Learning with Blogs: Easy but not Sweet

Blogs might be the easiest way to publish something. Claims are “if you write blogs well, you get good comments and many readers; if you are not such a good writer, you just live with it and do it better next time.” (Seth Godin & Tom Peters on blogging)

Blogs, as a part of internet contents, offer kinds of information. Some blogs writers like to write tutorials (sometimes as they are learning). Blog sites are good places to learn things quickly. Most of the programming knowledge that I learned was from the blogs of programmers. Also, when I solved a hard problem, I wrote a blog about it and teach newbies the solution path. Maybe it was not the original intention of blogging, but blogs do contribute to so called “life-long learning.”

However, the crowd-sourced nature of blogs cannot guarantee the quality of the contents. The mass production of blogs makes it harder for learners to find the material of good quality. The traditional way of publishing with a team of editors and writers produces cleaner contents.

For blog writers, blogging leaks their ideas and thoughts before a formal publishing. A wrote about an idea in blogs. One month later, B got the same idea published in a journal. A may not get credits for being the first one to present the idea to the public domain. However, it is still arguable to say A got the idea first because B may spend two months to polish the write-up. Also, some of the bloggers get critiques for not accurate information. Blogs are not personal notes. Some bloggers even write “no comments, just for self-notes.”

9 thoughts on “Learning with Blogs: Easy but not Sweet

  1. Sneha Upadhyaya says:

    Good one! I was wondering if you can file a complain against plagiarism if someone uses your ideas from a blog to publish in a journal. If you can do that, there shouldn’t be any fear of your ideas getting leaked or not getting credits for.

  2. Love this post, and Sneha raises a good question about plagiarism. I think the best bet is to use a creative commons license, which allows people to use your work but requires them to cite you (https://creativecommons.org/share-your-work/ ).
    What I really like here is the reciprocity you demonstrate in your blogging practice — you use blogs to help you solve problems and then blog about the experience — which helps others. Goodness all the way around.

  3. laurenrk says:

    The third paragraph you’ve written here reminds me of something I wrote about as well- it’s not directly related, but it did remind me of an idea I had. While you mention the potential for lack of quality associated with blogging, my concern extends beyond that to the potential lack of credibility. How do I know a blogger has truly been rigorous in the content they’re publishing? The certainty in that will always be less than the certainty of quality and credibility associated with publishing a scholarly, peer-reviewed manuscript (though, as you mentioned, it takes much longer to do this).

  4. Yang Liu says:

    Agree! Sometimes, Blog as an “inside kingdom” to records the process and/or the concepts and thought. The responsibility of blog is different than that of reference books. The blog is a space that individuals states personal comments or write some key works from others.

  5. Amy Hermundstad says:

    Thanks for your post! I really appreciate your thoughts on ways to use blogs for learning as well as potential disadvantages of blogging. The idea of leaking ideas in a blog before publishing is a very interesting one to me. In my field (engineering education) I really want to share my research and my ideas with a broad audience (teachers, students, administrators, etc). And I want to let people know what engineering education is. Blogs are one way to do that. Thank you for sharing your thoughts on the topic. It is interesting to learn what it is like in other fields.

  6. I agree. With the post as well as some of the previous comments. The fear of plagiarism looms large over the heads of researchers. This, in my opinion, is a result of the prevalent structures which encourages a “publish or perish” mentality. This will eventually be replaced with “collaborate or perish” in the future.

    As Prof. Nelson notes, an easy way to project your digital property is to use a creative commons license, whereby people are required to cite your work. Until academia turns into Utopia, this would be the best course of action.

  7. Vanessa Guerra says:

    Hi Qichao, interesting point of view. I agree with your concern about content quality in the digital web. We should be aware, not only as writers but also as users, the reliability of the used sources, is a critical component that although it determinates the validity of the used information, is often ignored in the digital world. Since digital anonymity -and the tensions it brings to the table- is not the only dimension that is often avoided in emerging technological and communication modes, it is important to reflect on how does the reliability of information has been validated in the past and why is it that it is easier to avoid it now.

    Some questions that come to my mind are: Is it that the current digital revolution has convinced us that what happens behind scenes when information is digitally produced is not worth of our analysis? Or is it that in an attempt to avoid our own commitment -often exhausting- to seek reliable information we have chosen not to? Seems to me, that as far as citizens’ commitment to seek deeper remain a discretionary choice, our current and future understanding of the world will very often be based in unreliable and biased information.

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