Blogalicious: The Creme de la Creme

I am an expert in blogging.

Supposedly, this is what a blogosphere looks like. I think it looks like a jellyfish

Okay, that it a TOTAL lie, but I’m being asked to qualify what little knowledge I have about blogs, the characteristics thereof that make a blog successful (or not,) and how they serve as a litmus test for society its own self (or not.)

I have this BRILLIANT strategy for doing this—By which I mean, I am doing what someone else tells me to do because I really don’t know how to establish my credibility with a blog. This is why I’m in a class about blogging.

Anyway, the Professor’s BRILLIANT strategy involves deciding which of my classmates’ blogs falls into the “best of” the following six categories. So here goes.

Best Personal Blog:

I Dream In Milligrams. I like the paint shop graphics and the truly effed up dream diary. The best part: The non-dream stuff is JUST AS WEIRD. I love me some ridiculous non-fiction. I feel it qualifies my own experiences as marginally normal.

Best Design/Visuals:

Six And A Writer. Charity has this stuff down. The pictures are all great, the layout is squeaky clean, the content is intriguing and thoughtful, and the way her home page is set up allows a reader to explore different topics without the necessity of scrolling down the page…Like my format…which drives me insane…

Best Hobby/Specific Interest:

TO be honest, this one was a wrench. I had two choices off the top of my head and after reviewing them, I have to give this one to Hyperderby. Hyperbully’s accounts as a beginning derby girl are both entertaining and informative, and are generally accompanied by great visuals.

As an honorable mention, I’d like to point out 10 years And Counting, yet again, for making me laugh hysterically with every new post. The topics range from baseball to goofy web videos to anecdotes about going to the movies with children.

Most improved Blog:

I’m giving this one to the Bloggosaur, who has branched out from his original pokemon-based entries to pokemon-based humor and things related to. He’s also dead funny.

Most Interactive Blog:

10 Years And Counting. Nearly every entry has a video to be watched or a link to go to outside of the blog site.

“Most Likely To Succeed”:

This one was tough. I saw a few that I could see sticking around, and the one I have to go with is Kacie’s Kinship, because of its consistency, the amount of work she has put into the blog in posting, format, and research into the topic of kinship families. It’s a personal blog, and it’s also got the potential to become a valuable resource for people looking to know more about kinship families. Kacie includes statistics, links to other resources, and of course, her irreplaceable expertise as a member of a kinship family.

Now, as to how this establishes my credentials as a blogger, I’m not sure. I suppose being involved in this kind of writing community has changed the way I look at what a blog ought to be. Back in the day of  UJournal (remember those?! I had one…) a blog was an online diary that teenagers usually had under a different name, and it was a place where you could pour out your teen angst.

Now that I’ve actually got people reading my work, it’s less about what I feel and more about what happens around me. I’m not so much talking about my life as what goes on around me (with the exception of Bitchy Sunday. That’s totally me venting.)

It’s also given me a civilized way to inform the people around me that there’s more to the picture than they generally see—I’ve got a job, I go to school, and I have zero privacy whatsoever, so if I seem a little left-field…there’s probably a damn good reason.

To put the shoe on the other foot,  I’ve had the opportunity to gain a little insight into some of my classmates’ lives that I would have never gotten if this were a typical, on-paper writing course. Family pictures don’t get put into assignments. Neither do people’s favorite internet memes. With the blogosphere, I’m beginning to gain a little more insight into some f my classmates’ thought processes, particularly concerning their writing.

This is exciting to me, because my job as a tutor and my prospective field of study both revolve around that process.

THIS MEANS THAT YOU ARE ALL MY GUINEA PIGS. BWAHAHAHAHAHAAAAAH!

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Der Prozess (it’s funny becuase it actually means “trial.”)

It’s crunch-time…

Today’s post is a little ramble through my process (such as it’s been) in putting together the final project for English 455.

So far, what I’ve done is to go through what I’ve posted here, take entries that have a somewhat coherent narrative line, and discovered that I actually have two.

In light of this, I’m going to compile both anrrative lines into a book–one side will revolve around my household and include things like the trailer saga, Beelzebub, etc. and the other will revolve around all the crazy shit I do when i’m not at home.

Out of the suggested options we were presented with, expanding the blog into a greater work seemed sort of redundant–this is a work-in-progress, one which I intend to keep up after the class ends.

Writing a book proposal seems a little premature. Maybe after I’ve been writing the blog for six months, I’ll try my hand at it.

This leaves me with making a book.

The two narrative lines impoly there ought to be two parts. I think, since the two narratives take place during the same time period, that neither should be part one. Rather, I will place the narratives opposite one another, and bind the pages so that each thread appears to be upside-down compared to the other, and they meet in the middle.

