I’m speaking at Stockton today about weblogs, the real talk that the audio conference a few weeks ago was leading up to. Here are the links I’ll be using.

Weblogs can be personal journals, learning journals, they’re searchable, etc – but most importantly: they’re networked. They cluster through links. Hundreds of different tools are developed for sorting the weblogs: Technorati, Blogdex, etc.

Weblogs as a tool for thinking and writing

From Rebecca Blood’s famous essay on weblogs:

Shortly after I began producing Rebecca’s Pocket I noticed two side effects I had not expected. First, I discovered my own interests. I thought I knew what I was interested in, but after linking stories for a few months I could see that I was much more interested in science, archaeology, and issues of injustice than I had realized. More importantly, I began to value more highly my own point of view. In composing my link text every day I carefully considered my own opinions and ideas, and I began to feel that my perspective was unique and important.

Steven Johnson described blogging as a mental workout:

It’s also been a great stimulus for me, working out new ideas in this public space — I’ve actually been about twice as productive as normal since I started maintaining the blog. The more I keep at it, the more it seems to me like a kind of intellectual version of going to the gym: having to post responses and ideas on a semi-regular basis, and having those ideas sharpened or shot down by such smart people, flexes the thinking/writing muscles in a great way. It’s the most fun I’ve had on the web since we started FEED seven years ago…

It’s public. Networked. You know people will read it. You get comments (review of Marie-Laure Ryan’s book on Grandtextauto where the author commented back; my post about SMSes in the States that raised lots of points I’d not have thought of myself)

Writing in the network

I’ll tell the story of Joel, who blogged a date, his date, who googled him, her friend the journalist, who wrote an article about it, how it hit the top of
Blogdex’s list, the bloggers at Metafilter who researched the background, Todd the journalist’s response.

–> power, traditional broadcast/print media vs distributed, networked media. Sim. Henry Jenkins.

Students – receiving comments from the people you write about (Line and the diarist). Distance collapses – or at least changes.

What blogs are like

Just about everyone at Stockton seems to have a readymade weblog. Have they seen how you start one if no one’s already made one for you? For instance, you go to Blogger.com, sign up, pick a template, click post and publish and bang, you’re on the web.

Weblogs are related to web diaries or web journals. There’s a continuum from very personal, confessional diary sites to topic-driven blogs where personal opinions and activities are never mentioned. Typically web journals have few links, while weblogs link a lot, but the genres overlap. Here’s a random Livejournal site; Umamitsunami, which is mostly personal (and has some great writing at times), but also includes links, and . Livejournal an example of a popular journal community. E.g. 37000 journals in New Jersey alone. Both web journals and weblogs have dated entries, reverse chronological order, often blogrolls, themes, status icons (current emotion, music being listened to, books being read)

Some blogs break with the standard list of half a dozen entries. Diveintomark is a mostly technical blog with some personal things. First post in full, rest just excerpted list. Surftrail has each entry on a separate page and uses different layout for different kinds of post: Vivaldi Weather; Hypertext Rhetoric; Typography.

distributed thinking

Weblogs are probably the first truly native genre to have developed on the web. It takes writing in the medium to really understand it – realising that what you write is actually becoming part of the network.

(Previous talks on blogs and learning: for media teachers in Oslo, and at UiB. In Norwegian.)

1 Comment

  1. RocknGo

    Blog on Blogs as a class
    This New Media Study class called Blog on Blogs. Among many things, blogging is “writing in the network. “…

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