Why We Blog, Part 4 of 4: Personal Obligation

Posted in The Gnovis Blog

Telenovelas, first dates, and fertile ground — everyone has their own relationship with this defined, yet far from settled, medium. Justin Hall (new window), often considered the first blogger, probably had no clue what he was on to when he first started coding his diary into HTML. The personal journal remains one of the most popular forms of individual blogging (new window), but political, technical, l and news aggregate blogs have entirely reshaped the boundaries and potentials of self-publishing.

So what then is an academic blog? And what does it mean to be an "academic blogger"? Definitions are problematic. When I look through my blog subscriptions in Google Reader for some model to follow, the topics and purposes are as divergent as the titles.

So how about blogs in general? I have always been fond of Robert Scoble’s (new window) assertion that "blogging is a conversation." In his book entitled Naked Conversations, he describes the exposed honesty of blogging, but also the dedication to the communities of knowledge in which these blogs participate. Blogs allow anyone to participate in a conversation about the topics that are important to them. As Trish said in her post, this is about "bringing everyone to the table in order to create the best solutions."

No where is this more important than in education. Dr. Wesch’s recent post on textbooks (new window) provides an example of the inevitability of change in education, but not necessarily in the way we might hope. Faced with the high costs of textbooks, it seems many K-12 public schools are restricting the use of textbooks to the classroom. His commenters are quick to judge the academy’s relationship with books ("information behind a pay wall", one of his commenters writes), as well as the current "wastfull[ness of] our teaching meathods [sic]". There is, of course, another side to this equation. There is no lack of information out there, and one might argue that limiting face time with academic content will simply result in increased attention with something else.

So why do I blog? Honestly, the blog is just an artifact of my commitment to the various communities with which I participate. As for gnovis, I blog with the hope that the open dissemination of knowledge will add pliability to the nature of academia and education, much in the same way blogs are currently restructuring traditional news media. I strongly believe that the Ivory Tower has an obligation to the global community that makes its very existence possible. Blogging is just one way in which to assist the collaboration and dissemination of knowledge. In this information age, there is no reason that information should be scare or that every voice should not be heard.