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June 12, 2004



I don't think I agree or disagree with your analysis, but I do have a completely different point of view.
Individual, then small groups reflection is the base of Knowledge generation. Once this is done, the next step is confronting points of view in a corroboree context, providing bits of innovation to the community and comparing them to finally adopt the one that better fit to the needs of every one.

This is common is scientific research : thesis grant, lab grant, results presented during various gatherings, reviews, new standards (maybe even theories).

Every aspect of this process was preserved during social evolution probably because every one is necessary. I don't see anyway to choose ONE of them as the central one.

One may not expect Stephen Hawking to teamwork, when there is hardly a few persons able to suit his pace, but may expect him to present his findings to the next congress around. Isn't it ?
On the other hand, 3W commissions are essential to build standards.

Bryan Alexander

I think this is indeed something fundamental, a question of genre.

For one, you're touching on deep ideologies here - individualist vs collective, individual vs social, almost right and left (think libertarian and communitarian).

For another, there's an echo (at least for me) of the tensions between practices in oral and early written cultures, between the authoritative voice and the diversity of local variations. Think Bible and broadsheets, proclamation and jokes, official myth and the variety of variations.

Thinking about blogs as distributed discussions, and wikis as centralized ones, and along Shannon's lines, and Adina's, there's also a genre continuum of focus. Centralized forms persist, from the earliest email lists through PlaceWare and course management systems. Decentralized ones (Small Pieces Loosely Joined) emerged perhaps with the proliferation of multiple listservs, and definitely with the launch of the Web.

Usenet seems to have (had) both of these forms: threads as unified spaces, the entirety as distributed.

David Locke

On Wikis, would it be possible to change the text color where each day for a week going backwards in time would have its own color. Blue could be now through 24 hours old, etc. The java code for this seems simple enough. Then, we wouldn't have to do the diffs.

Shannon Clark

Having just spent the morning reading a variety of blogs, my own included, I am struck by a variation of your point.

Many bloggers write in what I would term an "article" (perhaps columnist) format - that is self-contained "documents" as posts. These tend to be carefully crafted, often highly formated with illustrations, links, even footnotes/citations, and thus read as entities unto themselves.

On the other hand, many other bloggers (myself being one most of the time) write in an "off the cuff" format, much looser, less formal, a combination of personal diary with email/public discourse. Some people write blogs which are very short (I tend to write long) and open to questions - these tend to be blogs where the real "meat" is in the comments.

I personally find wikis hard to get interested in - I participate for a time, but typically lose interest, mostly due to the effort of finding something interesting. A blog has "new" content for me to read, a mailing list has an ongoing volume which I can manage/sort/organize as I see fit. Both make it clear to me as reader what I have not yet seen without much action on my part (go to a URL, open up my email).

WIKI's on the otherhand often require me to mentally do "diffs" on various pages (or explicitely refer to the changelogs). The presense of a link doesn't imply that the page has content, and though I followed a link on my last visit (and found nothing) I may still have to follow the link a second time to check if there is new content. Thus, for me, over time the effort typically diminishes.


Adina Levin

I think that the various media all have their place and work well together.

The somewhat disconnected nature of blog conversation allows serendipitous discovery that doesn't happen as well in more closed communities.

Wikis let you build on ideas over time -- in weblog rhetoric, it is considered bad form to revise a post.

Mailing lists and forums allow more direct conversation -- but are highly sensitive to volume. Blogs are easier to dip into, since attention is always drawn to what's new.

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