Sunday, September 23, 2007

It's Like Family Therapy

We were the teenagers who yelled, "You NEVER LISTEN TO US!!! You NEVER ASK US HOW WE FEEL!!! WE HATE YOU!!!" (door slams) (angry girl music begins to play loudly in the background)

And, so, like most parents would, President Liebowitz and Dean Spears started blogs. They're trying to be hip; they're trying to communicate with us in a medium that we understand. We have to meet them half way. They want to listen, but first we have turn down the angry girl music and then post comments on their blogs.

To demonstrate, I have posted a comment on each of their blogs. See? Nothing bad has happened to me. They didn't send Officer Chris to my house to taser me.

Now, you. You comment, you provide feedback. Otherwise, they will make decisions that affect us without our input. Because we never said anything in the first place, we really won't be able to scream, "YOU NEVER LISTEN TO US!"

You can find links to their blogs to the left right. It's pretty self-explanatory which one's which.

9 comments:

Anonymous said...

or maybe to the right?

Sarah Franco said...

Yes, yes, the right. It's my other blog that has links on the left!

Jason Mittell said...

Sarah - do you think blogs are really a native & comfortable medium for most Midd students? I've used blogs in some of my classes, and invite students to come to my blog, but I've found that its a small fraction of students who feel comfortable using blogs. In a 50-person course last week, only around 5 knew what an RSS reader was, and only 1 person in my first-year seminar did.

Obviously Facebook is ubiquitous, but it seems like the majority of students are not blog readers, and even fewer are used to commenting or writing. Or am I hitting the wrong target audience, and there's a core group of Midd Bloggers who don't appear on my radar?

r.kellett said...

I don't think blogs are a native medium for most Middlebury students but I think it will increasingly become one as email is really beginning to push students away because of the flood of spam (by that, I mean legitimate spam) we get daily.

Facebook is ubiquitous but it also is like blogs and aggregation training wheels for a real RSS reader population. Facebook will make the transition to RSS readers a lot easier since people are very used to Facebook "feeds."

That said, MiddBlog certainly has its followers but, again, mostly in a direct format. Students are not really the ones using the RSS feeds. Students, instead, visit daily to the actual blog webpage.

As for admin blogging, I think it's a good thing overall. It may not catch on in the end, but the idea of communication is right.

Heidi Schmidt said...

I think Ryan's right-- I have no idea what an RSS reader is, but I do enjoy reading MiddBlog and the blogs of friends who are abroad. From reading the administration's blogs so far, it seems like a more personable, candid way to let the student body know what's going on than the mass emails we often get. It's definitely a step in the right direction.

Sarah Franco said...

Jason - blogs may not be a common medium for most Midd students, but the internet on-demand medium is. For some students, attending presidential office hours may not be convenient; it could even be intimidating. So, a blog offers just that: convenience. You can sit in your pajamas on a Sunday morning, eating the Cheerios you pilfered from Proctor, read what the president or the dean have to say and even respond, either in expository paragraphs or short comments. The benefit that a blog has over e-mail is mass communication: my responses are not seen solely by Liebowitz and Spears, but also by anyone who reads the blog. We thereby can have a dialogue.

I know Midd students have opinions and they love to express them. I witnessed this with Just Say No to the Middlebury Logo. Some got deeply involved, some were one hit wonders. So, there's no reason why a blog with comments feature couldn't be successful. Have you seen Wesleyan's equivalent of MiddBlog? http://www.wesleying.blogspot.com. It seems that it's pretty popular; maybe blogs just aren't a Midd thing?

Hallie said...

I like blogs but dislike RSS readers. What's the point of having a nice presentation and visual personality to your blog if it all gets stripped away in a feed? "One stop shopping" may be convenient but it's impersonal. Which is probably why I only read as many blogs as I can fit in my bookmarks bar...

r.kellett said...

Read Prof. Barbara Ganley's post about teaching first-year students about blogging:

http://tinyurl.com/yv9o9n

Interesting stuff about the status of blogs on the Middlebury campus from the perspective of a professor!

sarah said...

As a senior who has been reading and writing in blogs since high school, I've always found myself surprised at how rare it is to come across them at Middlebury (well, except when in an academic or "study abroad" context). Perhaps I'm an anomaly, but the majority of my friends in high school were quite aware of the various online journaling options out there, and we took advantage of it. Granted, these weren't (and aren't) the serious issue-oriented capital-B Blogs that seem more prevalent at Middlebury these days, but they were blogs all the same.

The summer before my freshman year, quite a few members of my class got to know one another on a community that someone created on LiveJournal (post-adolescent navel-gazing central, I know, I know). These were the pre-Facebook days, kids! But I haven’t seen any activity there since. Maybe the geek population at Middlebury is just more hidden. Hm…

On the topic of RSS feeds: if anyone out there is on LJ, I created a MiddBlog syndicated account here: http://syndicated.livejournal.com/middblog/
And for the record, I visit some blogs directly and read others via the Sage feed reader on FireFox. It depends on the blog.

on the books...