Tech Goddess's blog
So there's been a little blogging here and I continue to blog in other places, but I just wanted to alert everyone to the Koufax Awards. These are blog awards in various categories and one of our highlighted blogs, Barely Legal is up for an award in the category "Most Deserving of Wider Recognition." And, um, yours truly, is nominated in that same category.
We've written here a few times about students whose blogs have been banned or censored in some way (sorry, I can't find the links). I just ran across the EFF's faq on blogging as a student. They outline what a student's rights are both in a public and private setting. They also offer tips for blogging--what you might not want to blog about, when you might want to blog anonymously, etc.
I grew up surrounded by racism, both blatant and subtle. I am white, so I wasn't on the receiving end of it. Though I recognized that racial groups were mostly separate, especially once we got to high school, I didn't really quite understand that racism was largely to blame.
Most people think of racism as very direct denigration of a particular race, calling a person a derogatory name that is racially based, for example. For me, racism is more subtle than that. It is a system that discriminates against people based on their race. The system is made up of people, but each person that harbors racist thoughts contributes to the larger system. I admit that I have sometimes had racist thoughts myself. They're not conscious or deliberate and frankly, that makes them that more dangerous. Because it's easy to say, well, I didn't think or do that on purpose so I'm not racist.
A while back, Shutterbug wrote about how everyone has a Facebook account (heck, even I have one). Well, it seems that just as people sometimes Google job candidates, college administrators are starting to Facebook students. Via Techdirt comes this item about administrators using Facebook to discipline students.
In this week's New York Times Magazine, Maureen Dowd writes an article taken from her forthcoming book about the state of the relationship between the sexes. Her main point is that there seems to be a backlash against the feminism she grew up with and that the backlash is not coming from the men, but from the women themselves, who are opting to submit themselves to stereotypes once thought dead by at least the 70s. There's a lot to untangle in her article, from the depiction of women in the media to the way single, smart women can't seem to find a man. To me, her article and the reactions to it, reflect a general conflict we have about "women's place" (for lack of a better term) in society.
This is somewhat related to Whimsical Monkey's post just below. I swear I didn't know!
Anyway, Will Richardson, an educational blogger I have a lot of respect for, wrote about a question he got from a teacher during one of presentations. She was saying that the students at her school were posting the answers to tests in their blogs. And she said, "What do we do about that?" Will's response was, creative use of blogging.
I was also playing around with BlogPulse, a blog analysis tool that lets you see who's linking where. I like the conversation tracker myself. You can see who else is writing about a particular article. Just put the url of the article in and then you can see who else is writing about it.
Here's a site that has a bunch of different visualizations of social networks. Well worth a look.
Jakob Nielson, a bigwig in the web usability arena, has published a list of top ten mistakes in designing a blog. Here's the thing: I don't agree with most of them, at least not for personal/political blogs. Here are the things I disagree with and why:
1. No Author Biographies. Okay, if you have a business-oriented blog, or you're trying to make a name for yourself in some way, it makes sense to have a good biography. But a lot of personal blogs are anonymous. Obviously, you can't have a biography then!
It is one of the great mysteries for students to try to figure out what professors do with their time. I am a special case, since I have an administrative job that takes up most of my time. Teaching, for me, is extra. But for most professors, teaching is part of their day-to-day life. And for many students, that's all they see of what professors do, besides perhaps, the results of grading.
Tim Burke, once again, writes eloquently about what professors do and what should count as "work". His comments follow on the heels of a prominent academic blogger being denied tenure. This is the second prominent blogger from the same university who has been denied tenure. In both cases, it was unlikely that the blogging was the reason for this denial.
This week's Chronicle of Higher Education has an article on academic blogging, written by an actual academic blogger. It's a really good explanation of what blogging has to offer to the academic environment, comparing it to the Republic of Letters in the 18th century. Blogging, Farrell notes, is faster than publishing a journal article, allows for a freer exchange of ideas, allows those at the bottom of the hierarchy to be heard, and generally serves as a complement to existing publishing conventions.
For those of you who may want to connect with some other students blogging, here's the blog of a group of freshmen at Middlebury. Actually, each student has their own blog, but they're all linked from here. Go visit, comment, invite them back here if you like.
I just found Global Voices, a group blog that covers news from around the world from a citizen journalist point of view. That is, you can get commentary and explanations of what's going on in world politics that's every bit as personal and interesting as some of the US blogs. They also have
I know many of you have written about gas and oil prices. You might be interested in The Oil Drum, a blog that tracks the oil and gas industry. Right now, they're predicting the damage that could occur as a result of Rita, which is headed toward the Gulf Coast. In terms of damage, it probably won't be as devastating as Katrina, but with the offshore oil rigs and pipelines still recovering from Katrina, this could put yet another big dent in oil production and supply, sending prices up again.
Over the weekend, I ran into this post about the work ethic among academics. I think this idea that we always have to be productive applies to more than just professors. I've been in the corporate environment and I remember in graduate school, we were always talking about how much reading we had or papers to write. I don't remember being this way in undergrad, but I suspect I was. Do you feel guilty when you're not working or do you try to see down time as necessary to recharge?
