Thursday, April 26, 2007

Going Public

The truth is, you have been in the public eye since your very first posts on your blogs. Nonetheless, while the public eye is ever-vigilant, the web is a mighty big landscape, and most visitors prefer returning to their favorite haunts. To truly appreciate the potential of the Internet as a communicative tool, to see how it allows for the expedient dispatch of information and how it fosters a deepening of discussion on important--and not-so-important--topics, one must wander.

The web, I believe, is a postmodern extrapolation of Kenneth Burke's Parlor, which suggests the omnipresent and interminable nature of conversation:

Imagine that you enter a parlor. You come late. When you arrive, others have long preceded you, and they are engaged in a heated discussion, a discussion too heated for them to pause and tell you exactly what it is about. In fact, the discussion had already begun long before any of them got there, so that no one present is qualified to retrace for you all the steps that had gone before. You listen for a while, until you decide that you have caught the tenor of the argument; then you put in your oar. Someone answers; you answer him; another comes to your defense; another aligns himself against you, to either the embarrassment or gratification of your opponent, depending upon the quality of your ally's assistance. However, the discussion is interminable. The hour grows late, you must depart. And you do depart, with the discussion still vigorously in progress.

The Philosophy of Literary Form 110-111

Your blogs won't be the be-all, end-all on your subjects; hopefully, they will be just the opposite, serving to perpetuate and instigate discussion about nursing, crew, stress.

To some extent, you have already been out ramblin' in the Burkean Parlor by commenting on each others' blogs and seeking out others who are writing blogs similar to your own. And by writing your responses to these strangers' entries and posting the responses in your own blogs, you are advancing the dialogue even further. But thus far, it has been a controlled experiment. Now you will be inviting strangers to visit your blogs by posting comments and links to their blogs. You will also be receiving more and more comments from people you don't know, as I send the word around to more people to check you out.

I'd also like you to add your blog to the directory at by following this link, signing up for an account, and claiming your blog. You're welcome to spread the word at the other sites I listed last week, but this is the only site I will require that you to sign up with. As we interact with people beyond the classroom, let's pay attention to how this new sense of audience affects our composition. I say "we" because I'm already registered at Technorati.

Off we go, into the wild web yonder . . .


Anonymous said...

I am not sure if the internet is a communicative tool as much as this teacher is...Must be from Chicago. Let's see if he can handle the kinds of comments most blogs get...You know, the one's that are "critical."

Hey Kids! Blogging is a thing of the past already, no one likes it anymore, reads them anymore nor should they. Tell this "college teacher" that he really needs to, "get with the times, man" the early 2000's are over and less than 11% of Americans even bother with blogs anymore.

Geesh, someone offer this guy a loog nut and tell him to go home and watch the Cubs lose...Again.

Elizabeth said...

I saw your class' comments on defective yeti, and decided to come check out the group. This is an interesting concept for a class - blogging does have its own rhetoric which is worthy of study.

I would offer the suggestion to both professors and students that proofreading is essential if you want to be taken seriously. (For example, this post misspells "Technorati" twice, and your comment on defective yeti includes a very ungrammatical sentence to conclude the first paragraph.)

When you're blogging about your life, this is no big deal, but it's difficult to take an argument seriously when you are distracted by its form.

Nadine said...

WOW! so i was chating with tabby and she told me to go check out the website that we had commented on. I think that our class assignments should get posted to show those people what work we actually have to do! I never expected something like this to happen over a little comment. Can this be the topic of my next blog?

Spazmatic said...

A word of advice, if I may?

In a blog comment, you are not (normally) judged by how you dress, or the roundness of the curls in your hair, or whether you can pick out the salad fork in a police lineup. When others read your writing, they make snap judgments based on your tenor, your style, your content, your precision, your manners, and your wit, though probably not in that order.

The comments I've seen on Defective Yeti have mostly been a bit lacking in first impression pizzazz. You don't have to be a Mencken or a White to impress - Heaven knows 99% of us aren't anything like that. However, an online presence requires presence of character. There are untold legions of bloggers in the world, and as the earlier anonymous poster noted, blogs aren't as wildly popular as corporate news makes it out to be, and there really aren't that many readers, as compared to writers. For the economists in the class, that's a supply and demand problem. I wouldn't be surprised if the median readership is roughly equal to the median citation rate in academics: 1.

So, aside from being excessively verbose, do I have a point?

Brevity may be the soul of wit, but if you want readers, please provide more than a link and some fill-in-the-blank comments about how you read DY for class. Sell us on YOU. Why are you interesting/amazing/awesome and oh so worth our time? Self-marketing is valuable and useful. It's a good skill to learn, since you'll need it down the road anyways, and mostly, it's how you hook in the reader. Even anonymous blogs rely on this bizarre form of character worship.

It's an interesting idea, and it's been a while since I took my last English course (I'm thinking it was British Lit, 1600-1800... I do love Milton), so I'm kind of looking forward to seeing what comes out of your class.

Just, please, run it through the spellchecker first?

And yes, I'm a bloviate windbag. thx 4 listening kkthx :P

Elizabeth said...

Something like what, Nadine? The tone and number of comments on that post are quite moderate. You should poke around the blogosphere a little more if you want to see real vitriol.

