Last week, Columbia’s Scholarly Communication Program hosted “A Blog of Her Own: Scholarly Women on the Web,” a panel of women bloggers discussing the medium and its relationship to gender and academia. It turned out to be a fascinating roundtable discussion on the present and future of information dissemination and consumption. Both Chad and I excitedly went (and Chad did his CUarts duty by comprehensively live-tweeting). My life is pretty blog-centric: I read at least 10-15 blogs regularly for news and information, I have both a personal blog and one revolving around art, and my work here at CUarts is heavily focused on blogging and related media; I am also all about the feminism. Suffice to say, this panel sounded like the best thing since sliced bread to me. So, I thought I’d bring it all full circle, and blog about it!
We consume so much information online, in blogs and other social media, that it becomes easy to just consider the facts of what we’re reading and forget about the importance of the medium itself. Rather than see blogs as just another news source, it’s important to breakdown how blogs differ from newspapers and television broadcasts, and how this in turn affects our perceptions of the content. We know that blogs are special- they’re about communication, exchange, and often, subjectivity, in a way we’ve never seen before. Why would we forget about this when we read them or write them? The medium has inherent advantages, we need to use them! This event reminded me of that- blogging isn’t just a thing we do, it’s a way we interact.
Though part of my motivation in attending this event was its feminist focus, I wasn’t too disappointed when the panelists put that issue on the back burner. Instead, in different ways, all of the speakers reminded me to consider that “blogging core” I just mentioned. We’ve been thrown into a world where newspapers are dying, and blogs are integral to all kinds of individuals, cultures, organizations, and issues. This means we have to reinterpret how we consume and share information. There are so many questions this brought up for me: What are the perimeters for public and private in blogosphere? Do we all have blogging “personas” that differ from our real personalities, and how does that change our blogging? What issues exist in blogging for a corporation or institution, and does this affect the integrity of blogging? Are there instances where blogs seek only support and agreement, rather than discussion and criticism? Why? If blogs are meant as a conversation, they’re certainly a controlled one- what does this control mean?
I spent the entire two-hour panel writing down these kinds of thoughts and ideas in response to the discussion; in the spirit of blogging, I want to hear what you all think. If you’re reading this, you’re consuming a blog (and likely many others in your internet travels), and I know you have an opinion and a voice on this issue. So, let’s talk about it!
Kimberley Roode Mackenzie, TC ’11