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August 29, 2003


Apparently, people read their referral logs a little more carefully than I do becuase several bloggers have noticed my links to them for the rhetorical analysis assignment I gave my students:

Comments so far:

Okay, I wasn't really expecting to get this much attention when I linked to these other folks' blogs, and so I'm feeling a bit on my heels right now, but I really did find each one of the blogs I've linked compelling in some way, and I think their reactions to my assignment actually point to the complexity of the medium--it's not a simple, static thing, and audiences change and shift depending on the people you link. I do recognize that people might be a little uncomfortable with being the object of analysis, and looking back, I would have constructed this assignment much differently.

It looks like everyone at least took being part of this project with some degree of humor, but right now I feel like one of "those academics" that you see in David Lodge books. I'll have more to say about my accidental notoriety later when I've had two more cups of coffee.

Posted by chuck at August 29, 2003 9:36 AM

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It's like that uncomfortable moment when you realize that you've been staring and, what's worse, the object of your gaze is now staring back.

So much for the anonymous nature of the internet, eh?

Posted by: Jason at August 29, 2003 10:30 AM

And just how would you construct the assignment much differently?


Posted by: Francois Lachance at August 29, 2003 11:14 AM

In a sense, this unexpected attention actually perfectly illustrates the potential for multiple audiences. Because most people have reacted positively to having their blog read, I may not change the assignment that much. I think I would dispense with the expectation that students locate a "central argument" and have them find broader trends or interests. My initial surprise at being "caught" is starting to wear down. I'll have to see how class discussion goes, and then I'll have a better sense of how the assignment might shift.

Posted by: chuck at August 29, 2003 12:12 PM

Well dang, I'm wishing I audited your course this semester Chuck! I about died laughing as I read Rachel Lucas' entry to the GT students. I mean I know it isn't quite what you wanted, but it as you said provides an interesting visualization of the medium and how quickly responses can be made.

Posted by: Patrick at August 29, 2003 4:47 PM

I agree that you are brilliant and wise and Rachel's blog is quite interesting. Your class sound very very interesting Chuck. Have you had a chance to look at the articles I gave you?

Posted by: S. at August 29, 2003 5:20 PM

I'll write another entry later, but, yeah, Rachel Lucas is very funny, and her reaction to my students' comments was quite gracious--I'm especially intrigued by her observation that digital technologies might be augmenting students' writing and critical thinking skills. Like Patrick pointed out, this wasn't what I was planning, but I think it might have worked out *better* to have this audience question earlier rather than later.

I'm also glad that S finds me "brilliant and wise," and nope, I haven't read the articles she loaned me, but I will ASAP--maybe tonight.

Posted by: chuck at August 29, 2003 7:34 PM

Guess Rachel, et al. are too cool for school. I wouldn't worry about it.

Like Jason (I think) I have mixed feelings about referr logs. Sure, yeah, they can be useful, informative, etc. On the other hand, their public display does make me more self-conscious about my surfing. Have I checked so-and-so's site too many times already today? Will s/he think I'm weird? Don't I have a life? It's a little like noticing the CCTV camera up in the corner of the elevator: maybe you'll straighten up and smooth your hair or maybe you'll give it the finger, but it's hard to just act natural.

Posted by: Matt K. at August 29, 2003 9:22 PM

Re: public display of referrer logs. I'm just playing with the script on my front page that displays documents referring to my site. I suspect it's not very accurate, and I've never assumed that a referral from Matt K's site, for example, meant that Matt K was the visitor.

Most interesting development in your class, though, Chuck.

Posted by: George at August 30, 2003 12:50 AM

A couple of technical points. Referrer logs don't really pick up where you surf, but rather when anyone uses a link on your site to navigate to another. Typically the only piece of info about who is viewing pages is the IP address in the access logs, not the referrer logs and these are pretty difficult to turn into who was surfing. Therefore, when each of your students followed your links, the other site gets a record of that event, and nothing more. Informationally it is similar to a trackback (which is how I got here), but it doesn't depend on blogging software that supports trackback.

Most of the blog world is pretty friendly and low traffic, so as you have seen people are interested and sometimes flattered when you link to them. It's still a small world, I wouldn't get self-conscious about it.

Posted by: Gerry at August 30, 2003 9:19 PM

You're right. I probably should have been clearer there, but I imagine that Rachel, et al, noticed an unusual number of people coming to her blog via mine, which is why they were able to notice my assignment, so at least 75 people were shown as finding her site via mine (which would make *me* curious). And in the long run, yes, I think everyone has been pleasantly surprised by the extra attention. Now that I've had a couple of days to think about it, I'm actually quite enthusiastic about the number of positive comments I've received about the assignment.

Posted by: chuck at August 31, 2003 12:11 PM

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