Thursday, September 15, 2005

Critical Evaluation Exercise

A weblog, nowadays more commonly known as a blog, is a web-based publication consisting primarily of periodic articles and is normally in reverse chronological order. Although most early weblogs were manually updated, tools to automate the maintenance of such sites made them accessible to a much larger population, and the use of some sort of browser-based software is now a typical aspect of "blogging". Here, a browser refers to a software application that enables a user to display and interact with HTML documents, which are used to define the semantics of a document, hosted by web servers or held in a file system. The tools for editing, organizing, and publishing weblogs are variously referred to as "content management systems", "publishing platforms", "weblog software", and simply "blogware".

Blogs range in scope from individual diaries to arms of political campaigns, media programs, and corporations. They range in scale from the writings of one occasional author, to the collaboration of a large community of writers. Many weblogs enable visitors to leave public comments, which can lead to a community of readers centered around the blog; others are non-interactive. The totality of weblogs or blog-related websites is often called the blogosphere. When a large amount of activity, information and opinion erupts around a particular subject or controversy in the blogosphere, it is sometimes called a blogstorm or blog swarm. The format of weblogs varies, from simple bullet lists of hyperlinks, which are a reference in a hypertext document to another document or other resource, to article summaries or complete articles with user-provided comments and ratings. Individual weblog entries are almost always date and time-stamped, with the newest post at the top of the page, and reader comments often appearing below it. Because incoming links to specific entries are important to many weblogs, most have a way of archiving older entries and generating a static address for them; this static link is referred to as a permalink. The latest headlines, with hyperlinks and summaries, are frequently offered in weblogs in the RSS or Atom XML format, to be read with a feed reader. [Wikipedia]

Dan Gillmor’s Blog is a site of, by and for the people of the San Francisco Bay Area, with special attention to the region’s primary economic engine which is technology. If you look at the origin of the blog, Dan Gillmor, who spent 10 years writing a column and weblog at the San Jose Mercury News, and Michael Goff conceived Dan Gillmor’s Blog and are behind getting it established; the two are partners in San Francisco-based Grassroots Media Inc.
Working on technical and other features of the site is Jay Campbell and initial investment funding has been provided by Mitch Kapor, the President and Chair of the Open Source Applications Foundation (www.osafoundation.org), a non-profit organization he founded in 2001 to promote the development and acceptance of high-quality application software developed and distributed using open source methods and licenses and the Omidyar Network, an online community network. Plans are to quickly bring in other hosts, sources, and community journalists.

The people who use and enjoy the Dan Gillmor’s Blog are behind the blog as well as the reason for its existence. These are the people who read stories, who trade tips on how to make living in San Francisco better, who find a point of view to agree with, who feel better that the Dan Gillmor’s Blog exists to be vigilant in protecting the interests of the community. Beyond that, according to Dan Gillmor, everyone who pitches a story, encourages someone to get involved, or agrees to be interviewed by one of the journalists of Dan Gillmor is behind Dan Gillmor’s Blog. Every mainstream source that the bloggers and journalists of Dan Gillmor’s Blog link to is part of it. Every advertisers, promotional sponsor, and local merchant partner is behind Dan Gillmor’s Blog. Everyone who writes a piece, jots a comment about a story, or posts an idea to the forums is behind Dan Gillmor’s Blog. It’s the people who take the time to care, to correct the copy, catch the typos, and who check that names are spelled correctly. In essence, people of the San Francisco Bay Area are the tipsters, forum posters, journalists, editors, or enthusiastic readers and feedback givers of the blog.

Grounded on Dan Gillmor’s underlying conception that the people who are in the scenes or tied to them in some way know more about the technology, culture and other scenes in the Bay Area and are best equipped to tell the stories of the remarkable region, the aim of the creators of Dan Gillmor’s Blog is for the blog to become a trusted community news and information site by providing collaboration spaces that will help the community create conversations with words, pictures, audio and video that range from casual chat to what is often called citizen journalism.

If we look at this blog in relation to participatory culture, the blog fits well into the current trend of citizen journalism, which is the notion that we are moving away from the lecture mode of journalism—the one-to-many manufacturing process that gained sway in the 20th century—to something radically less centralized and more democratic. The Internet is the first platform that lets anyone be a publisher easily as well as cheaply. The resulting free-for-all has been exhilarating. But there’s also room for something in between the lecture mode of yesterday’s news and the anything-goes shouting match we can observe on some blogs and in some chatrooms. I can observe that the creators of this blog and the writers of the blog are working together to find that middle ground.

