New technology creates new platforms for writing. The digital advancements of the last several decades have given rise to the large and powerful phenomenon of blogging. Denis Baron would describe the emergence of blogs as a new technology or “a way of engineering materials in order to accomplish an end” (16). Blogging provides a way for modern writers to express themselves in ways that were previously unavailable. I think that blogs provide an easy way to explore some of the ideas of Denis Baron, Anne Wysocki, and Johndan Johnson-Eilola while assessing the benefits and problems associated with new public writing methods. Each of the following sections represents a way that blogs are changing writing.
Structure and Visuals
Wysocki stresses the importance of structure and the inclusion of visual elements in writing. She says, “When you first look at a page or screen, you initially understand its functions and purposes because it follows the visual conventions of a genre” (Wysocki 124). I would argue that blogs are not a genre but a number of genres. Each blog represents a different kind of style designed for a vastly or slightly different purpose. However, one common factor is the hyperlinks and videos often found in blogs. In this way, visuals are representative of Johnson-Eilola’s theory of “massive and ongoing interconnection” (213). Visuals in blogs seem to suggest connections to other texts.
Expansion of Opportunities
Baron suggests says that “the computer has indeed changed the ways some of us do things with words, and the rapid changes in technological development suggest that it will continue to do so in ways we cannot yet foresee” (31). Since Baron’s writing was released, blogs have begun to represent what he suggested. Blogs have allowed people to write at length about whatever subjects they find interesting and have ushered in a new era of intellectual experimentation. This ideal is well expressed in the Ted Talk below.
Blogs do an excellent job of emphasizing the efforts of those who are attempting to make the process of obtaining knowledge free in contrast with those who believe that money must be earned in exchange for information (Johnson-Eilola 211). Bloggers often post links to information that they have found free of charge, thus supporting a system that clearly favors the free exchange of knowledge.
Baron writes, “When I read newsgroups and electronic discussion lists, I must develop new means for establishing the expertise or authority of a poster” (30). Anyone can write anything on a blog, so credibility is far from assured. Some bloggers have gone to great lengths to appear credible as suggested by the sheer number of guides to generating blog credibility found on the internet. An example of such a guide can be found here.
I think that blogs have come to represent some of the advantages of new writing technologies. Visual structures and forms can be breathtaking and rhetorically effective, and people that would otherwise have had no voice are getting the opportunity to express themselves.
However, I worry about a number of issues associated with blogging which have been the main reasons why I have avoided them whenever possible for my entire life. I think that many bloggers do not write well and write about personal topics which are not applicable to most audiences. Intellectual property guidelines are nearly always ignored, and I believe that writers should have the opportunity to get paid or at least get recognition for their work even if texts are interconnected and writers merely string together old ideas in new ways. Also, I do not see how any blog could be considered credible without first checking its sources to establish their merit. For me, blogs are often representative of a writing system which lacks discipline.
Baron would likely suggest that my thoughts about blogs represent the ideas of a modern traditionalist like those who once objected to writing itself (18). What do you think? Is the modern blog representative of a great benefit to modern society or is it often the equivalent of a gossip column? What do you think blogs will develop to be in the future?