Tuesday, 1 June 2010

blogging, tweeting and tumbling in quasi academia

I started this blog (actually I didn't - I had another blog which disappeared, demonstrating the impermanence of social media) really as a way to write down my thoughts and comments about those aspects of digital media that interested me, along with some random ruminations on everything from Byzantine Cornwall to public toilets, basically because I find the act of writing things down clarifies my thoughts (sometimes more effectively that others) and sharpens me up.

To this I've added a twitter feed as a self documenting set of interesting links - basically as a way of capturing things that I find interesting at the moment, be it e-books or early medieval history. I could equally well record the posts I found interesting and do a daily or weekly post. Of course just posting links is not always useful - sometimes one needs to add a comment or a note to the link, so as well as twitter I now use the tumblr microblogging service as a sort of commonplace book - post links with notes. And I've used flickr to post images, and scribd for text, not to mention wikidot for more involved note writing, and of course slideshare to post presentations.

And of course google docs for more involved writing, as well as material in progress that only needs to be shared to a select list, not to mention dropbox and its public share facility. I've also got a whole load of both work and personal interest collateral on my windows live skydrive.

So what's the point?

Well thinking about it, it looks very much to me like I've built myself a toolkit of resources to both do my work, and follow my interests, and, as I've said before a lot of what I do is not immensely different from the processes of scholarly life. It's also built around free resources available out there on the internet.

And of course, in exchange, I've released my content out into the wild, which might, or might not be sensible, but I doubt if any of it is going to make me a millionaire.

Yet there seems to be belief in some quarters that special workbenches, or application portfolios are required to enable collaboration and exchange among the academic disciplines. And this is something I have difficulty with.

Professionally, on campus we have a wordpress based blogging service and a Sakai based collaboration facility - basically as a place where people working on a shared project can upload and share material. Both are perfectly adequate, but differ not a whit from any blogging service or from using a hosted wiki service - or indeed google docs document sharing.

Which makes me ask, why does the belief persist in this need for special discipline specific software portfolios? Yes, there is a case for keeping work in progress in house for reasons of intellectual and in providing facilities to let people build and structure material online.

But specialist portfolios? Am I missing something?

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