Writing to the Moment
Saturday, August 30, 2003
  Begging to Differ

Here's a quick link to Begging to Differ (BTD), one of several sites that have commented on our use of blogs in English 1101. Begging to Differ is a collaboratively-authored blog, where authors have significantly different political positions. Any enterprising freshmen who want to tackle the complications of analyzing this type of blog would certainly be welcome to try.

I'll also point out that writers who address Howard Dean's blog, for example, will have the similar problem of a multi-author blog, but with a slightly different effect than BTD. I've been thinking about the rhetorical analysis projects frequently over the weekend, and I may have more to say about them over the weekend.  
  Blogging and Ethics

Rebecca Blood, one of the better known bloggers, has addressed the question of weblogs and ethics, focusing primarily on the issue of whether or not it is appropriate to edit or update earlier posts. Jill Walker, who wrote her PhD thesis on blogging also addresses these issues in a thoughtful manner, through a post by Dave Winer. I also reflected on these issues briefly in a post I wrote this past summer (you don't have to read me, but I thought I'd provide the context). In a sense, I think that for me, this discussion is very much based on defining weblogs (we'll address definition arguments in a few days).

Obviously these conversations might have a different tone, now that we've developed a slightly larger audience, but for your next entry, take a look at the essay by Blood and reflect on your own intuitions about the function of blogs. Use the following questions as guides. You can't answer all of them in 250-350 words, so simply touch on those issues you find most interesting. Is it appropriate to delete material you've already posted? Should you link to your references? What kind of responsibility do you have to correct misinformation? In short, what responsibility do you feel that bloggers have toward their potential audiences?  

Here is the website I use for comments. I hope everyone is having a good Labor Day weekend.
Friday, August 29, 2003
  The Conversation Continues

Joanne Jacobs has also commented on our assignment, and discusses some of the benefits of using blogs to teach writing:

I think there's a lot of potential for using the Internet, and blogging in particular, to increase conversation between students and teachers, get students to write more and generally make the world a better place.
I'm not sure I could have said it better myself. I truly hope that we can accomplish these goals in our English 1101 class this semester.  

As many of you may have noticed Rachel Lucas noticed my link to her site (which isn't surprising--I can usually tell when someone has linked to mine). I don't think that really changes the nature of the assignment at all, but it will create an interesting wrinkle (obviously we've changed her audience for at least one entry on her blog, and I've also changed the audience for yours, all unintentionally). Still, I think she makes some great points about some of the difficulties involved in the project I've assigned, noting that:
I hope you all recognize that when a blogger has written about 800 posts, and has hundreds of regular readers, a lot of the "arguing" disappears from any given post because there's a history there, an understanding on the part of the readers such that I don't have to explain every nuance of any issue. Plus the majority of my readers, from what I can tell from the e-mail I get, are smart enough to know all the nuances anyway.
In fact that's what makes her blog potentially more interesting--the range of viewpoints and ideas aren't easy to boil down to a simple ideology. Plus her arguments use humor pretty effectively.

I apologize to Ms. Lucas, too, for accidentally making her feel like the subject of a psychology experiment--that wasn't intended. I happened to find your blog among the more interesting, well-written, creative "political" blogs out there and wanted to provide students with a range or perspectives. I'll respect your privacy and omit your blog from future assignments, if you wish (since I can't leave comments on your blog, I'll assume you've dropped by).  
Wednesday, August 27, 2003
  Sample Blogs for Friday

Read sections from each of the following three blogs. Then, pick one blog, and take a closer look. For your second blog entry, you will then discuss how that one blog makes its arguments. You may use the questions on 100-102 to provoke your thoughts, but for the most part, you'll want to focus on (1) locating a central argument; (2) analyzing the language and style of the argument; and (3) determining how the author establishes ethos, pathos, and logos.

The three blogs we'll be focusing on in class discussions (which will therefore be off limits for the paper):
  1. Rachel Lucas

  2. Joanne Jacobs

  3. Tom Daschle

We will also spend a few minutes talking about Rhetorica. Another blog you might find interesting is Chris Allbritton's Back to Iraq. Allbritton was an independent journalist during the war who was not embedded with the military. Looking through his blog you might find an intriguing position on the war. One example of a soldier blog is located here.

