SCRIPT LANGUAGE="JavaScript"> < We Blog: April 2006

Saturday, April 29, 2006

ok, let's go retroactive

I was cruising through the readings from previous units, until a particular title caught my eye: Use the blog, Luke. Damn those writers at sure do know how to reel in nerdy bloggers such as myself. I have a few questions for Steven Johnson, the author of this article.

"There are significant political consequences to the Blogger Effect: Because the blogging community contains a disproportionate number of libertarians, it's possible that Google searches on certain hot-button issues will start skewing toward libertarian-friendly pages. Given Google's increasing prominence, this libertarian slant could prove to be more significant than the more familiar concerns about liberal bias in the major networks, and conservative bias on Fox News. No sensible person thinks "The O'Reilly Factor" is free of political slant (save O'Reilly himself). But the great oracle of Google is supposed to be above such partisan concerns."

What information is he using to back up statements like this? I think some source about the prominence of libertarian blogs needs to be cited. I'd even settle for a screen capture of his Google search. Or is this his own opinion? If that's the case, I respectfully least until I see some valid research to back it up.

And who said the "great oracle of Google" is supposed to be above partisan concerns? As far as I know, Google has never claimed to be a non-partisan's a search engine, for Christ's sake. I think Johnson is complaining that political bloggers are engaged in some sort of link war for supremacy...but there's no feasible way to regulate or control the deluge of information without some selective exclusion.

Johnson's solution to the problem: " transform the data generated by the bloggers into something that rivals what Google does -- to extract some new kind of collective wisdom out of a universe of armchair opinion leaders." This is my problem with Johnson...he has a lot of big ideas, but offers no feasible methods of implementation. Which goes back to my point...a specific search engine can't extract collective wisdom, because a search engine functions by calculating links and's the responsibility of the individual to filter the information on their own.

Here's an example of one solution Johnson comes up with: "You define a few "guardian" Bloggers, perhaps by checking a box when you visit their site. You also instruct your software to watch the activity on sites maintained by "friends" of those key bloggers. You tell the software that you want a medium level of intrusiveness: In other words, you want the system to point out useful information to you, but you don't want it constantly bombarding you with data at every turn."
Honestly, who is actually going to do this?? Does the average person care enough about filtering the information they receive via the Web to implement this strategy? More importantly, does the average person have enough time? Perhaps those who want to evolve from information management sites like Bloglines are convinced Johnson is on the right track....The casual Googler probably isn't too actively involved in political blogging. I'm going to assume the political blogger, plus a portion of people who actively seek them out, aren't the ones using Google. They're probably using one of the many blog-specific search tools.

What Johnson is really saying, in a roundabout way, is that he wants the bloggers to take the work out of political blogs. You don't even have to visit a site if you already know what part of the political spectrum a specific blogger resides. Say you're a conservative looking for a blog that matches your opinion....if Google would just go ahead and tailor to your interests, rather than including links to blogs like Daily Kos, that would be just dandy. What he doesn't realize is that search engines already have similar features...MyYahoo is one that springs to mind.

Friday, April 28, 2006

Shameless self-plug

This is the one post that I'm going to tell you about the great friends I have and the wonderful things they bring to the music industry.

The first band that I'd like to talk about is a band called "bent left" the guys all came from my high school and they are a very political band in the punk music scene. They try to travel cross-country during the summers and play and record in Kansas City during the school year. They are a great group of guys that love to party and play music. They are the best and they are the greatest friends a kid could have. So If you're into punk you really need to check them out and seeing them live is the best. Here's a
  • great review
  • I found of an album of their's.

    The other band I'd like to plug tonight is a group that is based in Provo, Utah and tours the west during the summers. Their lead singer is a good friend of mine and they are really talented. They have been together for quite a while and have a couple of albums out. Their sound is pretty different, at least I think so. But they're fun to listen to and they are really good people too. Their website is found
  • here
  • . If you are ever randomly in the Utah or California you should see if you could catch a show. I think they are taking a break for now because their lead singer and the only member of the group I know personally is getting married so they have life getting in the way of their music right now. But if you could pick up their album and give it a listen I think you will find it enjoyable.

    cross-posted at
  • Just what I think
  • Thursday, April 27, 2006

    Blogs in the News: Blogging then and now

    Earlier this month, there was an article in the Washington Post about net-surfing trends.

    "Google Inc., for instance, bought in 2003; the number of people posting or reading material at that site jumped to 15.6 million last month from 2.5 million a year ago."

    Yes that's a 528% increase, as you can see on the table here.

    And that doesn't even include the people who don't use Blogger or reference other blogs than Blogspots. I'm thinking, ok, great, so people are really into blogging now. But as we've learned in this class, it's not so much what you write as what you read that can adjust the blogosphere.

    What are the top blogs these days? Well the top ten, according to Technorati are:

    1 Boing Boing: A Directory of Wonderful Things
    By xenijardin.

    2 Engadget

    3 PostSecret
    PostSecret is an ongoing community art project where people mail in their secrets anonymously on one side of a homemade postcard.
    By frank warren.

    4 Daily Kos: State of the Nation

    5 The Huffington Post
    By Arianna Huffington.

    6 Official Google Blog


    8 Michelle Malkin
    By Michelle Malkin.

    9 Thought Mechanics
    By Theron Parlin and Matthew Good.

    10 Blog di Beppe Grillo
    Grillo's gags have tackled financial scandals and political corruption
    By Beppe Grillo.

    I have no clue what Blog di Beppe Grillo is, but I do see that at least half of the top 10 are politically driven blogs.

    Frankly, I have this strange obsession with, and how it somehow gets to have the first and last word with the surfing public. Sooo many people read it. I read it. What does this say about us as a nation? At least it means we care about politics a little, and I don't blame anyone for wanting to stay away from CNN and Fox News because they dilute their news so much. But it also means we assign authority to some bloggers to dish out news we then take as fact. I know we've talked about this in class before, too, but again, how much power does that give the bloggers whose sites get the most hits? After all, it seems they shape the common knowledge.

    One example of this is the Baghdad Blogger, Salam Pax (a pseudonym). Salam's blog, Where is Raed? was one of the most popular blogs during the initial attack on Iraq in 2003. Salam is (allegedly) a gay Iraqi architect/translator who started his blog so a friend in Jordan could be up on his status while the country was under seige. His site was so popular that when he stopped posting suddenly there was an international uproar about what happened to him, whether he was hurt, or kidnapped, etc. It turns out he didn't have electricity and had to keep writing entries on paper, to post electronically later. During his absence on the Web, however, it became clear that many people were reading his site to get firsthand news of the region. Surfers looked at his reports as they would those from CNN, BBC and other news networks.