(psst - for all of you - "blog" = entire web site, "blog post" = single entry. Unless you're planning to start up an entire site for commentary on what others think of your English class, you probably mean, "Can this be the topic for my next post?")

Helen said...

Elizabeth - I think some web sites screw around with the definition of "blog" versus "blog post." (I'm thinking MySpace -- not to say that it's a good thing, but I'm going to wager that it's a medium these students have some familiarity with. And I'm pretty sure MySpace "blogs" invite you to "post a new blog" when they really mean post a

Tracy said...

I'm amused that they don't seem to understand that most of the people in the blog-o-sphere, much less on Defective Yeti, are college educated. I'd love to see how they'd react if tossed into a 600 level English course on Shakespearean Tragedies. That class kicked my ass. I'd love to have a course where at least one of my assignments was JUST keeping a blog up to date.

Jason said...

Hello class. You may have read one of my posts in Never Threaten to Eat Your Coworkers. I still can't believe I made it into that book let alone the fact that it's part of your curriculum. If you're looking for advice from a Z-list blogger on any topic related to blogging, please don't hesitate to ask.

Derek John Boczkowski said...

Thanks, visitors, for your helpful comments. The feedback from the "real world" of the blogosphere offers a valuable supplement to what we are discussing in class.

Thanks, Elizabeth, for the note about the misspelling of “Technorati.” My version was a written reflection of a malapropism from classroom discussion that has become infectious—as flubs sometimes can. (We figure we must be assuming the site has something to do with “technical karate.”)

Yes, spelling and grammar are our typographic hygiene, so it is not surprising when dangling modifiers or the wrong use of “their/there/they’re” prompts a negative reaction. Nonetheless, I would caution against crusading for this point, particularly when concerned with the comments sections of blogs. It is true that I regrettably omitted (either by forgetfulness or erasure) an auxiliary verb (“been”) in my comment on Defective Yeti, and I may be apologetic in that I made the reader work harder, re-scanning the sentence to discern my intended meaning. Nonetheless, I feel that despite the error, the post makes my point lucid—just as I came to understand your meaning in your comment despite the breaking of handbook rules (the missing “s” after the apostrophe in “class’” and the unnecessary comma preceding “and”) in your first sentence. :)

My point is, I suppose, that as we continue to strive for grammatical perfection in all that we write, woe is me if I become hyper-observant of every grammatical infelicity I encounter in online communities. Then I’d be mired in some eerie internal dialogue regarding conjunctive adverbs and proper italicization and end up completely missing people’s ideas and experiences.

Checking for that stuff on student essays is plenty ‘nuff for this technical karate white-belt.

Spazmatic said...

I don't think anyone's arguing that every little bit of grammar must be perfect. I can't get anywhere near that. And style? Pshaw.

However, typing like "wow ur post was awesome comecheck mine out" is the rough equivalent of walking into a restaurant wearing nought but your birthday suit, placing your feet on the table, and then flagging down a waiter with armpit flatulence. Okay, I exaggerate, but it's still rude and a great way to make people stop caring. There are only 24 hours in a day, and a lot of voices competing for attention.

I think it suffices to say, if your post looks like it could've been written by a spambot, then that's a problem.

Further, if you're focused on content, many of the comments on DY were definitely content-lite. The blog entries seem better, though.

Elizabeth said...

I'll concede the comma, but omitting the possessive 's' for a word ending in 's' is an established usage - my Webster's Standard American Style Manual indicates that either is correct.

I did in fact have to read your sentence a couple of times before I figured out what you had meant to say, because it was not the auxiliary verb but the primary one that was omitted. (You wrote, "The hope was that the comments would have more substantial and fairly self-explanatory, but. . ." and I thought, "would have substantial what?")

There were in fact far more obvious errors in your students' comments and posts than in your own, but I didn't want to single out any one of them.

But the specific examples may obscure the general point that when all we have to represent ourselves is words, word choice becomes exceedingly important. While there is no need to hyperanalyze the grammar of every comment on every blog, especially when meaning is clear, we all should strive to reread and correct our own speech whenever possible.

Derek John Boczkowski said...

Too true, it was the main verb. Self, commence blushing.

I do appreciate the resistance to singling out students. I assume that they are aware that they commit grammatical infelicities; they're students after all, so they receive feedback about their written material regularly.

I appreciate the spirit of the point, and I think it will serve as a good reminder that a run-on sentence can be the written equivalent of a hairy mole on the bridge of one's nose, even on the web. Still, you gotta admit that the act of calling out the missing “been” in the comment trail is fairly snarky.

And yes, it is considered an accepted alternative to omit the possessive “s” after the apostrophe for nouns ending in “s,” but I reasoned that since this is the secondary method—not preferred convention—and we were being sticklers . . . :)

Elizabeth said...

Yeah, it was pretty snarky. But I figure that English teachers fall into the Caesar's wife category when it comes to grammatical errors. ;)

I'm glad to see that you've taken it in good humor and in the spirit it was intended.

Nadine said...

We realize that the people who have read the comments are college educated. I was going into detail about the work that we do in the class becasue there were comments about the class being easy. I was not jumping to conclusions about others not being college educated.