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Organization-based blogs emerging in Dane County

Post by Kristian on 7/12/2005 11:53pm

sp0705.jpgThe use of the blog platform as a communications tool by governmental bodies and NGOs is slowly but surely spreading in south-central Madison. In addition to the School Information System, described here previously as "an enterprise that is part media outlet, part primary source, and part advocacy vehicle," there are several other blogs, most publishing since last fall, emerging as significant in their own right. These include the blogs of two local librarians focused on legal matters, a political party, and a new website for a Dane County school district.

Jim Zellmer, the organizer of School Information System, pays close attention to the growth of blogging as communications tool, particularly in the education arena. On Sunday, he pointed out a new website for the Sun Prairie School District, which he described as "essentially a blog with links."

Zellmer wished them well and suggested the district frequently update the site with "all that the internet offers (audio, video, links, [and] background information)." The website features a membership opportunity, which looks to be a district newsletter subscription manager, though the district might expand its new site's capabilities to allow for greater interactivity.

The district’s blog currently features a single post about their high school baseball team winning the state tournament. Presumably items will begin to be posted there more frequently later in the summer as the 2005-06 academic year approaches.

There are also two law librarians in Madison publishing blogs that cover both the specific aspects of their work as well as broader subjects relating to current events.

The older of the two is WisBlawg – From the UW Law Library, which is published by Bonnie Shucha, the References & Electronic Services Librarian at the University of Wisconsin Law Library. Sincy May 2004, Shucha has written about legal issues, information organization, and the intersection of each, as more discussion and documentation of lawmaking and jurisprudence is conducted online.

Started in November 2004, the Dane Co Legal Resource Center Blawg is published by Paula Seeger, who is the librarian for the Dane County Legal Resource Center. This is the library for Dane County courts. Formerly the Dane County Law Library, the center is located in the City-County Building, and is focused "on providing a variety of legal information services to both the local legal community and the general public."

Finally, local political party Progressive Dane ("leftist" in orientation since February 2005, as portrayed in the State Journal), is also publishing something of blog, named Progressive Dane – In the News Blog. Published since November 2004, the posts are attributed to 'prodane', and are largely comprised of the organization's press releases, press releases from its various elected members, and links to (sometimes with a response) to coverage of the party from the State Journal and the Cap Times.

These aggregate communications platforms – an informal NGO looking to influence MMSD policy, two librarians working for two of the most law libraries in the state, a local political party, and the official website for a suburban school district – are likely only the first of many to be published in the region. The emergence of the latter, an official website (as opposed to the others which are explictly geared towards education and/or advocacy), is also significant in that it is the official communications tool for a local school district. The importance of all of these sites should not be overstated, as this is not an exercise in blog triumphalism, but it should be noted.