Monday, January 16, 2006

Technology and audience

So, tomorrow, I'm planning on dealing primarily with the technical aspects of blogging. Since my own audience is firstly, a committee of English professors who don't know much about blogging and secondly, other professors whom I want to convince to try blogging, it makes sense to explain how it works. Plus it's the easiest chapter for me to write. :)

There will be an introduction before this chapter that will, of course, lay out my key points, including the importance of audience in the first place. Since I think most professors, and my committee especially, will buy into that and wait for further explanation later, I can forgo that discussion for later in the dissertation. It will be coming right after the technical chapter anyway.

There are several key topics I want to discuss:
  • history of blogging, especially its relationship to discussion forums, email lists, etc. since many comp teachers have used those forms before. I'm not sure how much I want to bring in here that is specific to comp pedagogy. We'll see how it plays out.
  • how linking works and all the tools available to create links in the network--comments, trackback, rss feeds, technorati, blogpulse, blogrolls, tagging, site stats and more
  • communities and conversations--a bit about power laws, perhaps--related to above, of course
  • I've also been looking at a few things that are a bit more technical. I haven't read these things thoroughly, so I'm not sure how they'd fit, but they look really interesting. Anything with a term like "bursty" in it has potential. I'm planning to read those today or tomorrow, so I'll see how it fits
My goal in this chapter is to give a good foundation for the technicalities of blogging so that teachers can figure out the best way to take advantage of that technology for 1) creating an audience for class blogs and 2) finding good information and ways of linking into that information in productive ways. My metaphor here might be the way academic publishing works. Most people know the connections between different journals and editors and when they see a specific article and its footnotes, they often recognize the network of scholars the author connects with. Of course, some of the first studies of social networks were done on physics journal citations, so the metaphor holds pretty well.

I don't want to scare people off, but I want to show that most of this stuff isn't rocket science and a good understanding of it really is useful. I hope I can write about this stuff in an engaging way that doesn't sound too dry and technical. So we'll see how that goes.

Let the writing begin!!

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