Oh right. Blogging.

So, I kind of dropped the ball on blogging regularly throughout the minor. My bad. Sorry Naomi : ( I’ll be better in the future.

But I’m here now, and I’ve got to say, this feels good. Last semester, I was immersed in writing 24/7 (three lit classes paired with three writing classes will do that to a person, apparently). The amount of writing I did over the four-ish months of the fall semester is a little staggering, and after it was all over I felt mentally exhausted. For some reason though, that feeling of exhaustion is almost preferable to what I’m experiencing right now. We’re about five weeks into this semester and so far I haven’t had to do a single substantial piece of writing. And that sucks.

Don’t get me wrong—I love slacking off and taking it easy as much as the next person, but when I’m not writing, I feel like I’m wasting away. You’d think being a peer tutor would help with this, but my tutoring sessions actually seem to exacerbate these feelings of stagnation. Seeing other people writing and working through interesting ideas they have on a diversity of topics just makes me wish I was doing the same. And I’ll get back to that point, eventually. But my first big deadline doesn’t come until February 24th, right before spring break. That’s absurd to me.

In my “Why I Write” paper from last semester, I talked a lot about how I have a love-hate relationship with writing. True, it’s an enjoyable activity that engages me and gives me a forum to present my thoughts much more eloquently than I could ever hope to with my oral communication skills, but writing is also super hard and oftentimes oppressively time consuming. I mentioned how writing always made me feel like Sisyphus, constantly pushing that awful rock up the hill, only to have it fall all the way down again at the end of the day. The story felt right to reference because I never feel like I can win with writing; there’s always something I would have liked to change or said differently, something that I should’ve edited out, something I should’ve expanded on further. As frustrating as those feelings are though, they beat the hell out of sitting at the bottom of the hill, staring at the rock, hoping it’ll reach the top on its own.

So I guess I’m glad I’ve been reminded to regularly contribute to the blog. Spring break is still a long way off, and I don’t want to turn into a pre-Dorothy Tinman of writing in the time between then and now. The can of oil is sitting right in front of me, so why not use it?

Sidenote: SO glad to see the Winter 2012 cohort is using animated gifs in their posts. It makes the blog feel so much more lively (not that it felt dead before, by any means).

Storyboard Success

I originally had the grand idea of making my storyboard like a pitch for a new magazine photoshoot, then I realized this would take a lot of time and effort (something I do not currently have with an 18 credit schedule). Then I decided to make a poster and divide it into four different “scenes” (one for each section of my website). This turned into a fail too. I realized that using my laptop and all of the wonderful technologies would be the best way to go, so I started designing a mock website homepage and had a ton of fun experimenting with colors, fonts, layout, and design. Then I added in reflective comments to justify my choices and explain my purpose. After creating my storyboard, I decided to steer away from Glamour and produce my own website. Why should I stick to their theme when I have my own wonderful ideas? My current challenge is choosing the proper platform–I would LOVE if I could actually develop a usable site. Any advice would be much appreciated!

Online News Community/Public Forum

http://www.blogtrepreneur.com/wp-content/uploads/top-100-women-bloggers.jpg

When I first started brainstorming for the re-mediation assignment, I had way too many ideas. I guess this is better than having no ideas at all, but still it was hard to figure out what direction to go with this project. I wanted to create an interactive article for the Glamour website, an actual blog, a new website or a public forum. Eventually I decided to create an online news community/public forum to combine all of my original ideas into one. I think this will be the best way for me to re-mediate my original argument about blogs and new media being a net gain for society. As of right now I’m thinking of using Wix to execute this project because I recently used it to create another website and think it will allow me to include all of the necessary elements in my online news community/public forum. The only problem I ran into with Wix was its tendency to freeze. This made the whole website creation process slow and somewhat annoying. I definitely do not want to run into these same problems again! I would love it if you guys had any suggestions on better platforms to use for my online news community/public forum. Here are some examples of online forums I may use as inspiration: The Women’s Nest, In The Powder Room, PepsiCo Women’s Inspiration Network, and GoGirl Finance.

I’d like your feedback on my proposal:

I plan to develop an online news community/public forum (essentially an interactive website) for Glamour readers.  This will be a public forum that allows real women to communicate with one another and share the news. My ideal audience is all Glamour readers regardless of their current level of political involvement.  I want my audience to join “the conversation called blogging” and be completely engaged in this online community. I plan to bridge the gap between hard news and soft news by providing an outlet for discussion of issues, ranging from rantings about political candidates to advice about where to buy the most comfortable high heels. This online news community/public forum will be a part of the Glamour website and build upon their Glamocracy blog section which contains political articles written in personal/opinion-based tones. My reason for choosing to create an online news community/public forum is that it will represent the argument addressed in my essay about new media being a net gain for society. This public forum will allow readers to participate in the creation of news. I think it is a great extension of my previous essay and has real world applicability and functionality. My plan for the story board assignment is to pretend like I’m pitching this project to Glamour executives, again something that I would potentially be doing in my future career. I want to connect this project to my print article by including a scan-able bar code in the print version that directs readers to the online news community. This way, all versions of my essay will come together as a whole.  I’d like to model the “I am that Girl” website because it is easy to navigate, has visually appeal, and contains well-organized relevant information in the form of images, videos and text. As you may notice, the site has been revamped since my initial blog post, but I think I actually like it better now which is why I plan to use it for inspiration when re-mediating my argument. 

