inkwell.vue.286 : Suzanne Stefanac, "Dispatches from Blogistan"
permalink #76 of 105: 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?
  
inkwell.vue.286 : Suzanne Stefanac, "Dispatches from Blogistan"
permalink #77 of 105: 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.
  
inkwell.vue.286 : Suzanne Stefanac, "Dispatches from Blogistan"
permalink #78 of 105: 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.
  
inkwell.vue.286 : Suzanne Stefanac, "Dispatches from Blogistan"
permalink #79 of 105: 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.
  
inkwell.vue.286 : Suzanne Stefanac, "Dispatches from Blogistan"
permalink #80 of 105: 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?
  
inkwell.vue.286 : Suzanne Stefanac, "Dispatches from Blogistan"
permalink #81 of 105: 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.
  
inkwell.vue.286 : Suzanne Stefanac, "Dispatches from Blogistan"
permalink #82 of 105: (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.    
  
inkwell.vue.286 : Suzanne Stefanac, "Dispatches from Blogistan"
permalink #83 of 105: 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...
  
inkwell.vue.286 : Suzanne Stefanac, "Dispatches from Blogistan"
permalink #84 of 105: 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.
  
inkwell.vue.286 : Suzanne Stefanac, "Dispatches from Blogistan"
permalink #85 of 105: 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?
  
inkwell.vue.286 : Suzanne Stefanac, "Dispatches from Blogistan"
permalink #86 of 105: 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.
  
inkwell.vue.286 : Suzanne Stefanac, "Dispatches from Blogistan"
permalink #87 of 105: 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!
  
inkwell.vue.286 : Suzanne Stefanac, "Dispatches from Blogistan"
permalink #88 of 105: nape fest (zorca) Sat 9 Dec 06 09:20
    
newwest.net is great! congrats.
  
inkwell.vue.286 : Suzanne Stefanac, "Dispatches from Blogistan"
permalink #89 of 105: 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?
  
inkwell.vue.286 : Suzanne Stefanac, "Dispatches from Blogistan"
permalink #90 of 105: 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.
  
inkwell.vue.286 : Suzanne Stefanac, "Dispatches from Blogistan"
permalink #91 of 105: 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.
  
inkwell.vue.286 : Suzanne Stefanac, "Dispatches from Blogistan"
permalink #92 of 105: 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?
  
inkwell.vue.286 : Suzanne Stefanac, "Dispatches from Blogistan"
permalink #93 of 105: 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.
  
inkwell.vue.286 : Suzanne Stefanac, "Dispatches from Blogistan"
permalink #94 of 105: 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
  
inkwell.vue.286 : Suzanne Stefanac, "Dispatches from Blogistan"
permalink #95 of 105: 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?
  
inkwell.vue.286 : Suzanne Stefanac, "Dispatches from Blogistan"
permalink #96 of 105: 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.
  
inkwell.vue.286 : Suzanne Stefanac, "Dispatches from Blogistan"
permalink #97 of 105: 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?
  
inkwell.vue.286 : Suzanne Stefanac, "Dispatches from Blogistan"
permalink #98 of 105: 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.
  
inkwell.vue.286 : Suzanne Stefanac, "Dispatches from Blogistan"
permalink #99 of 105: 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?
  
inkwell.vue.286 : Suzanne Stefanac, "Dispatches from Blogistan"
permalink #100 of 105: 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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