“Why blogging is hard” (or “infrequent blogging”)/the “other” category of faculty work

Both Alex Reid and Will Richardson recently wrote about the difficulty of keeping a blog going after so much time and so many entries. I would work harder at trying to summarize them now, but instead I’ll just point out that the main reason I am linking to this is because I am going to have to start working on a chapter/presentation on “infrequent blogging” or ending blogging altogether for the “Blogs as Writerly Spaces” project. Anyway, I think that both Richardson and Reid have good points, both introspective and theoretical, and I will hopefully remember to come back to them once I get on the stick again with that project.

Speaking only for myself (though probably also for others in academia, judging from my blogroll), I haven’t been writing much of anything lately because of an insanely busy couple of weeks at work. I might go into some details about this particular project eventually here, but suffice it to say that I have been super-duper busy with one of the many things faculty have to do that inevitably take time away from teaching or scholarship. These kind of duties are obvious to me now; after all, I have been a college professor someplace since 1996. But I remember vividly at the end of my first semester of my first job at Southern Oregon University (the toughest semester of my life, by the way) how surprised by and unprepared for I was by all of the other stuff that faculty do, stuff that does not fit well into a CV, and that stuff that confirms for me that academia really is a “job.”

Don’t get me wrong; it isn’t quite like the too-close-to-home comedy of The Office or Dilbert. And I’m also really REALLY happy to be engaging in this latest project that falls somewhere between “service” and “other.” But at the same time, it’ll be nice to remind myself that what I am supposed to be spending most of my time on is teaching and scholarship. With a little bit of blogging squeezed in here and there.

Some cool links for the iTouch, BAWS, and teaching (maybe)

More or less in the order of the subject here:

This probably doesn’t count as book research, but it’s probably the only research I’m going to do this week…

Via Alex Halavais’ blog feed, I came across this article on the Financial Times web site, “Net prophets,” which is a review article of three different books out/coming out about search engines, including Halavais’ forthcoming book.

It is the sort of thing that would be good to include for English 516, but it’s on my mind this morning in my waning “Blogs as Writerly Spaces” project and the chapter/part on rhetorical situation. Which is itself on my mind since that was the topic (more or less) from last night’s section of English 505. I haven’t quite figured it out yet, but I it seems to me that search engines throw a wrench into the role of audience in rhetorical situation, no matter how firmly (Bitzer) of fuzzily (Bisecker ala Derrida) you define “audience” or any other constituent in situations.

I think that Jenny Edbauer is on to something with “Unframing Models of Public Distribution: From Rhetorical Situation to Rhetorical Ecologies,” that isn’t quite talking about the phenomenon of search-fueled audiences and spikes in audiences as a result of searches– as I experienced quite personally with the EMU faculty strike a few years ago.

Anyway, this is all the BAWS thinking I get today. Too much voting, too much grading, and (hopefully) too much celebrating, more or less in that order.

Technorati doing some of my homework (sort of)

Via Collin’s blog, I came across the latest in blog stats: Technorati’s annual “State of the Blogosphere” for 2008. I will have to spend some more time over the next week trying to figure out what these people are saying, but I guess I have two thoughts for now. First, is this bit from my skimming of the report:

The majority of bloggers we surveyed currently have advertising on their blogs. Among those with advertising, the mean annual investment in their blog is $1,800, but it’s paying off. The mean annual revenue is $6,000 with $75K+ in revenue for those with 100,000 or more unique visitors per month. Note: median investment and revenue (which is listed below) is significantly lower. They are also earning CPMs.

Seriously? $75K a year?

The median revenue numbers are indeed significantly lower– if I understand the chart/stats correctly, the “revenue” is more like $200 annually. But even that seems to me to be kind of high, especially relative to the blogs/bloggers I’m surveying for my study.

In any event, this is still potentially useful data for my project since my much smaller survey takes a slightly different tact and also because of the case studies coming out of my study. Of course, I still have to write this all up one of these days….

