Well, here we are at the end of another blogging task. Hooray!
I will say that non-scholarly blogging, where interconnection to other sources is more important than reference points, is easier than scholarly blogging (with cites and all). I’m not completely sold on those things, though, because while it’s good to show you’re engaged with reading and you can back up your thoughts with research, sometimes that research doesn’t exist.
Both are good, but I feel that the blogging subject, as a regular feature, would want to show us internalising and expanding on the subject matter of lectures, week to week. If it was say, bi-weekly, maybe, compacting together two related subjects with third-party readings I’d feel more comfortable pushing together a more deliberate scholarly position.
I think the first challenge of blogging effectively is internalising the idea that your thoughts, and the words associated with them, are worth recording and pinning down. Expressing yourself regularly, and releasing words onto the internet – feels more terrifying than it is. For the most part, while you do have to keep in mind the potential of vast observation of your work, that doesn’t mean it’ll happen.
This is actually a source of frustration for me – since alongside my university work, I am trying to make online writing work for me. I’ve been writing non-stop for two years, and I have maybe… twenty, thirty readers.
Blogging is hard if you want attention or feedback. It can ache at the soul to put thoughts out in a public space in the hope of struggling with ideas, only to hear nothing but silence echoing back.
The internet tells us we are in a vast, interconnected web, and that we are part of the producing class, but that myth is not about being a producer building an audience as much as they are about joining up in a vast lottery. Some peoples’ writing will catch on – they have niches or interconnected audiences that can drive them onwards – but they have to catch.
That’s not to say skill isn’t important in blogging – but damn is luck involved too.
Still, blogging is a good task and I like it. I like that it’s a university project that rewards us for being engaged and doing some work every week. I like that it’s classwork that doesn’t demand a large, dense work at the end of the semester. And I particularly like that it can, hypothetically, be presented to employers to show our familiarity with blogging.
I think the part of this event that causes me the most problem is commentary. I think the reason I feel strange about commenting on other students’ blogs is actually a function of media in space.
The nature of online spaces is one of remote distance, where a person’s words are almost all we have to identify them. Most of the conversation with online experiences is remote and operated through identities we choose. This can give online spaces a certain forgiving nature, where if you say something wrong or silly, you don’t have to follow it up. You can just excuse yourself and that’s that. You can leave those spaces.
Last semester, I objected to a poorly designed test (that I had passed) in another one of my subjects. I used the term pedagogically useless when addressing the test, which was open-book and online with three hours of time to complete. The next tutorial I did, I walked into class a moment late, and another student yelled my name, and followed that up with how dare you-.
She became very angry, and after the tutorial was over I found out why. She was mad at me because she felt that I was saying anyone who did not finish the test and pass was stupid.
I hadn’t said that – but it was an example of an online miscommunication. She was so angry with me that, when the class was over, she fired off more anger at me, insisted I was wrong, then stormed out of the class when I tried to discuss it with her.
That kind of thing won’t happen with most online interactions, but it only has to happen once for me to be cautious. Interestingly, by drawing students together into our common space, these kind of online interactions are filtered through the knowledge that we will deal with these people in person.
By removing the distance of the internet, I feel the comment sections become instead spaces for friends to provide each other commentary that facilitates classwork. Small groups of blogs that mostly have anodyne ‘I saw that too!’ comments in them, between the same four or five people, for example.
I’m not sure if this is bad or not, but I do think that it’s very, very hard to moderate an online space like this to a proper level of safety, especially when there are followup exposures to one another in person.
Still, this subject has been about the logistics of spaces, and about the careful interrelationship between spaces, audiences, and the media consumed. As has been an eternal cycle in BCM subjects, I return to my point that everything an interrelated system of systems. Audienceship isn’t a binary state, either; it’s a spectrum. Some people join an audience through the act of observing that audience – such as us, observing Australian cinemagoers, have to look upon the trailers they’re considering and what they’re disregarding, putting us as part of that audience. Similarly, there are spaces that do not host media, that are still influenced by, and part of a media space. The space that is primarily about transition from place to place, enabling media experiences, are part of that same existence. Highway billboards turn people who flicker past them into audiences, turn stretches of road into media spaces, even for a few moments.
Blogging is just like this; it’s turning a little page on the internet into a media space. It’s media we shape, and building the audience for it is one of the hardest things we can do, without larger, louder, distribution vectors.