Week 3: Blogs and Professionals and Everybody Else

Since blogs became mainstream, there has been a tension between blogs and journalism, and blogs and literary publishing. The general arguments are that a) bloggers aren't journalists; and b) publishing on the a blog - without an editor - just isn't publishing. (There's a third strand worth pursuing: blogs and academic work and scholarly publishing.) Those from the established, print-based fields argued, that blogging, is for amateurs. Traditional print publishing is for the pros. Others made the argument that, in blogging and on the Internet as a whole, the publication model is inverted. In print, it's Edit first - then Publish. On the net (as Clay Shirky puts it), it's Publish First - Filter Later - a model that draws in readers as filter-editors. Wikipedia demonstrates this idea most clearly, but you can find other ways it plays out on twitter, weblogs, other wikis, and, more recently, in the open-access movement. From this perspective, readers don't simply consume publication, they add value to publications.

Jill Rettberg, in chapter 5, considers what blogs look like when we think of them and read them as narratives. She compares them to novels: close ties are the picaresque and the epistolary novels, soaps, cliff-hangers, and serially-published novels. But the blog is open-ended; rathe than getting to the end of the novel, we anticipate the next post. From the perspective of self-expression, we can think of blogs as "mirrors and veils" (120), and here Rettberg considers the story of Kaycee Nicole, a bogus blog. In weblogs, "fiction is not always clearly marked as such." (And danah boyd, who Rettberg mentions in chap 3, views bloggers as negotiating movement between audiences and networks: present and future, visible and invisible, and social and private.)


Required reading

Required activity

Repurposing: Draft an extended argument, drawing on sources suggested or that you locate (and aggregate and annotate in your social bookmarks), in which you take a postion on using weblogs in your area(s) of expertise. Not whether it's Good or Bad (leave simplistic bifurcation to others) but how blogging has changed / might change your field, and some of the implications. That's the extended part: not simply outlining positions (that will take maybe three sentences) but drawing out implications. The draft term implies that it's an early version, a first pass, that you might get feedback on, return to, and develop later.

I figure this could easily take the form of an essay, poem, short story, play, dialogue, illustrated essay, lyric ... Post this on your weblog, as a video or podcast, as a narrated slide show, or as a prezi.

Two composing and publishing sites to investigate

Other reading and viewing

To play with

Other possible activities

Locate people on twitter, blogs, and elsewhere who you want to read and who you can learn from. Follow them on twitter. Post a consideration of what they twitter about, and when, on your blog.

Create a twitter narrative. Run it for a week. Keep track of retweets and replies. Republish it on your blog, with commentary.
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