    His wild popularity has led to a book deal, a movie deal, and wide critical-acclaim. Well, except for those who think Salam Pax and his blogspot is a scam from the US govt to broadcast propaganda. I don't see how that can really be the case, though, since in a few of his posts, he basically tells the Americans off.

    What do you think about a blogger capitalizing this way? Is it good? Is it a sell-out?

    More interesting to me than that is something my International Relations professor said the other day in a lecture on Public Opinion:

    "Americans either have no opinion on our [foreing] policy, or they have contradictory views. Meaning, they say they want US troops to come home, but they aren't willing to sacrifice stability in the Middle East at this point. And apparently we also want increased federal support for government programs, but we don't want any increases in taxes... It is a tragedy that the citizens of this country don't offer a clearer view for the government officials to follow with better policy."

    Obviously, not everyone is reading polarizing sources like the Daily Kos or Where is Raed? Or Pax's other blog Shut up you fat whiner! I'm even going to go out on a limb here, and say that the real reason for the 528% increase on, is not due to new classical blogs, which focus on linking and networking on national events, but instead due to web journals on for example.

    In fact MySpace has been in the news recently too. A week after the Washington Post article, there was a (rather long) story on NPR's All Things Considered that I found intriguing., one of the most surfed-to sites on the net, is hiring net-security against child molesters or stalkers. The story was covered by the BBC, too. Why such a big deal? Because MySpace is annoying, but it attracts millions of people. People who are now using the built-in blogging tool. For better or for worse.

    Still, though I shudder to think about all the people out there calling web journals "blogs", it does open up the imagination to what the blogosphere will evolve into next.
    Again from the Washington Post article on trends in blogging:

    "'The growth in blogging reminds us the Internet is fulfilling its original promise about participation,' said Gary Arlen, a research analyst and president of Arlen Communications Inc. 'This medium empowers users in such a way that they can do what they want and be heard.'"

    Blogging is changing, with so many new people expanding the field and different ideas of posts as newsworthy, credible sources. For now I'll choose to be hopeful that blogging will retain its authenticity as a reasonable educational network as it expands. But I also believe that future wholly depends on MySpace's success in policing the molesters and in the public's willingness to revise its definition of and subscription to future blogs. It's hard to say whether the new generations of bloggers will contribute to the global opinion as much as Salam Pax and other classical bloggers, since they may be too busy contemplating their own navels. I guess the question is where is the Next Raed?

    cross-posted from Post-December

    Where's the love?


    This post will be really short and to the point.

    Why is there so much descention within or small blogging group? Come on people...we are all adults. I know we're all a little on edge with finals, projects, jobs, interships, and the classes that we still have to attend. But lets just settle this argument about grade pitches and portfolios and all that jazz like the adults we are. We can talk about these things in class and voice our opinions. It's okay. No one is going to chew your head off for saying something. Maybe some snide remarks now and again about what you said, but that's about it.

    So let's have a good class today and express what we think about the end of the semester.
    This example of not being able to express oneself is the reason that I am somewhat against blogging...if you can't say it to someone's face then why say it at all?

    There are my words of wisdom for the day.

    Wednesday, April 26, 2006

    Blogging your Future

    Well, we are nearing the end or our 4040 blogging "journey". No longer will we be motivated by the obligation of weekly posting and commenting requirements (although, hopefully, that was not our only incentive to blog). Where do we go from here?

    What are your future blogging plans?
    Current results

    (Please participate only if you are in English 4040. Thanks!)

    Here are three trends in blogging that might influence our future blogging endeavors.

    To reiterate one topic I touched upon in a previous post:

    1) Vast and rapid growth in the number of bloggers.
    According to Bloggers Blog
    "David Sifry, the CEO and founder of Technorati, has posted another State of the Blogosphere report. This report focuses on blogosphere growth and it shows strong growth continuing. The blogosphere is still doubling every six months and Technorati now tracks over 35 million blogs."
    Bloggers Blog highlights the following trends from the "State of the Blogosphere report:

    * Technorati now tracks over 35.3 Million blogs
    * The blogosphere is doubling in size every 6 months
    * It is now over 60 times bigger than it was 3 years ago
    * On average, a new weblog is created every second of every day
    * 19.4 million bloggers (55%) are still posting 3 months after their blogs are created
    * Technorati tracks about 1.2 Million new blog posts each day, about 50,000 per hour

    While this growth in blogging does signify some positive consequences such as in increase in the diversity of thoughts and ideas, an amplified voice and power for the "average" citizen and consumer to comment upon or criticize the governement and business and enact change, and a broadened opportunity for one to meet new social and intellectual friends/peers, the growth can also be detrimental.

    According to Anita Campbell on the blog Ego:

    "If you are just now starting to blog, it's going to be harder to get noticed by other bloggers and have your voice stand out. It just stands to reason. It's harder to stand out of 70 million blogs than it was to stand out from a few thousand blogs in 2000 or even a few hundred thousand blogs in 2001.
    The newer bloggers who want to get noticed will have to work harder. They will have to visit established blogs, comment regularly, write good content and let other bloggers know about that content by sending emails to friendly bloggers. They
    will have to participate in as many blog directories as they can find and participate in legitimate traffic generating initiatives such as BlogExplosion."

    Do you agree with Anita? Do you feel the pressure to compete with the vast number of bloggers in the blogosphere? Do you think this will ultimately discourage bloggers from entering the blogosphere?

    Some bloggers are even leaving the blogosphere. As I noted in a previous post, Family Medicine Notes blogger, Jacob, states:

    "...blogging has matured, and so has medical blogging. Back in 1999 and 2000,
    there were a handful of medical bloggers (literally!) and we all had a bit of a
    role in educating each other and the world about what is is that physicians do,
    think, read, etc. [. . .] But there's lots of that now. Hundreds (thousands?) of
    medlical bloggers are posting daily and - frankly - I don't think the Internet
    needs me anymore..."

    This, then, raises another question: If bloggers are leaving, is the quantitative growth of blogging occuring at the cost of the quality of content?

    Another Bloggers Blog post asserts that some experts are concerned about the quality of information available in the blogosphere. In the post, it is stated that:

    "National Geographic has an article that urges environment, climate and conservation experts to start blogs to fight the growing amount of junk science that is published today."

