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Blogging: Part of our Shifting Semiosis

February 13, 2006

Often I harvest quotes from other people’s blog in order to encourage readers to check out the ideas there. Christian Long, in his think:lab blog, has a post called
thinklabhead
Blogging and the Changing Environment of Education and Collaboration is a long but well-written post and hits some of the central points about what is happening with the web, communications-in-general, and communications-in-education in particular.
In this excerpt, he sets the context:

We live in a remarkable world where the Internet has moved from a research experiment to a social curiosity to a dot.com frenzy to a normal part of each of our day-to-day existence. In many ways, schools and classrooms are at the center of it all. Computers are tools and in many ways similar to pens and radios and a screwdriver in the fact that they exist simply to help us do things. On the other hand, the raw existence of the Internet is something far more powerful. And what’s just beginning to unfold in blogging, podcasting, and other Web2.0 ways is even more impressive and curious.

In this excerpt he introduces readers to the power of the “read/write” web, often called Web2.0:

Blogging, on the other hand, explodes at the same moment that typical research begins to end…and this is the beginning of what is known as the Web2.0 world, or the second iteration or generation of the Internet. It is also known as the “read/write” web because by its very definition it only exists when the owner of a website and the audience interact, read and write together, share ideas, and collaborate. While the owner of the blog technically ‘owns’ the site, the information is truly open-source. Anyone that can find the website can write back, add information, and take the conversation in a new direction. And instead of a being merely a new ‘tool’, the power of the Web2.0 world and experiences like blogging is based upon the realization that information is no longer static and ‘owned’ by one individual or group. Information is collaborative and forever being added to or challenged or evolved.

In this final excerpt, Long shows his readers why this change has created a revolution in the way we humans communicate:

You see, blogging is merely a simple software tool. On the surface it’s merely a website with content and images. And if you stop by and look at one a time or two nothing really happens. You’ve seen a million sites like this. Check in, check out. But if you stick around for a bit, if you follow a link, if you add a comment or two, if you come back a few days later or weekly or even more often and see what’s been added, if you create a blog of your own, if you add the link to a friend’s blog or a classmate’s blog or a blog of someone from the other side of the world, and if you wake up one day and you receive an email from someone you’ve never met who wanted to tell you how much they appreciated your ideas on something you cared deeply about, then you begin to realize that something really powerful is happening in this Web2.0 world.

Those of us in the education field would do well to take advantage of the possibilites provided by the “read/write” web so our students can garner the learning provided by this communication tool.

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