I have had a look around the wikipedia about blogosphere. The main points I have gained from this is that blogs create a connected community or a social network and they can be tracked. Blogs can be a place that people can build ideas, you can post your questions and they are a way to seek feedback and a tool for reflection. Blogs can be open entry or you can be invited to join a blogg. Maintaining an individual blog can be time consuming, where as a collaborative blog lowers the pressure and helps keep information and ideas current as they may be updated more frequently.
I was able to interview a person called Robin Heyden. Robin is a highschool teacher who blogs regularly to a link called stepping stones. This blogg has an education focus. I have been talking to Robin via email to find out her thoughts about blogging and the use of a facilitation service in a blogging community. Robin has an interesting post to her blog about bloggs. One comment I liked was 'A blog can establish an online community of practice between you and your readership where everyone has a front row seat as you grapple with new ideas or reflect on your own teaching practice. So the blog becomes a living, breathing example of the very thing we’re all seeking – a reflective, collaborative learning community'
Robins answer to my question about faciliation servcies was:
I'm not sure how I feel about the facilitator role in a blogging community. I think it completely depends on the context. Take for instance my blog....I feel like my blog is a personal expression of my interests and opinions. I blog in order to "think out loud" and frequently find that I really learn and chew on an issue when I blog about it. Yes, I care that others read my blog, but ultimately, I'm not trying to be objective or cater in anyway to an "audience". It's my personal letter to the world.
But if it were, say, a classroom blog or a blog shared by a group of people on a "journey" together, then, yes, I could see a definite place for a facilitator. I know of a number of HS teachers in the US who are using blogging with their students. When they set up a classroom blog (where students are making the blog entries and commenting on each other's postings), the teacher frequently plays that role of facilitator. That is, s/he will encourage the more thoughtful comments and discourage the flippant or mean-spirited ones. S/he will try to keep the student bloggers on task and on track. She will give guidelines and suggestions for a productive exchange. S/he might even award "credit points" for participation, in order to insure that everyone in the class joins in.
I was a member of a community like that last year with an online course (called Connectivism) run by Stephen Downes and George Siemens. The course consisted of weekly online sessions (using
Elluminate) and regular blogging. We all (the enrolled "students") posted blog entries, on the topics at hand, on our individual blogs but tagged them with the course tag (CCK08). That way George and Stephen could find our posts and comment on them. We were, of course, encouraged to comment on each other's blogs. George and Stephen would do a weekly roundup of the blog entries, highlighting those they thought were particularly worthwhile. So, in that way, they definitely served as facilitators in the way that you describe.
So, I think it all depends on who the blogging community is and what is the context for their community. Does that make sense?
I connected into Robins blog as I found her posts interesting, later reading the instructions again from Sarah, I find I was suppose to be connected to a blogging network. In saying that I have found it very worthwhile communicating with Robin and sharing thoughts about facilitation services. Robin has also helped with some suggestions about how to implement online tools into courses where students have never worked in this way.
A very worth while exercise.