Rutgers English Graduate Alumni Lecture Series
“On the Internet Everyone Thinks I’m a Dog”
The Queer Adventures of an English Prof in the Blogosphere
More than just a case study on Roxie’s blog, Marilee’s talk worked to explore bigger ideas surrounding the greater blogosphere: What is our audience? How do statcounters dictate how and what we write? What is the process of reading a blog? It was a wonderfully choreographed self-reflection that led me to think about what it is that I (try and) do here at A Blog Next Door.
The lecture itself was divided in three separate parts, each exploring one of the subdivisions of the corporate-like structure of Roxie’s World. I won’t rehearse Marilee’s lecture point by point (mainly because without her wit and without her Keynote Presentation – featuring flame effects and a great Notes on a Scandal shout-out, I don’t think I’d be doing it justice). What I thought I’d do instead was to toy around with some of the ideas Marilee threw out there and explore them [INSERT MORE HERE]
I. Office of Persona Management
Randolph Bourne “The Life of Irony” (1913)
Here is adhesiveness, it is not previously fashion’d, it is apropos;
Do you know what it is as you pass to be loved by strangers?
Do you know the talk of those turning eye-balls?
Walt Whitman “Song of Open Road”
This was probably my favourite part of the lecture, if only because it spoke very clearly to things that, as a new blogger, I find myself wrestling with. From the hypothetical (and hilarious) example of ‘What if Shakespeare had had a StatCounter?’ Marilee went on to talk about the ways blogging is a Reader Respone Theory 2.0 in the sense that it is constant and direct conversation with its readers, who, thanks to software like StatCounter monitors readership – from keywords, referring websites and the ever panic-inducing unique visitor graphs. So, what IF Shakespeare had had a StatCounter? Marilee suggested he would have written less plays, spending more time monitoring his audience’s tastes rather than writing new material for them, but the question stands: what is our relationship with our readers and how closely should a blogger ‘adapt’ and ‘write’ for the endless longing for more (albeit ADHD afflicted) web-blog readers?
The other reason I really enjoyed this section was the invocation of the ‘sorrow of bloggers’ that comes about with the tacit rule of ‘newer is better’ that underruns the blogosphere. Marilee talked about the sadness she feels every time a new post displaces the earlier one and pushes it downward and I think I know exactly what she means – especially because it is so hard to trust readers to find those posts once they’re exiled to the Archives…
III. Department of Eye Candy and Other Intertextualities: Visual and Other Pleasures in Roxie’s World
Katherine Hayles “Writing Machines”
[Favourite concept: MLA going all CSI on Shakespeare’s hypothetical hard drive. I can see the CBS-MLA co-production now, coming soon to a made-for-tv spot near you…
Closing remark: “Have a baby if you must, write a book if one is required for tenure, but if you just want to put stuff out there, dear, just get a blog!” – A perfect ending to what was an amusing and insightful talk – see you at Roxie’s World Moose!]