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January 20, 2003

about blogs

"Blog" is short for "Weblog"—and a Weblog is a very frequently updated Webpage, often a kind of public diary. One person can be solely responsible for a blog, or several people can collaborate to produce it, or it can be open to anyone to post messages. For some time, I have overseen an institutional Weblog for the National Association for Civic Education (NACE).

The conventional format is to post the newest entry at the top. Often, it is wise to scroll down some distance to find a starting-point, and then read up the page in chronological order.

I am interested in the public possibilities of personal blogs. Can you write about yourself, but in a way that is valuable to others? I'm more interested in a public diary than in a conventional, private one, because I've always found it artificial to address myself in writing. I realize that the audience for this blog is likely to be very small, but the structure of the Internet insures that it will have visitors (even if they come accidentally and never return).

Because this is a public document and I represent various institutions, I cannot make judgments (even positive ones) about individuals here. This makes the blog somewhat impersonal, but I don't think it reduces its public value. So far, my policy is to avoid names unless a given person is a public figure, or if he or she appears frequently (in which case I use a first name only, to help readers keep track).

I would welcome other people's contributions, although I don't expect them. To contribute, email me and state clearly that you want your comments to be posted here. I will decide whether to include them.

-- Peter Levine, January 20, 2003

January 20, 2003 12:00 PM | category: none


Additional thoughts, posted June 12, 2003 (and later translated to Movable Type):

A friend of mine saw my May 23 entry, which is about the moral dangers of seeking fame, and asked: "Is writing a blog part of an effort to become famous?" I replied (in effect): "I have looked deep within and discovered that 75% of my original motivation for starting the blog was self-aggrandizement." (At least I'm honest.) But I do have other goals, including:

To explore the ethics of recording ideas and experiences in a public waythat is, in a way that's honest and potentially interesting for other people, and that respects others' privacy rights and my own duties to the institutions that I work for. Being public in this way is somewhat tricky, and it's supposed to be a modest experiment in living democratically.

To experiment with this new genre ("the blog") by writing unusual kinds of entries. For the most part, I try not to offer statements of personal opinion or simple links to other sites, but instead I like to pose moral or philosophical questions that have arisen in some recent experience.

To create a notebook from which I can later borrow for longer, more systematic writing.

To have a platform for presenting short comments for a small audience, easily and quickly.

To present myself to anyone who's interested. The best description of who I am (as a professional) is a record of what I've been doing.

January 8, 2004 1:39 PM | Comments (1) | posted by Peter Levine

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