BloggerView #8: Beverly Trayner

This week bloggerview is with Beverly Trayner, the author of “Phronesis – Towards a practical wisdom” (available at http://phronesis.typepad.com/), previously, until the beginning of this month, the author of “Em duas línguas” (available at http://btrayner.blogspot.com/), and one of the speakers at SHiFT06 where she will speak about “Designing for Learning: Communities of practice and Web2.0 technologies”. Enjoy her answers.

1.When did you start blogging? What were the main reasons that take you start blogging?
Beverly Trayner (BT): Well, it’s an interesting question because I when I first created blogs, they were just tools to suit my communication needs. I didn’t have a notion of what they were for. In January 2003, I created a blog because it was an easy way to make a web page and I wanted a page with links to communities of practice (http://communitiesofpractice.blogspot.com/)

Then in February 2004 when I was designing a course module with a friend in Tomar, we thought we would use a blog as a way of talking to each other and keeping a record of what we said. We thought it would be interesting for course participants to see some of the process that went into designing a module. It was a great idea, but we didn’t do much of it (http://topicoption.blogspot.com/).

(doesn’t blogspot look so dated?)

I also used it as a way of communicating with my daughter. We talked to each other via a blog, which has left a memory of our conversations. I love that blog. And whenever I had a project, like writing a paper with someone, I kept a blog as a diary so that I would have a record of the process. I have eighteen blogs on my blogger dashboard!

Only in August 2004 did I start “proper” blogging (http://btrayner.blogspot.com/2004/08/getting-started.html) with Em duas línguas (http://btrayner.blogspot.com). More recently I changed blog home to Phronesis (http://phronesis.typepad.com).

2.Why did you choose to give your name to the blog’s name?
BT: I gave the name of “Em duas línguas”, not because it was to be written in two languages, but because it was part of trying to express myself as someone who had an identity in two languages.

Phronesis, my new blog, means “practical wisdom”. Aristotle distinguished between two types of intellectual virtues: sophia and phronesis. Sophia – or wisdom – is the ability to think about the nature of the world; we use it to discover why the world is as it is and to come up with universal truths. Phronesis is thinking about how and why we should act in order to change things, and especially to change our lives for the better. It’s also the ability to reflect on how we achieve that. Phronesis is very much the kind of wisdom that I identify with and aspire to, which is why I chose the name.

3.Do you have any specific goals or objectives you want to achieve with your blog? What are they?
BT: Well my goal is to help develop my phronesis!

4.In your opinion, what role could blogs play in the future, for instance at companies or at schools?
BT: That seems like such a big question that I don’t know how to answer it. Among many other things it depends on the objective(s) of the company or school. I think as people catch onto the idea of communities, then blogging becomes a way of stimulating and capturing some of the wisdom of communities.

5.What do you think will be the future of blogs over the next couple of years?
BT: I think we will see a big development in the idea of blogging communities. And we’ll see a further development of systems for mapping out and aggregating the social interactions of people in blogging communities and networks.

6. How many feeds do you have on your news aggregator? What news aggregator do you use? Why?
BT: Since I had a big clear out a couple of weeks ago I’ve now reduced my feeds to 500!! I use NetNewsWire. It’s so neat and easy to use, that’s why. The only thing I don’t like about it is that I can’t have a changing blogroll, like I could with bloglines. Or maybe I just haven’t worked out how to do it.

7. What do you think about RSS? What role do you think RSS can play in future, for instance in the relation between government and citizens?
BT: I think RSS feeds are amazing! Like magic. It’s just such a great way of bringing things together. We live in such dispersed times that anything that helps bring things together has to be good. When groups can harness information and social processes – like you can with RSS feeds – then that has to be a good thing.

8. What do you think is the most important thing happening in the Web, now? Why?
BT: I think that systems made for multi-channelling, like Swarm-it for example (http://home.swarmteams.com/) are the most important thing happening. Multi-Channelling and the integration of mobile phone and the web is where I think we’ll be going. Also, anything that helps in the process of multilingual communication. Machine translation is still rather primitive, but systems increasingly have the option for different language interfaces, multilingual tagging systems etc. I think that’s very important.

9. Beside blogs, do use other social software, like Flickr, Del.icio.us, Diigo, LinkedIn, or any other?
BT: Well, as soon as I hear of something new I sign up for it and try it out. But the ones that have become an integrated part of my repertoire are Del.icio.us and Flickr. They bring me so much joy!

10. What are your expectations for “SHiFT – Social and Human Ideas For Technology”, next September, 28,29?
BT: My expectations are that I will meet and talk to some interesting people. I’m also keen to see who else in Portugal is working on Social and Human ideas For Technology. Such a lot of hard work and love has gone into the organizing of this conference that I expect it will be a great event for the people who attend.