Serendip is an independent site partnering with faculty at multiple colleges and universities around the world. Happy exploring!

Blogging as Social Action: a class synopsis

mkarol's picture

Class began with a question brought up by aybala50 about whether or not a blog can be classified. Are there any guidelines or categories that could help us determine a sorting system? Is a blog more of a community of people working together, like how our class functions, or is it more of a tool for the individual? This led to the discussion of last week's readings, and how Jo(e) poses a similar question; Is a blog a free exchange of ideas? He describes blogs as instantaneous and interactive, saying that they are not just a new genre, but a whole new medium. 


Discussion then moved on to the idea of audience, and the importance of who actually reads what is put out onto the internet. What does the worth of a blog depend on? Many observations were made: There are many more people reading blogs than actually posting them. This blends the distinction between the worlds of public and private, making blogs a paradox that combines both "anonymity and intimacy".

It was also mentioned that in some cases, what is written can actually affect what is being written about. A person can become so entangled in what they are blogging that they actually begin to change their life and way of thinking according to the responses they receive from readers, as well as their own reflections. This mirrors the idea that there is a blurred line between what is real and what is fake. In reference to Sarah Boxer's "Blogs", we talked about how blogs can actually mask the author, because they will oftentimes say things online that they wouldn't normally think to in person. Posting via the internet gives a person more time to think about what their response will be, which is ironic, considering the immediate and fast paced nature of technology and the internet. 

There was a general confusion as to what "kairos" is, because even the definition given in the readings did not help much. We clarified that it is a "space-time" or the current cultural and social beliefs. The word fits into our discussion, because it can be used to describe what influences actually helped to form blogs. This is a time period in which many people feel fragmented and troubled, or lost, so blogging helps the individual to assert themselves, and to try and find a "wholeness". Personal blogs in particular have forced people to define themselves using only a few words, which has led to an identification of the individual with certain groups of people. This serves as a sort of "free 24/7 hotline", as rachelr put it, which helps people connect over similar issues and traits.

The last few minutes of class, we broke up into small groups and talked about a few questions about blogs in general. Some questions that arose were:

Who actually controls the internet?

How should censorship work? Can it be a good thing?

How much does what you put onto the internet affect your future?

Finally, does the sharing of information and ideas on blogs and the web affect copyright?



aseidman's picture

How does it affect the future...?

I suppose the answer to that question depends on what kind of future you're looking for.

The problem, obviously, is that there are some very permanent internet logs, where all this stuff that we put on our blogs can be seen for years after we've supposedly removed or deleted it. The things that we complain about as whiny, needy 13 year old girls (I was one, maybe you weren't) are going to be available to our employers when we're in our 30s and 40s. While we change as people, the stuff we've put out into the world via the internet does not change with us. I try to avoid internet diaries for the same reason that I've never gotten a tatoo. One day I know I'd get bored with it, but I'd be stuck with it forever, and they wouldn't appreciate it at a job interview.


That said, this stuff is available to employers and other such people who control our futures, in a positive light. The writing samples we submit in our applications need not be the only piece of writing potential employers see from us. There's all this work on the web that we've done, on Serendip and perhaps elsewhere, that can testify to our being talented. We've got to be careful to only put out into the world what we're proud of. I suppose blogging, therefore, is very similar to real world conversation. A good first impression in person can make a lasting impression...and an impresion made by words in a blog really does last forever.

skindeep's picture

categories? again?

aybalas question about whether blogs can be catergorized makes me wonder, should they be?

lets think about it, everything we do and see in the 'real' world, we find the need to categorize, to fit into boxes. be it someone we see or something we experience, we invariably feel the need to assign a space to it in our minds. what we dont realize however, is that part of that same process is putting ourselves into a box. or actually, putting pieces of ourself into different boxes and choosing which to put on display when.

and from what i gathered in class, most people seem to agree that blogs are an escape, of sorts from this world of labels. online, we can be who we want to be, and we can talk about things that our real to us, be it about our lives or politics or the economy. whether or not we chose to be anonymous, we are separated from the world in which we live everyday.

so why categorize blogs and simultaneously drag them into this 'real' world?

jrf's picture

blogs aren't immune

Many things throughout history have provided people with a means of escape from their "real" lives, but I don't see how that exempts them from categorization. Blogs are descended from other escape methods (movies, books, drugs, sketchy clubs) as much as they're descended from curio cabinets and captain's logs, and to refuse to connect them to/categorize them with any of those things would prevent valuable insight into how blogs work and how we can/do use them.

I think there's a difference between ever categorizing things at all and building brick walls around things. I'm not sure how to maintain the balance between those things, but some kind of categorization seems necessary for our tiny human brains to digest any significant part of the information we receive-- we have to be able to file pieces of information. Blogs fit into the categorization canon just like everything else, and there are genres of blogs just like there are genres of books.

skindeep's picture

categories? again?

aybalas question of whether blogs can be classified makes me wonder, should blogs be classified? whats the point of fitting blogs, like everything else into boxes.

in the 'real world' we force ourselves, more or less to categorize, to fit things into boxes so that we can better process information. but what we dont realize is that whilst fitting things into boxes we invariably put ourselves in one too. or should i say we put bits of ourselves in different boxes and choose which box to put on display and when. it also means that almost everyone we know fits into a neatly labled box.

and from what we spoke about in class, a blog is our escape from this world. yes we can post our thoughts on politics and the economy but people who post that are people for whom that is real. like people who post about personal details about their lives are people for whom that, more than anything else is real. and be it anonymous or not, its separated from the real world. its your place to construct yourself. why fit it into a category and therefore drag it into close proximity with the 'real world'?

Post new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
To prevent automated spam submissions leave this field empty.
5 + 0 =
Solve this simple math problem and enter the result. E.g. for 1+3, enter 4.