Defining "Blog": You and the Experts—
Blogs are whatever we make them. Defining 'blog' is a fool's errand.
—Michael Conniff, founder, chairman, and chief executive officer of Post Time Media Inc.
You may or may not agree with the quotation above by Michael Conniff, but one thing is for sure: if you're going to write in a particular genre, it's important to understand how other writers tend to write in that genre. What style and tone do they employ? What does the structure and organization of a literary or reading blog tend to look like? What do readers of this genre expect? Your blog may have only a small audience of readers who you invite to it, but when writing in any genre, it's important to keep your readers engaged. You've already come to some conclusions on your own about blogging. Now it's time to turn to one of the blogging experts to hear what he has to say about the form and compare your observations with his claims about blogging.
The Expert: Andrew Sullivan
Andrew Sullivan has been writing his political news blog The Daily Dish since 2000. That's a long time in blog years. We could even call him the grandfather of blogging. He was one of the first mainstream journalists to experiment with blogging and garnered a large readership wthat still follows his work today. To read more about this blogging pioneer, see the link on the sidebar. To glean Sullivan's take on journalistic blogging and blogging as a genre, read "Why I Blog" from The Atlantic Monthly. As you read this lengthy article, you'll annotate it. We recommend printing it out and keeping a pencil and highlighter close at hand. For directions on how to use your pencil and highlighter to mark up Sullivan's work, read on!
Annotating The Article
You've got your copy of "Why I Blog," a pencil, and a highlighter. Now what? Well, you know various annotation approaches to take from reading Adler, but often it's helpful to read with a specific agenda. What's your agenda with this article? Certainly you want to dialogue with the writer, Andrew Sullivan, as your read by writing in the margins. And your ultimate goal is to expand your definition of blog. With that in mind, here are some things to watch for as you annotate:
- The history of the term blog.
- The relationship to time in blogging
- The place of the writer in the blog as opposed to more objective reporting genres like the newspaper or magazine artcle
- Why blogging was so appealing to Sullivan
- The way he describes the tone employed by bloggers
- How blogging is a revolutionary form
- The drawbacks of the genre
- Blogging's connection to other writers in history
- How links and reader comments contribute to the genre
More on Blogging
If you're interested to hear even more from Sullivan on the subject of blogging, watch this interview with him: "Your Brain on Blog" (The Atlantic Monthly), in which Sullivan reveals why blogging is so addictive.
You: Refine Your Definition
Revisit the definition for blog that you wrote at the end of your Blog Evaluation hand out. After reading Sullivan's article, decide how you want to change your definition. As you rewrite, keep in mind that definitions can be quite long, especially for a word that includes as many categories as blog. Expand your definition to a detailed paragraph. In it, you might agree or disagree with Sullivan's ideas from "Why I Blog." Be sure to cite Sullivan's ideas when you reference them in your paragraph, whether you paraphrase or quote him, by using proper parenthetic citations. When your definition revision is complete, share your paragraph with your mentor.
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