    The post further describes:

    Alison Ashlin, a doctoral candidate at the Oxford University Centre for the
    Environment in Great Britain . . . cites her own field as a prime example of the
    need for more accurate blogs fuelled by top researchers.
    'Currently, there are roughly 400,000 weblogs featuring discussions on environmental and conservation-related issues, which makes it difficult to assess the general quality of scientific information on weblogs,' she wrote in her paper."

    As a blogger: Do you feel pressured to compete with the numerous other bloggers? What implications do you think the growing popularity of blogs has for the blogging world and for our society in general? Do you think potential bloggers are enticed or discouraged by the growing number of blogs? Do you think existing bloggers are affected by the growing number of blogs?

    As a blog reader: Do you think the growing number of blogs makes it harder to find quality blogs? Do you think blog readers are discoraged by the sheer volume of blogs and information available?

    2) Blogging to market . . . yourself.
    On, Margaret Stead talks about encouraging older individuals to use blogging to publicize their skills and experience and market themselves for jobs. Stead argues:

    "[I]f you use the blog to promote yourself and to expose your credentials, it's like an
    "extended" business card . . . There's a special magic to blogs that I've
    discovered over the last few years. It seems that when my coaching clients can
    send their blog live.. that almost overnight... they get super job offers and
    work projects that are fantastic. And, it's not just the people who are reading
    their material. I think putting together a weblog and sending it out there and
    telling the universe what you want to do and what your dream is... makes you a
    very... attractive person. It makes you appear confident. It gives you a
    platform and an expertise that you perhaps didn't, you know, recognize before
    and other people didn't recognize."

    The basic tenet of her argument is that through blogging you can use key words that have the potential to draw a limitless number of potential employers to your site where they can see your skills, your interests, and your experiences.

    This is somewhat like the blog portfolio we are all working on, or will be working on. The difference being that the blog itself would be a sort of live, ongoing portfolio. You could then include your blog link, like your e-mail address, on your resume. The blog can demonstrate not only your competency in your field, but also your technological competency, which is in growing demand in our society.

    How feasible do you think this is in the real world? Can it be of use to those of us entering the job market soon?

    3) Bloggers' responsibilities
    Apple computers is currently in a lawsuit with a number of bloggers over the leak of information about a new Apple product. On InfoSecDaily it is described that:

    "Apple says the leak, published through the journalists’ blogs, is “a very
    serious theft”, and is attempting to force the bloggers to reveal their sources.
    A ruling on the suit is expected within 90 days."

    Another article on CNET at states:

    "The case being argued Thursday addresses whether online journalists deserve the
    same rights as traditional reporters. In previous court filings, Apple claimed they should not. Its lawyers say in court documents that Web scribes are not "legitimate members of the press" when they reveal details about forthcoming products that the company would prefer to keep confidential."

    Outside of the US, an article on CBC describes:

    "A businessman on P.E.I. has offered a $1,000 reward for information about an
    anonymous internet blogger who's been taking shots at prominent Islanders on a
    pair of websites."

    While we have gone back and forth in class about whether bloggers are or are not journalists, it is clear that blogging comes with certain responsibilities. The purpose of trying to place blogging in the category of journalism seems to be largely based on a need to define specifically what those responsibilities are and outline boundaries for bloggers.

    How do the cases above affect your thoughts on or perhaps fears of freely posting on your blog? Without the natural boundaries that the class has set for our blogging content, do you worry about your blogging in the future? Do you think that these cases help or hinder blogging as a practice or the blogging community?

    Good luck to everyone . . . and "blog on"!

    *Crossposted on Look to the Sky

    Tuesday, April 25, 2006

    The Blogosphere: Waxing or Waning?

    For anyone who has ever written about blogging or blogs, it is apparent that blogging . . . almost . . . doesn't . . . exist: spell check catches it and Word flags it in red like a disease. That is at least moderately distrubing for those of us who actively blog and see blogging as a relevant and impactful means of communication and expression. An article I read the other day, however, suggests that blogging is far from what Word and spell check suggest of it. CNNMoney picks blogging as one of "7 trendy new jobs." The article describes "Blog editor" as an "in-vogue" job. It states:
    I blog, you blog, we all blog apparently, judging from the proliferation of blogs in the past two years. The success of influential ones like has companies wanting in on the perceived edginess of the blogosphere.

    "Blogging" is not only starting to creep into people's job descriptions, but recruiters are starting to see blog-related job listings.

    One on seeks a blog editor "to manage and moderate blogs for clients and to write for the company blog on PR and new media topics."
    This is good news for those of us entering the job market, or maybe those just seeking a change of professional scenery. And, in my opinion, I'll take CNNMoney over Word any day.

    But, then there is the downside. While CNNMoney reports the explosive growth and recognition of blogging, not just as a hobby, but by the professional community (suggesting blogging's further entrenchment in our culture), the blog of cites that a number of prominent bloggers are bowing out of the blogging world due to "fatigue." In the post, one blogger is described to think:
    Blogging has become too much of a burden.
    The post goes on to say that:
    The RSS inventor and blog pioneer Dave Winer also wrote that he plans to stop blogging to free up time and become less of a public figure.
    This is troubling to a society that stands to gain so much from intelligent and consistent bloggers as well as a community of bloggers that depends on one another to develop and sustain the conversational nature that characterizes the blogging world.

    In the article, Family Medicine Notes blogger, Jacob, describes:
    "...blogging has matured, and so has medical blogging. Back in 1999 and 2000, there were a handful of medical bloggers (literally!) and we all had a bit of a role in educating each other and the world about what is is that physicians do, think, read, etc. [. . .] But there's lots of that now. Hundreds (thousands?) of medlical bloggers are posting daily and - frankly - I don't think the Internet needs me anymore..."
    Is this true? Are bloggers leaving because they feel they are no longer impactful? Is it true that the sheer number of people online and people blogging now waters down the quality of information and makes it such that it's harder to find quality? It seems feasible. It's the law of supply and demand. Is the supply of bloggers outgrowing the demand for blogs and posts by blog readers? The internet's vast nature seems to be both a blessing and a curse. It allows limitless people to contribute, but, as a Google search demonstrates, it also makes it harder to sift through all the non-expert commentators to find good information (or even just an intelligent blog you like). Perhaps we could use a system like professional journals in which blogs are rated or approved to ensure a reader of the quality of the content.

