It is amazing how much mirroring is going on. One thing I was thinking about this morning was the sheer “information overload” of the things I was involved in this week. Because my interest in blogging is a bit peripheral to my core interests, I did not attend every session on blogs or wikis at C’s. However, in the SIG on Friday I was able to talk to people who did attend or present in these other sessions. One common feature was the problem of audience. In composition, only a small minority really uses blogs either personally or in the classroom. So discussions are rapidly skewed with questions like: “What is a blog?” “How are blogs different from discussion forums?” etc.
So, when the same situation appeared at the SIG, Barclay made a very bold gesture: he split the room in half. Half of the panel clustered with the newbies. The other half of the room got together to discuss future proposals that we might make to the conference. It was the most energizing part of the conference for me. I nearly exploded with ideas when I found myself talking to experienced people, most of whom I had not met before, about central issues in blogging/electronic discourse. We exchanged e-mail addresses, and Charlie from Kairosnews set up a listserv. Email me if you’re a compositionist who missed this session (or the C’s conference) and want in. I’ll give you the details.
We debated whether to set up a blog or a listserv, and I argued staunchly for the listserv. The reason is one of signal to noise—mostly, the listserv is for arranging panels for next years conference with participants from geographically separated institutions, not for general blog discussion. It’s the “gated-community” aspect of listservs that helps keep conversations focused. Blogging always has an indeterminate audience, and this makes things wander. Often, that’s a good thing. Other times, it is not.
Today, reading Lilia, I found a mirroring of some conversations we had at the conference. She quoted a reviewer’s comments on her paper:
I am missing the fact of information overloading and what weblogs can do against this.
Maybe it is possible to insert a pro/cons of discussion boards versus weblogs, cause the discussion board technology is very spread in companies.
The same issues came up at our conference. Scott talked about using bloglines to track student blogs (cutting down on the overload which any teacher who uses blogs as experienced). Matt Barton suggested that forums are entirely adequate for the sort of things we’ve been doing with our classroom blogs; he prefers the wiki approach. My main complaint is the extra effort required to track them. For example, since Matt doesn’t have a conventional blog, it will be much more difficult to keep up with his work—wikis are far more labor-intensive in terms of keeping up with the latest information for grazing.
Ton’s comment to Lilia’s post linked to his explication of a different way of looking at the problem of information overload. However, when it comes to composition teachers, this would be a tough sell. I agree with most of Ton’s points, though tools make it easier to “harvest” more directly pertinent information. I think this is the area where blogs excel, and wikis fall short.
I love this stuff so much, and it is terrible that I really must let most of it go because of my other work. I hope to return to it soon though!