The nation of the poor is often invisible to the rest of America. Unlike the destitute of other times and places, its inhabitants are not usually distinguishable by any of the traditional telltales of want . . . Foreign observers of U.S. urban riots are frequently stunned at the vigor of the American poor. How, they wonder, can a looter claim to be hungry and oppressed, yet walk off with a color-television set as easily as if he were hefting a loaf of bread? . . . While no region has a monopoly on poverty, the South comes the closest. Virtually half of America's poor live in the 16 Southern and border states, an area that holds less than a third of the total U.S. population.
So Google now has a blog search. I've only played with it a little bit, but I'm not overly impressed thus far. I did a quick search for Bryn Mawr College and I got mostly Live Journal results, which isn't necessarily a bad thing, but compared to the results you get from Technorati, it's really disappointing. The big difference is in the technology behind each of these search tools. (I'm not a CS person--oh, Whimsical Monkey, where are you?)Google has a search algorithm that goes out on the web and "finds" stuff. Technorati has an algorithm too, but it also allows you to "ping" it. That is, you can tell Technorati that you exist while you can't tell Google you exist; you have to wait until they find you.
About a year ago, the Dan Rather story, or Rathergate, as it's now called, got its start. I tried to track this down a few days ago, but couldn't find the beginning via Google. But thanks to one of the many blogs I read, I found a reference to the first post that started the investigation into the papers that Rather had used for his story on Bush's service in the National Guard. The post didn't actually begin on a blog, but on a discussion forum, though blogs certainly contributed and kept the story alive, creating a firestorm that eventually brought Rather down.
I am an avid reader and writer. And blogger! But sometimes I have a very hard time keeping track of what I read where and what I might have wanted to write about something I've read. If I don't write about something that I read immediately (as I'm doing now), I forget. From a writing teacher, I found the following tips he gives to his students to help them take notes on their reading. I thought it might be helpful for us as well--and for me personally.
One of my favorite blogs is Scrivenings, written by David Morgen, professor, father, political activist. We ran into each other's blogs during the election. We were both writing a lot about where the candidates stood on various family issues. I remember he commented on one of my posts about the struggle many working parents have to balance their lives while many workplaces and schools assume there's a parent at home to deal with all the home issues. Then I started reading his blog regularly.
This blog post by a philosophy professor urges us to dismiss the concepts of fact and opinion and replace them with belief and knowledge. He rightly argues that the line between fact and opinion is blurry. What about belief and knowledge? How is that different? And how does that affect the way we write? Can we/shou
More personal blogs from the affected areas.
This weekend, I went to a blog conference, Eschacon. The conference was a gathering of people who comment regularly on the blog, Eschaton, written by Atrios. Atrios has a former Bryn Mawr and a current Bryn Mawr connection. He used to teach here and his wife still does. I'll leave to to you all to figure out who he is. (Dig!)
Most importantly, he's one of the most influential bloggers out there and a rallying point for many liberal bloggers. The point of the conference was to discuss ways that bloggers can effect the political process. How can we set the agenda? What can we say or do to help our public officials and our candidates?
I found this interesting interview with Dooce about how and why she blogs and what her experience blogging is like. She's probably the first person to get fired for blogging. Now people call that getting "Dooced".
How does one go about this blogging thing? The introduction of the book--which you should read if you haven't--defines the form of a blog as "link plus commentary." You might think of the chapters as your links. And, in fact, the first chapter can be found here. As I said in class yesterday, typically bloggers link to something and then comment on it as a tangent to what they linked to. They analyze the original and find a way into their own ideas through it.
When I post to my own blog, I often start with some small thing that happened to me, or a quote from an article that struck me. And I often don't blog immediately after the inspiration. I chew on it. I think about it. In fact, throughout the day, I might compose my blog post in my head, thinking, "Why did that strike me that way? How does this connect to broader events? What can I (and my audience) learn from this?" And I try to answer those questions in my post.
I thought I'd write a bit about some online communities I've been a part of over the years. Back in 1996, I joined a community called "Parent Soup," which, alas, no longer exists. I was at home by myself with an 18 month old kid and no car. My husband worked a lot, sometimes even at night. I was looking for people to talk to about being a mom. So I did a Yahoo search (this was before Google!) and found Parent Soup. Mostly it was a web site with articles, but they also had discussion boards and best of all, live chat. I began chatting whenever I had a free moment. It was great to be able to pop in and just talk to someone. There were always a few people around and you could talk about raising children, movies, tv, or whatever. It was great. I liked it so much, I became a chat leader. After a while, you got to know people. You remembered how old their kids were and where they lived and when they popped in, you'd ask about them. I even met some of the people I chatted with in person. For the most part, these were poeple I would never have met through "real life" activities. It was really cool to meet them. I also made a close friend through chatting and we used to IM every night. I've lost touch with her now, but I really enjoyed chatting with her during that time.