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Blogs as coffee shops…

My thoughts on blogging mentioned yesterday were perfectly summarized in this brilliant blog post from a blog titled “Markitude: Commentary on the trappings of my life”.

http://markitude.wordpress.com

Thought I’d include it here:

People congregate to share ideas.

In urban areas, the coffee shop maybe a favored location to exchange ideas with people in person, or more frequently, online. Forums have been an online fixture, along with newsgroups for many years, and people with common interests tend to gravitate to these areas. Blogs traffic can come from a variety of sources, referrals from other blogs, search engine keywords that occurred in a post, or through referrals from the blog hosting site (hot blogs, next blog, top blogs, etc) based on traffic volumes. As a small sidebar, this latter method tends to be self fulfilling in that once a blog makes it to that list, simply being on the list will drive more traffic. If the blog is interesting, it will stay on the list in seeming perpetuity, ala Scobleizer. If not, then it will cycle through once all the casual clickers have found it, taken a peek and moved on.

Those that stay, and come back day after day appear to do so because of an affinity to the author or the subject of the blog. Posts start a conversation between the blogger and any audience member who chooses to comment, as expected. But then something more interesting can occur. Commenters, begin to have discussions amongst themselves within the comment threads, leaving one comment related to a previous comment rather than the original blog entry. It’s not just a many to one relationship with the blogger, but rather interaction amongst the commenting community. When the same small group of commenters are present day in and out, does the subject blog begin to take on the aspects of a social destination, a virtual coffee house? Are the visiters there for the coffee, or the venue and other patrons?

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2 Comments

  1. Coincidentally I am drinking a cup of coffee while posting on your blog, Ms. Smith. I love the connection of the blogosphere to a global coffeehouse. But I also worry that the local coffeehouse is less and less the community hang out these days as people ironically are bringing their laptops and headphones to them to blog while there are totally interesting people to talk to across the table. How do we effectively balance being able to have our coffee and drink it too (especially as a means to raise the level of dialogue and conversation amongst student)?

  2. The irony is interesting, but I wonder if it’s because online we’re more outgoing and comfortable approaching those we don’t know. I’m picturing myself sitting in a coffee shop with just a notebook and drink instead of my laptop, and still wonder if I didn’t head in there with someone I already knew if I would approach someone sitting nearby. Even if they were alone. Who knows who they are, what they do, and if you’re even interested in the same things.

    In contrast, when we’re online it’s easy to navigate into communities exclusively revolving around our interests. This blog, for example. Anyone reading/commenting most likely knows what KIPP is and what we’re aiming to do, so it becomes easier to dive headfirst into meaningful conversation, whereas in a coffee shop you usually have to get through a whole bunch of small talk first. Online you can save all that time (which is an all too valuable resource, especially to KIPP teachers) and get right to the meat of the conversation.

    However I’m totally with you in terms of fearing complete loss of personal interaction. As big an advocate as I am of online dialogue, I sometimes wish we could pull a ‘Back to the Future’ and teleport (?) ourselves instantaneously to any coffee shop in the country and have these conversations real-time instead… How long you think we’ll have to wait for that one?


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