Continuing my discussion of why blogs are different than other instructional technologies...
Lets start with Liz Lawley's discussion of one of the key events that got her started blogging.
The second event Dan cited was the occasion last summer at Esther Dyson’s PC Forum, held in Arizona, where Joe Nacchio, CEO of Qwest was, in Dan’s words, “whining about how hard it was to run a telephone company these days.” Dan blogged this while he was listening, and immediately got email from a reader in Florida who sent him a link disclosing that Nachio had sold $300 million of stock in the company he was helping to kill. Dan blogged it, and another participant in the Forum, Doc Searls, who was contemporaneously blogging the event, took Nachio to task for it, while Nachio was still standing at the podium.
On hearing this she was intrigued by the feedback loop that Dan had described. And then she realized that everything I was hearing at Pop!Tech was also being blogged by people in the room.
Quoting Liz once again, It’s not about weblogs replacing journals, or becoming mass media outlets, or creating a huge personal audience. It’s about finding and maintaining a community of like-minded thinkers—inside and outside of academia—who can be part of an ongoing conversation. As Anil points out, it’s not about popularity, or being at the top of the power law curve. It’s about being part of a community, part of an ongoing conversation.
Technical reasons for blogging from the community wiki
- low barrier to entry -- easy to start, low cost, little knowledge required
- easy connectivity -- link to other pages, link exchange with friends
- ubiquity -- post from home, school, the office, WiFi zone
Psychological reasons for blogging
- no need to reorganize the info -- time-ordered sequence it is and that's it
- no need rework older comments with new comments on the same topic
- no need for careful discussion -- instead of accumulating knowledge and discussing it, the main point is to write what's on your mind, now; like small-talk, you just say stuff you find interesting and hope other people may find interesting, too
Motivations for online publishing
- People like talking about themselves
- Sharing information If you've found some interesting or useful information, why not share it with others?
- Group Building. People often have difficulty finding good friends with whom they can discuss what is on their mind; the web facilitates finding like-minded people
- Reputation. In online communities, it is sometimes important to offer more personal information in order to build trust (ie. link to your blog from your signature when posting to Usenet or a MailingList)
- Fame. In a society where your basic needs are fulfilled, some start to strive for fame
- Coordination. I can say on my blog, "I'm going to be at the Pacific Science Center. If anyone else want's to see Asimo, come on over." My friends are likely to see it, regardless of which cliques they are part of.
- Less Redundancy. Because who has the time to call up 100 friends and relatives and keep them all informed of what you are doing all the time? People almost always ask, "Hey, how you doing? What you up to these days?" Now we can keep up with each other from afar. Great!
- Plain Talk, Personal Freedom. You are held to your own standards. Your friends are your friends. You can talk naturally. You can be yourself.
- Off-Topic. People need off-topic so that they can build the human interest needed to work together in trust. But off-topic is off-topic, and doesn't belong in work mailing lists, and on some wiki. So what you do is you put your off-topic thoughts into your blog. Problem solved.
- Half-Baked Thoughts. Nobody's going to pounce on you for putting your half-baked thoughts on your blog. People may disagree, or help you see some flaws, but almost always with the understanding that they are in your house as a guest.
- Purely Artistic Self-Expression. Whatever. Draw a picture and put it on your blog. Who's going to get mad at you?
Lillia Efimova lists several reasons as to why she started blogging.
I always need a conversation for growing my ideas. This is the main reason I blog. Even if no one comments, blogging makes it a conversation: I come to the idea next day and I can discuss it with "yesterday's Lilia" :) Of course, articulation helps growing ideas as well.
Another reason to blog is to make some free space in my memory: I can easily come back to it later. The Social Life of Paper says it well in describing the use of paper by air-traffic controllers:
By writing on the strips, they can off-load information, keeping their minds free to attend to other matters.
I also blog to keep a feeling of “coffee-table dialog” with my far-away colleagues: “You know, I’ve just read this article and was triggered with these ideas. What do you think?”
These were the reasons to start blogging. Later I discovered other great things:
- blogging builds my own (customised! :) network of like-minded people without almost any effort from me
- it is great for filtering links
- it improves my English
- it gives me a better face on-line that any profile I could think about (it allows googling me as well)
- it's easier to search than any other "notes" I make
- more nice things in the story about blogs in research by Sébastien Paquet
I post when I feel like it (often) and when I have time (not always). Sometimes I don't post things I'd like to because of confidentiality (something internal) or copyright reasons (blogging conference if presenters are not aware of me blogging). I hope that those two problems will be solved soon with conference blogging becoming usual and my work to encourage internal blogging pilot :)
All this in an effort to answer Sharon's question... :-)