    Blogging is growing, but will it soon be shrinking? Or, will it grow in quantity at the cost of quality? It's being recognized in the professional world, but "professional" bloggers seem to be abandoning it.

    What does all this mean for our future as bloggers? Is it possible we've gone from too few voices to too many?

    *Crossposted at: Look to the Sky

    Portfolio Guidelines

    Here's what we agreed on during our discussion.

    Blogging Portfolio

    Audience: Potentially any blogger

    Purpose: To highlight the quality of your blog

    • Link to at least three of your blog entries and include extensive commentary on your reason for highlighting those entries
    • Include an introductory paragraph to explain purpose of the portfolio
    • Include a couple of exemplary comments on class members’ blogs or a blog entry that responds directly to someone else’s entry: explain what these illustrate about your participation in a blogging network.
    • Make the portfolio entry an example of an exemplary blog entry (ie, you might include links, graphics, or whatever you think an exemplary entry includes)
    • Ideally, link up your discussion of each blog entry with ideas from class discussions and/or readings
    Possibilities: You may choose whether to highlight your growth as a blogger or to stick with just highlighting your “best” blog entries.

    I don't really like that idea.

    I don't like the idea of a grade pitch. I'm definately going to do it, and I know it could be beneficial for me, but does anyone else feel like we(the students) have just gone a bit to far? I think all the work we've been doing is our grade pitch. The quality of our work should be the argument for the value of our grade. This typed argument for our grade seems to be an attempt to rationalize receiving a higher grade than we deserve. I'm sure Donna understands this, and I hope that my blogging on my own blog is a much stronger case than a typed plea for an A.

    Again with the portfolio

    Here's a timeline for creating the portfolio:

    Tuesday, April 25: Finalize expectations/guidelines for portfolio as a class.

    Thursday, April 27: Complete a draft of the portfolio

    Tuesday, May 2: In-class peer reviews of portfolios

    Thursday, May 4: Meet at Shakespeare's (or other eating establishment?) for end-of-semester celebration

    Monday, May 8: Final version of portfolio must be online by 3:00 pm

    I'm pulling up some of the comments from last week so that they will be easier to view, and we'll discuss these today in order to finalize a set of guidelines:

    I like the first three criteria listed on Jerz's sample. I think those are relevant to our course.

    I think it would sufficient to display 3 of their bests posts, which could be judged on the most interactive, the best-written, or what sparked the most discussion. And maybe include some of your own comments on the blog as a whole.

    I like the idea of doing a "cover letter" for the posts we select from our blogs. I think this would allow more flexibility, because then you have a chance to define "best" from your own perspective. I like the idea of using that "cover letter" as a blog entry gateway to your "best" posts, but I also like the idea of creating another place for the posts to go. A place where one can add to their portfolio and reference it. Furthermore, I think if the portfolio is a post, it will get lost in the shuffle of the blog. As the blog gets longer the portfolio will be pushed out of sight. I think another page is a good idea, although I recognize the technical limitations of this. Perhaps we could create posts and then create a permanent link to them in the sidebar so the portfolio is always at the forefront of the blog?

    I really like Nichole's comment about including a bad entry... my concern is that students might just choose a random entry that's very short or contains a bad link. What about including an entry that surprised, disappointed, or otherwise affected you the most (positively or negatively)?

    english 4040: too raw for texas' impressionable minds

    Recently there's been some controversy over school districts banning words, rather than URLs, from students' use. Yesterday when I blogged about the MySpace phenomenon, I got my site banned in more than a few school districts. Thankfully there's been an outcry in the blogsphere, that has one angry blogger requesting individuals to implant the word MySpace in sites crucial to the education system, thereby forcing officials to remove their censorship. If anyone is interested, they can follow this controversy for themselves...I've linked directly to the relevant posts on each site, so you don't have to search for them.

    Will Richardson's site (where I first learned of the controversy)

    Andy Carvin's Waste of Bandwith

    Miguel Guhlin

    Wesley Fryer's Moving at the Speed of Creativity

    Sunday, April 23, 2006

    post 4040 thoughts and reflections...

    Writing my posts about our class readings has made me think about post English 4040 blogging. I think I've hit on something that really interests me to write about - how blogging and other internet phenomena are changing some fundamental aspects of society. I've been seriously considering making a new, post 4040 blog that features entries about my afore-mentioned interests almost exclusively. Blogging has become kind of therapeutic for me. It's a nice way to relax at the end of the day, although I do worry about this blog being graded. I'm wondering how many of us English 4040 bloggers are going to keep up their current blogs or start new blogs after class ends?

    Our class discussion got me thinking more and more about this MySpace phenomenon. This Bussiness Week online article is pretty interesting and informative:

    The MySpace Generation

    This article explores MySpace in the context of a corporate phenomenon. Mogul Rupert Murdoch, the article reports, has spent $1.3 billion in Web acquisitions to better reach the coveted demographic. Consumer products companies have been experimenting (at extremely low costs) with social networks as tools for launching and embedding their products into the increasingly hard to reach minds of teens. The "One-Hit Wonder", "Deep Connections", and "Sparkle and Fizzle" sections are the real meat of the article...the rest is mainly the introduction and filler that most people already knew.

    A non-MySpace link of interest:

    David Sifry's April 2006 "State of the Blogsphere"

    Sifry is actually the founder and CEO of Technorati, one of the first blog tools we learned to use in 4040...ah, the memories. This report is essentially a state of the union address for blogs, which I think is pretty cool yet extremely nerdy at the same time.

    Finding a Place

    I came across an article today that forced me to reflect on what I have accomplished since my blog began exactly 90 days ago. I have been struggling with my blog, constantly displeased with what I have to say and more so with what I don't. The goal of my blogging efforts was to put something out into the world that would touch someone. I was unconcerned with the definition of "touch". Was it to entertain? Was it to enlighten? Was it to critique? Was it to create?

    My first posts (1, 2, 3) started out poetic, but it proved to be too much to keep up with. It was too much pressure to feel forced to be awe-inspiringly eloquent. I collapsed. My posts, most often, became whatever I was thinking in whatever form I could get it out. Maybe my goal was too ill-defined.

    The article I read today got me thinking even more. It is by Associated Press writer Miriam Fam and is titled Iraqi Bloggers Weigh in on Changing Nation. It reads:

    Unheard of in Saddam Hussein´s Iraq, blogging is providing ordinary Iraqis with
    a voice _ a chance to vent and reflect on the changes reshaping their country.

