Two books on social media were released last week which I think academics, educators and marketing professionals should take note of.
The first book is Uses of Blogs, as contributed by several blog-related scholars. In it, you’ll find Alex Halavais’ chapter entitled “Scholarly Blogging: Moving Toward the Visible College“. In Alex’s chapter introduction, he notes how scholars who blog are engaging in more than personal publishing; they are shaping a new “third place” for academic discourse, a space for developing the social networks that help drive the more visible institutions of research. He also highlights four themes that seem to form a core set of beliefs among many bloggers. I’ll add some of my own thoughts:
1. Networked Audiences
Where mass media act to collect audiences and aggregate opinion and attention, blogs encourage individualized views of the informational world. This means that blog reading is more “DIY” compared to say TV viewing, since readers pick and choose blogs to read at their time preference and frequency (perhaps also known as “participatory culture”).
Such is a hallmark of blogging. Alex states that often commentators have focused on so-called “A-list” blogs which many not value conversations as highly while fairly new or less popular bloggers might be classified as “mumblers” (i.e. without comments or readers). Regardless of these outcomes, bloggers are seeking a way of conversing with the world.
3. Low Intensity
Producing microcontent requires little commitment of time, and free blogging platforms provide an inexpensive outlet for this microcontent. For me there’s little barrier to publish when I blog.
Blogs do represent an unedited view of thinking-in-progress. It can be ugly yet beautiful at the same time.
The second book is Convergence Culture by Henry Jenkins. As Danah Boyd puts it, Henry is the expert on participatory culture and really gets “user generated content” because he studies how fans create content and culture around their favorite artifacts. His latest work is particularly relevant to those interested in what’s going on with YouTube and MySpace, Lost and American Idol. Convergence Culture provides a set of case studies where media is converging in interesting ways. This includes video games that provide backstories to movies or where TV has become participatory thanks to online forums and web sites.
• Alex Halavais on “Scholarly Blogging: Moving Toward the Visible College”
• Henry Jenkins’ Convergence Blog
• Henry Jenkin’s Webcast @ NMC 2004: “Spoilers, Bloggers, Modders, and Thieves: Empowered Consumption in an Age of Media Convergence”