Blogging an Argument Not the Same as Writing an Argument Essay
Path-Sharing – setting the context for audiences.
I am responding to the ideas D’Arcy Norman has covered in his post on private “classblogs” vs. the wild, wide open
Rationale (setting context for the audience-as-self for future reference)
This post analyzes his techniques to explore the topic with his blogging tool. He uses specific techniques to address both his audience-as-self (potential self but not present self) and the potential external audiences (other readers following his ideas that same day or others who discover his ideas years in the future). I am exploring the development of academic blogging as a distinct writing form by making explicit edubloggers’ commonly used discourse strategies and expressive styles to provide exemplars for student bloggers.
First of all, D’Arcy describes his way-making context, referring to a couple of blog posts (see Stephen Downes’ post and the originating post in the Innovative Educator) that inspired him to write his response.
Then D’Arcy sets his own professional context, referring to the UCalgary Blogs, and how some bloggers set restrictions on their content to block it from public access.
An interesting thing about this post is that it frames his shift of perspective from being resistant to accepting others’ unwillingness to being open, and blogging publicly, to actively engaging in bracketing, the transformative act of opening up his awareness to account for others’ views.
Initially, this bothered me. People weren’t seeing the Power of Being Open. I tried arguing the whole “information wants to be free” and “going public with network effects” etc… yaddayadda.
But faculty and students just didn’t see it that way. They weren’t comfortable posting their work in the open. And instead of trying to convince them that they were wrong, I took the radical approach of actually listening to them.
D’Arcy organized his ideas within this blog post in four different, but interconnected, ways:
He introduced the issues in a preamble, added an aside for his audience (in brackets), listed the main issues, and then added his own commentary as additional points.
Their points were pretty consistent, and boiled down to a few issues:
—listed main items—
1. discomfort with publishing on the open web
—shift of focus – to address audience—
(identity issues, work being archived/indexed forever, etc…)
- the fact that this is mitigated through pseudonymous posting doesn’t negate this one entirely.
D’Arcy then weaves these ideas and siphons them into one main question, which he presents as bold text:
What right do we, as educators, have to compel students to publish on the open web?
D’Arcy explores points by stating his stance, and then referring to the opposing view (called bracketing) of his likely ‘detractors” by stating counter-arguments, and then switching voice (by adding brackets around the sub-text) to address these arguments. For example:
As educators, we compel students to do things all the time. In the “safety” of the classroom. As assignments. But, not In The Open™, with permanent and public archives of their work. Yes, there are cases where we do this, too (drama classes may have public performances – but those aren’t often archived permanently and publicly).
This next section is an example of how D’Arcy uses the blogging tool to mix his formal and informal rhetorical styles to argue persuasively.
I have absolutely no problem with faculty and students wanting to have private “classblogs” – if it gets them to a place where they’re able to use the blogging platform in a way that amplifies the effectiveness of their discourse, even (or especially) if the site isn’t public, then it’s absolutely worth doing.
The use of the first person “I” signifies the willingness of D’Arcy to take ownership of and personalize the message. The use of “keywords”, or capturing words or phrases in quotes signifies “self-as narrator to self-as audience” an ambivalence or ambiguity over the use of the words or terms. The use of the hyphen – in this case – prefaces contingent thinking, setting up specific conditions.
The use of the hypen, the quotes, and the brackets indicate the presence of narrator ambiguity, a ‘working-through’ process not yet complete, and hints at further re-working of imprecise ideas at a later time in a future post, an opening, so to speak, for the blogger to address the ambiguity in a future post.
Notice the shift in certainty with this last section of text. Notice the voice of authority, of clarity and conviction. D’Arcy uses shorter, more active, sentences to sum up his ideas.
And I don’t see this practice [1. use of private classblogs for students to express their ideas] as simply replicating the closed model of the LMS in yet another platform. It’s different because faculty and students are largely in control of the environment used for the classblog. They can configure it together. They can customize it. They can shape it to meet their needs. That’s the important reason for moving outside of an institutional LMS.
Another important element of blogging is the absence of the beginning, middle, and end of traditional essay writing. Blogging requires a juggling act to balance the different intentions of the blogger. It requires a shifting sense of blended voices and audiences.