This week in the Facilitating Online Communities (FOC08) course, our assignment is to consider blogging networks. What an interesting idea, blogging communities. I can’t say I ever thought about this before, though if I did it would have been about 2 years ago or so when blogs seemed to be the main social media technology.
A blogging network is a community of blogs. Nice and simple (seemingly) at first, until I start to think of some of the implications. I usually think about the blogs as extensions of the authors, though some blogs that I regularly read and find very valuable, such as Mashable and CogDogBlog, I think of in an impersonal way and without thinking about the authors. Not quite sure why; perhaps larger than life or because I do not know the authors well (only meeting F2F in passing)? With those two (as examples), I read and follow, but think it is mainly in a one way direction (I do not think they read my blog, for example).
Whatever the case, I never really considered a blogging network as the Blogosphere. I always thought of the Blogosphere as the place in the giant network in the sky where all the blogs lived. Of course, social media and Web 2.0 are so much more complicated now that it is not even completely simple to even define a blog any longer, much less to speak about the Blogosphere as if such as a (stable) community could exist any longer.
Regardless, many of those in our online course (FOC08) do follow and comment on one another’s blogs. However, I am not sure if this happens enough to consider their blogs a community. While my first thought is that something such as this could never have a facilitator, I am beginning to think that the vastness of the Internet makes it easy to get distracted and lost and overwhelmed and thus behind or distanced from one another (ironically, as the Internet is nothing if it is not distance!). Perhaps blog community facilitation is a new area of inquiry and practice?
What to do about this? Dedicated RSS feeds or field trips or commitments to comment or even set due and comment deadlines? I am now wondering if there is any research out there about this . . .
Let’s see how well this works; I wonder what my colleagues think?