In response to my earlier attempt to define blogs, Ernie referred me to Amy Gahran’s very helpful posting, which states:
Weblogs are a kind of web site. They represent an easy and versatile way to publish all kinds of content: news and journalism, education, analysis, humor, personal observation and opinion, and more. … They may be very rigorous and formal, or extremely informal and haphazard. … Quality, credibility, and tone vary widely.
Amy then goes on to discuss the mechanical details of a blog–very useful for someone new to blogging.
Recently, Gardner directed attention to John Udell’s reflections on blogs as a way to ‘narate your work’.
From my perspective, blogs aren’t optional extras that “some reporters” should be “allowed to craft.” They’re essential tools — and not just for journalists, but for every professional person. Collectively we’ll use the blog network to document, discover, and validate expertise.
On your blog, you can document your public agenda better than anyone else can. If you’ve ever been interviewed by a newspaper reporter, you know the drill. An hour of careful explanation may be reduced to a quote that makes you cringe. What hasn’t occurred to most people yet is that you can publish that careful explanation yourself. Or that, when you do, the web’s aggregation engines will surface your words in appropriate contexts, and will help people measure their impact.
What particularly excites me about the potential of blogs is E.W.Dijkstra’s commentary on ‘narrating Your Work’:
If there is one “scientific” discovery I am proud of, it is the discovery of the habit of writing without publication in mind. I experience it as a liberating habit: without it, doing the work becomes one thing and writing it down another one, which is often viewed as an unpleasant burden. When working and writing have merged, that burden has been taken away.
If this is true, if we can get students to regularly write about their studies–notes, comments and questions about what they are reading, connections between a text and the lecture, one text and another text, one course and another course–then, we will be helping students take a major step towards genuine education.
(Note to Self: Is this something the First Year Seminar Committee should be thinking about?)