Viral blogging, Palin, dinosaurs, and who knows what else

Here’s a guy I want to interview/get a hold of for my Blogs as Writerly Spaces project: a blogger named Bob who maintains a blog called TUBOB. Perhaps you’ve heard some kind of rumor about Sarah Palin thinking that dinosaurs were “Satan’s Lizards?” That, as this post at Community College English nicely summarizes, was flat-out made up here by Bob Salsbury in a post called “Fake Governor Sarah Palin Quotes.”

From there, it morphed into a series of comments and posts on all kinds of “real” news sites (see the CCE link for some examples). It ended up in a CNN story on false Internet rumors about Palin:

And, as Bob notes on his blog, Matt Damon mentions the rumors about dinosaurs that circulated about Palin in this otherwise spot-on critique of her VP-ness (wait for 1:22 into the video):

So, I’m interested in this on at least two levels. First, as someone researching blogs and the way(s) in which “situation” works with driving traffic to blogs, motivating bloggers to write, shaping content and audiences, etc., etc., this seems to me to be another great example, something along the lines (bigger, really) than what I experienced with my blogging on the EMU strike. I can read some of what Bob has to say on his blog about the experience, and perhaps that will be enough for my book purposes, but it still might be interesting to interview him as a case study.

Second, the way this thing spread is kind of interesting because it isn’t quite the same thing as the “Obama is a Muslim” thing. Obama has said over and over and over and OVER that he is a Christian and more or less has been his whole life. He has answered those questions repeatedly. And, besides that, so what if he did have Muslim heritage or he was a practicing Muslim? I know this isn’t the political reality, but being something other than a Christian shouldn’t mean anything.

On the other hand, Palin has identified herself and has been identified with Evangelical Christianity of the type that reads the Bible literally, doesn’t believe in evolution, and that uses creationism to explain the dinosaurs. Further, as far as I know, she hasn’t answered Matt Damon’s or Maureen Dowd’s question about dinosaurs. I mean really; what does she think? Does she believe the creationism museum version of dinosaurs? Does she believe in evolution at all? Obama has been asked and answered questions about all kinds of rumors about him; but to ask Palin these questions is disrespect.

In any event, it’s an interesting viral blogging example and one I’ll keep an eye on, probably. Thanks for posting that, CCE.

After the boys of summer have gone/looking to the school year ahead

Benninghoff and I played what is likely our last round of weekday golf yesterday out at Pierce Lake. A couple of the EMU folks who I play with once in a while were already too busy, and Bill HD and his colleagues at Michigan State started last week, so Friday’s long round– which included the classic golf lunch of a hot dog with chips and beers at the ‘hoff’s house afterwords– seemed more than a moment of closure; it kind of seemed like we had pushed it one step too far.

Ah yes, and as a child of the 70’s/80’s, I of course have this running through my head:

Anyway, on to work for the school year– or rather, back to work since I did teach in the summer term too, sort of.

There are some interesting changes coming up for me. For starters, this will be the first year in four or five years in which I will actually not have some sort of quasi-administrative duty. Between my quasi-sabbatical and my year of interim WPA-ing before that, I have taught a total of four classes in the last two years (not counting spring and summer); this year, I’ll teach 3 and 3. I’m looking forward to it because I’m retooling English 328 a bit, I’m taking my first whack at the graduate Rhetoric of Science and Technology course, and I’m not really doing much of anything in terms of administrative/service work. Well, comparatively speaking. I’m still on the department’s personnel committee, I am going to help maintain the writing program web site, etc., etc. But the theory that I am going to be testing in my own mind this school year is trying to figure out what is “more work,” just teaching or teaching a bit less and doing quasi-administrative things too? My theory right now is that “just teaching” will be less work; we’ll see.

