Monday, October 10, 2005

Trying Not to Sit Around Like a Bump on a Blog

Hello, all . . ..

It’s me again – last time I was you heard from me, your “humble narrator” (or humble blogger), I was in Alaska for the 2005 WPA conference. I’ve made it back to the lower 48 – Delaware, to be exact – and now I’m taking another crack at this whole blogging thing.

This morning I turned to my old posts for inspiration (and, yes, I often turn to my own self for inspiration, thank you very much). I can’t say I was entirely impressed with my prior efforts– when I read blogs like Nels Highberg’s A Delicate Boy or Samantha Blackmon’s Dr. B’s Blog, or John Lovas’ Jocalo’s Blog, I think you get a sense of the author’s personality. In fact, in the case of Lovas' blog, I think it gives those of us who didn't know him a sense of his gifts and what he brought to the field.

I’m not sure that personality came across the first time I tried this genre. So I’m trying to rethink this whole thing (Maybe that’s why Neil and Beth offered me this gig again – a move in the tradition of writing centers everywhere – “Not better blogposts, better bloggers? ). So my question today: why blog? And why blog the Writing Center Journal?”

Like many of my students, my initial answer this question was “Well, because the teacher/editors sez so.” Not a great reason, so I’ve gone looking in the blogosphere for better ones; one’s that seem particularly suited to the work we do in the writing center.

Nil’s entry “Why I Blog” seems to me to have some reasons that blogging might be particularly suited for writing center folks. He argues that his blogging is an extension his work in autobiographical studies; his study of “the writing process and how people create texts about their lives.” This idea reminds me of what we do in the center – we help writers see writing as part of life, and, in some senses, about their life. So maybe the writing center blog provides us a space to look at they symbiotic relationship between what we do in the center and the rest of our lives.

On a different note, Clancy Ratcliffe, who writes one of my favorite blogs, Culture Cat, has an article in Lore we about blogging as “knowledge management.” I think this is one of the things I find the most attractive about a writing center blog: unlike WCENTER, where many of the threads tend to be cyclical (as in “Yay! WCENTER is talking about annual reports! That must mean its almost the end of the school year!”) the goal of a blog, like the IWCA discussion board allow us to preserve the conversation, in order to critique and revise it. (Yeah, I know, I could just go the WCENTER archives if I wanted to see the conversation preserved, but I always have problems getting on and figuring out what search terms to use. I guess I’m archivally-challenged, which is a bit of a bummer for a historian of rhetoric).

Last fall, Scribbingwoman shared with her readers “What I told the tenure committee” about blogging. If you’re interested in this topic, and haven’t read her post, go check it out. Particularly if you’re starting from square one on this whole bloggin thing, as I am. Go on, I’ll wait here.

What interests me in this post is the way it links blogging to the writing process – something that happens before we label something “product,” to be sent out to an external audience for acceptance or evaluation. This notion of writing before writing, is also something I think of as intrinsic to the writing center.

I’m going to try to end each day this week with something on the web entirely unrelated but still fun. So today, I ask you, Which Peanuts character are you?

Melissa aka “Snoopy”

You are Snoopy!

Which Peanuts Character are You?
brought to you by Quizilla


At 10:05 AM, Blogger Clint Gardner said...

Since blogging (or web pages for that matter) are such a new genre with many interactive posibilites, I wonder if we are confusing them by equating them to other things like "conversations." Ultimately a blog can be like a conversation if comments are allowed--otherwise they become just as static as any other sort of text. I find the possibility of a comment on a blog quite appealing, but it does not mean that it is a conversation, does it? Even though I'm asking questions down here in the comments am I making a conversation?

I guess what I am getting at is that people often see blogs as a something like a conversation space. I'm not sure that they really work well as such. At the last CCCC I attended a session about international blogging in the WC; while the project seemed to start with a flourish, it quickly died down and then became a series of posts isolated from each other (that's my interpretation of the events from months ago, so I may be distorting it.) In other words, even though the blog was set up as a conversation space, it never succeeded as such because of the way the blog functions (posts/comments). Visually it is not set up to seem like a conversation like a bulletin board or discussion space is.

Now, of course, as flexible as the web is one could manipulate one's blog to have design elements that encourage conversation.

What I want to ask, I supose, is what do people want to get out of blogs? Is it really the best medium, for example, for tutors to share their experiences (a recent conversation on WCENTER)? Is a blog what you need?

At 1:41 PM, Blogger /WCJ/ said...

Thanks for the comments, Clint -- As you can tell from my post (hopefully),I'm just starting to think these things through. Right now I'm thinking that it's a matter of what balance of voices you want -- a blog, it seems to me, will tend to be dominated by the blogger(s) with the comments appearing like footnotes to the voice in the center.

For writing cente purposes, I'd tend to use threaded conversation, I think -- I can't say that I see a clear reason to blog in this situation. I'm thinking about using blogs in my writing class next semester, though, as part of the course's research goals; to help them locate themselves withing a web of meaning, to speak in a public sphere (and to give myself that great little comment function for response).

Also, would it be too cute to say *all* writing is conversation (you know, presence of others and all that), but that different online genres privileged different voices and different kinds of conversations?

At 2:22 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Lucy, dammit. I knew it. No matter how hard I tried. I mean, honestly, who wants to be Lucy.


At 4:22 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hmmm, I'd have to say I fear I'm Pig Pen, but my drag personality would love to be Peppermint Patty. She was a Peanut, right? Not just a candy? harry

At 6:36 AM, Blogger /WCJ/ said...

Geez, I'm Rerun. I've never even heard of Rerun. Kind of sounds like Retread. Hmm.


At 9:23 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I thought Re-Run was a character on What's Happenin'. Remember that show? There must be a quiz like this for what character from bad 70's sitcoms are you. Given my lack of success with these generators, and the characters on that show, I probably would be Dee, the annoying little sister. In fact, if you asked my older brother, he might tell you that I really *was* Dee back in the 70s!

At 9:24 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sorry. That last one was me. And yeah, Harry, who wouldn't want to be Peppermint Patty. She's cool. And also my favorite candy.


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