Digital Studies 101: Intro to Digital Studies

DGST 101: Culture Module (1/4) – Blogging First Impressions

Blogging: First Impressions

Overview: The next three posts will be part of a series of blog entries for my Intro to Digital Studies “Culture Module” project. For this project, I have selected a topic from our department website to study, participate in, and reflect upon.

How Did I get Here, and What is Blogging?

I know nothing about what blogging was like in its heyday. In fact, I have yet to do the research component of this project that allows me to even know whether or not blogging is still in a “heyday.” And yet, here I am, writing a few entries here and there on my otherwise professionally pristine domain that are just about… what, my day? My feelings? My innermost thoughts? Lighthearted humor? Other?

I’m currently enrolled in a course on Digital Studies. In fact, I picked up the DGST minor one year ago without having taken any of the courses. I just figured, hey, why not? In reality, I picked up the minor to fill space in my schedule. Up until last year, I was set to graduate a semester early, during the Fall. Upon speaking with my education advisor, I came to the conclusion that there was no benefit in graduating early as an education student because it would only leave me with an awkward, half-a-year-long-ish gap in which I had my bachelor’s degree but no license to teach. So what would I do?

Easy, I would pick up a minor. A minor that I could only describe to my friends and family as, “I don’t know, it’s like, useful things that apply to your major, but online.” And here I am now. This is my first step.

But what is blogging? In the age of social media, that’s not a straightforward question. Blogging can’t be only using platforms like Instagram or Twitter, but it can include using those platforms. Blogging is the act of self-expression online, traditionally in long form, usually intended to share ideas, stories, and experiences. Blogging separates itself from simply writing an article or posting a photo because it is both casual in nature yet significant in length.

With blogging, the focus of the creator is the content, rather than the other way around.

Why Did I Choose this Topic for my Culture Module?

We are just over three weeks into the semester. This is our first Digital Studies project. It is called our “Culture Module” project, where we explore various topics related to culture in the digital age.

I was tasked to pick a topic, anything from memes to trolling, algorithms to black boxes, (or blogging) and do two things – research said topic, and create a product modeled after said topic.

Easy, I thought. I’m on the internet all the time. I watch Youtube, I see memes, I know all about how Facebook tracks my likes to recommend me products from H&M, Turntable Lab, and… Tylenol, apparently, according to my feed that I just checked. But upon further investigation of all of these topics, none of them seemed to fit “me.” Sure, I could cobble together a surreal meme that was vaguely related to my class, but that felt sort of low effort. I could make a Youtube video, but the thought of that haunts me. I could research algorithms, but I just really don’t want to like or unlike everything on Facebook.

So I chose to blog. Have I wanted to be a blogger? Maybe. I like the idea of creating a digital identity that’s selectively open – open enough to share personal details and feelings that make me interesting and relatable, but not too much to turn off potential employers. There’s also the issue of audience. Who is my audience? Who would read my blog? It could be anyone, but right now, it’s really just my professors.

My Past Experience With Blogging: Personal

(Hint: It’s not really “blogging.”) I keep a journal. It’s through an app called Day One. It’s not public, I use it on my computer, and I’ve kept it since October 2014. (It used to be a Word document, but that got too big.)

I write about my day. I write about my feelings, what happened to me, my predictions, my classes, my work, my relationship, my favorite songs of that month, and every other random detail I feel like keeping track of.

But no one ever sees it, and that’s what I think is best. I like to organize my thoughts, I like to look back on the previous year’s entries to see what was going through my head. But it’s just for me.

My Past Experience With Blogging: Profesional

I’ve had this domain for a year. I created it as part of my History Colloquium course, in which I added reflections to daily readings, as well as updates on the literature review I wrote back then. I’ve also used it occasionally to host content for other courses, but nothing intense.

I also have my Instagram account. I post a few updates here and there that mostly stem from my preschool summer camp bulletin board and lesson plan creations, but I’d like to add some more posts related to EDUC right now, practicum, and maybe a few lifestyle posts to attach an identity to the account.

What I think of When I think of “Bloggers”

feel, although I can’t say for certain, that blogging in 2018 is far more based on overall lifestyles, brands, and aesthetics, than merely following someone’s story. The first individual that comes to mind is Rachel Aust, a fitness coach, lifestyle blogger, and photographer based in Australia. And she has all of her bases covered. She’s on all forms of social media, her brand aesthetic is uniform across all platforms, content is both beautiful and informative, and so forth. She’s made a complete brand for herself – a brand that will age.

I also think of the myriad of “teaching Instagrams” out there that I follow with my own teaching Instagram. These Instagram-blog crossovers feature links to Teachers Pay Teachers, classroom furniture hacks, decorating suggestions, unit plan templates, perfect teaching outfits, and more. Here is an example of those vibrant, bubbly, and content-filled accounts.

Bloggers have tips, tricks, and guidance. They have the full package. They have the content, they have the design, they have interaction across platforms, sometimes they even have discount codes and brand deals. They have the ability to translate life’s events into listicle form and have a matching photo to accompany said listicle.

My Aim With This Project

So, with all that said, what is the point of this project? Over the next few days, I aim to explore the following topics:

  1. Blogging as a Topic: What are the origins of blogging? Who is a blogger nowadays, and what elements make a successful blogger? Furthermore, what defines success as a blogger?
  2. Blogging in Relation to Myself: What elements of blogging can be used to my advantage in cultivating my own professional digital identity?
  3. Blogging in Relation to My Future Students: What elements of blogging can be used to help my future students? How can I help them become better writers?

Personally, my digital identity is focussed on history and education, so I need to keep an eye out of elements of blogging that will help me bolster my online presence in those areas.

We live in an age where writing is very polarized. Writing is either extremely casual and terse, such as in the form of a text or social media caption, or extremely academic, such as in the form of a research paper or project. I want to look at the in between. Thinking far along the line, I want my future middle or high school students to have good writing skills, and to be able to express themselves outside the confines of a teacher-assigned prompt.

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