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The inner-workings of political blogs, personal blogs, and beyond

xhan's picture

Michelle Han
Literary Kinds
Paper 1-Blogging

is greater than
personal blogs vs. political blogs are the different??

The inner-workings of political blogs, personal blogs, and beyondddddddd
What is the deal with blogs? Are blogs the medium through which we share ideas-is the blogosphere merely a convenient means of transferring information? For my paper, I wanted to find out more about the purposes of political blogs and how they differ from that of personal blogs. So far in class i have gathered that personal blogs differ on how "invitational" they are with one another, they are MORE invitational than political blogs. Moreover, political blogs and personal blogs also seem to differ on their purpose and intent. While political bloggers tend to customize messages to manipulate certain responses from particular individuals, personal blogs permit and help nurture the free-exchange of ideas. In terms of feedback, it seems that both personal and political blogs do not receive many comments. However, I am not sure that this is indicative of the nature of blogs. First of all can blogs be "inviting" and "conversational" in nature without receiving hundreds of comments? To what degree is a blog "conversational" or "invitational" and how do we go about determining this? And, if blogs ARE invitational, what are the reasons these blogs do not receive as many comments?

According to Kate Thomas, an "old-fashioned" blogger believes that "the web has the potential to level the playing field and we have the opportunity to define the field". To her, it seems like blogging is a way of freeing the soul, and getting ideas across that otherwise would not be heard. Likewise Laura's blog is filled with invitational cues such as What do you want to discuss? What do you think…suggest? Any advice oh wise readers? Although there does not seem to be much feed-back on her blogs, she remains hopeful and believes that "as long as people want it to be a kind of camaraderie, comments will linger. She views herself as an outsider, and finds freedom in challenging the norm. I think in many aspects, this collides with the nature of our class, Literary Kinds. 

In this class, Anne Dalke encourages students to post and comment on personal webpages in hopes that it would change and lead discussion about literature for the better. The freedom and novelty of the blog form-since there were no requirements concerning "correctness" or format-allows us to forge new identities that enhanced our interaction with different texts and other blogs. Moreover, the class is situated so that everyone including, Anne Dalke, is sitting in a circle. This twist on a typical classroom practice changes the dynamics of class discussion and our approach to academic and personal writing as well as the ways we engage in responding to literature. For example, the "invitational-nature" of blogs such as "Geeky Mom”, Hannah’s blog and Laura's blog really make their experiences come and alive, and in that sense readers are more apt to comment and contribute in discussion. However, although these blogs appear to be invitational in nature do not seem to be inviting much visible commentary. Perhaps, this can be attributed to the scarcity of viewers, or the perhaps the sheer lack of desire to comment, for the purposes of self-editing. Although Kate's blog seems to be invitational, she tends to "withdraw into the subject, with a "quite commitment/implicit engagement". Perhaps, some readers may feel the need to censor their comments and thus are less willing to do comment.

After reviewing a number of blogs, such as TruGlobalist, BiPolarNation, and a Plague on Both Your Houses, I noticed an aspect of political blogs that they all seemed to share. These blogs remind me of that of a non-profit organization. The purpose of a nonprofit organization is to educate and inform. Volunteers work and serve without monetary gain, and there is no promise of immediate reward. The fruit of one’s labors is harder to discern for a variety of reasons. These groups are mission-driven than profit-driven, their mission can usually only be accomplished in the longterm, and oftentimes their mission is broken down into smaller goals, so that even if their mission has not been accomplished they may have met smaller goals that can enable them to accomplish their mission.
Similarly, political blogs also seem to have smaller goals and an over-arching purpose. Although reading a blog describing the positive attributes of Sarah Palin may not necessarily enable readers to immediately want to support her, political bloggers may consider it a feat for readers to take the time to read the blog. I noticed that the tone and attitude of political blogs seemed to strive to "call out people on their wrongs" and uncover what they believe to be the truth:"When we subscribe to the ideas of those who toil in ignorance, we become ignorant. when we accept the politics of division, we become divisive. In doing so we lose our moral credibility, and thus become purveyors of words that despair". This statement appeared on the bottom of a blog entry in the TruGlobalist. To me, this seems like a call to action, an effort to stir individuals to act upon some change. Yet, whether political bloggers are successful in their attempts to draw readers to their purpose is hard to determine. Most of the political blogs that I viewed, seemed to receive very few comments, if any. I do not know if this is due to the fact, that these blogs are not as mainstream, and thus receive fewer viewers to begin with, or if viewers are responding but are doing so internally. But wouldn't an internal change result in an external change? So if viewers felt compel by a political blogger's argument, wouldn't that cause them to respond in a visible manner-like voting for Sarah Palin after reading a compelling argument? Perhaps the amount of comments one receives is not indicative of the amount of impact.

However, even though, the impact of political blogs may not be immediately noticeable, political bloggers exercises subjectively assert some beliefs over others to influence the public sphere. Political actors obtain detailed profiles of readers in terms of identity and political opinion and use this information to design the messages we receive. Thus, a growing amount of the political content we see has been tailor-made for us alone. The implications of such actions can cause spread of a individual ideas, but this lack of mutual ideas, can cause a lack of mutual understanding. President Barack Obama acknowledged the emerging influence of blogging upon society by saying "if the direction of the news is all blogosphere, all opinions, with no serious fact-checking, no serious attempts to put stories in context, that what you will end up getting is people shouting at each other across the void but not a lot of mutual understanding"

Even though television is still the single most dominant medium for election news, a growing number of individuals prefer the Internet for political information. Some feel that it is easier to retrieve information, others feel that other media do not provide enough news-that they can get information not available elsewhere, and still others find that online news sources reflect their personal interests. Although the growing technological advancement of the Internet has made information MORE accessible for individuals, one can argue that the quality of information has not changed. Although it seems like we are receiving a variety of information from a multitude of sources, it is really political elites who find ways to recycle the same information over and over again. More people are sharing less. Are people aware of this deception? 

After researching, I realized that political blogs and personal blogs differed in ways that i was not aware of. When I blog for class, I feel that the freedom of expressing my thoughts allows me to get the most out of my learning and lowers the emotional stakes of failing. I'm learning more about my own ideas and those of my peers and I think that there is a lot of satisfaction in this deepening level of engagement. On the other hand, I don't think the purpose of political blogs is too "free yourself", but is to try to coerce individuals to believe in a specific cause, belief, leader, etc. 
To me, that is really unsettling. 













Works Cited





Anne Dalke's picture

Freedom and Coercion

I want to begin, with you as with most of your classmates, by calling your attention to the form of your blog, and inviting you to play with the possibilities the internet offers for making your writing more accessible to a larger audience. How about (for example) an image to draw us in; or active links to make your "works cited" more easily consult-able; or spacing between your paragraphs, to make the whole thing more readable? How about getting rid of the "traces" of the classroom, the required nature of this exercise, that are visible in your title "Paper 1-Blogging" and in your brief history--"For my paper, I wanted to find out more about the purposes of political blogs and how they differ from that of personal blogs"? Any reader coming to this space while scrolling the internet will be more likely to read what you say if you just jump right in without such markers of the classroom.

I'm actually also a little puzzled by the way in which you begin...

is greater than
personal blogs vs. political blogs are the different??

The inner-workings of political blogs, personal blogs, and beyondddddddd
What is the deal with blogs?

...are these formatting problems, or a puzzle intended to evoke our curiosity? (I'm curious, alright...can you satisfy my curiosity?)

Anyhow: I'm delighted with your decision to explore the nature of political blogs; this constitutes an important extension of the our class examination, which has focused largely on blogs that function more in the personal and academic spheres. It seems as though you identify a single dominant difference between the two forms (would you call them two distinct "genres"?): personal blogs, you say, attempt to "free the soul," and are written to "forge a new identity"; while political blogs "try to coerce individuals to believe in a specific cause, belief, leader, etc." In other words, personal blogs are about self-expression (and self-exploration?), while political blogs are less exploratory, more argumentative and assertive.

Even more interesting than this difference, perhaps, is your suggestion of what unites these two forms of blogging: neither actually accomplishes a "free exchange of ideas." The personal blogs you review "appear to be invitational in nature," but "do not seem to be inviting much visible commentary." The political blogs you look @ try to uncover the truth, and "strive to "call out people on their wrongs," but they, too, "seem to receive very few comments."

I think these are very striking claims, and I'd like to see more evidence than you offer here to back them up. I'll quote back to you the Obama quotation you cite: "all opinions, with no serious fact-checking, no serious attempts to put stories in context" ends up only getting "people shouting at each other across the void but not a lot of mutual understanding." How might you work on not only the form and format of this blog, but its references and citations, to increase the possibility of mutual understanding? To encourage readers to "comment and contribute in discussion"?

One other point you make that intrigues me particularly is your notion that "perhaps the amount of comments one receives is not indicative of the amount of impact" a blog has. Take a look @ the chart and information provided by one of your classmates in How the Internet's "Chatter" Has Been Changing Definitions, which reports that "90% are lurkers, 9% intermittent contributors, and only 1% are heavy contributors." If that's the case, then, how might we got about effectively measuring the effect of a particular blog?

Finally, I'd like to hear some more about what you think the effect of a blog should be. You end this essay by saying that the amount of grand-standing you see on political blogs is "really unsettling" to you, in part because it is so different from the sort of open-ended exploring we are doing in this class. But where from the assumption that the aim of such blogs should be the same as what we are aiming for in the blogs that you all are writing? Mightn't ("shouldn't"?) the purpose of political blogs be different?

xhan's picture


ahhh the reason my intro doesn't make sense, is because there were a few images that i took out before posting this paper...

because im an idiot!

i thought that i was supposed to post it without the original formatting, so i took out the graphics, which is why i was wondering if you wanted us to submit a hard copy!