To begin my review of chapter 5 from Lankshear and Knobel’s New Literacies: Blogs and Wikis, I first wanted to share the answer to a question that I’ve had for a long time – where did the word blog come from?
Here is the brief history from Wikipedia (appropriate for this chapter):
Some of you may have already known that tidbit. The origin of the name isn’t as exciting as I had thought it would be. I assumed it was perhaps a made-up term but I guess having weblog as the origin makes sense.
I remember the first time hearing the term blog. It was during my undergrad in the early 2000’s when a friend of mine sent me a link to her daily blog. As an english major and with a love for writing, keeping a blog was something she enjoyed doing and looked forward to each day. I understood it to be an online journal that anyone could see. But it was more than that. In addition to keeping somewhat of a diary, my friend also provided commentary on various topics. I didn’t get it. The journal writing aspect I understood but just writing sort of a personal op-ed for the whole world to see? I thought maybe it was just a way to get attention.
Fast forward ten years and blogging is not only a common term but a social norm as well. It certainly belongs in the discussion for new literacies because it exemplifies the desire of people to express themselves, communicate, and interact. I agree with Lankshear and Knobel that blogging is both a medium and a practice much like paint. Paint is a medium used for accomplishing a number of different tasks from making art to covering a drywall. The practice of painting can also take different forms with different objectives. Therefore, blogging also acts as both a medium and a practice…a thing and an action.
One thing the authors point out, in both chapters 5 and 6, is that many people look to social networks for knowledge flows – ways to continually acquire knowledge in certain areas of interest. We know that some blogs and wikis also serve to provide knowledge flows today. The question I find curious is how and why do people trust the information provided by the masses?
I look at the case of commercial enterprise. The last few companies I have worked for have utilized blogging as part of their marketing strategy. At one company I worked for, anyone was allowed to submit a blog post for the corporate blog – which I happened to do on a couple occasions. I didn’t understand then and I’m not sure I understand now the value of such a blog to a reader. Is it to get a human component behind the flashiness of marketing?
I know in our sales organization (in the technology industry) a common strategy is to not just sell products to a customer but be a trusted advisor to the customer. I’m sure that publishing corporate blogs, with contributions from industry experts, is way to gain that trusted advisor status. Blogs provide a regular feed of industry and technological commentary but is the information presented trustworthy? Afterall, the company is trying to sell products.
I guess what I’m trying to get at is – as society shifts to blogs and even wikis for knowledge are we in danger of ingesting bad information? How do we know who to trust?