!! Three occasional exercises

For this last project, I want to change the pace. You've had 12 weeks of close observation and analysis at a leisurely pace. Now I'd like you make observing and analyzing more of a habit by putting it to use at a quick jog - the same way that many weblogs are written.

We tend to associate rhetoric with public and social ends, with public purposes and intentionality. We also tend to place weblogs in the private and expressive sphere, somehow outside of rhetoric. We tend to see the weblog as a space for self-expression, not addressed to audience; with choices being made not for persuasive ends but for expressive and private ends.

Nonetheless, weblogs are published in public spaces, and weblog postings address rhetorical exigencies ("imperfections marked by urgency ... something waiting to be done Bitzer, quoted in S & P, p 4). Bloggers make choices: who to put on their blogroll, what template to use, when to post, on what, what to mention and what not to mention... These are all purposeful choices.

Messages are purposeful to the extent that they are deliberately crafted - even if the author's purposes are not related to the rhetorical function. Which is to say that even messages that are not intentionally persuasive function rhetorically.

Some messages are more openly intentional in their persuasive purposes than others. Beer ads and love letters are openly persuasive. Some weblogs are less explicitly so. The degree to which the blog rhetor intentionally shapes the weblog for others (including herself); the degree to which postings are self-conscious; the degree to which the rhetor seeks to shape readers' beliefs, values, and actions probably varies. And the degree to which that purposefulness is apparent might be a significant element in understanding how a particular weblog works. But bloggers make choices, and those choices go towards shaping what how others act, what they think, what they believe, and what they feel.

We'll spend a few days looking at selected weblogs to see what we can say about how the messages work. Bear with this. We will be wandering around a little, looking for a way into the medium.

!!! Review
'chap 1': characteristics of rhetoric, esp pp. 3 - 6 intentionality and definition of rhet (p. 6):
the study of messages that rely on verbal and nonverbal symbols that more or less intentionally influence social attitudes, values, beliefs, and actions.
* can be to change attitudes towards writer's values and life and the self presented

'chap 5': analysis, esp pp 79 - 82: patterns

!!! Notes on rhetorical elements of blogs and the rhetorical situation(s) of blogging
In class, we'll discuss these to make some notes in RhetoricalElementsOfWeblogs.

!!! Work in groups
Each day, the groups will have specifics element to look at for the class session. Make descriptive and analysis notes to develop a couple of paragraphs in which you explain how the element works on the particular blog you're looking at. Link to examples.

* take a balcony view, using neutral, descriptive rather than evaluative language
* keep a focus on the message and how it works
* look for patterns (79 - 82)

Each group will present what they found, either in the last 20 minutes of class, or at the start of the next class day.

You will need to work quickly, diligently. Start with description to get you to analysis quickly. You aren't evaluating. Link to examples.

!! Class sessions
!!! Tuesday
Describe and analyze the blog in your group, focusing on patterns you see in
'some characteristics of the postings' on the blog. Look at

* the subject of posts (get specific: not just "personal" but "ruminating on wedding plans")
consider, too, what the rhetor is
'not' posting about
* the length of posts (short, long, really long, varies - and if varies, according to what, as you can tell?)
* frequency of posting (every day, less than, more than, regular, irregular)
* occasions for posting - as you can infer from the posting itself: what seems to be driving the choice to post?

Start with current posts and work back; or start a month or two back and work forward to the present. Make notes, make a chart to help you get an overview, until you strike something interesting in the patterns you're seeing in subject, length, frequency, and occasion. Develop a couple of paragraphs in which you consider what strikes you, what stands out for you, about these patterns, right here, right now. You may not know what to make of the patterns you find: may not know how to interpret what your analysis brings forward. That's fine. Get the patterns out in the open for us to look at. Link to examples if you have the time.

!!! Thursday
Look at links using the page Links in blogging to guide your attention.

Catalog the links you find to get a sense of
* the patterns of linking you see the blogger engaging
* the range of use of links
* the effect of those links


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