Everyday my boyfriend diligently sits at his computer and writes and writes. I, in the other room, set to the task to read, usually end up watching Young and the Restless. But eventually I do read and more of it has been from the blogosphere than the texts I assigned myself. So here are some thoughts on those readings:
Thanks to Clancy, I looked at the Jodi Dean essay on theory blogs. But before I did that, I read Jay Rosen’s piece on “The People Formerly Known as the Audience.” In it, the statement is made to mainstream media that we, the people, have more tools with which to respond and have our own say: blogs, podcasts, video, editorials, etc. While I certainly believe mainstream media should listen up, I think his final bullet point “A highly centralized media system had connected people “up” to big social agencies and centers of power but not “across” to each other. Now the horizontal flow, citizen-to-citizen, is as real and consequential as the vertical one” has a long way to go before becoming fully realized. Maybe I am not reading online news sites as much as others and probably haven’t linked to an “A-list” blog in months, but when I think of the citizens I come across in the grocery store, in my classroom, and even those bloggers in New Orleans that provide me with eye witness accounts of the rebuilding and local government mishaps still going on post-Katrina, I don’t think they are writing to connect “across.” The students I have who are on MySpace are promoting themselves. The NOLA locals are venting. Sure there are posts here and there with a call for action, but I see their use of blogging as a way to narrate their lives and at a pace not fueled by the exigency of newroom deadlines, which brings in the Jodi Dean piece.
One of her points is that academic theory blogs [NOTE: Academic Blogging is a category I saw disappear from the BloggerCon schedule which is the conference where I first met Jay Rosen and Dan Gillmor] offer “more thoughtful, human time.” Many of the problems people have with blogs are those blogs written by bloggers who don’t really say anything. Or if they do, it’s the details of their personal lives, and lord knows that’s not what Rosen advocates. Dean is specific when she writes that theory blogs offer substance where an exchange is “like a slow seminar, focusing on one narrow question that arises on its own, and is addressed over a longer period of time, giving those who engage it opportunity to read and reflect.”
That’s the kind of blogging I want to teach my students to do–not the taking control over old media. That’s not what they are trying to do with their videos or podcasts, so why force their blogs to? Sure, students can do this type of engagement in places other than a blog, but when “made public” I think they become more invested in their statements and opinions and can reach people beyond our classroom walls and university campus. Jill/txt’s students found this out, why can’t mine?
With that said, I’m off to finish planning my first day of the summer session and cross my fingers that the classroom has a computer in it!
EDITED TO INCLUDE…link to the essay “Do Internet Users Have More Social Ties?
A Call for Differentiated Analyses of Internet Use” from the Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication