The HUMlab Blog was launched about two weeks ago and and while there are still some technical glitches things are coming along. It is a new experience, of course, managing an institutional blog. It will take some time to find out how to do this. Based on our experiences so far I thought I would try to reflect on our blog and blogging. Some loud thinking:
Institutional presence: The HUMlab Blog is our main international presence. Therefore it is important to incorporate enough information about the lab itself, projects, people etc. as well as the blog proper. These sections will be less dynamic than the blog itself (of course) but we will need to make sure that they are updated. Also, one might well imagine that some of the issues discussed in the blog will reflect back on the more static part of the structure.
Topics/content: To me this is one of the most interesting issues. Do we need to be concerned about coherence? Range of topics? Obviously, a HUMlab blog should somehow relate to what goes on in the lab. Also it will serve as a source of information for local English-speaking people who are interested in HUMlab events (as well as anyone interested in streamed seminars etc.). For HUMlab friends around the world it should give a sense of what is going on, the current narrative etc. as well as general “presence”. The blog will hopefully work as a kind of extension of the lab and the basic of idea of HUMlab: creating a meeting place for the humanities, culture and technology. Personally I think photos serve an important
function in this context. The blog should also reflect current research, interesting people and events – among other things. I have a feeling that just like with the HUMlab in general one of the key aspects here is balance. It will also be interesting to see how the rhytm of the lab is reflected (or not) in the blog.
Authorship: So far only a few people have ontributed to the blog. This is a very important thing I think. We need to create a multi-person narrative and finding one’s individual voice in this context is not totally easy. In a personal (academic) blog there is often quite a lot of person. I wuold expect a little less of that here but definitely not entries devoid of person and passion. The blog should be an arena for creative thinking, expressing, reflecting and reporting. We have a range of bloggers associated with the lab and everyone will need to contribute to the HUMlab blog if this is going to work out. Of course, we also need to interact with out readers and we need to make sure that commenting works the way it is intended (technical glitch at the moment I think). A personal note: I think my own blog has moved a little bit towards the personal end of the spectrum after I started to blog here as well. I think that might be a good thing.
Expectations: An institutional, multi-author blog does not serve the same function as a personal blog. I do not think that people will follow us in the same way as they would a good personal blog. Hopefully, what we have to offer is different but very interesting and worth returning to. However, I do not think we can ever “compete” with personal blogs in that respect. People will not reload every 30 minutes to get a sense of what is going on in the lab. Or maybe they will?
Guest bloggers: This is one of the most interesting aspects of the HUMlab blog. We will have guest bloggers contribute to the blog – interesting people (some of which have visited the lab) who will guest blog for two weeks. It will be very interesting to see how this works out. Not least the guest bloggers’ interaction with the lab and the other blog voices. We have not tried to get the guest bloggers to blog about a certain topic or anything. The HUMlab is rather sprawling and we will use the blog to give these people an arena for expressing themselves. Of course my hope is that the guests will influence the other contributors and vice versa and that the discourse will be interesting to the rest of the world. Pioneering and provoking (how much provoking is ok?) thoughts and connections appearing first on the HUMlab Blog.
The blog’s place: It is very important that the blog relates to other HUMlab meeting places. The physical lab itself of course but also the virtual platforms we work with. For instance, our Traveler world is an important part of our online presence. Somehow we need to make these part of the blog or rather make sure that people find them. I am also toying with the idea of using the Brain (in a web version) to represent connections, threads and worlds.
Hopefully the HUMlab Blog will be this vibrant and exciting extension of the HUMlab. Or maybe HUMlab will become an extension of the blog? I think we will have to wait to find out. Many bloggers tend to be rather romantic about the medium and I think it makes sense to be open to the possibilities as well as to be realistic. If things do not work out the way I have outlined them above we might end up with a blog that simply reports about upcoming events in the lab. While that might not be a bad thing it is not the only thing we are hoping for. The potential is great and I have a very good feeling about the whole enterprise. It will be most interesting to see how the blog develops. Myself I intend to everything I can to make all the “romantic” dreams come true!