Saturday, July 24, 2004

Blogs - a social media phenomenon

At 2 am this morning, I read an email from Shel inviting me to login to one of the BlogonEvent webcast, in which he was moderating. I didn't read his mail in time, so by the time I logged in, his session was over. I managed to listen in to something else, and what follows are some points and thoughts, as far as my sleep-deprived mind could understand:

  • People who visit specific blogs tend to look for specific content. On the other hand, with a blog being what it is, the blogger may tend to post varied types of content. I think most bloggers want to be read (otherwise, why publish?) . Hence, it would be in the blogger's interest to be focused on what they blog, akin to carving out one's own specific content-niche market in the Blogosphere. Perhaps it's time that I drop the "rambling" from my blog URL.
  • The "Web", in future context, will be perceived as something very different from today's definition. The closest analogy I can think of to explain this statement is to use the term "Cavalry" in the US Armed Forces context, i.e. from horses to helicopters to tanks. They still call these divisions "Cavalry" but the technology has changed.
  • Discussion of how search engines were not able to make sense of the contextual content on a HTML page (e.g. combination of graphics and text). Unlike human beings, who can quickly place information in context, search engines cannot (at present). I thought this sounds a lot like what libraries are trying to resolve by developing "metadata" and "taxonomies".
  • Media companies are now looking at blogs as the next big thing to market products to specific niches. Who's to say libraries can't promote content in a similar way?

I'm beginning to piece together many terms and concepts I've heard in the last 2 or 3 years, like RSS, syndication, XML feeds etc. They're all making more sense to me now, though I clearly have much more to learn and assimilate.

Dr. Anthony Ferguson (of HKU) emailed me that some of his staff is developing something called power blogging to handle their "conference & professional development opportunity information". Sure sounds exciting. I hope Tony continues to keep me posted on this.

I learnt that within NLB, there was some discussion about using blog tools some 2 years back. For some reason it didn't take off beyond the preliminary discussion stage (as far as I know). I think now NLB can't afford not to. Librarians would agree that libraries have a social function to fulfill. If blogging is the current social media phenomenon, then all the more libraries should take a longer and harder look at the Blogosphere.

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