    For the outside world, the generally anonymous Internet postings offer raw insider views and insights in which sorrow and joy, hope and despair, fear and defiance coexist as the violence of the insurgency and now sectarian divisions swirl around Iraqis

    What a profound cause. What a quintessential example of the use and benefit of blogging.

    What a perfect opportunity for my efforts to look even more insignificant.

    One blogger in the article says:
    "The West should listen to the opinions of the simple Iraqi people . . . This is
    a good window into the world."

    Does my blog have a window? Does it posses anythingthing that makes the lost reader that stumbles upon it want to stop and read and then keep coming back? I don't think it does. Oh God. Am I the dreaded "teen (type) blogger," giving nothing more than a dreaded account of my mundane daily experiences.

    Well, I don't know that I would go that far. But, nonetheless, it worries me. I would like to keep blogging, but not if it is only one more substance-less voice in cyberspace. I fear that if I can't find something that interests me, something I feel is impactful to others, something I am proud to contribute, I will fail in my effort to continue blogging.

    So, where do I go from here? How do I find my niche? It is almost as much an identity crisis as it is a blogging one.

    Perhaps others have advice. How do those of us "average bloggers," those of us "hobby bloggers," who are unable to make blogging a full time job, who aren't experts in some field, or who don't feel they are experiencing something truly unique and intriguing, find our place in the blogging world? How do we keep from sinking into the hum of other voices, talking with nothing to say?

    *Crossposted at Look to the Sky

    Thursday, April 20, 2006

    Mapping the Unmappable

    We have been talking about networks. How do we get our information? How do we transmit it to others? How does knowledge spread? Here is a (rudimentary) example of this:

    This diagram depicts the transmission of information with regard to the paper I just wrote about fairy tales and popular culture. It demonstrates the sources of my information: my professor, folklorists Stone and Mieder, Perrault (who recorded the tales), movies like Maid in Manhattan, The Prince & Me, and The Wedding Planner, and Magazines like BRIDES. It outlines the sources of my professor's information: Perrault, Stone, and Mieder. And, it illustrates the influence that Perrault has had on the magazines and films (with respect to women's perspectives on relationships and marriage, as I assert in my paper).

    Where this model fails, however, is it doesn't accurately demonstrate the nature of the relationships. Are the cooperative? Do they require a passive and active role? To what extent do we trust the relationships and the knowledge? What if the messages from two different sources conflicts?

    Who cares!? If we are truly interested in the dissemination of information, the transmission of knowledge, we have to examine the nature of relationships.

    Megan's map of influences and thought processes (scroll over it to see) in writing her own paper/essay demostrates the chaotic nature of acquiring knowledge. Often we bounce from place to place. We acquire a piece of knowledge, we internalize it, and we place it somewhere in our minds. Based on that placement (or sometimes an inability to place it), the context in which it is framed, where we place it in relation to what else we know, we seek out new information and sources. We may visit and revisit a source an infininte number of times.

    Donna's map
    demonstrates, on a certain level, the nature of relationships. The colors she ascribes to each of the "players" in her map denotes the manner in which she receives her information: personally, via blog, via book, etc.

    But, neither of these (nor my own) illustrates the strength of relationships, or other factors that have a strong influence on the infomation we receive. Which sources do we trust more? Which do we go to more often? Which do we seek and which seek us? Which do we influence? There are so many questions to be raised that are hugely important in shaping the process and our knowledge.

    *crossposed on Look to the Sky

    Blogging Portfolio

    One item to discuss today is the final project for the class, your blogging portfolio. And among the items we need to consider are these:

    • What should it include? (Will it highlight your best blogging, be an overview of what you tend to blog about and/or how you tend to blog, or a combination, or...?)
    • What should it look like? (Will it be a blog entry? Will it be a separate web page?)
    • How will it be assessed?
    Here are guidelines for a blogging portfolio required as part of a literature class taught by Dennis Jerz at Seton Hill. (And see the comment on this blog entry that adds some further elaboration from.) We might use these guidelines as a jumping off point for our own.

    Tuesday, April 18, 2006


    How does information (or anything) circulate socially? The same way disease circulates: by contact with an infected person. And if a lot of people get "infected" with the same content, the same feeling, the same whatever, we have a social epidemic.

    Malcolm Gladwell talks about social epidemics in his book, The Tipping Point, but I haven't read that book. I was "infected" with this information by reading Peter Morville's column on social network analysis. And I "caught" this column from Collin Brooke's syllabus for a class on Networked Rhetorics that he taught at Syracuse last spring. And I wouldn't have known about this class, nor been connected to it (though in a tangetial way) had it not been for Marcia, who participated in it by blog, while living and studying right here in Columbia. And--can you believe it?--Marcia's latest blog entry is about creating "infectious action."

    So if I map that little outbreak of information, it might look something like this:

    And here's free mapping software that you can use to make your own map.

    Sunday, April 16, 2006

    response to Morville's "Social Network Analysis"

    In all fairness, Peter Morville does have a lot of things right. Humans are, by nature, social animals as he recognizes in his article "Social Network Analysis". I also agree SNA tools and metrics can be used to effectively analyze computer networks and information systems. What I don't agree with is his assertion they can be applied at the level of individuals and organizations/industries (by extension).

    Take Morville's diagram pictured above. What he fails to consider are the myriad external factors that characterize human relationships. For example, Claudia holds a powerful position as "boundary spanner" between the two groups...but what if external factors don't allow that sort of fluidity to happen? What if Claudia has a thing for Steven (who is really kind of a dumbass)? He likes Sarah, who also has a connection to Claudia. Claudia's advances are turned down by Steven, and she finds out Sarah is the object of his affection. Now both potential channels are severed. Claudia now has no direct connection to the rest of the people on the left side of Morville's metaphorical office network. The network has obviously not been altered in a positive way because people are not robots! Morville has dramatically oversimplified the concept of the network as it relates to human beings. Sure, you can apply his discussion to computer systems...because they're computers, they don't selectively interact with or ignore other computers on the same network unless specifically programmed to do so.

    At the end of the article, Morville states "these concepts are critical to the creation of truly useful knowledge economies and online communities". He cites AOL's Buddy Lists as one "seed of innovation around us". I find that to be an amusingly terrible example. He seems to forget that on a Buddy List, I can choose to block or ignore certain individuals. Other text-based messaging systems, which he seems so fond of throughout the article, have elevated the simple act of avoiding someone into a fine art. Yahoo has a "stealth" setting, which allows you to view another person's status on the network, but remain hidden to them. Various companies have come up with tools and add-ons to text-based messengers that essentially override stealth settings, so you can out-stealth the people on your buddy list.

