meta: December 2004 Archives

As I continue to update my blogroll, I humbly call your alphabetically ordered attention to

  • Susan Adams, one of our students who's in the midst of her dissertation
  • Chris Anderson, whose Wired article on the long tail is fast becoming (a) required reading for anyone interested in network studies (including my class next semester, and (b) a book
  • Tyra O'Bryan, who's in her 2nd year at SU, and will be auditing my course this spring
  • Amy Robillard, who finished up her diss this past summer and is in her first year as a tenure-track prof at Illinois State.
  • Jen Wingard, also a 2nd year student at SU, also taking my course in the spring.

It's interesting to note that blogging in the CCR program now has moved definitely from "a few" to "some," and with both Becky and myself using them in our spring graduate courses, it stands to become "many," at least for a little while. It'll be even more interesting, I suspect, to see if (a) it lasts, and (b) what lasting effects (if any) they will have in the program. While I'm excited about my course, obviously, I'm also pretty jazzed that Becky's course, which is not explicitly about technology, will be doing some tech as well. Ultimately, that's one of the keys to actually integrating this kind of work--it's not about the program's "tech person" using tech, but rather everyone else...

That is all.

He blog, she blog?

| | Comments (4)

I don't really have the energy to link and trackback this discussion to the degree it deserves, but there's been a discussion lately about whether or to what degree we might speak of gender differences in blogging. The best site for this is probably profgrrrrl's, who engages in a bit of impromptu surveying as a way of getting at this question, but I came into the discussion via Chuck and a pair of posts from George, the former of which has more links for your perusal. Much of this is in response to the following hypothesis from profgrrrrl:

My hunch (and I could be very very wrong about this) is that women just tend to feel freer expressing themselves about personal stuff (albeit pseudonymously) than men do. And feel the need to do so more. Which is not at all to say that men might not benefit from the activity, but that it might not come as easily to them?

My reaction to this idea parallels George's, I think, but isn't quite as visceral as his. Part of that, I suspect, comes from the fact that, for as long as I've been teaching things like argumentative theory, I've been aware of the fact that much of my personal style is "female," at least in the ways that folk like Deborah Tannen categorize it (or the old Gender Genie, for that matter). And yet, I doubt that anyone would mistake cgbvb for a more personal or intimate weblog like the ones that many of profgrrrrl's respondents cite as their preference.

I'd argue that, in addition to an incredibly small, self-conscious sample size, one of the troubles with drawing broad conclusions about gender and academic blogs is that it rips them out of their various individual contexts. This is a mecology thing for me--I didn't simply decide to keep a weblog out of the blue. That decision, for me, occurred in a professional context, and I continue to see my weblog as a space where I can do a kind of writing that is academic yet more informal and in-process than I could otherwise. The question for me was, what can I do in this space that I can't already do somewhere else or that might make more sense for me to do here. And so, I spend more time on my blog and less time on listservs, less time watching or reading news offline, and a little less time with leisure reading. That's the place that it occupies in my life--expression of more personal thoughts, for me, occurs elsewhere, as I've always been better talking those kinds of things through than I am at writing about them.

Does gender play a role in issues of technology adoption? Of course. Does the context of adoption go on to affect the way that people use a given technology? Again, I'm sure that it does. But I'm slower to move to conclusions about gendered blogging, in part because I think those conclusions are often self-fulfilling prophecies (the patterns/conclusions almost inevitably predate the actual inquiry, and tend to color it) and in part because stereotypes like these can have a chilling effect on the very people who might work against them. I was chatting with Madeline today about these ideas, and was struck by how conscious she was of the "kind of blogger" she was. My feeling was that it's hard enough to write every day without imposing all sorts of standards upon what you write. It's not as though anyone in the discussion is approaching it with the idea of "developing gendered blog guidelines," but observations about gendered behavior have a nasty habit of translating pretty quickly into norms. I may very well be the archetypal academic male blogger for all I know, but honestly, I don't really want to know that. I am indeed male, and that does affect the choices I make when I blog, but these facts surely don't exhaust the rationale behind my choices.

