What is a blog? (A Multiple Choice Quiz)

A. A suburban teenager’s online diary, bursting with angst-y Goth poetry and “creative” grammar.

B. An alternative news source that can break stories the mainstream media won’t touch.

C. A scholarly notebook, where a professor reviews books, brags about student accomplishments, and posts occasional cat pictures.

D. A list of web addresses, often focusing on a theme (such as data encryption, homeschooling, Latin-American economics, or ferns), recorded and evaluated by a meticulous web-surfer.

E. Any of the above, especially when updated frequently, and where visitors can add their own comments.

(Answer: E)

Seton Hill’s blog site, blogs.setonhill.edu/nmj, developed by Dr. Jerz, allows any member of the Seton Hill community to keep an on-line journal (or comment on someone else’s). Blogs are used both as a formal teaching tool and as an informal forum for students, faculty and administrators.

“Students who read my professional blog can see what I do when I encounter a new concept,” says Jerz. “They see me testing my initial reaction against the facts as they emerge. They might see Dr. Arnzen [SHU associate professor of English] politely disagree with me. They might see me change my mind, or post a correction. That’s very different from the dynamic you find in the traditional lecture.”What is a blog? (A Multiple Choice Quiz) (Jerz’s Literacy Weblog)

This appeared as a sidebar in Seton Hill’s alumni magazine. Becca Baker, from our PR office, asked me to submit 200 words defining “weblog,” and I was feeling quirky and unconventional, and the quiz question was the result. For the intended audience, I didn’t feel it was necessary to specify the reverse-chronological order of blog posts, but if the definition were a little longer, I wish I could have fitted that in somehow.

The main article was about my colleague John Spurlock’s Fulbright-sponsored visit to Montenegro, where he blogged about his encounters with the students and ordinary citizens, in entries that were sometimes touching, sometimes hilarious, and always illuminating.

I’ll try to get a PDF of the article online in the near future.