Sunday, February 08, 2009

Popular Relevance

As part of an Introduction to Learning Technologies course at the University of Manitoba I've been exploring the program Digg. We drew our projects from We Are Media, a website designed to help non-profit organizations better use new media in their endeavours.

Digg is a social bookmarking tool that you may have noticed before on many news or information websites. The tool allows you to "digg" content that you are in to (if that's what you're into). Content that is most popular, in theory, rises to the top and shares information with a larger audience, focusing in on the best and most interesting stories.

There are some great advantages to Digg that make it very accessible. The program allows to you install a toolbar and follow sites live as you visit them, seeing who and how many people are interested in a website.

But for educational purposes, and arguably for any purposes online, Digg provides more of a popular than relevant story. Content is largely pulled from mainstream media websites with stories "Dugg" by a core group of supporters.

Creating communites of practice and learning communities doesn't require mass participation. I trust the websites and blogs of my colegues to post material that I'm interested in and that is relevant. I don't really expect it to be popular with a wide audience. If I wanted that I would have stayed with traditional media sources - they are surprisingly good at covering all things popular.

The other thing is that Digg let's you build a community of "Friends." But this suggests that I only learn from my friends. I often times learn from complete strangers. It's the thousands of people circling the globe, people I never would have met before, that are often working on and considering simliar thoughts and issues.

For now I'm sticking with, in fact I think I'm even going to start tagging even more.

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