Magazine article Multimedia & Internet@Schools

Celebrating Communicating: To Blog or Not to Blog?

Magazine article Multimedia & Internet@Schools

Celebrating Communicating: To Blog or Not to Blog?

Article excerpt

DID I show up for the party too late? I am hearing that country song in my head, "Turn out the lights, the party's overrrrrr ..." I started my own blog recently and since then I have seen some comments that suggest the blogosphere may be imploding, exploding, or otherwise meeting its demise. I got worried when I heard this opinion being voiced by someone I greatly admire, Dr. Carol Simpson, Library Media Connections editor, prolific writer, and University of North Texas professor. In a recent LM_NET posting, she stated, "Frankly, blogs are going to go the way of newsgroups, to which they are related. Newsgroups died because email software got better at filtering and organizing."

Dr. Simpson's assessment is partly based on the fact that blogs are difficult to search. Tagging is said by some to be the solution to this, but so far it has not lived up to the promise, or so say blog critics. Further, she points out a blog is something you have to go to, and many ask who has time for that, even with RSS?

I went looking for people who agree with Dr. Simpson and find them I did, as Yoda would say. Lots of librarians and teachers report that their days are already too full without making time to follow blogs. Many other blog critics are from the business world and, efficient types that such folks are, they also bemoan the difficulty of searching and then finding time to read. Consulting periodical databases turned up several articles promoting these views.

But wait! Next I came across a quotation from someone else I admire, The Landmark Project's David Warlick! He is quoted in Steve Hargadon's blog as saying that, of all the technologies, blogging is the one that still most excites him, because it is all about "conversation." Teachers keep telling him how excited students get about writing. Assignments stop being "assignments," but become engaged conversations. And it's so simple, allowing students to get to the conversation quickly without a lot of preparation by giving them opportunities to blog.

THE SURVEY

My desire to further explore the question of the future of blogging led me back to my favorite message boards, which so often are valuable resources for me. I decided to ask members of LM_NET, EDTECH, and TLC for their views about blogging, and to compare this communication tool with others, both online and print. To that end I posed some questions where respondents could pick their preferred mode of communication, both for getting information and for sharing their own views. I set up the survey using Survey Monkey and garnered responses from 83 generous souls who took the time to go to the site and complete the survey. Here is what I learned:

* The first question was "Please rate the following means of Web 2.0 communication by preference, with 1 being best. When you want to read online to learn about topics relevant to your job, which medium would be your first choice?" Blogs won this race, being rated No. 1 by 65% of takers. The others fell in line in this order: wiki, ning, and podcast.

* The second question dealt with sharing information rather than being on the receiving end, reading or listening. Again blogs were favored as the first choice by 59%, followed closely by wikis, then podcasts and nings in that order.

* For my third ranking question I wanted to bring in the world of print, and sites that were static rather than Web 2.0. This time, tradition reigned. People still favor print journals over other choices, ranking as first choice by 58%, with the other three options, journals via databases, static webpages, and blogs, all rated very closely behind.

* All survey results can be viewed online, at this URL: http://tinyurl.com/ywhr9b.

I expected that when blogs were compared with traditional print resources, print would still reign. But when compared with other online sources, this very informal survey bolstered my opinion that blogs are indeed alive and well. …

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