On a related note, Madeline informed me that the reason I can't blog pseudonymously is that I'd be completely unable to write about anything related to my scholarship. Granted, she's known me for like 6 years or so now, but according to her, even my "public," "professional," "scholarly," "academic" self is shot through and through with recognizable personality. And that's another reason why I'm hesitant to draw conclusions--it's hard not to think that any definition of personal or intimate is going to prefigure the answers to the questions grounded in that definition. Even something as seemingly bureaucratese as ending my posts with "that is all," for me, is a wink to Lori, Alyson, and Dylan--what seems pretty impersonal to one audience is a marker of intimacy to another. I realize that I'm collapsing here a difference between subject and style with reference to the "personal," but I feel pretty secure in the fact that I'm not the only one...

Yeah. That's all.

(Oh, and yes, you should see me when I do have "the energy to link and trackback." Heh.)

I don't know that I ever made the conscious decision to restrict my blogroll to the "one name, one blog" kind of list that it's turned out to be lately. Whatever the reason, it's kept me from throwing down a link to the Blogora, a cooperative effort from the Rhetoric Society of America, the CWRL at Texas, and Jim Aune, Diane Davis, and Rosa Eberly, an effort that's been taking place for the last month or so.

Anyhow, in honor of Webster's inclusion of "blog" in their next iteration (and in grand meta fashion, a decision which has been blogshausted over the last week), Rosa offers some "state of the Blogora" questions and reflections:

What's "a public blogspace for and about rhetoric and rhetoricians" supposed to be? What's it supposed to DO? How is and could The Blogora be different from other blogs? And how might The Blogora (need to) be the same?

For one, and despite its limitations, The Blogora is more collaborative and public than most blogs. At least that was our intent, despite the structural limitations of the best blogging software we could find.

I have my own feelings about the appropriateness of top-down sorts of designs in blogspace, but I'll let them fade while I respond to the second para here. My gut response to these claims is, of course, yes and no. (and yes, nes and yo.) The idea that any blog is more public than another strikes me as a category mistake, but Rosa goes on to suggest that

Many are autobiographical. Until recently, most blogs involved "expressive" and "personal" rather than "argumentative" or "deliberative" and "public" topoi and tropoi.

and while I think that this is dubious at best, I understand the point she's making. If I'm allowed to talk about the early days of blogging (despite not having been there myself), I'd argue that regularly updated lists of links are themselves implicit arguments (this has value), deliberative (you should visit), and public (this is worth sharing beyond myself). Check out Jill on links and power if you don't believe me, or reflect for a few minutes on just why comment/ping spammers are so damn persistent. This type of argument has more to do with network literacy, though, and ultimately combines the expressive and argumentative in ways that we're still coming to grips with.

Network literacy raises questions about collaboration as well, our model for which tends to be multiple authors and single texts. So is a weblog collaborative if there's more than one person posting there? Again, yes and no. Yes in the obvious ways, but "collaboration" in blogspace is more than that. For instance, I cannot send a trackback ping to Rosa's entry, much as I'd like to. I don't claim to have collaborated with her on the entry, but trackbacks enable a collaboration that's distributive; they encourage a conversational engagement that I take to be one of the most productive forms of collaboration, similar in kind perhaps to citation, but of a far more immediate degree. Or, to take another example, my blogroll is not perhaps a direct act of collaboration, but it provides a symptom of the influences on my own blogging, and in a way that's more immediate to me than saying I'm influenced by the work of Barthes or Burke. Implicitly or explicitly, these are the people with whom I collaborate in the production of knowledge (whether they like it or not--heh.). I was going to say that collaboration online is more than production or invention, that it's also distribution and circulation, but I'd tweak that slightly, saying instead that circulation becomes a form of production in blogspace.

I don't have any answers for the questions that Rosa asked, although I suppose that there are some implicit answers buried here, and probably not too far from the surface. One such is that there are some subtle ways that I'd re-ask those questions--at the least, I'd interrogate the questions a little bit more. To be fair, that's one of the things that I think Rosa is calling for--I don't mean to sound as critical here as I probably do. That is all.



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This page is a archive of entries in the meta category from December 2004.

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