Thursday, December 14, 2006

Blogging for meaningful discourse

I love blogs and the whole concept of them, but like environmentalism in the 21st century, the word itself seems to have exploded to represent something much larger than what was originally set out to accomplish.

And for this reason blogs seem to have become a loaded term that conjures, denotes, and/or implies a million different things to a million different people. We view words in the context of our own experiences, but it would appear that our own experiences are increasingly being shaped by our perception of what we hear, read, or watch on television.

Basically, the power of the word blog has taken a life of its own. For better and worse.

When I mention the word blog in casual conversation, I get the sense—by the use of the word itself—that I enlist fear, excitement, confusion, frustration, and a host of other alpha related emotions. And these are my friends. Similarly, I would never consider myself an environmentalist since it means too many things to too many people—why limit a personal exchange by a preconceived idea of who I might be?

For me, this blog is my unfolding understanding (and sometimes lack there of) of blogs. It’s real to me, not a preconceived notion of what it should be, but something that has meaning to my work. And that's important, but that's not the only way to achieve meaning.

I’ve just recently been turned on to JP Rangaswami’s blog, Confused of Calcutta, and enjoyed his recent posting, Musings on Learning and Blogging—specifically, his explanation of a blog:

They [blogs] demolish the barriers to entry that are often present in society, barriers that affect curious people. Barriers that are primarily social in nature. Barriers like “I don’t want to appear stupid, but….”.

You see, people like Feynman and Einstein had the single-minded focus and energy to get over the social barriers and keep asking the stupid question. But most of us aren’t Feynmans or Einsteins. With social software and particularly with blogs and wikis, we can all ask stupid questions without feeling stupid about doing the asking. Many times, when I check something out via Google or via Wikipedia, I’m asking a stupid question. I couldn’t do that very easily at school. Actually that’s not quite true, but that’s a different matter.
So true. I like this passage and can relate immediately; for me, this definition has meaning and practicality for an enhanced understanding. I ask 'the Google' many, many stupid things.

I'd like for us to explore our connection to blogs (meaning that we begin talking by even asking stupid things), and whole heartily believe that my non-profit would greatly benefit from the experience. It may also be important for us as an organization to first develop as well as define our desired experience and outcomes before we enter the blogosphere. And once we do, we'll hopefully begin shaping the conversation online.

2 comments:

Serena said...

Well said. I must now go check out Confused of Calcutta.

"It may also be important for us as an organization to first develop as well as define our desired experience and outcomes before we enter the blogosphere. And once we do, we'll hopefully begin shaping the conversation online."

I think this is a very valid point (above) and can't be stressed enough. People (organizations and companies, in particular) shouldn't blog just for the sake of blogging. For it to have any merit or meaning, there needs to be an underlying goal, a purpose.

Chas Offutt said...

The more I read Confused of Calcutta, the more I like it.

I especially like how Rangaswami credits Jerry Garcia driving his opensource meaning (similar for me too):

"None of which should surprise the reader, given that my thoughts on opensource were probably more driven by Jerry Garcia..."
http://confusedofcalcutta.com/about-me/