Blog and Wiki Class

I signed up recently for a blogging course, which included learning about RSS feeds and Wikis. I was more interested in the latter two components, as I do already have a couple of blogs of my own.

The class was slightly disappointing, as the emphasis was on blogging, and what a blog was. However, there were some useful snippets of information, such as the differences between blogs and wikis, and what purposes each type is useful for. A blog is time-sensitive, runs in reverse chronological order, and each post is written by one author only (usually). A Wiki usually has pages of information which are not necessarily time-sensitive, and each page can be written and edited by many people.

A blog, therefore, is more like a diary, or logsheet (hence its original name, weblog). A wiki is more akin to a combination of a bulletin board and manual, as it may contain both records of events (past and upcoming), information (standard procedures, FAQs and so forth), and profiles (of contributors, notable personalities pertinent to the wiki’s topic and so on). A wiki sounds complicated, but can be very simple to create, maintain and update.

Blogs are good for people who want to maintain online diaries of their activities, or expound on something they are interested in (hobbies, places, history etc…). Wikis are good for collaborative articles, or disseminating information within a group (consolidating multiple sources of information for the same topic, for instance). So it’s good to think about what you want to do before creating a blog or wiki.

I think the class was an eye-opener for many of my coursemates who were not exactly internet-savvy. To many of them, this was the first time they were registering a blog, and learning how to link to videos, pictures and other sites. The instructor’s practical advice on how to maintain a blog was quite good too. He emphasised reading and commenting on other blogs, because that will create a network of people who know you and in return look at what you have to say on your blog. What goes around, comes around.

Everyone seemed quite happy learning these new skills, except one participant who was quite anxious about spam (which is understandable). She was also afraid that posting entries onto her blog would attract the attention of figures of authority, and she would be held accountable for what she blogged. I would like to think that our leaders are far more enlightened than that. I honestly doubt that anyone in a position of authority would find blame with our thoughts on shopping, gardening, pottery or other sundry hobbies.

Many of my other colleagues looked like they quite enjoyed the experience of setting up a blog and perusing different examples of blogs (the food blogs were particularly appreciated). Even for me, it was an eye-opener, as there were many interesting blogs on Singapore heritage, detailing old buildings, trails and activities that were the fashion yonks ago (I bet you didn’t know that Singapore held the Grand Prix in the 60s!). We also had a quick peek at the Rambling Librarian’s many talents, including music, painting and podcasts.

Hmmm…podcasts. That might make for a good course. Perhaps I should write to my instructor.

  1. Hi Little Teapot! Thanks for your feedback. I have to apologise for the lack of wiki content. I have been struggling for a long time to figure out a way of teaching basic wiki use without any context. (Hence the use of the course wiki – learn by doing, as it were.)

    The technical skills required to use a wiki are relatively simple. However, structuring and developing a working, purposeful wiki involves a higher order of skills. Also, it requires the group you are collaborating with to come up with some ground rules or understanding as to how the wiki is going to run.

    So, I prefer to teach wikis when there is a context or a specific use in mind. I just did a short introductory wiki lesson for the Science Dean’s office and a few Science Librarians yesterday, since they had something in mind. It was much easier to teach as we all had something to work towards.

    Anyway, as I mentioned during the class, the NUS Librarians should become wiki experts over the coming year. Akan datang!

    By some coincidence, I have been in conversation with a few of your colleagues about podcasting. So far, it looks like a no go because of the time factor. Everyone wants to create a podcast quickly and simply, which is entirely possible. But the high expectations of the end product negate the quick and simple requirements.

    Ok, this is turning out to be a pretty long comment. Do email me if you want to continue this discussion! And thanks for the feedback once again. It’s much appreciated!

    P.S. Fantastic that you have reflected about the course here. It’s something I didn’t point out explicitly during the course – it’s great for reflecting and sharing what we’ve learnt. =)

  2. Author The Little Teapot

    Hiya! Thanks for the comment. Yes, after some introspection, I realise that podcasting is quite a lot of work for a product that may be very short and ephemeral. I’ll have to think a bit more about what uses podcasts can have in a library context before contacting you (^_^)

    I fully agree a wiki really needs good fundamentals before it can get off the ground. The team creating a wiki has to agree on what the wiki is for and how it is to be structured, otherwise it’ll go nowhere fast. I’ve experienced a wiki go into slow motion collapse because there was no structure and no explicit purpose behind it.

    I’ll definitely keep in touch!

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