“Stay for a While: Analyzing the Rhetoric of Weblogs”
When I was in middle school, the class I dreaded most wasn’t algebra, or gym, it was computer applications. Computer applications meant an hour of mind-glazing lectures on the finer arts of spreadsheets, powerpoint presentations, and once we’d shown some semblance of Word proficiency, website publishing. This last was the worst; ages of writing html code on Notepad so that our site would be blue, instead of white. The really tech-savy managed to make their banners jiggle, but mine remained resolutely sedentary. Personal websites, I decided, were a realm into which I preferred not to enter. Countless others opted differently, though I wasn’t aware of this until quite recently. In fact, it took me until February of this year, while perusing through craigslist job advertisements, to become cognizant of the phenomenon that is weblogging. Unsure of what a weblog was (an online diary?), I nonethless applied to several, and, two weeks later, I became the Undergrad for a blog called Guest of a Guest, dishing up New York culture and nightlife through a collegiate perspective.
Writing for one blog turned me into a reader of many. Suddenly, blogs were everywhere, and I developed a fascination with a number of them. The unappealing, amateur blogs far numbered the high quality, interesting ones, and I wondered why, and what is was exactly that makes a blog good or bad. Are there specific credos, and can they be broken? How important is writing ability? What about images, or overall presentation? The answers are yes, and very, and to locate them, I rifled through hundreds of weblogs, and pinpointed a select few as being particularly rhetorically and/or visually noteworthy While these blogs vary dramatically in terms of substance and style, all are successful enough to have garnered loyal, and increasing audiences (many have also garnered their authors book deals).
First, however, we ought to start with some background. Blogs, being such a recent phenomenon, have a fairly sprawling and diverse array of ancestors. In their genre analysis of weblogs, North Carolina State professors Carolyn Miller and Dawn Shepard cite “the diary, the clipping service, the broadside, the anthology, the commonplace book, the ship’s log. We might see the blog as a complex rhetorical hybrid (or mongrel) with genetic imprints from all these prior genres.”To these, I’d like to add the personal essay, with its personalized views of actual events. The personal essay, along with the diary and the clipping service, are the heavyweights as far as genetic imprinting is concerned. I didn’t unearth a single blog that failed to contain traces of at least one of them. In a blog, it’s what you say, how you say it, and why it’s you doing the saying. MORE>>>