Lorcan Dempsey brought to my attention a new blog at the Eduserv Foundation in the UK: eFoundations. It is co-written by Andy Powell and Pete Johnston, colleagues many will recognize from their work in metadata, institutional repositories, and related digital library work.
I am an immediate fan. Well, truth be known, I've been a fan for many years... These folks helped build the reputation of UKOLN as a nexus of solid work in digital librarianship, and their work in the Dublin Core has been foundational. Now, I have their blog to keep up with their thinking.
In an early post, Andy raises an interesting question as to whether the blogosphere has sapped vitality from conventional working group mailing lists. The notion is plausible. In reflecting on my own habits, I find I am far more drawn to blogging than to listserv exchange, for several reasons:
- The product is esthetically more pleasing, easily decorated with images and natively encapsulated in a self-made or stock wrapper that is easier on the eyes than flat mailing list text.
- Posts are micro-publishing products that are indexed, identified, and discrete. While mailing lists are also subject to Web-indexing and identity, they are generally part of a thread that may lack coherence and require inordinate reader effort to contextualize.
- No subscription is required, and visibility naturally evolves to match audience interest
- Thought of as a public notetaking or journalling of ideas, blogs afford an easy means to 'bookmark' (idea-mark?) thoughts that may (or may not) lead to further effort, collaboration, public discussion, or simply reflection. These are not phenomena I've ever associated with mailing lists.
- Email, the delivery vehicle for mailing lists, has become an onerous, if necessary, curse.
On the down side, blogs are as ephemeral as the next payment due. If I lose interest, and take no steps to preserve my content, the so-called 'permalinks' to my pearls of wisdom will disappear from the public record lacking some organized archival attention [an opportunity perhaps?]. And blogs don't easily support the original function of mailing lists -- focused, threaded interest group discussions.
Possibly there is a need for a hybrid tool?
image: Rowboat in the Vancouver Heritage Harbour. September, 2006