This semester we will be creating a collaborative blog using WordPress.com dedicated to the participatory culture-related issues that we discuss and read about in class. Unlike most course blogs, which are available to the world but are primarily read by those in the class, one main goal of this blog will be to gain a significant outside and responsive readership.
To get that readership, the blog will need to be informed, insightful, curious, authoritative, and in-depth, and very well written. Each post will need to have features that are important to blogs and blog readers: links whenever having one would make a meaningful connection, images, video, and so on. And, all of us will need to spend time broadcasting the posts to as many in the participatory culture community as possible (see Twitter assignment, Part 3).
You can see successful former student blogs at Raiders of the Lost Architecture, Let’s Get Visual, Visual! and Textual Arousal, as well as the posts in the most successful blogs we looked at as a class (note that these blogs were written for the class, not for a world audience, as we are here).
All posts written starting week 6 MUST be composed in Markdown using StackEdit, though I encourage you to start using it sooner. From StackEdit you’ll be able to publish directly to the blog (see Markdown assignment). Also save a draft of your post in GoogleDocs, which you can do from StackEdit.
If you are not familiar with blogging, please see “What is a Blog?” by Jill Walker-Rettberg, which is available on the Readings page.
Assignment Specifics (UPDATED BASED ON OCT 3 CLASS)
In class on October 3, we have a lengthy discussion about the blog, it’s relate success, and how it might be transformed to more effectively afford creative and nuanced composing opportunities. Here is what the class as a whole decided:
- The current blog assignment is no longer active based on our discussion of the kinds of posts, their effectiveness, and so on. Commenting requirements are still valid. I will update the blogging assignment in a day or two.
- In it’s place, each student will blog a certain number of times for the rest of the semester whenever they feel they want to. The posts will be based on topics associated with their research topic and will engage the course or ideas introduced in the course texts, in some way. The posts, however, will be composed for a global audience and not the class. So, introduce any texts or ideas from them casually and not in terms of the class. The texts can be any of the texts, not just ones from that particular week.
- Each student is required to have a MINIMUM of FIVE posts. (In class, Tom referred to 3 posts, but he was mistaken—you each had 3 weeks of posting, but there were 5 required in the prior assignment: 1 long, and 2 sets of 2 shorter). The ones from the past three weeks are considered practice and don’t count in the minimum. I will update the web site to remove the weekly bloggers.
- Five posts is a minimum and is what is expected. To go “significantly higher” (as written in the grading criteria) in terms of blog posts, you should have significantly more. The posts can be of any length, but 20 really short posts won’t do the trick, nor will it keep readers. The posts should be engaging, nuanced, varied, and contain links and images. They do not need to be modeled on any other blog post, as per our discussion and the reasons why.
- Do not wait until week 14 to try to blog all your posts. Waiting is always a danger, which is one reason to have assigned weekly bloggers. Compose them throughout the semester. (As a related note: many of you should really start tweeting more about the readings.)
Assignment Specifics (OLD and OBSOLETE)
Starting Week 3 and over the rest of the semester, two or three students per week depending on the week will serve as the blog’s Weekly Bloggers.
The Weekly Bloggers will be broken into two categories: long-read and BP/Quotation. Each student will compose 1 long-read and two sets of BP/Quotation posts throughout the semester.
The long-read weekly blogger will compose:
- ONE long-read post informed by 1 of the #wecmonday links your classmates have tweeted in which the content of the link is discussed in terms of the ideas in that week’s readings (the link you discuss cannot be your own and should at least link to the tweet as well as other links to the article, and so on). Links can be from any week, not just from the week during which you are posting. Consider the length and style to be like those on Longreads and Polygon Features. These should take time and care to compose.
The BP/Quotation weekly blogger(s) will compose TWO posts:
- 1 post modeled on posts published on the Brain Pickings blog. These can about the readings, books you find outside, video games, fan community texts, and so on—that is, anything relating to participatory culture and not necessarily about what is happening that week in our readings.
- 1 post that is an important quotation/image/combination, as seen in the Explore and Fanhackers blog. These can about the readings, books you find outside, video games, fan community texts, and so on—that is, anything relating to participatory culture and not necessarily about what is happening that week in our readings.
Starting Week 6, all posts must be tied in to your research topic in some way. Prior to Week that, they should not be.
The posts should be posted during the week before or just after the Thursday class meeting for that week (think of the week being Thursday to Thursday, so feel free to post on the weekend, but don’t post all on the same day; spread them out). Your posts should have alphabetic and visual texts (when necessary). They MUST include links to various related places (links are what make blogs work) including but not limited to the articles you discuss and the tweet from which you learned about it. They should be written with the tone of someone thoroughly engaged in the subject-matter and is learning more about it. By the end of the semester, you will be the expert. They should be written for the whole of the web and not just this class. In fact, you should pretend you are doing this as a professional writer/blogger who is just writing about what is interesting to them. All posts should have at least 5 meaningful tags and be located into at least 1 of the following categories that we as a class will come up with.
During the weeks when students are not the Weekly Blogger, they are required to:
- reply to 3 or more posts in a way that pushes the conversation forward
- each reply should be at least 100 words long
Authors of posts should engage the replies in conversation, just as if they were blogging in the world. Blog posts should start conversations. Conversations can’t happen if the original author isn’t involved.
See the course schedule for the weekly bloggers.
WordPress has a very good Support page, and I encourage you to spend some time with it, especially the sections for Getting Started, Creating Content, Manage My Profile, and Customize My Site. Please check these areas before emailing BW with questions.