Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Reflections On Creating An Enthusiast Blog Pt. 3

The first round of peer revisions took place in an online setting, on the Sakai forums. This review was based on our blog's "rough draft." Both my group members gave me positive feedback and said they liked my blog very much. They also offered me some tips. Both of them told me that perhaps I should shorten my posts, as they were extremely informational and may overwhelm the reader. While I valued their advice and could definitely see where they were coming from, I decided not to shorten my posts. As I stated before, I intended for my blog to function as not just a documentation of my struggle to quit cigarettes, but a truly useful resource for people who want to or are trying to quit cigarettes. I felt that I inculded a substantial and highly informative content, and even though it was long, was necessary to include all the information that I wanted to present. One piece of advice I did take from this forum was to make my pictures smaller. At this time they were definitely too big. This peer review session was very helpful, even though it didn't translate into many changes in my blog. The positive encouragment from my group mates gave me confidence in my blog. Previous to this I had been nervous about the quality of my blog, and that it may not be very interesting to read. Now I had confidence in it. As we learned before starting the project, confidence is huge when creating a successful blog of any kind.

Next came the Peer Workshop in class on Monday, where we were to have ready a polished, essentially final draft of our blog, complete with our four example posts. Here I received more positive commentary on my blog, and some more minor tips that were helpful. Basically my group mates said they liked my blog, found it interesting, and that it just needed a bunch of grammatical work, which I fixed for my final draft of my blog.

With the aesthetic design of my blog, I decided to just keep it simple. I added pictures that I felt would add to my blog and relate well to the content, but I tried to keep it relativley simple. I didn't want to overwhelm the reader with the aesthetic appearance.

I thoroughly enjoyed the process of creating an enthusiast blog. It was fun, interesting, and a great learning experience. As the explosion of technology in our society continues, our society will become increasingly viewed through the electronic medium. Due to this drastic shift, I feel it is definitely important for me to become familiar with how to use things like blogs and other methods of electronic communication that are beginning to dominate our culture. I see this project of creating an enthusiast blog as a valuable learning experience that has enlightened me to the world of blogging.

Reflections On Creating An Enthusiast Blog Pt. 2

Now that I had decided on the topic of my blog, it was time to begin customizing it. This began by creating a blog title, description, and authoring an "About Me" paragraph that could not exceed 500 words. I decided upon the title 'Up In Smoke" because I thought it was not boring, and may draw in a reader. For my blog description, I decided to keep it simple. Even though our this description could be up to 1200 words, I feel that the four words I chose to use ("Its My Time To Quit) perfectly describe what my blog is all about. Also, my "About Me" section provides more information to the reader about my blog. It tells why I decided to quit, and what the intentions of my blog are. I also tried to convey my personality to the reader through my this section.

As I prepared to author my first post, I considered who my target audience would be with this blog, and how I should tailor my blog accordingly. I wanted to make my blog interesting to all people; smokers, non-smokers, and in particular people who have or are trying to quit smoking. Based upon this broad target audience, I decided that the content of my blog would be a combination of information/material. I would document my own personal struggle with quitting, detailing the methods I was trying, how they were working, etc. Hopefully this documentation of my struggle would be interesting to people, but it would also provide structure and continuity to my blog. My posts and their content were to be based on my day-to-day experience in quitting.

I also decided that with my blog I could create sort of a resource center or reference for other people trying to quit. I felt that if my blog simply recounted my own daily efforts to quit, it may be kind of boring and wouldn't be very useful. I decided that in addition to documentation of my process of quitting, I would post detailed information about the options that exist for people trying to quit smoking. This way, not only would my blog detail my effort, it could potentially be useful for an audience of people who share my struggle and goal to ditch nicotine.

I feel my blog reflects this "two-pronged" function. It contains both details of my efforts to quit, and I also feel it is extremely factual and informational concerning the function, effectivness, and worth of quit-smoking options that exist. If my blog were to exceed 4 posts, it would continue to be presented in this manner: a combination of a documentation of my efforts, along with researched, scientifically-based information. Furthermore, in authoring my blog I aimed for a writing style that is clever, funny, interesting, and not too dry. I also included pictures that I found to be funny and sensical in relation to the content.

After creating a "rough draft," of our blogs, which featured our title, description, and About Me, it was time to enter the revision, fine-tuning, and completion phase of creating an Enthusiast Blog.

Reflections on Creating An Enthusiast Blog

I have completed my first project, and have created the beginning of an enthusiast blog. Creating an enthusiast blog was definitely an interesting and enjoyable experience. Coming into this project, I had no experience with blogs at all; reading or writing them, so I was slightly nervous that I was going to struggle in the process of creating my own blog. In the end though, it was a great learning experience that I took alot out of and also truly enjoyed doing.

