The digital scholar
The digital scholar

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The digital scholar

1.2 Blogs

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Figure 2 Blog

Taking blogs as an example Aemeur, Brassard and Paquet (2005) suggest they act as a form of personal knowledge publishing which fosters interdisciplinary knowledge sharing.

An interesting, but as yet probably unanswerable, question is, to what extent do the new technologies and associated practices create a common set of values, epistemological approaches and communication methods? That is, do the cultural norms associated with the use of the new technologies override those of the separate disciplines? Obviously there is nothing inherent in the technologies themselves that force users to behave in a specific manner; for example, one could use Twitter to simply repeat the same sentence every day. But successful use of the technologies often requires the adoption of certain approaches or cultural norms, whether it is deliberate or not.

Continuing with the example of blogging, regardless of the subject matter of a particular blog or the informal community to which that blog may belong to, there are some persistent cultural norms. Shaohui and Lihua (2008) suggest the following three characteristics of blog culture:

  • Thought share – if the first generation of websites were characterised by information sharing, then blogs mark a move to sharing thoughts.
  • Nonlinearity and concentricity – through linking, embedding, within blogs and then aggregation of blogs, there is a nonlinear construction of knowledge.
  • Criticalness and multivariate collision – specifically this arises from a personal, subjective standpoint that attracts varied comments and views.

The blogger and entrepreneur Loic Le Meur (2005) suggested a number of aspects of a blog community, including:

  • A willingness to share thoughts and experiences with others at an early stage;
  • The importance of getting input from others on an idea or opinion;
  • Launching collaborative projects that would be very difficult or impossible to achieve alone;
  • Gathering information from a high number of sources every day;
  • Control over the sources and aggregation of their news;
  • The existence of a ‘common code’: a vocabulary, a way to write posts and behaviour codes such as quoting other sources when you use them, linking into them, commenting on other posts and so on;
  • A culture of speed and currency, with a preference to post or react instantaneously; and
  • A need for recognition – bloggers want to express themselves and get credit for it.

By becoming a blogger then, one begins to adopt these practices, because they make for a successful blog, and they are represented in the blogs that constitute the cultural norms. Ehrlich and Levin (2005) state that ‘norms and metanorms provide a cultural stickiness or viscosity that can help sustain adaptive behaviour and retard detrimental changes, but that equally can inhibit the introduction and spread of beneficial ones’. The cultural stickiness of the blogging community then is to share ideas, link and acknowledge others, gather and share information quickly, and operate in a timely manner. These could also be presented as attributes which can be seen to serve the needs of interdisciplinarity.

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