Week 4 Assignment Guide


Photo by Negative Space

In the early 2000s, the end of the “.com” era saw the rise of “Web 2.0” as a loosely defined trend in online content generation where everyday users — not traditional media producers — created the content that defined digital culture. Blogs more than any other modality came to symbolize the freedom and autonomy made available by new networks and new platforms. In some ways, that role has since been supplanted by social media, but blogging remains an accessible and powerful tool for sharing one’s ideas. In this module, your challenge is to become a blogger.


For Monday (8am)

Research one or more of the following questions about blogging online. 

  • When did blogging start? Why?
  • Who is blogging now? Are there demographic data available, and if so, what does it indicate?
  • Is there a resonant cultural idea of what “a blogger” is, either on or offline? What kind of person is “a blogger”?
  • How have blogs, bloggers, or blogging factored into US politics?
  • How have blogs, bloggers, or blogging changed in the past few years?
  • What are the privacy and vulnerability concerns surrounding blogging today? Do those concerns impact some (groups of) people more than others.

Leave at least one annotation on at least two articles that you find while researching these questions via hypothes.is, in our digitalstudies group.

For Tuesday (8am)

Read through your some of colleagues' annotations on the resources they found for Monday on the hypothes.is page for the digitalstudies group. Choose a couple articles that sound interesting based on the annotations and read them before class.

Tuesday class meeting

We will discuss the ideas that emerge from your research and your annotations. Then we will get an opportunity to show off any blogging that some of you have already done. If you've already got a blog going, consider preparing to explain your process: what do you write about? why? what do you share/omit? how often do you delete your old content? how long do you plan to keep it up on the web?

Some questions for class discussion:

  • Who blogs today? What do they look like? (including your own blogs)
  • Can you make money blogging?
  • What's a microblog?
  • What is Facebook? Twitter? Snapchat?
  • What is the Hufington Post?
  • How does the attention economy impact online writing? (and media more generally)

We'll also read (in class) and discuss danah boyd's "Hacking the Attention Economy."

For Thursday

Choose a couple (or more) of the following tasks that fit well with your interests and/or your plans for your domain and tackle them. Come to class prepared to show off what you have done, and seek/provide feedback with your colleagues.

  • Install one or more blog platforms (in addition to any you have already installed).
  • Try posting on each platform and reflect on the differences.
  • Practice customizing your site through whatever means those platforms make available.
  • Set up Google Analytics or Piwik (available in Installatron, more privacy conscious than Google Analytics) and install it in each of your platforms. Use it to learn more about who visits your site and why.
  • Choose a topic or theme based on your understanding of the present culture of blogging and begin to write. With your preferred platform (see above) challenge yourself to a posting schedule: once a day, twice a day, or a word-limit per day.
  • Experiment with different genres of blog post: review, response, reflection, rant — even a “listicle” is a kind of blogging.
  • As you write, enrich your posts with judiciously-integrated media elements such as links, embedded youtube videos, and so on.
  • Use other networks like Twitter, Facebook, or anywhere else to share your posts and build your audience.
  • Use analytics (see above) to measure which posts and post types are the most successful and reflect on why.

Then share a link and a short description of the updates that you made in the #domains channel on Slack so we can all see.

Thursday class meeting

Thursday's class will primarily involve discussing issues that came up with blogging, as well as showing off things that we did and soliciting/offering feedback on those things. We will also have a class debate, with two groups arguing for the superiority of corporate platforms and Domain of One's Own, respectively.

For Friday (8am)

Complete your self-assessment for Week 4 and add it to the document you created last week. Be sure to comment on the updates you made to your domain, and include links to at least some of your updated pages/posts.

For materials due Monday and Tuesday, see the Week 5 guide.


You find them! Start with Google or Wikipedia. Perusing sites maintained by bloggers you respect may also be helpful.