[Humanist] 28.548 blog vs list; myopia vs expanding eyes?

Humanist Discussion Group willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk
Sun Dec 7 11:09:59 CET 2014

                 Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 28, No. 548.
            Department of Digital Humanities, King's College London
                Submit to: humanist at lists.digitalhumanities.org

        Date: Sun, 07 Dec 2014 10:00:46 +0000
        From: Willard McCarty <willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk>
        Subject: blog vs list; myopia vs expanding eyes

What is the effective difference between a blog and a list such as 
Humanist? Has anyone studied this? Do blogs tend to be centred on the 
person or topic, lists more wide-ranging, multi-vocal? To what degree do 
blogs expose people (occasional visitors and subscribers) to information 
they would not have thought to look for, from sources they would not 
have sought out?

In the mid to late 1980s Thomas Malone and others at MIT built a system 
called Information Lens designed to get relevant information to a user 
by automatic selection based on a user-specified profile. Their report, 
"The Information Lens:
An Intelligent System for Information Sharing in Organizations" (1986), 
may be found in the Internet Archive, 
https://archive.org/details/informationlensi00malo. Whether their 
approach to the perceived problem of infoglut from e-mail was picked up 
I do not know. But it struck me at the time I heard Malone present it 
(fresh from my PhD research in a large research library where I wandered 
the stacks every day of the week) that confining oneself to the 
information one knew ahead of time that one wanted was a formula for 
myopia. About the same time I stumbled across Gordon B. Thompson's Memo 
from Mercury: Information Technology *is* Different (1979, shortly to be 
available from the Internet Archive), which proposed a system that 
escapes the confinements of the Information Lens. Then, as we all know, 
the Web and then Google burst on the scene.

My question, then, is this: in practice are blogs more like the 
Information Lens, lists more like Thompson's system?

Willard McCarty (www.mccarty.org.uk/), Professor, Department of Digital
Humanities, King's College London, and Digital Humanities Research
Group, University of Western Sydney

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