Finally, you should explore adding comments to your blog no later than Monday of next week. Blogger does not offer free comment functionality, but there are other services out there, some of which are listed in my archives. You should also go to Blogrolling and add a blog roll to the margin of your blog. You should at least include the class blog and any other blog you wish to add. Keep in mind that blogrolls say something about you (who you like to read, what type of blog you write, etc). If you have any suggestions for other blogs that people might find interesting, feel free to add them in the comments.  
Monday, August 25, 2003
  One More Thing

Rhetorica offers a great example of what a rhetorical anaylsis might look like. It fpocuses on analyses of blogging, the news, the media, and propaganda. For example, Dr. Cline recently analyzed the media concept of "buzz." Check it out.  
  HTML Basics

For those of you who are unfamiliar with HTML (HyperText Markup Language), here are a couple of quick guides on how to incorporate it into your blog posts. HTML will allow you to include images, lists, different fonts, and other formatting tools. This index from Case Western Reserve University looks particuarly helpful. You might also try this site from the Maryland Institute for The Humanities (MITH). Learning how to do lists, especially can be a useful tool, and as you compose you might also will find that using the "strikethrough" command can be useful for tracking changes or correcting mistakes. 

A quick message for now: Here's a useful tool for getting started on your Rhetorical Analysis blog assignment (and eventually your first paper). Blogdex is a "web diffusion index" designed by the MIT Media Lab, a highly innovative group of researchers on computer technologies. Essentially Blogdex ranks web pages according to popularity, which it defines by the number of incoming links. Because most (or many) links on blogs are made to news articles, these rankings change rather quickly.

Blogdex can be used a few different ways: First, you can quickly identify stories that bloggers find important. Second, you can track the various versions of a story: often readers of different political perspectives will link to versions of a story they find more reliable. Third, you can begin to find other bloggers who share your values. If you click the link that says "track this site" underneath any news article, you will see a list of blogs that have linked to that article, often adding their own commentaries. Once you've looked around for a while, you can find bloggers whose values either align with or contrast with your own beliefs.

A few more famous bloggers:

I've tried listing bloggers from a variety of political perspectives, but if none of these bloggers strike your interest, then you might consider looking at a few of the indexed blogs on Blogdex. Another useful strategy is to look at other people's blogrolls. If you share some values with Glenn Reynolds (Instapundit), but don't find him particularly engaging, try looking at a few blogs in his blogroll. Another possibility to keep in mind is that you may want to write your Rhetorical Analysis on a blog that you disagree with. I'll provide an assignment sheet on wednesday, but for now, begin looking for blogs that you think might fit your interests (whether you agree with them or not). Finally, as you look through other blogs, you'll often find links to articles in the Washington Post, New York Times, and Los Angeles Times. These newspapers often require "subscriptions," but these subscriptions are usually free (although free access to New York Times articles usually ends after a few days).

Also, for Wednesday, be sure to read Chapter 4 in Good Reasons.  
Friday, August 22, 2003
  Political Blogs

Here is a small sampling of political blogs for you to look at over the weekend. I'll add more later this week when the assignment drwas closer. You may notice a preponderance of Democratic blogs thus far, which can be explained by the fact that the Republican candiadte for 2004 has already been determined whereas the Democratic candidate has not. I will also add a few blogs by political commentators who are not seeking office as well. As you read, carefully consider the types of arguments the author(s) of the blog are making. From the evidence available (the blogroll, the comments, the content...), what audience would you imagine the authors are targeting? What is the context of the argument? What "reasons" are being offered? What types of arguments are they making? What evidence are they using? For now, simply note your observations, and I'll offer a more specific assignbment out of your observations. I'd also suggest looking at multiple entries in order to get a sense of how the blog is actually used (for example Graham, Dean, and Kucinich sometimes publish on their campaign blogs, but usually it is members of their staff). Political blogs (more to come):
I'll do some digging to find other political bloggers, and along with that, I will also provide you with four or five commentators. I recommend looking at several examples in order to recognize the diversity of styles for each blogger. As you read, keep in mind that Daschle isn't running for President, but instead has other motivations for publishing a blog. See if you can figure out his goals.  
Thursday, August 21, 2003
  My Introduction

A recent discussion of identity has been taking place among several blogs that I read regularly, so as another way of introducing myself, I'll refer you to a blog entry I wrote today on "Remembering Atlanta" on my personal blog. As you can see, my entry was inspired by a combination of experiences. Reading the article in Creative Loafing was probably the immediate inspiration, but I had been thinking about these ideas for a few days because of my visit with George.

Keep in mind that you don't have to model your entry on mine (I'd prefer that you find your own voices), but I thought I'd share it. I'll also encourage students to begin working with hyperlinks in order to make your blogs more "connected," and be sure to add comments functionality (there are several options linked in an earlier post) to your blog.

I'm slowly working on adding your blogs to the blogroll at right. Be sure to let me know if your blog isn't listed because I'll likely be tracking changes by checking the roll. I'll see everyone on Friday when we'll be talking about Chapter Two in Good Reasons
Wednesday, August 20, 2003
  Another Iraqi Blogger

I thought you all might be interested in seeing a new Iraqi blog by Riverbend. She's 24 and lives in Baghdad, and she writes very passionately about her perceptions of the post-war situation. She also provides a great perspective on daily life in Iraq, dealing with the heat, the noise, but also with black-outs and rationed water.

