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August 7, 2003

Self-Indulgent Teaching Resource Post

I'm polishing off my syllabus for fall semester (yes, I know the new school year starts in ten days!) and blogging will be major component of the course, so I just wanted to list a few useful resources for class discussion on blogging etiquette by Jonathan Delacour, Jill Walker, and Rebecca Blood. In addition Matt has an interesting entry (with discussion) on "blog flutter."

One of the major issues at stake here is whether or not it is appropriate to revise your posts once you've published them. My own tendency is to avoid revising. If I'm not confident about something I've written, I'll usually save it as a draft before publishing it in a public space. Once something I've written is "out there," I usually feel ambivalent about avoid taking it out. I like the idea of the blog as "externalized memory" for what I was thinking at a certain time, on a certain day, even if I change my mind (or even if it has the effect of making me more forgetful!). If I find something particularly embarassing (or if I get a fact wrong), I'll add an update. I'm aware of the fact that because it is externalized and public, a blog isn't a full or complete reflection of my experience, but I think it can be a useful tool for tracking my thoughts and ideas.

I was also intrigued by Dave Winer's comparison between television and weblogs:

Now that people have set up a system to record everything on Scripting that I post within five minute intervals, I don't think I'll be writing any more of that stuff here. I guess it's time for weblogs to become like television. Polished and politically correct. Impersonal. Commercial. That's what they're really saying. When there's no room to change your mind, there's no way to take a chance. That's about it. They found a way to stop me from taking chances.
Of course, Winer's position on revising differs considerably from mine (although his arguments are becoming more persuasive as I write), but I think the comparison with television is interesting, especially the suggestion that this recording technology will reproduce the apparent banality of TV in the blogosphere because people might not "take chances." Because blogging is usually informal and less profit-driven, I do think there is more room for experimentation than on NBC's Thursday night lineup, that audiences will be more forgiving of people taking chances. Of course, the important distinction is that TV "forgets" (the credits roll, the show ends, a beer commercial comes on...) and archives don't.

Posted by chuck at August 7, 2003 1:53 PM

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I had an interesting issue come up from blogging, something you might discuss with your students since they will most likely be freshmen and will be Rushing... I blogged about Rushing and one of the ceremonies (which was open to the public, it wasn't a big secret or anything) and it really bothered one of the guys in the fraternity.

From the outside lots of people consider what I write on the blog as being very open, it's kind of odd when people discuss how they don't think they could do that because they would be afraid of being embarassed.

Posted by: Patrick at August 7, 2003 5:20 PM

You bring up a great point, Patrick. One of my goals in using blogging in a freshman classroom is to reinforce lessons about audiences for writing, to understand that writing can have real world consequences (such as potentially upsetting guys in your fraternity).

It will be interesting to see how students negotiate the problem of writing in a public space.

Posted by: chuck at August 7, 2003 5:29 PM

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