READING RESPONSE for 10/20/2010

Ross – Chapter 2

Viewer participation can be a wonderful thing. Blogs have opened up a new world of dialogue that has never really existed before and been in so many people’s reach. I think that, unless they are harmful to somebody or deliberately malicious, they tend to always be a positive thing. This may be a generalization, but I stand by it as my opinion. I do not think that all viewer participation is positive, though, and in many ways it may give people too much power to change people’s lives for all the wrong reasons. This could be me playing devil’s advocate, as we are always talking about how important active viewership is, but sometimes it could be detrimental to a person’s life.

The specific example I am thinking of is American Idol, one of the examples mentioned in the second chapter of Ross’ book. I must admit that I watched a couple of seasons of this show when I was younger. The thing the caused me to stop voting is the realization that the voting for this show actually greatly affects the people involved, and unfortunately there is no way of controlling the motives for voting. For instance, I had a friend in middle school who voted for the cutest contestant every week on the show. His singing was horrendous, but he ended up making it far just because he was “oh so dreamy”. This affects the other people that may have been more deserving in terms of singing talent, but that did not have the same good looks. On the other hand, it is people’s prerogative to vote for whatever they feel is important, but that doesn’t always go along with the intention of the show. If people want to vote for someone sexy, they should vote for a competition for most attractive man.

Blogging – Chapters 1 and 2

I, personally, would never have thought to study blogging in such an in-depth fashion as the author of this book. I do not think of the definition of blogging because I am so used to its existence around me that I do not think twice about it. It’s like somebody from Europe in the 19th century trying to define the word “book”. It’s something that’s so ingrained in our culture that we are never truly given the opportunity to consider it academically. Thus, Rettberg’s success in making blogging a study and not just a past-time is refreshing. A medium so invested in expressing individual opinions and sharing them with such a large audience, even if no one necessarily reads the postings, is something that one can compare to previous mediums, but with nothing that quite compares.

One could compare blogs to early letters written in fan magazines. These letters were written with the intention of being read by many people across the country. Though there was no “World Wide Web”, there was a way of getting your voice heard that wasn’t guaranteed to be published, but was easy to submit to. The problem with this method was that it was in somebody else’s hands whether or not you were heard, while today it is up to you to post and up to everyone else to read. Sending fan mail, also, was a way of expressing an opinion about a star, but there was no guarantee that they would read it or get access to it. With blogs, there is no guaranteeing the star will read it, but you can post your opinion about anybody and they will have access to it if you make it public.

Blogging has opened up a new world of communication of ideas. The three kinds of blogs do so in different ways. Starting a topic-driven blog may be more difficult because it is easy to maintain a personal blog by oneself, but having to count on other people to post and add input on a specific topic may be harder to pull off. That’s why it is now much easier to get your voice heard, but not necessarily as easy to start a trend of people speaking their minds on a topic. Therefore, though it has become easier to spread ideas and opinions, there are still challenges to spreading a message as far as one would like. Starting a blog about a very specific topic can be limiting in what audience will read the blog. Thus, though we live in the era thought of as completely breaking down communication barriers, it’s still not guaranteed that one’s ideas will spread if no one is interested.