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===== Activity for Rettberg Chap 5: Blogs as Narratives =====
Read //Blogging// chap 5: Blogs as Narratives, before you work with this.

This week asks you to post a number of times - to start a project today or tomorrow by posting to your blog, and then to return to continue it over the week. Blog posts are not necessarily self-contained essays, and using a blog means picking up and returning to ideas and issues repeatedly, over time. This week's activity gives you some practice in this way of working.

One of the important uses of blogs is for narratives. The narrative might be personal - mirrors. But, as Rettberg mentions, bloggers also start blogs, or start stretches of posts on blogs, as a way of recording a project. They can also be topical: There are blogs about senior year, about writing a dissertation, about learning to cook, raising kids, building a house, moving to the country and creating a home ...

Blogs as narrative cross blog genre lines. There are narrative filter blogs, narrative personal blogs, narrative topic blogs. The narrative is a feature of how the blog progresses, not what it's about.

When blogs are used as narratives, they tend to be more episodic than the kind of continuous used in fiction. They are built up as narratives over time, as events proceed, and as the blogger repeatedly narrates on events.

When blogs tell stories, they generally do so in an episodic form, with each post being a self-contained unit that contributes to an overall narrative. ... [T]he overall story as gleaned from reading a blog is likely to be pieced together from fragments, perhaps supplemented by bits of stories from other places. 119

So, this week, we'll look at blogs as narratives.

==== Do This ====
Locate a blog that can be read as a narrative. Not a fictional blog, however: Choose one that you can tell is real - and if you can't tell if it's real or not, don't use it. The blog can be on WP, Blogger, Tumblr ... The platform doesn't matter, so you can look outside of the WP lists.

Read the blog. You'll have to comb the blogger's archive to find out when it started, and to get an overall sense of the direction of the blog, the topics and style of the posts - personal or even confessional, or more public and distant - and to get a sense of whee it went and where it seems to be going.

In a series of posts, consider how the blogger uses narrative. Re-read that sentence: post more than once on this! Twice is minimal - three is better. Use Rettberg's chapter 5 as a model for what to consider, what to look at in the blog, what to mention in your consideration. For instance, here are some of the elements that Rettberg considers in chapter 5:

- Description of the blog, who's keeping it, what topics or projects they posting on.
- Is it pseudonymous or is the blogger identifying her or his self?
- Is it a professional blog? That is, is it being used as a profession?
- Events starting it.
- Is it goal oriented? Is it the record of a project? Or is it more open ended?
- Does it swing towards the personal / confessional or more towards the public / record-like?
- What is the frequency of posting? And what events tend to prompt posting?
- It is still going?
- What does it take to piece together the story? That is, does the blogger link back to prior posts, or refer to prior events? Are you left to piece it together sequentially yourself? Maybe they are using tags or categories, or some narrative devices such as a flashback ...
- To what extent does the blogger incorporate comments into the narrative?
- To what extent does the blogger incorporate external links into the narrative? What use does the blogger make of external links in the narrative?
- You might also find that there a sequential narrative in a blog: separate narratives that cover time-limited events such as a vacation or a sabbatical or a project ...

Did I mention: Make your consideration of the blog you select as a series of posts. Got that? Your consideration is itself going to be a narrative posted over a number of days.

As you work with the blog more closely, and making further posts, you can start considering things such as

- To what extent is the blog used as a mirror, as a way of reflecting on events - if that idea applies in this case.
- How comprehensive the story is: What's being left out?
- How well does the blog hold together as a narrative? Some seem to be more contiguous and the posts more story-like than others.
- What sparks off a post? An obligation to post regularly? A specific event? A personal event or a public one? Just daily routine? What do you make of that?
- To what extent is the blogger presenting the blog as a public narrative? Any markers like, "Readers of this blog will know ..." or direct address that signal the blogger knows someone's reading. And what do you make of that?
- Given all that you've seen in your reading of the blog and writing about it, what does it help us understand about blogging?

Between your multiple posts, visit other blogs in the class to see what others are seeing. Then return to the narrative blog you're looking at. In your posts, connect what you're finding back to Rettberg's consideration in chapter 5, drawing on what she finds when she looks at blogs as narratives. Compare what you're seeing, what you make of the blog, with what she finds. Compare what you're finding, too, with what others in the class are finding.

This is the web, so draw on examples, quote from the blog, and link to what you're looking at.

This is the web, so keep in mind that when you link to a post, the blogger can follow the link back to your blog. The way to work with that is to make a serious, if informal, consideration of the blog. Reign in the sarcasm, snark, flippancy. There are real people out there. Respect them.

==== Finding a blog ====
Try googling "my life as a [your interest here]". Or try one of these

- There's a lot of PhD blogs at

If you have questions about how to proceed, look to chapter 5 to help you consider what to look at, what's worth mentioning. I'm asking you to draw on Rettberg's work.

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