October 31, 2004

Blogging as a Genre? What Next?

Disclaimer: I did not read Evan's blog before I wrote my own entry on the article. However, we wrote on the same subject and even used some of the same language. This is purely coincidental. I guess great minds really do think alike. (Added November 1, 2004.)

Ah blogging. My latest adventure. Yet, when I started blogging, I did not give what I am doing much thought. Sure, I write something personal here, a little bit of info there, with some links scattered throughout. But could these posts be something more? Yet after reading “Blogging as Social Action: A Genre Analysis of the Weblog” by Carolyn R. Miller and Dawn Shepherd, I see that my ramblings are contributing to something larger. Blogging as a genre. Imagine that.

Blogging is a recent creation for people to express their ideas, feelings, ideas, whatever. However, unlike books or articles, blogging lets anyone (yes, even people like myself) share their ideas with large amounts of people. Now all those weird thoughts you’ve been having can be shared with everyone- from your brother, to the guy down the street, and a man in a hut. However, blogging was not always this way. Originally, it was more a place to organize information that to share anything personal. Yet as the blog’s popularity began to rise, and people started using them as a tool of self-expression, the whole concept changed. These changes allowed weblogs to become its own genre.

Yet how is weblog a genre? It is not as easy to define as other genres. In mysteries, there are certain things that make it a mystery- the audience, the format of the story, the expected elements. However, blogs do not have one specific audience, a certain format, and certainly do not have any expected elements. In a blog, anything goes. So if a blog lacks a specific audience, format, and other elements, it can’t be a genre, right? Not exactly.

There are so many different types of weblogs. Some are personal, others political, the list goes on. And for each type of weblog, there is a certain audience to read them. A person looking for political information won’t read a fashion blog, and vice versa.

Although there isn’t one set format for a weblog that all bloggers must adhere to, there is a common setup. As mentioned, blogs are organized chronologically, with the most recent showing up on top.

Technology has impacted almost every aspect of our lives. It is constantly changing the world. So why wouldn’t something that comes from technology, the weblog, change the idea of a genre? It just has.

Posted by VanessaKolberg at 10:54 PM | Comments (3)

October 21, 2004

Did You Ever...

Yes kids, its time for another "Did You Ever..." moment.

This week:

Did you ever wonder about the people at the MLA? Honestly, who sits around and decides that the period should go inside the quotations and not outside? Or make up all the crazy parenthetical documentation rules. Have they nothing better to do? No, apparently not.

Posted by VanessaKolberg at 1:15 PM | Comments (6)

October 14, 2004

The Best of the Best

Here are some of the best blog entries by a wonderful blogger (um, guys, that's me. Stop looking around for the link to someone else's page).

~History of the E-mail- ever want to know how e-mail really got started? A detailed look at the history with links to other sites.

~"The Weblog Handbook"- one of the numerous texts that I read which has helped me become the blogger extraordinaire I am today.

~Pundit-Blogs and Edu-Blogs-a reaction on a post by a classmate.

~Frustrating Fiction- my opinionated take on Interactive Fiction

~My Story- a look back on September 11.

~Hypertext Fiction- Better than Interactive Fiction?- a discussion on hypertext vs interactive fiction.

~Ooo! Hot Text Burns!- another text review.

~It's On- about the Presidential debates.

~Old Computers: The History of the PC- an interesting look at the loveable computer.

~Writing for the Web- The Epic- the last installment in the text series.

Posted by VanessaKolberg at 7:44 PM | Comments (2)

October 13, 2004

Writing for the Web- The Epic

Once again, I am searching the racks for another book that will enlighten and teach me about the wonders of writing for the Internet. Who knew Internet writing was so different than regular writing?

What I found was Writing for the Web (Writers' Edition) by Crawford Kilian. The book, which was similar to The Weblog Handbook and Hot Text, essentially explained the best way to write for webpages. A lot of the information was similar to what I already knew from the other texts, but it never hurts to review.

It seems that all of the books have several major points which they all hightlight. These are:
~Chunk, chunk, and chunk some more. Chunk the text always.
~Use the least amount of words possible. People don't want to spend a lot of time reading if they don't have to.
~Links do a lot. When you want to include other sources, use a link.
~Make bulleted lists. They are easier to skim.
~Pick and audience and a voice. You have to know how you are writing, and to whom.

It is not to say that all the books that I read weren't helpful, because they definitly were, but they basically all retold the same thing. I guess you can only vary Internet writing so many times...

Posted by VanessaKolberg at 8:30 PM | Comments (5)

October 11, 2004

Hypertext Fiction- Better than Interactive Fiction?

