Friday, May 30, 2008

Laughing at Your Blog? A Truth or Dare Meme

1. What gets the biggest laugh about how you blog?
2. What gets the biggest laugh about what you blog?

Your readers won't tell you to your face, so you may just have to drag your imagination out of denial. This is an open meme, if you can play. Would you dare post, honestly, on 1. and 2.?

(Don't wait for your friends or the researchers to tease this out of you!)

One of my friends on campus who's doing Ph.D. research on blogging, met with me in my office yesterday.

Involuntarily, he laughed (talking about my blog):

"What I find most interesting is your readers' comments to you! It's fascinating that there is anyone on the planet who can talk feminism and rhetoric and translation all at once."

He was laughing at my blog's what. Was he also laughing at me and you too? Are we also The Who?

But by far his biggest "LOL" literally to my face, right in my ears, was on my blog's how. Here's what he tried to tell me:

"Some of your posts are two (chuckle) . . . are two thousand (snicker) . . . are two thousand words long (guffaw). Are you trying to be blogger counter cultural? Do long posts (just smiling now, but a repressed smile) really win you readers? Do you think the world audience is really that patient? That understanding?"

(Which sent me into a bit of slump trying to answer.
I kept wondering about Aristotle's comments on audience,
and what it would have been like if he'd been able to blog his long treatise called the Rhetoric.
And whether university professors of "rhetoric" could assign their graduate students to read his blog.
And about the women, whom Aristotle's blog leaves out, reading his many posts.
And whether anyone who didn't read his Greek would use google translator tools online or alta vista's babelfish.

Now I'm just humming Larry Norman again:

nothing really changes
everything remains the same
we are what we are, till the day that we die

would aristotle be an acid head?)

Who's reading now, and will you play along? Dare you.?


David Ker said...

"Ph.D. research on blogging..."

Um, duh. Never heard of her. I suppose she blogs? And she doesn't understand that one reason we blog is to hear our own voice and discover what we think by wiggling our fingers. So please provide us a blog link so we can do some laughing.

Yes, it is true that your posts are laughably long, but I just skip over excessive detail and try to focus on the juicy parts (especially checking to see if you mention me!) Don't change a thing.

I will take you up on this meme.

J. K. Gayle said...

So please provide us a blog link so we can do some laughing.

I'll ask permission. Your request reminds me of the deep insight of this one research "subject" (an African American person who taught himself to read while incarcerated) in a famous "literacy studies" ethnography. Without flinching, the researcher quotes the carefully-studied "subject" who gets his say about all the objective researchers; the "subject" says: "I'd say I was their guinea pig and they were my specimens, because I was studying them, too." (Let me just add this: the English Department types in the U.S. are freaking over "new media," which they think they should be teaching if first-year composition gets compromised, or coopted, or booted. Besides that, the digital natives don't seem to need to be taught finger wiggling for voice lessons because they already come to the university as bloggers, texters, wikiers, webpager makers, youtubers, googlers, and other sorts of writers. So why should college cost so much when the students are teaching the profs?)

Wow, come to think of it, all the details even here in this long comment are pretty juicy. Which should you skip over and so rob yourself of that laugh?

Looking forward to your take on this meme!

J. K. Gayle said...

One little juicy detail I meant you not to skip over (though I did above), Guess what "color" all of the researchers of the self-teaching African American subject is? Yep, they're all "white."

Anonymous said...

Been thinking about this one all day. I suppose the what and how that people would laugh about on my blog are the same things they would laugh (or cringe or roll their eyes) about me being me in face to face life. I use way more words than necessary to get my point out. And I still have a hard time getting my point out. I'm all over the place with what I'm thinking about, or more accurately, probably, I jump around and don't always make good connections between the things I'm thinking about. I'm not confident enough in how I express myself. I think too much (no, I don't believe all those things about myself, but those are things about me that rub up against other people when I'm most freely being me.) And I don't even always make sense.

As a matter of fact, those are some of the reasons I DO blog! To be myself in a place where I'm not always trying to translate myself for people so that (1) they can follow me (2) they don't lose what I'm saying for all the words it takes me to say it and (3) I can think out loud (which I need to be able to do as part of articulating my thoughts and feelings) but without all the social pressures of face to face dialogue.

I didn't blog to get a great readership. I'm as surprised as anybody who would find something to laugh about regarding the hows and whats of my blog, that I have anybody who reads what I write and who is willing to enter into dialogue with me on it.

