Sustainable Blogging: Problems and Promises for School, Work, and Play — Computers and Writing 2009

Chair. Gian Pagnucci, Indiana University of Pennsylvania

Process-Blogging: A Sustainable Foray into Collaborative Writing
Sabatino Mangini, Indiana University of Pennsylvania
Jessica Schreyer, University of Dubuque

Endings: The Problem of Sustained Blogging
Steve Krause, Eastern Michigan University

Keeping a Blog as Chair: Sustaining Public Discourse in a Private Job
Gian Pagnucci, Indiana University of Pennsylvania

What follows are my notes, lightly edited.  My own comments are in square brackets.

Process-Blogging: A Sustainable Foray into Collaborative Writing
Sabatino Mangini, Indiana University of Pennsylvania
Jessica Schreyer, University of Dubuque

co-panelists will discuss the nature of co-blogging and how the
blogging process can become integral and sustained within a
collaborative writing project.

Practice, as students, something they wanted their students to do in a composition class.  How does process writing affect the collaborative writing process?

Was their first experience blogging, new to composition theory, putting themselves in the place of their own basic writers.

Blogging — as if Elbow’s 1973 prediction about writing without teachers was coming true.

Process blogging combines blogging, process writing, and collaboration. Had to come up with a new name on blogger. Use blog to collaborate with one or more invested writers throughout all stages of the writing process to compose a shared piece.

Grounded research in prevalent pedagogy. Approach writing task as their own students would have to.

Writing process — prewriting, drafting, and reflection. Blog shows how ideas evolved over time.

Listing, freewriting, concept mapping. Questions about self-censoring, editing for outside audiences.

Drafting “both fun and complicated” — used a lot of informal content from blog into their paper, but had to filter considerably. Noticed that they were using words like “excitement” and “confident” in their informal writing. Working with someone else puts students at ease, more fun, with the writing process. [Do they know about the tandem story meme?]

Some competition between team members, seeing how much their partner had produced.

Blogging technology — number of posts adds complexity, “seeker” posts and “corralling” posts.  [The “seeker post” notifies a collaborator that you’ve edited something… this sounds like what they really needed was a wiki.]

The blog became a third participant, due to its limitations and conventions. Just the act of using the blog as a tool forced clarification [Reminds me of the anecdote of how many people didn’t need to send their letter to Ann Landers after sitting down and sorting through the problem enough to write the letter.]

ClustrMaps — a ClustrMaps tech support followed up after he blogged his complaint about the software.  They were amazed that outside people were reading the blog, and the map can help them visualize their audience.

Blogging can get students into the habit of writing frequently. Allows them to publish, so they view themselves as authors. Teahcres consider how to guide student blog use, different levels of student tech litracy, how to asess student use of a process blog.

Endings: The Problem of Sustained Blogging (full text)
Steve Krause, Eastern Michigan University

This panelist will discuss research on why people abandon blogging and what factors seems to motivate successful bloggers .

Part of ongoing work, but not necessarily a book. Has posted full script here.

Described difficulty getting people to participate in a study on why the end their blogs… people don’t want to talk about why they end their blogging experiment.

Two theories of endings… purpose/rhetorical situation, and acute awareness of identity and audience.

I liked Steven’s slide noting that there’s no particular reason why the rhetorical triangle has to be a triangle — he showed a pie chart, checklists, etc., all of which conveyed the same information.,

Referred to his own experience blogging during the EMU faculty strike. Audience-based exigency as a rhetorical feedback loop.  More hits -> write post -> Get more hits -> pressure to write more posts.

Most situations decay. Either a lack of real exigency, or the situation decayed.

[I had noticed that new bloggers sometimes start down one road, then re-brand their blog when they hit their stride.]

Bloggers tend to not just stop, but fade away… the subject of the last post is often about the lack of recent posts.

The idea that people give up blogging because they didn’t have a good idea for their blog or they said all they need to say is just a notch up from “because I was bored.”

Acute awareness and concern for real/potential readers. All bloggers estimated the number of readers at 30 or less, but mentioned the concern about a very specific reader (a “bad colleague” or potential stalker). Only semi-pseudononymous — didn’t work. Too public to vent about important issues  (choice to be stay-at-home mother, students or colleagues).

While blogging into a vacuum is one reason for giving up, many people in the study gave up blogging, or never begin some person or group will care too much.

Keeping a Blog as Chair: Sustaining Public Discourse in a Private Job
Gian Pagnucci, Indiana University of Pennsylvania

panelist will explore how an English department chair uses a blog to
further the goals of university service while at the same time
addressing questions of privacy, workload, and disclosure.

Interested in the literature about being a chair; there’s generally a lack of scholarship on the subject. Decided to keep a blog for a year about learning to be an English chair. (Demands of the job get in the way of the scholarship.)

Taylor — to have a voice. Penrod — while some academics may dismiss blogging as frivolus, blogs offer new ways to disseminate knowledge. (Invoked Michael Day’s call for new scholarship.)

Why keep an administrative blog?  To experience what some of his own students are studying. Current chair “had to” take a sabbatical. English is largest department on a large campus. (200 undergrads, 750 grad in English.)

Characterizes own early entries as exploratory and explanatory.

Being a chair: Regular crises; constant change; multiple issues to manage; mounds of emails; time consuming; isolating. (Interesting comment about how seeing a person translates to encountering a problem to solve.)

To what extent is the chair a departmental spokesperson, advocating for the department?

Baumer, Sueyoshi, Tomlinson — “Exploring the Role of the Reader in the Activity of Blogging”

Over 1/3 of internet users read blogs. [Of course, since a blog entry is just a web page, the search engines that direct readers to the blog aren’t doing so because people want to “read a blog.”]

Rowse on “34 Reaons” why people unsubscribe to your blog.

Once he thought the blog wansn’t being read, he started venting a bit about the “crises of the week”.  Noticed the “secret blog readers” who had been reading without commenting, prompting a call to his house from an angry reader.  The communication was happening on a back channel.

The lure of having readership led to the obligation of making a public apology and not using identifiable names. Even a problematic response was “a good response.”

Noted Ward Churchill and Cary Nelson’s visit to IUP.   His comment suprred a bunch of comments, got an attack.

Sustaining chair blogging — tap the exploratory nature of writing, make it part of the day’s work flow, fun/popular topic choices, requires more active participation in the blogosphere; requires marketing to gain wider readership; research by chairs about chairing is limited.

Posted URL for the blog.

His term as chair will be over soon, and will likely recast the blog.