It was about this time last year that we rolled out SB You on campus. I have tried to keep a bit of a pulse on the service and overall utilization. While I have been a little disappointed in how broadly the service has been adopted to support teaching and learning, I am very excited by both the numbers I do see and the potential I think a platform like this affords. I have been trying to track the number of sites and users throughout the year each month (admittedly I have missed a couple). The growth is impressive — especially since we have not focused a lot of energy on blogging at the course level or for broader portfolio use. And yes, some of the sites are demo spaces or have been abandoned, but the growth has been solid. Check it out … in a year we’ve gone from zero sites and users to 726 sites and 2,634 users! We always see a spike at the start of new semesters, so I expect these numbers to really grow in the next few weeks.
I have found some really good examples of SB You sites by lots of people and it would be cool for us to expose those on a regular basis. I think bringing various examples to life would show how diverse a platform it really is. I love how Campus Recreation and Healthier U have really embraced SB You as a platform, for example. I also really enjoy search the whole service for various terms and see waht people all across Stony Brook think about a specific topic … here is a linked search for the word, “technology.” That is pretty cool and there are lots of ways terms and tag searches can be used to discover what people are talking about across the Stony Brook blogosphere on SB You.
I’d love to hear from users of SB You about what we could do to make the platform more useful and for ideas on how to better promote it. At the end of the day, I think platforms like this can and should power easy digital expression, broader acceptance of public scholarship, sites for clubs, organizations, and groups, and so much more.
I make absolutely no secret about the fact that I dislike email. I’ve been on a quest for years to reduce the amount of organizational work happening in email … it just is not a good platform to manage the type of ongoing discourse required to arrive at decisions and get things done on a daily basis. I would much rather see teams of people using a platform like Yammer to make work happen … but that is a post for another day. The screenshot below is of my inbox showing new SB You site registrations. Now that is an inbox I can get behind!
Only a few weeks after opening the doors on SB You we’ve updated the platform to WordPress 3.8 and it is quite a nice change. I am writing this from my iPad right in my Dashboard — no custom app needed. This is honestly the first version of WordPress I’ve used that really feels like it was designed with a mobile evidence in mind and that makes me happy. On the go publishing with SB You is now a reality.
Even adding images is much improved!
As we are seeing some growth in the pilot of SB You, I wanted to reflect on why I feel it is so important for a community to have a platform the powers simple publishing … in doing so, I was drawn back to the post I made right as I was working at Penn State to spin up the original Blogs at Penn State project. At that time I was trying to move people to see that we weren’t talking about blogging per se, but instead about personal content management and simple publishing. From a post on May 25, 2006 I shared this observation,
So, when is a blog not a blog? When you brand it as a personal content management system. Think of the power then … you want to blog, publish, take notes, turn in papers, or do anything in an e-model? The personal content managent system can do it and it can do it so it is stored, managed, searchable, accessible, and easy.
The really interesting part about that post in my mind to this day are the comments … imagine at that time, people still commented on blog posts instead of clicking “Like or +1” links. What is striking to me is that the text came alive with the addition of the voices of the community. It was an important illustration of what that original project would become for us at PSU — a platform for digital expression. Trust me, we didn’t know inherently it would become that, but it did.
Fast forward to today and I am hopeful that our own steps into SB You will bring as many amazing opportunities and surprises as our students, faculty, and staff begin to write, share, and collaborate in a digital space. Even as the world has shifted from blogs to social networks of all types I still think a platform like SB You is a critical piece of the fabric that can bring a community even closer. If this happens it will become a public and living illustration of the collective intelligence this campus has. So, when is a blog not a blog? I think when it becomes the place that each of us individually or collectively can create, curate, share, explore, and engage each other.
One of the reasons I love seeing blogging communities in higher education is because it gives me a chance to see the collective intelligence of that community come together.Even after only a couple of weeks, there are blogs popping up on SB You nearly every day. We’ve not done any marketing and have really kept things quiet so far as we kick the tires and figure things out around here, so to see people playing along is really very cool. To keep up, I’ve created a new Feedly account and have been adding new SB You blogs as they are being created. The only thing I was I could do was share this SB You collection like you could back in the days Google Reader.
I am already seeing this emerge as something very positive for the Stony Brook community in general. I can only imagine how interesting it will get as we move into the spring semester and faculty start using blogs in their classrooms! I always loved seeing what people at Penn State were doing with their university blogs and I know this will be the same kind of thing.