In replacement of this week’s Campus weekly feature, I bring you a collection of thoughts on Middlebury’s emerging/evolving web community. First, some developments that you should keep in mind:
- (new) New MiddleburyCampus.com website. No lying here, I spent many an hour prepping the site and will spend many more sprucing it up. Comments welcome on new design, features, and suggestions for improvement.
- Dean Spears posts “Blog on Blogs,” kicking off a comments conversation on why there are no dissenting opinions re: Ron’s post on 51 Main. It’s true, of the 74 comments, only one is not positive, it’s neutral. Dean Spears asks larger questions, though, about changes of communication and interactivity for Middlebury.
- Speaking of blogs, Wesleyan University launched a redesigned website last week and includes a giant community blog. That said, it feels at once institutional (inauthentic) and wildly crazy at the same time. Meanwhile, Wesleying (MiddBlog for Wesleyan, aimed at students) goes on strong, without blinking an eye. But is Wesleyan’s new website anything like our new website?
- Our new website is drawing closer by the week. Cruise around the functional homepage (not filled out with content yet, just an example of how technical stuff would work. Stay tuned for info on participating in deciding some of the content for the student gateway page.
MiddBlog has been pushing blogging going on three years now (our birthday is in October). Commenting on stories has seen recent spike. Our statistics tell us more and more people read MiddBlog daily. But we still don’t see the strength of the offline community online. Dean Spears frames this as a discussion on blogs above, but it could be in any online form, including Twitter (don’t knock twitter until you’ve used it consistently for a few weeks. Some of Middlebury juiciest and timeliest tidbits are in MiddBlog’s twitterfeed).
It’s not as if we as a community don’t spend any time online, but we choose to disperse our attentions. Then, when we do choose to contribute to Middlebury’s larger web universe, we get stuff like this – energies put into individual projects that lack any sense of connection with the community. If you want to participate in the larger Middlebury web, know what’s out there and make sure you’re linked in with them, not just typing into the abyss. For instance: Thinking about music? The WRMC blog. Thinking about what goes into a liberal arts education? Deans Spears Blog. Have something to say about the trees and landscape at Midd? MiddLand. So, start a blog, submit a story, talk about your experience abroad but do so with context as to who else at Middlebury is working on and talking about similar stuff. It’s not easy, but that is what will make Middlebury’s web grow organically.