What do you think?

In with the New

Looking back at my blog posts, I noticed I sounded way more professional when there was a prompt to write to, but I also found myself liking those writings less. For me, it seems like the blog is more of a way to talk unfiltered about what’s on my mind in regards to this class, the minor, and writing in general.  When I’m just free writing, my personal voice makes itself much more present, and I also find it easier to come up with ideas to write about. Prompts are nice for giving me a jumping off point, but ideas flow far more easily when I’m “writing out loud,” as Andrew Sullivan would call it. I love writing with one point in mind and letting it spiral out in to places I couldn’t have ever seen it traveling in my most vivid imaginations. And, while sometimes the blog does seem a little like busy-work, I have to say, every time I’ve finished writing a blog post I feel a lot better about everything going on with my writing, in this class as well as others. I’ve found blogging is a really nice way to turn on the tap and get the faucet running.

I’ve been a terrible commenter, and a goal I’m setting for myself is to change that. I think I maybe comment once a week, and that’s being generous with myself. I personally appreciate comments on my posts; they’ve helped me out a ridiculous amount  and it’s not fair to not participate and engage with other peoples’ work like they’ve engaged with mine.  To my old group, I’m sorry, and to my new group, I promise to be better, because obviously, the comments are important, maybe even more so than the actual post. In our first blog groups, before we tragically parted, we all noticed that the blog is really conversational: “it feels like having a really interesting conversation with a friend” as one of us put it.  And that’s kind of how I like it.  Writing’s fun.  Talking’s fun. Friends are fun.  So talking about writing with friends is kind of a blast. And it’s helpful. I’ve found the best way to make my writing better is to talk with someone about it, and the blog really lends itself to starting a conversation. I guess I’m hoping this new blog group works in a similar way. I’m sad to see my old group go, but excited to see where the new one takes me, and the rest of us.

Hello? Hello? Is anybody out there?

So my first thought after finishing Andrew Sullivan’s “Why I Blog” was “God, he is lucky he is semi-famous and people care enough about what he has to say to read it.” Because I think Sullivan would have a very different idea about blogging if he had had the experience of countless bloggers not blessed with a prior journalism career that provided the base for their eventual readership. It is all fine and good for Sullivan to talk about the bond between reader and blogger, and the way comments provide swift checks and balances to the blogger’s tyranny of thoughts, but the thing is, he has readers. He has commentors (commenters? is that a word?). Blogging might be the revolution that jazz was (nice analogy Sullivan). But for most bloggers, it is almost as private as a diary. Sullivan overestimates the power of the blog because he is one of the relative few who have made it in the world of blogging.

Let me tell you about my friend. We will call him Eric. Eric likes webcomics. A couple years ago, Eric decided to start a blog in which he reviewed webcomics for fun and profit (he signed up for Project Wonderful, and had his site advertised on other sites, and received five cents every time someone clicked an ad on his blog). His first review, a glowing tribute to an old favorite, was about Questionable Content (questionablecontent.net for those of you who would like to begin reading and do literally nothing else for the next two months). Eric is a good, witty writer. His self-effacing charm and frequent references to the wild parties he isn’t having makes for a fairly entertaining read, and a website that tells you if a webcomic is good or not is definitely a useful tool for deciding whether or not to devote two months to reading the entire archive. So this wasn’t some Xanga account making thinly veiled references to the author’s unrequited lust for the football captain. This was a genuinely useful, interesting blog, with a potential readership and even legitimate advertising.

Unfortunately, for a very long time, my friend Katie and I were basically the only readers. One time, he got a whole bunch of hits very quickly but it turned out that this was mostly because he had reviewed a very risque comic recently and some fans stumbled upon his site while looking for slash fiction. Eric’s list of comics he had already read all the way through ran out a couple months in, and trying to read new ones in a timely fashion became too time consuming to justify. So he expanded to writing about generally geeky topics like new video games, movies, and the endless gritty reboots endured by various superheroes. But even this became wearing since he still did not get many readers, and received, like a comment a month.

