From Wikipedia: A flash mob is a group of people who assemble suddenly in a public place, do something unusual or notable, and then disperse. They are usually organized with the help of the Internet or other digital communications networks.
So as I mentioned yesterday, I was in a meeting. It was a meeting about blogging, and yes, some of us were indeed blogging while we talked and instant-messaged with each other about blogging. We were brought here by an email, out of the blue, from Bob Stein, and we came from all over the USA
(Bob Stein is Director of research at the Institute for the Future of the Book, at the Annenberg Center for Communication here at USC and also is part of the Interactive Media Division – I had no idea we had such interesting departments and people doing such interesting things! They do everything from courses on video game design, through multimedia in film, to communcations and networking technologies…..)
I already gave the list of people who attended in the previous post. I recommend that you take a look at their blogs (and other websites, for those who were not bloggers), since they are all very interesting. And every person there was just so interesting. I could have sat there all day with them.
Wait. I did sit there all day with them. We started at 8:00am, and sat in that room until 6:00pm. With just a break for lunch (and a couple of other minibreaks), and with coffee, juice, and nibbles of various sorts on tap. Not happy to leave each other’s company and stop the brainstorming, we then relocated to dinner in Little Tokyo (one of Los Angeles’ many many wormholes connecting you to cultures all over the planet…and perhaps beyond [Update: we went to Zip Fusion]) for excellent sushi, beer, and sake.
And we talked some more.
What were we talking about? Everything you can think about to do with blogging. The discussion was framed in terms of academic (and those with other expert knowledge) bloggers, and their blogging. What purpose it serves, who does it, is it a good thing, and in particular…. why are more academics not blogging, and how can we help get more to blog? So we’ve been formulating visions for the future, and also trying to decide how we can help to make it better for everyone.
The main issues from my point of view is to combat:
(1) on the one hand, the fear (based on reality or not) that many academics have of being known as a blogger. They worry that their colleagues won’t take it seriously, won’t see its value, will see it as a distraction from the business of being an academic, and that there are therefore damaging consequences. They themselves might not see the value of it to the business of being an academic.
(2) on the other hand, the ignorance (the root of most fear) that most academics have about the blogging thing, which may make them view their colleagues’ blogging as timewasting. What is it? Why do it? How can it help you do your job more effectively (teaching, research, service)? How does it contribute to the life of a university? How does it contribute to the success of the university in its roles in society (outreach, dissemination of knowledge for the public good, etc)? How do I start my own blog? How much time does it really take?
Another important question is: Can (and should) aspects of blogging be reshaped to some extent in order to help with points (1) and (2).
(4) What new tools do we need to make blogging more effective, particularly in the context of academic blogging?
So we discussed this into the night. Next step is for Bob Stein and his team to mine through the points that came up in discussion for things that can be shaped into useful plans of action. (almost everything was recorded in various forms…room full of technology – minded people, you see.) Feel free to add your comments and thoughts on the issue, and I’m sure Bob will find them.
Then next… action.