Monday 9 April 2012

WEB206 - Week 6: The Public Voice

If what we are seeking to do in online publishing is to establish a recognisable Web presence then two issues are of particular importance: Authority and Ethics. Authority is established in part by knowing your topic well, but you can also read over Topic 1.2: Sourcing Information on the Web to understand how authority is established by effective linking to other sites that cover the same ground. Ethics, on the other hand, is a matter of personal integrity - long-time blogger Rebecca Blood offers some advice in the readings about how you can maintain an ethical stance in your writing.

Over the last few years there has been a rise in what has been termed 'citizen journalism'; topics that in the past were written about by dedicated professionals have become the domain of amateur writers who establish their popularity through engagement with their audience and a sense that they know what they are writing about. This does not mean that 'anyone' can become a successful blogger (or online writer of any kind). The most successful of those amateurs, the bloggers who have managed to establish a reputation within their particular field of interest, are not in that position by chance. As much as the Web is a democratic medium, it rewards those who can utilise the platform effectively. Writing for a public audience is a skill that is learned through practice and observation. This week, we are looking at how you can develop your writing skills in the context of a blog post, but the advice offered here applies to most kinds of online writing.

This week's readings:
Lomborg, S. (2009). Navigating the Blogosphere: Towards a genre-based Typology of Weblogs. First Monday, 14(5).
Blood, R. (2002). Weblog Ethics. In The Weblog Handbook: Practical Advice on Creating and Maintaining Your Blog. Perseus.
Rowse, D. (2008). Nine Signs of an Effective Blog Post. Retrieved September 9th, 2009, from

Do you agree with the suggestion in Walker's article (last week's readings) that the blogosphere can be seen as a revitalising influence on the public sphere?
I found Walker's paper really interesting.  The idea that the cultural effects of print and the rise in literacy created a separation into private and public spheres in the last couple of hundred years, and that blogging is now collapsing that divide, is something I hadn't thought about before but it does make some sense.  So while I'm not convinced that "revitalising" is the right word, I can certainly agree with Walker that blogging is having a profound effect on the public sphere.

Setting aside the Internet, in what other areas of your life do you contribute to the public sphere?
Last year I became involved in a local community group that was created in response to the local council's draft redevelopment plan - although, my contribution to date has mostly been the Internet side of things - website, email lists, etc.!  I also get involved in my kid's school but again, I tend to get involved in ways that I can contribute via my computer.  What can I say, I'm a geek. :>

What blogs do you read for informational purposes? Why?
I've tried RSS feeds and never really got into it - my tool of choice is Twitter, which I use as a sort of pseudo-RSS feed to click off to a variety of different blog posts and articles from there.  I use a Twitter plugin for Firefox called Yoono which sits on the side of my browser, so I don't have to have any extra windows open.  I have a number of lists setup within Twitter and also have a few different Twitter accounts, which can be loosely broken down into work/web-related stuff, footy (go Hawks!), study-related, funny things and friends.

Writing Task:  Available at


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