Tuesday, October 01, 2013

Social media: evolution and change

Over the last few years blogging has become a bit of an occasional pursuit for me, and I've been wondering why. The answer came to me last week, as I reflected on three rather different incidents - all relating in rather different ways to that question. Firstly, I was reading a paper on academic blogging that was so radically different in emphasis to the study I did with Julia Davies (review), that it made me wonder what an academic blog actually was in the first place! We had written about the first wave of blogging, and looked at how academics took up the practice and how, in quite creative ways they/we performed their academic identities online. This paper, on the other hand, took a much more limited view and addressed how academic bloggers wrote about and lobbied for change in university learning and teaching. Secondly, a round-robin email (to all staff) announced the VC's new blog post on MOOCs - one in which he makes reference to the impact of digital distribution on the music industry (draw your own conclusions). But it wasn't really about the content it was the mere fact that someone in a senior managerial position was using the blog to stimulate discussion - and canvassing readership through an institutional mailout. Like the first incident it all seemed to me very safe and mainstream, as if the edge had gone out of blogging. Then, thirdly, another completely unrelated incident. A random email from a researcher who produces materials for college students who'd read a rant on referencing I'd posted back in 2006, in the first flush of blogging. My despondency over the institutionalization and narrowing down of blogging was somewhat alleviated. Your humble blogger's voice might just be heard!

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