Blogs vs. Term papers

A lot of people have been pointing me to this article on using blogs in writing classes instead of term papers.  For an extensive answer, see my dissertation from 2007.  Just sayin’.  But yeah, communication forms change.  That doesn’t mean we do away with argument and evidence and critical thinking.  I mean, we used to give speeches (without teleprompters) all the time.  We spoke poems.  Now we have radio, tv, print articles, books, web sites, youtube, all kinds of ways of conveying an argument.  We should teach all those.

Thoughts on being online

Over the last year, I’ve noticed several blogs pass into oblivion, either with or without an announcement.  This week, Bitch, Ph.D. said goodbye.  Several of the blogs of people I’ve been reading for 5 or 6 years are either gone or on a very sporadic schedule.  Twitter and Facebook seem more popular, though I have no desire to spend much time there.  My WoW guild is having an existential crisis of sorts.  Several members have left, citing both a boredom with the way the game works now and an increase in the need to spend time with work or family.  I, too, have spent less time online than I once did.  At first I did so out of a feeling that I was spending too much time online and not giving enough attention to other things in my life.  But now, it’s because I literally don’t have time.

I have a couple of thoughts about what appears to me to be not a “death of blogs” or “death of the online world” moment, but certainly a moment of transition.  Some of the disappearance, especially of blogs is a factor of commercialization.  As corporations set up blogs or media outlets like the Huffington Post arise, the small-time blogger has a harder time keeping up.  It’s impossible to keep up volume-wise and there’s the inevitable loss of audience as a result.  There are exceptions, but I do think a lot of us liked blogging because it felt like a community.  We got comments.  We had conversations in the comment threads, between blogs, etc.  I see that happening much less now.  I used to comment a lot.  It’s much more rare now.

I also wonder if some of us who’ve been online a while are getting bored.  Honestly, I’ve been participating in online communities for twenty years.  Every four or five years, the world would shift and a new type of community would emerge.  Nothing new along those lines has really emerged for a while.  Yes, there’s Facebook (been there since 2004).  And there’s Twitter (been there since 2007).  Neither of those offer the in-depth reading I want, nor the community I’d like.

I also think the online world is being used for other things.  Gaming thrives, but older games like WoW are losing their appeal, especially for those who’ve been playing for a while.  All of my guildmates agree that it wouldn’t be fun for us without the community aspects of the game, but increasing games are not meant to build community.  We’re still waiting to see if the expansion brings that concept back, but even I feel kind of blah about it.  Video has exploded, bringing our tv mentalities to the web.  So we pull up video on Hulu and watch for a 1/2 hour or hour and then we feel like we’re done.  And then there’s our phones and other devices, like the iPad and the Kindle, which offer other kinds of activities, most of which are disconnected.

I realize there are some people out there just now discovering all the wonders of the Internet, but for me, it’s starting to lose its luster.  And that’s left me with a bit of gap, entertainment wise.  My family asked me why I wasn’t raiding last night.  And I said, essentially, “Meh.”  I told Geeky Girl I needed a new hobby.  She asked me what I liked to do, and it was hard to come up with anything.  When I was kid, my hobby was writing, thus the appeal of blogging.  As I got older, I picked up needlepoint, but that takes more time than I have and I’m not that interested in the results.  I’ve never been much of a gardener.  Most plants that come into my house don’t leave alive.  I have no artistic talent for painting or pottery or even jewelry making.  I’m interested in politics, but not enough to go out and volunteer a lot.  And even though I have some time for myself, between work and managing kids and the house, I’m not looking to fill a huge amount of time.

Don’t worry, I’m not shutting down Geeky Mom any time soon, but I am doing some thinking about my life online.  I think it’s fair to say that the Internet will always be a part of my life, but what I choose to do on it (with it?) may be transitioning, as, I think it is for many people.