Home » Uncategorized

Blog Pressure

Written By: kernrg on November 12, 2008 6 Comments

I recently assigned students in my “Writing and Technology” seminar the task of posting one of their class journal entries or other commentary on Found in Translation.  I have mixed feelings about imposing this kind of top-down directive when it comes to blog-writing. After all, aren’t blogs supposed to be bastions of free will?  Personal sites where people contribute spontaneously because they feel moved or inspired to do so, not because a teacher told them to?  It seems so old school and blatantly anti-blog culture to require participation.  On the other hand, sometimes asking people to do a new thing, something they wouldn’t ordinarily do of their own volition, can be an eye-opening experience.   Students in the past have remarked on how useful it was to be pushed to write on the blog, because it made them think longer than they would about a journal entry, and because they found it was fun!  And isn’t it the role of e-ducators to lead their students out of their status quo existence and shake things up a bit, even if it’s a bit uncomfortable at times?

From the underlying issues of interpersonal power (a teacher imposing a task, newbies joining the ranks of regular contributors already rich in blog-capital, etc.) arise subjective feelings of pressure.  Part of the pressure comes from the teacher and the outside world–but significantly it also comes from the inner-world of the blog itself.  In the early days of blogs there seemed to be an unwritten rule that if you read the blog you were expected to contribute by commenting (since feedback and community-generation are at the heart of blogging). This pressure has disappeared for mega-blogs read by the masses, but I think it still holds for boutique blogs, like FIT. That’s the first ‘internal’ pressure, conveyed subtlely, but palpably by the community of participants, pulling you into the blog.  There’s also another internal pressure that can push you out of a blog like FIT.  There are probably all kinds of factors involved here, but here are a few (and maybe others can add more here?). 

1)   Since FIT is an institutionally-sponsored blog (i.e., not a personal blog), it raises questions of what will be deemed appropriate (this is a question with personal blogs too, but it is felt all the more acutely when you feel like there’s an institution looking over your shoulder).

2)   The need to disclose your real identity to the blog (to post or make a comment you have to sign on with your name and email address).

3)   FIT defies blog norms by not being intended as one person’s domain, with lots of input from reader/followers, but rather as a hierarchically “flat” community resource open to participation by students, faculty, staff, and others (though in reality it has been principally nourished by two graduate students – is that because is is called a ‘blog’ and people have expectations of what a ‘blog’ is and is not?)

4)   The design-structure-interface of the blog and the way that messages are published, highlighted, and archived (I think others can supply lots of detail here, but the key thing to note is that everything you see and everything that happens in the background is based on some people’s decisions of how things should work – it’s not just a machine organizing things). One problem: it’s not obvious how to post a new message (it’s clearer how you comment on someone else’s post).

I think this push-pull dynamic characterizes lots of different kinds of communicative situations, not just blogs, but perhaps blogging and other ‘new’ platforms for interaction make us sit up and take notice more.  At any rate, I invite you (more pressure!) to share your own thoughts on the “to blog or not to blog” question, so we can learn more about what keeps people in–and out of–blogs.

Digg this!Add to del.icio.us!Stumble this!Add to Techorati!Share on Facebook!Seed Newsvine!Reddit!

6 Responses to “Blog Pressure”

  1. CK on: 23 October 2010 at 3:27 pm

    une raison de plus de ne pas contribuer a un blog: on ne sait jamais a qui on s’adresse. Comment choisir ses mots, ses tournures de phrases, ses metaphores quand on ne sait pas qui va vous lire, qui va etre d’accord avec vous, qui va meme vous repondre? on a l’impression de se peindre le nombril, de s’exposer au vent du large ou de se parler a soi-meme. Ca n’est pas particulierement inspirant. C’est pourquoi j’ai choisi d’ecrire ceci en francais – une maniere de parler sans parler, de se faire plaisir, de brasser des mots dans une langue que j’aime mais que la plupart des gens ne connaissent pas – une maniere de s’en foutre si on est lu ou pas, puisque de toute facon ca n’a aucune importance et que tout ce qu’on fait c’est remplir des lignes. . . et des lignes . . . et des lignes.

