Thursday, September 3, 2009

Post, the first!

I've spent the last couple of weeks immersed again in the world of publishing, on assignment for NPR. I was looking into the relationship between traditional and internet publishing. Out of those weeks came two stories, one that ran on Weekend Edition Sunday on what constitutes a magazine these days —here’s a link if you’re interested— and one for WMRA that addressed the question: Does publishing on a blog constitute “real” publishing?

That story was inspired by a question Anna Marie Johnson asked in one of my essay-writing workshops. She wanted to know if she posted an essay on the workshop’s blog, could she still submit it to a magazine. Three years or so ago, I would have answered “no” with confidence. These days, I realized, I didn’t know. Hence, the WMRA story.

I got the following note in response to that from Sarah O’Conner who teaches Writing, Rhetoric and Technical Communication at JMU that I thought you might find interesting if the world of blogging is a new one for you.

Dear Martha, I enjoyed your piece on blogging but think a couple of distinctions would be useful for your listeners, i.e. publishing vs. self-publishing and refereed vs unrefereed publishing. Blogs are self-published if they have not been vetted by anyone, so a six-year-old can publish a blog about an overnight with a friend just as easily as a Pulitzer Prize-winning author can publish a blog. A blog can be written and published in a matter of minutes, but a book published by Random House goes through a number of readers, editors, and revisions, a process that can take months or even years. Blogging is a very populist, democratic activity, but in the end it is up to the reader to determine quality. The only vetting I know of is certain websites that list best blogs.

So, I’m curious, after the last two weeks mucking around in the world of internet publishing. What do you all think about blogging as a form of communication? Do you think it expands our individual universes or clutters them?

Also, any suggestions on topics you’d like to see discussed in this space are more than welcome!!!


  1. My answer is ... both! I think blogs clutter our universe. Words have power and should be used only when silence must be broken. Each word we utter or write matters. Blogging has cheapened words. There are too many thoughtless words floating around. Too many eyes taking them in. Too many people thinking about too many things. ADHD, for example, is a natural response to this.
    Blogging can also expand our universe. It can help the solitary stay-at-home mom to connect with other people. Blogs kept by people who are out adventuring in the world can inspire and inform us as we watch. We even get to interact by way of our comments. We can get to know people better, people in our lives who may be reluctant to open themselves up to us. In their blogs, we begin to understand them better.
    This is just a start.

  2. Hello Martha and other bloggers,

    I am afraid to blog, to twitter, to IM, to become involved in so many places to put my words, my thoughts, that I fear my time - already fleeting and scarce - will be lessened even more.

    Just to create another password and account makes my head hurt.

    I love communicating with people, but I have to tell you, I prefer the face-to-face contact - and the territory outside of my window where the air is finally cooler and the wind is a fresh breeze.

    Having said all this, I will test this space and see how I feel about it later. Give it a chance - open up your mind and the rest will follow as the saying goes.


  3. Luanne -- great points. There are some wonderful bloggers out there, but how to find them? The sheer number of blogs -- the universal availability of them -- makes it not much different for the reader than wandering through a crowd of strangers in the vague hope of striking up a friendship.