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Week 5: Blogs Part 1

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B. Welcome, welcome.

A. Thanks.

B. Are you beginning to feel like you understand my fascination with social software as a foundational instructional technology after doing that mini-analysis?

A. Sort of. I need more time to think about it. We need to talk more about it, too.

B. Feeling the need for social interaction are you? That's what the class chats and socials are for, not to mention the standing Questions assignment.

A. Ok. So where to now?

B. Back into blogs. Except this time we're going to spend two weeks on the software itself and its uses. Then we'll move on to a slightly more theoretical persepctive again, like we did with newsgroups and incentives.

A. So what's a blog?

B. It's like a captain's log of one or more person's travels around the web, including pointers to interesting writing elsewhere with commentary. Blogs frequently have a diary sort of feel as well, as people also put original materials on their blogs (not just references to existing stuff).

A. I sort of get it. Is there a more formal definition?

B. You're going to be sorry you asked.

A. Oh no. You're going to say I need to...

B. read some history. Yes, just a little. Some history and some theorizing about blogs. Start with a weblog definition (I'll avoid the obvious ploy of having you read my own writing on this topic), then try Weblogs: a History and Perspective , You've Got Blog , and finally, What We're Doing When We Blog .

A. Ok, I'll read them. But what's so special about blogs that they get two weeks?

B. Well, some of that will become clear as you read. But a short answer is this - they're easy enough for your mom to do, as you know by now. You just fire up your browser, type in a box, hit submit, and voila! You're published. Do you have any idea what people used to have to go through to get published? To get their ideas in front of anyone but their immediate family? The short answer is "significant expense." As a consequence of how cheap and easy blogs are to use, blogging has been described as "the mass democratizaion of publishing."

A. Sounds grandiose... too much so.

B. It does. But I think it's actually a fair representation. Even more interesting, when there are really, really large numbers of people interacting this way (a recent WIRED article by Clay Shirky -- print version only, sorry -- claims that 2.7 new blog posts are made every minute), intelligent behavior and culture can emerge. Emergent or self-organizing behavior is a topic for later in the semester...

A. [cutting in] Yea, I know you're all into that.

B. ...but the cultural part is very much worth exploring now. Oddly enough, the best way to get to understand blogs is not to use them - its to read them. Lots and lots of them. Hence, this week's assignment.

Assignment: Blog Hopping

  1. Spend one (1) hour total five days this week reading blogs. To find some, try:
    • LiveJournal . On the homepage, either (1) search for a topic of interest, or (2) mouse over "Search" on the dark blue bar at the top and then click Random
    • Blogger. Although it is owned by Google, Blogger provides no easy way to search all their blogs. They have, however, made it extremely easy to find a random Blogger blog
    • Google . Just search for the term 'blog' and any other term of interest to you
    The chances are high that before your hours are spent you will see blogs that you find offensive. Just keep hopping from blog to blog until you find some which actually interest you (but who knows - may be offensive to someone else!). Specifically, find five blogs and read them each day as part of your one hour.
  2. Look for patterns across the blogs you read each day. Do you see signs of a distinctive culture among the bloggers, like common practices or common jargon?
  3. Post the following to your blog:
    • the URLs and names of the five blogs you followed, and
    • a short piece of writing describing your reflections on the culture of the blogs, blogging, and bloggers you followed

Guess what?

A. Let me guess. I should check the Syllabus if I don't remember when the assignment is due.

B. Wow. You're good. [winks]

A. Thanks.

B. All right, well, see you next week.

Copyright 2008, by the Contributing Authors. Cite/attribute Resource . admin. (2008, May 20). Week 5: Blogs Part 1. Retrieved January 07, 2011, from Free Online Course Materials — USU OpenCourseWare Web site: This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License Creative Commons License
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