Saturday, July 27, 2002

More on blogs on campus:

Gordon helps keep a weblog about electronic media and publishing at Medill's Web site.

What is more common, though, than courses about weblogs are courses that use them.
English 332: Seminar in the Novel at Centenary College in Louisiana, requires students to keep a weblog of their reading (index here), as does Writing Interpretive Papers at Saginaw Valley State in Michigan. Other courses in journalism and publishing use either a group or individual weblogs as assignments for the course.

Last week I interviewed Andy Dehnart, a producer with an online recruiting service in Chicago, keeper of a weblog on Reality TV, and guest lecturer on weblogs at Medill's "News and New Media" course, who says the academic intrigue of weblogs is how they create a new genre of writing:

The format just lends itself so well to a new kind of personal expression, and I really think we're seeing the birth of a new genre of writing and personal narrative within them. There has been journal keeping for hundreds of years, but ... now there's also the fact that you're going to publish to potentially an audience of millions, so it's not exactly writing in a closed space. The diverstiy is unparalleled just because of the web's reach. Plus there's this whole ephemeral nature of it. The writing tends to be more spontaneous, more of a transcript of your thoughts at that moment, which people critized saying there's not thought to it ... but it has a tremendous amount of value, because never before have we seen so many people's thoughts captured instantaneously.

Andy expects the presence of weblogs in the classroom to continue, and to become more of the subject matter:

You'll probably see a lot more interest in issues surrounding blogs: what happens when people you know start reading them, being anoynmous versus actually writing under your own name, can you libel someone in a weblog, will a weblog ever be sued for that. What the academy can bring is not necessarily any validity, because blogs don't need academics studying them to be validated. But the academy brings the ability to research and look into them, explore them and give a good perspective about what's going on and what will be going on in the future.

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