On Blogging in the Classroom

I'm leading the last session of Patrick and my Digital Democracy course tonight. To prepare, I was sifting through the fantastic set of student blog posts from throughout the semester. The diversity of topics, opinion and writing style reminded me of Andrew Sullivan's piece from November 2008 in The Atlantic. Andrew writes:

...as blogging evolves as a literary form, it is generating a new and quintessentially postmodern idiom that's enabling writers to express themselves in ways that have never been seen or understood before. Its truths are provisional, and its ethos collective and messy. Yet the interaction it enables between writer and reader is unprecedented, visceral and sometimes brutal.
I think assigning blogging in college (or high school) classes helps students develop their voice, not just within the bounds of formal writing, but by encouraging the exploration of the relationship between themselves and the content they are exploring.

Here are a few excerpts from some of the students in my class. They are representative of breadth of content we discussed in the class, but perhaps more importantly, they embody the wide range of voices we all take on when blogging.

Matt writes on Nerding Out on Undersea Cables:
The fact that a huge part of Africa relies on satellite to connect to the internet completely blew my mind, and when I found that even our connection to the internet here in Boston tenuously relies on the well-being of a few bottleneck points I decided to do some more research into the history of the backbone of the World Wide Web.
Sam reflects on the role of the Internet in the larger activism narrative:
“Johnny’s in the basement mixing up the medicine; I’m on the pavement thinking about the government.” Bob Dylan said that in 1965. The midpoint of an era that shook, like a withdrawn junkie, with political unrest. And to put it lightly, ain’t shit changed — just the names, faces and places….oh yeah, and now we have this thing called the internet. Once upon a time, the markings of a true activist were physical action and the robust will to stand in harm’s way; bottles broken in streets, sit-ins, Molotov cocktails and marches. Today the political landscape has changed. Concurrently, the weapons we use to fight injustice on this terrain have evolved. After all, who wants to sit in a Humvee with paper thin siding when the freedom fighters* come?
Aaron critiques the DigiActive Introduction to Facebook Activism:
A DigiActive Introduction to Facebook Activism” gives a concise overview of how to best use Facebook to achieve a successful campaign. While I believe the advice given in the guide is fairly helpful, I believe it grossly overestimates the power of digital tools for grassroots movements looking to achieve substantial reform. There are three criticisms of the guide that I have which concern accountability, sustainability, and results.
Hui discusses jailed bloggers:

jailed bloggers = violation of human rights = repressive government = INJUSTICE

The above is a primitive expression of the thought process most individuals seem to take on when the subject of jailed bloggers is broached. Yet, for me, the subject of jailed bloggers immediately brought to mind the two Singaporean bloggers who were jailed for their offensive racist remarks. Here, another formula is proposed:

jailed bloggers = due punishment for action harmful to other persons/society = enforcement of law + maintenance of civil society = JUSTICE

Why this difference? Are they mutually exclusive?

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1 Comments:

  • This is a call to everyone to please step outside the right vs. left paradigm. While there are important issues worth debating within this paradigm, all of them will be moot if we do not focus on a much greater issue outside this paradigm. Thomas Jefferson warned of wealth concentrating to such an extent that it threatened the state. Nowadays the media has taught us all very well to ridicule anyone who talks of central banks usurping the power of government. Well now I suppose the media will have to laugh at themselves, as many outlets from Newsweek to the Financial Times of London are openly discussing the creation of a "bank of the world" that will control economic policies of every nation. I invite you to watch this video, which details how this is currently taking place. While it focuses on our current officials' cooperation with these plans, it steps out of the typical political paradigm by highlighting the cooperation of both parties. Please do not look to politicians to protect us. Only we can protect us. And our first step must be to reach out to police and military. Without their cooperation, the global elite won't have the muscle to exercise their will of oppression. Please share this oath-keepers blog with them.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 6:28 PM  

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