Before we began crafting our enthusiast blogs, we read the article by Stefenac which served as an introduction to clubhouse/enthusiast blogs and how they work, what they are all about, and the critical components that make up a successful enthusiast blog. In the article Stefenac stated that the true success of an enthusiast blog comes with the passion the writer feels for their particular topic: "They are authored by individuals with an honest love of their topics and who take delight in cultivating both their topic areas and their audiences." The article also included excerpts from a real enthusiast blog written by Mr. Jalopy. This article was extremely helpful in familiarizing me with enthusiast blogs, and it really gave me a good feel for how they work and began to give me ideas for what I wanted to do with my blog. Reading and analyzing Stefenac's article laid the foundation for the process of creating my own enthusiast blog.

The next step was brainstorming a potential topic for my enthusiast blog. I knew that I needed my focus to be something that I felt passionantley about and would be a topic through which I could convey certain aspects of my personality to my audience. My initial five topics I came up with as potential topics did not actually include the topic I settled on. Around the same time as this brainstorming process was going on, I was undergoing my own personal struggle: quitting smoking. Just as it was coming time to settle on a topic for our blogs, I decided that quitting smoking could be the perfect topic for my clubhouse blog. My desire to quit smoking was something I felt passionatley about, and by documenting my struggle I felt I could portray my personality to my audience.

I concluded that quitting smoking would be the focus of my enthusiast blog. Now that I had taken this first major step of picking a topic for my blog, it was time to begin constructing my enthusiast blog.

Monday, September 21, 2009

My Enthusiast Blog

Topic: I have decided that the topic of my enthusiast blog will be quitting smoking cigarettes. While this was not one of my original topic ideas from my first brainstorm, I think this will be a good topic for my blog that will also be interesting and helpful for me personally. I feel that this topic is specific enough, but not too specific.

Audience: I am honestly not sure what type of audience I would like to attract. I intend for this to hopefully be a blog that will be interesting for anyone to read, although I think it may be difficult to intrigue non-smokers to reading a blog about quitting smoking. Perhaps my primary audience will be people who can sympathize with my struggle and who share a similar enthusiasm and determination as myself towards quitting, this would seem to make the most sense.

Personality: Quitting smoking cigarettes is a process I have struggled with for almost a year now. I have made serious, concentrated efforts towards kicking the habit but have repeatedly relapsed. I truly want to quit smoking. It is a dirty habit that will have very serious, even possibly deadly, health consequences if I continue. But it is extremely difficult as nicotine is crippling in its addictive nature. Smoking is not only physically addicting, but it is habitually addicting as well. While I am still deciding on how exactly my blog is going to be arranged and formatted, I intend for my enthusiast blog to focus on the options that exist out there for people to quit smoking. Furthermore, I hope to include informational articles on this as well as on the extreme negative consequences that come with the habit of smoking cigarettes as well as updates on my own personal struggle with quitting, and details of the various methods I am employing.

Possible Titles: -Up In Smoke –Quitting Smoking –Beating Addiction –Smoking Addiction –No More Butts

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Potential Enthusiast Blog Ideas

1. Boston Sports: Perhaps my primary passion in life is sports. I grew up playing all sports, and have always loved playing, watching, writing about, talking about, and being around sports. I would narrow this down even further to Boston sports, as I feel most passionantley about Boston sports teams. I may even narrow this down further to focus on one Boston sports team in particular (Red Sox, Patriots, Celtics, Bruins)

2. The City of Boston: I have lived in the city of Boston my entire life, and I love the city. Perhaps I could focus my enthusiast blog on some aspect of the city.

3. Food- I love to eat. All kinds of food.

4. Movies

5. Televison

Response to Stefenac

I found Stefenac's piece to be a fascinating insight into the world of enthusiast blogs, a world completley unknown to me. The article was interesting, humorous, and I know will be helpful as I work to create my own enthusiast blog. Stefenac illustrates how enthusiast blogs are the perfect settings for people to discuss and share their personal passions, no matter how quirky or strange they are, and also as an oppurtunity to put their unabashed selves on display. She in fact states that this willingness to do just this is perhaps the most important step in creating a successful enthusiast blog: "the enthusiast blog earning the most plaudits are those that not only highlight the author's obsessions, but that also serve as showcases for their personalities." I have no experience as a blogger, and I believe that Stefenac's piece, particullarly her "Tips for enthusiast bloggers" will serve as extremely helpful guidelines as I create my own blog.

The interview with Mr. Jalopy was a fascinating look into the world of an enthusiastic enthusiast blogger. He fully illustrates what it means to be a blogger and how you must go about this to be successful. I also liked what he said about why he prefers blogging to more traditional forms of print, media writing: "There is a big responsibility to be accurate with the facts in print media. If for no other reason, it is difficult to revise once the magazine is on the newstand. When I am writing for Hooptyrides, I am writing for my buddies. Fast and loose, peppered with dirty words and outrageous statements." Here Mr. Jalopy highlights what I truly see to be the biggest advantage of blogging: the oppurtunity to offer your unbridled, uncensored opinions on anything; an oppurunity most mainstream media outlets lack.

