Blog class

Nick is teaching a class on weblogs at the “other” UW (Wisconsin, not Washington or any of the many other Ws out there), and has put the syllabus up on a wiki for public perusal and enhancement. I had originally hoped to teach a complementary course here at UB that could share in the fun, but since I’m not doing an undergraduate course in the spring, we’ll have to see if autumn semester is a possibility.

So consider this a call for participation of sorts. Help out by (a) contributing to Nick’s syllabus, (b) letting him know if you have other ways of helping out, and (c) letting me or him or someone know if you might be interested in a joint class on the social aspects of weblogging in the autumn. I think it would be neat if we could do something autonomous enough that it wouldn’t require a lot of administrative overhead, but would provide oportunities for our students to read and comment on each others’ blogs across campuses.

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  1. Posted 11/17/2003 at 3:12 am | Permalink

    I’m interested in connecting classes of students blogging about weblogging, but I’ve got a language problem – springs I teach undergrads, and they blog, but in Norwegian, so it’d be a rather one-way discussion. In the autumn semesters I’ve got MA students who can blog in English, so that’d work better – but they’d probably get more out of blogging with other grad students?

    I’d be interested in keeping in touch about something this spring though – although it’s not quite fair to ask undergrads to blog all in English I could ask them to write some posts in English (Norwegians generally speak and write excellent English but undergrads are often shy about using it academically), and perhaps we could do a week or two on a joint topic and have them trackback at each other?

    The course I’m teaching is “web design and web aesthetics”, which is 60% practical web design and 40% interpretation and reflection: looking at, reading, playing with, thinking about, reading about and writing about websites. Students are required to blog throughout the semester and to choose four posts (one theoretical, one a reading of a website, one feedback to another student, one technical) which are graded at the end of semester. I could add or excange one of those posts so they’re required to respond to something another blogger, for instance one of your students, has written, using trackbacks and so on. Actually that’d be a great way of ensuring they open up to the web as a whole and don’t just stay safely inside their own little group.

    So any topic that has to do with the web’d work – weblogs, for instance?

    It’d be interesting to have a whole pool of blogging classes that tied into each other. Though I’ll have fifty students: there’s no way everyone’ll read everyone, so we’d have to work out some way of letting them find stuff that interests them. Perhaps chance is good enough :)

  2. Posted 11/17/2003 at 12:20 pm | Permalink

    In the spring, I’m teaching a grad course called “web analysis” but it really has less to do with design then with content analysis. I haven’t decided yet, but I was thinking I probably wouldn’t even have them blog (!).

    In the Fall, I may be teaching (again) a course called “Media in the Information Age” which is heavy on the blog content and is a split grad/undergrad course. I may also be teaching a grad class in internet research. Unfortunately, my schedule is up in the air right now.

  3. Posted 11/17/2003 at 8:22 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for linking the syllabus Alex – I’m definately game for seeing how far we can push this, and if (hopefully) I get the opportunity to do this course again in the fall I’d love to hook our classes into one another somehow.

    Jill – I currently teach a course half by weblog, half in-person called Web design for the Sciences. Check out the site, if I’m not teaching the weblogs class in fall I’ll be teaching that one again (I can’t lose!).

  4. Posted 1/10/2004 at 11:47 am | Permalink

    Ew. Thought the “secret number” anti-auto-script fixed this?

  5. Posted 1/10/2004 at 3:03 pm | Permalink

    Believe it or not, I think people are actually sitting down and entering these as spam. Unlike the earlier auto-spam, there is usually just a single spam message, or sometimes two.

    I’ve been leaving them up and changing the URLs. I believe the main reason they spam blogs is because blogs are so high in the google reputation system. I end up getting the top hit on a number of random search terms. So, if they can get linked through my site, it improves their google ranking.

    If that is the case, then deleting the spam doesn’t actually have any real effect. Obviously, none of those terms above piqued your curiosity enough to click or you would have noted that they all now link to the Polish National Police website. This works against their nefarious plans, if only in an extremely small way, because it means that the police site is now at least going to appear on a search for Cycki (whatever that is–no I don’t want to know), and may even appear highly ranked.

    Actually, the one in that list I would be most likely to click on is “bara-bara,” which in Japanese–the language that seems to drive the fetish world–means “scattered.” During our short time in Japan, there were several “bara-bara satsujin jiken,” or “scattered murder victim incidents.” There is no clear direct translation to English, I suppose. Basically, these were (often) older housewives who killed their husbands, cut them into dozens of pieces, put them in trash bags, rode the train to some remote location, and dumped a body part. The practice only seems bizarre if you don’t understand that Japanese housing tends to lack good body-hiding locations, that there aren’t a lot of dumpsters, and that public transportation is ubiquitous. Needless to say, when we saw an elderly lady board the train with a heavy trash bag, we generally kept our distance. I do not know, however, what “bara-bara” means in this context, nor do I especially care to know.

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