Blogging gives you a way to use writing to reflect on the texts and ideas we discuss in class. Think of the blog post as a third space of writing – – not as quick or superficial as a tweet or a Facebook status update but also not as formal or complete as the standard 3-5 page essay. It’s a place to work out ideas, to make connections, to develop elements of our in-class discussions – – in other words, a place for you to extend and enrich your engagement with the class.
Sounds vague and possible confusing? Here are some examples of student blog posts that I like: Hey, there, Walt! ; Who need be afraid of the MERGE!; Bad Wounds – – The Young ; Original Hipsters. Although they originate in a different class, I like the style and voice they express. And, I like the serious analysis or engagement with the topic that they demonstrate. One contemporary writer, Cory Doctorow, describes his blog as his “outboard brain” – – a description worth checking out.
I. Setting up your blog
First, go to wordpress.com. Before you create your blog, think a little bit about how you want to name it. Don’t stress out, but remember that the title of your blog is how many folks will first know you, via the blogroll on our motherblog or by visiting your blog. Enter the name of your blog and click on “Create Website.” Boom. Now, you’re bloggin’.
. . . Almost.
Once, you’ve successfully created a blog, WordPress will offer to “change your blog’s theme.” Click on this link and you can begin to choose a theme – – a look and style for your blog. Alternatively, go to your “dashboard” – – this is the control room of your blog. (You can choose a new or different theme here by clicking on “Appearance” and then “Themes.”) Explore WordPress for a bit – – you can’t really break it. (Here’s a quick intro to blogging on Wordpress, and here’s a more comprehensive offering.)
Once you’ve published your first post and admired it, make sure to send me the link to your blog.
II. Using your blog
I will ask you to blog about something at least once a week. Some of these requests will be more structured – – asking you to respond to a particular text or question. Other requests will be more open-ended. Once you get into the swing of things, you’ll probably feel like posting more than once a week. Remember, however, once a week is a minimum. (The crazy folks over at Connected Courses offer some very good advice on how to create exciting, productive blog posts.
You must also comment on two of your comrades’ blog posts per week. This means that you’ll have to browse through the blogroll on our motherblog until you find a couple of things worth commenting on. What makes a good comment? Try to respond to the post. Try to engage with the blogger’s ideas. Help to develop the blogger’s ideas. (Here’s a helpful guide to blog commenting.) You can expect me to comment on your blog posts as well.
As we all start blogging, you’ll grow more confident and more accustomed to the form. Probably, you’ll have questions – – about blogging, about creating quality posts, etc. – – and we’ll tackle these as we move through the semester. If you’re having technical trouble or any other kind of trouble, contact me as soon as you can.