“Could it be that students who don’t read, even though they can, are people who, on one important level, don’t and can’t write?

Ken Smith

Tom’s comment on an earlier post that blogging is a reading activity as much if not more than it is a writing activity has spawned a pretty interesting thread that Ken continues on his site. It’s another great post that has a lot of levels to it, the kind you need to read over a few times with focus to get all the nuance to it. (Time to turn off Air America.) The kind you need to respond to after you’ve let it settle for a while. Actually, the kind of blog post that begets the kind of blog posts that make blogging a worthwhile act.

Blogging starts with reading. It’s easy (at least for me) to forget that sometimes. I know that I’ve articulated the blogging process in that way many times before, but it still does seem very writing centered to me. But as Ken accurately points out, “blogging, at base, is writing down what you think when you read others.” And maybe that explains the disconnect I’ve been feeling between the act and the tool of late. The tool requires writing. (There is no blog without writing.) The act requires reading. (There is no blogging without reading.) Without reading, you’re just writing, not blogging, and that’s a pretty heady distinction (at least in this head.) And that really does change the expectations we have of our students, I think. They can use a Weblog to write, but in a different way they can also use it to blog, and in doing so they can develop an important skill that is not as easily taught with pen and paper or even the Internet and a word processor.

Writing stops, blogging continues. Writing is inside, blogging is outside. Writing is monologue, blogging is conversation. Writing is thesis, blogging is synthesis…none of which minimizes the importance of writing. But it’s becoming more clear just what the importance of blogging might be.

Some of the good stuff from Ken’s post:

If you are a reader and if you are reading, you start to be able to find something you want to say beyond shallow commonplaces, and you start to know how to say it, and maybe even who to say it to.


And maybe that means that links are vital for new bloggers for a completely non-constructive reason. Instead of assigning students to go write, we should assign them to go read and then link to what interests them and write about why it does and what it means, not in order to make a connection or build social capital but because it is through quality linking (not the flaccid A-list stuff I spoofed above) that one first comes in contact with the essential acts of blogging: close reading and interpretation. Blogging, at base, is writing down what you think when you read others. If you keep at it, others will eventually write down what they think when they read you, and you’ll enter a new realm of blogging, a new realm of human connection.

Read the whole post…