Tag Archives: A Companion to Digital Literary Studies

Review of Aimeée Morrison’s “Blogs and Blogging: Text and Practice”

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Aimeée Morrison’s article in “A Companion to Digital Literary Studies“, makes it a welcoming and exciting new world, ready to be explored by anyone and everyone that has access to a computer and the internet. Morrison’s article is informative and helpful and makes the reader want to power up the computer and start writing.

Morrison’s article shattered all illusions that I had about blogs. Before reading the article I thought blogs were something unemployed writers and stay at home mothers used to occupy their time. Morrison’s article opened up a whole new world to me: the Blogosphere. Morrison’s introduction to the blogging community, from its humble beginnings to over 54 million blogs approximately ten years later shows the power of this medium. Morrison explains the growth of blogs has created a whole new community. In the early years, we learn that the medium was occupied by a small group computer whizzes but as the number of blogs has grown and access to blogs has become easier thanks to sites like wordpress.com and blogger.com and many others the community developed to accept all types of writers. Morrison informs readers there are many different genres of blogs out there in the Blogosphere. All types of people contribute to this online community; from journalists to political writers or just amateur writers hoping to be noticed by publishers, even academics take advantage of the less formal setting to interact with their peers and lecturers. It is fair to say, there is a bog out there for everyone.

Morrison talks about the benefits of blogging over traditional media. Blogging allows the writer to move away from traditional restrictions of the A4 page incorporating video clips, audio clips and images to enhance their writing and not worry about cost as one would with print media. Everything about the blog can be customized to suit the audience that it is directed at; from the background to the text even the length of the posts could determine who reads it. Morrison also highlights the benefits of subscriptions to help readers keep up to date with their favourite blogs and Blogrolls, which allow readers to find blogs of similar content that may interest them. The most fascinating aspect that Morrison uses to sell the blog is the idea of Comments. This feature allows readers to give the author feedback.

However, Morrison’s article is not totally one sided, she gives a balanced view of blogs. Though the Blogosphere is open to all who wish to enter it – the internet originally being established to give everybody a level playing field – this could also be its downfall. When reading a blog the reader has to be aware what they are reading may not be factual. In the Blogosphere there is no guarantee that the person that wrote what you read actually knows what they are talking about. One of the advantages of the blog and one of the many reasons that people are attracted to it is the anonymity and lack of regulations. Lack of regulations means that anyone can write about anything at anytime, therefore the reader has to be vigilant in accepting what they read as gospel. Morrison gives the example of Rebecca Blood, a journalist and blogger who tried to employ journalistic regulations when writing her blog, but this was when the blogging community was much smaller. Now people who had no journalistic backgrounds were setting up their own blogs meaning this idea fell by the wayside. Not only do no regulations affect the readers of blogs it also affects what people write about, the issue of libel and liability has to be taken into consideration by the author. Morrison tells us that there has been the development of another new word thanks to the Blogosphere; “Dooced” refers to bloggers who have been fired by their employers because of something that they wrote on their blog. This is on ongoing problem in the Blogosphere, as Morrison states to introduce regulations now would take away from one of the biggest appeals of the blog.

Before reading Morrison’s article I was unaware that there was such a big world out there at just the push of a button. The article shows that there was a lot more to blogging than I originally thought and there are lot of issues that still have to be worked out with the regulation and reliability of the Blogosphere as a reliable resource.

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“For Better or Worse” Review of Alan Liu’s “Imagining the New Media Encounter”

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On first reading Alan Liu’s article “Imagining the New Media Encounter” in “A Companion to Digital Literary Studies” the only part that I could identify with was the native in the McLuhan example. So, armed with a pen, a notepad, a dictionary and a search engine I began to wade through Liu’s article. Liu presents his argument as the media having an effect on the people who use it, not as one may have thought, the reader or the writer using the media changing the media to suit them. “For better or worse, media changes us.”

This article needed several readings before I could even begin to understand it. The major drawback of the article was the language that Liu employed. The Alan Liu article throws readers in at the deep end. The reader is practically drowning under information on new media, as with this new medium comes a new language. A technical language. It is this technical language that is most disconcerting to the reader. The language, which Liu uses to describe the internet, makes it seem like an incredibly daunting place.

However, the tedious technical language that Liu uses to illustrate the “first encounters” with new media is interrupted by insightful examples of the ways in which people have accepted these changes in media. From Plato’s disapproval of the written media to the child-like acceptance of McLuhan’s native. Even from these two examples we can see the stages of encountering new media as Liu presents it. The initial moment when this new phenomenon takes its place in society and begins to change the world as Plato knew it. Plato’s fear that literacy would change the people; they would become lazy and not use their brains. Then we have the native, learning how to write, although he does not know what he is doing he attempts to write on the paper. We see here that new forms of media do change the people and we accept them begrudgingly, hoping for the best.

The fascinating thing about Liu’s article was tracking the development of media, from oral society to the digital age. Liu highlights the developments in media from oral media to paper media, paper media to digital media. These developments show that there is no “pure” media. Every type of media affected by the one that went before it. By taking this view Liu’s article illustrates that the form in which the media is presented to the reader affects how the reader sees the content that is being addressed. This in turn changes the reader. Liu argues that the media is central to how the message that it conveys in received. However, Liu’s article also embraces new forms of media as they incorporate the old media into them while advancing themselves. Sound, text, images and even video clips can be utilised to enhance the message.

Liu’s article although difficult to read, gives the reader something to think about while reading a newspaper article or listening to a report. The transition from oral to written society changed how the ways in which people are remembered historically. Literacy gives readers something perceptible rather than remembering or just hearing and repeating a story and maybe getting it wrong. Therefore people were more conscientious in the ways that they recorded information. Nowadays, news channels take advantage of all these forms of media. Using new media like the internet to project stories around the world. They use recordings of newscasters; which incorporate oral media; they provide visual media through the use of videos and images while they also include some text or written report on the story. The new media that Liu discusses also affects other areas of the media encroaching on oral and print media with social networking and e-books becoming more and more popular.