On Dave's Live Session
Today's session with Dave Winer
was a blast. I am grateful to everyone who came; it was really quite something. If you weren't there, Donna's got the outline
- check it out.
So far, Frank Field's got the best response.
After reading the last bit ("the weblog can help to foster the digital equivalent of the late-night dorm bullsh*t sessions where much of the true benefit of the college experience comes - campus-wide!"), I immediately thought of how helpful weblogs could be at large universities like Harvard. I'm never going to meet everyone here Harvard - I'm never going to even know they exist, probably. Imagine what it's like at Berkeley!
A couple of notes of my own:
1. Donna's got the right idea when she talks about "pry[ing] [Harvard] open"
and creating the "opportunity for the novice to converse meaningfully with the expert." I'd love to see professors get into blogging, sharing their insights through that medium with everyone who cares to read. I also see particular benefits for professors using blogs within classes, to help facilitate out-of-class discussion and thought.
2. I want to point out a class
which made me think of blogs as an extension of response papers (even if you're not at Harvard, you should be able to follow that link and at least access the syllabus). This class has weekly response papers, responses to other people's papers, and responses to the interviews with the class' guests. Everything except the responses to the interviews go up on the web for intraclass access. It's all about people throwing up snippets of information, reactions to what's going in class. The professor, Brian Palmer, said that all of these assignments were meant to generate a democratic, communal learning process. It feels a lot like blogging, in a way.
3. And, as we noted at the meeting, it is hokey. But, honestly, so are most of the Big Ideas that go along with blogging and its myriad potential uses. If not hokey, they're idealistic, or philosophical abstractions, or "good in theory", or some other accurate-but-subtly-pejorative description. Sometimes these descriptions get lumped into the New Economy Myths pile - all of those thoughts about the Internet that, often, started with "democracy will never be the same" or "communications revolution" and ended with a dead dot-com.
But, those myths aside, some of those dreams about what the Internet could accomplish, and, in particular, what blogging can accomplish, still feel possible; they seem like Big Ideas worth working for, even though they're currently just idealistic, sometimes hokey, dreams.
Take this whole Blogs@Harvard
initiative. The potential benefits! It could change so much! Come up with all those dreams you have about it, and compare them to what the present looks like. If you don't feel just a little silly for thinking such change is possible, well then I'd say you're not dreaming big enough. But I'd also say that, given what we know about blogs right now, let's take all that hokiness, all that idealism, all those dreams, and run with it.
4. I'm not saying that's a great way of selling it to people. Most people won't buy into those dreams immediately. They'll see "hokey" and walk away.
That's why I suggest getting blogs involved in small ways, in the classroom in particular. If blogging is similar to some of the discussion tools used and response paper formats used currently, let's see if we can get some people to use blogs instead. Let's try to get people aware of blogs in the first place however we can. Let's get them thinking in that mode. If they don't like it, fine. But let's try to give them the tools and see what they can do with them.