Over at ETI, Tom is writing about the future of blogging in preparation for our NECC panel in a couple of weeks. I’m cross posting this back over there in response.

My take on the future of blogging differs from Tom’s in some respects. Specifically, I don’t agree that the practice of reading and writing in blogs will remain unchanged in 10 years. If fact, I would doubt that blogs in their current iteration will be around in 10 years. To compare blogs to e-mail is, I think, to say that, like e-mail, blogging has only one fairly restrictive use. I don’t think that’s the case. In fact, Tom points out correctly that blogs have already evolved from basic link lists with little annotation to a more complex form of exposition, which is, ironically, a change he’s been fighting against and I’ve been fighting for.

I think that evolution will continue as more and more communication goes online in more and more transparent ways. In fact, I would argue that in 10 years, especially in educational circles, exposition will be taught in what is currently blog form. I sincerely doubt that our current process of exchanging paper will still be around. I also believe that the social, collaborative aspects of blogging will also be subsumed into the writing process we teach. It will move writing as product to writing as conversation or contribution. Because of blogging, writing will take on more meaningful outcomes.

This type of blog work will become part of a much more complex and diverse learning environment which combines blog, e-portfolio, community and more. I think Elgg comes close to that vision, though I wonder what level of autonomy over these spaces students will be afforded. (That’ll take a few more decades…) And in similar ways, individual blogging will cede to more community aggregated forms. (RSS is already beginning to render individual Websites fairly meaningless.) Again, the emphasis will continue to move toward dialogue and conversation and away from monologue.

So, once again, to me this comes down to a distinction between form and function. To me, the form will not be sustainable, but the function, the blogging will become an integral part of what we do.