So I’m just going to go down this road a little bit further and try to clarify the distinctions I see between posting and blogging.
Dennis responded with:
I’d disagree that “This is what I did today” is necessarily not blogging. How many of us have reached for a kitchen knife when we know we’ve got a little plastic box with screwdrivers of different sizes in a box somewhere in the basement? In a pinch, I’ll use a rock if the rock is handy and the hammer isn’t. Thus, a blog can still contain some traditional journaling (and some postings of assignments and traditional “lists of links”) and some and still be valuable as a blog.
True, but in the same fashion, I wouldn’t build a house with a kitchen knife. I’m not saying that a blog can’t contain traditional journaling or links. (Variations on this theme here.) There are many ways to make “correct” use of Weblogs; portals, portfolios, journals, collaborations. And all of them have varying degrees of importance and effect.
But I guess to me the question is do Weblogs offer us an opportunity to write in ways that are different from using more traditional technologies? And further, are those differences (if they exist) significant to our teaching, not just of writing but of literacy in a variety of ways?
“If we’ve been blogging without Weblogs in schools all along, then just put me out of my misery now.”
Weblogs don’t change the “Here’s what I did today” type stuff. I can journal on paper or in a dozen other ways. Journaling in a blog opens us up to a wider audience, no doubt. And that in itself may change the way we write when we journal. But bottom line, it’s not decidedly different from what I can already do.
And I don’t need a Weblog to deliver or collect assignments or share links; it certainly facilitates that kind of work, but it’s not a requirement.
But I’ve never in my life written the way I write in this Weblog. And frankly, I don’t know that I’ve learned as much from any other type of activity as I have from this type. And I learn when I’m doing just what I’m doing now (sweat on brow.) I’m not journaling. I’m not just linking. I’m attempting to synthesize a lot of disparate ideas from a varitey of sources into a few coherent sentences that I can publish for an audience and wait (hope?) for its response to push my thinking further. That’s the essence of blogging to me, and I can’t do it without a Weblog. That’s the distinction. That’s what tells me this is different. And that’s what makes me think so hard about the effects that blogging, not just using a blog, might have in a classroom.
If we’ve been blogging without Weblogs in schools all along, then just put me out of my misery now. But I don’t think we have.
Dennis G. Jerz says
“I can’t do it without a Weblog.” Yes, that’s the key. If you aren’t actually using at least some of the potentialities of this genre to help you do things that you can’d do otherwise, then you’re not really weblogging. Thinking of a weblog as an “online journal” is like thinking of a refrigerator as an “electric icebox”. The term makes sense during a transitionary period, but it speaks most directly to those who are more familiar with the old technology than the new technology.
Weblogs do let us link to, link from, categorize, archive, and comment on the “Here’s what I did today” entries that we write or that our peers write. Will, I think you and I both agree about the value of weblogs, but perhaps I took your initial statement as more product oriented than it is. I agree with you that blogging has affected my writing process, and probably the way I think.
Anyway, thanks for continuing a good conversation.
Chris L says
Even at their most mind-numbingly, navel-gazing, solipsistic peak I can’t go along with the contention that the presence of an audience– an other– is not “decidedly” different from what we can do with pencil and paper.
That blurring of the public and private isn’t a mere fact, it is *the* fact that completely changes the nature of the enterprise…
Will R. says
You’re right, Chris. Audience does change everything. And I’d love to see some studies on how journaling (the navel-gazing stuff) changes when done online. My point is, however, that the real opportunity that Weblogs give to writers is to do the more analytical, heavy lifting stuff (from a writing and thinking standpoint) with an interested and, as you’ve just proven, a challenging audience. I see journaling pretty much as narrative, I guess. And I realized I may be splitting hairs on all of these definitions. (Wouldn’t be the first time.)