I’ve been having a running conversation with some of my colleagues in the Master’s and Doctoral programs at Towson about digital literacy. We’ve discussed at length whether or not blogging helps or hurts literacy.
Many of my fellow educators who teach Mass Communication or Public Relations, especially writing, require students to blog. I do not. But I do use blogs in my course work. In fact, blogs and blogging are prominent features of any classes I teach. The impact of blogs on the communication/PR/IMC industry is profound. Therefore, no communication/PR/IMC course work is complete without blogs and blogging.
Approximately 1.4 new blogs are created every second of every hour of every day. Over 12 million Americans, or about 8% of adult Internet users, blog. About 57 million Americans, about 39% of the online population, read blogs (Pew Internet & American Life Project).
The trend appears to show no signs of abating. According to Torill Elvira Mortensen, Volda University College, Norway, there are three directions of blogging: One is that human beings desire meaning because we are thinking beings as well as communicating beings. This leads to:
· Most recent, most sophisticated technology is built for communication.
· Via the Internet, individuals can find, share, and contribute information.
· Blogging’s best gift is just that – the opportunity for individuals to express themselves.
· Impact on traditional news media is powerful.
Second, blogs are changing the concept of the sender-message-receiver model conceived in 1949. Most communicators studied this model. Mortensen says the new image of the users emerges from the personal publishing power the Internet gives the individual. This needs a new model to describe it. Much more research is needed.
Third, speaking of research, Mortensen says there is a clear distinction between the online and offline community. The computer world offers symbols, while the real world offers real sustenance. Therefore, all study of human behavior online becomes a study of the human exchange of symbols online. Sender institutions are no longer monolithic. The audience and the senders are all becoming participants.
It is an exciting new world, full of opportunities for self-expression, research, collaboration, and community.