Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Local Dialogue on Blogging

A group of Canberra-based academics and PhD candidates working in higher education at the ANU, the ACU and UC meet on a monthly basis to discuss/critique a stimulating/provocative journal article. Pam and I established the HERO (Higher Education Reading Opportunities) group last year, and around ten of us have continued to meet on a monthly basis over an early morning coffee/breakfast (8.30am emerged as the most convenient time). At a recent meeting, caution was cast to the wind as I endeavoured to facilitate a discussion on blogging. Members had been requested previously to access a selection of blogs, including the debate on the Weblogs in Higher Education site (Cronin's view of blogs as "digital exhibitionism" verus Smith's view of blogs as "workplaces, places of exchange and risk").

The conversation was lively, although much of it centred around the distinction between information and knowledge. Some questioned the value of simply recording ideas, thoughts and reflections in a public domain and the limits of online interaction, while others pointed to the strengths of blogging in terms of networking, collaboration and co-production. A number of issues were raised including disciplinary and and trans-disciplinary developments in the blogosphere. Publishing was also discussed, in terms of changes and implications for conventional academic publishing vis-vis on-line journals and related ICTs. Members' experience with blogging ranged from the uninitiated to those with high levels of technical expertise. As a result, some of the discussion focussed on the capacity to use RSS feeds to harness particular areas/issues/people of interest. The issue of censorship also emerged, especially with regard to flaming, unethical behaviour, spam etc. There appeared to be widespread support for Streight's 'blog core values' (see comment by Chris following my previous post).

I am interested in the experiences of other PhD candidates with regard to reading groups, writing co-ops, electonic networks etc. What do people find most useful and why?