SCRIPT LANGUAGE="JavaScript"> < We Blog: March 2006

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Bloggers of the Class Unite!

A lot of us have been grumbling about the look of our class blog. Since I couldn't think of a good way to contribute verbally this week, I decided to contribute creatively. I've created three new templates (complete with custom banners) that we, as a class, can vote on for our blog. Of course, I don't want to declare myself the class designer, so if anyone else wants to create one, go right ahead. And, since I'm not the teacher, I think Donna should reserve the right to the final decision. And for my final disclaimer, any of the following templates can be tweaked and modified. For example, any one of those banners can go on anyone of the blogger template choices and any colors can be modified quite simply. So if you have a suggestion for a tweak, please leave a comment and I'll put together a new template for the class' consideration.

Now, without further adieu, here's the fruit of my labor for your consideration. When you visit, make sure you roll your mouse over the banners at the top, they change if you do:

1. Green Rounded Corners
2. Blue Minima White
3. Pencil Minima Black
4. You can also vote to leave the class blog as is
5. Or you can vote for none of the above options, but if you do that I think you should be willing to offer an alternative.
New choice: Green Pencil Rounded Corners

I tried briefly to incorporate a poll, but I thought that people leaving comments might be better because then everyone can offer any suggestions for tweaks or add their own template for class consideration. I'll leave it up to Donna to decide when the new (if we choose one) template should be implemented. For now, enjoy and vote for your favorite.

Update (March 20, 2006): If you want to incorporate a banner into your blog, I've written up a page detailing how you would do that. On said page, you can also download one of the banners I've made (including some not shown here) to use, if you are not artistically inclined. You can check that out here.

Update #2 (March 20, 2006): KR suggested that we give the black and white banner a green hue to match the green Rounded Corners template and mesh those two styles for our new template. So now we have another option to choose from. You can view the new choice, Green Pencil Rounded Corners, by clicking here or in the list above.

Megan @ Chronicle of A Book Retold

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Did you guys know...

...that the name of our class blog "We Blog" is just "weblog" split into two words? Am I really that oblivious? Please tell me you guys didn't notice either.

Megan [Chronicle of a Book Retold]

Arrangement/Design as voice

So the readings for today leave something to be desired: I'll readily admit that. What I was trying to gesture, towards, though, were aspects of "style" or "voice" that go beyond how you sound. How things are ordered or disordered, how they look, how they are arranged are also ways of affecting a person who comes to your blog.

But I did want you to marvel at all the ancient rhetorical figures for order. And if we take a cue from Ulmer, who uses lots of analogies to prompt invention, we might also be able to use some of these figures to prompt invention. What if we think about one or another of those figures not as a way to order text, but to order a page? Or what if we do use one of the figures to come up with a kind of blog entry that isn't like one of the "seven basic formats"?

Above all, though, the goal for today is to think in terms of design. Most everyone (including me) has a standard blogger template. A couple of you have altered that design a bit. How could you alter your design, both of the page and of the daily experience of your blog?

What kind of "voice" does your design--both your page design and the accumulation of your blog entries--bespeak?

I get it

I think I had a hard time negotiating the concept of this class, because I tend to be fairly critical of things. I am sometimes critical of people or things, but I mostly am critical of myself, particularly when it comes to the work I do for school for some reason. I had heard that a good approach to blogging is to cancel some of the self-editing that might hinder one's blogging capacity, and I am starting to think that's about the best way to go about it. Just now I posted three pretty lengthy entries on my blog about things that have been stressing me out lately, and it feels good just to have that kind of junk off my chest. As far as politics and some of these things goes, I'd like to get in on them, but the fact is I just don't have much of an opinion about any of that stuff. I'm a lot more concerned with things that are going on in my own life and how I'm managing to stay abreast of them (or not, you know). Even if I don't wind up with a great grade in this class, I won't be sorry for taking it, because I think it's cathartic in some way that I definitely wasn't cognizant of before. A friend of mine writes in her journal a lot because she says it keeps her from going crazy. I think I've found a pretty good use for the assignment in this class by doing the same thing.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Let me Hear You

I was walking through the park today when I overheard this piece of a conversation:

"Journalists . . . suddenly it's okay for them to spout off their opinions as
long as its on their blog. And what does that say . . ."
Instantly, the man's critical tone and the negative air of "spout off" irritated me. I wanted to stop him and ask "What does that say about what?". I will concede a common ground with the man: journalists should strive for objectivity. But, a degree in journalism doesn't make one inhuman. We all have opinions, we have beliefs, we have perspectives, we have unique insights. For a man in a field (journalism) founded upon the the notion of offering "a voice to the voiceless," his comment is a little shocking. He seems to be suggesting an unwritten caveat, that voiceless is more select than we might have thought.

