Blogging as Public Pedagogy

November 19, 2012

At the ASA conference in Puerto Rico I drank some rum, swam in the ocean, saw dear friends, and went to a terrific roundtable on blogging with GayProf, Historiann, Roxie, and Tenured Radical. As I said to my friend Planned Obsolescence, who sat beside me at the workshop and was the person who actually turned me on to blogging, this is yet another one of those professional pastimes that we engage in privately, rarely sharing the logic, feeling, and changing rationale of the work with others who expend similar amounts of time and soul. It was a real pleasure to hear four others at this: something I tried to share this summer.

As ever, locked as we are in the neo-liberal logics of counting, tabulation, and credit, the speakers and blogger-audience spent some useful attention on what kind of work this is and whether and to who it matters. Remedying intellectual isolation, personal survival, finding new audiences and speaking in new languages (often including humor) were discussed by several of the panelists. This seemed familiar, and thereby reassuring.

However, it was Tenured Radical’s discussion of commenting that was at farthest reach from my own thinking and experience, and therefore also the most generative. First off, she gets comments—tons of them it seems—as do the other bloggers at the podium. Now, I’ve lamented here often enough about the fact that I can see that you are reading, but rarely hear form you, but as the years have gone by, I’ve taken this to be the state of this state and have grown pretty accustomed to it. Later, beach-side, I spoke with Marilee Lindemann about this (she actually teaches a course on blogging, Writing for the Blogosphere, as well as being Roxie), and she listed some pretty obvious things that I don’t do that might initiate a commenting culture here: asking questions rather than making sttements, not writing arguments that are closed and complete, having a more chatty style and fun content …

And, I realize, I don’t not do these things not because I can’t but because much of what comes along with commenting is not what blogging has become for me: what Claire Potter called Skooling and Being Skooled. This arguing, flaming, deliberate disrespect, and enforced education without the assurance of discussion or responsibility that attends to places of learning that I like better, like the feminist classroom, has been something my students I and think a lot about in FeministOnline Spaces and even Learning from YouTube, for that matter. Of course, Potter is right: by learning from comments, just like from YouTube, one gains insight into the narrative rules of others’ lives, not just one’s own. A light shines on the larger Internet, and its darker places, not to mention its super silly (supercilious) ones: