For myself as a writer, teacher and technologist (read: computer geek), the blog is one of the most attractive forms in the abstract. With my students, I have consistently used blogging for a number of years. Students in relatively large (70 student) and small classes have blogged for me and each other. It has been successful in courses ranging from Freshman Writing to Graduate seminars. In fact, I even require doctoral students working on comps lists with me to keep a blog. Like any good writing teacher, I definitely aim to practice what I preach to my students; so I typically DO keep a parallel “teacher’s blog” when I am teaching a course in which students blog.
Not only as a teacher, but as a reader, I use blogs regularly. From so-called professional blogs from my favorite traditional media NPR or Nation Magazine to classic political opinion blogs, I enjoy reading them. Oddly– for a technology advocate and blogging fan–I have to admit that I have not consistently kept a personal blog. Even though I have an official IUP faculty blog, I don’t keep it updated. And it’s not just because I don’t like the Moveable Type blogging system that IUP installed. Somehow, I haven’t cultivated my own identity as a “blogger” or, at least, found the time and necessity for doing so.
In practice then, it’s actually the Wiki that I most use as a writer. I have created personal, private wiki for my own organizational and writing uses on a number of platforms. I use a basic note-taking hypertext system on my laptop for everything from daily “to-do” lists to brainstorming poems or critical essays. I have structured critical writing and academic presentations using Tikiwiki, and I also sometimes use wiki on a stick.
I suppose the simply fact is that I “talk to an audience” many hours and days a week, in the classroom, so I feel less compulsion to use the expressive tool of the blog. But what I really often seek is the means to structure and link my rambling thoughts. At this level of need, it is wikis to which I so frequently turn — and not so much for collaboration as for the ease of hypertextual structuring that they facilitate.