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spleenfiend's picture

Today (Thursday, January 4th, 2010), our class had a visit from Hannah, the senior who recorded the "Valpo Vido" blog while in Chile.  We began by discussing the "subjective" verses the "actual," but quickly moved on to asking Hannah questions.  She described her blog  as a letter to her family and friends---more specifically,  a postcard, which I thought was an excellent description.  She generally viewed blogging as a positive thing, saying that she liked going back and reading her entries because she was sometimes surprised she even wrote them, so blogging was a good way to remember events.  Also, she was actually able to include a link to her blog in a cover letter for a job.

A member of the class commented that she liked the way Hannah left out personal details, saying this allowed the blog to include a larger group of people.  However, another replied that she actually looked for personal details while reading.  Hannah herself stated that she does wish she had recorded more of her feelings because then she would better recall them, but that she had her audience in mind.

We talked about how Hannah's blog did not actually initiate much conversation.  However, she said this was probably because she was already in conversation with her family and friends.  Also, I don't think the kind of blog she was writing needed to be conversational, since it was more of a travel log.  Also, Hannah's blog has much more relevance to and could incite way more conversation among other students interesting in studying abroad in a Spanish-speaking country.

Hannah mentioned how she liked that Anne's blog invoked so much literature and tried to include others.  She also said that she felt "embarrassed" writing about her host family's home, so she did not tell them about the blog.  Some class members discussed the ethics of this.  However, Hannah did not feel her host family would be upset if they discovered the blog.  Besides, I don't think it would be too simple to find through Google, seeing as she did not use last names.

Anne's blog, unlike Hannah's, features many personal emotions and details.  However, most of the class said they did not feel like voyeurs reading it because while Anne was very open, she had her audience in mind.

The question was brought up of whether writing to an audience destroys the "interiority" of "writing to the self" in a diary.  [I thought about how I do write to myself, because I never actually post my blog entries if they become personal (and thus never blog).  I am not sure what the use of that is, but according to today's class discussion, it is useful.]

Anne then asked Hannah if the fact that she knew she was blogging changed her actions, and she actually said the thought of writing about climbing the volcano inspired her to keep going, because she didn't want to post that she only climbed halfway!  Another benefit of blogging.

In class, of course, we had spent much time discussing negative aspects of blogging, though Hannah saw it so positively!  So many people have lost jobs over blogs, right?  And having your family find out your personal secrets is often embarrassing and devastating.  My own opinion is that we only hear about negative examples, but in most cases, nothing bad happens, and Hannah's blog is proof of just how good blogging can be.

We discussed the jumpiness of a blog, though a few of us said they payed no attention to the time gaps.  Before leaving, Hannah said she wished she had filled some of those gaps (and written about Obama's election!) and that she would probably like to blog again in the future.

We discussed naming people in our posts and agreed that we should only use screen names.  I don't see the harm in first names at all, but I have obviously chosen not to identify individuals at all.  Maybe because I like the idea of "collective knowledge"?  Or because I feel embarrassed attributing ideas to people.  I feel guilty about having named Hannah so much in this entry, but her name is already on the class's blog, and most of the class was about her blog, so I can't really get around it!

Anyway, we then discussed Anne's blog.  Unlike many of the members of our class, she likes to use her own name.  She thought keeping a blog seemed awkward but was very open anyway.  Her blog jumps around a lot, which she attributes to her "linky" brain.

Finally, we discussed copyright laws, but I don't believe this conversation is over yet. Are copyright laws not applicable today?  I LOVE the free exchange of ideas (and books, movies, music, and television...) but do think people should be credited.  However, some argue that artists need to eat, which is, of course, true.  I think this conversation will become more involved if more people watch RiP! A Remix Manifesto.


Hannah's picture


We really covered a lot of ground--it was interesting and fun for me to have to answer for the decisions I made while writing the blog. I learned that if/when I start a more long-term kind of blog, I want to look for ways to invite my audience to engage in discussion, maybe by sharing more of my own emotions.

Thanks for your thoughtful questions and for having me!

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