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Attack of the Blog

by Kristin Lisson

You can run. You can hide. But you cannot escape the BLOG!

No, it’s not the latest horror flick; rather, it has proved to be the latest form of online-assisted communication sweeping the Internet. According to Susan Barnes, author of Computer-Mediated Communication , a blog, which is an acronym for Web log, serves as a publicly-accessible journal on which individuals can instantly post their thoughts online. Other users can then post their reactions, views on various issues, and links to related articles. The result becomes a running commentary complete with author credits and time stamps.

Although blogs are generally linked with business, personal, and entertainment sites, Eugene Volokh, a professor of law at the University of California at Los Angeles, thinks that blogs are evolving into a major academic tool for universities. Members of the academic community have discovered that blogs offer the classroom a cheap, sociable, and fast way for everyone in the class to actively participate in discussion.

According to Susan Ward of Small Business: Canada , what sets blogs apart from other online writing is their dynamic nature: participants can easily post, comment, and update their thoughts because blogs are extremely easy to set up and use. Blogger.com offers free server space and templates to set up a personal blog in as little as five minutes. That’s right—no FTP, no e-mail attachments, no cost. Simply login to your account, type a response, and click Post.

In addition to their flexibility and ease-of-use, the academic community has embraced blogs because they serve as a useful tool for sharing information and expertise in a two-way, open exchange . Blogs enable humanized conversation, which establishes relationships with the participants in a person- and content-centric environment.

Finally, blogs allow speedy, scholarly discussion because they are extremely accessible. Blogs are easier to find than academic journals and still allow scholars to develop serious arguments at serious lengths . Internet users can freely access a blog commentary on almost any topic that sparks their interest because they are open to the public rather than stored in a protected in a library database. If viewers want to post on a topic, all they need is an invitation from the blog creator, which is usually provided as a link on the page.

Many businesses have coined the term “b-blog” for blogs promoting business communication. Can blogs really contribute to academic discourse; is the “a-blog” next? Some professors at Minnesota State University, Mankato (MSU) think so. Students in their upper-level writing classes use blogs to comment on weekly discussion topics posted by the instructor. MSU is just one of the many organizations to see the value in documenting classroom discussion in a dynamic, online environment. If blogs have not already invaded your classroom, look out…they will find you!


Sources

Barnes, Susan. 2003. Computer-Mediated Communication: Human-to-Human Communication Across the Internet. Boston: Pearson Education, Inc.

Volokh, Eugene. “Scholars Who Blog”, 4 June 2003, (19 Oct. 2003). <http://chronicle.com/colloquylive/2003/06/blog/>.

Ward, Susan. “Blog FAQ for Businesses”, 2003, (19 Oct. 2003). <http://sbinfocanada.about.com/library/blogfaq/blblog.htm>.

Goodwin, Kathleen. “Meet the B-Blog”, 22 Jan. 2003, (19 Oct. 2003). <http://www.clickz.com/em_mkt/enl_strat/article.php/1572551>.

“Academic Blogging” The Chronicle: Colloquy Live. 3 June, 2003, (19 Oct. 2003). <http://www.bizstone.com/archive/2003_06_01_archive.htm>.

Glen, David. “Scholars Who Blog”, 4 June 2003, (19 Oct. 2003). <http://chronicle.com/colloquylive/2003/06/blog/>.