Dan Gillmor feels the need for all the ideas on how bottom-up journalism should work; on how to make use of technology to make it work better; how to foster its adoption; what new business models they might forge; and much more. Dan Gillmor plans to talk about all those notions, and more, on the forums in this blog even as people practice the conversation.

Let’s consider this blog in relation to previous media such as print media and radio. Dan Gillmor has strong belief that citizens can enhance and augment what’s out there in addition to keeping mainstream media on the ball. In addition, Dan believes Dan Gillmor’s Blog can help fill in some gaps, namely the space between the free-for-all of the blogging world which we he also embraces and the top-down model of traditional journalism. Dan emphasizes the point that he is by no means attempting to take over traditional media such as newspapers, magazines, broadcasters and other Web media. Dan Gillmor’s Blog is intended for community to regularly point toward those sites’ high-quality work with the undeniable fact in mind that the Web is about linking, also acknowledging that end users need the best trusted information from whatever the sources.

Lastly, I would like to add that when compared to more personal weblogs that I have casually accessed previously which feature online diary or journal of a particular person that allow anonymous comments, Dan Gillmor’s blog is unique in that no anonymous comments are allowed and that only registered members can post comments and participate in forums. Another unique character about this blog, I believe, is that it is centered in a region, in this case, San Francisco; more often than not, blogs are used to communicate globally. Finally the way the category is divided (News, Work Hard, Live Well, Change the World, Citizen Journalism) makes it easier to find the blog of interest; also each category deals with significant issues in contemporary world.

List of References

Gillmor Dan. 2004, We the Media Grassroots Journalism by the People, for the People, O'Reilly Media, Inc., California

Globe of Blogs, [Online], Available from: http://www.globeofblogs.com/ [10/09/05]

Microsoft Community Blogs, [Online], Available from:
http://www.microsoft.com/communities/blogs/PortalHome.mspx [09/09/05]

[Edit:] "Blog", Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Weblogs, [09/09/05]

1 Comments:

Blogger Hilary said...

Hi Kaori, I thought I would start the ball rolling with the critique's that we have to do of each other. So, in general I like the way you decided to begin your evaluation with a clear desciption of what blogs are, and how they function. This was good background knowledge for a reader who has not necessarily had the benefit like we have of being involved and discussing this online phenomenon. However, I think it might have been beneficial to intergrate this introductory part of your essay together with what you then go on later to dicuss, namely Dan Gillmor's blog. Your later discussion of his blog is interesting, and brings up some important points about how blogs, in general, fit into the scope of participatory culture. You also aknowledge previous forms of media, and of journalism in comparison with the 'grassroots' style you identify on Dan's blog.
However, I think a lot of these points could of been expanded on, and maybe specific examples could of been cited from Dan's blog, INSTEAD of the larger more general blog introduction. This first part, as I have mentioned, although relevant and a great way to give basic knowledge of the concepts you are going to be discussing, seems to be disjointed from the rest of your essay. You really seemed to get into the hang of your subject matter towards the end of your evaluation, which I liked. I loved the fact you made the point about Dan's blog being specifically centered on the San Francisco Bay area, which as you rightly say, is quite different from numerous forms of online interaction which is often not restricted to geographical real life locations. Your analysis also brought up a lot of the issues we have discussed so far in the course, which is great to see as it shows an understanding of the issues of participatory culture. However, in general, I just feel that the important aspects of this evaluation were often not explored to the extent that they could be. Which is a shame because as I say, you have set the groundwork and brought up some interesting ideas.
It would be great if you could put in your references so I can have a look at where some of your information has come from, as all you have at the moment if your bibliography! Did you have problems like Gwen in converting your work to the Blogger format?
Anyway, in conclusion you made some interesting remarks about Dan's blog, and also discussed some issues relating to particiaptory culture, and how Dan's blog is an instance of it. You definately highlighted the fact that Dan's blog has a strong sense of community, and seems to be quite an emotional investment for those participating in it. However, the biggest drawback of your evaluation is that you only seem to get going on these issues half way through! I would like to have read more of your analysis and less about what a blog is!
anyway, congratulations and have a great mid semester break!

Tue. Sep. 20, 10:45:00 pm 2005  

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