Other items/resolutions for the new school year:

  • Take my own damn advice and at least “touch” the book project every work day. I read Deb Hawhee’s post reflecting on her first sabbatical with some interest the other day because I have come to the conclusion that a) I sabbaticalled quite poorly, and b) a sabbatical just might not be for me. I don’t know, but I am afraid that I might be the kind of person where I just get a lot more done the more demands from other things I have on my time, so the time/freedom of a sabbatical is too much rope for me to hang myself with. Get back to me in about seven years on this though; by then, I might actually be able to afford to take a full year. In any event, I have actually been able to take my own advice on the BAWS project as of late; hopefully I can keep it up.
  • Do not twist and turn my schedule too much just to attend a meeting, and do not go to my office on Tuesdays and Thursdays for any reason whatsoever. This is part of letting go of that “I must be involved in everything” feeling, but it is also because of my station/lot in life right now. Without going into a lot of detail about it right now, I guess I’ve decided that at this point in my career at EMU, I don’t think I need to bend-over backwards in terms of the rest of my life’s schedule to attend some meeting.
  • Get to the gym, get in better shape, lose some weight. The “get to the gym” part has gotten considerably easier to do since Annette and I joined the Health and Fitness Center at WCC. It costs too much money, but the nice thing about the expense is that the facilities are fantastic, which makes going there a lot more pleasant, and it’s too expensive to not use, which raises my motivation to go there so as to not waste too much money. I have a particular weight loss goal for the term in my mind, but I am not going to reveal any of the details of it here, of course. If I accomplish it, I’ll post about that.
  • Take these things called “weekends.” When Annette and I were in our PhD programs, we pretty much worked every day. That was a good thing to get us through in a rapid fashion, but I still haven’t really gotten out of the work every day habit. Sometimes, it’s awfully hard to determine and define what is “work” and what is something “not work” that I would just do– reading Jill Walker Retteberg’s new book Blogging is a good example. But generally speaking, I am going to strive to save Saturdays and Sundays for doing stuff around the house, hanging with the fam’, maybe golfing a few times more while the weather holds, reading, and not doing clearly work things like grading, responding to student emails, prepping for class, etc. We’ll see how it goes.

Speaking of which: now I am off to the gym and then I’m going to work on getting my grad class together since yesterday’s golf counted as a weekend day for me….

Computers and Writing 2008: Krause’s Big Wrap-Up

First off, let me back-track a bit and fill in a few more details on what I’ve already mentioned about C&W and this trip:

  • The “very good session” I went to on Friday morning before Jay David Bolter’s talk featured Rik Hunter, Dan Anderson, and Alex Reid. Follow the links for more info on the presentations. Actually, in Rik’s and Dan’s case, you can literally see what they did: both of them had everything pre-recorded and just “delivered” it by cranking up the computer and pushing play. Alex did his the old fashioned way– just talking. All were very good, but it was kind of strange to see the presenter standing there while his movie plays his presentation.
  • Speaking of Alex Reid, congratulations on the John Lovas Memorial Academic Weblog Award for Digital Digs!
  • I wish Jay David Bolter’s talk was online someplace, and maybe it will be at some point– they videotaped it. I thought it would be a really interesting teaching tool because he made a bridge/connection between the hypertext experiments of the early 90’s (remember StorySpace?) with gaming experiments (newsgaming.com, for example), poetry that plays on your iPod or your cell phone when you are in certain points of the Atlanta subway, a podcast tour of a cemetery, etc. It reminds me that I need to work gaming back into English 516 the next time I teach it.

Now on to the “part 3” or concluding episode of Computers and Writing 2008 from my pov:

  • My session was at 10 AM on Saturday, and the “prime time” seemed to help us draw a pretty decent-sized crowd. Before me was Gian Pugnucci with a talk called “The WikiBib Project: Exploring the nature of Teaching Collaborative Scholarships in a Wiki.” Basically, he was talking about using a wiki as a means of facilitating collaboration on an annotated bibliography assignment in a graduate class. I’ve talked with Gian about this before and I think we’re going to try and work something out together on this for his and my grad courses next year.

