May 31, 2006

How now, blogosphere?

A posting on danah boyd's apophenia (blog production/consumption musings) got me thinking about the gradual shift in my own blog behavior. She says

...when i think about reading blogs about tech industry, my research area or other arenas that would actually be helpful, i go into anaphylactic shock. There's too many, it's too overwhelming, i can't cope, eek! I can't even stomach blogs written by dear friends who i will talk with for hours about professional or intellectual ideas (unless they embed the nutritious material in the sugary gossip stuff). I don't even think i'd read my blog given its content if i weren't the one writing it...
I've been ascribing similar feelings about tech/ed blogs to my increasing distance from the front lines of the EdBiz, and to the absence of any specific public for whom I'm thinking and writing, but maybe there's something more fundamental here, some sort of tectonic shift in the world of Online. I need to explore this a bit, and it might as well be a blog posting, even if it's only for my own edification.

In my own daily routines, I read a lot of pretty varied stuff via RSS, and skim even more... but lately I've noticed that I barely glance at many of the feeds that I was reading carefully six months or a year ago. Some of that is just the normal/tidal flux of interests, but much of my interest in "teaching and learning" was linked to my activities in educational institutions and organizations. Now that I'm well-and-truly outside those arenas, I'm increasingly detached from the debates and battles, and I realize that what I think about or see in something really doesn't matter to or connect with the current needs and interests of my former colleagues. Just yesterday I saw a thread on a blog that I would have sent on to several people and I thought (for the first time) "enh. who cares?"

As I review the hundred-some RSS feeds I've been following, I notice some patterns in attention. These days, I find myself adding feeds in areas like food (megnut on food, Hungry Magazine, Maine Foodie, Eating Asia), and paying more attention to video resources (Ze Frank, Better Bad News), but investing a lot less time/energy in tech blogs

(e.g., the Gillmors, the Winer, Signal vs. Noise, Doc Searls, malevolent design, Amy Gahran's Contentious, Continuous Computing),
and less to the clutch of H5N1 sites I've been following for a couple of years
(I scan Effect Measure, but rarely click through any of the links on The Coming Influenza Pandemic or Connotea tagged H5N1, and it's been weeks since I've looked at Technorati on H5N1 or my Yahoo H5N1 search).
And the Ed blogs that I used to watch so carefully are fading from my interest/attention
(including Inside Higher Ed, elearningpost, FLOSSE Posse, EDUCAUSE, EdTech Posse, Alex Halavais, HeadsPace J, Liberal Education Today, blog of proximal development. Even EduRSS has become more of a trial than an essential. All that stuff about what faculty don't do, and what students do do, and how it doesn't connect... I thought and wrote about that for years, without much in the way of effects or progress.
Some of these I feel a certain guilt about not-reading, and I can't quite bring myself to delete them from the RSS list.

I find that I have very little interest in library blogs that I used to scan on behalf of colleagues

(Resource Shelf, RSS4Lib, Free Range Librarian...)

So what's still at the core? BoingBoing, WFMU, Juan Cole for News of Fresh Disasters, anything BryanAlexander or Gardner Campbell writes (they're friends), and similarly Brian Lamb and Alan Levine (I don't actually know them, but feel that I should/could), and the metafolks: Stephen Downes, George Siemens, Jon Udell.

Others I really look forward to for new content: Language Log, Crooked Timber, Google Maps Mania, Ogle Earth...

It'll be interesting to see how the landscape looks in six months or so. Bet it'll be different.

Posted by oook at May 31, 2006 11:57 AM

"but much of my interest in "teaching and learning" was linked to my activities in educational institutions and organizations. Now that I'm well-and-truly outside those arenas, I'm increasingly detached from the debates and battles"

You'd probably give much more interesting coures now--and enjoy them even more!

Posted by: Ron at June 2, 2006 03:13 PM

Honoured by the shout-out. Based on Gardner's description, I do hope we meet sometime.

Posted by: Brian at June 5, 2006 05:55 PM