Blogging: A Case Study in New Writing Techniques

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.

Intellectual Property

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.

Credibility

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?

 

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4 thoughts on “Blogging: A Case Study in New Writing Techniques

  1. meghanoneal says:

    Well, I just wrote quite the lengthy response that got deleted because technology is stupid. So, I’ll just give you the short version.

    Mandy Brown, in our most recent reading, states, “Writing has always been a messy process of writing and rewriting and rewriting again, but that’s especially true when the medium of publication is itself stubbornly unfinished. That unfinishedness permits us a greater amount of experimentation and revision, two things which make writing better.”

    We are in the midst of a process where things are growing and changing rapidly. Blogging today will probably be much different than blogging tomorrow. While I do agree with your concerns for now, I believe that it will adapt and change as we learn more about digital writing and what it entails.

    That being said, blogging is casual writing. It never pretends to be more than that. As an intern at Outside Bozeman, I wrote blogs often. Although my blogs went through the typical editing and fact checking, it was not as vigorous as the editing the print pieces went through. While the articles published in the magazine would go through multiple edits by multiple editors, the blogs would only go through one, maybe two (if the blog needed extra attention). This was because it was understood that blogs are more casual. While the information in blogs should be accurate, it is not as vital that the writing is exact and oftentimes the information is more opinion-based than fact-based. The subjects of the blogs was also more lighthearted and fun, such as journals of a training runner or an experience ziplining. Blogs are not supposed to be taken seriously. They only provide a platform for any writer to have his or her voice heard.

  2. Erin says:

    …It depends on the blog, I suppose. My reaction towards the worst ones I’ve ever seen is best captured by this image.

    But in general, I kinda like ’em. At least as an alternative to excessive facebooking. Bloggers often write informally about subjects distinct from themselves. Subjects which, as you say, could fall into any type of genre. And that seems less egotistical to me. (Not that I have a huge issue with Facebook per se…just an issue with the way some people use it.)

    However, all the blogs I’ve followed in the past have always been about fairly trivial subjects, like gaming or movies. Only once did I use a blog as a source for a research paper, and was I ever sorry afterwards…I found out the hard way that bloggers don’t always tell the entire story…

  3. Autumn says:

    This is the line that stuck out most of this entire post for me:

    “I think that many bloggers do not write well and write about personal topics which are not applicable to most audiences.”

    What really struck me about that sentence was the last part of it – I’m curious what makes you think that personal topics are not applicable to most audiences. I think I’d argue the opposite of that – for a cheesy example, I will quote the moving Drinking Buddies: “That’s the problem with heartbreak, to you it’s like an atomic bomb and to the world it’s just really cliche, because in the end we all have the same experience.”

    It’s a break-up, and most people have been through that, so they can identify with that, even if it happened in a different way because it’s still a break-up. That could be applied to the way people personally feel about writing, rhetoric, any category, really. I guess what I’m trying to say is that you’ll never know how your own personal experiences with things will effect people – or how they’ll relate to them.

    • You have some good points here. I agree that most personal topics can be applicable to others. In truth, the sentence you quoted was poorly phrased. I meant to say that I often do not care to hear about other people’s personal lives in blog posts. Yes, I have been through a break-up. Does that mean I care enough about a stranger’s relationships to want to read about how they end? It does not. I recognize that other people may derive some pleasure from reading about the personal lives of others, but I have rarely enjoyed the experience.

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