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Blogging I: “Three Perspectives on Four Years of Blogging: Tetradic Reflections”

by Catherine Hooper

This panel shared their experiences with blogging through the tetradic form. Kevin Brooks began the panel by presenting the group’s use of tetrads, displaying this strategy as a visual grid laid out in quadrants. Brooks provided a handout to help clarify these quadrants, each representing one of Marshall McLuhan’s laws of media and each situated by one of the following questions for examining any human artifact:

  • What does the artifact enhance or intensify or make possible or accelerate?
  • What recurrence or retrieval of earlier actions and services is brought into play…by the new form?
  • What is the reversal potential of the new form?
  • What is pushed aside or obsolesced by the new organ?

Presenters then illuminated their experiences with blogging and displayed their findings in tetrad form. First, Sybil Priebe discussed her prior history of journaling, and described the process she followed to become more comfortable with ownership of both a teaching blog and a personal blog, revealing that, over time, her teaching blog became the more necessary and important outlet for her writing. Priebe’s tetradic display demonstrated that she found blogging to enhance writing and reading for the blogger as well as a fullness of personal life. This type of online journaling, for Priebe, retrieved free expression of self. Her reversal with blogging involved self-consciousness and perfectionism, by allowing un-self conscious, free-form writing. Finally, Priebe acknowledged that blogging rendered isolated writing and actual conversation with colleagues potentially obsolete.

Second, Brooks presented his tetradic depiction of blogging. Brooks framed his tetrad with his personal history with online weblogs along with a brief overview of the blogging boom, and this tetrad revealed enhanced engagement with the online “Web” and space for personal reflection. It retrieved and renewed his interest in scholarship, while at the same time allowing for the reversal potential of numbness and isolation. His blogging experience potentially rendered obsolete personal homepages, membership in physical community, and serious academic study.

Third, Cindy Nichols, a creative writer, developed a tetrad that displayed how online weblogs enhanced language energy and the poetic process, while retrieving the ideas of a “playground of language” and that “everything is a poem.” For Nichols, the reversal aspect of blogging involved sterility, and online blogging obsolesced writer’s block, chapbooks, and poetry readings.

Overall, the session successfully merged an interesting “new” way to analyze artifacts such as blogs with a dissection of the multiple facets of the process. The combination provided both a hands-on example for how tetrads can enhance understanding and an in-depth review of the potential benefits and drawbacks of using blogs as an outlet for writing.

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