Weblog on the Internet and public policy, journalism, virtual community, and more from David Brake, a Canadian academic, consultant and journalist

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5 March 2012

Of course it has a role for easy, quick communication of relatively unimportant information but I fear that its very availability and ease means that like some kind of online kudzu it is expanding and driving out longer-form online discourse – particularly blogs. This is particularly problematic for academics like myself. It used to be that I would string together 500 words and more about an academic subject or something in the news and post it on my academic blog (okay, I admit I was a grad student with a bit more time on my hands) but now I tend to just tweet or Facebook post about it because the blog form implicitly demands more engagement than I feel I can give. It seems to me that possibly for similar reasons gradually nearly all of the blogs I used to read by fellow academics giving me their insights into trends and papers have died away*, replaced by tweets simply directing me to relevant web addresses.

Don’t get me wrong–I love to read and pass on the kinds of references to papers and to newspaper articles I get–see my twitter feed– but by the time a tweeter tells you who sent them a web address, very briefly summarizes why you might want to click and perhaps provides a hash tag to indicate its subject all that remains to be said is that said document or image is “enjoyable”, “provocative”, scary etc. A blog posting by contrast does not have to be that much longer but allows the writer to provide at least a little more context for the resource that they are talking about or indeed to provide a small but nonetheless useful addition to scholarly knowledge without all the psychic and administrative burden of turning out an academic paper.

Moreover, I have recently realised thanks to the news about Datasift providing companies with access to archives of tweets back to 2010 that although Twitter has kept everything, if I as a user ever did want to find an insightful tweet from even a week ago unless I had favourited it or I had been using third-party programs to archive a particular user or hashtag I would be out of luck. I always supposed that the limitations of search in tools like TweetDeck or Twitter.com itself were just a coding problem not reflective of an underlying technical problem.

* Mind you, this rant which I have been saving for a while now was inspired in part by the excellence of a Nathan Jurgenson blog post which reminded me that academic blog excellence is not yet dead.

The cartoon below (sorry have lost the original source) presents a number of other good reasons I dislike Twitter…

15 December 2009

10th birthday cake

I looked back and found that my earliest blog post was ten years ago today. Readers will note that it has been used steadily less and less over the years because it falls between two stools – most of my recent blogging has been academic and hosted on the Media@LSE group weblog which I set up. Since I am no longer there I plan to phase that out. This blog is therefore primarily for more personal blog entries, but I find that for the most part things that are personal I only wish to share with my friends and acquaintances and I am therefore using Facebook more – particularly now that the latest update allows item by item privacy controls. This blog may therefore end up being my ‘public-facing’ blog again, mainly about academic-related things. Stay tuned for further announcements…

9 November 2008
Filed under:About this blog at9:19 pm

The suspense is killing me – when I awake I’ll know what the auction of this domain got me. I’m hoping for a surge in the last 6 hrs (it happens on eBay all the time after all). The price is still below what I had this domain valued at…

Whatever happens I hope my readers will follow me across to the new address!

7 November 2008
Filed under:About this blog at6:34 pm

I’m pleased to say that there’s already a second bid on the blog.org domain, with two days, 8 hours to go until it’s sold. I also now have decided on the future address of this blog. Please bookmark either http://blog.davidbrake.org/ or http://davidbrake.org/blog (both appear to work now).

6 November 2008
Filed under:About this blog at2:38 pm

I’m not giving up blogging but I am giving up this domain – I’ve put it up for auction. Proud as I am of having owned this domain and run this blog for over seven years there’s a $50,000 offer on the table so I couldn’t really say no. The auction runs for three and a half more days, so if you’re interested, hurry on over to the auction link.

Because the domain name has had a long association with me personally, I would like to know the purpose to which a potential purchaser intends to put it to ensure that it is not going to embarrass me. I would also like a visible link somewhere on the front page for three months from date of purchase that points to the new address of my weblog (it does not have to be prominent).

I will post again later to let you know what this blog’s new address will be. If you’re a reader via RSS and have subscribed to the current RSS feed provided via Feedburner then you should notice no change. Otherwise it’s worth making sure you update your RSS reader.

23 October 2008

You may have my main blog feed in your RSS readers but did you realise that I am now producing seven RSS feeds? (plus a stream of status updates which are hopefully only available to friends on facebook, twitter and jaiku).

Most of the feeds are linked from this blog somewhere – the exceptions being the feed for my academic group weblog and that for my lastfm listening. But if you want all of my public media consumption and both micro and macro-publishing, go to http://friendfeed.com/davidbrake/ and get the One True Feed…

22 October 2008
Filed under:About this blog,Useful web resources at12:47 pm

Those who are reading this blog via RSS readers are already getting automatically alerted to new content but if you don’t like using them or don’t know how try this tool.

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If it doesn’t work for you or gives you any trouble, please let me know by commenting below.

9 October 2008

I found a way around the problem I complained of earlier – having no way to publish my list of subscribed podcasts from iTunes. Check out the list I just added at the right about two thirds of the way down and enjoy a great selection of largely speech-based podcast goodness. And just above that check out the list of posts I have read on others’ blogs and elected to share via Google Reader because I found them interesting.

10 July 2008
Filed under:About this blog,Arts Reviews at7:40 pm

Please let me know if anything is broken.

I wish there was an easy way for me to share and automatically update my list of podcasts and my recently watched movies (though I haven’t seen much recently that I liked except The Hustler which I thought was fantastic). I’m off to see Wanted shortly which I imagine is pretty rubbish but I’m not expecting much…

10 September 2007

Perhaps it is the novelty value, perhaps it is the sense that on Facebook I am addressing friends while on this blog I am mostly addressing people I don’t know but the impulse that would once have sent me off here to post little observations on everyday life and news items seems to be being increasingly fulfilled by status updates and the occasional wall posting over there.

When I started blogging I didn’t really think about who my readers might be. When I did start thinking it might be useful to be able to mix private matters with public ones there wasn’t much available except LiveJournal that would give me that kind of control and I quickly discovered that most of my friends are casual enough Internet users not to bother setting up an LJ identity in order to be able to keep up with me and my doings. But Facebook seems to be drawing in a wide enough net that what I write feels like it is going to a substantial number of the people I want to be reaching. Even my brother is on it (though naturally enough my father isn’t there… yet…) and my father, not wishing to be left out, has just joined!

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