I'll provide links to some of the soldiers' blogs in the next few days, but I don't have that information available right now (it's on my home computer).

I will also be adding your names to the blogroll on the right as they come in. Be sure to include your name, your blog's name, and your blog's URL in the emails that you send.

For Friday, be sure to read Chapter Two in Good Reasons, and if you have any observations, feel free to leave a comment below. 
Tuesday, August 19, 2003
  Quick Reminder

Just a reminder to everyone that you should read the first chapter of Good Reasons for Wednesday. I'll also spend some time talking about formatting, but again, the best way to figure these things out is simply to experiment with the medium of blogging--see what works, what doesn't, what feels comfortable. Do you want titles for your entries? Probably....It helps the reader to anticipate what you're writing about. Do you like using boldface for emphasis? Italics? Both? I'll provide some quick HTML tips later this week to help you along, but for now, the best thing to do is just get started.

Several of you have asked me about what limitations I'll place on your blog writing. I do believe that you should resond to the readings--after all I think they're important enough to assign. But you do have plenty of flexibility here. Do you want to write mini-essays that are more formal? Do you want to respond to an essay by telling us an anecdote that might provide us with another point of view? Or maybe you want to compose your own narrative that responds tangentially to the prompt that I provide. I truly hope you'll see these entries as an opportunity to explore what type of arguments and what kinds of voices work when writing a blog.

As always, I'm happy to answer any and all questions.  
Monday, August 18, 2003
  First Day

I'm writing this entry from my office between classes. I do encourage students to take a look at a variety of blogs over teh next few days in order to learn the type of "voice" you'd like to develop over the course of the semetser. You might notice that I've included a link to Salam Pax, the Baghdad Blogger, in my blogroll (on the right). Later in the semester, we'll spend some time looking at his archives, including some entries he wrote during the war.

I'll add some other blogs to this entry later, but feel free to read other people's blogs to get a sense of how other writers are using the medium. You'll likely notice that most of the people on my blogroll are academics in a wide variety of fields. You might also take a look at Rhetorica, a blog set up by another rhetoric and composition teacher, just to get another perspective on how blogs can be used in the classroom.

If you have any questions about this class or this entry, feel free to use the comments section, especially if you think your classmates will benefit.  
Sunday, August 17, 2003
  How to add a Blogroll

Adding a blogroll is one of the easiest ways you can communicate something about your blog and yourself. Once you've added a blogroll, it's quite easy to add new blogs to your roll. Go to Blogrolling for more information. They'll provide you with a short bit of code that you can include in your left or right margin. In the next few days, I'll ask you to email me your URLs for your blogs and add them to the course blogroll. 
Saturday, August 16, 2003
  Early Assignments

The first reading assignments that you will have in English 1101 will be to read the first two chapters in Good Reasons. You should read Chapter 1 for Wednesday and Chapter 2 for Friday, and we'll spend time in class talking about argument. I believe very strongly that good argument skills are among the most difficult skills for writers to develop. With that in mind, we'll spend some time working on those skills, and the first major paper, the Rhetorical Analysis, is designed to think carefully about these issues.

As you create your blogs, one of the ways you might want to familiarize yourself with online publishing is to write a brief introduction of yourself. As with all writing, you'll want to keep in mind the multiple audiences that might come across your blog. One interesting example of a blogger who writes very personally about her experiences is located here. Obviously, you'll be negotiating what you choose to write and what you choose not to write much differently than her. No matter what, I encourage you to experiment with publishing entries before your first blog entry is due on Friday, August 22.  
Friday, August 15, 2003
  Other Free Comments

Phil Ringnalda offers other sources for free comments here
  Testing the Comments

I'm returning to Blogger after working with Movable Type (MT), another blogging program, which creates some problems for adding comments (we'll discuss the importance of comments to blogs in class when we talk about audience). For those students who have server space, you may prefer using MT instead of Blogger. Blogger offers some helpful advice on installing comments here. They don't offer free comment functionality, and you can take a look at these outside sources, most of which offer basic commenting for free.

You can also add your own blogroll here. At some point during the first week of class, I'll ask for your blog titles and URLs in order to create class blogrolls.

As always, let me know if you have any questions.  

Welcome to "Writing to the Moment," the official blog of Dr. Chuck Tryon's English 1101 course. I'll be providing several updates in the days ahead, including links to online reading materials, the course syllabus, and all major assignments. For a few examples of what other bloggers are doing, check out my personal blog, the chutry experiment, and take a look at some of the links in my blogroll. We'll spend a few minutes in class discussing how to get started on Blogger and how to add a blogroll and comments. Until then, I hope everyone had an enjoyable summer, and I look forward to working with you on your writing.  
Official Blog for Dr. Chuck Tryon's English 1101 courses at Georgia Tech. Opinions expressed are those of the writer(s), not Georgia Tech.

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