Thursday, May 22, 2008

AAM Conference Session: Expanding the Hive

While the panelists of "Expanding the Hive: Blogs as Engines of Community Formation"--including blogger extraordinaire Shelley Bernstein from the Brooklyn Museum--all agreed that blogging was a viable tool for community building, they had some important distinctions to make between blogs that will succeed at this function and blogs that will not. Perhaps the most crucial distinction centers around the manner of communication used in a blog--is it a uni-directional monologue or is it an inclusive dialogue? The point of the panelists was that dialogue blogging was more likely to inspire comments, resulting in community formation. Blogs should not be newsletters. If you do re-purpose news and press releases for your blog, be sure to personalize the item so that it will be a post that inspires dialogue rather than just provides information.

What are some of the most comment-inspiring blog posts you have seen? What made them worth commenting on? Do you agree with the panelists that blogs can be useful as community building tools? Is it desirable that blogs be used in this manner?


Lynn Bethke said...

I have maybe one or two opinions about museums and blogs. Blogs can build community, I believe that, but I also believe they are probably less effective than other more active and sexy tools. Blogs as uni-directional alterna-advertising are dull, boring, and send the wrong message to readers (unless it is explicit somewhere on the page that the blog is supposed to have a newsletter type function).

To respond directly to your first questions: I am most often moved to comment on 1) posts which I have some opinion and background on (like this post) and 2) posts which are interesting and written in a fun manner (like many of the posts over on the Science Buzz blog), 3) posts written by people I know and 4) posts which are some kind of contest (not usually museum blogs).

I think that blogs are useful portals to conversation. They are an excellent way to create opportunities for reaction and interaction, but it depends on the readers and the community for blogs to become a dialogue.

Eve said...

I wrote my Master's thesis on 'zines, which I believe were psychologically the precursor to blogs. What 'zines lacked was consistent feedback and connection with other people. Sometimes you never knew if anyone was reading, if anyone cared. Blogs provide the opportunity to get that connection, often in real time.

I saw an interesting exhibit in a museum in NYC not too long ago where there were blogs in the center of the exhibit, allowing viewers to respond to the exhibit and read what others had responded to in the exhibit in real time. It was a pretty neat idea, but had the vague feeling of disconnection - like, we're all in this room together, but no one's really talking.

Sometimes technology can enhance communication and connection, and sometimes it is a barrier.