Blogs, Opinion, Knowledge

Opinions, argument, the university and the coffee house. Read some interesting things in the blogs about the blogs and the encouragement of opinion and reflection. These are good conversations to have, and while these sorts of questions get discussed earlier in the semester they really don’t make much sense until we’re in the thick of it. (We really only learn by doing, to think otherwise is to think you can teach someone how to ride a bike by talking about it, so too with blogging, you need to do it to begin to understand what the issues are.) Anyway, the blogs. Let’s be blunt. Everyone has an opinion, and with blogs everyone has an opinion that can be broadcast. We don’t use blogs for this. As a university with you in a degree program while you can certainly happily express opinions, what we are wanting to develop, model, and endorse, is what I’ll call scholarly opinion. This doesn’t mean essays or objective third person writing (bugger that). What it does mean is to discuss things driven and informed by ideas, with evidence. This is what you do when you write or talk about things you know about. If you know about cycling you don’t just say Eddy Merckx is a better rider than Peter Sagan, but you make an argument for why. We all do this for the things we know and care about. As knowledge makers and users we need to do this too with ideas, so the key role of the blog – from the point of view of the subject – is to think about things. This means ideas, with evidence, that make propositions. This is different to opinion (I think Essendon sucks versus ‘there’s a cultural problem at Essendon because). One is (dumb) opinion, one is research, argued, and evidenced. We’re not journalists, but we are knowledge creators, and knowledge is not opinion.