Gail Williams (gail) Thu 7 Dec 06 11:05
That said, I'm becoming more aware of how the commons of a forum with a good community culture appeals to me more deeply than the soapbox scenario of a blog. There's a difference between "come over to my front porch" and going myself down to the pub, the gathering place, the fiesta that a conference, forum or other "commons" can be. How do those two formats or architectures for interaction feel different to you?
Sharon Brogan (sbmontana) Thu 7 Dec 06 11:41
I like the Well, for listening and talking with people. Some conversation also happens on my blog, especially since I put up the Introduce Youself post (http://www.sbpoet.com/2006/12/introduce_yours.html) -- but blogging is a creative endeavor for me -- an altogether different thing.
Paul B. Israel (pauli) Thu 7 Dec 06 19:48
I just want to say that I'm really enjoying this conversation and just got a copy of Dispatches from Blogistan, which I'm really looking forward to reading. I'm very interested in the possibilities of Knowledge-base blogs or collaborative workspaces. I edit the Papers of Thomas Edison and we've been thinking of trying to do something on our website that would enable us to interact with teachers, enthusiasts, collectors, and others. And I see that as a two-way conversation. For example, collectors often have knowledge about aspects of Edison's technologies that would help us in our work. And it would be nice to interact with teachers and students. I've also just become chair of a committee to review and oversee the website of the Society for the History of Technology as we try to engage more with the general public on issues of technology and culture (which is also the name of our journal). The possibility of something like a blog to enable those of us who have expertise on a particular topic that might of current interest (for example, voting machines or flood control in New Orleans) to provide perspective and engage in a conversation about the topic is an interesting idea.
nape fest (zorca) Fri 8 Dec 06 09:33
Wow. What cool projects! I completely agree about the fascination with knowledge-base blogs and wikis. In just the few years that these types of data banks have been around, they've revolutionized how we seek out and store information. We're clearly only beginning to understand how these might evolve and best suit the needs of the many communities contributing to them. Do stay in touch about these projects. I'd love to follow your progress with them.
Jamais Cascio, OpenTheFuture.com (cascio) Fri 8 Dec 06 10:05
So Suzanne, in your experience what are the subjects or topics that blogs really don't or can't cover well?
nape fest (zorca) Fri 8 Dec 06 11:25
I mentioned this above, but one of the downsides of blog structure is that blogs display entries in a reverse chronological order -- newest posts at the top and earlier posts below, ending up in weekly or monthly archives as they scroll off the top page. While this is great for news topics or for tracking ongoing conversations, it's troublesome for blogs that attempt to become organized repositories of information. Certainly, most blogs provide a search mechanism and tags allow readers to choose to see only posts on a given topic, but the organization is still largely chronological within the categories. This can be frustrating for individuals wishing to learn more about a topic in an organized fashion. Wikis solve this problem by providing an outline format with information filled in as appropriate. The downside here is that it's difficult to get a quick glimpse of what's newest on the wiki or to get a feel for which topics are generating the most interest. I keep thinking that some new tool for collaborative knowledge bases will pop up that somehow marries the best of the two formats. I'd love to hear if anyone has pointers to such tools or even ideas for how this might best be accomplished.
(rosebud) Fri 8 Dec 06 12:13
(Sorry for getting into this conversation so late.) This is great info and insights. Thanks Suzanne! It was the Well that got me turned onto starting my own blog - http://www.wildwallawallawinewoman.blogspot.com Just some food for thought to the new bloggers or potential bloggers. My average number of readers is around 70+ a day and depending on the topic I have had as much as 300 for several days. I found out that it is important to read - read other's blogs that are similar to my own. If anything, they inspire me to be my best and not be a slacker. With blogging I learned, like with anything worth doing, you have to be consistent to gain a readership. You have to also be pro-active, read, not be afraid to ask questions, be willing to put yourself out there. An example is: I was first starting out and so wanted someone to link me. So I thought, "let's start at the top." I asked one of the most read wine blogs to give me a link. I figured the worst that could happen was he could ignore me. He didn't. I have said it once and many times and will say it again. You have to promote yourself because nobody will do it for you.