Before this class, I was very skeptical about the world of blogging and honestly thought blogging was kind of stupid. However now after reading Blood and Stefenac's pieces on blogging, I admit I am beginning to see increasingly the positive and useful aspects of blogging. I think this piece by Stefenac in particular will be extremely helpful in my creation of my own enthusiast blog.

Monday, September 14, 2009

My Experience with Blogging

My personal experience with Blogging is little to none. This blog, which I have only created because it is an integral aspect of this class, is the first blog I have ever even though of authoring. To be honest, I have never created a blog because I never really thought anyone would be interested in the dissension of my daily activities, which generally consist of not very overly exciting events. Furthermore, as I stated in my previous post in response to Rebbecca Blood's article, the virtual world of blogging has always been extremely overwhelming to me. If I decided I wanted to dive into this world, I honestly wouldn't even know where to begin.

As a reader, I also do not have very much experience with blogs. I believe that I definitely use the internet less than the average person my age. While I check Facebook regularly, aside from this and school purposes, I do not spend very much time browsing the web. I suppose my only real experience as a blog reader is the occasional browsing through one of my favorite websites "" This website is a Filter-style weblog, authored by one man from my hometown of Boston who refers to himself as "El Presidente." On this site he posts a broad range of material: Funny Youtube videos, ridiculous news stories, Boston sports stories etc. In conjunction with all of the material he posts, 'El presidente" offers his own, often hilarious, often ridiculous opinions. My reading of this blog is more for mere entertainment and comedy purposes, not for the absorption of any real, useful information.

I hope that during this course, I will become increasingly enlightened in the world of blogging, perhaps even leading to an increase in my activity as a blogger.

Response to Rebecca Blood's Article: "Weblogs: A History and Perspective"

To be perfectly honest, I have always been extremely skeptical, at best, about the relevance and usefulness of blogs. I was intrigued by this article because I hoped it would help shed some light on why blog's are becoming increasingly prevalent in every day society, and perhaps provide some arguments supporting blogs as a legitimately useful tool.

Blood's article provided a detailed account of the evolution of web logs. In concurrence with the rapid explosion of technology that has occurred in the past decade, the development of blogs was rapid. As Blood points out, in 1999, there were just 23 known blogs in existence. By September of 2000, there were thousands of them. As I stated before, the popularity of blogs is something that has always baffled me. Blood's article however, allowed me to understand a bit the function and attractiveness that blogging possesses. Throughout her article, Blood points out how blogs allow the public to be active participants in the daily media. Before the internet, the public received their media through a limited number of mainstream outlets, controlled by larger, corporate America. Blood's article pointed out to me the fact that the increasing prevalence and significance of blogging in the past decade has created a whole new element to mainstream news in our country, and the sources from which the public absorbs news. "Web log editiors participate in the dissemination and interpretation of the news that is fed to us every day. Their sarcasm and fearless commentary reminds us to question the vested interests of our sources of information and the expertise of individual reporters as the file news stories about subjects they may not fully understand" (Blood). Here I feel Blood best illustrates the main power the bloggers possess: The ability to provide thousands of alternative viewpoints and opinions to the mainstream outlets of the media that has fed our society essentially up until the creation of the internet. Furthermore, Blood points out how blogs have created an oppurunity for thousands to become active participants in our country's media. Blogs have made the dissention of information in our country to be an interactive process, and empowered everyday Americans to put their own spin on the world they see around them.

While Blood provided ample support for the benefits of blogging, she also illustrated the potential downsides of blogging. I believe that many people, like myself, feel a certain hesitiation or uneasyness about diving into the world of blogging. "But the average reader, hopefully clicking through to the Eatonweb portal, found herself faced with an alphabetical list of a thousand weblogs. Not knowing where to begin, she quickly retrated back to" (Blood). here, Blood perfectly depicts my hesitance towards relying/using blogs as a regular source of information, and my continued reliance and trust in mainstream news outlets such as While I do understand that SOME blogs may be accurate, useful, and intelligent, I f eel the overwhelming ammount of blogs on the internet are mindless, useless, and more concerned with the viewpoint of the particular author, a viewpoint that I believe may often be more narrow-minded than traditional news outlets. Furthermore, the world of blogs is an overwhelming one. Its size and confusing nature alone is enough to steer me away. Furthermore, Blood points out the corporate power will always reign supreme over the media, and assure that the true power and significance of bloggers remains minute in comparison to major corporate media powers.

As a person with very little knowledge about the practice of blogging, Rebecca Blood's article was enlightening and interesting. It not only provided me with detailed information concerning the historical evolution of blogs, but also pointed out the pros and cons that come with blogs.

Friday, September 11, 2009

What is Writing?

Writing is the expression of thoughts, ideas, emotions and feelings using words as the means of conveying these things to the reader. 

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