Thursday, December 05, 2002

You Know You're a Blogger When...

I've been reading other people's blogs, hundreds of them, in the last few weeks, trying to get a sense of the norm for the form (hey, that rhymes!), because I see some real potential for the blog as a replacement for the journals that many teachers here at NMH require of their students...and because identifying new technological tools with potential for classroom use, helping teachers evaluate that potential in the context of their own classrooms and teaching, and helping them and their students learn how to use those tools if they believe them to be beneficial, is my job.

I haven't seen any blogs out there being used as classroom tools, although centainly a few are being used by teachers as a way to share ideas on and about teaching. But I think there's some real promise here. The public nature of the blog is useful in this instance, I suppose, although there is something valuable nonetheless about a journal which only your teacher will see. More specifically, though, the ability of e-texts to exist in multiple loci at a single moment is a great boon for teachers and students alike. With the blog, no longer do we have to take journals away from students, lug them home, and spend hours trying to decipher handwriting, while students struggle with keeping track of their own journals and remembering to write in them. The blog solves all these problems while simultaneously offering a fun and personalized way to journal. As an added bonus, students who learn to use blogs for a class are then prepared to use them for more personal reasons as well.

In my cybertravels, I've found some great blogs, and some great concepts. I've also found, though, that the blog-i-verse, as in the vast majority of self-published information in other forms on the web, is on average no smarter, no more interesting or creative, and no better than the wetware that uses it. Garbage in, garbage out.

Thus, as a show of strength and sympathy for the blog form and for blogging in general, I hereby offer a short list of things which I keep seeing in blogs which you will never, ever see in my own blog...or at least not for the next few weeks, or until I give up on the universe completely, or the aliens finally find me and lobotomize me:

1. This blog will not contain a cutandpaste chat which seemed funny at the time but for which, really, you had to be there.
(Corollary to item 1: If I do paste a chat in here, it will never, ever be longer than ten entries, and certainly will not go on for six or seven screens worth of blog length. Molly seems to have this right, unsurprisingly; when she uses the occasional chatpiece in her blog, it tends to be four or five lines long at most)

2. This blog will always be written in plain english, and ppl wl have 2 deal w/it.

3. This blog will never include an article or story written by someone else if that material already exists on the web somewhere else. This is a hypertext medium, folks; links are these neat things that allow the reader to decide for themselves whether they want to read a twelve page treatise on why solar power is the coolest thing or whether they want to continue reading your own thoughts.

4. This blog will not make the error of style over substance. If design were the most important element of the blog, then this would be an art form, not a literate form, and blogservers and blogservices would prioritize design issues rather than archiving, content organization, and other textual elements.

5. This blog will never contain a long series of entries which have no text but merely link to other things. This isn't a link form, it's a narrative form. If you want to publish a link list on a specific topic, publish a link list, or make a separate page linkable from your blog.

6. This blog will never, ever, EVER contain entries which are so self-referent that the blog becomes a treatise on blogging and blog issues...
...uh oh.

posted by boyhowdy | 8:47 PM |

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