Friday, September 19, 2008

Research blogging and blog norms

Forskning.no, the news portal associated with The Research Council of Norway, has just started a blog. It's a site where researchers contribute to a national project of making research easier accessible and visible in Norway. Apart from their normal journalistic work, they have cooperated in many different ways with research and educational communities in universities and colleges. My own students have for instance in many different periods written for forskning.no, and had their articles edited, commented on and published by specialists - an extremely useful exercize for students of Public Information.

Jill Walker Rettberg, probably the most highly profiled blogger in Norwegian academia, is however not happy with the blog as it's organised. She wants technical changes, more specialised blog-tools and different behaviour from the bloggers. I agree with her comments on form (we agree on a lot of stuff, as long-time readers of our blogs know), and have already communicated much the same to forskning.no, making it clear that our blog will not look quite like what they have published so far. But it's going to take a little while yet until I get on with blogging there and get to see how much of her criticism of the tool and of NFR's policy of blogging that is too-the-point, and how much is just a matter of letting a new group and a new publisher get some time to settle into their role.

As for the comments on payment - one of the responsibilities of a publicly paid academic is to participate in the public debate. Yes, there should be ways to register blogging in a way that would give us "points" when counting publications, and I am certain this would propel Norwegian academics into a blogging frenzy all over the country. However, we are already paid to be part of a public exchange of thoughts and ideas. No, I wouldn't turn down the money if forskning.no paid me for this. But yes, I am willing to do it because it's part of what I am supposed to do.

And what am I going to do?

What is taking a little time to organise is a group-blog within the framework of forskning.no. Three other Norwegian game researchers are joining me, and we will be blogging on game research. The first post on this blog is circulating among the bloggers as we speak. I promise, the first blogpost will be about establishing the blog, its topic and style, as well as introducing the bloggers and saying a fw words about game research. After the first post it's free for all: to engage with the field of game research according to the preferences of each blogger. We will produce at least one post every second week, which means a minimum of one post every two months as we are four. This is not an unreasonable amount of text. Most likely we will produce more, long and short posts, and forskning.no will pick a post to feature on the front page when they see something they like.

Will we adhere to Jill's style demands? Sometimes. Will it be a brilliant blog by experienced bloggers? Sometimes. But blogging is about more than one style. Blogging is about freedom of expression, of the potential of the writer and the tool, and about the choices made in a process, not according to some already set norm. If it was not about breaking norms of publishing and experimenting with form, blogging would not have developed much in the first place, would it?

3 comments:

Jill said...

So will you four have a blog that's separate from the other blog posts on Forskning.no, or will it be intermingled with the other posts? While I think Forskning.no has done a lousy job of setting up blogs if they actually succeeded in providing a good blogging platform to academics and thus encouraging more academics to blog, that would be great. So far what they've got set up doesn't seem to be a blogging platform at all - given posts are published once a day, very early in the morning, I assume they're emailed to the editor rather than "blogged".

As you say, the style of blogging can and will and should change and evolve, but what I'm seeing so far on the Forskning.no blogs makes it seem unlikely that the writers have even read any other blogs. So far I think it's doing blogging a disservice.

But I'm really looking forward to your blog posts there :)

Torill said...

So far I am not sufficiently worried about "blogging" to feel forskning.no is doing blogging a disservice. It's a pretty lively and self-propelling beast. I think you may be right in the lack of experience in the writers, but that means this has a huge developing potential.

I am not sure how the group blog will eventually look, as they are developing as we go, and I don't know how much of what I'd like to have can be implemented within the framework of what forskning.no is using. But if you hit the profile of one of the bloggers, underneath you'll find the blogposts of that profile. We will all be publishing under the same main profile, which will make it clear both that this is a group effort, and who are contributing. This means it will, for instance, be possible to link to just the game blogg within forskning.no's blogs. As soon as there are enough posts in the blog I'll be curios about such things as archives and search potential.

There is a blog interface where it's possible to use simple html, and without having tested it, the awkwardness of links is most likely a result of the lack of experience in using html rather than the interface. My first blog posts looked like that, actually. And I learned - at least a little.

The time-stamp thing is interesting. I think that is an indicator not of the technology, but of the routines within forskning.no. They have an editor, I guess she has to approve of each post before it gets out. Now, this is not unheard of in group blogs, even if it is a little unfamiliar for us who write our blogs at the spur of the moment, and who value speed over editing.

Colin McAllister said...

I notice that Norway has some great blogs and values academic blogging. I posted a short introduction to your Forskning.no post on Facebook and on my new blog at http://cmcallister.blog.friendster.com/ My comments on other Forskning.no blogs are at: http://mcallistercolin.blogspot.com/ Regards, Colin