The Academic Blogosphere


Blogs are being used in many secondary schools and colleges. They are used for a variety of purposes: authentic writing assignments, collaborative assignments, asynchronous class discussion...

Here are some links to blogging information and some academic blogs to get you started.

  • An article "Schools grapple with policing students' online journals" http://www.csmonitor.com/2006/0202/p01s04-stct.html by Amanda Paulson, The Christian Science Monitor
  • Web of Influence "Blogging blogs and the bloggers who blog them" -used for the Bryn Mawr College CSEM course "Web of Influence" taught by Doug Blank and Laura Blankenship.
  • Donna Strickland, Assistant Professor of English at the University of Missouri-Columbia teaches a course called Topics in Writing: Blogging in Theory and Practice - take a look at her syllabus for some good ideas about topics for blogging in classes. She also has a course blog at http://english4040.blogspot.com
  • A Weblog for the Seton Hall University Executive Ed.D. program with work, links, comments and resources
  • My own poetry blog http://poetsonline.blogspot.com is used to supplement my poetry writing website - Poets Online and allows interaction with the poets who contribute to the site.
  • weblogg-ed (read it as weblogged or weblog edUCATION - it's about both) is from Will Richardson a NJ high school teacher who is leaving the classroom to focus full time on his discussions and reflections on the use of blogs, wikis, RSS, audiocasts and other Read/Write Web related technologies in K-12 (though there's no reason to limit this - please people, let's think more about K20). His book Blogs, Wikis, Podcasts, and Other Powerful Web Tools for Classrooms is a good investment for anyone starting out in this.
  • http://edublogs.org provides free blogs for teachers, researchers, librarians and other education professionals.Create an ad-free, full-featured WordPress that includes a free Yacapaca assessment tool from the Chalkface Project.
  • Educational Weblogs - Disruptive Technology Resource for Educators using Weblogs, Blogware, Collaborative tools, RSS & Podcasting, web services and digital tools at home, school, university and community.
  • Try the Academic Blogs list at Blog Flux Academics Blogs - Blog Top Sites

What is this thing called Web 2.0?



Tim O'Reilly wrote a piece on web 2.0 in 2005 that is illustrated by this mindmap created by Markus Angermeier.  Read Tim's article


You will keep seeing this term "Web 2.0" but finding a clear definition of what it is or will be is tough. Easy answer: it is what the web is becoming and (unlike Web 1.2 or whatever might have been the next version) it will be significantly different from the web we know & use today.


In this second version of the web, the architecture and the applications of the web will change.


1) This web will be interactive beyond clicking links on a page. I believe many applications will be running online, data files will be stored online "in the cloud."


2) Collaboration will be recorded in this space too. This is the web as operating system or platform.


2) This new web will require new security functions that had not been really considered in 1.0 (though that's what we should have expected and I don't blame Sir Tim Berners-Lee).


3) Web 1.0 encouraged sharing and stealing of content. 2.0 will further all of that. I don't mean to say that is a good thing. It's a social aspect that will require changes in our definitions of terms like sharing, plagiarism, fair use, copyright, ownership in the private, commercial and legal worlds.


4) New economic models will emerge of how to use this web for commercial moneymaking purposes. Web 1.0 never saw that. Now it's obvious.


5) Internet2 is an attempt to create another web for education and research use, but the other players will also want that speed and be willing to pay for it. If they stay separated, the "commodity" internet may end up being faster, stronger and more cutting edge then the research web. As with most technology in education from K to 20, education will be playing with the old toys.


SOME WEB 2.0 APPLICATIONS and TOPICS TO EXPLORE




Academics Blogs - Blog Top Sites


Social Computing Gets Some Bad Press


You've probably seen some TV news coverage or articles about forms of social computing. MySpace and Facebook have gotten a lot of ink and sound bites lately.

Take this excerpt from the Business Week December 2005 cover story

"Preeminent among these virtual hangouts is MySpace.com, whose membership has nearly quadrupled since January alone, to 40 million members. Youngsters log on so obsessively that MySpace ranked No. 15 on the entire U.S. Internet in terms of page hits in October, according to Nielsen//NetRatings. Millions also hang out at other up-and-coming networks such as Facebook.com, which connects college students, and Xanga.com, an agglomeration of shared blogs. A second tier of some 300 smaller sites, such as Buzz-Oven, Classface.com, and Photobucket.com, operate under -- and often inside or next to -- the larger ones. Although networks are still in their infancy, experts think they're already creating new forms of social behavior that blur the distinctions between online and real-world interactions..."


Wired News talks about the fact that news mogul Rupert Murdoch invested $500 million in MySpace.com. Murdoch's company senses that social computing taps into very basic modern desires by young people to meet, connect and promote oneself and he can see the potential for advertising there.

The complaints with MySpace (and other sites including Facebook) and high school & college students and pre-teens are much the same as fears that were voiced years ago about chat rooms and instant messaging.

