The terms ‘Blogsphere’ and 'Blogosphere' are used as collective terms in order to describe all of the blogs on the internet as they function as a social network or as a community.
From the article Customer engagement, in the See Also section of FOC 906.703 Week 7, my initiative for engagement as a customer prompted me to search for and consider two different areas of online, connected communities - one consumer-led and one company-led, for both professional and personal interest. This led me to:
- Teeline shorthand: I am a Teeline trainer (Leigh, sorry, but I couldn’t bring myself to use teacher, moderator or facilitator :-)) and decided to research various ways to support the learning in a more flexible manner as part of a personal business plan. Despite this recent article Shorthand dying skill in age of technology shorthand writing is still recognised as an essential skill for verbatim notetaking notably in the Commonwealth and USA in areas such as journalism, Parliament, medical, business (for example, minute taking) and the legal field (court reporting) for the accurate recording of information (without the reliance of technology). It is a core subject (at 80 wpm) in New Zealand to become a qualified journalist.
There’s a website Online Shorthand that WITT journalism students subscribe to that provides fully asynchronous online training. They support Skype for synchronous communication (for real-time dictation) however I could not find any networked connections within the site to Teeline communities of practice for social engagement and academic support. An online alumni community (for past students and staff) would also be an opportunity to engage possible consumers.
Further searching revealed a number of personal Teeline blogs containing very limited interaction. Of interest I found a link to YouTube that suggested writing Teeline to a song sung by Tina Turner, When the heartache …; and Teeline shorthand resources - set up nearly two years ago. While only a few responses (4/5 this year), there's been 870 hits. In the “Blogs about Teeline” posting there is a thread that asks about how to write Maori in Teeline! And another ... Teeline Torture!
- Real estate: I have a friend, ex-colleague who set up her own real estate company. She has just set up a blog through her own (commercially-sponsored) website Wendy Goss Real Estate, but also has one with Real Estate New Zealand. Shevlin’s definition of customer engagement (adapted by Richard Sedley suggests:
"Repeated interactions strengthen the emotional, psychological or physical investment a customer has in a brand”.
I am interested in following the development of her blog to identify the purpose and benefits to her company, her current and potential customers, her colleagues and the industry as a whole as her time (and money) is invested in this medium.
I believe it does connect to the outer network. Under the Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike License the content is available to anyone with access to the Internet using Wikieducator and is aligned to Wikieducator’s purpose.
It needs to attract and engage target ‘customers’ to further the objectives of this network. This develops empowerment of the consumer (learner) and the opportunity to engage with others of similar interests – in an applied sense (business and educationally intertwined).
Does the network have a facilitator or should it need one?
It’s been fascinating for me to reflect on my own struggles with participating online in this paper and the barriers that are stopping me engaging more freely. In Shane’s posting about the concept of community, he says:
“The information they generate is independent of me, however they form a significant part of what is me. My facilitation of these is simply seek, sort and utilise."I am still at this stage!
I believe there are various levels of ‘guidance’ a facilitator can provide that is unique and personal to each participant. For example, for a newbie to blogging, the prompting of Leigh as our facilitator has provided me with a safe environment for non-threatening discussion and has helped other participants feel less intimidated, has provided management of synchronous meetings and has kept the discussion focused on the issue, with a fresh, objective approach. Leigh states in his FOC 703 blog:
“Not long now and we will be collaborating in the organisation of an online conference. I wonder how many people we will have with us for that? How many of us have started thinking what we will do for it? and how will we do it. Will we have panels, debates, discussion threads with summaries, photo stories, the development of a wiki document... I wonder?”Eeek, his gradual nudging is to ensure we do not become overly dependent on him as a facilitator and therefore may not learn the skills and strategies necessary for facilitating an online community!
Consider my role in helping to develop this blogging network
Leigh has stated it as a comment (and is also very appropriate to me) So I need to:
- respond to comments on my blog (much much more);
- browse through the blogs I have linked into my bloglist and post a few comments (much more);
- post to my blog with references to the work of others (I realise this has been my priority, and needs to change); and
- nurture and build personal connections (network, network, network)
Comment on the strengths and weaknesses of a blogging network for online community development
Blogs are capable of presenting facts. By using this Web.20 tool it has encouraged us to not only read but write. It appears blogs continue to gain credibility because people want a greater variety of opinions which is promoting the collaborative development of knowledge.
Accuracy (or verification) although blogs have a self-correcting mechanism through reader comment and ratings. Blogs are subject to being biased.
Bloggers need to recognise that what they are publishing is public and as a result there are certain ethical obligations to their community, the people they write about, and society in general.
I feel it’s important to identify the strengths and weaknesses — not only does it provide us with an opportunity to work on our weaknesses, it helps move us past the roadblocks that our weaknesses identify.