  2. CK on: 27 August 2011 at 9:30 pm

    nach einem Jahr merke ich, dass mir niemand geantwortet hat, was meine These bestaetigt, dass ein blog dazu da ist, eigene Meinungen zu aeussern aber nicht sich in eine Debatte mit anderen einzulassen. Quod erat demonstrandum. Ein Blog ist wirklich ein einsames Unternehmen. Hinzu kommt, dass alles auf Englisch stattfindet, was eigentlich nicht der Zweck eines mehrsprachigen Blogs sein sollte. Wozu also das Ganze? a quoi ca sert? what’s the point? usw. Monaden auf demselben Bildschirm.

  3. CK on: 16 September 2011 at 4:43 pm

    Rick wrote: “At any rate, I invite you (more pressure!) to share your own thoughts on the “to blog or not to blog” question, so we can learn more about what keeps people in–and out of–blogs.”
    The problem, as I see it, is knowing who the “I”, the “you”, the “we” and “people” represent. YOU, Rick, have asked ME directly to share my thoughts, but I have not received a response from YOU on any of the two other responses I gave on this topic on 23 Oct.2010, nor on 23 Aug.2011. You must have understood my French. If you didn’t understand the German, why didn’t you ask me to translate? Is it because YOU are not supposed to be my interlocutor, but an indistinct “we”? But then, WHO is going to answer ME? Like the two other times, I feel left out in the cold and it is no wonder I don’t feel like posting anything.

  4. kernrg on: 16 September 2011 at 6:15 pm

    Well, this is interesting, and awkward, Claire. I now [on FIT] see your comments on a post I made almost 3 years ago, which I must have received as email messages at the time, but did not see as addressed to ME, but rather as “public comment,” writing on the wall, so to speak. But your third message directly interpellates me (don’t know if that’s English, but I mean the French m’interpelle). Now that three messages have gone by, my first impulse is not to write here, publicly, but to respond to you personally by email, to apologize for not answering your earlier comments (or rather for misinterpreting your intention). But then that would leave the three comments (and especially the last one) hanging here on FIT (i.e., in the public eye), suggesting that I had refused to respond to a direct appeal. My lack of response to your earlier messages proves your point that it’s hard to know who’s being addressed unless the writer uses a direct form of address (as you did in today’s comment). The potential confusion, and potential alienation, born of this kind of exchange (or lack thereof) is hair-raising. This seems to me to be a good example of how, in new media, we still have far to go in working out conventions of how we are to communicate with one another. At any rate, my apologies for misinterpreting the intent of your earlier posts.

  5. JSauvage on: 21 March 2014 at 10:09 am

    Well, dear Claire and Richard, I guess this is even more awkward…
    3 years later, I’m not sure you will remember me but I can’t resist the temptation to add my own contribution to the netiquette conundrum: I’m inviting myself and commenting on your wonderful comments!

    I’m wondering whether I should have e-mailed you before registering here without telling anybody – I’m not sure this blog was originally meant for people like me (or was it ? and what kind of perso am I, anyway !?)
    I ‘ve just found it, by chance, while trying to determine if there are any translators (as characters) in any of Nancy Huston’s books. Such is the magic of the web – a wrong key word can work miracles…

    However, the fact that Rick’s latest post didn’t get any reply leads me to think my blunder (if any) may go unnoticed.
    Correction: I realize I am now responding to Rick’s latest comment, three years after he wrote it. So I’ll just have to check if I’m getting a response here in 3 years! Actually, it’d become quite baffling if a fourth person decided to comment in a 3 years’ time…

    Anyway, I’m happy you’re both carrying on with your innovative work on e-learning and language teaching.
    I’ll definitely keep an eye on this blog and keeping posted – Claire, the day-conference on the “Legitimacy gap” sounds fascinating, and I’m looking forward to reading the online abstracts in a minute!
    All the best to you both
    Avec une mention spéciale aux étudiants de français qui contribuent à ce blog :
    Bravo, c’est très intéressant, continuez!
    J’espère que mes étudiants à moi s’y mettront un jour… il va falloir que je les force un peu!

  6. kernrg on: 18 October 2014 at 7:43 pm

    Julie, Good to hear from you! And miracle of miracles, it didn’t take 3 years for you to get a response! (although it did take some 7 months, apparently!!) Your French conversation class was the grist for a number of research projects by Steve Thorne and myself – thanks for your help with that. Hope you are doing well – are you teaching in France? I hope you’ll continue to contribute to Found in Translation! Best, Rick

Leave a Reply:

You must be logged in to post a comment.

  Copyright ©2009 Found in Translation, All rights reserved.| Powered by WordPress| WPElegance2Col theme by Techblissonline.com