Blogger.com and ‘harnessing collective intelligence’

Harnessing collective intelligence is a phrase used by Tim O’Reilly (2005) to describe one of the Web 2.0 characteristics. This characteristic indicates that Web 2.0 enables users to participate, collaborate, and take advantages of knowledge sharing through dynamic online approach of Web 2.0. One of the most popular Web 2.0 technologies is blogs. That is why Google also want to provide its users with application for managing blog which is located at http://www.blogger.com.

Overview of Blogger and its relevance to harnessing collective intelligence

Overview of Blogger

Blogger.com is one of Google services that is intended as a blog publishing system. Blogger was started by a tiny company in San Francisco called Pyra Labs in August of 1999 and was acquired by Google in 2003. In terms of web-hosting communities, Blogger is one of the oldest and biggest. Blogger was a freestanding site with more than a million users long before Google acquired it in 2003. Since then, it’s only gotten bigger and better. It is undoubtedly the most famous and popular blog website today. Its user base is now well more than three million, or about 10% of all blogs on the Web. And Google says the number of Blogger blogs is doubling every six months. Blogger.com had the undistinguished distinction of popularizing the modern day blogging format. Even novices, people who know nothing of internet and have only basic computer operating skills can create a blog here and keep it updated. The instructions are simple and easy to follow. Anyone may create, edit, add photos, and customize his blog.

Blogger relevance to harnessing collective intelligence

Blogger.com has facilitated people to express their thoughts, voice their opinions, and share their experiences and ideas. Individuals experience a sense of community, a feeling of belonging, a bonding that members matter to one another and their niche needs will be met through online interactions. Its open standards and low barrier to publication have transformed information consumers to producers. This has created a plethora of open-source intelligence, collective wisdom, and collective intelligence that acts as the storehouse of overwhelming amounts of knowledge about the members, their environment and the symbiosis between them.

Blogger services have allowed the mass to contribute and edit articles publicly. Giving access to the mass to contribute or edit has increased collaboration among the people. Increased collaboration has developed collective wisdom and collective intelligence on the Internet

Web2.0 Best Practices used by Google in Blogger

Best practices covered in this pattern are reward the user first, set network effects by default, involve user explicitly and implicitly, provide meaningful context for creation, trust your users, design software so that it improves as more people to use it, and facilitate emergence (Musser, 2007, p.14-6). Some best practices are analysed to examine Blogger’s compliance with those best practices.

Reward the user first

One of the approaches of rewarding users is through minimizing barriers to adoption, thereby users can achieve primary goals quickly and efficiently (Walkenhorst, 2009). Through its features, Blogger has made easy for users as content generators to author content independent of technical challenges of internet languages and scripts. Users don’t need to worry about the low level programming details rather they focus only on the content. Millerr (2006) states that Blogger has features to customize template colours and fonts without editing HTML. This can simplify the content generation process to a great extent and attract novice or even computer illiterates to participate in blogging activities. Blogger has provided a platform where anyone can express himself or herself freely without being even restrained by their limited computer knowledge yet being able to publish content on the Internet. Blogger also facilitates the readers to comment instantly, giving Blogger users a feeling of satisfaction.

Set network effects by default

The successful implementation of ‘reward the users first’ best practice can directly influence to the successful of setting network effects. Musser (2007, p.14) states that “a corollary to paying the users first is to set network effects by default.” Network effect is the effect that one user of a good or service has on the value of that product to other people (Shuen, 2008, p.41). In other word, the value of a good or service increases as more people use it. Each new user can potentially boost the value of the network and often increase the willingness of all participants to use the network.

Blogger users also experience online network effects. This is due to a by-product of users pursuing their own interest which in turn it also builds indirectly a side effect of others self interest. There are several Blogger features that are used by Google to set network effects. Following and Google Friend Connect feature are two good examples. Following is a feature to keep other people updated on the latest activity on a blog (Google, 2009a). New Blogger users will have this blog feature enabled by default. There are two options of following; publicly (by default) and privately. When a user follows a blog publicly, his/her profile image and a link to his/her Blogger profile will appear in the blog’s Followers widget. Google Friend Connect instantly awakens and strengthens the community that visits a site, for example blog, by enriching it with social features (Google, 2009b). Through Google Friend Connect, Blogger users can engage other friends or people more deeply with the content of blog.

