Today was the last day of the semester for this class. I’m really grateful to my old Metroblogging colleague Lauren Johnson for asking me to apply for the position. I won’t be returning next sesmter as the day job is getting a little busy, but I told my students today that I’ll probably start anecdotes for years with “Well, when I was teaching at Columbia College…”
I also want to thank my co-teacher Barbara Iverson, and all of the guest speakers who so graciously gave their time to come talk to our class either in person or by Skype: Andrew Huff, Claire Zulkey, Heidi Gollub, Kate Iorio, Keidra Chaney, and Rachel Yeomans.
In their final presentations, several of our students mentioned that they were going to be transferring their class blogs to outside hosting, or otherwise continuing their blogging.
- Amelia’s site is Daughter of Eloise where she covers natural hair care and makeup.
- Anna-Laura is moving her blog into her portfolio site at alkolleck.com.
- Deanna will be continuing to blog at her fashion site Trends So Hard.
- Gianna will be interning at College Fashionista.
- Lorenzo is moving his poetry blog to ZOJPOETRY.
- Maggie and Sam were both involved in creating a process blog about their Investigative Journalism class, where they looked into the Illinois Lottery.
- Maurya continues blogging at her parenting blog Days with Pen.
- Megan will be setting up Go For Megan on Square Space.
- Sam may include her class blog in her portfolio site.
- Taylor will be writing a column about /Teen Wolf/ at The Learned Fan Girl, starting in January.
You can find me at FuzzyCo, Chicago Flag Tattoos, Push Butt, and @fuzzy.
Teaching a class like this has, of course, made me analyze the blogs I read and follow. The blogs I’ve followed the longest all combine information with a very specific and personal voice. Or as John Gruber of Daring Fireball and Merlin Mann of, at the time 43 Folders say: Obsession + Topic + Voice. That’s from their talk at SxSW Interactive in 2009 with a rather hyperbolic title: HOWTO: 149 Surprising Ways to Turbocharge Your Blog With Credibility!
John also did an interview on Glenn Fleishman’s The New Disruptors podcast—Episode 14: No Kind of Work for a Grown Man with John Gruber—where they cover how John went from having a part-time blog to blogging full-time, and the various monetization models he explored along the way.
43 Folders is an interesting example for our class. Merlin Mann hit some success with his blog about personal productivity and was making good money from advertising, but then he realized that in order to keep that level of advertising, he would in fact be distracting his audience from their own productivity—churning out quantity over quality and he basically just stopped. Unless the goal of your blog is simply to have the blog, its important to keep an eye on your real goal and make sure that the blog is serving that goal, rather than the other way around.
An interesting video to watch is Justin Hall at this year’s XOXO festival. Justin was on the web from nearly the very beginning and was the original oversharer. (That’s someone else’s phrase and now I can’t find it to attribute it.) It’s funny and sweet and a great talk from a blog pioneer.
In class today we discussed the documentary The Internet’s Own Boy, about the life and death of Aaron Swartz. I mentioned that I found it interesting that we could dive deeper into the subject by reading the words of the subjects of the documentary themselves. Some examples:
Fittingly, the documentary itself has been released under a Creative Commons license. There’s nothing in a CC license that prevents the creator from charging for it as well, so the link at the top of this post takes you to several video-on-demand services where you can pay for the documentary. But you can also watch the whole thing on YouTube or download it from the Internet Archive.
And an interesting review I found: Ken White has an interesting perspective on the subject, being both a former federal prosecutor and someone who has suffered from depression.
The good news is that it’s not just me. The bad news is that it’s still pedantic prescriptivism and the language is probably just moving on without me. See also, literally.