Some colleagues and I are writing a short place-based composition reader for Longman Press, and in our last meeting we began discussing what readings we could include that would address technology-related issues. I was having trouble finding appropriate essays that dealt with both technology and place, but after describing my recent experience with Ecotone bloggers, Paula wondered if we should include some blog entries on the topic of place.
I think we certainly can justify such an inclusion just on the basis of how popular blogging has become as a genre of online writing. Someone told me that in the next year there will 10 million blogs on the web, and a high percentage of these will be written by 13-19 year olds. I haven’t been able to verify this, but if the numbers are at all accurate then it motivates me to take blogging seriously as another literacy practice that many students could be bringing to the composition classroom.
In light of this, I think it makes good sense present examples of blogs that write in sustained ways about place, especially if we want ways to discuss the relationship between place and new media. However, actually selecting blog entries seems like no simple task, and it raises some questions in my mind:
- Does it make sense to transfer blog entries from a digital medium to print? Does it take them too much out of their native context?
- What are the pedagogical benefits of having students read place blogs? What do we gain from teaching about place blogs in the classroom?
Naturally, the blog on paper is not the same as the blog online, since it’s a genre native to the web. However, given the limitations of print-based textbooks, we have to make some compromises and it seems better to have some imperfect examples of blogging than to give the impression that there is no connection between online experience and place-based writing.
As for pedagogy, I think place blogs model several important writing virtues:
- The importance of writing as a daily discipline
- The practice of close, regular attention to ordinary experience (observation, description, notetaking)
- the collaborative nature of writing (writing with and for others)
- the personal role of writing in non-academic settings (yes, people write even when its not for school or for money).
- The representation of the mind at work (like personal essays, blogs represent not just the product of thought, but the process of thinking)
So I would open the question up to any interested place bloggers:
If you had to select a series of blog entries (5-6) either from your own place blog or someone else’s, which ones would you pick to give composition students a sense of what place blogging is all about? On what basis would you make your selections?
Clearly, these are self-serving questions since I’m involved in selecting texts for our reader, but I also think having place blog entries in a composition reader would serve to draw attention to this genre of blogging (one of the expressed goals of the Ecotone wiki). In any case, I’d be interested to hear what others had to think of this whole idea.
I’d also be interested to hear any recommendations for essays that reflect on the relationship between technology and place (these could take quite a few different forms).