Extracted from a commentary in the last issue of The Sunday Times entitled "Web feat or just show-and-tell?":
"A BLOG, OR WEB LOG, is like a paper diary except that you compose your entries on a computer and send them up to a website.
"You can make a blog completely private or limit access to friends. But if you really don't mind having your innermost thoughts read by utter strangers, then you can write a public blog that anyone can go to by typing in the correct Web addresses.
"What suprises me is that lots of bloggers (or bloggettes?) actually relish opening a window to their lives this way.... Even more unexpected is that these bloggers really let things hang out when recording their personal dramas for general consumption....
"So, if you know a blogger -- or a journalist -- be careful of what you say or do to him. Otherwise one day you may find your dirty linen washed in public without you realising it, until it is too late. Then you will know what the view is like from the other side of the window."
READ THE ABOVE COLUMN incidentally while scouring the local papers for interesting infographic snippets. Having attended a lunchtime talk by Maish Nichani on the same subject only yesterday, i couldn't help but be struck by the immense gulf (a chasm!) that separates those who "know and do technology" from those who don't.
If i had known nothing about blogs and read this column, i would have remained in my small world, brushing off new technologies as mere gimmicky avenues for baser instincts.
Fortunately, i have experimented with blogs and do know a little about what blogs can do. So, was quite surprised by the simplistic argument. To consider blogs as mere "personal dramas" flicks or "show-and-tell" gossip just because there are such blogs is as good as panning the usefulness of all publications just because there are gossipy printed material, writing off all TV programmes just because there are sensational shows, or scoffing at all websites just because there are porn sites.
Am reminded of people who don't quite understand something, wouldn't do the serious work needed for real understanding, and yet want to pronounce a negative judgement. Perhaps i'm guilty of this sometimes. Nevertheless, it's attitudes like this that could block the rollout and adoption of useful initiatives in elearning (or other important field) today.
As Maish pointed out, according to Wikipedia, "A weblog, or simply a blog, is a website which contains periodic, reverse chronologically ordered posts on a common webpage. Such a web site would typically be accessible to any Internet user.... Individual posts (which taken together are the blog or weblog) either share a particular theme, or a single or small group of authors."
There are many types of blogs: personal, collaborative, political, and so on. As Maish had explained and demonstrated during the talk, the ubiquity and uses of blogs today are mind-boggling. They have been used with great success worldwide in various fields: to enable reflective learning or teaching, to enable collaborative work and project management, to enable capture and sharing of tacit knowledge, as e-portfolios....
Listening to Maish, i see a world of possibilities and how i've been using my blog in quite a limited way. Baring my soul in a public website had never been my intention. Just thought that weekly blogging is a neat way of compiling assorted essays on my reflections on faith, work, learning, and etcetera. Was quite thankful recently to receive a compliment via email from a priest, "I enjoyed (... and am enriched) reading your reflections!".
Still, how about summarizing what i learn through a daily News section? How about analyzing and synthesizing what i've learnt through a weekly or monthly Features section? How about learning from the experts in my field on a regular basis through an RSS aggregator that pulls insights from their blogs? How about adding an interaction box to maintain persistent and relevant conversations? How about encouraging my students to express themselves and collaborate with one another through blogs? ...
The usefulness of blogs is limited only by our openness and imagination. The question is: How many of us would actually choose to "cross the road"?
(See also Crossing The Road.)