In my blog entry entitled "Frustrating Fiction", I wrote about my dislike of Interactive Fiction. However, after reading Victoria's blog on hypertext fiction, I think I have found an enjoyable replacement.

Hypertext fiction is similar to interactive fiction in that they are both stories where the reader can chose what happens. In interactive fiction, the reader has to type his or her commands to control the games. This can be frustrating if the commands do not work or are not recognized. Hypertext fiction is much easier. The commands are listed for the player, so the reader only has to chose between A,B, or C. This is more direct and takes care of the somewhat confusing commands. Also, important words have links that provide more information about the story or setting. This gives the reader a better view of the scene.

In the world of Internet writing, hypertext fiction seems to have just as many supporters as interactive fiction. Hyperizons, an hypertext fiction website at Duke University, has many links to games, criticisms, and reviews. Apparently there is a strong hypertext community out there which has involved players.

I tried the hypertext fiction "Matthew and Jake Fly a Kite". While the story didn't give me many options to chose from (there was the happy ending and real ending), it did include many funny links in the story.

So is hypertect fiction better than interactive fiction? Yes, definitly. It is much easier for the reader (no typing of commands), and I didn't get confused once.

Posted by VanessaKolberg at 12:54 PM | Comments (7)

Old Computers: The History of the PC

I'm naive. I've always thought that computers were a relatively new thing. I never saw any in old movies, so I thought they must not have existed. I was definitly wrong however. Instead, computers have been around for decades, although in a different form than we are used to today.

My classmate, LeCrisha, blogged extensively on the history of the personal computer. She included several links that provided useful information for tracking the computer's history.

One link that I found interesting was Jerz's Literacy Weblog, which lists the years that important computer landmarks occured. In class, we were given a list of these landmarks and were told to write down the years that we thought they occured. I'm glad to see I wasn't the only one that was in the dark about the computer's history!

The one item on the list that really intregued me was the year IBM was founded. Instead of the 80s, it actually began in 1911. Of course, these first computers were not small enough to fit on a desktop. Instead, they took up enture rooms, calculating information that would be done almost immediatly by today's machines.

The personal home computer didn't arrive until much later, in 1975. The computer was the IBM 5100, and while it wasn't the first personal computer, it was one to be convienient enough for home use. By convienient I mean that it only weighed 50 pounds.

The history of the computer is extremely extensive. There are several websites and books, such as Fire in the Valley: The Making of The Personal Computer by Paul Freiberger, Michael Swaine and Nerds 2.0.1 by Stephen Segaller, that provide a much more indepth look at one of our favorite inventions.

Posted by VanessaKolberg at 12:07 PM | Comments (4)

October 7, 2004

It's On

Well, the voting registration deadline is over, the debates have begun. Bring it.

Sadly, what I am looking forward to the most this political season is the SNL sketches. They were hilarious with Bush/Gore, I hope they are just as good this time with Bush/Kerry.

If you didn't get to register- good, one less vote for Bush. (I know all the Democrats registered because we know Kerry wil need every single vote he gets.)

Posted by VanessaKolberg at 8:43 AM | Comments (6)

October 6, 2004

Ooo! Hot Text Burns!

In pursuit of Internet writing knowledge, I picked up Hot Text: Web Writing that Works by Jonathan Price, Lisa Price. The book focuses on writing professionally so that people will read the text and buy the product. While I am not writing to sell anything at the moment (other than my amazing thoughts and ideas), Hot Text was still useful.

The chapter entitled "Making News that Fits" was the most informative. Someday, I may find myself writing for a news site, so I should know how to do it.

Important info I picked up:
~Writers should have a headline and first paragraph that makes the reader stay on the site.
~Readers come to pages expecting current, educated news. Provide it.
~Links, pictures, and sound add to a story to make it more informative if they aren't overpowering the text.

I also learned some great tips about writing a newsletter. This definitly peeked my interest since I am starting one with Stormy, Ashley, and Kristen- classmates. None of us really know the first thing about making our own newsletter, so the book helped. (To subscribe to the newsletter on fashion, e-mail RealFashion@columnist.com)

Newsletter Info:
~E-mail newsletters should be similar to a website in providing a comprehensive collection of information.
~Readers want the newsletter to be personal and not just one big advertisement.
~The newsletter should inform or entertain the reader so he or she will continue reading it.

What I learned from Hot Text will help me in several writing careers, not just Internet ones. All writing must be grasp and keep the reader's attention and also provide the service that it promises.

Source: Hot Text: Web Writing that Works by Jonathan Price, Lisa Price

Posted by VanessaKolberg at 9:22 PM | Comments (2)