On Awards

Written by James
24
Nov

Have only been able to get online for about 30 seconds today so haven’t had the chance to read much but one thing I have read struck a serious chord on the awards front. Scott commented that:

“on the one hand, it’s great to recognize excellence and all of the hard work some folks have put in…. on the other hand, this feels somewhat antithetical to the sense of collaborative community that some feel is emerging through the blogosphere… The potential for harm is greater than the potential for good in this sort of thing. There are plenty other ways to indicate what you like in the blogosphere” [edtechpost]

Which pinpoints some of my concerns about the Eddies.

I guess ‘awards’ can be many different things. As Scott says at their best they are ways of acknowledging what people do and can be a celebration of and a moment of identification as a community. They can be a way of introducing people to new things in the area (I’ve already found a ton of great stuff from the limited activity so far!), a way of developing an identity as a group and in that conferring value that might otherwise not have been placed on it (by the outside) and a great ‘coming together’ of people with similar backgrounds / interests / beliefs or whatever.

But at their worst it’s much much worse… they can be moments of self-glorification, they can espouse the most unfortunate aspects of the meritocracy that Scott mentions (the bits where by being in the ‘top’ [small]% confers upon you a certain moral goodness and the rest can be thoroughly depressed about their non-inclusion or achievement… dare I say suffer from status anxiety). They can indeed be about reinforcing “their meatspace connections, status and networks”. (I think Jill also commented that results would surely just be discipline based). They can turn out to be an awful lot of bullshit.

So what to do, I’m not sure, which is I guess why I’m writing this here. Something in me feels that this is good, that we could really do with something that acknowledges the amazing hard work (without fiscal reward) that people put into this and the benefit it brings to us all and that this can help us define ourselves as a community in a ‘public’ sense (I believe, quite genuinely, that the vast vast majority of people in education see blogs as little more than a novel waste of time / ego massage, and think that some definition of the community can’t hurt in this???? Maybe?)

Hmmmmm…

Personally, while many aspects of this and it’s potential fills me with concerns, I think that the feeling that it could be good and the challenges involved in this are enough to make it worthwhile. So I’m going to go ahead and keep it going (if anyone else is interested in joining in). BUT I think that a lot of the stuff I did yesterday and a lot of my initial enthusiasm seems, on reflection, to be a kind of instinctual / kiddish response… a lot of which follows the pre-set and very established ideas in my head about exactly ‘how’ an awards thing works – which basically come from mass media. Which isn’t good. Need to put of some rationalistic glasses and take a step back.

So in doing that I think that:

-The idea of ‘one nomination’ per category is absolute arse, I mean I wanted to nominate a ton when I saw Alex’s initial posting so why the hell am I saying “You can only nominate one” and who the hell am I to say that anyway. I think that you should be able to nominate as many people as you want.

-The limited categories are also fairly rubbish, people should be able to nominate new categories, if you suggest one I’ll put it up.

-When it comes to voting I think people should be able to vote for everyone in a particular category if they want to, or 3 of them or one of one of them or whatever

-I think there should be the ability to ‘OPML’ nominate, that is to share our webfeed reading lists and for those blogs to be officially recorded as a kind of edublog universe by edubloggers… or something like that. Not to replace the regular nominations but as an equally valuable resource and definition. I know Dave Winer did Share your OPML… maybe something like that. Small problem is that I have no idea on earth about how to do that!

But most importantly I think that I shouldn’t do any of these until and unless the people who matter / care ;o) have a chance to tell what they think about all of this.

So what do you reckon?

  1. About these concerns, IMHO:
    – this is mainly to meet unknown blogs you’d never meet elsewhere
    – this is just for fun
    – this is mainly to meet unknown blogs you’d never meet elsewhere

    I guess noone should feel harmed by not winning… except those who blog for notoriety, and I wouldn’t care much about these ;)
    And if someone looking for status reinforcement happens to win… well, maybe, despite all, he deserved it :O

    So, I think Scott is right about noticing the dark side of the awards but I’d bet for working for a fair play and enjoying it as much as possible :))

  2. I agree with Ismael; this is just for fun. I did have some of the same misgivings as Scott though; which is why I’ve only made one nomination in a category that didn’t have anyone in it. I think I’ll add some interesting lesser-known bloggers. Most of us know the major ones.

  3. James, I really appreciate you posting your comments on my concerns. I definitely wasn’t trying to disrupt the Awards, just thinking out loud, as one sometimes does in a blog.

    While I agree with Ismael that one of the benefits of the process is finding new educational bloggers you didn’t know about (Ismael’s own blog is an example of this in my case) there are clearly other ways to do this without running a popularity contest. Indeed, one of the reasons that there is a blogo*sphere* (and not just people standing on soapboxes in a vacuum) is that bloggers have developed conventions (blogrolls, references in posts, leaving URLs in comment areas) for referring other people to blogs they read and enjoy.

    Anyways, good luck with the awards; now I’m going to go out and buy myself a Ferrari to help ease my status anxiety ;-) Cheers, Scott

  4. I’m not sure that I’m a “person who matters”, but I’m glad to see that there’s some concern about the whole popularity contest point of blog awards. I was reminded of the whole demoralising process of choosing headgirl in my high school yesterday. And now that it seems I can make more than one nomination per category… look out! :-)