I’ve been thinking quite a bit lately about some of the responses that my journalism kids have been giving, especially the ones about starting Web logs of their own. While most of them seemed to like the use of Web logs in our class and found them valuable tools for learning, almost none of my students feel like they’d like to do it on their own. Now I know this is partly personal taste, partly time, partly adolesence. But I feel like I’ve gotten so much out of keeping this space for the last two years now that I wonder how I can make the Web log experience more personal for them within the context of academic study.
Along those lines, Clay Shirky’s Weblogs and the Mass Amateurization of Publishing makes some really interesting points. Pat‘s discussion of digital paper still defines the potential here. But I particularly liked this excerpt:
But the vast majority of weblogs are amateur and will stay amateur, because a medium where someone can publish globally for no cost is ideal for those who do it for the love of the thing. Rather than spawning a million micro-publishing empires, weblogs are becoming a vast and diffuse cocktail party, where most address not “the masses” but a small circle of readers, usually friends and colleagues. This is mass amateurization, and it points to a world where participating in the conversation is its own reward.
It’s that participation that I’m thinking about. What can I do to give them more ownership of the space? What’s going to makle them do it “for the love of the thing?” I know the answer lies in them identifying a passion and then connecting this concept of participation to an audience beyond the classroom. Once they develop their space, I’m going to really encourage them to find more of an audience for their Web logs. To read and subscribe and connect with other Web loggers, and to give them a bit more opportunity to develop thier own personal ideas and voice. It may mean creating some extra paper outside of their class Web logs. But what the heck…that’s the point.