Rant Warning: My take on the participatory web
... summary of my post buried in BB ...
I have been thinking about "the participatory web" for a long time and my quick advice is proceed with common sense and transparency, but for goodness sake PROCEED! If I stumble on a new blog, wiki, or most any other site for that matter, I usually head to the "about page". If a site doesn't have one, I usually move right along ... no openness, no transparency ... not worth my time. If it does have one, I read it and make a personal evaluation of the level of expertise of the author ... here is where common sense comes in to play to assess credibility. It is important to consider that even non-experts can offer incredible perspective on a topic ... maybe a unique reflection ... a point to further reading.
I follow a TON of education related blogs and wikis, I have maintained my own blog since 2005, I have a professional portfolio website that includes my resume and summaries of my work history, and I have done over 110 live webcasts where my thoughts and ideas on instructional design are recorded and stored for any prospective client or employer to review (good or bad). In addition, I post 100% of my academic papers on my blog and (based on my website stats) most of my posts are read by 1,000 people. Am I posting these artifacts because I want attention? Because I have too much time on my hands? Because I think I am an "expert"? Hardly ... rather, I am hopeful that my openness and transparency fuels discussion and moves the conversation forward on a topic I am passionate about. If someone reading the reference section from my paper stumbles on one article s/he wouldn't have known about ... it was all worth it. Same if someone reads my post and shares a new resource with me. Plus (AND VERY IMPORTANTLY) I am controlling my online persona. I conduct myself online the same way I would if I were speaking in a room of 500 people. I steer clear of snark and spend nearly 0% of my time in social 'chit-chat' on sites like Facebook ... not that there is ANYTHING wrong with online social chit-chat, but those are not the legacy artifacts I want people to pull up when someone Googles my name ... again, back to common sense and controlling my online identity.
I think we are missing the real (and potentially revolutionary) story of the participatory web (Web 2.0 if we must call it that) if we focus on seeking and ensuring "expertise" before we proceed. If we should only spend our time reading the peer reviewed articles of experts, then what are we doing reading each other's posts on this BB discussion board? Why should anyone waste his / her time to read my ramblings? I'm clearly no expert ... I'm mainly just expressing my interpretations and reflections. Again ... we do it because this is about forwarding a conversation around a topic. I feel the exact same can be said about the participatory web.
p.s. It is important to note that comments act as a very transparent mini-review process. VERY often my blog posts are challenged and the readers can get a quick read of the pros-cons of an issue ... and thanks to anyone who hung on to this long and winding end :)