Read & Respond – Week 2

January 12, 2012

Here’s your first read and respond. These will serve as supplements to the assigned readings listed in the syllabus for the week (Briggs’ introduction and chapter 1 this time around). They’ll most typically be links to articles; we’ve got two here.

It’s common to struggle with coming up with a specific focus for your blog. You want to pursue your interests, but you need a theme that connects with a community and has the potential for updating long after you’ve left this course. Remember the rules for what to avoid:

  • Diaries/”My Crazy Life” themes (you’re writing for a community, not family and friends, so don’t assume they think you’re inherently fascinating. feel free, however, to link who/what you are to a larger world, so long as the focus isn’t you and your shenanigans)
  • Themes that depend on you positioning yourself as an expert or advice guru (even if you are, you have no/few readers at the moment – you need make yourself part of the conversation before you start handing down life lessons)
  • Reviews of games, restaurants, movies, etc. (but you CAN engage with the larger discussion about these things)

Briggs has further suggestions for you. In particular, check out his interlude by innovator Greg Linch. See that last point in Linch’s list of innovator traits? “It’s not about you.” What can you write about that gets beyond yourself and joins a meaningful conversation?

Briggs also discusses the value of RSS readers, which we’ll be getting into this week in class. Start looking for blogs to follow NOW. Who’s writing about your interests? Who’s writing and reporting like you’d like to? Beyond this, there’s some useful discussion of coding and HTML. Don’t Panic! The next time you create a blog post, note those two tabs in the top right on the window; take a deep breath and click the “HTML” tab to see the code behind your post. It’s not so bad, is it? Give his simple coding exercise on p. 27-28 a try.

Once you’re done with Briggs, I want you to take a look at this link from 10,000 Words on nifty ideas for RSS feeds. We’ll just be using them for reading (at first), but it’s useful to know how much potential they hold. In essence, RSS feeds deliver the Internet to you in a digestible, scannable form. What could be bad about that?

Well, Ted Koppel has some thoughts on the subject in “The Case Against News We Can Choose.” Granted, Koppel’s more directly addressing 24-hour news stations, but his ideas certainly are relevant to the online world of information. How do his points inform our work in this class?

Finally, I want you to shift gears to the bigger internet picture with this useful overview of the current “Stop Online Piracy Act” (SOPA) debate. It may seem wonky, but read the whole thing because its outcome may well directly affect you. Not merely from the act itself, either: Companies such as Google and Facebook have threatened to go dark if SOPA goes through. Think that might affect your life?

So have at it! You will need to respond to these readings in a comment on this post no later than noon on Monday, Jan. 16. A few things to make sure of:

  • Post as your WordPress/Blogger identity so I know who you are.
  • Specifically address the readings, but don’t summarize them – build on them!