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Notes Towards Day 5: "Blogging as Social Action"

Anne Dalke's picture

curio cabinet

ship's log

Some of the ancestors of today's blogs....

what exactly constitutes a blog? To me, it seems as
though it can be anything from academic to complete non-sense.
Can it then be considered a form of genre without any rules?

Notes on our conversation by mkarol and Shayna S
I. coursekeeping

on Thursday, we stop generalizing, and get down to the particulars,
w/ a visit from Hannah Mueller '10, Valpo Vida
& Anne Dalke, Stranger in a Strange Land: Grokking in Central America
read all you can bear of both....
and come with questions! (would be polite/welcoming,
esp. for Hannah, to put your questions on-line first)
one question raised by today's essays: what kind of
reading/skimming/link-following does blogging invite?)

how should we introduce one another today? 
(I'm out of ideas!!)

TBP1988, sweetp: how'd the summarizing/responding go?
cf. moving from general to particular in intros;
"not many could deny the benefits of having everything online";
vs. "Anne scolded us for reading mostly personal blogs"

links to course notes, for ease of reference

today's recorders: mkarol and ShaynaS

any responses yet to: the new form of our course blog, showing full text?
how about a few images to make things more interesting? 
(so far: only rachelr, jrf and me ...)

does the new format make it easier to respond to one another on-line?

cf. nk0825:
for many it is a fear ... of creating a society based largely on relationships forged between anonymous strangers ... what it could do to human interaction if it will one day be comprised solely by typed messages delivered via a computer screen.

important to keep thinking/talking about/working on the form of our conversation

aseidman: live journal as considered rant = diary?

spleenfiend on TV Tropes:  an online community with a purpose ....
people working together anonymously to compile and sort information online

rmeyers: Blogfractal

Herbie on the importance of clear formatting

other threads-- on organizing our departments: there are no natural "kinds":
in the natural sciences ... Only current scientific knowledge is considered relevant.  The phenomena studied by scientists are not affected by language, location, or culture.  Therefore, the structure of natural science departments is very different from humanities departments.

In my department, history ... we don't have anyone to teach about Central/South America, Colonial America, Russia during any time period, China (or any other east Asian nation) during any time period ... If only ever department were lucky enough to be able to hire as many professors as the English department has!

teal: discussion of genre related to biology: evolution, Darwin--everything is connected

II. began our conversation about blogs on Thursday
by reporting in on those we write, know, are drawn to and/or are puzzled by
keep going: testing theories/generalities against specifics we know about...
add now to that conversation a couple of key points by Thursday's critics:
Jo(e) on
Blogging as an emerging genre:
interactive, instantaneous, a text with multiple voices/free exchange of ideas
not just a new genre but a new medium encompassing a variety of genres
we brought that into question: closed clubbiness of much writing on the web?

Mcneill, Teaching an Old Genre New Tricks: The Diary on the Internet
well suited to social action because not monologic
new wrinkle: role of readers whose desires, expectations, practices shape the texts
but whose gaze is invited? how wide a spectrum of gazes?
webs of personal cyber-relationships: reciprocal links as legitimating forces/endorsements
discourse communities united by similar rhetorical goals--> self-policing?/communal decorum?
actual community created by responses? validity demands witness?
(cf. blurkers: read-only inappropriately voyeuristic?)

main point: confounds traditional distinctions between public and private

the "consensual hallucination" of the Internet: "global autobiography project"
paradoxical enchantment: combination of anonymity and intimacy
(illusion of anonymity necessary for full self-exposure)
expectations of authenticity: promise of total, unmediated honesty
(less manipulative?--yet possibilities for identity deception on the internet...?)

and the reverse, as text shapes lived life:
both producer and product of autobiographical narrative

Schalchlin's "Living in the Bonus Round": "living autobiography, performing it in daily life"
"I could look for some foreshadowing...but then, I don't exactly know what's coming."
interstitial status of unsettling narrative territory:
hard to distinguish represented from real

The Book Is Real Enough. It's the Author That's Fake.

