Blogging and the Academe
Knowledge@Wharton has an interesting article about how people in the academe view blogs and blogging. Some professors appreciate the value of blogs, citing in particular the community aspect of blogs, the intimacy shared between author and reader, and the immediacy of information sharing. However, some are concerned that the blogosphere is flooded with unverified information and that the signal-to-noise ratio is quite low (meaning there is more nonsense than useful information in the blogosphere).
Here’s a gist of the pros and cons of blogging, as seen by the academic community as represented by Wharton.
- Quick publishing. Blogs let the authors publish without much ado. There’s no need for filtering, editing nor censorship.
- Feedback mechanism. Blogs let readers instantly provide feedback, hence fostering a transparent exchange of information and discussion.
- Experts exchange. One can get a lot of useful information from experts and knowledgeable people who blog.
- Wisdom of the crowds. Discussions on the blogosphere can serve as a snapshot of what the world is talking about.
- Lack of credibility. Most bloggers don’t verify sources of information, and if there are sources, these might not exactly be credible.
- More noise than signal. There is a lot more nonsense in the blogosphere compared to the information that’s actually useful.
While most were concerned about the tendency for the blogosphere to be flooded with unverified information and postings that might not be relevant to a general audience, most agree that blogs are a good source of personal opinion, especially where it matters most, such as consumer reviews and the like. Also, there is synergy in the blogosphere–the aggregate is better than the individuals combined.
Don Huesman, senior director of faculty technology at Wharton, concurs that, “In most cases, an individual blog is fairly worthless, but in the aggregate, they can be quite powerful.” Huesman points to the blogging boom in countries like China. “There are so many voices there that it’s impossible to monitor them all. And, ultimately, this will have a profound impact.”