Rettberg, Blogging, 2nd ed chaps 1 and 2

Reading and activities for Week 3

What bloggers do: The blog started as a log of encounters with websites. Over time, those collections become more valuable as the grow. Bloggers collect and annotate. They collect links to materials, annotate and comment on that material, organize it, and they link to others doing the same on similar topics.

Read Rettberg, Blogging, 2nd ed., chaps 1 and 2. The activities this week ask you to supplement Rettberg's work in chap 1 and 2 by collecting and annotating web-based material that enrich or further her work. You'll be making at least two posts, one for each chapter. The number of posts depends on how you want to work with the problem.

Searching for Supplemental Material

Start with Google, but also follow other leads. (Eg: Go to TED Talks and search for materials there.)

Get beyond Wikipedia, please. Wikipedia is shared background knowledge that doesn't need to be aggregated or annotated. It's the stuff beyond Wikipedia that we're interested in. They can get you started searching, but don't stop there.

Always look at the 2nd, 3rd, 4th ... page of the Google results. More and more, that's where the good stuff is.

Here are some Google search tips. Or google "google search tips".

Help each other out, too: Post or tweet things you find that others might use. And you can work face to face together.

How to Proceed

The actual workflow you use to collect and annotate sources is something you'll develop. You can make as many posts for this exercise as you need: one with everything, or multiple, shorter posts on the same topic.

So you might work by reading first, then selecting the good stuff to link and comment on. Or you might collect potential links in a draft post, then re-readng what you find so you can annotate and comment. You can save a post as a draft to return to it later, or publish it and return to it later to revise it: add to it, re-organize things, cut things ...

But rather than make one post, you might collect sources over a number of sessions in a number of posts.

Chap 1

Posts due by Thursday, midnight
Choose one theme. Make either a series of posts between today and Thursday or one post by Thursday midnight.

1. Kinds of blogging

Refer to Rettberg's distinctions of

Find 3 - 5 or so blogs of each kind, and sketch some of the similarities and differences in the formal features, tone, register, design of the blog - as Rettberg does in this part of the chapter. Link to posts as examples. This can be done as a set of annotations.

2. Shaping discussions on blogs

Rettberg discusses conflicting interests that shape how bloggers try to control discussions on the blogs. She mentions brings examples of a few that try to avoid controversy on a topic blog: one takes it in the direction of "bliss", another shapes the responses for commercial concerns. Pp 26-27 and 27-28

Find other examples of this attempt to shape discussion towards an aim, 0r its obverse: Using perhaps wild discussion to drive an aim. This can be done as a set of annotations.

3. Define weblog

Here's a challenging one: Aggregate and annotate materials that define weblogs - as medium or genre, or using formal features or content, or something else. Use actual blogs to illustrate the definitions. You don't have to define the weblog: You're looking to aggregate and annotate the definitions that are out there. Breadth and depth counts.

Chap 2

Posts due by Saturday, midnight.
Choose one theme. Make either a series of posts between today and Saturday or one post by Saturday midnight.

1. Print, blogging and reading. pp 44ff

Rettberg mentions new kinds of literacy, and lists them. Compile an annotated catalogue concerning who else is involved in theses ideas. What are the sources out there? What are the issue in these changes in reading from communal to silent and now, perhaps, back again?

2. Printed precedents of blogs. pp 45ff

Early print was a dialogue between writers as they wrote in response to each other. Modern print (mass produced and mass distributed) is less so, with the media controlling feedback from readers (as in letters to the editor), and circulation requiring money and resources. But blogs makes everyone a publisher and "savvy bloggers ... are aware that their audience may be greater than they imagine, and know that they cannot control who is reading. That presumably changes the way we write." (47). Publishing changes shape the style and tone of the work to suit the targeted audience - something that changes when you distribute media online. Aggregate and annotate. More on the printed precedents, more on the idea of print as dialogue (really? how does that work?), more on how not being able to control who reads changes the way we write.

3. The late age of print and the Gutenberg Parenthesis. pp 47ff

This section in Rettberg's book cries out for examples and more consideration.

Before print, art and literature were treated as "malleable, flexible, and changing." Print, and the codex book, tended to fix the work in an authoritative object - the codex book. Different media enter the parenthesis at different times, but "With every media shift there have been skeptical voices lamenting the loss of whatever characteristics the previously dominant medium was perceived as promoting." 49.

Locate more materials the Gutenberg Parenthesis, more on the characteristics that change as media changes. More on the "lamenting." Locate some annotated examples, commentary...

4. Privileging fixed print

The codex book and its fixed text is still privileged as the conveyer of knowledge over hypertext and other media in schools and the culture at large. Books, ebooks, print journals and publication are given precedence, and so the assumed way of consuming these products are privileged. "This is a common idea: that print privileges "focused attention" against ... the Web's hypertextuality with its link-following connectivity." 49. How common is this? Collect sources and annotate.

5. Hypertext and Computer Lib pp 53

Delve into the people Rettberg mentions pp 53ff: Bush, Engelbart, Nelson - beyond Wikipedia, obviously. Collect for each a set of annotated links to artifacts - sources and commentary - that others can consult.

Reflection on the week due Monday midnight. Be sure to link to your posts.

Questions to The Daybook

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