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Blogging as Art

Earlier this summer Rob Jenkins asked “What Is a Blog Post?” He suggested that, “More than anything else, a blog post is intended to be a conversation starter.”

I like that notion, but I think we’ve all seen the focus on generating hits and comments lead to a race to the rhetorical bottom, with posts and comments becoming ever more outrageous. Of course, generating hits is not the same thing as having a conversation, but the distinction is often lost on less-thoughtful bloggers than Rob.

Additionally, perhaps blogs can serve other purposes. Over my years of maintaining a personal blog, and now a year of writing here, I have had scores of people tell me personally that they are regular readers and look forward to my posts. Most of those people have never publicly commented on them. If they didn’t tell me, I wouldn’t even know that they were reading.

For another answer to Rob’s question, Commenter 11182967 offered a quotation from her/his brother’s blog, supposedly cited from an Elliott Gould character in the movie Contagion: “A blog isn’t writing; it’s graffiti with punctuation.”

To consider that answer fully, we must ask, “What is graffiti?” I would describe graffiti as a form of self-expression, often in an unlikely or illicit location, intended to provoke a reaction. One person’s vandalism may be another’s public art.

Of course, here at On Hiring, graffiti is usually welcome, but could it still be considered a form of public art? Hilde S. Hein, now an associate professor emerita of philosophy at the College of the Holy Cross, wrote in “What Is Public Art? Time, Place, and Meaning,” an essay that appeared in the Winter 1996 issue of The Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism, that “Artists do not have privileged vision, but they do have a practiced eye and the ability to speak in a rich variety of languages …. Sometimes and somehow they break through ordinary expectation and cause people to venture upon new perspectives.”

Now we’re getting somewhere. When I blog, I hope to inspire such ventures, at least occasionally. Those ventures may be shared publicly or remain private. But new perspectives are always worth considering, especially in an era of shrinking resources and conflicting visions about the role of community colleges and higher education.

[Creative Commons-licensed photo by Flickr user Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com.]

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