Yesterday I participated in the public colloquium “UbiScribe: Collocollaboracontentquery?” as a part of the DEAF07 festival. The topic of Ubiscribe is pervasive publishing in the networked media of which blogging is obviously a part. This caught my attention regarding my thesis on “Blog Software and the Act of Blogging.”
The term publishing is used in a wide context and as a wealth of practices. Jouke Kleerebeezem describes publishing as “an intentional act to make a ‘text’ accessible” where a text can be widely interpreted. Arie Altena defines publishing as “to send something out to a place that is publicly accessible.” The texts that are addressed range from images to metadata to blogs and the places from search engines to image depositories to blogs.
De Geuzen (left) & Arie Altena (right)
I am not going to try to summarize the event (which moderator Florian Cramer also had a hard time with at the end of the day) but rather write down the things that made me think related to my thesis. This will not result in a structured story but rather in a collection of random thoughts.
Sandra Fauconnier presented her research on Designing participation. Web 2.0 brings up issues of ownership and makes me wonder how ownership is related to one’s blog. Blogs are often hosted at blogging hosting companies such as Blogger.com or WordPress.com and content is stored at their servers. When you host your own blog the content is also stored on an external server such as your hosting company. So do you really have full ownership of your blog? Blogger (my visit to Blogger’s site while writing this post resulted in a post titled “Google and Blogger, please stop localizing me!“) might change it’s Content Policy or, however unlikely, the service may shut down.
Software is often written for specific purposes, in a specific environment in a specific timeframe. I am going to focus on the specific purposes (to facilitate the blogging process) the specific timeframe (the transfer from handwritten HTML to Perl/CGI scripts to PHP) and the specific environment (blog software written by bloggers and WordPress as open source). Note to self: Read Shirky’s “Situated Software” – MySQL as the dominant database system.
Arie Altena described the three stages of blogging:
- Blog as voice of an author
- Blog as invitation to conversation (conversation is more important than the author)
- Blog as syndication, aggregation, dispersion
Stage three has not eliminated stage one and two as such blogs still exist but the trend has moved towards stage three. This made me ask Arie Altena whether or not we are currently moving towards a fourth stage: “Blog as CMS.” Arie Altena replied with the question of whether we can still consider that blogging or whether it is more about your scattered self with your Flickr photos, your del.icio.us links etcetera as widgets in your sidebar? Are those sites still blogs?
This is a question I am still thinking about. Blog software is changing and external plugins seems to change the act of blogging and blogs themselves. Some plugins such as tagging plugins have proved so popular and useful that they are rumored to become part of the upcoming WordPress 2.2 version. Also with using plugins and widgets what are we doing when we blog is changing. It is no longer listing links or writing a diary or a form of journalism but it is turning into an exposion of the self through widgets with what you are reading, your current photos on Flickr, etc.
This event has left me with a lot of questions, provided some answers and, more importantly, new thoughts, great!