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A forthcoming paper in JIS from Dr Glen Gray, California State University at Northridge, is entitled Blogs as Research and Teaching Resources for Accounting Academics. So this is a blog about blogs!
Dr Glen Gray
If William Shakespeare was writing about blogs today, he would say something like "What’s in a name? A blog by any other name would still be just as sweet." Blogs are definitely a sweet source of timely information on a wide variety of topics for accounting- and AIS-related research and teaching. However, there is no absolute definition of blogs that can be used to determine whether a website is a blog or not. Blog is a label that a web master can give to his/her website or not. As working definition, a blog is a website where an individual (a blogger) or a group of individuals post observations and opinions regarding a specific topic and usually where readers can post comments. There is probably thousands of useful website that meet this definition but are not called blogs by the webmasters. Under this broad definition of blogs, social media (Facebook, Twitter, etc.) are blogs.
Potentially useful blogs (and blog equivalents) are maintained by academics (inside and outside of the accounting domain), practitioners, large and small accounting firms, and accounting and technology vendors. The primary value of blogs is their immediacy because bloggers are very quick to post blogs regarding any events (new regulations, new lawsuits, new technologies, etc.) in the subject matter they are following. Bloggers archive their previous posts; accordingly, besides being very timely, blogs can also provide a rich history of specific subject matters. However, quoting the movie, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, “One man’s compost is another man’s potpourri.” Blogs are not vetted or subject to independent review, consequently it’s caveat emptor when venturing into the blogosphere to collect information.
With that caution stated, different bloggers’ opinions—biased or not—on a specific topic or subject matter can be a valuable starting point or input for more rigorous research. These opinions can be transformed into testable hypothesis and subsequently accepted or rejected.
These different bloggers’ opinions can also be a valuable teaching resource. Students can be assigned to locate several blogs on a specific topic, summarize differences found, and develop conclusions based on their review of the blogs and a rational for reaching those conclusions.
The challenge is that locating applicable blogs is a messy and arbitrary process. Search of BlogSearchEngine.org (a Google app) on the term “accounting” returns 32 million results! Fortunately, the top listed accounting blogs are frequently lists of blogs (e.g. 50 Accounting Blogs You Should Follow at blog.directcapital.com). In addition to traditional web searches (e.g., google.com), there are specialized blog directories that provide another method to locate blogs. One place to start is 23 Blog Directories to Submit Your Blog To (www.searchenginejournal.com/20-essential-blog-directories-to-submit-your-blog-to).
To completely realize the value of blogs, you should also search for websites that have all the characteristics of blogs, but are not labeled blogs. For example, in addition to specifically labeled blogs, both large and small accounting firms publish newsletters, alerts, and perspectives that have all of the characteristics blogs. These blog-equivalents cover a wide variety of topics and be included in any search for blogs for research or teaching.