Kevin Davis visited my Digital Writing class this week to talk about how to define and set up a blog. Kevin is the author of Bull City Rising, a blog tracking the resurgence (and political travails) of downtown Durham. I’ve followed BCR for several years now because of the clarity and wit of Kevin’s writing, and because doing so makes me feel like I know something about where I live. I thought that Kevin would be able to tell the students i my course something about how to determine the focus and range of their blogs—and I was right.
In his remarks to my course, Kevin argued that a blogger needs to define a niche, a specific angle or perspective to write from, rather than trying to mark out a wide area of interest to write about. (Listening to him made me think that “on teaching writing” is a pretty wide and diffuse topic.) He also listed a range of possible roles for bloggers to take on, including:
- The Diarist: who recounts personal experiences,
- The Critic: who comments on public events or texts,
- The Archivist: who gathers information about a particular issue or topic,
- The Reporter: who conducts original research into a topic.
(The names of the roles come from me, but the idea behind them is Kevin’s.) I think it’s important to keep in mind that this is a spectrum, and not a ladder. That is, the work of the reporter isn’t more important work than that of the critic or diarist, just different. But I suspect that the writer of an interesting blog will know which kind of work she or he is trying to accomplish.