Blogging, to me, counters that. Newspapers, news shows, and internet news sites are inarguably key to the functioning of our society. But, in reality they don't, they can't, offer a voice to all the voiceless.

Enter blogging.

Even from the variety of blogs of my classmates (see my blogroll) it is evident that each of us has our own unique interests and thoughts -- and with that, our own unique voice, even voices. This is the attraction of blogging -- it has a voice. Something audible comes from the written word. We read blogs, good blogs, make us hear and feel the speaker. The blog has a life breathed into it by it's author. And, addictively we flock back to good blogs because we feel them, we hear them. They make us feel like we are in conversation, like we know the author.

Journalism, for the most part (exceptions being editorials, op-eds...), doesn't really offer this. It offers valuable information. But we don't hear the author when we read it. And, we don't read it to hear the author; we read for information. The same is often true about papers we write for classes: we focus on information over voice.

Blogging is personal, though. Toby at Diva Marketing notes:
"Sometimes when I come across a new blog, I click on very first post and read a
few of the beginning writings. Then I'll skip back up to the current level. It
helps give me a sense of the person." (through We Blog)

Blogging expresses our unique identities, our voices. In answer to the man's question "What does that say?", it says this: It says we are all human. It says we are unique. It says we grow and change.

Crossposted at Look to the Sky

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

My voice

One thing I've never had a problem with is finding my voice. I've always known what my opinions are, and how to say them. I think that is my most powerful attribute in writing, and pretty much carries all the weight of my blog. I love this class because so much of it is about voice. I really feel like it's the one class where I do have a voice. My other classes are pretty boring and most of the things I say in class or write about really lack any motivation other than to churn out another paper or get a good participation grade. It's just that I don't care. I don't care about Byron or Melville, or Patrarchan sonnets. I try to bring my own voice into those other classes, but it usually comes off stale and totally forced. This class is the ultimate outlet for a free voice.

Voice

Toby, at DivaMarketing, says:

Sometimes when I come across a new blog, I click on very first post and read a few of the beginning writings. Then I'll skip back up to the current level. It helps give me a sense of the person.


You've now been blogging for about six weeks (as part of this course). Try this experiment on yourself. (And plan to try it again at the end of the semester.) Anything interesting to note?

When I do this comparison on my own blog, I notice not so much a change in my written "voice," but I do notice what Toby might call "growth" in what I do. I've used a lot of visuals, lately, for example. I'd also like to think I've got some "texture" in my blog, that I don't always do the same thing, that the blog as a whole is a sum of at least a few parts, not just the same old thing stacked up.

What *is* voice, anyway? When we say we like the "voice" of a given blog, what are we talking about? Can you give examples?

And would anyone argue that it could be possible to have an interesting, highly readable blog that doesn't have what we conventionally think of as "voice"?

Is wabi-sabi about voice, for example?

Rod Padgett, a poet, has a somewhat satirical poem called "Voice." Another contemporary poet, Bruce Covey, has this to say about the poem and about the concept of voice:

I think the idea of a singular “voice” is something that many poets try to achieve, something that’s taught in many graduate writing programs. My feeling is that a poem is so many things—a visual, rhythmic, structured text invested with some sort of intention—that voice seems like a rather arbitrary quality to make absolute or constant. I prefer a more elaborate matrix in which form and content, visual and oral, are always interrelated and dependent upon one other. I’m not sure how I could—or why I would—write in a single voice all of the time. I applaud those who wish to and do. I’m a fan of Ron Padgett’s poem “Voice,” which ends, “I hope I never find mine. I / wish to remain a phony the rest of my life.” That said, I do believe my poems are united in different ways, particularly within each book.


Can/should a blog have voices rather than voice?

[And I also want to explore this theme today: Close Encounters. More on that in class.]

