Monday, June 28, 2004

Blogging - still on the radar

Blogging is still on my Ed design radar! I haven't posted in a bit due to the busy time of year.

Headspace is such a fragile possession don't you agree? Still, we are now in an era of "making time" rather than "having time"! It sounds rather like a potion for those in the know doesn't it!

Dreamworks SKG Animation Fansite - Shrek 2

I saw Shrek 2 on the weekend and all the potions of the fairy godmother would be worth a mint to the CEOs and directors of our various organisations I'm sure! I couldn't go past the "happily ever after" potion myself - it's the idealist in me I think!

So what about blogs then?
I was speaking with my colleagues about how blogs are being used in teaching and learning. We will do well to follow up on some of the current uses out there at present. USA, UK and Australia particularly are making strides in blog use. From and ed design perspective, it presents a more human / less techno-driven focus to designing for teaching and learning.

A good place to get started with blogs is at And of course, click the link to Blogspot in the top banner of this page to see how this free service works! There are some very good free blogging services available and most cater for the low-end technical user (providing excellent help fetures, templates and user-friendly customisable features like comment tools). Audio an dphoto blogging are being catered for more readily too. The age of the personal webspace is booming! No need to learn html (although it adds functionality to your sites in many ways I think!) and lots of features that usually require your own server-side system to be set up to capture information (like comments).

    How long will the blog phenomenon last?
    To what level of sophistication will it reach?
    How will blogs work to encourage further user-centred behaviour?
    Will we see a more sophisticated user rise from the blogging medium as the quintessential learner of the future?
    Will users be the producers of the future?

Many questions arise and many are currently being question dear to my heart is how does it promote the learning experience?

Tuesday, June 01, 2004

Through the Lens: the blogging process (or, Notes from the Blogface) - Part 3

Into R. Blood`s site I travel. Hmm, clean site. Has a bloggy feel. I casually scroll the page, taking in the links right of screen and headings as I go. The first item in the list of links is `weblog`. I click. The first three posts have something to do with gas prices, including a post on an article in Newsweek on taxes. I side track now to the right side of the screen and scan the extra links available. Quick links to other sites; a link entitled `a few thoughts on journalism and what can weblogs do about it` and my mind returns to the articles I had reviewed on blogs and journalism. Interesting. The next link points to Blood`s book and includes a list of Amazon editor`s best of 2002, digital culture. I sense there is a raft of reviews of Blood`s book from my initial searches, so click to see what comes of the Amazon review. Blood`s book is 6th of the Amazon list. I close the window thinking cynically that there are many ways to advertise your wares!

Back to Blood`s blog. There is a section entitled `recent press`. I scan and note `blogging, breakfast radio national`. How interesting. Some audio amongst all this text. Where might this link take me I wonder? ABC Online! So, ABC Breakfast Radio has stepped into the blog hype as well!

I quickly review the program synopsis and see that ABC breakfast radio is talking about blogging in response to the recent furore of the blog by Salam Pax, a guest at the Sydney Writers Festival. On the discussion panel is the inevitable Rebecca Blood, press critic Jay Rosen and Lea Rainie, head of PEW Internet and American Life. The synopsis ends with a link to Blood`s weblog.

    Of course, the blogging phenomenon has been elevated into the news by the recent Salam Pax book, "Baghdad Blog", based on his blog, Dear Raed. The blog documents Salam Pax`s thoughts and comments during the Iraq war. I jump back into AlltheWeb to search for Salam`s blog. There are many news stories related to the blog and the resulting book (Amazon appears a number of times in the search results). I click on a number fo the links sensing the pages will link to the Dear Raed web log. However, most of the links are broken! I attempt to control my frustration, but can`t help thinking that professional news sites should make an effort to keep their links up to date! An article from looked interesting, covering the diary of Salam Pax, but again the web log link was broken.

    Back to AlltheWeb and another result pointing to the Baghdad blog. I click but still no link! My frustrations increase as I begin to consider that Salam having now published and reaping the financial rewards in the book world, has disappeared from the blog world and taken his blog with him! Traitor! I find another interesting link to the Guardian, publishers of Salam`s blog-turned-book. The site contains the first chapter of the book, downloadable to whet the appetite. Of course, I download the chapter for later reading.

    Finally! A link within an article in Wired News is live. I click to reveal the Dear Raed blog. I am gratified.

    I bookmark the blog for later reference (in my Blogging bookmark folder), realising the Friday afternoon is quickly slipping away.

So, I have now come full circle. `Self`, I say, `I must document my experience of the last 90 minutes, as it has illustrated a process greater than simply blogging`.

If I am to write on blogging in my own blog, surely I should create a ?mindful? space in which to write and the academic in me says I should collect such evidence and marry it to the recent articles I have read on blogs and their potential in teaching and learning.

My blogging here is done. (Now for the critique...!)

Through the Lens: the blogging process (or, Notes from the Blogface) - Part 2

Now here`s a tangent.

