Friday, May 18, 2007

Students in the Public Space

It's really fascinating to me watching how my students enter a public space like the Internet when they begin blogging. Some come out very tentatively, carefully protecting their privacy. Others are more open, comfortable with revealing personal aspects about themselves. MySpace has certainly had an effect on this issue.

I'm continuing to review student blogs, at the rate of about three student blogs during each of my own blog entries. I am aiming to post two-three times a week, the same rate I am asking my students to aim for.

I'll also continue to use this as my reading blog. Now that I've finished the massive 6-month project of reading and reviewing Pynchon's Against the Day, I'll be turning towards a bit more accessible fare.

First the student blogs, the links to which can be found down on the lower right-hand side of my blog (some html expert out there--how do I fix my template to bring these links back up to the top?).

Tia's blog ( on digital photography and its impact on traditional film is interesting. At first I was a little disturbed by the use of "affect" in the blogs' title--it is used as a noun here, and affect is usually used as a verb, while "effect" is the more commonly used noun. However, affect can also be used as a noun, and when so used, it refers to the emotional aspects of an event. And I think Tia may be on to something here. The great German Jewish critic and philosopher, Walter Benjamin (, in a famous article "Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction," talks about how technologies of reproduction remove the "aura" from art. In a similar way, I think Tia is arguing that there is a certain "aura" lost when we switch from traditional film to digital photography. An I think this aura is a psychological "affect" of art. Intentional, or unintentional, I think I love the title!

Brian's Fort Wayne Baseball Blog ( is a blog we can all learn from--myself included. Brian is an experienced blogger, and his blog on downtown and the Harrison Square project has received quite a bit of attention. The most recent entry (by his collaborator Chris, not Brian) describes yesterday's downtown Art Crawl (a nice play on the traditional "Pub Crawl"). Brian is a good resource if you have technical questions about blogging--He knows a lot more about it than I do.

Krista has a fine blog, "Living Organic," which explores the organic lifestyle. Her choice of the "Green" template for her blog is a good example of how the form and visual design of your blog can be unified with the content of the blog! A nice beginning.

Now to my readings.

I just finished reading the late Roger Zelazny's Hugo-Award winning novel from 1966, This Immortal. Zelazny was one of the masters of "literary" science fiction, and this post-apocalyptic (think TV's Jericho) novel of an immortal bureaucrat is stuffed full of references to classical mythology.

My newest read is China Mieville's young adult fantasy novel Un Lun Dun ( I love Mieville's adult novels, but they can be challenging reads, so I wondered how he would handle the young adult genre. So far--brilliantly. I haven't been this excited about young adult fiction since I discovered Harry Potter and the Phillip Pullman novels.


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