Monday, March 13, 2006

my midterm assessment

Two of my entries that I find to be particulary "blog-like" are "Bottled Water?" and "What Will You Be Watching this Sunday?". what I like about them and what is probably denoted by the question mark that follows both of the titles is that they spark conversation, like a blog is suppose to. In these two blogs I more so took fairly relateable issue that was in the news and found a way to personalize them, and give an opinion to which others would have an opinion.

As for our classmates, I'm a fan of JL"S blog. In particular I like "rhythm me this, rhythm me that" . It shows just how strong a writer he is--halfway news-oriented and halfway column-like. I also "My National Pastime" from "My First Attempt". Actually I more so like this blog as a whole. It gives a look inside, little by little, into the life of this person through the experiences, sometimes daily habits and sometimes more like characteristics into this person. It's kind of a compilation of all the things that this blogger sees himself as.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

I've been thinking a lot about what Professor Strickland was saying in class on Tuesday. She was talking about a blog as the sum total of the posts, a compendium. But a compendium of what?

For me, looking back over my blog after 130-ish posts represents my intellectual history over the last year and a half (give or take). I decided to name my main page An Ideal because that was the best representation of where the power of the blog resides. For me the blog is a place where I can record - and sometimes recieve feedback - what I've been thinking about. It's my very own Thinking Out Loud. As much pleasure and benefit I may recieve from siphoning off my thoughts to this amorphous thing, a blog, it is equally as interesting to look back over the things I've written, the trains of thought I've carried (or dropped), the oscillations between waxing and waning interest on any given topic.

My blog is a dialogue I'm having with myself. The comments I recieve get filtered through and inevitably change the trajectory of my brain for the future. The reason for publishing this (a journal could accomplish the same) is interactivity. Not only do I benefit from immediate feedback, but it's there for others to read. Regardless of whether a reader agrees, disagrees, or even cares, they've interacted with what they've read, they've interacted with this alternative presentation of me and my thoughts and ideas have become part of their trajectory. The interactivity goes beyond being instantaneous or being able to compact large quantities of information. Through blogs one neurosis interacts with another in a reciprocal relationship.

If you are written you are subject to revision and change.

Megan [Chronicle of A Book Retold]

My cape, my shield, me


Talking about the overarching symbols that make up people and who they are. I thought about what makes me, well, me. Frank Gehry showed me that what represents me best is a baseball cap. Something old, smelly, grimy, worn around the edges and ready for any adventure that comes my way. See, the cap was worn as a child to play on the dusty diamonds of baseball fields where I roamed. But then, as I grew in size, the cap started to mean a sense of belonging to a certain group or affiliation, and now it is something that I can use as a blinder to shut out the rest of the world. It can be my way of hiding behind a facade when I don't want others to see my expressions, it can be something that I fiddle with as I'm nervously trying to accomplish some task. I feel naked without it, and totally relaxed with it. Whatever the function, my hat is what I am most closely associated with. For better or worse I am the symbol that is perched upon my head. Just like me...slightly off-center and ready for anything.

Midterm

I don't think a lot of my blogging qualifies as "bloglike," but I liked "A Random Deep Thought" from my posts last week, because it had a story that made me think, and I wanted to tell people why I had thoughts about it and see if anyone else had any thoughts on the same wavelength. Maybe the fact that I've only gotten one comment on it so far indicates that it's a deep thought far more random or out-of-left-field than I thought. I think the friend who told me the story in this entry has a better knack for storytelling than I do or something, plus he actually witnessed it. Is it a bad thing that I'm actually going into detail about what was wrong with the blog I picked for my most blog-like blog? It wasn't the one I enjoyed writing the most, but I kind of got excited about it once I got going.

As for other people's blogs, I liked the one called "Wild Week" on "Blog," because it talked about some crucial local sports news from the perspective of a local journalist. This stuck out to me because I like sports and used to have journalistic aspirations myself. Whoever does that blog hasn't posted in a couple weeks. I don't know if that guy's still in this class or not. But he had a shining moment there. Obviously, I have spent a great deal of blogging time talking about sports myself. So I liked seeing that someone else in the class had sort of the same idea that I did.

