The Uses of Blogs, Part 3: Scholarly Blogging, Political Blogging, and Gender Politics

Uses of Blogs, chapters 11 - 14.

These four articles - two using blogs for scholarship, and two on blogging and politics - add two or three (depends on how you count) more uses to the list.

Halavais discusses how scholarly use of the internet goes back further than the internet, to 17th century coffee houses, notebooks, and mid-20th century sketches of the future. Worth looking into are Vannaver Bush and the memex, Oldenberg and 'the third place,' and commonplace books. Doctorow's quote on p 119: the blog as an "outboard brain" is a keeper:

"the process of creating a note in such as way that an audience will understand the importance of a link or idea 'fixes the subject in my head the same way that taking notes as a lecture does, putting them in reliable and easily-accessible mental registers.'" 119.

Walker (now Jill Walker Rettberg, and author of Blogging, 2008, which I've used in the class in past years) at gives you a counterpoint to Halavais's confidence in scholarly blogs. Walker considers "the anxiety that if I said what I really wanted to say, I wouldn't know how to defend it" (127). That's not just a scholarly anxiety, either. Blogging isn't about saying just anything you want to say; it's not an unedited brain dump. Blogging is public, which means you can be held publicly responsible for your words, and that means you have to figure out how to say what you want to say so that you can defend it. Putting social responsibility into the mix is a value. If you work with scholarly blogging this week, read Mortensen and Walker, "Blogging Thoughts".

And by now you'll have seen the connections between blogging to learn and scholarly blogging. Right?

Bahnisch's brief article on political uses of blogs leave a real gap to be filled. As it was enacted in 2005-6, blogging was a platform for political persuasion rather than political discussion from which truth, good policy, compromise and good directions emerges. Political blogging simply reflects rather than escapes the "nature of political discourse: it is not about getting to the truth but about swaying others through means fair and foul" 145. Things have maybe changed. Or not. Bahnisch (look him up) is a sociologist, so he uses a smattering of sociological terminology. Don't let that get in the way of understanding him on his own terms.

Gregg addresses blogs and gender politics - not feminism but gender as gay, bi, lesbian, transexual, and, by way of mentioning danah boyd, the use of blogs as used in gender and identity formation. She gets us past the common perceptions and easy generalizations about gender and blogs. (Blogs are for boys. Dairies are for girls. 134.) with this:
In a Western cultural context that has long separated the public (the official and sanctioned) from the realm of the private, blogging research must begin to grapple with the social and historical factors learning to women's relegation to the inherently inferior sphere of the latter. 154.

"Blogging research": That's what you're doing every time you go out looking for a new blog.

Gregg's article is one of the richest to explore. She really just touches on differences in content, differences in writing, differences in how blogs are used (to push a singular opinion or with an emphasis on interaction, conversation, and communities 154), and differences in design. Start with danah boyd's work.

If you're interested in political uses of blogging, try chapters chap 15, 16, and 17.

As usual, your role for the week is to fill in the gaps, the ideas missed, the implications. As usual, read all four articles all so you can choose which one(s) to focus on more closely.

For Wednesday

Annotate and Aggregate

Take some time and energy to develop an understanding of the four articles. The activities I'm suggesting below are ways that can help you do that.

By Wednesday, class time, make at least two posts on these chapters. You can focus on one or two or all of them. Read them all, then focus your commenting,

As before, you'll want to Google concepts, ideas, and people that you're not familiar with to gain a solid understanding of the articles. You can make that search part of one or both of the posts you make for this week.

Some possibles

This is the same list as last week. But you can add to the list. The idea is to work with the articles but to also keep ideas on them open for a while rather than trying to come to conclusions yet. So as you respond to the articles, start making mental or written notes on what kind of project you might want to take on from Wednesday - Sunday next. Interviewing local people or online people, compiling sets of quotations (google "commonplace book"), finding examples to illustrate ideas or assertions, or to complicate ideas and assertions...


Consider everything an experiment
Wednesday - Sunday

By now, you should be out in front when it comes to quickly designing and engaging a short blogging project. For ideas for genres and approaches to projects for the week, refer to TheUsesOfBlogsPart1 and TheUsesOfBlogsPart2, and adapt.

The general remit is to engage in a project to explore, consider, illustrate something about the uses of blogs. Here are a few other ideas from the reading this week.

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