Something I’m going to explore in more depth in my Giving a Blog series over at blogsavvy is what exactly makes or breaks a blog community. Squashed finger aside though I couldn’t resist linking up Josie’s intro into Eduforge blogs, Stephen’s reminder of EDUCAUSE blogs the ever expanding edublogs site – 430 odd last time I looked!), a fascinating conversation I had with Mike Seyfang of LearnDog this morning and this interesting post on that old banana, discussion boards and blogs.
As I’ve said before I think that the question of how you give blogs is absolutely critical to their success / or not in your context and this boils down to a lot of things, the tools you use, the support you offer, the mission you set out to fulfil but perhaps most importantly the ‘community’ that you conceive of.
And here’s where I stick my neck out and say that I think EDUCAUSE and Eduforge don’t really get it. Importantly this is in a way that I have frequently have not got it too so don’t think for one minute that I’m saying that there’s a problem there… just that they’re barking up the wrong community tree. These organisations / associations can, of course, have communities but I don’t think that they should be ones that are developed around blogs. They have important object orientated sociality perspectives to offer and could support great groups of people getting together and talking but blogs, that’s too big a call.
I, for example, spend a fair bit of time harassing people for help on the WPMU forums, I’d say I was part of that community and that the tool available there works pretty well for me. Would I get a WPMU blog though? Hell no! My membership of that community doesn’t define me, it’s by no means broad enough (what if I want to look at Drupal?) and there’s no real ‘ownership’ there.
And eduforge / cause have the same problem… yeh I’m sure some people (probably very close into, employed by or serious members of the community) get in there and find it valuable but I have to say that the figures on the members list down the left of the ’cause site aren’t all that promising.
But I’d wager that edublogs won’t have the same problem… an enormous and growing pool of blog users define themselves to a degree through their profession, you can be any number of different things in ‘education’ as a whole, it’s no tied to membership of any particular group and individuals have full ownership / independence. Oh and it’s a great system too :o)
But the point is that it’s kind of independent but themed, general enough and yet specific enough.
Perhaps like cities or regions might be?
So, with finger hurting and no prejudice whatsoever I’d say that edublogs has a much rosier future than either of the others… or any other community / professional blogging projects that aren’t carefully considering what they are aiming for.