It’s amazing, but the end of the term is upon us. To wit, please complete the following tasks for Wednesday:

1) Choose one person in your group (or more, up to you!) to do an audio post on Tumblr. Let’s experiment with what could be the next wave of blogging. Okay, I’m overstating it, but we are all attached to our phones, right? You can find instructions on the “Goodies” page of your Tumblr Dashboard.

2) Critique, with an equal emphasis on the positive and the to-be-improved, each others’ group blogs in a comment on this post. Members of each group will complete this assignment individually, but feel free to talk about it among yourselves. Here’s the round robin:

Idiot of the Day will critique Beat Strugs
Beat Strugs will critique It’s Not You…
It’s Not You…will critique The Blogozine
The Blogozine will critique Idiot of the Day

Think about the following questions:

  • As a reader of this blog, how well is it fulfilling your expectations for a curated space about its topic?
  • How do you find the balance of content forms–images, links, text, etc.
  • Do you enjoy the reblogged content or the original content more/less/indifferent ways? Explain.
  • What do you feel like you are learning from the blog?

A few helpful HTML-related links for your enjoyment; feel free to send me more:
HTML examples

Wikipedia on HTML, with assorted links

Web design group at UM


If you missed class today I posted the portfolio guidelines on the “Assignments” page of this blog.

For Monday, please play around a bit with this web site:

Nine European museums have gotten together to let you play curator with their collections. The connection to our current activities is, I hope, obvious. What do you think? Can you imagine something like this being useful for political material, or for collections of online objects other than art?


More links! You don’t have to read these, but gosh I wish you would check out a couple of them. Our conversation in class today got me searching for some more Kindle-related answers, and I found this article in the New Yorker by Nicholson Baker on the Kindle, as well as this live chat with Baker afterward. The live chat is particularly interesting, and you need not have read the article first to basically understand it.

I wasn’t aware of the service one of the live chat commenters mentions, Times 2.0. It appears to be a subscription service that gives you a version of the Times that feels even more like holding the paper in your hands, with real-time updates. A partial solution to journalism’s troubles?

A commenter also mentions Kindle for the iPod–I just tried it and I like it A LOT. Brighter screen, can share books with the Kindle, remembers what page you are on when you go back and forth. (But, shorter battery life, smaller screen…) That last one is amazing, and a little creepy. The “tethered” nature of these devices gives me a little pause. I’m really not sure I like corporations knowing what I read. But then, I order lots of books online, so they know anyway, and they more or less know when I use my credit card to buy books as well. Only libraries are still safe. Did you know you have to have a subpoena to get someone’s library records? Although it’s easier now for the government with the Patriot Act…

Finally, yet another commenter references Sven Birkerts article in the Atlantic Monthly about what we loose when we go from page to screen reading. I haven’t read this one yet, but I’ll spend part of my afternoon doing just that!

That’s it for Kindle links, but I also found this article about professional blogging–covers some topics we have already discussed re: non-democracy of the paid blogger online crowd, but interesting nonetheless.

Amended this post to add a link to a GREAT and scary article title “Google and the New Digital Future” in the latest New York Review of Books. People, I can’t quite keep up with this stuff…Read this one, if you can.

And here’s Adie’s fabulous link about Princeton’s pilot of the Kindle in classes in lieu of textbooks.

For discussion after the break, I’d like you to consider the rhetoric of twitter and the implications of comments. These links require more reading than you might expect, so allow some time for this assignment. Please post a comment to this link with thoughts on the questions.

First, please consume (read & watch) this link. What do you think of the writer’s points about twitter rhetoric (narrative flowing backwards, messages removed from context). How has twittering and reading classmates’ tweets so far changed the way you’re thinking about information?

Second, please read this article by Timothy Egan AND THE COMMENTS (you can skim, but I would like you to attempt to get through them all.) Are comments at all useful in conducting online discussion and debate? Why or why not? Can you think of a better way to harness the democracy the web allows but to somehow mediate the throng?

Please write a post on your individual blogs over the break that explicitly solicits comments from your readers.

Finally, here are two additional links I’d like to discuss next Monday.

Allison Glock: “I Blame Blogs”

“Did You Know 4.0”

I’ll be on email (& Google Wave–wavemail?) sporadically from Wed-Sun. Happy Thanksgiving.

