Stuff I read and what I think about it: Week 4 Reading Response

Stuff I read:

What I think:

The theme for this week’s reading response is “The Perfection of Blogging”. In the required and optional texts for Week 4, the most recurrent theme is the implications and impact of academic blogging as a form of scholarly communication (i.e. publishing). Instead of submitting a paper to a peer-reviewed journal for publication, professors and instructors (as well as everyone else) have the ability to simply post their creations on a WordPress site. However, as the act of self-publishing online differs greatly from more traditional forms of publishing, it raises numerous questions about the text itself, authorship/identity, and literacy. Outside of the restrictions of the traditional publishing model, blogs can be published instantly, updated consistently, and include all sorts of digital content. By offering numerous technical features in an easy to use format, blogging provides the closest thing to a direct connection to the offline user. Through permitting users to include content from any number of sources (links, embedded media, comments), blogs acknowledge the communicative and collaborative aspects of authorship. In allowing users to edit and update their content, blogging as a medium recognizes the inherent differences between print and digital text.

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My Main Insights

So much expression: As bloggers put their “private lives in public spaces”, their output  epitomizes the act of expressing oneself digitally.Although the purposes of blogs can range from academic/professional to personal interest, they inevitably combine aspects of both worlds. The specific reasons for this include the user-friendly technological capabilities, the consistent blending of personal and professional, and the acknowledgement of collaboration as an inextricable component of publishing. Outlets like Facebook and Twitter offer outlets for creating and contributing to an online identity, but blogging allows for the development of a much more comprehensive self-narrative. They are very easy to use and offer a plethora of different technical options. Users can share media, assign categories, interact with comments, and (overall) make their blog an extension of themselves. Even when bloggers choose to delete content or not include a piece of content in the first place, it inevitably reveals their inner-workings. In short, users have more of an active hand in forming their identity than ever before.

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Combining (and publishing) it all: More than any other form of digital communication (and publication), the act of blogging acknowledges  collaboration as an inherent trait of human existence and (in turn) publishing. Prior to the arrival of digital resources and (specifically) online publishing, academics and researchers were restricted to the traditional “print” model of scholarly communication (i.e. submitting articles to journals and books to publishers). These processes typically included an intense review process and several months before the materials were available. They were credited as the only author(s) and had to wait for the opportunity to put out a new edition before making any updates. By using a blog as an outlet for self-publishing, academics (and other users) face much fewer limitations. Users can instantly post content online, combine digital media in many formats, and include links and content from several different sources. In some cases, blogs are collective efforts from several people. Overall, blogging gives credit where credit is due.

Text is HYPER: Blogging has (and continues to) transform the ways in which people publish content. Prior to the arrival of digital culture, authors were limited to the page and typewriter. Print resources are “finite” in that they are self-contained and cannot be edited immediately. The “live” or “ongoing” nature of blog content differs greatly from traditional publishing because the author can change their creation by simply logging in and making edits. They often include links to other resources, multimedia, and comments from other users.  These distinguishing characteristics raise many important questions about authorship, publication, and literacy. If a post includes links and media from other sources (RSS Feeds, user comments, collective blogging), then it is apparent that there are, in fact, multiple authors with valuable contributions. They are a new type of text that requires a new type of literacy.

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All about the attitude: The suggested readings for this week served as excellent accompaniments to the required text. As prime examples of academic blogging, they illustrate the fact that acceptance of the “collaborative” nature of scholarly publishing and the future of education. In his article on the mindset of educators, Sean Michael Morris makes a very convincing case for how we should approach to changes in pedagogical technology (Digital Pedagogy Lab) . Rather than employing blind acceptance or rejection of these changes, it is most effective to combine optimism and skepticism. The article by George Siemens furthers this point by explaining the need for passion among advocates combined with a realistic knowledge of how new learning technology works. Mike Caulfield furthers this point in his watchmaker analogy by pointing out the gradual, sectional character of advancements in course-ware. Lastly, Jon Becker’s post reveals that faculty and other educators have a will to learn and enhance their professional skill sets. In summary, we educators must optimistically and realistically embrace the gradual changes in educational technology.

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Regarding Libraries: I selected an article on digital literacy and transferable skills in public librarians that set out to determine how ready are librarians to assist their patrons with these abilities and the areas in which they feel they could benefit from additional training. The results revealed that there are indeed gaps in librarian abilities (social media, eBooks, PC troubleshooting, management, assessment, and others), librarians feel that digital and transferable skills were equally important, and that they are very enthusiastic about the prospect of more ongoing training (in and out of library school). More than anything else, this article revealed a mindset that I am proud to share: advancing your skill set does not have to be restricted to one are (technological, etc.) and that improvement often comes in many areas simultaneously.

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