    At the end of the day, it seems as if subverting the hierarchial order of a network is more fun than actually being a part of one. Morville ends the article by saying "Humans are social animals. It's about time more of us started recognizing this in the systems we design." But the desire to put a kink in the systems we design is as much a part of human nature as creating networks of socialization. Bigger, better, and faster....the relentless pursuit of an all-encompassing, efficient design means, instead of "there goes the old neighborhood", there goes the old network.

    Thursday, April 13, 2006

    thinking about 4/13 readings

    "The conversation I believe we need to have is about what the Web is showing us about ourselves."

    As the Web has embedded itself into our daily routine, the individual self has been evolving into a dual entity. The physical self, who interacts with the real world, is the metaphorical mother, while the projected self, who interacts solely within the Web, is the fetus. It is still connected to and is fed by our physical self, yet it's undeniably a separate and distinct evolution. We don't have to be a unique person in the physical world, because we can be anyone on the Web...and vice versa.

    At this juncture, it's not a question of which world is more desirable to's a personal choice untainted by societal expectations.Is this proving to be an insurmountable cop-out? If you succeed (whether personally or professionally) in one world, but not in the other, do you still succeed? With the age of cyber-reality comes new definitions, not only of self, but of success.

    But what are we really learning about ourselves? The Web is all too often a place where the darker sides of human nature can flourish. Hackers, identity thieves, child predators, sex addicts...characters considered "unsavory" in the physical world have found a place to call home in cyberspace. In this way, our cyber identities become our id and a new question emerges: how do we keep the id under control without limiting the personal freedoms granted to a democratic society?

    In this context, the Web can be seen as a natural extension of laissez faire rhetoric that has shaped capitalist societies. Cyberspace is a largely unregulated domain...those who use (and abuse) it to accomplish their own agenda will likely benefit, while the weak (the victims of unsavory characters like those mentioned above) are left unprotected by the system.

    This is not to bestow an entirely negative view of the Web on any reader. It has, in some ways, changed our lives for the better. Integrating cultures previously unknown to one another, cyberspace has the potential to transcend prejudice and unite us in ways never before imagined. However, as I once learned from my Spiderman comics, with great power comes great responsibility. Cyberspace is much more powerful medium than anyone ever imagined, (arguably) affecting societies in greater ways than television ever has or will. How ready or willing are we to accept the responsiblity for its consequences?

    Please wait, your brain is loading...

    After our captivating discussion today about microchips in your brain, I have am left with a lingering question: What the hell was half the class talking about? How did an article about a possible new medical procedure turn into attack of the Terminator? I understand that there are some ethical issues that go into these kind of procedures, that it could be tampering with human life, somehow turning it unnatural. But isn't it more wrong to deny ourselves our own greatness? If our natural abilities has led us to the discovery of this technology, shouldn't we take advantage of that? What is wrong would be to let die when life is an option. I see where some of my classmates were coming from, that it is just the first step to a Matrix-like reality. But come on, let's be reasonable here. It's like saying you shouldn't let people get an organ transplant, because that will lead to some real life Dr. Frankenstein taking the transplant procedure to the ultimate extreme, creating an entire new person out of transplanted body parts, kind of a living corpse and an abomination to the essence of life. But that probably won't happen and we all know that transplants are an amazing and wonderful thing. Although I must give the argument some credit, it IS intriguing. I myself have often wondered what is the limit of human potential. People are continuously getting bigger, and stronger, and smarter. We are living longer and technology is becoming an ever greater presence in our lives. Will humans continue to grow until we are all walking the Earth as half-robot Titans? or will we even stay on Earth? Will humans branch out to the farthest reaches of the galaxy? Where is the limit? Oh man, this is getting way too deep. I wish I had some kind of microchip to do this kind of thinking for me.

    Maybe this will provoke some discussion....

    Our conversation about network culture made my head hurt. I still don't know exactly what conclusions I'm supposed to be drawing...I'm tired, I'm hungry, I don't want to work tonight. Life is random, a blog is randomness contained in a little box. Is the Internet a real space? You can't touch it or visit it, other than in your own mind, framed by the parameters that society and you the individual have placed on it. Yet we attempt to carve our own space into a faceless, undefined entity. Blogger, LiveJournal, and myspace....our own isolated corner of nothing. "Information superhighway" could be on the busiest highway in the world, but it doesn't change the fact, at the end of the day, we're still alone in our metaphorical car. This is the paradox of an age of hyper-mediocrity. We can communicate with each other instantaneously, yet the days seem to pass more and more slowly. The ease with which we communicate, and subsequently relate, to each other has rendered those relationships meaningless. Now more than ever, the neon sign ALONE, blinks in the periphery of daily life, made manifest by the marginal importance of those around us. Now more than ever we deliberately isolate ourselves, creating technology to free us from the technology we've already created (the Ipod is the example coming to mind). Am I the only one who sees the network culture as a little absurd?

    Wednesday, April 12, 2006

    New template!

    Don't worry: it really is our class blog! Thanks to Megan, we have a cool new template.

    It's Official

    I now feel like a full fledged member of the blogosphere. I should be getting my badge and certificate next week.

    Click here to view my credentials.

    The other day I posted on the class blog a followup to my presentation, "Vlog: Blogs In the News", which you can read here. That same day I visited one of my regular blogs, Thought Mechanics and noticed that they were now featuring guest columnists. Off to the side on their main site was a link to submit your own post. Seeing as my post on ABC offering shows free over the internet fits with the general tone of their blog, I gathered up my courage and hit send on the submission link.

    Amazingly, enough this morning I had an email in my inbox from the blog's creator, Theorn Parlin, saying he had posted my submission.

    It's weird, I never actually thought that they would put that post up. After all it was just me ranting. But I guess that's a great illustration of how the blogosphere is really a grassroots movement. Heretofore I considered a #7 blog on Technorati out of my reach. Those guys obviously know what they are talking about and I write about a class I'm in and the books I read and my terribly agonizing experience trying to get into graduate school. But this one time I had something to say about the world and it feels good to be taken seriously.