III. Today's reading theorizes this puzzle

Sarah Boxer's
Blogs. New York Review of Books, 55, 2 (February 14, 2008):
linkiness: breezy, free-associative ethos; id writing
older forms information filters; after blog boom, vents for opinion and self-revelation
outbound --> inbound links
democratic? Hobbesian? snarkiness?
"like going to a masked ball": saying what you wouldn't face-to-face
superhero fixation: "It's the flying...they inhabit that source of power and hope"

Darwinian approach:
what current social beliefs are expressed in phenomenon of blogging?
what makes rhetorical action "fitting" response to cultural environment?

destabilized pubic and private:
rehabilitated/mediated voyeurism: privacy draws meaning from public monitoring
"oversharing," exhibitionism, social psychology of self-disclosure serve four purposes:
self-clarification, social validation, relationship development, social control
personal information turns into commodity to manipulate others' opinions
rhetorical hybrid/mongrel of this personal public genre
two ubiquitous, mutually reinforcing themes: self-expression and community development

construction of self: increasingly self-reflective, self-reliant,
"taking care of the self" through writing

result of need to valiate self @ time when identity is troubled
countermove to fix/stabilize self in time/space of change/against fragmentation
intensification of self, providing world where blogger can fully live
blogging subject constitutes itself through its own mediation
central features:
reverse chronology, frequent updating, combining links w/ commentary
two styles, based on content: original filter-styles (edit, annotate links) & later self-expression
information access --> personal, diary-like, perspectival, strategy of transparency

ancestral genres of speciation process

  • filtering or directory services for navigating the internet:
    information retrieval & management
  • political journalism: commentary
    • pamphlet or broadside
    • editorial
    • opinion column
  • journal or diary: written serially, in present, about writer's experiences
    • window on history (information access)
    • portrayal of self (revelation of character)

"Scenes from a Blog," from Pentagram

V. questions raised for me, in intersection of this theory w/
our round robin of experiences

in the blogosphere last Thursday,
are highlighted by these postings:

jrf: It doesn't seem to me that this approach-- the blogosphere as 15 million public diaries rather than public discussion forums-- moves communication forward that much

spleenfiend: I am a bit torn on whether I really think the all-exposing internet culture leads to greater self-discovery ... I am interested in role playing and the unease that comes with knowing that someone on the internet could be anyone playing with a false identity.... there are just too many blogs in existence for us to collectively focus our voyeurism on individuals

(break into 6 groups to discuss/report back)

1. is a blog a genre? on the basis of what? structure? content? function?

2. how important is audience? what role does it play?
how much--and how--does it determine content?
how important is community?
how is it defined? how is it made? how large need it be?

3. what role does blogging play in the construction of self?
how do we make sense of "anonymous intimacy,"
this new relation of public and private?

4. what are the sub-genres?
how might we distinguish them one from another?
how important is it to do so?
Real Time Economics
Mises Economics Blog

5. what are the economics of blogging?
who pays? how? why? how much does it matter?
Problogger: Blogging for Dollars

6. what are the political implications
of this newly popular form of communication
for shaping the political arena?
etalkinghead's directory of political blogs

to think about all together:
-- what are the intellectual and
educational implications of blogging?

via Christina, aka "Apathy," &
Web of Influence:
Will Richardson, Weblogg-ed: Learning with the Read/Write Web:

“The kids are posting questions and answers to tests in between periods so kids later in the day know what’s coming. What do we do about that?”

I’ve been thinking (agonizing?) about what this new landscape means in terms of plagiarism and cheating and ethical use... it’s not the kids that need to change. It’s us. We have to redefine what those things mean, because the old definitions just are not reasonable any longer....we need to drastically shift our approach to dealing with it. Blocking blogs or Websites or Google is not the answer. Asking kids to take tests to see if they have memorized material that they can now find on the Web is not the answer. Making two or three or four versions of the test is not the answer.

The answer, I think, lies in teaching our students how to correctly and ethically borrow the ideas and work of others and in demanding that they not just use them but make those ideas their own. That they take the ideas we have tried to teach them and connect them to and show us that they can teach it to someone else with their own spin on it, their own remix.

..remix is neither plagiarism or thin thinking. It’s the process of learning in a world where...everything we do with digital content involves producing a copy. This is a profound change from the closed, paper laden classrooms most of us still live in.

Rip A Re-Mix: A Manifesto
Filmmaker Brett Gaylor explores issues of copyright in the information age,
mashing up the media landscape of the 20th century and shattering the wall between users and producers.

what other questions to add?

ASCII Art Text Gallery: Blogger Portraits

Notes on our conversation by mkarol and Shayna S