I also liked "Underage Drinking" from "Just what I think," because JL indirectly brought up a point I've always had for the "I-can-die-for-my-country-but-not-buy-a-beer-on-the-weekend" people, which is, Most of the people I hear saying that aren't even considering enlisting, so you really can't die for a country. If a proposition came up saying that all eighteen-year-olds in the military can legally buy alcohol, I'd vote for it in a second. Aside from that, I know I've blown a lot of brain cells, not to mention precious time and money, drinking, both before and after the age of twenty-one, so I'm not in such a big hurry to see younger kids drinking anyway.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Assignment for Thursday

I've been delayed (and am continuing to be delayed) in getting the new schedule online. So, for now, let me at least get up here what I've asked you to do for Thursday (which I mentioned in class yesterday):

Thurs., March 9: Blogging as invention space
Please read/view these before today’s class:
• From Gregory Ulmer, Internet Invention
EmerAgency
The Image of Wide Scope
Epiphany
The Process of Felt Making
Haiku Reason
Haiku Design
Wabi-sabi

Also before class: Begin a blog entry that does something with one of these webpages (ie, uses it as inspiration, as model, as jumping off point, as something to comment on, etc.)

Blogs-in-the-news presentation: Andrea Fridley

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

My midterm post

The blog post of which I am most proud from my blog, The Hamster's Wheel, is "It's my religion, not my lifestyle." I think it's my best work because I really wanted to write it, not just fulfill the posting assignment. It was something I wanted to deliver to the class and I was so pleased with the response I got.
I also like my last post, "Relating to Peanuts" I must admit, it's not as profound as religion, (which I shamefully admit I take pretty lightly as well) and the whole post is kind of silly, but I like it. It's not as bloggish as I would like, but I kind of felt like I didn't need all the links and extra help to convey my message. Overall, it's something that I thought about, but it related well with other people, which is what my goal was in the first place.

Of my classmates posts, I thought Amy's Teens and Blogging was great, and she actually engaged the class in her presentation. I think all of her posts are inciteful on In the Margins, and she's got great writing skills. She makes good use of links, which is great because I start by reading her posts, and the next thing I know I've just taken a long journey of links and I've learned so much all from starting out at her blog. I recommend it.
I also think Hannel's post Blogging/bleeding post was really good. It really put into intelligent words how I felt about the whole teens and blogging issue, without my non-sensical rantings that I often soap-box on my own blog. I like Hannel's blog, a melange, she sounds super smart.

Anything from Chronicle of a Book Retold is literary genious and REAL blogging, and Tanner's got a good one going with My First Attempt.

My Midterm

After having been asked to reflect on this blog, and the blogs of my classmates I have come up with the following thoughts:

Of my own blogposts, I think My Mixtape Experiment and My Drug of Choice demonstrate some of my best blogging.

My Mixtape Experiment came out of a assignment from but I was absolutely happy to do something a little different.

My Drug of Choice combines a personal experience of buying coffee with the situation in New Orleans. I have seen some of that in other "more professional" blogs.

As for my classmates, Megan's I Miss Field Trips was good. She conveys the point she wishes, in this case information about an exhibit, and includes some great visuals.

Steve's NERD post is really good as well. It's funny and sort of a combo post.

(cross-posted from My First Attempt)

Saturday, March 04, 2006

blogging/bleeding

Let's take a moment to throw scholarly reason and approved logic out the window. And while your at it, invite the self-centered, naive and socially awkward teenager inside you to come out and play.

Done?

Now, let's talk - as Facebook, AIM, Blogger, MySpace, Xanga users - a little about the Internet and personal expression.

I'm aware that there are
safety and professional image issues when addressing this topic, but those aren't on my docket. We've all heard about MU's Facebook task force and of stalkers that track children down through instant messenges or MySpace. But I'm going to pooh-pooh all that for now.

Because I think young America's obsession with online expression is a wonderful, wonderful thing.

Instead of condemning the sometimes socially blasphemous, often rebellious content of Internet communication and communities, people should be celebrating that there is content at all. Think about this: young people are sitting down and writing. They've found - I've found - an outlet that suits their contemporary, technology-savvy generation. Blogging in any form and on any topic exercises teens' and young adults' minds educationally and emotionally. I wish people in power would give kids a break, get over themselves and stop being threatened by the things that go against the status quo.

On a side note, I think blogging as an emotional outlet is particularly important for teens. I once read that writing is like sitting down at a typewriter, opening up a vein and letting yourself bleed onto the paper. Don't know about you, but I'd rather have teens bleed out through blogging than their wrists.

