Hating Weblogs

A student in Indiana State University's Center for Biological Computing makes it quite clear in an extended and profane -- but engaging -- piece of writing why he or she really doesn't like personal weblogs. While I don't agree with the student's points, I do share the concern that some weblogs do become little more than vehicles for the author's vanity. At the same time, even that seems to me somehow worthwhile, especially if it helps build a community. Curtiss Leung, an brilliant political blogger recently back from hiatus, takes a different stance, adamantly refusing to ground his positions "on value or personal sentiment": a good idea when discussing matters political? Or simply a different mode of writing?

The ISU student in question offers an amusingly vituperative Statement of Audience at the end that inadvertently does a wonderful job of connecting concerns about audience to James Britton's useful (if now somewhat out of fashion) category of expressive (as opposed to transactional or poetic) discourse. Could Britton's work help one develop a taxonomy of weblogs that might soothe this student's ire? How do teachers and students construct the purposes of weblogs, in and out of school?

First link via Metafilter.


I know that when most people, esp. techies, think about blogs, what comes to mind are those thousands (if not millions) of black-eyeliner and fingernail bearing, Marilyn Manson worshipping, "I hate myself!" teens who feel the need to tell the world how ugly they are, how the world is a dark and evil place, etc. We get a picture of blogs as a sort of public therapy where the same type of teens make bold claims that they are unlike anybody else in the entire world; we can perhaps catalogue these rants in a huge file somewhere marked "Dept. of Essays that Assert Subjectivity while Remaining Homogeneous."

For some reason the so-called "goth" crowd was keenly drawn to blogging at an early stage of its development, and I think this association is what causes so many people to dismiss blogging as a useful and profound writing space and condemn it as one would a wad of paper towels clogging a toilet drain; indeed, some people desire search engines to eliminate blogs from their results.

Perhaps the problem is something like this. If the entire world kept a diary, whose diary would be worth reading? Do people leading interesting lives produce interesting reflections? Does the quality of the writing itself matter?

Habermas argues in his book The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere that the moment in history when the reading public began keeping diaries marked the beginning of subjectivity. These documents of self-reflection led, ultimately, to the development of rational-critical debate, which is utterly necessary for the creation and maintenance of any govt. legitimately called a "democracy."

I took Habermas' book and applied what he said about diaries, coffee house socities, and so on to online public spheres: wikis, forums, and blogs. The paper was, to my mind, quite fascinating, and I'd like to have it published. If anyone would be interesting in reading it, let me know, and I'll be glad to share it with you.

F0r now, I have a link to this article here.

I don't know -- I kind of liked her/his proposed "Statement of Audience once per month (or, every two weeks if possible) to facilitate understanding of their place in the universe ..." under Chapter 7 - Proposal and Conclusion.



I interpreted the LSU article on hating blogs an amusing troll.

I wonder if the iconography and subject matter of goth blogs is simply more visible than other cultures which are also represented in the blogosphere. I'm not so sure that the average person will connect blogs and the goth subculture. My guess is that warblogger stereotype is probably more dominant, but that's just a guess.

Dennis G. Jerz

Jerz's Literacy Weblog

If you didn't see it (the link appears like an internal section divider), check out the appendix, a hilarious survey modeled on a personality quiz.