The Uses of Blogs, part 1

Aggregate and annotate

Work with Uses of Weblogs, chaps 1 - 5.

Theme for the week

There's more to blogging than diaries and rants. A look at how blogs are being used. A gesture towards their value. Some implications for publishers and readers.

The text we're using, The Uses of Blogs, by Bruns and Jacobs, is a response to the notion that weblogs are little more than personal diaries, mundane observations, and rants by amateurs. The argument that motivates the collection of short articles is that blogs not only lower the bar on publishing, but that they change and extend the idea of publishing, of writing, and how writers work with content.

By personalizing content, blogs go beyond a purely informative role and provide a platform for debate, deliberation, and the expression of personal identity in relation to the rest of the (blogging) world. (5)

Blogs taken as a network (a blogosphere) become a "distributed, broad-based practice of content production," (5) a forum for "intercreativity" (6) among "active publishers, commentators, and discussants" - produsers (6).

All bloggers are potentially users (in the narrow sense of information recipient) as well as potential producers of content, and the blogosphere overall is an environment for the massively distributed, collaborative produsage of information and knowledge. (6)

Read Chapters 1 - 5

With these ideas in mind - intercreativity, active produsers, produsage - read and work with chapters 1 - 5.

Chapter 1 is particularly important because it lays out the gestures for the text: the changes and aspects of blogging that the contributors are going to discuss.

Start by reading all the articles so you can get an overview and decide which ones to work with in more detail. Or, more precisely, so you can decide what ideas you will work with in more detail.

Remember that you may not understand things completely before you start searching and writing. Start anyway. You're more likely to come to understand as you move along.

Here are some concepts that stand out as I skim the chapters:

When you encounter a new concept in an article, Google it. Get some background on it, some alternative sense of what it's about. Don't rely on Wikipedia for this: For all its value, it is an encyclopedia, a summary, not in enough detail for the kind of work you're doing here. Go the sources.

Reading has changed. We read across texts now.

Each article has a further reach than their brevity suggests - a reach that you're in a position to extend. For instance, Jacobs remarks, almost off-hand, that "the range of uses of blogs in traditional publishing is diverse" (35). She touches on some of the range, but it's a short article, so she's brief, which opens it up for us to extend the examples and commentary.

In this way, the articles in Uses of Blogs are lot like blog posts. Rather than being longish and gesturing towards completeness and closure, they are brief and open to more commentary, discussion, extension. They open to annotating, remixing, and re-puposing. Like blog posts.

As you work, you're creating materials that others - and you - can draw on further.

Aggregate and Annotate

Aggregate - Read, view, play with, and read anything else that comes in. Get the materials in order. Find places for them on your weblog or wiki, bookmark them, link to them, place them on your desktop - whatever you do when you gather materials together to work with them.

Remix/Annotate - Do something to the materials. Comment on readings or videos, tweet about them, annotate and tag them. Discuss them on your blog ... Find other remixes and comment on those. Tag everything relevent to your work with #en3177. Working Method

From Monday through Wednesday, class time, do a few or all of these of activities:

We meet Wednesday to compare notes and strategize how to proceed.

Remix/Repurpose: Create a Digital Artifact

Consider everything an experiment

Repurpose - Do something with the materials you read and created. Use them as raw materials for your own work. Build on them, re-work them, work them into your own framework, you're own view ... Create a video, blog post, comic, collage, digram or concept map, research project, survey ... whatever. Make the materials you have aggregated and remixed the center of your creation, "the bricks and mortar you ... use to compose your own thoughts and understanding of the material" (Downes). Working Method

Now that you've started to aggregate and annotate sources, it's time to do something with those sources. From Wednesday - Sunday, you're aiming to create a digital artifact that draws together and adds to/ builds on / repurposes something your find significant in assigned and your external reading, that addresses the theme of one or more of those readings.

Your digital artifact can contain text, image, sound, video, and definitely links. It can be done in your weblog, or you can create it elsewhere and either embed it or link to it. It must be your own work.

A blog post is a digital artifact, as it can use text, include image and sound, and link. So is a prezi presentation, or a voice thread, a compilation of tweets, or a YouTube video. Think: Created digitally and meant to be experienced on the web. Think, too, a mixture of text - image - links.

A few digital tools




Bruns, chap 2 and Singer, chap 3

Jacobs, Publishing

Cook, PR
On the position and role of PR since blogging, p 48.

Bootnote: The ideas of intercreativity, active produsers, and produsage challenge late-19th and 20th century ideas of individual creativity and blur the line between creators, producers, and consumers.

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