    I was second, and I’ll pretty much let my presentation speak (or not) for itself:

    A slight tangent here: I actually managed to forget the do-hickey for hooking up my laptop, so I spent a few moments thinking I was screwed. But it turns out I was doubly covered. Since this was the computers and writing conference after all, someone in the audience (Carl Whithaus, actually) immediately volunteered his adapter. But besides that, the fine folks in Georgia were completely prepared for this, too. The guy doing tech support for UGa told me he had a whole bag full of the adapters I needed and was very confident that he could get the projector set-up to work. Quite a contrast to the way the projectors often work (or not) in Pray-Harrold.Anyway, I got some great feedback from folks on what to do with the whole “finished blogger” issue, and as we discussed during the session, my use of the word “failure” in my talk is probably not right. “Not finished,” “abandoned, or and as often as not, “ended at the appropriate time” are probably better terms. In any event, helpful ideas from attendees.

    The third presenter was Natalie Szymanski from Florida State with a talk titled “Wikis and Composition Pedagogy: Avoiding the Bandwagon.” Basically, she was suggesting that maybe we ought to slow down a bit on all of this stuff like wikis. While I didn’t agree with many of the things she had to say, I had to give her credit because it’s nice to see someone at this conference have the guts to point out that we’re in the “writing business” and not the “isn’t this software I just learned about cool business.”

  • And then it was time for golf. I was part of a foursome with Steve Benninghoff, Gian, and Nick Carbone out at the University of Georgia Golf Course. In hind-sight, I think we should have picked a more “accessible” course since Benninghoff and I could have used a bit of a “palate cleanser” after the challenges of that course in Kentucky, and Gian and Nick, neither of whom had swung a club in over a year, could have just used something easier. This was one bad-assed hard hard course, certainly in the top 2 or 3 in difficulty that I’ve played, and a course that made me wish for an easy one like Pierce Lake or Eagle Crest.

    But hey, it was a friendly game, and a good time was had by one and all even if the play wasn’t great. Actually, it got a lot more fun when we started the back nine and we played a cart versus cart scramble, but Nick had to leave a little early, so it just kind of degenerated into some sloppy play at the end of a long death march of a round.

  • Steve B. and Gian and I had some BBQ that I thought was pretty so-so, and then we went off to Kingpins Bowl and Brew for the ritual of the bowling night. I managed to catch up with a few folks who I didn’t get a chance to talk to much during the conference itself (including Courtney, who is doing great), had a few more Terapins, and even managed a little bowling (I scored 100– I had forgotten that real bowling isn’t as easy as Wii bowling).
  • And then Sunday was the long drive home. I managed to prod my more leisurely traveling companion onto the road by 6:30 and we were back in Ypsilanti in less than 12 hours, which, when I think about the expense and general pain in the butt of flying, makes me think that driving was a good idea, with or without the golf.

So an excellent conference/roadtrip. Well done, UGa, folks! Here are some pictures of the whole things– eventually, I’ll add some info about all these pictures.

Next year, C&W is going to be at UC-Davis and it is going to be toward the end of June. I don’t know if I’ll be going yet or not, to tell the truth. On the down-side, the CCCCs is in San Francisco this year, and I don’t think I can afford 2 trips to California just to conference. On the other hand, Annette and Will and I might want to make this part of a west coast “pilgrimage” back to Ashland. We shall see….

On the road from C&W; in the mean-time, enjoy this movie

Steve B. and I are (hopefully) going to be leaving soon for the long and exciting one day haul back to Michigan from the Computers and Writing Conference here in Athens, GA.  But before I go, I wanted to post a link to a movie I made of my presentation, as I promised I would during my presentation.  So here is:

Blogging Software Choices

Interestingly enough, I tried to upload this to Google Video and I was “rejected” for what they said were copyright reasons.  I’ll have to figure out what the deal is with that later.  I recorded this with KeyNote as I was talking at the conference, so this really is a kind of “Live, from Athens!” sort of deal.

Okay, onto the highway….