Blogs, Communities, and Networks

Rettberg, Blogging, 2nd edition, chap 3
Reading and activities Rettberg, chap 3

Some notes on Chap 3

Understanding blogs as something other than a persona diary or notebook means understanding them as interlinked nodes in a network - the same kind of network that tends to develop among community members. Or networks, really, because the blogging network, like a community network, is made up of tightly linked networks connected to other tightly linked networks by weak ties. Rettberg considers this topology in detail in chapter 3, starting from these observations.

Activities for Chap 3

This week's task is to aggregate, annotate, develop, fill out, connect with annotated links and embedded material one of topics I've listed below. Of course the topics will overlap, and you will find that digging into danah boyd's 4 characteristics of online social spaces will eventually intersect with slow conversations and what links signify. Select one topic as a starting point, and expect to see the others in passing,

How to Proceed

Use what works for you: Either a single extensive post or a series of posts that fill out and develop your work over a number of sessions. I'm partial to multiple posts through the week, but I also know that life is short, and weeks are even shorter. Multiple shorter posts let you collect responses and develop ideas over time - a method that blogs are built for. Or you can save that post as a draft or publish it, then return to it later to revise it: add to it, re-organize things, cut things ... Alternatively, you might collect stuff over a number of sessions in a number of posts, then return to collate these separate posts into linked ones.

But have your posts up by Saturday midnight, when I'll probably swoop past to review what's what. A reflection is due by Monday, midnight, to prepare for Tuesday's class.

How to Proceed

Isolate and quote a passage from chapter 3 that challenges your conception or the common conception of blogs or social media - a topic that needs to be annotated, not one that you've read about or encountered a dozen times. You may need to do a little googling to dig into some of the references and to locate a way in to these ideas, so anticipate this.

From there, annotate the ideas - especially as they challenge the common conception. Add annotated links to further material (reading, video, lectures, audio ...) that develop the idea.

The Topics

Social network theory

Distributed conversations

Technologies for distributed communities

Facebook and Twitter

Publicly articulated relationships

Colliding networks

What's Out There

The internet is loaded with material on networks and communities: papers, readings, blog posts, videos, PPTs and prezi presentations, and tools - lots and lots of web-accesible interactive data visualizations of networks. Find them. Collect them. Annotate what you find.

Searching for Supplemental Material

Start with Google, but also follow other leads. (Eg: Go to TED Talks and search for materials there.)

Get beyond Wikipedia, please. Wikipedia is shared background knowledge that doesn't need to be aggregated or annotated. It's the stuff beyond Wikipedia that we're interested in. They can get you started searching, but don't stop there.

Always look at the 2nd, 3rd, 4th ... page of the Google results. More and more, that's where the good stuff is.

Here are some Google search tips. Or google "google search tips".

Help each other out, too: Post or tweet things you find that others might use. And you can work face to face together.


Remember bootstrapping from the Statement:

Bootstrapping means engaging in an activity before you completely understand the activity. Like map-making, you don't know what the terrain looks like until you get into the field start to make the map. Now and then - more at the beginning of course - you won't understand how to do something, or what to think about something, or how to think about something before you need to start an activity. But start anyway. You will only begin to understand by engaging the problem and engaging with the community.

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