I am fascinated by what ironic creatures most of us are. We come to some insight, some epiphany or—dare I say—revelation, and it so often has precisely the opposite effect that it should. Instead of being filled with wonder, thankfulness and humility, we become arrogant and condescending towards those lacking our new insight. We puff ourselves up with the fact that we are now in possession of something that others don’t see, and yet we do so in the face of the fact that we were also ignorant not that long ago. What should breed humility, breeds arrogance.
Note: This begins an experiment on this blog, which I will put in the category of Paragraphs. As I’ve started writing lengthier pieces that have a longer gestation time, I want to give place for shorter thoughts and reflections which don’t necessarily require a full post, but still take a paragraph. They will also be styled differently, as you can see.
I am a romantic. I don’t mean to invoke images of Harlequin romances or that pernicious movie genre dubbed “romantic comedy,” but rather to place myself alongside so many contemporary people who believe that, roughtly speaking, they should be lead by feeling (as opposed to rationality). (At the risk of unduly multiplied parentheses, I would hasten to add that the romantic-rational dichotomy is unnecessary in theory, however much it is observed in practice.)
This blog has been, if nothing else, a romatic endeavor. Although I have made motions in the direction of wanting this blog to be something along the lines of a disciplined forum in which to write and recieve feedback on my writing, I must confess that there has been nothing remotely resembling disciplined about it. I have written about what I feel like, when I feel like it.
This worked tremendously well when I was a student, and naturally did not feel like doing my schoolwork. Indeed, I had a tremendous surplus of feeling (something along the lines of this education is not allowing me discuss what I feel like) about blogging my thoughts which led me to unfailingly have a surplus of blog material. Now that I’m not a student, this methodology is not working as well.
In other, words, I’m a romantic slacker.
Does anyone else resonate with this phenomenon? Any solutions? What keeps you motivated in writing, be it blogging or otherwise?
Veteran blogger Michael Spencer (aka Internet Monk) has posted his list of ten reasons I don’t read your blog. I confess that I often think about blogging, so this was a fairly informative (and humorous) list. Here’s #2:
2. You have no sense of humor. You can’t laugh at yourself. You don’t find normal things funny. Your blogging is too killer serious about religion, marriage, kids, church, politics, etc. You can’t tell jokes. You don’t post funny pics. You’re sour and easily offended. Blogging without humor disqualifies it from being edifying and helpful to my mental health.
You constantly tell us that your views perfectly reflect the mind of God, but you never laugh after saying it.
I would have been very surprised indeed to find myself recommending a Microsoft product, but I must say that they’ve done a fine job with Windows Live Writer. It’s a desktop blogging application that works with most popular blog providers, including WordPress, Blogger, LiveJournal, TypePad, Moveable Type and Windows Live Spaces.
One of the biggest problems with writing blog posts is that you can’t see what you’re writing as you write it. Windows Live Writer automagically detects your theme and allows you to write your post and see what it will look like as you write it. Here’s a screenshot of me writing this post:
This might be especially useful for people who only have intermittent access to the net, as you are able to compose and save your posts offline. I know that I would have definitely appreciated this when I was still using Blogger, as its online interface was pretty craptastic.
I posted on academic blogging recently, and the conversation enlarged at a post on Scot McKnight’s blog. This discussion then spilled into a discussion in my history class today, which had some good thoughts raised. Here’s some thoughts that I’d like to collect from those sources and from my own thoughts as to the current state of academic blogging.
- Blogging is not currently regarded as a reliable source within academia (generally speaking)
- Blogging is one of the best sources for recent history (quick, highly responsive publishing)
- Blogging can be looked at as a primary source, much like other diaries, memos, etc.
- Blogging currently lacks conventions that would allow for us to easily ascertain reliability
- Blogging is not distinguishable from other Internet sources according to the major citation standards.
So, that’s things as they stand right now. What I’m interested in is the following question: what can blogging do to become more recognized as a reliable source? Many answers to the question will involve similar mechanisms to the print world (ie. editorial oversight, peer reviewing), but I’m not particularly interested in those, as they erode the unique characteristics of blogging.
So, I’ll venture a few answers to my own question and hopefully get some discussion happening. I’ll ask it again: what can blogging do to become more recognized as a reliable source?
- Include biographical details (preferably an “About” page). This helps to communicate to your readership the authority that you have on a given topic. This could include qualifications, credentials, experience, and other things pertinent to you knowing what the heck you’re talking about.
- Cite your sources. There’s simply no way around this. Contextualizing what you have to say within a larger body of knowledge is one of the fundamental laws of respectable scholarship. I would also suggest that bloggers try to cite as much print material as possible. This might seem a bit counter-intuitive, but print sources are at this point held to be more authoritative.
- Have a comment area. Not only that, but build a lively comment area where respectful dialogue, dispute and argument takes place over the content of the post. This type of commenting can be a way to expose your ideas to the (hopefully) the same kind of criticism that editorial oversight and peer-review systems accomplish.
So, once more, what can blogging do to become more recognized as a reliable source? (Feel free to disagree with me too!)
I had a great conversation with one of my professors after class today. (Of course, I have to say that because he might be reading this!) We talked about topics far and wide pertaining to the life of the Christian who wants to be a faithful intellectual.
As exciting a topic as that is, it’s not what I am particularly aiming at for this post. As our conversation meandered around (as good conversations do), we started talking about the issue of academics and blogging. There’s a ton of useful, relevant writing occurring on blogs, much of it by academics with excellent credentials. However, this is a new medium for the academic world (and really, the whole world), so how to handle blogs as valid sources—if indeed they can be valid sources—is a pressing topic in today’s world.
While I am certainly interested in what my readers think about this, I’m especially curious to know if anyone here knows of any useful articles, blogs, etc. that describe the issues here and the criteria for judging blogs to be useful. We’re actually going to talk about this in class next week, so any sources that can be used as a basis for this discussion would be greatly appreciated!
EDIT: I emailed Scot McKnight about this as I posted it, and he decided that it was a good enough topic to dedicate a post at his site to. There’s some good discussion happening there.