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Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Blogs vs. Discussion Groups or Mis-Understanding Blog Reading and Blog Communities

On a new discussion group, eLearningAll, formed by disgruntled ex-Brandon Hall discussion group members, there's been an interesting discussion related to The Big Question on LCB. What's been most enlightening for me is the "bad rap" that blogging gets from people who've probably only visited a few blogs and have been inundated with a general media bias against blogging.

Below I've listed a few of the more interesting reasons that people don't like blogs:
  • "you have to go there to 'pull' out information"

    Most people participating in blog reading and especially those participating in the blog community do so using an RSS Reader such as Bloglines. They subscribe to the blogs (and other sources) that interest them. Then you just run through the content much like you do threaded discussions. The only time I am "going there" in the world of blogs is when I want to read related links or make a comment.
  • "A Blog often covers a wide range of topics. Some of it doesn't interest me."

    Yep, but again, with an RSS reader, there is little to no investment of time to ignore bad stuff. Further, people who produce bad stuff you never subscribe to or you unsubscribe. The same problem of topics that you aren't interested in happens in discussion groups.
  • "felt so ... old white guys club"

    Hmmm - I'm only 41 so "old" depends on perspective. But, in defense of bloggers everywhere take a look at two of my favorites: Creating Passionate Users by Kathy Sierra and Full Circle Online Interaction Blog by Nancy White. Now, before I get into trouble here - I would NOT say that I personally see much of a "female perspective" from Kathy or Nancy - they just say lots of really smart things and they aren't male. I'll leave it to Kathy and Nancy to defend their age status. Both are quite young at heart and both may actually qualify as not "old" ... whoops, what was I saying about not getting into trouble. Sorry.
  • "many of these blogs are one-way discussion mechanisms"

    Really? Most bloggers will tell you that they want comments. They would like people to respond.
  • "Success for blogs seems more based on ability to establish readership -a cult of personality. Why is it that the words "me" and "I" are so prevalent in blogs?"

    What a loaded statement. One of the things I least like about discussion groups is that you'll get those kinds of loaded terms being used - "cult" - cmon. And while all of us like to have people read our blog - better yet comment or post their thoughts on the topic - most of us will neverhave much in the way of readers. And bloggers who start out to only build readership will generally stop pretty quickly.

    On "I" ... Blogs are mostly written in first person because they are an opportunity to share your experience and your thoughts on the subject. Is that a bad thing? I'm not so sure. Part of the reason that I like blogs is because I get awide variety of perspectives and most people are clear that it's their perspective or their experience. See eLearning Technology: Perspective in Blogs (or how Guy Kawasaki almost ruined my blogging experience and especially look at the coments. Oh, and notice who the first person to comment was - "Guy" - that's pretty cool itself and suggests something about the world of blogs.

All I'm saying is sign up for an RSS Reader and give blogs a chance.


pinto said...

Hi Tony, I believe there is a typo on your graphic link.

Nancy White said...

Haha. I'm white. I'm 48. But I'm defintely female. I do think I bring all of that to my writing -- and a lot more. My views as a woman show up strongly at times (like my rants about the white male dominance at many tech related events) and at other times are much less apparent.

Because of the field I'm in, I read a lot of blogs by people outside the USA and by people different than I am. Thats one reason I LOVE blogs. They give me a larger view of the world beyond my own predictabilities and biases.

That said, I'm white and I'm not young and hip!! LOL

Tony Karrer said...

pinto - thanks for the catch.

nancy - funny, I think of you as much younger because of your energy level.