Firstly, I’d like to sing Rettberg’s praises for including a brief history of the internet before launching into the history of blogging. It’s hard to get a good ideas of what something is if you don’t understand the medium through which it was created. That, and I don’t think nearly enough people know who Tim Berners-Lee is.
The assignment that most interested me was about how bloggers shape the conversations that they create (or stifle). On some blogs, controversial topics are considered off-limits, a phenomenon referred to in the text as “blogging for bliss”. On the other hand there are news aggregates and sensationalist media outlets that seem to subsist on controversy alone. To demonstrate the ways in which this moderation might be accomplished I sifted through blogs until I found a few decent examples.
The first is Chuck Wendig’s blog, terribleminds. Wendig is a novelist, screenwriter, and game designer. Though his harsh language might be considered controversial, it was how he used a followers comment that caught my eye. In this post he uses a followers comment to further the discussion on character development. Meanwhile, he also drums up traffic and followers for S. L. Huang, the one who made the original comment. This is significant because the two blogs are run as a showcase of an artists work, and commercial advances may be gained by this sort of mutualism.
Another example I found was Kevin Olenick’s blog, which is run as a sort of forum for controversial discussions. The blog’s title page explains Kevin as “a thoughtful guy starting conversations we should be having”. Instead of using the “blogging for bliss” formula mentioned in the text, Olenick’s blog suggests we should dive into that controversy head-on, and not heed societal pressures to sweep important issues under the rug. In this post, Olenick outlines a podcast about a bill that would force school administrators to offer assistance to students interested in forming a Gay-Straight Alliance. It’s clear that Olenick tries to keep the discussion balanced–He interviews an LGBTQ student and her parent, as well as a few people who raise concerns that the bill would violate their religious freedom. This is important because though the blog may be rife with controversy, there is still an attempt to make the discussion balanced and representative.
In conclusion, I enjoyed Chapter One, and I’m excited to see what else the text has to offer.