Let me ramble a bit here and then there's something really good at the end (at least I think so).
A really great comment came in during the holidays relative to the post: eLearning Technology: Move from Discussion Groups to World of Blogs? Craig said something that has troubled me for a while:
Blogs are not that great as a platform for discussion.I partly agree with him in that I've felt for a long time that the Blogosphere is a loose conversation and lacks the single location effect that you find in discussion groups. Craig highlights this with an example:
Case in point: If I have a tech question and I post it on my blog, my chances of getting a response are fairly low. If I post it on a blog where they talk about the tech I am interested in, my chances are higher. However, if I post to a tech forum, I am almost guaranteed to get a good discussion going.And, I would tend to agree. However, if I have an eLearning Question, I think I'm much more likely to get answers to it by posting in my blog right now than posting a question in a forum. Especially a question around something like eLearning 1.0 vs. 2.0 - Help Needed (and I got lots of great help). On the other hand, if I want to find out something more specific around ROI, I would definitely post on the ROI group. They may change the question entirely and answer something else, but I would be more likely to get a response.
Craig then comments:
I also think that the relatively low numbers of individuals in elearning who participate in blogs and discussion groups may be in part to the fact that:
a) They are so busy developing / launching their elearning programs they just don't have the time to participate outside of the job.
b) The number of individuals in the elearning industry embracing the newer technology is still very small.
c) The elearning industry as a whole is very competitive and they haven't warmed up to the idea of transparency like Scoble evangelizes. Sharing best practices may be frowned upon from a competitive / corporate standpoint.
Just sharing my thought. Am I completely off the mark? Would love to get a discussion going ;)
What's interesting about this is that its a case-in-point of what is wrong in the world of blogs. Craig may not have his own blog and if he did, likely he doesn't draw a large crowd (who in eLearning does?). How can Craig ask this question in the world of blogs and get a response? Also, there are all sorts of posts and prior conversation around this that relate, but how could this question and those poeple be included in the conversation?
Instead, what will happen is that because Craig asked his question on an older post (its at least a few days old now - gasp - so old), it will be buried only to be seen by the Blogger who may put in a response, but no one else will come in to discuss it. The only way it will surface is if the blogger (me in this case) highlights the post by creating a new post (oh I just did that, eh). If not, Craig will get a response from me only - so he won't get his questions answered - which proves the point - not a great discussion vehicle.
So, finally, to the good part. I've been a casual CoComment user for quite a while and have used it to track my own conversations, i.e., to see responses to comments that I make on other web sites. However, Dave Lee did an interesting thing with the LCB that uses CoComments to collect comments around the Monthly Big Questions so that we can keep track of it. That inspired me.
Starting today, I'm going to start to track lots of interesting conversations as I see them occur using CoComment (where CoComment works) so that a question like Craig's will at least surface to those who are tracking these conversations. In other words, as I find interesting conversations (IMHO) going on around eLearning topics that I'm interested in, I'll track the conversation. That way you can see a little bit of the conversation in the right column of my blog or you can visit my CoComment page. Better yet you can subscribe to the RSS Feed which should link you back to the blog and so you don't have to visit my CoComment page.
This is partly in response to comments in eLearning Technology: How Do People Interact with Blogs? where several people said that they visit the blog in order to see the comments. That makes sense, but it's not all that efficient. I hope this turns out to be useful.
A couple caveats - CoComment is not the cleaness or prettiest feed out there. It also doesn't really do a very good job of "threading" the discussions - you'll need to jump around to follow the discussion as it rambles through the blogosphere. Further, its not always easy to know where good conversations are happening, although normally people will post about them. So, it is what it is. Finally, this is still a mess. If someone else finds interesting conversations and links them via CoComment - how do you filter the overlap? But, its the best I can figure out for now.
Now a couple of questions (an assignment):
1. Is Craig right? Are blogs a bad vehicle for discussion? For asking questions?
2. Is Craig going to get his questions answered? Do you have any answers for Craig?
3. Any thoughts on better ways to surface the conversations that we all know are going on but that are happening in such as scattered way?