And that's where I stand. You can let reason and evidence back in now, if you want. Cheers.

crossposted from a melange

You're Different . . . and That's Bad.

In her presentation on Thursday, Amy talked about teen blogs and specifically mentioned the efforts of some private schools to prohibit the academic or personal use of blogs. But,
“Going to school does not make a person educated, any more than going to a
garage makes a person a car." - Unknown
Similarly, Mark Twain said:
I have never let my schooling interfere with my education. - Mark Twain
The point is not to question the value of school. But, educators must acknowledge that life is full of teachers outside of the four school walls. How individual do we expect children to be who are all taught the same thing in an environment where they feel the constant pressure to conform or be ostracized by peers?

The internet, blogs, allow children the freedom of movement from the safety of their own home. If we embrace blogging as a form of expression for children and focus on educating them on safety issues, we allow them to access the world at their firngertips, to foster their ideas and to learn from others.

We tell children to appreciate and be tolerant of diversity. But, in actions, we (as society) condemn the exploration and expression of variant ideas. If we fear the internet because we don't understand it, we suffer. Why can we not make an effort to learn about blogging and teach kids how to use it, but use it safely? Perhaps if we allowed children to use the internet to explore their interests and talents and to connect with others like themselves, we would see greater self-confidence and more well-defined sense of identity among kids.

Crossposted at Look to the Sky

Teammates

I've been fortunate enough to play sports with some great friends of mine. Every now and then we have chances to sit down and recount old games, stupid moments, and the joys of sharing the field with each other. And that can hopefully be said by every person who's played sports and enjoys being a part of the game.

I found this article on
  • TarHeelblue.com
  • and it got me to thinking about how important teammates are.

    Individual sports are nice, but they just don't compare with the joy of winning alongside your best friend or the guys that have put in the hundreds of hours to make themselves better.

    Being an only child I haven't had the luxury of having a "teammate" in the game of life. I've always played sports as myself with no other person to stand with me and challenge me to achieve a little more. I never to the opportunity to play tackle football with my brother or play catch with a brother that is just a little better than me so I have to work that much harder to try and be better than him.

    Nope, I had no competition in my household, and sometimes I think that made me just a little more fragile in the game of life. Not that if I had a brother I would have been some sports great or something, but just having someone to compete with may have made me into a completely different person than I am today.

    Maybe, just maybe, I could have been some great athlete because of all the days when I had to play with my brothers' friends who were bigger, stronger, faster. But I never got that chance and that's ok.

    But the article above talks about how important teammates can be. How much they can help you get through the tough times. So don't let the teammate in your life go without knowing just how much help they give you throughout the trying times in your life. Whether it happens to be a spouse, sibling, or friend, let them know how they help you get through the days that are your life. (crossposted)

    Thursday, March 02, 2006

    Reflective assignment for Tuesday

    Because we are now at midterm (and at the end of another unit), it seems like a good time to assess where you are and where we as a class are. With that in mind, I would like to ask you to complete the following set of reflective activities before class on Tuesday (the 7th):

    (1) Which one or two of your own blog entries do you most like or find most "blog-like"? Write a paragraph or so in which you talk about the features of this entry (or these entries) that caused you to select it.

    (2) Now do the same for two or three of your fellow class members' blogs.

    (3) Post the above paragraphs to either your own or the class blog, with links to the appropriate entries.

    (4) In an email message to me, evaluate where you think you stand in relation to the course requirements, which I'm copying from the syllabus. As you'll recall, we agreed in class that meeting these requirements would constitute a B.
    • Maintain an individual blog and write substantial entries at least three times weekly, beginning no later than week 3 (40%)
    • Contribute at least one entry per week to the class “mother blog,” where the focus will be on metablogging (10%)
    • Contribute generative comments to class blog and to class members’ individual blogs: aim for at least two comments per week on class blog and at least one comment every other week on class members’ blog (20%)
    • Give two 10-15 oral presentations to class: (1) how-to presentation to enhance blogging, and (2) discussion-prompter on blogs in the news (10%)
    • Create an electronic portfolio at the end of the semester to highlight your best blogging (20%)
    (5) In that same email message, tell me what I could do to make the class more helpful for you, what you already find helpful, and what questions/concerns you have.