Tuesday, August 07, 2012

Blogs and Feeds

Part of yesterday's thing was to teach us about blogs and feeds.  They made us get a google account.  That went well.  Except not for me.  They think I'm a technology idiot, but really, I couldn't remember the password attached to the account I know I have on blogger, not this one, the other one.  And I wasn't going to use this one.

So blogs.  Have you heard?  New sensation.  Or not.

The facilitator (a special tech person) taught us how to add RSS feeds to the page we made, because it will help us manage our reading of blogs and such.  I'm sure it does.

Here's the question I'd like to ask, though.  And I know lots of people use feeds, so some of you will have some thoughts, I hope.

If you do your blog reading through a "feed," are you less likely to comment on the blog?

Do you think that commenting and conversations in blog communities is less lively when people use feeds?

I love the metaphor of "feed" by the way.  It's so passive.  Here, you're being "fed" a list of blogs that have posted recently.

I think part of what these folks are thinking when they suggest having students do blogging is that students will become more aware of audience and rhetorical situations on a blog than in a standard, turn it into the prof paper.  But if they're not commenting on each other's blogs, and not getting comments, it's really not so different from turning it into your professor, right? 

I don't think blogging generally results from the sort of brainstorming and revision processes that we hope our students will use to write academic work.  It's not that I think all writing has to look like academic writing (see "blog" and "Bardiac"), but I'm not sure asking them to practice blogging will help them write for classes and professional situations.

(Note: I use the sidebar thing, and still sometimes look at what other people have on their sidebars in order to learn about new blogs.  Then sometimes, if someone hasn't posted in a long while, I delete them from my sidebar.  Sometimes, I hope people will start posting again, so I don't delete them for a long time.)


  1. I use a feedreader, and it's hard to say how it affects my commenting. It is a lot easier just to read and not comment, yes, but I can also easily save posts for later, which makes it easier to go back and comment on something a few days after it was posted. Probably, though, I end up commenting less overall, because there's the extra step of clicking over to the actual blog, and I don't always read comments others have left.

  2. Rebecca, when you read through a feed, are you able to read the comments other people have left?

  3. I use a feeder too, and yes, am much less likely to comment. And while my reader generally notes if there are comments, I rarely check those unless I too am moved to comment.

  4. Like Rebecca, I use a feedreader and feel like I comment less than otherwise because of the extra step of clicking through to the actual blog. My personality, though, is more of a lurker than a contributor anyhow, so I might not be a very active participant in comment conversations.

    For what it's worth, I use Google Reader, and my feed does not show comments on a post. On occasion, if I am interested in seeing comments, I might click through to the actual blog, but that rarely happens. If I do want to see the comments, it's often because, as on this post, the blog author has specifically solicited discussion.

    Incidentally, in response to your remarks about students and blogging: I have tried several different ways of integrating student blogs into my first-year composition classes, and have yet to be completely successful. The best way I've tried is to require them to post on their own blog and then make X number of comments on their classmates, but I haven't been totally happy with even that approach, for two reasons: 1) the grading becomes prohibitively lengthy - it's easy to check off that each student made his or her own post, but it's much harder to keep track of who's commenting on whose; 2) I still haven't figured out how to make most students feel genuinely engaged with their blog; most still seem to see whatever assignment I give them as "going through the motions" - "oh, I just need to post 2 paragraphs by midnight on Tuesday, so I'll slap something up there at 11:59."

    I do think that blogging is a useful supplement to academic writing in the classroom. It might not prepare them to write papers directly, but it does help with the kind of "getting your thoughts out" that used to, when I was an undergrad, occur in a reading journal or other such activities. Moreover, the forms of online writing that adults do nowadays are so varied that I think it can't hurt to practice "informal public writing."

    If any of you have managed to incorporate blogging more successfully than I into your classes, I'd love to hear the details!

    (P.S. This is why I comment so seldom - it ends up being so long!)

  5. Prof. Poirot8:13 AM

    Ditto to the first part of what K.S. said. I'm generally a lurker, but I do comment from time to time. I tend to use Reeder on my iPad. It helps me keep up with what people are writing on the blogs that I care about--like yours.

    Some blogs I read have good comment sections and good commenter communities. I make a point of checking out the comments on those sites. Other blogs have comments that are cesspools. Reeder makes it easy to see the original blogs and associated comments, so I don't feel that I'm missing anything.

  6. I used to use a feed reader but missed the look and feel of everyone's personalized blogspaces. Also, I was a feed reader junkie, going to it and hitting "refresh" to get new content. Looking at individual blogs is more relaxed.

  7. I don't use a feed reader; I usually use the sidebar thing from my own blog to see if my faves have written new entries. No time to go looking for interesting new blogs, really.

    The thing I did want to say, though, is that I think writing my own blog has made me more aware of how valuable revision and re-reading is and I've been trying to pass that along to the boys in their writing assignments at school. I have them write or type their papers, then read them over again and revise, then (sometimes) read them out loud to me to get a better flow and pacing, to get a more conversational, personal readability to the things. It made a big difference in how interestingly they wrote. With encouragement, it made them stop and think and put the dry facts into their own words rather than reciting a bunch of dull stuff (they are only 11, so there's a real tendency at that age to just parrot what they research).

    So I think in that way blogging has helped make me more aware, but I'm not sure it would work for students unless there was direct feedback and some back and forth to make them aware of how their writing 'reads'. If that makes any sense.

  8. I use a feed reader. And I came here to read the comments, which then motivated me to comment. :)

  9. I use a feed reader (Google reader), and don't think it impacts my commenting. (I got her via your feed...)

    It does get overwhelming sometimes though - If I don't keep reading,the posts in my reader can pile up fast! Then I just sort of mark them all read and start all over because I like a clean slate. That's bad because I then miss some good posts.

    I'll tell you what does keep me from commenting though. Having to type in the letters to prove I'm human. Many times if it doesn't go through the first time, I just give up and move on.


  10. I've used a feed reader for so long--probably since I started blogging myself, though I've switched readers in that time--that I really couldn't tell you how it affects my commenting. But since I didn't comment before having a blog, I'd say the effect isn't negative!

    Generally, if I like a post, I click through to the blog itself just to see if anyone's commented on it. I click through much, much more frequently than I comment myself.

    However, I don't always remember to check back to keep tabs on a developing conversation, except at blogs where I expect there to be a high level of participation, where I really like the usual commenters, and/or where the topic is one of great interest to me.