Monday, July 18, 2005

Snippets: Introduction to Blogging session at WRL, 16 Jul 05

[Updated: 19 Jul 05 - Isaak's post on the event]

Someone asked after the session, "Is the library disappointed at the turnout?".

I said, "No" (with a smile, and a lah).

Actual turnout was about 25 people. We didn't meet our target for 100 participants, but that was only a target. We'll review to see how to do it better the next time. Plus considering that (1) we didn't manage to use our usual publicity channels, (2) it drizzled that morning, (3) people usually stayed home on a Saturday morning, and (4) schools were involved in the NDP rehearsals (something we perhaps overlooked).

BTW, 25 participants was a good number, and it isn't just self-congratulatory talk. We average about 30 for adult-related talks and programmes. The 100 participants was something of a stretch target.

For those who missed the session, here are some highlights:

Wendy (i.e. Xiaxue) was first:
  • She started her blog so that "no angry girlfriends (of ex-boyfriends) can throw away my diary". Shared how a student emailed her (name not revealed of course) of how she (the student) got into trouble with the school for something she posted.
  • She asked the audience, "What would you do if student called you a bitch in the blog?". A participant (who works in a school) gamely answered that she would not make a big deal out of it as she understood that the teenager could just be expressing his/ her angst. Instead of punishing the student, the better way might be to discuss the issue.
  • Xiaxue's tip for ladies out there: If you want to post your photos online, be aware that they can be downloaded and reposted out of context.

Mr. Brown was next:
  • "My name is Brown. Everyone calls me that. My teachers call me Kin Mun". His presentation was with his typical Mr. Brown humour. Funny guy.
  • Said he was a blogger by accident. It stemmed from the many requests for past issues of his SNE series being circulated in email then.
  • Brown showed how one could create a blog using Blogger. Then introduced Flickr, an overview on RSS & podcasting, and touched on tagging.
  • He made it a point to read every comment he receives in his blog because "you are liable for what people comment in your blog". Sound advice.

Preetam rounded up the session:
  • Said he liked to blog about his travels and food. He tries to provide useful information rather than just tell people where he visited.
  • He shared some real-life examples of how blogs are being used in Education (my colleague from Learning Division was really interested in this. Introduced him to Preetam after the session, and they might work out something for a training course).

I asked them to name some books they read or were reading:
  • Wendy: George Orwell's 1984, Harry Potter, Hitchiker's Guide to the Galaxy.
  • Preetam: Books on Food and Travel. He recommends Dan Gillmor's We the Media.
  • Brown: Smart Mobs, Blink, Tipping Point, Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time (says the book has a non-threatening way of learning about Autism).

I learn new things from the session. Not so much about the technicalities of blogging, but about the bloggers as individuals. Nothing beats meeting people in person.

Take Wendy (aka Xiaxue) for instance. To me, the "Xiaxue" in person is different from her blog-persona. Reading her blog gives the impression that she's brash and rude. In person, she's articulate and confident. While she has certain opinions I don't agree (like her views on using 4-letter words in blogs), I think she's entitled and responsible for her individual stand. Kudos to her for expressing her position in a non-challenging way. I wonder how many in the audience saw that.

In the long run, I see the library acting as the catalyst for civil discourse. We don't necessarily have to agree with the presenter. We can still agree to disagree.

BTW, Mr Brown discovered at least one participant (a mother whose kids blogged) who created her own blog after the event. A few of my colleagues turned up for the event, and they have a better understanding of the practical applications of blogs.

So -- am I disappointed?

Far from it. :)

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  1. Yeah, I had the opportunity to read some of XX's non-blog writings, and she's very measured... Nice event by the way. :)

  2. Anonymous12:42 am

    Nice of you to describe the blogging session. It was almost like being there in person. I am surprised the turnout wasn't bigger, but then as another blogger wrote after the session, bloggers are not the most sociable creatures. I can't recall who wrote that but saw it on Tomorrow. See, interest in the event actually exceeded the turnout! I enjoyed reading you because you described the event almost in pictures in a gentle, ruminative style. That's why I also like Mr Brown -- he's genial even when he's scoring points. Young 'uns can be brash. I'm an oldie.

  3. Thanks for comments.

    Jeffery: Were you there?

    Rana: Think it was the ST reporter who wrote the article about bloggers not being sociable.

  4. Anonymous12:56 pm

    Hi Ivan, it's nice reading about the 'blogging conference' from a librarian point of view. You guys made that REAL, as in, real people do blog! It's hard to put it into words but I just want to say thank you to you guys!

    Ps. I maybe coming for the NLB conference at Nov, very, very excited.

  5. Hi Whosoever -- actually, the morning workshop isn't the conference per se. They held the Blogger.SG event at DXO rather than WRL in the original plan, 'cos they wanted to have alcholic drinks and the bellydancing (they were wary of having that in the library).

  6. Hi Ivan, have you been following the 'fight' between Xia Xue and her 'haters'? Someone has gone and trashed Xia Xue's blog.. Is this the price of fame? And I thought Australians were the worst for Tall Poppy Syndrome!

  7. Hi CW, no I've not followed the "fight". Wasn't aware there was on until I saw a few recent blog posts saying that her site has been hacked. Hope they catch the culprit. It's ok to disagree with someone, but to go beyond verbal sparring is too much.

  8. Anonymous12:47 am

    good writings. i like your October 29 post. very reflective.


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