With the Blogs at Penn State project fully opened as a controlled pilot (can you be fully open in a pilot?) I am finding it difficult to discover blogs across our new PSU Blogosphere. When I do come across new PSU Blogs I instantly add them to Google Reader and have been enjoying getting to know people on campus via their blogs very much.
The Blogs at Penn State is a centrally managed environment that allows users to create and publish blogs into their personal webspace. At PSU we give people 500 MB of default webspace that they can easily expand by asking politely … this webspace can be used for anything they want — as long as they adhere to some basic policies. The nice thing about this is that people’s bogs seem like they really do belong to them and that they are part of an already established technological cultural understanding — whatever the hell that is.
The big issue for lots of people is finding these blogs. Yesterday the stats told me we have about 700 active blogs out there in the PSU Blog Cloud … finding them is tough. Sure, we can create a directory that lists every blog, but I’m not sure that is the right thing to do. I have talked to more than one person who doesn’t want their blog listed in a directory — sure they know it is open, but the effort it takes to discover it makes them feel better. My colleague, Brad Kozlek, recently created a self-service Blog Directory where individuals can choose to list their blogs. This seems to work, but as we go from pilot to production what really is the best thing to do.
I have seen other schools where they do pull out the latest posts, comments, and links to display on a Blogs at the University home-page — that scares the hell out of me. Remember, these spaces are tied to personal webspace for a reason … they are personal. Not everyone is down with that kind of exposure. So for now, the self-service model is what lives on … it just feels silly asking people to visit another site to “register” their blog. There has to be a better way.