I took notes on other sessions I attended in San Antonio as well, but I figure it’s probably best if I only post on the ones that I found really engaging. That said, much of the notes I took on the weblogging presentation by Terra, Charlie, and Clancy are redundant, because they’ve put their presentations online. All were engaging, and all were radically different in style and content, and all three of them did a fine job of usefully pushing the boundaries of the way writing teachers talk and think about the practices associated with weblogging.
My comments here will be limited, not because what Terra, Charlie, and Clancy had to say was in any way uninteresting, but because I’ve really got very little to add to their insights.
Terra’s presentation on community and individual weblogs suggested that some of the differences between the two genres could be usefully compared to the (perhaps spurious) binary of academic and nonacademic discourse: her class group weblog was characterized by longer posts with more care to surface-level correctness issues, while the students’ individual weblogs were characterized by more frequent use of IM-speak and informality. One of Terrra’s conclusions was that moving between the two genres can help to offer students a useful reflexive awareness about transitioning between different discourse communities.
Charlie’s presentation on weblogs as a personal knowledge publishing tool was to me most interesting in its assertion that “weblogs favor a collaborative, social constructivist epistemology in which writing is less of a solitary act”: such a position, it seems to me, is remarkable in its avoidance of the rhetoric of individual preference and choice that seems to drive most theories of capitalism and the market economy. I wonder what Peter Elbow might say about Charlie’s presentation.
Finally, Clancy’s presentation made the point that the lists of links in a weblog’s side column — popularly known as “blogrolls” — serve a political purpose in the ways in which they direct traffic. She then pointed to the way in which the “A-list phenomenon” creates and reinscribes sexist hierarchies and rewards the philosophy of individual achievement. I might here ask for a more carefully reasoned logic of cause and effect, but Clancy’s conclusion that current community linking practices are ultimately sexist is undeniable.
What was most interesting to me about this set of presentations was their diversity of focus, and Clancy — by implication — raised a set of theoretical questions that each of these panel presentations might help us ask. We understand that the early theories of Landow, Negroponte et aliis now lie, for the most part, broken and useless: how, then, might we begin to build rigorous theoretical models that help us to understand, interpret, and account for the phenomena described by Terra, Charlie, and Clancy?