“In The Loop”

Bloglines Screenshot

Bloglines Screenshot

By popular demand, the “Filtering the Web” genre now continues! Here are those original three questions:

  • How does technology ease or make difficult the dissemination of information?
  • What problems or issues have you encountered in reading blogrolls on various weblogs?
  • What issues have you encountered in incorporating a blogroll and web filtering into your own weblog?

Dissemination of information

One of the benefits of JOMC 713 for me so far has been the encouragement to dive into the blogosphere — to read opinions and views in blogs as part of my daily routine. I have bookmarked dozens of them and consulted them even on important topics.

I have picked up on some fairly offbeat political stories, generally put forth by partisan sources but still interesting and flying under the radar of mainstream media. One example was the apparent controversy surrounding the construction of the Palins’ home in Alaska, questioning whether Todd Palin inappropriately used state government resources in building his home. This story was put out by “Stef” of DailyKos.

Another story thread came from across the aisle, concerning the fate of author Dr. Jerome Corsi in Nairobi, Kenya as he pursued the nature of the connection between once-Illinois Sen. Obama and Kenyan politician Raila Odinga. Corsi was deported by a not-so-tolerant government for trying to dig up dirt on a Kenyan hero. This story made it to YouTube under the title of “Deported: American author declared persona non grata“.

These stories are attractive because, to me, they’re categorically richer and more detailed than the bland, sentiment-gushing fluff that now constitutes much of the election narrative of the mainstream American media. With the attraction, of course, comes a need for skepticism about the claims. But in the end reading these types of blogs is a win-win situation. If the story’s facts end up checking out, I will have heard of it long before the media picks it up; if it was a fairy tale, I’ll know which blogger to distrust the next time around.

Reading blogrolls

One problem I have faced in exploring blogs and their blogrolls is their grossly disconnected locations on the web. They seem to be sprawled out all over cyberspace, and either isolated on self-contained islands like WordPress and Blogger, or else embedded deep within the bowels of websites of every genre.

At first I thought a solution to this problem of scatteredness might be using Google’s Blog Search feature. This, I thought, would give me a common frame of reference to keep returning to while reading several blogs on the same topic. But I have found one serious drawback to Google’s Blog Search. Because of PageRank prioritizing, the more interesting, spicy, completely personal blogs, such as those maintained by members of my class, almost never show up. The list of results ends up being full of corporate blogs and blogs attached to mainstream media sources.

Luckily, over the weekend, a friend told me about Bloglines. This turned out to be much nearer to the mark! This is an application that allows you to import your blog feeds to one place, where you can create running “playlists” of the most recent posts. I’m just getting started using this service, but already I’m finding that it tends to venture away from the mainstream and into the more flavorful and offbeat. It may turn out to be just what I was looking for: one virtual “place” to organize and read all of my blogs on a daily basis.

Incorporating a blogroll

Incorporating a blogroll into Socratic Questions has been a continual joy for me. WordPress makes it super-easy to create and organize link categories. I have collected and “rolled” dozens of URL’s that lead not only to content on education proper, but also to many areas of my personal, eclectic interest — from inspiring ADHD stories to readable math tutorials to a dissident blogger in Cuba to my classmates’ blogs and back again.

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