Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Another quote dump: blogging as linked writing

Today's topic in my blogging class: blogging as a reading/writing/connective practice. In other words, it's basically what I think of when I think of what I like about blogging. And, like last week, I'm throwing some quotes here that I want to have easily accessible but don't want cluttering the class blog. They're below the fold, if you're interested.



From David Weinberger, "The New Is":

the Net explodes the old view of intelligence as the containing of lots of knowledge. This container model is reflected in how we talk about documents: We say they have contents even though print is as 2-dimensional as a shadow. On the Net, documents – pages – get their value to a large degree not from what they contain but from what they point to. Without links, there is no Web. This is an ecstatic model (to borrow Heidegger's term) rather than a container one.

(This means, by the way, that the Web is built on a spirit of generosity. If every site were as stingy with external links as most commercial sites, there would be no Web. In this way, the Web reflects our better, social nature.)

Links, not containers: A page is what it points to.

Multiple tags, not single meanings: A thing gains more meaning by having multiple local meanings.

Messiness, not clean order: The best definitions are ambiguous.

What are the sources of these breaks with the idea that knowledge is supreme when it sees just one, sharp-edged order?

It is the connectedness of the Net. We can see what the world is thinking. But that just leads to relativism, a form of disappointment. Instead, the Net is filled with joy. That is why almost a billion people are using it and are finding it transformative. In fact, we are escaping from the old, dissatisfying clash between objectivity (the world as it looks when we're not looking at it) and subjectivity (the world as it matters to us). With the Internet, we get multi-subjectivity for the first time. Take blogs. They look like publications, but they're overwhelmingly conversations. We're linking to one another, disagreeing, amplifying, making fun, extending, sympathizing, laughing. We are talking with one another, thinking out loud across presumptions and continents. If you want to know about an idea, you could go to an encyclopedia and read what an expert says about it. Or you could find a blog that talks about it and start following the web of links. You'll not just see multiple points of view, you'll hear those points of view in conversation. That's new in the world.


From Henry Farrell, "The Blogosphere as a Carnival of Ideas"

What advantages does blogging offer over the more traditional forms of academic communication? Blogging sacrifices some depth of thought -- it's difficult to state a complex thesis in the average blogpost -- but provides in return a freedom and flexibility that normal academic publishing can't match. Consider the length of time it takes to publish an article in a peer-reviewed journal. In many disciplines, a period of years between first draft and final publication is normal. More years may elapse before other academics begin to publish articles or books responding to the initial article. In contrast, a blog post is published immediately after the blogger hits the "publish" button. Responses can be expected in hours, both from those who comment on the blog (if the blog allows them) and from other bloggers, who may take up an idea and respond to it, extend it, or criticize it. Others may respond to those bloggers in turn, leading to a snowballing conversation distributed across many blogs. In the conventional time frame of academe, such a conversation would take place over several years, if at all.


From Will Richardson, "Blogging Thoughts. . .Again"

From the "Throwing it Out There to See What Sticks Deptartment" here are some very raw thoughts about the various types of Weblog posts for teachers and students and where they fit on my very indistinct blogging scale:

# Posting assignments. (Not blogging)
# Journaling, i.e. "This is what I did today." (Not blogging)
# Posting links (Not blogging)
# Links with descriptive annotation, i.e. "This site is about..." (Not really blogging either, but getting close depending on the depth of the description.)
# Links with analysis that gets into the meaning of the content being linked. (A simple form of blogging.)
# Reflective, meta-cognitive writing on practice without links. (Complex writing, but simple blogging, I think. Commenting would probably fall in here somewhere.)
# Links with analysis and synthesis that articulates a deeper understanding or relationship to the content being linked and written with potential audience response in mind. (Real blogging)
# Extended analysis and synthesis over a longer period of time that builds on previous posts, links and comments. (Complex blogging)


From Will Richardson, "Connective Writing"

What I have been trying to celebrate, however, is what I see as an opportunity for a new type of writing that blogs allow, one that forces those who do it to read carefully and critically, one that demands clarity and cogency in its construction, one that is done for wide audience, and one that links to the sources of the ideas expressed. For all those reasons, it's also one that I think we should add to our curricula. Clearly, I have been wrong in attempting to call that blogging, which I realize now is a much, much more inclusive term. So I've been trying to come up with another name for it. Not easy.

But since this is an outgrowth of George Seimens' thinking about Connectivism, and since a search of the term didn't bring back anything that seemed to indicate the term has a defined space already, I'm going to start calling it "Connective Writing." I'll spend some time clarifying what my definition of it would be, but I want to stress (and ask for more push back if it's out there) that I'm talking about something uniquely suited to blogs. I'm talking about this post, about our ability to connect ideas in ways that we could not do with paper, to distribute them in ways we could not do with the restrictiveness of html, and to engage in conversations and community in ways we could not do with newsgroups or other online communities before.


And, not really about linked writing, but about blogging as a writing practice, from Kathleen Fitzpatrick, "Practice, Practice, Practice" (via Collin Brooke, "Poetics of the Everyday")

when I write every day, whether here at Planned Obsolescence or elsewhere, on other projects, writing gets easier and easier. Not just in terms of the production of sentences, though that of course comes more smoothly, but also in the production of thoughts, of things worth writing about.


3 comments:

John said...
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John said...

I don't know if it will be of interest or not, but very much related to the first part of the Weinberger quote is this bit from Ong's essay "System, Space, and Intelect in Renaissance Symbolism" (Bibliotheque d'Humanism et Renaissance 18 (1956): 222-239), which I refound the other day while tagging old Ong blog entries:

"With the invention of printing, this notion [of the book] itself undergoes metamorphosis. Rather than a record of something one had said, a book now became an object, belonging more to the world of things and less to the world of words [....] Book titles change from addresses to the reader to become labels like the labels on boxes, for, with the spread of printing, books become items manufactured like tables and chairs. As objects or things, they obviously 'contained' knowledge. And since knowledge could be 'contained' in books, why not in the mind as well?"With the invention of printing, this notion [of the book] itself undergoes metamorphosis. Rather than a record of something one had said, a book now became an object, belonging more to the world of things and less to the world of words [....] Book titles change from addresses to the reader to become labels like the labels on boxes, for, with the spread of printing, books become items manufactured like tables and chairs. As objects or things, they obviously 'contained' knowledge. And since knowledge could be 'contained' in books, why not in the mind as well?

"At this point the whole intellectual world goes hollow. The mind now 'contains' knowledge, especially in the compartments of the various arts and sciences, which in turn may 'contain' one another, and which all 'contain' words."

I'm not sure what page that's from in the original, but it's on page 16 in vol. 3 of Faith and Contexts.

Not of direct use to you here, probably, but maybe of some interest. As a number of us are finding (including John Foley out your way), the 'new' is often a (remediated) return to pre-print practices, both oral and chirographic.

Donna said...

Thanks for the Ong connection, John--quite relevant. Yes, as John Foley's project has it, it's knowledge as pathways, not things.