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September 15, 2004

I’ve been trying to get everyone to start their own blogs recently, especially in the informatics community here. I think they have tremendous potential for providing a kind of asynchronous, non-essential communication network between faculty, students, and colleagues. Using cheap (or free) software, the university can provide a platform for students (and maybe eventually faculty and researchers) to informally post their work and thoughts. While this concept is not new, it is has not been formally embraced by very many of the individuals (faculty or students) here, and I find that a little curious. The arguments in my mind for a university hosted blog system are many…

[Listening to: Let’s Get Lost – Elliott Smith – (2:27)]


First of all, given the increasingly scattered distribution of faculty (both core and adjunct) geographically on campus, the communication between buildings and individuals will most likely be adversely affected. Having some manner of electronic journal for people will allow them to keep tabs on each other and to facilitate mindstorming and problem solving. Other faculty who are affiliated with informatics would also have a better understanding of our work and focus if they had insight into some of the goings on through the perspectives of the core informatics department. I’m reminded nearly every day that there’s still people out there on campus who don’t know who we are or what we do.

Secondly, RSS compliant blogs enable a wonderful method of aggregation and summary that allows individuals to quickly browse through dozens of sites and journals, skimming the important themes and contents without having to pore through pages of html. http://www.bloglines.com is an excellent example of this type of RSS aggregation, and has given me a centralized and manageable view of all the people that I want to keep tabs on. The problem of “information overload” with which we are so familiar with at informatics is solved through this method.

Thirdly, through the use of content publication and RSS syndication, the work of researchers and students will be made available for indexing by popular search sites such as google. From what I’ve heard “googling” a researcher to see how visible they are on the web is one of the ways of determining his or her relevance to his field of study. Offering up public information about research or activities as well as offering a method for public comment or discussion will eventually encourage collaboration not just between researchers here, but in other cities and campuses located anywhere in the world.

…That’s my opinion, if you’ve made it this far, thanks for giving it a look, and please feel free to comment below.

From → Informatics

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