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The Uses of Blogs

This is one of those blog navel-gazing stories. How to Save the World reports a survey on Zahmoo about what people get out of blogging, and goes on to speculate about the future of blogging.

I responded briefly on Zahmoo, but the purpose of this post is to examine How to save the World's analysis. After deciding gloomily that:
"If a virus were to wipe out all traces of the blogosphere tomorrow, the sad truth is that most people wouldn't care or even notice, and what people do and think wouldn't significantly change. Maybe that's why so many people think blogging is just a fad, something that will soon disappear and be forgotten. It's not essential to anything."
HTSTW goes on to suggest three ways in which blogs might improve:
1. the old 'corporate wiki' idea: internal information sharing.
2. "An evolution in the design and function of weblogs from a diary format to a content composition format, so that instead of a bunch of disjointed entries, the weblog would consist of 'pieces' of content (perhaps in many different media) that could be organized, combined, indexed, formatted and viewed in different ways to suit different users. Whereas now creating a book from entries in a weblog is cumbersome (and the result is not pretty), this additional content composition functionality would let publishers produce elegant e-books and e-magazines by simply 'composing' weblog articles together (the table of contents and index would be produced automatically). And educational curricula could likewise be developed and continuously updated by 'composing' pieces from various online sites (with appropriate permissioning) into a complete online course. " I confess I can't quite see this happening: how would you cope withthe unevenness of blogs - in quality, viewpoint, relevance, coverage, etc - if you wanted to produce an article about (say) simulation?
3. "Some weblog tools could morph into full collaborate environments where groups of people with common interests, practices, projects or purposes could co-develop information and entertainment 'products'. " Well, yes. The corporate wiki again, but running free outside the corporation. He goes on to say "so-called 'groupware' has not been very successful largely because many groups lack sufficient shared passion, or a shared sense of urgency, or sufficient motivation to develop competence in using online tools." I'm not sure I'd agree with that: look at Wikipedia's editorial team! And by coincidence, an odd post on Cryptome suggests that Tamil Tiger terrorist groups in the UK have just such motivation and skills and do in fact produce a partly web-enabled 'product' of propaganda, extortion and terrorist funding.

I have some ideas of my own which I need time to implement. But at the moment I'm writing a major website, and have been comissioned by Packt to write a book, as well as trying to earn a living and do a part-time art course.

All I need is a couple of weeks and Rick Ellis's excellent Expression Engine, then this blog will get a major upgrade in terms of its in-built intelligence. That's machine intelligence. The intelligence level of my writing wll stay just about the same, I'm afraid.


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