Tuesday, June 24, 2003

Blogs as research tools

Since João Nogueira's very interesting Socio[B]logue showed up in my referrer logs, I have been thinking about the use of weblogs for research purposes. Like PLSJ, his blog serves as a type of field diary: "Observaçoes, Reflexoes e Interrogaçoes Sociologicas." And I would agree with him that the possibilities for blogging in social research remain underexplored. But I think that there are a few technical features built into common weblog applications that limit exploration, connection, expression and communication - all of which are integral to research.

For example, Blogger doesn't offer the ability to organise posts into categories like Movable Type, but even so, that type of archiving does nothing to connect posts across boundaries. I'm with Ted Nelson on this one, we are prisoners of our applications and hypertext was originally conceived as something much more flexible and beautiful. Blogs make it difficult to understand connections that are not based on discrete categories, and I also fail to see the ability of temporally linear posting to forge new connections.

And so I am going to experiment. Inspired by Kurzweil - never thought I'd say that! - when I have some free time next month, I plan to install The Brain here, and have it act as a means of connecting posts to each other, and to outside pages. We'll just have to see how it works ...

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