Friday, May 20, 2005

Limitations of blogs?

Blogs will not completely replace newspapers, radio and TV stations or even standard web sites. But they can and do replace components of what these other forms do and do it more simply and efficiently than any of them. That is, they can quickly distribute any form of information that the available bandwidth will allow as long as the given blog form or style fits your needs. They represent one more new wrinkle invented for cyberspace. But every design form has its limitations.

Blogs are not ice cream. That is, there must be some motivation to use them, some audience that the blog authors want or need to reach or to hear from. Just asking or teaching someone to create a blog will not lead to much interesting use in and of itself. Blogs do not talk; people do once they have practice in the language or style of conversation that is needed. Blog interaction requires formal direction until new habits are acquired. Like any activity, there must be some motivation and direction (Krause, 2005) for effective practice.

Though blog design can effectively collect comments and stimulate discussion and debate, blogging style limits itself to moving on to the next posting and debate, with little follow-up to prior activity. It is rare that a blog author will edit the original posting to summarize what has been learned from the feedback comments. Blog authors could address this limitation in several ways: 1. create a new post with a link back to the previous post and put a link in the old post referring to the new one; 2. link a wiki page where the feedback on the old posting summarizes and restates what has learned yet continues to leave the discussion open to further editing by those interested; or 3. put a link in the original posting to a static web page that summarizes what has been learned from the feedback.

An effective blog requires some discipline with personal scheduling to achieve regular postings and build a loyal fan club or a strong collaborative group. Remaining persistent is challenging.

Blogs will reduce but not replace email, though blog syndication makes it possible to subscribe so that any new posting to your favorite blogs is reported to your email account or to specialized blog reader software. Blogs needs other forms of communication, such as email. For example, just because you created a blog does not mean that anyone will use it unless you tell them about it and provide its web address. Blog information will also lead to using email for private comments that you do not wish to share with everyone.

Blog authors must recognize that not everyone who reads blogs has the best interest of the author in mind. Putting personal information in a blog can be dangerous. That personal information can come back to bite you in terms of identity theft, harassment, reputation endangering mistakes in grammar and logic and more. Further, comment links open to all readers can lead to blog site vandalism by those who insert foul ideas, language and web links to trashy web sites such as pornography or hate promoting sites. However, there are a number of effective and quick defenses against the "dark side" while the personal side just requires good judgment and editing.

Teachers and younger students need password protected private blogging for limited audiences. Work teams and social groups may have reasons to be public or private, a decision the group will need to ponder. Most blog hosting designs provide options for "teams" that wish varying degrees of privacy for their work. Further, many thinking and writing needs require a totally private space where thoughts are explored without fear of any exposure. That still makes those cellulose sheets of paper a valuable technology.


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11/27/2005 05:51:00 AM  

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