
• it has presented something in a way easily readable / understandable
• it is relevant to pertinent problem at hand
• raises a questions or a viewpoint from a unique and/or challenging perspective
• etc.
Even if the content has informed us of something we knew before, perhaps it has done it in a way we judge better than others and therefore we would like others to see it as well.

Each of the points I’ve made above unfortunately (or fortunately) use a word/concept that is ambiguous by definition. What is the meaning of ‘inform’, ‘easily readable’, ‘relevant’, and ‘challenging perspective’? Different individuals will probably provide different answers to these questions using their subjective judgments.

Information Relevance

blogging is not for journalism only

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Blogging Goes Legit, Sort Of entertains the idea that blogging is somehow exclusively related to journalism.

Blogging can be about journalism, it is ... but it is more than that ...

blogs, minds, documents, representations

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In Mind Share the Wired Magazine 11.06 defines Blog Space as Public Storage For Wisdom, Ignorance, and Everything in Between:

"What happens when you start seeing the Web as a matrix of minds, not documents?"

"Your mind becomes a part of the space as well. Your own personal site becomes an extension of your memory, as in Vannevar Bush's vision of the Memex, but your memories also become part of the Web's collective intelligence."

I admire the above 'insight' but the article misses to explain how does the 'matrix of minds' happen, if at all? Indeed, the blogs are a new phenomenon in the Internet space but they are not minds, the blogs are only representations of people minds (i.e. the thinking process) to some extend. Blog entries are documents also, albeit different type of documents with properties and attributes different than stand alone isolated documents (reports, articles, static web pages. etc.).

What is apparent though is that blogs differentiate themselves from the other types of document presented in the Internet space by their open nature, their fluidity, and their real time links/relationship with other blogs.

Because of this openness, fluidity, and interconnection [see: how blogs affect each other], the level and the nature of the representation of author's knowledge deposited in the digital information object (i.e. blog or blog entry) is more extensive and of higher level, making the blogs more valuable as resources.

on weblog ethics

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On weblog ethics from the weblog handbook by Rebecca Blood.

"Weblog Ethics
Weblogs are the mavericks of the online world. Two of their greatest strengths are their ability to filter and disseminate information to a widely dispersed audience, and their position outside the mainstream of mass media. Beholden to no one, weblogs point to, comment on, and spread information according to their own, quirky criteria.

The weblog network's potential influence may be the real reason mainstream news organizations have begun investigating the phenomenon, and it probably underlies much of the talk about weblogs as journalism. Webloggers may not think in terms of control and influence, but commercial media do. Mass media seeks, above all, to gain a wide audience. Advertising revenues, the lifeblood of any professional publication or broadcast, depend on the size of that publication's audience. Content, from a business standpoint, is there only to deliver eyeballs to advertisers, whether the medium is paper or television."

how blogs effect each other

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From Blogging goes mainstream on the concept of 'hive brain':

"The way bloggers link and influence each other's thinking could lead to a collective thought process, "a kind of hive brain," said Chris Cleveland, who runs Dieselpoint..."

The analysis of the 'hive brain' concepts sounds like a perfect candidate for the actor-network theory and methodology.

A conceptual (and practical) topology would be a collection of blogs (according to some criteria) linked to each other via the http (and XML) links/referrers and trackbacks. Then, the affect/influence of a particular blog on the rest of the collection of blogs could be analyzed by tracing its residual and ongoing affect, as well as the affect onto itself as a result of being part of the topology.

Needless to say, the open content and the degree of openness of the communication links between the various blogs is of outmost importance. Without the openness the concept of blogs and blogging would not be in the realm as we know it today: blogs and blogging have a meaning in the collection of other blogs and not as isolated entities.

Defining the ingredients of actor-network and open-content open-communication

The factor 'openness'

corporate blogging: a paradox ?!

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The Corporate Blog Is Catching On attempts to analyze the role of blogging in the corporate culture.

The article seems to have missed an important point in its analysis. A corporate culture is mostly a closed culture, in principle directly opposite to the open content and open communication culture of blogging.

So, before 'corporate blogging' becomes a meaningful task to positively impact company’s communication with its environment, a culture change/adaptation is necessary as a precondition.

Weblogs, Blogs and the academia

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Why Scholars Blog provides a short discussion on blogging by academics by refering to the article "Scholars Who Blog" in Chronicle of Higher Education.

By Mentor Cana, PhD
more info at LinkedIn
email: mcana {[at]} kmentor {[dot]} com

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