Jamais Cascio, OpenTheFuture.com (cascio) Fri 8 Dec 06 14:29
I'm glad that worked for you, <rosebud>, but it's less and less common for the more established blogs to give links simply because they are asked to. New bloggers stand a much better shot of getting linked by having something specific to point to. Your point about the reverse-chronological structure is well-taken, Suzanne. It's interesting to see how various blogs play with that model. I'm seeing a slowly-growing number of sites adopt something more akin to a daily edition format, albeit with material added through the day. It's more "magazine"- like, but that's not necessarily a bad thing. I'm not sure everyone here quite gets wikis, though -- tell us more about them, Suzanne...
nape fest (zorca) Fri 8 Dec 06 16:27
Wikis are websites that allow individuals, often ANY individual, to add content to a collective and logically organized body of information. The uber wiki is wikipedia.org. When wikis first started hitting the scene, it was popular to bemoan their accuracy. And it's true that since anyone can edit or add to the text on, say,wikipedia, that errors or biases do sometimes appear. If the wiki is a popular one and in particular if the topic is widely read, the errors are generally fixed. One very interesting aspect of most wikis is that you can look behind the curtain and see every edit and you can see by whom it was made. This helps to ensure an accountability that helps to keep the content accurate. Wikipedia is particularly valuable for all kinds of topics that are either too recent to appear in traditional encyclopedias or that are too niche. Last year, a study was released by Nature magazine, the venerable British science periodical, in which the editors took, I think, 42 topics that appear in both wikipedia and the Encylopedia Britannica and sent both articles to experts in each field. The results were kind of stunning. Wikipedia was found to have only slightly more errors than the Encyclopedia Britannica! Who knew that that latter even had any errors? There was a raging debate in the wake of the article in Nature, with fans of vetted hierarchical sources like traditional encyclopedias picking the Nature study to bits and fans of wikis defending the collaborative engines. The debate was kind of silly in a way, since both resources are invaluable in a world where knowledge is of such great import. Wikis are proving very useful for recording the collective wisdom of a group and are providing thorough and up-to-the-minute information on a wide variety of topics, many of them previously undocumented. Some wikis are broad-ranging, like the wikipedia, others are much more focused, serving as knowledge banks for specialized bodies of participants. Like blogs and the many other social network tools storming our information gates, wikis are only a few years old. It's impossible to guess just how all these new environments will evolve, but it's great fun watching. And participating! If you do go to wikipedia and see something that you know is wrong or missing, add to the store! It's easy and a good deed, to boot.
Jamais Cascio, OpenTheFuture.com (cascio) Fri 8 Dec 06 21:49
For me, the emergence of tools that make it possible for large groups to look out for each other, and to watch for errors, is really the hallmark of the Internet age. Open Source (Free/Libre) software is the most-often cited example, although wikis are probably more accessible for most people. But blogs are part of this paradigm, too. I'm thinking in particular of the ways in which bloggers keep tabs on the accuracy of traditional journalism. This all leads back to questions of responsibility. Suzanne, what responsibilities do I have as a blogger?
nape fest (zorca) Fri 8 Dec 06 22:31
Hm. That's a tricky question. Not that there aren't responsibilities, but it seems that within blogdom, these responsibilities are perceived so differently by individuals. One might say, "Always tell the truth," but another might see a blog as an arena for creative narrative. Someone might say, "Never steal," but others might argue that in copying the text of a blog post, they're helping to distribute the thought. One might preach that politesse and etiquette grease the wheels of exchange, another might point to vitriolic pundit blogs that attract active commentariats. Blogs are as variable as their authors. I suppose if *I'm* the one saying what a blogger should or shouldn't do, I'd say, have fun with it. If there isn't pleasure in the act of self-publishing, then perhaps your time would be better spent on some other endeavor.
