Last night I went to the Berkeley Blogger Dinner organized by Mary Hodder (Mary was the subject of a recent article in Wired News that, according to Mary, took some poetic license.)
I had a great time: the people, ambiance, food, and conversation were all outstanding.
I had an interesting conversation with Mary, Esme Vos, and Damon Darlin about the learning curve for 'getting' blogging. I admitted that after maybe two years of dismissing blogging as a stupid tech fad, I finally gave it an honest look early this year. In January, I decided that blogs were a great way to publish video, spent a good deal of time learning about blogging, and read a good portion of Dan Gillmor's We The Media. However, I don't think I truly understood all the magnificent complexity and spontaneous order that is involved until after some of the questions and feedback I got when I photo and videoblogged the FCC Raid on Free Radio Santa Cruz in late September.
To a reader, a blog is little more than a regularly updated website; you have to actually be a blogger to truly understand the various feedback mechanisms and the conversational nature of blogging. This is what makes it so hard for many to understand why this is so different from other things that look same on the surface (forums, mailing lists, etc.)
It seems the 'understanding curve' for blogging is steep. Mary, suggested that with wikis this isn't the case, you can see the magic fairly quickly, as I did when I discovered the Wikipedia and made some minor grammatical changes to the podcasting entry. (I have to admit to being a little close-minded here, too: I was initially put off by wikis after having seen them used in a vain attempt to get a 'shoemaker and the elves' effect and have documentation mysteriously appear for some Open Source software development projects.)
But, I don't think that telling my Mom and Dad that to truly understand blogging they'll have to go play around with wikis first is a good idea. We concluded that maybe the blogosphere needs to evolve some mechanisms that help newbies really understand things more quickly. (Wish I had a good idea here, but all we've done is identify a problem...)