There are, of course, several challenges.

The first is my artistic ambitions’ tendency to get in the way of progress. Much of the time, I envision things that I don’t give myself time to accomplish. Yes, I’d love to have color-coded borders and hand-drawn illuminations on every page (albeit doodles rather than some medievalist maaasterpiece) and I’d love to bind it all by hand and make some truly bitchin’ cover art.

But that will only happen if I’m able to get my manuscript together in a timely fashion.

time will be the nexy challenge.

Finally, it will be really difficult to do all of this if I’m trying to keep this oversized , overly curious destructo-baby from deleting the blog entry where I tell you about it because she wants to play with the mouse.

Children….

Girl, you betta WORK…shop

This is another post that falls into the category of classwork, and I’m afraid it will be a little rushed as I’ve got about twenty minutes to post it before I have to drive my sister and the grumpy, phlegmmy baby to the doctor… Poor Squidge…

Almost nothing takes precedence over school. This is one of those things.

SO, let me start out by pointing you in the direction of two posts I’d like you to look at:

The first is the overwhelming favorite, because it involves a Possum living under the toilet

And the second one is my least favorite, because in spite of an attempt at clever brevity, it’s basically one giant nerd joke.

 

Now, I chose the first one because it’s an entry that my sister and a few of my close friends bothered me to write from day one of them knowing I had this blog. I had the pictured drawn up weeks before I posted, and everyone and their dog liked the post, long as it was.

The second one I chose after having been in class for a while and examining other people’s blogs, both in and out of class, and the entry was essentially based on what I thought people wanted to see. I hate it, because even though it’s got a great gag and Revenge of the Nerds, there’s so little real substance to it that I almost want to just get rid of it. It’s kind of an insult to my writing voice.

Now, because I realize that blogs can very easily turn into an exercise in narcissism, I want your feedback about both entries: The good, the bad, the ugly. Format, content, and your reactions as readers to what I’m dishing up.

That having been said, I’ve gotta bounce. I look forward to seeing what everyone else posts, and I’ll see you all in class on Wednesday.

We are NOT amused.

Midterm

Because this is in fact for a class, my Professor has posed a series of questions to the class–a battery, if you will.

I will avoid the obvious, highly inappropriate jokes about physical violence.

But I’m thinking about ’em.

The overarching observation that seems to be dictating the way I look at blogs now is that they are a literary genre unto themselves, unique from anything else out there, but similar enough to other written work that we can recognize them as legitimate literature.

Now, I only have an hour to put this together, so it’s probably not going to be as nicely constructed as those essays I spend twenty hours constructing and then another twenty writing. No joke. And I LIKE IT.

Nerdy as that statement might sound, it actually embodies two crucial differences between the heavily edited print material we see filling journals and novels, etc. Because the blog post is generally such a short work, each entry has the potential to be considered a piece of flash literature.

Because it’s an ongoing work, only the author determines the length of the work being presented. She is, however, constrained by the patience of her readers–I, for one, have never given up on a book because I thought the chapters were too long–I simply mark my place and come back when I have time. One does not return a book to the library with the comment “TLDR”  scribbled on the receipt–they’d look ignorant if they did. Blog readers, as anonymous online entities, are not required to be as merciful.

Case in point, my own writing. When I have a long post, I hear about it in class. “That third paragraph was five whole lines long!” or “Don’t you think using five pictures along with all that text makes the entry seem a little busy?” The irony of this is that I throw in the pictures so you’ll keep reading the text that goes with them, because so many online readers are used to a specific mode of reading, in which only pertinent information is retained.

Because of the frequency that a blogger is expected to update their work (most people set at least a once-a-week expectation, and it’s more frequent in our class) there’s not a whole lot of time to edit. GRAMMAR MISTAKES HAPPEN.

AND NO-ONE CARES.

It also means that people are WAY less careful about the content they post. If a blogger is mad at someone, you will hear about it, whether the culprit be her husband or the President of the United States. While these hastily-posted rantings could result in a bloodbath if the targeted entity ever read them in print or got the verbal version, it’s generally accepted as “venting” if sensitive material of this nature is online.

In the event that something is truly offensive, retractions can of course be written. If the circumstances of the debate evolve, the reader can be informed of it. This is because if a subject is ongoing, the format of the blog allows the blogger to keep their readers informed through the use of updates, usually featured as separate posts or post-scripts.

