Saturday, October 17, 2009

Blogs, Forums, Twitter and facilitation

A blog is a journal edited by one person. Most blogs would allow to post replies. This frequently leads to exchange of ideas with readers which can themselves be bloggers. These bloggers are likely to have the same interests and would in turn cross reference with other blog, creating a network or community of blogs. A blog network can grow organically, or being actively weaved, as described by Angus.
An on-line discussion forum belongs to all participants. Participants are frequently screened to be registered to the community. They exchange ideas through a platform, and other members reply to the treads/questions
When investing the two formats, looking to the practical implementations of the two platforms, I arrived  to some conclusions. In general,
-Blogs tends to convey ideas which are much more in depth than forum, probably because the feedback is not frequently as fast from other people
-There is a tendency to have more intense discussions in forum.
-Sometimes  loudest people take over  a forum. This can lead its demise  as the other participants get less interested into visiting the forum. This can be counteracted with effective moderation of the forum.

My preconception about Twitter is that it at first feels like a tool for people with short attention span.
A reservation I have into to using it is that it would be an other source of information to have to cope with. I am at the moment spending up to 45 minutes  at work  every morning  reading, filtering, deleting the information arrived overnight through emails, RSS,  and update  on web site such as blogs. On top of that count the "urgent" information requested  from students via IM system, and you realise that the  back ground eNoise is already quite high…
So what would Twitter bring me? Twitter is well described be Sarah Steward on the FC09 blog.
There is not doubt that Twitter is probably be a good way of pushing information out towards other people. However, I feel that I could not effectively cope with an other source of information coming in, especially as I frequently could get it via other existing tools. I feel that it is much more efficient to gather information via limited set of tools such as RSS, eMail, and Update Scanner.  In fact I have rationalised my information input replacing most RSS by U.Scanner. Updates. Update Scanner works in 99% of cases, when RSS is not always implemented on interesting sites.
Let's get back to Twitter. If the people I am trying to push information to via Twitter are in the same situation as me, can I expect them to collect information via this tool, or should I instead pass the information via existing tools? You know by now what solution I would prefer. I will however try to use Twitter in a course I will be delivering next year, and get the feed back from the students. I might get surprised!


  1. Aha - I've been looking for a way to get updates from websites that don't have RSS. I'll try the one you've found.... might make keeping up-to-date easier.

  2. Stephen, it works with Firefox as a web browser, at it is worth playing with the settings to discover all the functionalities. It can sometimes slow down Firefox if the plug in looks at too many web sites at any one time. But well worth the hassle!
    The site are kept in special folder in the bookmarks, which mean that you can backup everything very easily.

  3. Hi Herve
    I enjoyed reading your comments about "twitter@, these are some areas that I would hope to explore in my "conference event/discussion". I am a novice with information storing, using delicious and google reader at the moment. As with all these tools, I think the 'intention for use' has to be very clear and I guess we have to play with them a bit before we can decide on their use ??

    Good to read your other tools though, I will have to explore.

  4. Hi Herve, I understand how you feel about all of the info coming in from all of the different technology. We're all saying more, but are we saying anything more meaningful?

    I don't really feel the need to keep up with people that often by using Twitter. I guess I shouldn't knock it until I've tried it, but I really don't think it's going to bring me anything more and it's going to take time to read all the tweets.

    WIIFM? (What's in it for me?)

  5. There are a number of tools that help you monitor information like RSS that Stephen has already mentioned. In Twitter, you can follow the themes you want & ignore the rest using tools like Tweetdeck. As with everything, it gets easier/better the more you engage with it - using igoogle, alerts etc helps me keep my info under control (more or less) :)