    Of course, this is a great chance that I'm making a much bigger deal out of this than it really is. They probably looked at it, said hey this contains the right amount of skepticism, seems semi-coherent, and doesn't having spelling errors (I think)....Let's post it. But still it means something to me and now I finally get it, this whole blog thing, I just wish I could articulate this feeling better. Everyone should give it a try. Make a new connection. Contribute to something larger than yourself. It's 9:57 am and I feel like I've accomplished a whole lot today.

    [Crossposted at An Ideal... and Chronicle of a Book Retold]

    Tuesday, April 11, 2006

    Network and Grid

    Something I thought that was interesting about Millennium Park is that it used to belong to the Illinois Central Railroad. Railroads fit right into this "grid" idea that Mark C. Taylor discusses in the reading for today.
    If I am grasping his idea correctly, railroads are a great example of grid. They transport a product from point A to point B. They symbolize the Industrial society that Taylor associates with grid. As this industrial era came to an end, the importance of railroad also came to an end. I don't know much about Illinois Central Railroad, but I am assuming it fizzled away like most railroad lines in the United States.
    Here comes the emergence of the network. As concluded in class, the Millennium Park represents network because of the lack of balance, the lack of clean cut edges, etc. I think it is significant that this symbol of network was created in a space that was left vacant with the end of the industrial revolution- the dwindle away of the "grid." If you want to know a bit more about the history of Millennium Park, check here.
    That is what sparked my interest in the reading and class discussion. I hope it has caught onto the point somewhere.

    *Crossposted on -In the Margins-

    From grid to network

    Building off of Donna's previous post (a metaphor in iteself: am I "grid-ing" or networking?), the idea is put forth that blogging (networking) is an extension of traditional literary culture/expression. Links provided in blogs aren't wholely different from what could be termed the link's ancestor: the reference. In scholarly works we reference other authors to support our own point or prove our knowledge and authority. But how do these different forms of expression fit into these spheres of grid-like organization and networking organization?

    The fictional work (or the poorly written scholarly work) seem to reflect the visual organization of some urban campuses as Donna discussed in class. It's grid-like but not complexly so. Like this:

    The buildings are relatively rectangular, uncomplex, stand-alone structures. Fictional work (and again, poorly written scholarly work), like these structures, doesn't often connect to other works; it stands alone.

    Moving into a complex grid organization and closer to networking there are scholarly works (and perhaps a few pieces of fiction: satirical pieces that play off previous works; stories that extend the tale of specific characters from other works). These literary peices resemble the more art deco style discussed in class. It is geometric and relatively stand-alone, but has a more complicated structure. Like this:The structure, unlike the campus structure is more complicated. Likewise, the structure of the scholarly work includes references to other authors, ideas, and studies. The ideas in the work, like the features in the architecture, are supported by other ideas or features and demonstrate a relationship.

    But, blogging takes this one step further. In any paper-published work references have limitations. Most often we read the work, acknowledging the reference, but don't seek the referenced author or work out to find out more information. And, if we do, we don't likely then take that author's references and seek them out.

    With blogging, though, we do. Blogging establishes a network. It lacks the geometry or balance of it's ancestral literarly forms of expression. My site might contain one link to another site, which in turn contains 3 links to other sites . . . all to the point that a blog reader may end up following a blogging trail to a distantly related idea through a series of more closely related links. I might click on a post about the latest sports game, select a link about an athelete, then a link about a recent scandal involving him, then a link about the police report, then a link about rape statistics, then a link about how to protect yourself. All of the sudden I have gone from Saturday's big game to how to be careful when out at night. It's a hypothetical, but you get the idea. I never would have done this with a book. And it happens because with blogging it is so much easier -- a simple click replaces a drive to the library and time spent searching through the stacks of books.

    *Update: Crossposted at Look to the Sky

    Network...we don't need no stinking network

    "A fabric or structure in which cords, threads, or wires cross at regular intervals."

    That's what one entry says about network, but that leads me to think more along the lines of a grid with the "cross at regular intervals" part. So is there any real sense of what a network really is? Basically it sounds like a grid with some exit ramps. The thought of just putting this out there for others and letting them read it should excite the "networker" in me, but in reality it will show up just above the previous post. The title will be printed in just the same style as the rest of my titles. The text the same format as the rest of my text on previous posts. So is there really any difference? Does the grid appeal to the functionalist in all of us and the network serves our wild and crazy sides? I think, in blogging, it is hard to distinguish where the "grid" ends, and where the "network" begins. The look of our blogs are generally pretty "gridish", but the subject matter can be very "networky." And the ability to connect with others and link to things seem to fight for the network, but wouldn't the thought of connecting to something appear geometrically as a straight line that would be very grid-like?

    so who knows...I'm just along for the discussion

    From grid to network; or, metaphors we blog by

    While in Chicago for the CCCC convention last month, I stayed in a hotel that that had been built pre-World War II. I took a picture of a doorknob:

    I find Art Deco design very satisfying: so geometrical. So grid-like. The beauty of precise, bordered form.

    On my last day in Chicago I took a walk down to the new Millenium Park.

    And yet I love this, too, though it is an image not of the grid, but of the network. Yes? How so?

    Is a blog more like Millenium Park than like the doorknob? What forms of writing are like the doorknob?

    Please. Talk among yourselves.

    Monday, April 10, 2006

    Latest Readings, blogging, technology, etc.

    The readings we have done for the last couple of weeks have given me a lot to think about, but they're almost discouraging in a way. From what they've seemed to say, people who don't have the background in computers, technology, and so forth, are in danger of being left behind as the world moves further into the information age. This prognostication is threatening to people like me, who tended to ignore a lot of the possibilities computers and technology could open up for you. If only I'd taken the time to get in on the ground floor of that! A class in blogging seems like a minor recourse at this point, especially given how much I've missed already. The Taylor article from today was a bewildering perspective on the direction civilization has taken and, evidently, will continue to take. What I would like to know is, how big a part will art have in the new culture of tomorrow (or today), and how strong will the relationship between art and real life be in a world that is strictly adherent to this model of reason over desire? Where's the passion and the conflict in the real world if no one plays the part of the pack-donkey and follows the curve anymore? Are such things merely confined to the works of Shakespeare and Milton from now on, to have no more in common with the real world than the architecture of Star Wars has in common with the New York City skyline today? Is pondering questions such as these the very thing that keeps me from noticing when a new age in the history of mankind begins and worlds of new opportunity are suddenly (if fleetingly) athwart me?
    But I digress. If the qualities that kept the old world running are invalid in the twenty-first century and entirely new dimensions of information and technology are needed to keep abreast of the world of tomorrow, I am definitely glad that I took this class, given how little I knew of the subject of it beforehand, that I could be duly issued a "heads up."

