Archive for November, 2005

Blogs & Wikis @ Turku, Finland

Wednesday, November 23rd, 2005

I’m attending a seminar by University of Turku. The participants are mainly people from the academic community, I’m the few corporate scumbags around here. Interesting content was discussions about blogs and wikis and less interesting was direct product sales pitches from a few companies.

Jere Majava from the University of Joensuu is perhaps the only blog researcher in Finland. He is working on his thesis on blogs in the academia. Here are some of his points:

  • Blogs are not diaries, but the structure is similar
  • Blogs are not content management systems, although the structure is similar
  • Blogs are not only about publishing but rather about interaction and conversations
  • Blogs are also about creating a net presence as blogs are replacing traditional static home pages
  • Distributed conversations emerge out of cross-site communication between blogs
  • Starting up with a group blog is the wrong way to go, because it doesn’t create an impression different from typical web publishing. Also creating dialogical relationships between blogs is hard if the blog has no personal identity
  • Often good group blogs are created by experienced bloggers
  • Using the same blog during a longer time-period is important for following personal learning: re-using the same blog
  • Blogs are suitable for self-directed learning more than for formal learning
  • Blogs could be useful for conversations across domains of expertise
  • Blogs are useful for learning academic practices like referencing etc.
  • Well-maintained blog improves the status of an academic blogger within the community

Riitta Suominen explained wikis. Nothing new there, but a few good points:

  • Publishing is in itself a positive factor for motivation
  • In education we tend to have auctoritaric expert-centric approach to knowledge. Wiki fills the gap with learner created content

Overall, good introduction of wikis and blogs to people who are not yet that familiar with these emerging concepts.

People didn’t like the presentation slides that much, I heard comments about underestimating the audience with bullet-point rigged presentations. Maybe they need to improve their Lessigian presentation skills icon smile Blogs & Wikis @ Turku, Finland Juha-Matti Arola wrote also recently, that “has anyone the courage to free us from the slavery of Powerpoint slides?”

Feeds everywhere

Wednesday, November 23rd, 2005

Feedburner has feed for thought. Probably the best article about current trends in RSS/Atom feeds I’ve ever read. Feeds are entering into other content syndication areas, not only blogs:

That’s right. I increasingly use RSS for something else other than blogs, like receiving daily comics, calendar entries and changes to wiki pages. Feeds also enable structuring content so that search engines are able to see relationships between documents. This is the first important step for machine-understandable semantics in the conversational structures of the web. As some Google developer once said, RSS is for information what HTML was for web.

I have noticed in various contexts that people are afraid to release their content through feeds, as it will reduce the number of visitors on their site. Websites are usually created around advertisements, which in turn rely on number of visitors. On the other hand, publishers value subscribers:

“Why should we distribute our content via RSS if we have no idea how we’re going to monetize it”. Another person from the same organization answered, “Would you rather have visitors or subscribers?”

Today’s quote: When Skype crashes in Windows, this is the resulting error message: Skype – Free Internet Telephony, which is not responding” icon smile Feeds everywhere