Monday, February 05, 2007

On the uses of blogs

Well, I've finally made it back to using this blog. At last I'm starting to get into the reading and thinking for a new paper I'm working on. I've been waiting to get my hands on Uses of Blogs for a while now. This morning I've sat and read the chapters by Melissa Gregg, Jean Burgess and Angela Thomas, all of which have got me thinking both about my own project, my own approach to blogging and how I use technology in my teaching and learning.

On my own use of this blog....
I was struck by what Jean Burgess wrote about the challenge of 'finding a voice'. She writes: 'it proved extremely difficult for many students to find a writerly voice other than their most formal 'essay' voice, or a personal voice other than their most casual 'email' voice" (p.109). That resonated with my own feelings about this blog. My intention for using this space was primarily work-driven: to create a space where I could both collect my thoughts, but potentially, engage with the 'blogging community / gurus' who are 'out there'. Given that I'm starting to look at blogs in my own research, then it seemed crazy not to have had at least some experience of being part of that community.

But when it comes to writing here, I don't want to use my 'formal' 'essay writing' voice. I know the purpose is to stimulate academic debate and so on, but my initial reactions and responses that are here don't come fully formed as essay rhetoric. Maybe, because despite some claims to the contrary (my daughter decided that I was a glossary the other day) I don't speak or think in academic-ese. In that sense, then, my experience of blogging makes me recognise the immediacy of the communication. But, on the other hand, I know that this is going into the public domain (although I am not sure anyone is going to read this!). And that makes me feel slightly uncomfortable about not using an academic voice.

I think Jean Burgess is right - using Blogs requires a new form of literacy with social and textual dimemsions that take some getting used to. And it is for that reason I haven't launched into using them in my teaching yet. But I am thinking about how I could put blogging to use in the teaching workshop that is going to be part of the Narrative Symposium I'm organising. More thoughts on that here later.


Blogger Dr. Jessica Laccetti said...

Hi Ruth,
Thanks for sharing your inner workings. You do have readers!!!
I'm thinking about what you said with regards to blog-writing as a language (unlike academic-ese) and believe it does require a different way of reading. I wonder if this plays into the notion of *transliteracy* that a few people (Alan Liu, Sue Thomas, the PaRT group at De Montfort University) are attempting to develop/craft. I've just mulled a little bit on it over at a blog I'm now doing for Frontline Books (independent bookshop based in Leicester). Maybe you'd have some thoughts on it:

4:55 AM  
Blogger Ruth Page said...

Hi Jess

I think for me that the biggest influences on the 'voice' I am using are the sense of audience and the kind of identity I want to have. I can do the academic-ese (up to a point) but it did not seem appropriate to me for this blog. But on the other hand, I am conscious that many who use their blogs as a researching tool publish essays as well as the personal commentary. Anecdotally, it feels much more vulnerable writing as 'me' rather than in depersonalised academic prose. Maybe it is a case that blogging is both across genres and registers at the same time.

4:01 AM  
Blogger Dr. Jessica Laccetti said...

Hrm. You've made me think of Foucault's technology of the self as a technique of production and communication. I think that might be exactly the problematic crossroads at which academics find themselves. On the one hand contemplative thought leads to academic production but communication (often stream of consciousness, on the spot, in dialogue) is also a key part of teaching/learning. While academic-ese allows for a more rumitive (singular) voice, blogging facilitates and even encourages the description of the interior monologue, the process of production. I think your point that it makes you (and other academic bloggers) feel more vulnerable is precisely because it is the *real* you, the *real* thoughts, before they've become stylised. Maybe the idea of producing across two registers/genres at once will soon be recognised as a representation of the "becoming" (Braidotti) of thought and subjectivity?

1:43 AM  

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