I first encountered the use of updates through the Bloggess (as well as the picking-on-the-spouse-ness that I addressed up there somewhere.) The Bloggess keeps her readers very well informed of every argument with her husband Victor that she posts, including where the fight went and who won, as well as any retribution taken. For example, upon bringing home a giant metal chicken instead of towels, the Bloggess effectively created a prevalent theme in her work. The tag “Giant metal chicken” will not only bring the reader to the original conflict, but also the updates posted at the bottom of the entry, every subsequent metal chicken that has been referenced as a result of the entry’s overwhelming popularity with her readers, (there have been at least four other entries concerning Beyonce the Giant Metal Chicken) and finally, an entry revolving around a set of towels that a friend sent her with the giant metal chicken’s catchphrase embroidered on them. One can even find a Beyonce coffee cup, complete with a suitable-for-work version of his catch-phrase, in the blog’s gift shop.

In no other form of literature can information related to such a specific literary moment be accessed so easily. The use of the Tag in blogging allows a reader to call up posts related to her interests, but also allows the reader to access any and all material the author has written on the subject, as well as any other tags associated with each respective post. If there are recurring themes in the author’s work, one has only to run a tag-based search to discover what they are and how frequently they appear.

Because bloggers write so frequently, many of them employ a calendar format, where they will pick a day or two that are themed–for example, Kacie of Kacie’s Kinship posts a “Cute Wednesday,” in which the entries are focused around cute things her family or their pets have done. The latest entry of this kind features photos of the family dog, making various faces, and an explanation that the family children had irritated the author sufficiently enough that she decided not to post about them.

Finally, most bloggers are writers. Granted, there are photography blogs out there like Tumblr, but anyone who maintains a conventional blog is a writer. There is some debate as to whether or not we should consider this work published or not, because if its existence online and the fact that it is not printed, but the fact is that there are words on a page, that can be accessed by anyone, for free.

In the course of the class, I have learned that there are even bloggers who go on to create books out of what they write in their blogs–case in point, Molly Wizenberg’s blog Orangette. Inversely, writers who are recognized as writers outside their blogs are able to use their blogs as a place to promote their other written work–a bit like the publisher’s page in the back of old science fiction paperbacks, where a catalog of the author’s other work was advertised for mail-order.

The ability to instantly link to other material that is relevant to the blog being read (or something the blogger wants to promote via her work) is arguably the largest difference between the blog and all other forms of literacy–the blog acts as a written work, but is also a tool for social networking.

Any given blog will have a portion dedicated to reader’s comments, which serve as feedback for the author, a discussion forum about the post, and a nebula for other thoughts that are in any way related to the blogger’s material.

Shout out to my Homies in Living Writers 455

What you are probably aware of (all my regular readers are my classmates) is that this blog is for school. occasionally, I post something here that has been assigned to me. I have never had a toilet-possum story assigned to me.

So, for my first blatantly assigned entry, I’m going to give a shout-out to four blogs that I’m going to start following, as well as why. I will post them in order of appearance on my radar.

Blog #1:

10 Years and Counting: One Mariner Fan’s Quest For Truth, Meaning, And a Return to the Postseason.

Let me make one thing clear: I HATE BASEBALL. However, this is a funny blog, and the background is the imploding Kingdome. Also, the writing style is engaging, the author’s attachment to his team, and his explanation thereof are all entertaining enough to keep me reading. Will I start to watch baseball because of this? It’ll be a cold day in hell. I’ll read the Blog instead, because it will be informative, smart, and funny.

This Blog can be reached by going to:

http://willbutela.blogspot.com

Blog # 2:

Hyperderby

For about five years,I’ve been interested int he roller derby world, without ever having gone to so much as a meet. THis is because I keep meeting derby girls and they’re all interesting. In Hyperderby, we learn what motivates a woman tojoin derby. It’s a heartfelt, very personal account without being overly sentimental or whiny, and it’s completely relatable to me as an introvert living in the Northwest. it’s a newer Blog, still in its germinal stages, but I’m interested to see where it goes.

Hyperderby can be reached by going to :

http://hyperderby.wordpress.com

Blog #3:

I Dream In Milligrams

This is something of a dream journal, which is authored by an insomniac whose medication gives her splendiferous visions of wonderment that she then illustrates in Microsoft Paint. NEED I SAY MORE?

This blog can be reached at:

http://idreaminmilligrams.blogspot.com

And finally, for the budding film geek in me:

Blog #4:

Not Leslie Halliwell’s Reviews

A blog which appears to be dedicated to reviewing material that is either in the cinema or on the television. So far, reviews have included Protlandia, which I’ve been reccomended, and THe Rabbit Hole, which I hated. The voice here is concise, intelligent, and has attitiude, Plus, there’s an artistic scale allong with the entertainment scale.

It can be reached at:

http://notlesliehalliwell.blogspot.com