Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Blogging a "legit" forum for communication?

Not that the Lake County Suicide Prevention Task Force is a bunch of old folks (i.e. folks my age), but there seemed to be general lack of knowledge of what a “blog” is when I brought it up this morning. I know you know what one is because you are reading this.

I really dislike meetings (especially if they don’t serve coffee) so I am trying to facilitate meeting, discussion, information exchange while limiting sit-down face-to-face meting. We are at a point in our process that I think would lend itself very well to “virtual meeting”. We need to expand task force representation (deciding who is “not on board” yet, and pull in more groups and organizations involved in or interested in suicide prevention), put together a compilation of current resources (organizations, existing programs, etc.) and then decide where gaps exist in education, programs and services. I think a blog (either this one or one specifically for the task force) would be a good forum to accomplish these tasks. However, despite my enthusiasm, I think the group is more comfortable using serial, round-robin e-mailing. It will work, but I think be more time consuming and labor intensive.

I really think that blogging has potential beyond diary/journal work and could be used for “conversations” with posting and comments, collaborations, and information sharing (beyond information dispensing). We’ll see how things shake out.


Mike said...

Wiki's can also be an inexpensive, effective solution for sharing group ideas. Wikipedia is the best example of this concept, and the software that drives Wikipedia (known as MediaWiki) is freely available at mediawiki.org. Keep up the great work, Dr. Keller!

Lynne said...

I was going to suggest Wiki, but Mike beat me to it.

Tim said...

How about a team workspace? More collaborative features than either a blog or wiki. You can get a basic one for free at Yahoo! Groups.

Anonymous said...

I agree that the Task Force might be a little slow to embrace web communication, but I think a method other than this blog might be more successful. The problem with the way the blog is set up is that it's difficult to get to a running dialog. People logging on must find the original discussion and then join the discussion. People unfamiliar with blogs would need to be educated on how to get around and find the discussion. An "old-fashioned" discussion board might serve the purpose better, but again people who have never used one would need to be brought up to speed. I also agree about the wiki concept - useful when it comes to mass editing/contributing to specific documents, such as the Strategic Goals document the Task Force is supposed to be developing. Just my idea. Any way you go, however, my guess is that few people except the committed few will access any web resource. If you still decide to use the web, it might be helpful to bring in a laptop and projector to a Task Force meeting and demonstrate for everyone how to do it. Short of that, a paper handout with instructions and examples might help.