Thursday, July 14, 2011

Blogging about the New Media

So I've been in a summer seminar for the past month, at my favorite library. This is what we academics do in the summer: when we're not teaching as many summer school classes as we can manage in order to afford home repair, or churning out another manuscript or set of articles, we get paid to go back to graduate school. Except that it's like one of those accelerated summer-school classes that we teach, only grad-school style. This means 4-6 hours a day, 4 days a week, with a nightly reading list that far exceeds the weekly reading list I had from some of my most demanding professors back at Quill & Stylus. And if you're also trying to get a manuscript ready for a preliminary review, then farewell liberty.

Still, it's been a wonderful, stimulating and engaging experience. The seminar seems to span time, space, and dimension. It's too broad to describe here, and since I'm still writing under the gossamer veil of anonymity-ish-ness, I won't bore you with the details. But it's nearing its end, and the last two days have been devoted to readings, explorations, and discussions of The New Media, led by a brilliant pair of guest scholars.

We talked about film, database, archive and virtual space. We all created avatars and jumped around virtually on the Globe in Second Life (well, some people did. I couldn't figure out how to get off the roof of the balcony). We looked at a number of interactive on-line learning communities. But we haven't yet talked about blogs. A colleague mentioned blogs in an email message addressed to seminar participants today. The gist seemed to be "So, folks, what about blogs? Do they participate in the curatorial function of databases?" (We established last time that archives and databases kind of do have an author function and even an argument, even though many present themselves as being objective and all encompassing). Anyway, this made me think about my almost-defunct blog, and how only a couple of years ago everyone seemed to be participating in the academic blogosphere and now, well, notsomuch. That said there are still some wonderful academic blogs that I read regularly and for which I am grateful (shout-out to Flavia, and In The Middle!) I have to remind myself to blog, in a way that I never did before facebook, or twitter, or smartphones. Obviously blogs aren't just curated archives. I'm not sure they are archival at all, but they do participate in the collaborative thinking that goes along with new media. And what about blogs that are no longer active, like Blogging the Renaissance? Do people still read "dead" or "dormant" blogs, when there is no activity there any more? Or are they kind of like virtual archival materials themselves?

What will people think of blogs in times to come? What would Herzog's mutant albino crocodiles think of blogs?

1 comment:

Ched said...

"We established last time that archives and databases kind of do have an author function and even an argument, even though many present themselves as being objective and all encompassing"

Very interesting.

With search engine technology, blogs that are still active but dormant, still probably receive a fair amount of targeted traffic (if they're relevant to a given search), but much less organic traffic (i.e., actual readers/subscribers or links from other blogs).

I've found there has been a significant shift in the last 5+ years with interaction in the blogosphere. I would say most of it happens on social media networks (e.g., if you link on FaceBook to a blog you wrote, most of the discussion will take place on FaceBook rather than the comments thread).

Enjoyed reading your reflection.