August 22, 2005

Aggregators-The Beginning

I have a bit I want to say about the value of blogs and aggregators but after thinking it out and writing quite a bit I think you need it broken down a bit.(Because of course I tend to ramble and I don't want the points lost.)

In the wandering off into recitation of Genesis. Not quite germaine.

I was, as some of you know an online community geek from early on. I enjoyed it. I was plausibly good; some may even claim amazing. However, the better I was thought to be, the less I dealt with actual community.

Then I took another job unrelated to online community. Oddly enough, a temp agency randomly landed me in probably the best fit for my interests. I now deal with health, family, youth, community development in my day job, mixed with a huge dollop of web design, instructional design and editing. (Yes, I edit. Scarey.)

Online community provided a reference point for me, but I no longer actively participated in community.

In fact, my online interests primarily consisted of research in academic journals, navigating government websites, (This can be more challenging than getting to the top of the Technorati list.) and using my search skills to prop up my rather untested web design skills. "You need a registration form and database in two days to register 800 people for a meeting? Sure. I can do that. No problem." Followed by: gasp, choke, Google.

I had newsletters that came in my email, daily or weekly, as long as they didn't get stuck in a spam filter. I clicked links in them but if it was in the "wrong" email, I often didn't or ended up forwarding the link or newsletter to myself at my work email (if it was work related) or home email if it was definitely not work related or was but I had no time to deal with it(usually more of this). Otherwise, I really didn't see anything that wasn't a part of my usual rounds.

I surfed a few boards when a certain type of community seemed like it would make sense for me. It seemed obvious that boards and chat would be the way to find the sort of real life info I sought.(Health, parenting, relationship, food questions, etc...) Find a board. Get an answer. Easy, right? It had worked in the past. It wasn't working for me any longer, so I gave up.

To be fair, I wasn't giving it much of a shot. I was busy with work,family and health problems. I am also not the type to have a question unless I see it and then it becomes my question. (or some tangent that someone else's question evoked) I didn't find a community that felt like home. Of course I know a message board is what you put into it. I definitely wasn't in that mode.

To sum it up, I was spending long hours with my buddy Google, particularly Google Unclesam, Lexis-Nexis and Proquest. I spent plenty of online time but very little in community.

Sage Publications online journals are a lovely way to spend the day with all sorts of brilliant thoughts. They don't talk back or have built-in community. I didn't have anywhere, except email to a busy boss to go with them. The boards I still participated in were definitely not going to get into long conversations about a long, rather abstract, theory about IPV in the third world. Something I wanted to talk about, could use a community, but did I need to join a board devoted to those issues to dish?

Tomorrow...Aggregation: Enter stage left.

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