Sharon Lynne Fisher (slf) Sat 9 Dec 06 09:08
Just wanted to kvell that after a grand total of three entries, I've been invited to move my blog to newwest.net, where I'll get paid $25 per 1,000 views. And...I'll have an audience!
nape fest (zorca) Sat 9 Dec 06 09:20
newwest.net is great! congrats.
Gail Williams (gail) Sat 9 Dec 06 12:16
Per <83> above, I have a question. Jamais, you noted seeing > a slowly-growing number of sites adopt something more akin to a > daily edition format, albeit with material added through the day. It's > more "magazine"-like, but that's not necessarily a bad thing. Perchance do you have an example or two of what you're talking about?
The Evening Class (maya) Sat 9 Dec 06 12:56
What a wonderful discussion. Thank you, <zorca> for stopping by to share your expertise. I started my own blog The Evening Class through blogspot.com earlier this year after I was let go at my court job for being HIV-disabled. I was very depressed and didn't quite know what to do with myself. One day I found myself watching about five movies in a row on Turner Classics and thought, "This is crazy. You should at least go downstairs and write about them." So I started up The Evening Class. I found the blogging process to be ultimately therapeutic. I decided to focus on writing about film because going to and watching movies was about all I had energy for and because here on The WELL, in the Movies Conference, I began to feel that my queer reading of films was disfavored and that there were really only one or two folks who were interested in the same kind of movies and who wanted to comment on them more than critique them. I set up sequential goals for myself regarding the blog, first just to set it up, then to start linking in to other blogsites I liked, then to secure press credentials, then to determine what it would be that could make my space unique. It's turned out that interviews seem to be my thing and one year later, I'm actually able to post about my ten favorite interviews of the year. Having a blog, for me, is like having a glorified business card. It has created a whole new community for me, much like The WELL did for me in the old days, with fellow critics, commentarians, afficionados, publicists, filmmakers, actors. I love getting to talk to people and the opportunities that come from a blog are interesting. During the Asian-American Film Festival, director Eric Byler read what I wrote on his film AMERICANESE and wrote me an email saying it was the best write-up he'd received on his film by anyone anywhere. He then facilitated my being pulled onto the writing team of a Los Angeles paper named Entertainment Today. He apologized that it didn't pay but promised that the exposure would produce results. And it did. Greencine caught one of my interviews there and began hiring me and paying me to do interviews for them. I've been approached by a local independent t.v. group to do on-air reviews and by a newly-launched magazine to be associate film editor. I'm always flattered by the invitations even if I decide against pursuing them. But I can definitely vouch that a blog is a worthwhile investment that can help get your name out there if you're aggressive enough and take the project seriously enough. It's helped my self-esteem greatly.
resluts (bbraasch) Sat 9 Dec 06 13:11
that's excellent! I've been reading a book called _Flow_. Flow is the zone between boredom and anxiety according to the author. Sounds like you found it in writing those reviews.
Jamais Cascio, OpenTheFuture.com (cascio) Sat 9 Dec 06 16:29
I have to say, one of the minor treats of being a blogger is having the authors/creators of something about which you've written make contact with you. I've been both the perpetrator and recipient of that amusingly fanboy- ish reaction. Gail, the most recent example of what I mean about becoming more "magazine"- like is the recent revamp of WorldChanging.com. If you compare the new layout to earlier versions (such as at the Internet Archive), you'll see that the new format -- which is visually quite appealing -- is nonetheless no longer very blog-like, and much closer to what I find when I hit the website of a print magazine. Suzanne, what has surprised you about blogging?
nape fest (zorca) Sat 9 Dec 06 18:20
At heart, I guess I'm surprised that I took to blogging. I'm not the most social creature. But there's something about the digital mediation that makes many people feel at ease. I might mention here a blog that's part of a website I built and oversee. It's for Guillermo Gomez-Pena, an artist friend who continually has insightful and sometimes devastating things to say about our world today. The blog is at http://www.pochanostra.com/dialogues/. It's been interesting to see how Guillermo is adapting the form to suit his own purposes. The entry at: http://www.pochanostra.com/dialogues/category/gomez-pena-solo/page/2/ is harrowing. But as a result of his writings on the topic, both on the main pocha website and in his other writings, he's been able to have at least a small influence on what's going on in Oaxaca. So I guess the other thing that surprises me these days is how much influence these populist forums can have. Perhaps not grand sweeping changes as the result of a single blog or blog post, but an overall tuning of the culture as a consequence of all these otherwise unheard voices.
