Distributed cognition and blogging

While scanning through my many Bloglines feeds this afternoon, this entry on Ken Smith’s blog caught my eye. Smith suggests that Cronin’s own scholarship provides clues about some ways for academic bloggers to justify blogging as scholarship on the academy’s own terms, eventhough Cronin has blasted blogs as “bathetically ludicrous online gibberish.

My curiosity was piqued enough that I retrieved the cited journal article by Cronin (2004). The article is about academic writing as distributed cognition. Cronin asserts the collaborative nature of science and scholarship that is not necessarily revealed in co-authorship statistics, and that para-textual elements of scholarly publications such as bibliographies and acknowledgements can develop a finer sense to which scholars depend on others. Following Smith and putting it Cronin’s ideas into the context of blogging, then, it becomes possible to see linking between blogs as representing a form of interdependency among scholars.

I wonder how we can expand the distributed cognition lens to wikis. Wikis, as I understand it, are co-authored artefacts, so this makes sense. Distributed authors work on a shared artefact. Bringing the blog back into the mix, I suppose it may also be possible to have individual authors blog about what they are writing about in their wikis and link between various authors’ blogs?! What would that be good for? Just thinking out loud.

Cronin, B. (2004). Bowling alone together: Academic writing as distributed cognition. Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology, 55(6), 557-560.


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