Updated: 6/27/2005; 9:37:47 PM.


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  Sunday, January 18, 2004

  Learning webs: introducing weblogs to support communities

Good news: Learning webs paper is accepted for Web-based communities 2004. The evaluations are very positive, but there are things suggested for an improvement:

Even though the authors' account and discussion of blogs as stand alone tools is satisfactory, I find that an explicit discussion of how blogs can be used to support CoP is missing in the manuscript. Thus, I would suggest that the authors write a paragraph discussing the following two points:

(a) how in their view blogs can be used in more systematic ways by educators and web designers to support spontaneously formed CoP which are somewhat losely coupled as the authors rightly note

(b) how they think that blogs can be integrated into current environments supporting the formation of CoP either in their existing format or in possibly new ones (such as e.g. a formal learning log or learning journal)

I wonder how far we will address these issues in the paper given that we are already over the page limit :)

My "quick and dirty" strategy for introducing weblogs to support communities in more or less formal settings:

  • provide weblog technology infrastructure with "social" features enabled by default: RSS, comments, trackbacks, e-mail subscriptions, personal RSS readers and community aggregators (ideally with topic-based aggregation like k-collector)
  • find a group of early adopters (ideally boundary spanners that send around e-mails with ideas and links :) and help them to start with writing and reading weblogs
  • make starting a weblog easy and have someone to encourage newcomers and connect them with existing weblogs (e.g. by annoucing their weblogs or by commenting on their posts)

I assume that the rest will follow (please, note that I know that starting to write a weblog is not easy, but this is not a "community" question :)

Integration with an existing community infrastructure is another issue. I'm trying to formulate my suggestions for adding "weblog flavour" to the Knowledge Board, so will use it as an example for an upcoming post.

  Share your OPML! and hidden weblog readers

If you don't know about Share your OPML! yet, go and check it.

The purpose of this site is to gather a community of subscription lists, in OPML format, and aggregate them in interesting ways.

Next to adding your own subscription list you can check check Top 100 RSS feedsPictures from the Top 100 and Subscription lists for authors of the Top 100

I always find personal views more interesting than aggregations, so my favourites are:

Although the last one shows only subscribers who shared their subscription lists it adds a lot of value providing more insight about our audiences.

In most of the cases weblog RSS readers are not as visible as weblog page readers: usual counters show only web-page visitors, not everyone can access server-based statistics to see RSS traffic and even having this access it's not easy to estimate numbers of RSS subscribers. Similar problem exist in on-line communities: web-pages traffic is easy to count, but nobody knows how many people lurk via e-mail subscriptions.

So, even being far from perfect Who Subscribes? uncovers the hidden part of weblog reading iceberg. For me the best thing of it is discovering names of people I never knew were reading my weblog. 

See also: RSS vs. browser for weblog reading and more on blog reading

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© Copyright 2002-2005 Lilia Efimova.

This weblog is my learning diary. Sometimes I write about things related to my work, but the views expressed here are personal and do not necessarily reflect the views of my employer.

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