Eric rarely updates now. This is partially because of his school schedule, but also because blogging can be a very large commitment which feels futile when no one will make the commitment to at least read the thing. Its like shouting into an empty cave. Reading Sullivan’s article made me think of Eric because of how certain Sullivan is that there is a reader-blogger relationship, that there is someone out there bother to fact check. Sullivan should probably remember his immense privilege before making sweeping generalizations about the world of blogging in general.

 

Writing Out Loud

“Blogging is writing out loud.” What a great way to summarize this particular craft. As a 3-year (and counting) blogger, I have always felt that what I write is very consistent with what I’d say. It has a conversational tone and as Sullivan says, “As soon as I began writing this way, I realized that the online form rewarded a colloquial, unfinished tone.”  This is the type of writing I love.

It’s also the instantaneous display of writing to the public world that I like so much. Yes, sometimes people blog about private topics, but they are free to create user names to disguise their true selves–this is the beauty of the virtual world.

“But with one click of the Publish Now button, all these troubles evaporated.” Forget about the complexity of writing, editing, revision and impressing your editors. Blogging is easy and essentially pain-free. All you need is a topic you’re passionate about and a blogging platform. Then it’s up to you to let the writing begin.

Now comes the sometimes scary, revengeful part of blogging–the comments. People in the blogosphere can be quite blunt. They are opinionated and will do whatever it takes to prove you wrong, to disagree with your own views, to humiliate you in front of your audience. I’ve gotten negative reviews (on something silly like a dating blog), but still, the feeling of public ridicule and complete disagreement is not good. Eventually I started breezing past the negative comments. I certainly don’t blog to put myself in a negative mood. I blog to have fun, to be happy, to share my stories with others who can relate to what I’m feeling. So to all of you out there in the blogosphere, if you have something to say, start your own blog. It’s as easy as that! Do not write an entire post in the comments section just to put down the original writer.

“To blog is therefore to let go of your writing in a way, to hold it at arm’s length, open it to scrutiny… ” How ever hard this is to admit, this is the truth. With our changing world of technology, almost nothing is private anymore. When you make the decision to blog you make the decision to open yourself up to the world.

Response to Sullivan’s Article

After reading Sullivan’s article, I find myself grappling with two of his ideas.  First, that idea that “the blogger can get away with less…” and second, Sullivan’s experience with blogging on 9/11.  Here are some of my thoughts on both issues:

1.  I am unsure if I agree with Sullivan’s claim that bloggers “get away with less.”  On one hand, blogs are commonly known as being less formal mediums of writing and, to some extent, diary entries.  Taking this into consideration, many people excuse what they believe to be “provocative” ideas, making it so bloggers, in fact, get away with MORE.  Readers allow bloggers to get away with certain comments or ideas that would not be disregarded in the “academic” world.  At the same time, however, when someone blogs their ideas are instantly published on the internet.  Followers and readers of the blog typically have the option of commenting on these blogs, or even blogging about their responses.  Due to the ability to give instant feedback, I see how bloggers would get away with less, because there are constantly people ready to attack or support the blogger.

2.  I found Sullivan’s experience with blogging on 9/11 fascinating.  I myself tend to disregard blogs, thinking of them as public diary entries.  But maybe that is the point of blogs?  Through blogging people are able to track their feelings and responses to different events and unless people carry a diary with them is hard to do this.  Sullivan’s presentation of a blog as a tool to track past emotions at a particular time is fascinating to me, and shows me one of the true values in blogging.

I know that this blog entry is a mix of ideas, but being that blogging is somewhat “diary-like” I hope that this entry gives you some insight into my own feelings on the Sullivan article.

 

Come On…

I could not wait to get to the end of this article.  I probably could have muddled through most of it, but then I hit the friendship paragraph and the “visceral, personal connection” between a blogger and a reader. Come on. Personally, I find Sullivan’s “friendships” with his readers to be about as substantiated as a Britney Spears pop song.

I also took issue with his assertion that “Blogs get away with less.” Come on. Does anyone remember the Shirley Sherrod scandal with the FOX blogger Andrew Breitbart?? He did exactly what Sullivan claims bloggers can’t get away with–he took her words out of context with the actual footage readily available on the internet of her true words and the context. Even with Breitbart’s asinine move, it brings to the surface an important point about blogging. Whatever you type in your moment of anger, sadness, lust, paranoia, self-pity, or whatever is out there immediately and forever. The best analogy I can draw is when a lawyer yells “Objection!” but really, it doesn’t matter. The question is already out there. It’s already in the mind of the jurors.

Lastly, I concur with Sullivan’s statement that blogging is “writing out loud.” It’s just to anyone and everyone who doesn’t want to hear it, as well. The real irony here is that I am doing everything I just complained about. In my moment of annoyance and anger to what I read, I went to this blog. Come on.

COME ON.