THL Toolbox > Community & Communication > Blogging
Contributor(s): THL Staff.
“Blog” is short for “web-log.” Blogs have recently enjoyed explosive growth on the Web due to the emergence of new software programs that allow participants to easily post Web pages (or “blogs”) without the slightest technical knowledge or resources. Their popularity can be summed up in terms of their capacity for complete personalization, easy self-publication and the reception of reader input. Firstly, personalization: blogs can be about anything and in any format. The whole point of blogs is that you don’t have to be constrained by someone else’s expectations and constraints, but rather can speak out as you like in the way you like. Secondly, self-publication: blog technology allows for easy posting of Web sites that can then reach a huge, and unknown audience through the power of the Web. Suddenly anyone can post their materials and potentially reach huge numbers of people. Thirdly, reader reception: blog technology also enables readers to just as easily post responses and comments to your blogs, so that dialogs and heterologs can evolve, even as you remain in control of your space. See Wired magazine for a short article about the blogging phenomenon, or New York Times article about blogging among teens.
So what does this have to do with academics and classes? We believe it is potentially of great value because it provides students an informal space that they control to record their ongoing thoughts, interpretations and observations of any type about the course without the formal constraints of an analytical paper. In addition, unlike discussion forums, one student’s thoughts are collected together for easy reference, thereby enabling a semester long inquiry to be recorded in personalized form as a complement to more formal written products.
So what do you write? Whatever you want to – that’s the point. Its your space to create and maintain. It can be informal, it can reflect on the course structure of a course underway, last night’s class, readings, what you just created, fieldwork, political events, and so forth.
The following provides tips and guidelines for creating and using blogs in an educational setting.
In an educational environment, this feature can be used in classes to set up commentarial groups where smaller groups of students are “friends” within Live Journal, such that their respective blogs will appear on each other’s sites. Within these groups, they could be expected to read and comment on each other’s blogs. This facilitates the development of smaller commentarial communities within the class. Or the entire class could be declared as friends. It does not keep track of comments that may have been posted on someone’s blogs, so its not a replacement for reading someone’s blogs in their own space. In addition, reading someone’s blogs in their own space allows you to see the logic of their own blogs. However this can be useful for quickly updating yourself on recent blogs by people you are interested in or associated with such as in a class.
We have experimented with LiveJournal and have written some documentation for its use in 2004 (such that the documentation is surely out of date. See the LiveJournal Blogging Documentation.
For a list of blogs related to Tibet and the Himalayas, please see THL Bibliographies > Blogs.
Provided for unrestricted use by the Tibetan and Himalayan Library