Performancing Metrics

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.

Positive

  • 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.

Negative

  • 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.”

Categories: Blogging Sense

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Comments

  1. Kathy says: 10/26/2006

    You guys miss the point.

    1. Blogging software provides an easy way for students to publish their thoughts online. We know that reflective writing (not a “report” but an analysis) helps cement learning. So why not use the power (and cost, ie, free) of this publishing tool in classes? I do. So do many people who teach about or with writing.

    2. The feedback mechanism can be a powerful tool in classes — to help stimulate student involvement outside of the classroom.

    3. Saying that blogs have a credibility problem is like saying books have a credibility problem or TV has a credibility problem. “A blog” is a tool — it is a medium. There are political blogs and celebrity blogs and sports blogs and personal blogs …. and, and, and. Broad-brush does little to illuminate.

    4. Finally, just as students have to learn how to judge the credibility of a commercial on TV or that of a newspaper columnist … they need to learn how to made good judgments about website credibility. Not just blogs but the larger universe of websites.

    color me grumbly!

    kathy

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  2. J. Angelo Racoma says: 10/26/2006

    Thanks for the insights, Kathy. I’m a blogging advocate myself. I should be–I blog and write for a living. And I have been advocating the use of blogs (and podcasts, too) since before that.

    My post highlighted an interview with professors from Wharton, and I don’t exactly agree with everything they said. When it comes to the blogosphere, I can say there is more good that one can get than bad. However, their observation about a credibility problem probably speaks for majority of the blogosphere. Do consider that these people are from an academic background, wherein ideas are usually verified and facts double-checked before they really matter. And do consider that majority of bloggers around the world do, indeed, publish before validation.

    This is a grey area, actually. You can consider the publish-then-edit nature of the blogosphere as self-correcting, and that in time, with due discussion the truth will prevail. True enough, some major political issues have been disclosed and thoroughly discussed on blogs. But there are some cases when due diligence is needed, or else people get hurt in the process of haphazard publishing (take for instance the Apple NYC Cube issue). By the time the blogosphere has corrected itself (i.e., through discussions and feedback mechanisms like comment threads and posts on other blogs), the damage would’ve already been done.

    I agree that it’s ultimately for a reader to decide whether the blog or website he/she is reading has good content or not.

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