Keeping things tentative while moving them along

The two readings for Week 4 address learning with blogs, but they don’t say much about the reading and writing practices that blogging provides for learning. Burgess mentions emerging genres, but doesn’t elucidate. This post will start to address that gap. It might also give you some suggestions about how to proceed with the week.

(Bryn Mawr has an archive for a course in Emerging Genres from 2008, and U Virginia hosts a good article on emerging genres in scholarly communication.)

Web workers (those who work using weblogs and wikis and other social media) use the web to help them work. They often post their work in various stages of completion. Some posts present a fairly complete consideration; some, the roughest sketches, the sketichiest beginnings. Bloggers typically post knowing there will be updates and changes, and often post in draft to encourage comments and advice.

Because the blog is time-based, each post marks moment in the ongoing development of a project. And because a blog is public, writers can call on readers to help them out. The trick is, then, how to signal provisionality – both to yourself and to readers who might be open to helping you out.

Joe Stussynski’s Journalism vs Blogging shows how to work tentatively forward as you figure out a direction to go in, which is a valuable way to work online. He starts the post with a note on what,s coming, as much for him as for anybody who runs into the post:

(In progress thoughts over the matter)

He then sketches his direction. The post is loose, unfinished. But look how Joe handles revisions and additions at the end of the post.

Typically, bloggers like to have some idea of what they’re reading and writing about when they start, but Dennis Staples writes his week 3 summary about not having a firm idea. See his consideration of What is a digital artifact, anyway?.

And staying with Dennis for his work with his Uses of Blogs posts, have a look at Truth Glasses, Dennis’s look at journalism blogs.

The post is loosely organized – it’s a set of paragraph-long observations, connections, and considerations – which is typical of aggregating and annotating readings, ideas, experience and interests. None of it would work without the links. None of the links would work without Dennis’s commentary. The post works to get us thinking about blogging, journalism, media, and wearing truth glasses. But because Dennis brought these things loosely together, I he lets me connect the idea of wearing Truth Glasses with gatewatching and filtering, as mentioned in Uses of Blogs.

Dennis embeds a video but also adds a summary to let me decide whether to watch it or not. (I did.) I didn’t have to watch the clip to get a sense of how the video fit, but watching it made the post more valuable.

Finally, Eric Christensen’s post in response to Rules for Students. Eric copied and pasted in s text of the Rules, then made inter-linear annotations and comments, which let’s him focus his thinking on each Rule. But those annotatlons also repurpose the original set of rules into a new digital artifact. And that means his reworking can gain a circulating life of its own.

The blog freezes time, giving us a sense of how the poster is thinking about the matter at the moment. But the techniques posters use are also something to learn from.  Blog posts are time-stamped, archived, and presented in reverse chronological order. They record the development of ideas over time and repeated approaches. Use that affordance to advantage.

Boot note: I ran into the two links on emerging genres out of the need to write this post. I didn’t know about the Bryn Mawr course or the U Virginia article until I went looking for something to link to the term emerging genres. Because I wanted to link to something, I had to search, and ended up finding something. Learned something in spite of myself. Damn. Hate it when that happens.