What Are Blogs Good For? Will They Disappear?

Blogging has become really popular. But of course, you knew that—you’re reading one! A session yesterday on “Weblogs as Communication and Collaboration Tools” explored some interesting and different uses for blogs. For example, Christina Pikas (she has a blog called Christina’s LIS Rant) at a the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory set up a blog on the lab’s intranet. They needed a newsletter so that researchers could keep abreast of what each other was doing, but the intranet portal design was too inflexible for this. Also the lab’s server and technical support person were going away. Christina found some space on another server and set up a blog. It works well. Interestingly, posters don’t receive comments on their blog postings, but they receive e-mails, phone calls, and in-person communications for comments. Since the blog is behind the firewall, they don’t have to worry about spam. Christina’s recommendations:
• Try to get a stable host for your blog.
• Don’t assume users and even information technology staff know about or understand anything about blogs.
• Backup and consider ways to export or import content.
• Provide lots of contact information.
• Get the blog advertised on the intranet pages that users visit often.

Susan Klopper at Emory University mentioned an article in the Chicago Tribune suggesting that blogging may have peaked. However, in the academic community, blogs are all the rage because they are current and proactive. She uses a blog as a knowledge management tool for library staff to facilitate discussions and share knowledge.

Clara Hudson at the library of the University of Scranton uses a blog to facilitate communication among members of a community. She said that blogging requires marketing, and people must be trained to use it. Blogs are also used at her institution for classroom instruction and have the advantage that students can communicate outside the classroom with each other and the instructor even after the class has finished. The instructors like blogs because they don’t have to prepare handouts for the students.

So has blog usage peaked, as the Chicago Tribune article indicated? I don’t think so—on the contrary, from this session, it seems like their usage is growing, and new innovative uses for them continue to be found.

Don Hawkins
Columnist, Information Today

2 Responses to “What Are Blogs Good For? Will They Disappear?”

  1. Susan Fingerman March 24, 2006 at 3:56 am #

    As moderator of this session and a colleague of Christina’s at the Applied Physics Laboratory, I’d like to correct at least one item in Don’s synopsis. It was the Library Group’s server and support that was going away, not the Laboratory’s server.

  2. CBrulee March 23, 2006 at 5:51 pm #

    I find the blog code/format ideal for web pages that are news and “tips” related. The automatic gathering of past pages into monthly roll-ups is a great feature. Then you also have the added advantage of a fast way to offer subscriptions tothe content. I’m just getting started, but here are a few examples:
    APUMC Church News
    Webs 4 Churches
    UMC Congo news