Thursday, September 11, 2008

FOC08 and Global Voices - Blogging Networks

FOC08 Looking for online community: Blog networks

The Wikipedia Blogosphere article points to specific examples. Global Voices Online's particular focus is on non-Western and underrepresented voices. Global Voices aggregates, curates, and amplifies the global conversation online – shining light on places and people other media often ignore.

To help contributors, Global Voices provides guidelines and encourages discussions on subjects that might not otherwise find readership. By aggregating and promoting these blogs, the issues get visibility that would be impossible for the individual. Providing community, support and promotion for these messages, many more readers are aware of the problems faced in other parts of the world, and can share and contribute to their solutions. The Global Voice blogging network is an inspiration and a resource to others.

Blogging network FOC08 There are many examples of links from FOC08 participants (Bee, Amy, Dolors, Daryl) to one another, and links to outside resources (World Cafe, art of hosting, A Group Is Its Own Worst Enemy, Marcel, Shelley, Wenger) with posts that expand, explain or contradict a discussion within the conversation in FOC08 blogosphere. Participants take responsibility for contributing with intra- and extra-FOC08 blogosphere references - nice give and take aspects to this form of community activity.

The facilitators set the process in motion with the overall course structure. The earliest course activities included creating a personal blog (Blogger, Wordpress, Posterous), providing the RSS feed link to the central participant list, setting up a feed reader (Netvibes, Bloglines, Google Reader), posting to the blog, commenting on the posting of others, posting follow-up summaries with links based on reading the posts of other participants. Although this was a new way of working for many participants, it has served well. The facilitator also modeled the expected behavior, posting to the course blog, posting comments, and highlighting examples of participants who demonstrated great networking.

Bloggers retain ownership of their participation in the community. This is very different that simply posting a reply in a more traditional threaded discussion. With blog features like tags and categories, the information is archived, searchable and retrievable. This adds to the permanence of the community. There is history. The identity and contribution of the participants are kept. The community knowledge base expands.

The technology tools to help create order and meaning from the apparent chaos are well established (social networking - Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn), (social bookmarking - delicious, Digg), (blog rating and aggregating - Technorati, Wikio blog ranking) and new improved tools are being introduced (iLeonardo, iterasi).

Blogging networks are an important component of any community. Providing a focus and an aggregation of blogs by community members about community issues, the community is active, informs its membership, reflects on issues and dynamically formulates solutions. The community thrives and grows by giving everyone (non-members as well as members) an opportunity to participate and have a voice in the conversation.

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