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Week of 23 Jan: Blogging as Commonplacing

Ferrante Imperato, from Dell’Historia Naturale, Naples 1599. Alchetron

The Topic for the Week is The Blog as Diary and Common Place Book.  Blogs started (c. 1999) as logs – like a ship’s log – with the writers recording visits to websites  across the then-limited web. When pedestrian blog software was first introduced (c. 2001-2), blogging became popular and the popular culture started to characterize them as diaries. Both genres still are around, but have also developed into ideas of  the commonplace book and cabinets of curiosity. Blogs, seen this way, are used for personal and academic development of ideas, places for personal collection and consideration.  Personal, but not private.

Do this: Read and post on a few of the readings below.  Select what you find interesting. Set aside those you don’t.  You’re bound to find two or more of interest.  And if you don’t, google for other readings on the topic and work with those instead (Use Google Scholar to find readings that are more substantive than typically found in a google search.)

Make two posts during the week – one by the end of the day on Thursday, and another by end of the day on Sunday. Between those times, have a look at what others in class are posting and leave a comment or question where one comes up.

As you read the posts of others, watch for patterns and common ideas emerging.  Those patterns and common  ideas can be the basis for your post.

How to develop a post

The idea in blogging is to connect what you’re looking at to other materials – readings, videos, images, ideas, bloggers – out there on the web.

Rather than summarize what you read, use what you read as a jumping off point of your own thinking.  Consider how you can respond to the ideas presented.

  • Make connections to examples  in the form of links and commentary.
  • Draw on two of the readings in a single post to frame up a new idea or re-iterate an existing one. Quote and link to the source. Not all visitors will have read the sources, so help readers connect.
  • Find examples of the genres: diary, commonplace books, cabinets of curiosity.  Link to them. Comment on them.
  • Draft and post a critique to one or two of the readings
  • Google for more and other readings, or images, videos, et al, that you can connect to (as in link to) to create a constellation of connections.
  • Google for other readings on the same topic and read and work with those instead. Use Google Scholar to find readings that are more substantive than typically found in a google search.
  • I have not given background on the authors or publication for a reason: Google the authors to get started on an angle for blogging about the readings.
  • … add your own ideas to the comments

Take your time.  No need to rush a post.  Study your post as you work.  Revise it. Save it as a draft and return to it.

For advice on linking and developing a post, have a look at Lorelle’s Checklist. The checklist is not the same as the other material from Lorelle we’ve looked at.

Try posting from Elsewhere: places that are not your typical working spaces.

Length: 500 – 1000 words or so,  for each post

No padding, no slither. It’s not really about length so much as //the insight and depth you want too explore// and present – how detailed and closely observed are you going to make the post.

Length measured in engagement

Set aside the typical thinking on attention spans as guide to length.  The idea is to write in such a way that reading the post is worth the reader’s time.  That means the writer has to commit to engagement.  That means it’s up to the writer to //make// the connections, the insights, the links worth it. People pay attention to what they are interested in – It’s your position to find an interesting way into the ideas of these readings. Not everyone who starts to read will stay with the post. That’s fine. But see what you can do to make engagement worth the effort.

You have the entire web as content to work with. That should be plenty to start with.

The Readings


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