  • the type of content teens are posting (photos, contact information including email, IM name, phone numbers, dorm room numbers etc.)
  • fears about the type of people they are meeting (stalkers, sexual predators)

There is a criminal probe into MySpace by the Connecticut Attorney following reports that a number of underage girls in that state were found to have had consensual sexual relations with adult males they'd
met through the site.

From THE EXPONENT at Purdue University
"Recently, the Purdue Police Department has trained officers on how to use and navigate the increasingly-popular Facebook Web site. The police may eventually use the Web site as an investigative tool, because many of its users are so open about their lives - even the illegal activities they may be involved in. Though many Facebook users are angered by the thought that police officers may be viewing their profiles, we believe that if students openly post personal information on an online forum, the police have every right to look at it - and possibly use that information against the Facebook members."

Is Folksonomy Taxonomy or Fauxonomy?

Folksonomy: folk + taxonomy - refers to the collaborative but informal way in which information is being categorized on the web. Users are encouraged to assign freely chosen keywords/tags to images or data. Most commonly found on sites that share photographs, personal libraries, bookmarks, and blogs which often allow tags for each entry.

You may be familiar with scientific classifications.

Do you recall studying the taxonomy of organisms? [Domain, Kingdom, Phylum, Class, Order, Family, Genus, and Species]

There are taxonomies that are not considered "scientific" because they include sociological factors. In academia, many of us know Bloom's Taxonomy - the classification of educational objectives and the theory of mastery learning.

Non-scientific classification systems are referred to as folk taxonomies, but the academic community does not accept folksonomy into either area. In fact, some who support scientific taxonomies have dubbed folksonomies as fauxonomies.

Others see folksonomy as a part of the path to creating a semantic web. It's a web that contains computer-readable metadata that describes its content. This metadata (tags) allows for precision searching.

If you have ever tried to get a group of readers or graders to agree on how to evaluate writing using a rubric, you might understand how hard it would be to get the creators of web content tag content in a consistent and reliable way.

Some examples of standards for tagging include Dublin Core and the RSS file format used for podcasts (such as that used in iTunes). All of this really grew out of the use of XML. Extensible Markup Language (XML) is a general-purpose markup language (as is HTML) that was at least partially created to facilitate the sharing of data across different systems, particularly systems connected via the Internet.

Folksonomies do have advantages. They are user-generated and therefore easy (inexpensive) to implement. Metadata in a folksonomy (for example, the photo tags on Flickr.com) comes from individuals interacting with content not administrators at a distance. This type of taxonomy conveys information about the people who create the tags and a kind of user community portrait may emerge. Some sites allow you to then link to other content from like-minded taggers. (We have similar taste in photos or music, so let's check out each others links.) Users become engaged.

There are problems: idiosyncratic tagging that actually makes searches LESS precise. And  polysemes & synonyms (words which have multiple related meanings) may be inferior to using some agreed-upon criteria.

What's So Appealing to Millennials About Social Computing?

I wasn't sure myself. It's the kind of question you need to ask some millennials.

So far, I have gotten these answers:

  1. They enjoy the idea of creating alternate identities. It's not so different from creating an avatar to be in a role playing game. New name, new life, new whatever you want. Very appealing.
  2. Having large numbers of friends/buddies/contacts. Hundreds, thousands of them. Not like real world friends, but in some ways better. Who doesn't want friends?
  3. You can be a bit of a voyeur looking at other people's photos. It's like being able to sneak a peak into someone's diary - but you won't get into trouble. In fact, they are inviting you to peek into their dresser drawer.
  4. With sites like Facebook.com, you can check out other kids in your high school or college without them meeting you. They see this as "safer" not "dangerous".
  5. They like being able to populate their space with hip content - even if it's not their own creation. You can create a video yourself and post it - but you can also link to professional content. Fame by association?
  6. They like using sites like "What's That Code" which provides web page code and has a large collection of music videos for you to paste into MySpace, Xanga, Friendster, a blog or website. Pick an artist, pick a song, copy the code, paste it in and it creates a link to the video.
  7. Guest books are so web 1.0!

The World is Flattening Even Faster (read OR listen!)



The World is Flat by Thomas Friedman has garnered more postings and reviews than it needs already. It's a good book. I bought it as one of three books for my son who was heading off to freshman year as a business major at the University of Maryland and I read it before he left. Definitely worth a reading - or listening.

An idea beyond the book that I find very interesting is that the author has talked about the book becoming for it's "final" edition a wiki version that could be constantly updated - this being perhaps the only
way to really keep it current & relevant.

For more on wikis, see our companion wiki at http://devel2.njit.edu/mediawik/

Friedman started the book in March 2004 and finished up in Decemeber. Then, podcasting didn't really exist. A year after the book came out you could download the audio version of The World Is Flat on Apple's iTunes site. The flattening is speeding up.

Check out Friedman's site for updates: http://www.thomaslfriedman.com/worldisflat.htm

Watch Friedman on video at MIT http://mitworld.mit.edu/video/266/

BTW, the 2 other titles I bought for my son were Freakonomics : A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everythingby Steven D. Levitt and Blink : The Power of Thinking Without Thinking by Malcolm Gladwell.