Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Am I a Dinosaur and the Blogosphere is a Big Tar Pit?

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 just started my blog recently and since then I have seen some comments that the blogosphere may be imploding, exploding, or otherwise meeting its demise. I got worried when I heard this opinion being voiced by someone I admire, Dr. Carol Simpson. In a recent LM_NET posting, she stated (and I did get permission to quote): 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.” Her assessment is based on the facts that blogs are difficult to search. Tagging is supposed to be the solution to this, but so far it has not lived up to the promise, or so say blog critics. Further, 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. Many are from the business world and, efficient types that such folks are, they also bemoan the difficulty of searching. Consulting the SHSU periodical databases turned up several articles promoting this view.
BUT THEN, I read a quote from someone else I admire, David Warlick! He is quoted in Steve Hargadon’s blog as saying, “He (Warlick) is still the most excited about blogging of all the technologies, 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--get to the conversation quickly without a lot of preparation.”
Can they both be right? Maybe so. I think that in the blog world, there is a lot of chaff and much less wheat. Those people who have important or enjoyable sites will survive. So will some of the sites with limited appeal, that are directed at small audiences, like reading club blogs, family blogs, student blogs for various content discussions, etc. I know that, speaking for myself, I am willing to go to certain blogs, and I am not so much going for a specific topic as I am going to hear what that person has to say, period. For example, I will go to Doug Johnson’s blog without knowing what his current topic may be, just because I am interested in his take on just about anything. The same is true for Teri Lesesne’s blog, and others.
Where does that leave me? The jury is absolutely out on that question. I held off starting a blog until I thought I had some definite ideas and time to make entries at least twice a week. I see my blog as a way to explore in more detail topics of interest from listservs or from my own columns. I know LM_NET sometimes seems to need a place to spill over to when a topic gets a lot of discussion, and tell myself I might be able to assist with that. Right now I am enjoying the experience so will continue as long as I feel it is worth the time and effort. Wonder what everybody else thinks?



  1. I, too, have heard that blogs are on the way out, but for myself I have found them to be a great teaching tool and I keep finding new ways to use them. I have a library skills blog and when my students bring their laptops to the library they go to the blog for their assignment. Not only are we doing content related lessons but the use of the blog is a lesson in new technology and communication.

    My feeling is that we have to remain forever flexible in regards to technology in education and keep ourselves open to new things that come along. Then we try them out, see how they work in our particular setting, use them if they work well, change to something new if it works better. This is fluid world we are in now....change will happen. As unsettling as that may be at times, it's also very appealing.

  2. Even though I just posted a comment that seems like I'm not a blogger, I admit I do blog a bit. I have inquired about my district allowing blogs for school librarians to foster literature discussions, but so far not much action there. I participate with a few Blogs in general, but I always feel like I go into a Black Hole and lose all sense of time when I get to a good Blog with lots of great comments. I don't think they are leaving, and I don't expect a whole in their evolution. We, the users, will become better at using them effectively. When something works for us, and Blogs seem to work, usually finds its own level.

  3. I came to leave a comment and ended up reading the comments on your latest posts and had to google "Dustfinger" which lead me to Amazon - I will be looking for those books! I also decided I had enough to say on email and blogging that I would post and link to you. You can read it here:
    Thanks for the insight, the new reading, and the motivation to write a new post. Great conversations! Keep them coming!

  4. I think part of this conversation is a based on a misconception--

    I think what is "on the way out" to some extent are the personal blogs people set up at the beginning. People who were experimenting or didn't have time to commit to theirs left them by the wayside. Or they didn't want their personal lives on their blog.
    There are new tools like Vox which allow for private blogs now.

    Many blogs have a keyword search on them, so I don't find that an issue. Even if the tagging isn't enough, you can find what you are looking for(not to mention you can find things on a particular blog via a Google search).

    I think blogs are preferable to email because of the communication and conversation they generate.

    If you are well-networked already, perhaps that isn't as much of an issue, but for many librarians or teachers working mainly "within" school walls, blogs are a huge opportunity to open up educational conversations outside your campus.

    And the conversation is open to whoever happens to wander by or take an interest, not just to those you direct a particular email to. (For example, Dee discovered this blog and a new book and can now participate in this conversation.)

    And of course in working with students, email isn't really an effective medium for starting a conversation that all can participate in, across many class periods or across the school.
    I'm all for bringing down those walls between us!

    Just my two cents worth! (to pull an phrase from David Warlick!)