Updated: 03/12/2007; 23:39:51.


on personal productivity in knowledge-intensive environments, weblog research, knowledge management, PhD, serendipity and lack of work-life balance...
If you search for mathemagenic that has nothing to do with weblogs try this

Earlier | Home | Later

  14 November 2007

  'Beyond blogging' lessons learnt

Things that I've learnt from blogging that are relevant for 'beyond blogging' contexts and cases. I'm looking mainly at an intersection between blogging and work, since this is where my research and personal blogging experiences are.

[I did a "KM-flavored" version of this in my presentation yesterday, but I guess it's relatively easy to draw organisational implications for most of the points.]

Personal passions have a (legitimate) place at work. Personal stories and personal voice turn into trusted relations. Passion drives expertise. People are more likely to believe another human being than an organisation or a computer. Showing emotions, telling personal stories, being passionate could be scary (especially in a hierarchical environments with power plays), but it is becoming an essential part of work.

Transparency is here to stay. Weblogs provide a visible, often public, trace of one expertise, actions and mistakes. There is no way to escape the past, one is always accountable. It's not easy to write knowing that it is stays 'out there' forever, that it will be searched, aggregated, transformed and then linked back to you. We have to learn to let go the fear of making mistakes in public and learn how to make mistakes gracefully.

Microactions aggregate. Blogging is about microcontent - publishing small pieces of thought and commentary, anchored with permalinks and carried away by feeds. However, the real value is not at the post level - ecosystems between blog posts are more interesting and more important. Think of the fuzzy feeling of knowing someone from reading a weblog over time, implicit understanding of a new issue that emerges while following a conversation between bloggers or sense of belonging to a network of others - in all cases posts and links are only a tip of the iceberg. Counting and measuring those visible traces is tempting, but knowledge, reputation, relations are likely to escape rankings.

You never know where new connections emerge, but you can create right conditions. And then be prepared to discover your own 'connectivity limits' :)

Information overload exists. There are millions of blog posts out there - some of them are relevant and reliable, but most extraneous, incomplete and not interesting anyway - so how do we find those to read, to trust, to connect? Information overload exists, but mainly inside our heads. The world have changed from information scarcity to information abundance, but our habits and information strategies still have to adjust to it.

Everyday routines matter. Unless you don't have anything else to do, blogging survives only if integrated into everyday world. Starting blogging is easy, staying blogging needs much more - embedding into one's own information routines, work processes and (inter)personal practices, as well as transforming blogging routines when life takes another turn (like becoming a parent ;).

Authority becomes fluid. Formal hierarchies are still there, but blogging provides alternative routes. However, new blogging authorities are only as good as posts on their homepages, networks constantly evolve and anyway the share of attention one gets is more and more mediated by search engines (that might drop your valuable archives from their index :)

At the end it's up to you. Making judgments, taking risks, taking responsibility. Crossing boundaries. Having fun.

  Getting more by reading less blogs: some thoughts on 'Cost-Effective Outbreak Detection in Networks'

Matthew Hurst on the most important blogs for efficient readers:

A group of researchers at CMU have been considering a notion of blog importance based on how likely a set of blogs is to ensure that you will be informed of topics bursting in the blogosphere. By analogy, they consider a graph of water pipelines. Their paper - Cost-Effective Outbreak Detection in Networks Leskovec, Krause, Guestrin, Faloutsos, VanBriesen, Glance - poses the problem:

Given a water distribution network, where should we place sensors to quickly detect contaminants? Or, which blogs should we read to avoid missing important stories? These seemingly different problems share common structure: Outbreak detection can be modeled as selecting nodes (sensor locations, blogs) in a network, in order to detect the spreading of a virus or information as quickly as possible.

As a result of this work, the authors have published some blog lists which answer a fundamentally important question in terms of weblog reading habits: Which weblogs should I read to be most up to date? The lists answering this question - generated by the approach described in their paper - come in a number of varieties to be found on the project's page.

I scanned (skipped most of the math :) through the extended version of the paper and this is something I would love to see applied to niche blogging networks. For example, starting from a subset of weblogs that metion topic X or, better, those that participate in a discussion (cascade) that mentiones topic X.

A few points relevant from the practical perspective - having a tool that helps a blogreader to make a selection of blogs to read (my expectations in that respect are pretty high given that Natalie Glance is working for Google now :)

1. "Costs" of reading. The authors played with optimising the number of blogs and number of posts one reads. Assuming that reading less blog posts is more cost-effective, the algorithm shows that "the popular blogs might not be the most effective way to catch relevant information cascades" (p.23). Instead, it makes more sense to read "good summarizer blogs that may not be very popular, but which, by using few posts, catch most of the important stories propagating over the blogosphere" (p.15).

2. Predicting the future. From a reader perspective one would like to have a recommendation of blogs that will cover most interesting stories in the future. From what I understood the algorithm does not work that well for making those predictions. The authors optimised the performance by including only big blogs (= at least one post per day), but I wonder if there are some other alternatives.

Anyway, I guess I should go back to my PhD writing and wait patiently till people who read the paper without skipping the math do something with it. So far I'm happy that the paper promises lots of interesting developments and that it also makes me feeling less quilty with our alternative approach to vaccination by suggesting that "uniform ummunization strategy corresponds to randomly placing sensors in a water network" (p.22), which in not optimal :)))

Earlier | Home | Later

© Copyright 2002-2007 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.

November 2007
Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
        1 2 3
4 5 6 7 8 9 10
11 12 13 14 15 16 17
18 19 20 21 22 23 24
25 26 27 28 29 30  
Oct   Dec

Edublog award 2004 as Best Research Based Blog. Click for more details...

Click to see the XML version of this web page. Click here to send an email to the editor of this weblog. Please, make sure that I recognise your name or you have a nice autorisation message - I tend to decline calls from people I don't know ;)

Locations of visitors to this page Technorati Profile