Just reread Steve Krause’s When Blogging Goes Bad: A Cautionary Tale About Blogs, Emailing Lists, Discussion, and Interaction and two things sprung to mind.
Firstly this is absolutely critical reading for anyone considering blogging in teaching and learning, it’s a really good examination of blogs not working and that, in my book, is as valuable as 10 papers on why blogging is great. I’d put this on any reading list.
Secondly, Steven’s conclusion that essentially email listservs are a far more effective place for discussion is pretty accurate but what he doesn’t seem to go into is exactly why this is. I’d argue that this is basically down to the fact that email comes simply and ubiquitously to each person whereas the blogs in Steven’s case were very much places that people had to visit, multiple places at that which makes them even less conducive to discussion than typical discussion boards.
Blogs can be like email too though (and much more effective in many ways) through aggregation and I think that had, for example, a combination of the public aggregator facility in Drupal been used alongside individual aggregators like Bloglines then things might have turned out very differently.
Of course, people might not have used them (aggregators are hardly ubiquitous) but had they been used, even in very small numbers, I think that the results of his experiment might have been quite different. Blogging without aggregation is pointless (and I might also say that aggregation without blogging is equally lost…)