Involve users explicitly and implicitly and trust your users

From the abovementioned Blogger.com profile by Web 2.0 pattern, it is obvious that Blogger architecture of user participation ensures it involve users both explicitly and implicitly. Users can create content directly after simple procedure of sign in with Google ID. Then, other users can give directly comments and reviews to the blogs they are visiting and following. Not only does Blogger facilitate individual blogs, but also it can be used for community or multi-authored blogs. Individual blog sites are the ones owned and maintained by an individual. Community blog sites are owned and maintained by a group of like-minded users. In later type of blog, collaboration among group members is a form of explicit user involvement. In such context, it is also obvious that Blogger users are provided a sufficient open context to participate and interact. This means Blogger trust users to share their interest and knowledge.

Comparison between Blogger.com and WordPress.com

Both Blogger and WordPress have served as a medium that can be used for harnessing collective intelligence. To some extent, they have similar architecture for engaging users to create content and collaborate ideas. However, WordPress is regarded as much more powerful than Blogger in facilitating a community or group in developing blog. This is because WordPress has a special feature that enables one user to manage multiple blogs and multiple authors to collaborate on one blog (Hayder, 2006, p.214). It is undoubtedly that this feature, which is called WordPress Multi-User or WordPress MU, can enhance explicit user’s involvement in generating content. Blogger enables collaborative blogging by only differentiating the role of authorship into administrator and non-administrator. WordPress has more comprehensive one; administrator, editors, authors and contributors (Hayder, 2006, pp.216-9).

Gaps and Opportunities for Improvements

One of the opportunities that can be improved by Blogger is pertaining to architecture of participation that can accommodate the complexity of users participation in a large community or group blog. Such architecture can underpin multi-user blogging platform that is extremely useful for a group of people with similar interests. If that group wants to publish news on a specific topic (or on many topics in a broad sense), then there must be some facility so that they can log in as individual entities and post their content. In a multi-user blogging platform, content moderation is also very vital. There must be some sort of moderation so that content is displayed after being approved by an authorized person.

Multi-user blogging platforms can play a vital role for developers. For example, if a group of remote developers (of a specific project) share their experiences in a blog, it will prove to be very helpful for new developers who might face similar kinds of problems. This blog may then act as a knowledge base for them.

Multi-user blogs are also helpful when used as a centralized news source or a central blogging zone for the employees of a company.

References

  1. Google. (2009a). What is following?.  Retrieved April 25, 2009 from http://help.blogger.com/bin/answer.py?answer=104226&cbid=-1qofp68sq245x&src=cb&lev=answer
  2. Google. (2009b). Awaken and strengthen your community.  Retrieved April 25, 2009 from http://www.google.com/friendconnect/home/overview?hl=en_US
  3. Hayder, H. (2006). WordPress complete: A comprehensive, step-by-step on how to set up, customize, and market your blog using WordPress. Birmingham: Pakt Publishing.
  4. Millerr, M.  (2006). Blogging with the New Google™ Blogger. Que Publishing.
  5. Musser, J. (2007). Web 2.0 principles and best practices. Sebastopol: O’Reilly Media
  6. Shuen, A. (2008). Web 2.0: A strategy guide. Cambridge : O’Reilly.
  7. Tim O’Reilly. (2005). What is Web 2.0: Design patterns and business models for the next generation of software. Retrieved April 25, 2009 from http://www.oreillynet.com/pub/a/oreilly/tim/news/2005/09/30/what-is-web-20.html?page=1

1 Comment

  1. I reckon that one of the advantages of Blogger.com is integration with many third-party tools. It is because Blogger is the most popular option for blogging on the Web, many Windows, Macintosh, and Linux applications exist that allow you to update your blog from within the application. This is even true of other Google tools such as Google Docs and Spreadsheets.

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