Like a comet, my next moves are deft and precise: I must search for the first blog EVER! Back to Allthe Web. Type in `first blog ever` and click search. Pause. No way. How many blogs are called `My First Blog Ever`?!

That can`t be! Perhaps I should Ask Jeeves? `Jeeves, who has the first blog ever?`

Jeeves replies in much the same way as AlltheWeb. I feel deflated. My efforts have not been fruitful, so I abruptly halt my investigation: there are certain things the WWW just will not bend to!

A few more clicks back on the Amazon site and I`m growing bored. I hjave not yet tried Blood`s blog, so back to AlltheWeb to my first search page. I do a quick scan and see an article at Slashdot.

I quickly scroll down through the article (`scroll` in this context could be interchanged with `glance`), then I spotted a linked phrased towards the end of the document; ?freely available on her website.? Here was my door to Rebecca`s website! But not before scrolling quickly back up through the Slashdot article for another quick ?glance?. I subconsciously scan the screen for the oft-present `print this article` button, but was unable to find one, so hit the print button in my browser instead. This article would make for juicy reading later on, curled up in a warm bed! I continue with my scrolling and happen upon readers comments at the bottom of the page! What a find! Always an interesting read. I skim the first few comments and am struck by two. Interesting to note that of the first 6 comments, 3 were from the same user.

At this point, following my printing of the article, I remembered I had some other articles on blogging so again swivel back to my paper-cluttered desk and sift through he stack until I find what I am looking for: one article by Rob Enderle and another given to me by a colleague, entitled, `The Revolution Will Not Be Blogged` (Packer, 2004). Both of these articles refer to the tension between the blogging phenomenon and the current state of play in journalism profession, particularly in relation to online news and electronic journalism. Other articles I recall focus more on the potential of blogs in teaching and learning. So, in all this I think to myself, `Self` I say, `Would it not be a good idea to dig deeper into blogging and see what has gotten so many people into a spin?`

I finally return to my article on the Blogosphere once more to finish my highlighting and pen-scrawling comments, having previously decided midway through reading that I`d search for `R. Blood`.

Throughout this process I carefully thought to not only print articles for further reading, but bookmarked pages for future reference, thinking I might include these references in my blog post! I have hundreds of bookmarked pages and articles. My bookmark manager has become my virtual `safe place` for storing all that interests me online and beyond! I`ve learnt over the years to be methodical about my bookmarks and now have a rather sophisticated filing system that rivals my `My Documents` folder!

Through the Lens: the blogging process (or, Notes from the Blogface) - Part 1

So, this blogging thing is pretty big now, huh! Well, I was curious having recently read articles and papers to really dig into this process that is blogging.

In this rant, I don`t intend to throw out an opinion on blogging, more to chew the fat on blogging a little deeper and record a blogging process. So I said to myself, `Self, I should note done in detail my own blogging process in preparing a blog post as I would, any other day.`

So, this is my story, from the blogface!

I log into my blog and open a second browser window in preparation to search the web as needed (AlltheWeb is my preferred engine).

I swivel around in my chair and grab an article I had scanned recently, by Ferdig and Trammell, on content delivery in this ?thing? called the Blogosphere. I begin to read the article more deeply and with a purpose, which is, to reference my upcoming blog post on blogs. As I read, I take up my fluoro-green highlighter pen and begin highlighting phrases and comments that stand out for me, and in addition, I jot down comments in the margin with my pen. I note in the article, extensive reference to Blood (2002). Swivelling back to my computer station, I type `R. Blood` into my search engine. Missed. Results returned referred to something about W.A.T.E.R. Blood...not what I envisaged at all! I refine my search a second time, after reviewing the reference in the article once again, to read `weblog handbook`. Bingo! Lots of Amazon links and all sorts of reviews. Things look very promising.

A quick scan through the first page of search results and I notice a Slashdot article with a partial line `...time weblogger Rebecca Blood`s The Weblog Handbook`. I have a name. Rebecca Blood was a blogger. It would be most interesting to see her blog then!

I scan the list of search results looking for interesting phrases, when a heading catches my eye `a romantic view of weblogs`, the summary concludes:

    Rebecca Blood`s The Weblog Handbook is an inexorably romantic guide to building and...

I must read more! I click (my AlltheWeb preferences are set to open search results in a new browser window) and up pops a book review on Blood`s book, at HYPERTEXT|NOW| by Eastgate Systems Inc. It looks fairly legit to me. I scroll slowly through the review. A couple of quotes from Blood`s book punctuate the article and already I`m thinking that this is worth printing! I scroll quickly through to the end of the page and note with a smile that the author, Mark Bernstein, also has a blog!

I hit the print button in my browser (no sign of the oft-present 'print this page' icon) and hear the networked printer groan to life down the corridor. At this point I think to myself, `Self, now is probably a good time to actually check out this book by Blood, at`. The HYPERTEXT|NOW| review links directly to it.

Wow! Before I even notice the book by Blood on the Amazon page, I see a screen full of books related to the art of blogging! How can this be? Surely blogging is still fairly new isn`t it? Perhaps there is call to be alert to the hubbub that is blogging!