Monday, March 16, 2009

Blogger equals Complainer ?

So I was told twice in 2 weeks that:

Blogs are just for folks who want to COMPLAIN

I can see how this perception is supported by some postings. (even a few of mine...) However, I see blogs as a simple and convenient way to share information and support "safe" dialogue for folks who care about a topic. (and to get their voice heard by hundreds of people, not just a few)

I may not get to the point of agreeing with the other blog commenters, however I do learn knowledge and perspectives from them. And learning is almost always a good thing...

Along with the new RAS E News systems, I thinks RAS should host a RAS Community Blog. Then the parents and other citizens could see the incoming concerns and praise, along with the District's answer. With the email system I have a nagging feeling we will only see questions and answers that the Admin and Board deem acceptable to answer, possibly not a healthy cross section of the Parent's and Citizen's thoughts. Only time will tell.

Otherwise, I think the email system is a great addition to the RAS communicator offering.

So, are the bloggers out to complain or promote dialogue?
Thoughts or improvement ideas?


Anonymous said...

Let's be honest--online forums don't tend to produce really intelligent debate.
Opinion 1 is stated
Opinion 2 contradicts it
Opinion 1 restated, criticizing Opinion 2
Insert political agenda here
Scoff at climate change/Sarah Palin, etc.

I definitely want to get the facts from the district--more often than I do now--but I'm not interested in an version of the Strib/PiPress commentary section. The kind of vitriol, rumor-mongering, and racism isn't really helpful, is it?

Open communication should be the goal, but I honestly doubt that an online free for all will help reach it. Maybe this email system will, I don't know much about it, but I guess it's a good start.

John said...

Good point. Blogs often go off track or get dominated by a few. I still hold hope that people will show more respect for others and their opinions. And disagree without adding insult.

For instance, I disagree with some funding and administration aspects of RSI, yet I totally respect the parents, students and program. Also, I have learned a lot by corresponding with them.

Maybe no anonymous comments would help participants to stay polite on an RAS blog... Or would folks fear some form of reprisal? I am well known by many within the RAS community, and I know of no contracts being taken out on me yet... Maybe I had better check under my cycle before firing it up tonight.

Thanks for your thoughts !!! Others ?

R-Five said...

Mea culpa. I'll readily concede that much of blogging is to vent. So why do we feel we need to vent? When the Star Tribune gets the facts wrong. When a politician openly lies (either party). When special interests like Acorn get no scrutiny in the Minnesota press. As a recreational blogger, this is cathartic release to help maintain whatever sanity I have.

But much is also informative I like to think, like my coverage of 281. The Sun Post does pretty well on the big issues, but publishes weekly and has space limitations. I can be more timely, and I of course can also add my viewpoint. At least I'm honest about it, unlike, say, MPR.

Blogs also facilitate dialog, from which I've learned a few things myself.

R-Five said...

To your point about a Community Blog, what I think would really help is to have an Ombudsman. Remember Lou Gelfand's column in the Minneapolis paper? The Strib won most of the close ones, but the man was fair. I especially liked how he tried to keep himself out of the dialog by quoting the reporters and editors of the subject stories directly.

Now - who should that be? If it's a district employee, there will be no credibility. We have that now.

No, it would have to be a true outsider, like, well, me. I wouldn't have the time, not unless I get laid off or laid up. But humor me for sake of example.

People would email me questions to a dedicated mailbox. Like Gelfand, I'd pick two or three a week to address publicly, a few more privately.

The District would have to make the necessary resources available, staff for answers and a spot on district web site. The District would have the final OK on what's published. The District would bond or otherwise indemnify me if necessary.

Further dialog (comments) would have to be reviewed before publication, to maintain the civility.

Many school districts have set up blogs, for the Superintendent and principals typically. And most haven't had a new post in months. An ombudsman would be different.

Christine said...

I agree with the venting aspect-- much of it is born of frustration. Though different blogs have different purposes. I think both you and Speed (on education issues) hope to not only promote dialogue but help get information out there.