My friends were all bummed when they found out I had been blogging and hadn't told them. Now that they know (and it took over six months before I did), most of them don't read my blog anyway. It works out well--I get a practice run articulating the things I think about without having to process and try to accommodate the confused or dazed looks while also trying to form the words for the first time. And, hopefully, when I do talk about it face to face, I'm a bit more focused and less confusing (though I wouldn't bet on my being any more efficient with words).

Mostly it's nice to blog how I'm thinking without worrying about how my trying to say all of these things to someone will end up being a pressure on them to have to (1) read all the words and (2) respond to them. If you come to my blog and read, it's because you want to and not because you are socially obligated to do so as my friend, whether or not you are tired of all my words and overkill thinking/analyzing/feeling on a given topic. And if you respond, it's because you want to.

I don't blog because I think I'm a great writer. I don't blog because I want to be a great writer. I don't blog because I think I have great things to say that the world needs to hear, from my perspective. I blog because I have things I think about that I want to talk about. And I love to dialogue about them. But I needed a place to talk about them where I could do that and where I wouldn't feel the pressure of alienating or confusing people because of the HOW I express myself.

So I can see that someone could laugh about my blogging in the same way your professor did. But, for me, that's the whole point. It's a much freer world with regards to what we read than it is what we listen to orally. In spoken life, there are all kinds of rules for being heard or understood better, and those matter to me, in the sense that I do want what I say to be heard by those I'm saying them to.

In blogging, I don't care if 2000 words is not the way to get my point across. It's the way for me to express my point easiest, and if someone hangs in there for all 2000 words, sigh, that's a nice thing. If not, I'll count it as a practice run and be better able to talk about it in hearable ways, hopefully, among my face to face friends, once I've thought about it in all 2000 words.

It's been nice to be so totally free in how I communicate online, and still find that there are people who can follow along and who enjoy dialoguing with me, in spite of, and sometimes even, because, of how I express myself.

bethany said...

I'll tell you what makes ME laugh about my blog: that I follow a post about bakhtin in church with one about The Girls Next Door.

I clicked to your blog from your Feministing comment and was surprised to see so much we have in common: I'm a rhetorician (in communication, not english) and a feminist (though my work has little to do with gender or the classics). Isn't the internet wonderful?

J. K. Gayle said...

I have never ever ever read a better blog post comment than yours here. Thank you thank you, for sharing your words and thoughts, so freely, so free, so freeing. Now, I just reread every word. Now I'll be thinking about that all day!

J. K. Gayle said...

Thanks for your coherent and smart comment at feministing. And for finding this blog and commenting. You've got a great blog, and I say that with some humility right before saying Yes we do have a lot in common. But back to your blog: you've made a subscriber out of me and yours is now blogrolled over here. Are you blogging your work? Are you into the dissertation?

Bob MacDonald said...

In David Attenborough's TV series Life on Earth, he called us the compulsive communicators. Whether it is with ourselves, or with God or with each other, don't forget your compulsion. I have a language challenge going on here - the heading of that post is supposed to be funny - but as you know I am no joker. May your laughs reach deep.

Anonymous said...

J.K., If you were David, I'd be a little suspicious that you were teasing me in your compliment on my comment... From you, I'll receive it with appreciation. I usually have a little latent guilt for how long some of my comments end up. That you didn't mind and actually thanked me for sharing so "freely", well, that made my day.

Bob, I like the picture of "compulsive communicators". I love how creatively and differently people communicate. David Attenborough is one of my children's favorites, when it comes to videos.

J. K. Gayle said...

Wow, what fun for a non joker! Thank you for Attenborough's reminders, what a relief to us compulsive types! And thanks for that link. Not sure I played along well enough, but I did laugh deeply there. Thanks again.

J. K. Gayle said...

If I were David, you should be more than a little suspicious. So much in me, in us, in David even I might suspect, is latent, which the other David (Attenborough) helps us and our own children with, as you and Bob point out. I sincerely love your writing.

David Ker said...

If I were David. And I am, I would wonder what the heck y'all are talking about.

J. K. Gayle said...

Welcome back, David. It's always good to hear your voice. You're making me wonder now, and whether I've ever read Jacqueline Jones Royster's "When the First Voice You Hear is Not Your Own."

Happy Birthday, to your Mother!

My son is 19 today. One party done, and his second one coming up. I'd be a teenager again if they'd throw me multiple parties.

Bill Heroman said...

Aristotle lived before blogs. Therefore, he had much less competetion for readership. ;)

J. K. Gayle said...

Good point, Bill. I always wondered what Aristotle's drive was to teach the boys, like Alexander, to read and to set up more schools when they conquered the world.