The CreComm Blog Network: part of any great desktop.
The only writing tips I've ever got from a boss are how to convert passive sentences to active and that I'm "too clever by half."
"You should be so lucky!" I shouted back inside my head. Wah, wah, wah.
My point: I've learned more about engaging writing from blogging and reading blogs than I've ever learned from any authority figure, which - as a teacher - I suppose I've become. As Jesus Jones once sang, "The problem with success is you become what you detest." Geniuses, those Jesus Jones fellers:
The great blog experiment
This year marks the first that we (being PR instructor Melanie Lee Lockhart and I) conducted our great blog experiment in which all first-year students have a blog and Twitter account, which we connected through the equally great CreComm Blog Network (links on the right side of the page) and, of course, Twitter (search #crecomm or #ipp10 for a sampling).
We didn't do Facebook, since everyone already has it and, let's face it: it's best left for drunken sailors and creepy stalkers. Sorry, didn't mean to leave you out, people from high school who were mean to me.
I've learned a lot from the process of bringing blogs to the academic environment. About me. About you. About them. Yes, this is my Mr. Holland's Opus/Dead Poets Society moment, where all the kids get up on their desks and cry because Robin Williams made a kid like poetry at a concerto for a deaf kid and...I dunno...aliens came down and took Richard Dreyfuss away in a giant shark? I'm a little foggy on the details...
What the blogging taught me
In any case, I've been keeping notes about this big experiment - certain to be replicated with next year's first-year classes - and here are the thoughts, questions, observations, and conclusions I've made in conjunction with researching, reading, and...er... 'rithmetic?
1. Wired's Chris Anderson is right: "A passionate amateur beats a bored pro."
Speaking of, Anderson was the inspiration behind this Vanity Validator, in which you enter your name to find out how Internet famous you are. Give it a shot, and I'll be here when you come back.
2. It's official: the audience is the media.
3. Do you have to be a pariah (rhymes with "Mariah!") in order to "tell it like it is?"
4. Say Everything is right: an "authentic blog" is one where the blog is the truth, and the person's life isn't; a "sincere blog" is one in which the person's blog and life are the same thing.
5. Neutral journalism may have been a "prerequisite for profits," but maybe it isn't anymore.
6. You can have editors, neutrality, and fact checking and be just as wrong as a blogger.
7. Journalism in the academic environment can be framed as an exciting opportunity or a history class.
8. Universities and colleges have traditionally put an emphasis on instructors getting their work published in journals that no one reads. How about online?
9. CreComm grad Dustin Plett is right: when people first start an online blog, they're afraid that someone might notice what they're doing. One year later, they're waving their hands and yelling, "Hey, come check out my blog!"
10. People who love writing will continue to update their blogs, even in the absence of an audience or instructor forcing them to do it.
11. "Publishing" is no longer a limitless resource in which the published is beholden to a gatekeeper.
12. You need an RSS reader on a mobile phone app in order to keep up with 150 blogs. Thanks Mobile RSS!
13. The best blogs are the ones that get updated.
14. Getting interviewed for local TV on camera for half an hour only to be condensed to 30 seconds and misquoted is less satisfying than just writing for as long as you want online, and having access to a worldwide audience.
15. The iPhone is an integral part of tweeting, blogging, and following the online world - though I do detest cell phones and the people who use them (see the Jesus Jones quote again, above).
16. It takes between eight and 12 hours a week to do your blog properly and update it every day.
17. The natural enemy of blogging: homework and/or marking, as the case may be.
18. Blogging and tweeting make attending events and watching TV more fun. And there's a written transcript after the fact.
19. Writers, designers, programmers unite: you have nothing to lose but your iPad.
20. Marks don't matter. Lou Reed, John Cale, and Andy Warhol are right: all that matters is work!
"Bring home the bacon? Someone's got to bring home the roast!"