blogging about blogging



blogging as participation

Lankshear, C. & Knobel, M. (2006). Blogging as participation: The active sociality of a new literacy. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association, San Francisco.

The authors define literacies as “‘new’ to the extent that they are constituted by what we call ‘new technical stuff’ and ‘new ethos stuff” (p.1).

The new technical stuff is what Cope and Kalantzis talked about in the interview I posted prior to this one. This paper focuses more on the new ethos stuff. On page 1, they include a table that compares aspects of a new mindset “that differs profoundly from that of the modern period.” Some highlights that I think might be most relevant to our work include:

  • Value is a function of dipsersion (instead of scarcity)
  • Products are enabling services (instead of material artefacts)
  • Tools for mediating and relating (instead of for producing)
  • Focus on collective intelligence (instead of individual)
  • Expertise and authority are distributed and collective (instead of located in individuals and institutions)
  • Space as open, continuous and fluid (space as enclosed and purpose specific)

The authors also associate this new ethos stuff with the “deeply participatory” nature of what is considered web 2.0 (including examples such as Flickr, Wikipedia, blogging, wikis, and Google).

One interesting construct used by the authors to describe blogs was as “an early form of insider generosity.” Bloggers sharing that they find to be valuable. They further describe blogs this way:

“Most – although not all – weblogs are now hybrids of journal entries and annotationsn or indicies of links, or some mix of reflections, musings, anecdotes and the like with embedded hyperlinks to related websites” (p.3).

The authors described these different ways participation on the blog can vary. They may serve as part of an analytical lens for how we look at different classroom blogs.

  • more or less established purposes and rationales
  • scale or visibility of the project
  • one’s level and degree of activity
  • kind of activity
  • to whom the participation is being directed

Included is a quote from a blogger who describes the fact that many blogs don’t have much of an audience (which is also supported by Nardi’s research) and states therefore that “audience size can’t be the only metric for success.”

“Metric of success” for classroom blogs seems like an interesting construct. The remainder of this embedded quote by Shirky seems to have strong implications for classroom blogs:

“Publishing an essay and having 3 random people read it is a recipe for dissappointment, but publishing an account of your Saturday night and having your 3 closest friends read it feels like a conversation,” (shirky.com/writings/powerlaw_weblog.html)

Possible ways to participate in blogging that the authors highlight include comments, links and syndication (being regularly updated on changes on a predefined set of blogs).

FInally, the authors pose a number “questions that might be worth asking” (p.12). These questions also might inform our analytical lens when we look at classroom blogs. Some examples…

  • Does the blog go through ‘identity’ changes and, if so do these changes seem to be associated with changes in participated?
  • What mimght be said about the blog founder as participant? For example to what extent and in what ways does teh teacher at the beginning of the semester or school year resemble the teacher at the end?
  • Which students seem to get noticed or otherwise seem to bear significant power? Which do not? How do these power relations among participants (in our case, students) relate to in-person dynamics?
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