    Follow Up to My Blogs In the News Presentation...

    This is a follow up to my presentation on the Vlog, which I gave in class a few weeks ago.

    I heard this morning on NPR that Disney is going to offer it's ABC shows free to viewers online the day after the shows air. Reports so far indicate this will be a 2 month free trial, so we can guess where this phenomenon is going after that. The downside to catching Lost on Thursday mornings is that you will not have the ability to fast forward through commercials. You can buy these episodes of ABC and other network shows already through iTunes at approximately $1.99 a show and those do not have commercials in them, although they can only be played through the iTunes player or Quicktime (another Apple program).

    This story has really grown throughout the day. As I've been working on this post, I've noticed that the coverage on it has been really expanded. NPR discussed the matter again on their evening "All Things Considered". During that piece they were considering the effect this move was going to have on ABC's network affiliates. Apparently, when shows first began being sold on iTunes there was a lot of concern that local stations were going to bear the brunt of the shift, because people would no longer tune in during the regularly scheduled time, choosing instead to watch commercial free for a small price that would go directly to the parent network. The opposite, however, proved to be true. Network affiliates actually saw rises in viewership, which experts have attributed to more people viewing the shows and then becoming involved to the point of becoming regular watchers. While I must admit I, too, am surprised by that result, it does seem to make sense. I know from my own experience that watching season 1 of a show after it was released on DVD has gotten me interested enough to watch season 2 and so forth (this is especially true for me when it comes to premium channel shows like Sex and the City and Weeds). There is speculation that the same thing will happen once ABC begins these new streams, but there is an equal measure of anxiety. So what does this all mean?

    It means that television is changing and it may not be for the better. While watching traditional network television or even cable is a pretty standardized process (shows interrupted by increasingly more commercials), the internet provides a lot more possibility...a lot more possibility for viewers to get swindled. Like the old addage states, "With great power comes great responsibility" and the internet represents a lot more power for networks and advertisers alike. The whole thing, like a lot of technology, is moving far too quickly for experts to keep up, meaning that no one is really sure what is going to happen. It's like a new drug getting pushed quickly through the FDA approval process, the problems are only discovered once people begin taking it on a wide scale. While I personally like to have flexibility in my viewing schedule (I record shows and have also downloaded from iTunes) I am also wary of being taken advantage of. I have to ask myself if I'd rather pay for the pleasure of the shows I enjoy with my time (by watching advertisements) or with my money (by paying for my own personalized broadcasts).

    Update: I can't believe it but one of my favorite blogs to read Thought Mechanics (#7 on Technorati's Top 100 Blogs) actually used this post and has listed me as a guest columnist on their site. I submitted it on a whim, thinking it was along the lines of their political/social watchdog theme and they apparently agreed.

    Thursday, April 06, 2006

    Umm, yyyeah . . .

    In class today we talked about the use of corporate blogs for both external and internal communicaiton. Hannel led a discussion about how companies are increasingly using blogs as a method of of communicating with consumers and other publics. But, isn't a blog in this sense a glorified virtual press room, nothing more than a "looky, looky what we've done!"? Who would read it? Probably only those who visity the news/media section of the website. Not that the news is always incredibly reliable, "fair," and "balanced," but at least news stations filter out most of the absolute crap. If I read company websites I've got to expend the my own valuable time to filter the "Target Corp to Webcast 4th Quarter and Year-End Earnings Conference Call" (crap) from "Cancer Vaccine Discovered" (holy crap!). Not interested.

    Then we discussed company's use of blogging for internal communications. Arnold Kling says,

    "If I were an executive in a large organization, I would encourage the organization to experiment with using blogs instead of other forms of communication. My guess is that blog filtering could enhance productivity by improving the relevance for workers of the information that they have to process."

    Granted e-mail can be annoying, especially when your inbox is innundated with e-mails of no use to you. And, admittedly newsletters are often a lot of fluff. But, blogging increasing productivity? How do you figure? In even a 40 person company a person could likely spend 20 minutes just checking blogs to find any new news. And, if a person checks the blogs 3 times a day (which is hardly more timely of efficient than the instantaneous communication speed of e-mail) the person could have wasted a full hour just checking blogs. And, what are the odds that the majority are even of any relevance to the reader?

    Bob Slydell: You see, what we're trying to do is get a feeling for how people spend their time at work so if you would, would you walk us through a typical day, for you?
    Peter Gibbons: Yeah.
    Bob Slydell: Great.
    Peter Gibbons: Well, I generally come in at least fifteen minutes late, ah, I use the side door - that way Lumbergh can't see me, heh[. I check about 52 different Initech blogs. Most of them don't really apply to me. There's about six of them that usually include the same memo, which I could generally just get from Lumberg's Did You Get That Memo blog. But, I've got to check them all, ya know, just in case.]- after that I sorta space out for an hour.
    Bob Porter: Da-uh? Space out?
    Peter Gibbons: Yeah, I just stare at my desk, but it looks like I'm working. I do that for probably another hour after lunch too, [Then I check the blogs again. Just to see if something has changed since morning. usually by that point I've missed a memo or two] I'd say in a given week I probably only do about fifteen minutes of real, actual, work.
    (Office Space)

    How's that for company productivity?

    *Crossposted at Look to the Sky

    Tuesday, April 04, 2006

    Secrets from the conference

    OK, not really secrets. But perhaps I got your attention?

    I have a number of links on the schedule (link in the sidebar)to notes on blogging from the conference I attended the week before Spring Break. I would especially like to draw your attention to Clancy Ratliffe's presentation notes, because she asks some interesting questions and also because she offers a great graphic illustration of one of the topic's we'll be considering in some detail in the next couple of weeks: networks.

    She also asks these questions, which will make more sense if you take a look at the presentation itself:

    * Couldn't this same discussion have taken place on a listserv?
    * How could P2P review be implemented in scholarly journals?
    * Can P2P review be used in a deliberate and systematic way in the classroom? If so, how?

    I'm especially in the first question: what makes blogs (or are blogs) different from a listserv or discussion board? What's gained/lost/changed across these different applications?

    But because much of the talk was about how to use blogs in classrooms, I'm also interested in your own experience (outside of this class) in blogging as a class requirement. Could this notion of "peer to peer review" be implemented in, say, a journalism class? An upper-level literature class? Etc.