Continuing the discussion

Further to DJ’s original post, I’ve looked into pingbacks verses trackbacks to get a better understanding of the differences and how they do or don’t work when trying to thread together discussions between blogs.

  • trackbacks (howto) – the original (legacy) notification method
  • pingbacks (howto) – newer, automatic when link is in post content, displayed differently, no special URL is needed

I’ve noticed a steady increase in the use of blogs by programmers (ruby/rails focus now). Rails has tended to have quite vocal discussions emerge given its opinionated-ness and as a result this has provided me a way to look at how blogs are used to carry out the discussion.

I realise I too have this blog on WordPress.com so I’m pretty certain the pingback will work, to that end I’ll find something on blogger to try out the differences and see what happens. Again the rails community provides some insight into how well this might work, as a good many blogs use a somewhat heterogeneous set of blog engines (more detail…).

What are the mechanics, benefits and limitations of using individual blogs to manage a multi-person discussion?

Mechanics

Each person needs their own blog as opposed to just jumping onto a common discussion board. Of course, if everyone grabs a blog from one provider (wordpress.com or blogger for example) then the situation is a perhaps bit different – the technical issues around integration and reliance on pingbacks are hopefully muted but there’s less diversity in the blogs. However, with the diversity of themes available the underlying blog engine mightn’t be readily discernible anyway. I’m not sure if there are issues with the lack of diversity, perhaps the impact of competition and features might be one issue though.

Limitations

Multiple blog posts on multiple blogs or discussion through the comments on one post. Reading through a single (long) list of comments is more akin to a discussion forum and is possibly more cohesive. The alternative is jumping through a whole lot of different blogs (with their own personalisations, look and feel, etc) which is probably going reduce cohesiveness of the conversation. Even ensuring you’re reading through it chronologically might be tricky.

Benefits

One clear benefit I see from a learning, reflection, tracking/assessment standpoint is that each person’s contribution are clearly identifiable as they’re all collected on their own blog. This is where I see the whole ePoprtfolio thing going – the blog provides a very flexible platform to do all all sorts of ePortfolio type activity without needed an ePortfolio product.

Blogs allow the author’s interests and escapades in work/life to be intermingled into their conversations. Taking the rails example again, an author might take up a particular point in a multi-blog conversation but the post beforehand addresses implementing a new rake task and the one after is about a new camera. These multiple aspects of a person can provide a greater insight into the author’s way of thinking as it might apply to the larger conversation.

As opposed to a topical discussion board or thread, a blog might be involved in various and completely disparate conversations within a range of cummunities. Again this builds a bigger picture of the author.

Well, there’s a start. My first pingback and all. How exciting πŸ™‚

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1 Comment »

  1. […] the PLE research folk, pointing out that an ePortfolio would be useful for this type of assessment. Nathaniel Fitzgerald-Hood discussed the limitations of ePortfolios in an email to me and asserted that blog is perfect for […]

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