Online communities are discussion groups that gather around a particular topic. They take many forms: mailing lists, newsgroups, Web forums, chat, and blogs. They may be moderated or un-moderated; local or worldwide; include amateurs, enthusiasts, professionals or just curious people; and cover virtually any topic, from splicing genes to home schooling.
These groups are rich sources for current information and networking. Blogs and web forums generally publish updates on hot topics before printed or online newspapers. Further, online communities may contain experts who are able to lend guidance or insight on hard-to-research topics. Many reputable magazines are beginning to sponsor blogs written by resident experts. Browse your favorite online topical magazine to see if there is a sponsored blog documenting current events and hot topics.
While online communities can be a valuable source of information, use caution. Often, the credentials of bloggers or commentators is unknown, making the information that they provide somewhat suspect. Therefore, online communities are best used once you have established yourself as a member and have listened to the 'conversation' over time. Online communities are not reliable sources for quick data, involved research, or for getting started on a topic.
Blogs can be run for free and with relative ease, so almost anyone can have a blog. Some people use them as a soapbox for personal, religious, political, or social viewpoints. Others sponsor blogs in a professional capacity and strive to represent a variety of issues and points of view. Most blog sites are heavily influenced by the values of the author. Be sure to read blogs carefully in order to identify bias in the information you are gathering.
Art News Blog
This blog is maintained by an artist who posts interesting art news that he comes across. Readers can submit news items for inclusion and sharing.
ArtsJournal: Blog Central
A listing of carefully selected blog writers in the arts. Topics under discussion include: art issues, dance, ideas, media, music, people, publishing, theatre, visual arts, architecture and culture.
Varo Registry of Women Artists
An online community for promoting the work of women artists. This site offers Web space for women artists to highlight their own work. It started as a listserv, but has evolved towards becoming a directory.
An online version of the artworld, this resources takes you to receptions for exhibitions and events related to art.
A searchable directory listing of over 50,000 public listservs (mailing lists).
Google Blog Search
Search for blogs and blog posts on your favorite topic.
Technorati is a near real time search engine focused primarily on blogs, but it also indexes many RSS feeds. Technorati currently tracks 50.5 million blogs.
Use Technorati to find a blog entry discussing Rembrandt. Experiment with the limiters (authority, language). Note the differences in the results.
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