Before the assignment details, a quick word about assessment. Your constant assignments right now are to: twitter 3x/week, blog on your individual blog 3x/week, and blog on your group blog 5x/week. It is very easy for me to see if you are doing this, and some of you are falling behind. This is not okay. It’s not going to work to “catch up” on a week’s worth of posts in one day, or on two weeks’ worth in one week–it’s not how real bloggers operate because readers abandon your blog without regular infusions of new content. We have have three weeks of class left (it’s true!). So make yourself a schedule. Use the weekend or the Thanksgiving break to stockpile some posts in your queue–remember you can set them to post in the future on a day when you’ll be too busy studying for an exam. I am keeping track…

On to the weekend assignment:

First, read this post by blogger Theremina, and then, read this one by blogger Rachel Mercer.

Finally, listen to this story from Marketplace, (you could just read the transcript, but it’s more fun to listen to the story, in my opinion) and read Sally’s blog post about her media diet.

These texts raises several questions I think we need to discuss. First, what do you think about Mercer’s point that “curation is actually a necessary step in the creative process”? Or do you think reblogged content is less valuable in some critical way, or that it cheapens the blog? What do you think of Theremina’s call to take a break from blogging: “Because if we all turn away from this big, hot communal hall of scrying mirrors for a bit, and focus inward instead, upon the true, white spark that sits in everyone’s belly, maybe we won’t feel so hollow and lonely and dependent on energy from outside sources.” Phew! A bit overwritten, sure, but accurate? Are you getting something from your online relationships and the creation you do digitally, or do you feel it turning you away from “real” life in a negative way?

Comments most welcome, but not required. It would be great to have some honest discussion below before we tackle these issues in class.

Here are the links I used in class about how to increase your blog traffic and build community:

Darcie Dennigan’s teaching blog

the 2009 webblog awards



For this Wednesday, 11/18, please continue blogging and tweeting, and conduct the following experiment/challenge/assignment:

Write a post that explains something complex connected with your project. This could be how to do something, or it could be a concept that your more general readers would not understand without your very clear explanation. Think about how Robert Irion used metaphors, strong verbs, short sentences at the ends of paragraphs, and descriptive language to make his points about black holes comprehensible.

In addition, or in combination, write a post that contains part (or the whole–think about using the jump link) of an interview you do with someone about your topic. You could use this interview to explain your complex thing, or it can stand alone. So these can be two posts, or just one–it’s up to you.

First, here’s how to make your individual author pictures show up above your posts in your group blogs [THANKS, WHITSON]:

  1. Go to your group blog dashboard and click “Customize”
  2. Click “Theme” and when the HTML window appears, search for {/block:Title}:
  3. Paste the code below after {/block:Title}:

<p><img src={PostAuthorPortraitURL-64} /></p><em>Posted by {PostAuthorName}</em><p>&nbsp;</p>

That’s it!

Second, please read AND PRINT FOR CLASS this article. Then, answer the following question in a comment to this post:

The ways black holes work is a subject unfamiliar to many readers. What techniques does Robert Irion use to help his audience understand this unfamiliar subject?

Then, please answer this unrelated question, also in the comments: what else do you want to learn about blogging between now and the end of the course?


Here’s a roundup of some interesting blogging/social networking news links. A reminder that you can send me ones you discover!

Facebook alibi exonerates man (thanks, TJ)

UM has the best online media buzz of any school (thanks, Kristina)

Please email me your group proposal by midnight on Saturday. I should receive ONE email from each group. The proposal should include the following:

  • a description of the cabinet of wonder blog you hope to create on Tumblr, including who the ideal audience for this blog is and how you will keep the blog coherent–by which I mean the posts should have some connection to one another
  • a brief explanation of why you chose this particular topic/angle/theme/idea
  • a brief breakdown of who will be responsible for what in this group project
  • an explanation of how you will stay in touch with each other and discuss the blog as it develops in order to make changes, add new ideas, expand or reduce scope, etc. I’ll give you some in-class time to discuss these things, but I want to know how your group will work together–meetings in person? online contact? using what tools? status reports?

In addition, please continue blogging on your personal blogs as usual, thinking about building community and addressing the larger issues associated with your topics.

And please read the following short articles about Tumblr and be prepared to discuss on Monday. Some additional Tumblr links are below; exploring the site may give you new ideas about your group project. How might you think about the project differently now that you know you can easily post audio clips from your phones, for example?

Would You Take a Tumblr with This Man? (for discussion)

What the Hell is Tumblr? (for discussion)

An interesting news-based (or is it?) tumblr blog (I’m refusing to use the word “tumblelog”. I’m an English teacher, so I can do that.)

Tumblr group on Ning. If anyone wants to do a presentation on Ning, that would be interesting…

These links from Mashable might be slightly dated, given recent changes to Tumblr, but contain some interest even so

Tumblr’s own help page

Theme Garden! Make your group blog look really original!

Tumblr staff blog

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