July 2010 Archives

Blogging Limits: Time & Frequency

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For blogging -- well it goes on the page as it goes through the brain. - Joshua Kim, "Technology and Learning" Blog, Inside Higher Ed


That's when I started this entry. And I will end my post at 4:07 on the dot.

Grandma's got the kids, I just ate a fast food burrito, and I've got just under 30 minutes until I will send these words out there and move on to clean my house before the kids return.

In my last entry I explained that it was taking me too long to write these blog posts... based only a hunch. But then I read "Online Education and Blogging" from Inside Higher Ed's Joshua Kim, and my hunch grew into conviction.

How Many Words Does a Blog Entry Make?

Are my blog entries too long? I've been scouring sources for a concrete answer to this question. Truth is, there's no concrete answer at all, except that most blog readers prefer a reasonably short entry. How do we define "reasonably short"?

I prefer blogs with just the right amount of bulk and pith. But what is the right amount? By pith and bulk, I mean that I have about 5 minutes to read your blog entry, yet I hope to glean something meaningful while I'm there. Here's a quick run-down of word counts of the most recent entries from blogs I read regularly:

823 words: Baby Squared
667 words: A Little Practice
761 words: NCTE Inbox
186 words: (7/16) and 885 words (7/15): Motherlode
847 words: Mama PhD

My own last blog entry: 796 words

Okay. I'm on the right track. It seems the average blog entry is about the size of your average newspaper or magazine article (at least 600-850 words seems to be a common/popular word count in newspapers/magazines). Why?

Forced Spontaneous Blogging?


Being allowed to write spontaneously releases us of the expectation that our writing must be perfect and polished.

. . .

To summarise: blogging encourages spontaneous, timely and concise
expression of thoughts.

--Torill Mortensen & Jill Walker, "Blogging Thoughts: Personal Publication as an Online Research Tool"

I was a serious undergraduate and English major, but I still needed a kick in the pants to read or write consistently. In gratitude: Thanks to professor Gremmels for handing out little white sheets of "quiz" paper in the first seconds of American Literature so that I would really read Melville, Faulkner, Hawthorne, and Fenimore Cooper. I read voraciously because of those mini quizzes, just like I wrote voraciously because of course paper requirements. And even though the reading and writing were frequently forced, it was good for me. More than that, forced learning inspired me.

I had a nice conversation with a student yesterday about requirements, parameters, rubrics, word counts. He's a good writer. He wants to write. But he doesn't like constraints (he's creative and prefers looseness). I've heard this complaint (preference) before, but I never know quite how to address it. My go-to response (at least in my head if not said aloud) is that there are always parameters at work in our writing lives, even for creative writers. And for the most part these parameters are good for us.

But I can't help wondering, will this forced blogging assignment inspire (as intended) or discourage my students?

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This page is an archive of entries from July 2010 listed from newest to oldest.

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