Blog Culture: the final frontier

Students sound off on the pros and cons of blogging

Wil Wheaton, seen here with Lavar Burton, is king of blogs.
Wil Wheaton, seen here with Lavar Burton, is king of blogs.
Credit: 
Photo courtesy of The Wil Wheaton Shrine

Trevor Haldenby, 22 Toronto film student
Blogger since 1998

I’ve been blogging for about six years now. I started out with a rapid succession of equally rapidly abandoned LiveJournal accounts [there’s a reason the bloody service quotes upwards of 4.5 million users, you know] and in the last year moved over to a blog hosted privately at a domain I run with a number of my friends— exposedbrain.com.

There are people claiming that blogging eliminates the development of lives, thoughts, and intellects along with that of the social life. The blog’s potential as the great micro-narrative and postmodern tool seems to have fallen to the side. I’ve had numerous troublingly personal encounters with this problem.

Blogging also teaches you to be a better thinker, strategist, and publisher while you produce the content, however self-referentially concerned it may be.

So after constantly having my surprises spoiled and my comment page raided by webcam-girls and penis enlargement marketers, why am I still at it? Because at the end of the day, McClelland and Stewart aren’t exactly breaking down my doors, and the good people at Criterion aren’t itching to put out a DVD of my work, featuring never-before-seen photo galleries. At least, not yet.

*Note: Trevor also met his wife Nikki Woolsey on a Livejournal community for fans of the Talking Heads just over a year ago.

Alison Forsey, ArtsSci ’08
Blogger since 2000

I like it because its a new form of the diary, I can whine and be angry and ecstatic, and my best friends can read it, or if I don’t want them to, I have the opportunity to limit that as well. I like the control I have over other people reading my thoughts, without having to censor myself.

Emily Cho, Arts ’04
Blogger since 2003

I love meeting people with similar interests, discovering new interests, meeting people in the same geographic areas, keeping in touch with friends (and not having to repeat the same thoughts/news to different friends all the time!) I hate LJ drama—it’s extremely childish and stupid.

Martina Tam, ArtsSci ’08
Blogger since 1999.

Blogging is a convenient and easy way to record my life. Thanks to communities like queens and queens08—the latter of which I run—I even got to know some fellow frosh before even arriving here! I don’t hate too many aspects about the blogging community, except for maybe things like “ratings communities” and drama. It can be fun if taken lightly, but when it isn’t, it can get ugly.

Steve Birek, Arts ’04
Radio-guy and student Toronto, Ontario

Blogging is lame . . . but you should check out my blog at guystevos.blogspot.com.

Worth Looking For: Some of the Best Blogs on the Internet

Wilwheaton.net

The actor who played Wesley Crusher on Star Trek: The Next Generation and the sad little kid in Stand By Me now has one of the most popular “celebrity” blogs on the internet and has published two best-selling books. Self-deprecating, introspective and funny as hell, Wheaton proves that “former child stars” can still find success in other mediums.

darn-tootin.com

Texan blogger Rob Rummel-Hudson has produced a blog that is both well-written and extremely quirky. Check out “Gratuitous Baby Photo of the Week.”

accordionguy.blogware.com/

“The Adventures of Accordion Guy in the 21st Century” is written by a former Queen’s electrical engineering student named Joey deVilla who also writes for Golden Words. If that wasn’t enough to entice you, Joey has tons of great links, and regularly posts weird comic strips.

everythingiswrongwithme.blogspot.com/

The author of this blog, New Yorker Jason Mulgrew, describes himself as “a pervert/quasi internet-celebrity who is 25, bipolar and hungry.” Absolutely hilarious.

Hey - so what is a blog, anyway?

The term “web-logging” was coined by website owner Jorn Barger in 1997.

Early “blogs” were sites that mixed personal thoughts and commentary with informative links. They were generally only created by people who already had computer skills or HTML knowledge. (HTML is the coded format/language that determines how a web page appears.)

By the late 1990s, user-friendly client programs like Livejournal and Blogger were created. Now anyone could create a weblog—although, to have a good one, it definitely helps to know a little HTML.

Around this time, a major innovation in blogging occurred with the creation of Metafilter.com. This community-based weblog is open to anyone who has a link or comment about interesting/bizarre things found on the web. Metafilter has won web awards left, right and center, and was named one of Forbes’ “Five Best Media Blogs” of 2003.

In August/September of 2004, another huge step was taken in the blogging world when a select number of roughly 20 bloggers were given media credentials for the 2004 Republican and Democratic National Conventions. This was a major step for blogging as a legitimate and recognized journalistic practice.

Even Larry King leapt into the fray, posting updates on CNN’s Convention Blog.

“It’s a new thrill for me to blog,” he said. “In fact, blogging may become my life.”

With files from CNN.com and rebeccablood.com

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