The Evening Class (maya) Sun 10 Dec 06 10:25
<bbraasch>, your definition of "flow" sounds just about right in my sake. Now I can definitely say I'm not bored and clearly not as anxious as I was earlier this year. In many ways I have a found a sociality through blogging that has sprung from the sociality I found on The WELL. But it has a slightly different tenor, less combative, less competitive. And some of the social perks are truly amazing. Having a director like Apichatpong Weerasethakul, for example, comping me a ticket to his new film at the Toronto International when tickets were hard to come by. <zorca>, I love that you mention Guillermo who is one of my top ten fave rave performance artists. I look forward to checking out the site you've built for him. I wrote a bit about his Mission tour at The Evening Class. Again this is where a blog can be a great calling card. I basically contacted the organizers of that event and they comped me the ride in exchange for the write-up!! I do a lof of that lately. Here's my write-up on Guillermo: http://theeveningclass.blogspot.com/2006/07/guillermo-gmez-peael-corazn-de-la. html
Jamais Cascio, OpenTheFuture.com (cascio) Sun 10 Dec 06 18:05
Now that the book is done, and you've had a chance to get reactions and see how people respond to its ideas, is there anything in it you wish you could change? Different questions you'd ask? Subjects you'd cover?
nape fest (zorca) Sun 10 Dec 06 20:52
Great question. And a scary one. I wanted to change things before the book was even in print. And I did! Thanks to a very gracious editor who understood the dilmmas inherent in writing a book about a topic as protean as blogging. A few of the things I'd change now are suggested in the book, but I'd make them more prominent. The whole global aspect. I tried to make the book reflect issues that transcended national borders or particular cultures and I do list a number of excellent blogs outside the United States, but I'd like to beef that up even more. One of the most fascinating things about this whole evolution is the global nature of it all. I might have tried to emphasize the value to educators a bit more. Again, I touch on the topic here and there, but it's turning out to have some really wonderful real-life applications for teachers and students and that would be fun to follow and support. Same with artists. I mentioned Guillermo Gomez-Pena above and have seen how it's affected his thinking about how he interacts with his audience. I'm guessing that there are some other striking examples of artists knocking socks off with blogs. And the disenfranchised. I was really quite taken by the idea that individuals living on the streets were starting to launch blogs using computers in libraries or cafes. There must be some amazing stories there that would have helped to round out the story. But this is the problem with print! It's a static form. With associated blogs, we can hope to incorporate some of these peripheral or late-breaking issues. I know I'm going to try.
Jamais Cascio, OpenTheFuture.com (cascio) Sun 10 Dec 06 22:26
If you were to do a DISPATCHES 2.0, then, who would you interview?
Jamais Cascio, OpenTheFuture.com (cascio) Mon 11 Dec 06 18:02
BTW, just out: a truly wonderful review of DISPATCHES FROM BLOGISTAN by Tonya Engst, one half of the duo that has for years run the TidBits Macintosh mailing list. You can find the review here: http://db.tidbits.com/article/8782 Here's a sampling of what she says: Suzanne's prose is personal and witty, and I expect to keep "Dispatches from Blogistan" on my shelf as a reference for a few years and perhaps as a memento of an era after that.
Paul B. Israel (pauli) Mon 11 Dec 06 19:33
Could you say more about the value to educators. Are there some good examples you can point to?
Gail Williams (gail) Tue 12 Dec 06 15:03
A quick aside: for bloggers and all who want to bookmark, blog, digg or delicious this conversation, we have just changed the external url and the display of the conference. Please have a look at: http://www.well.com/conf/inkwell.vue/topics/
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