Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Thoughts On Year Two

Yesterday represented the second anniversary of 60x50. As of yesterday, I have posted 395 entries on this blog, which averages out to about one post every forty-two hours over the past two years—or one every other day for the past two years. The number of posts this past year was down from the first, which I’d predicted in my reflections on year one at this time last year. I realized that I could not continue to blog at the same pace. The first year I managed to write 219 posts, while this past year I posted 174 entries—down 45 posts from the year before. That may seem like a substantial decline, until you do the math—on average, down fewer than four posts a month. As I have stated before, the research component for many of my posts is extensive, although I don’t mind doing it, and while I hope readers have found my research valuable, I have done it “for free.” But that’s fine, because I’ve taught myself something, and that’s the whole point of blogging in the first place, at least for me—to learn something I didn’t know.

Therefore, the task I set for myself with 60x50 (you can read the full explanation on the right)—to find a process that will bring about new things I would not have thought of if I had not started to say them—has, for the most part, been successful. I have discovered things by writing on this blog, things I would not have learned had I not imposed this writing requirement upon myself. All in all the experience has been a positive one. I’ve also found it interesting, for instance, to learn which of my posts has received the most hits over the past year—the entry on Gram Parsons’ Nudie suit. I never would have predicted that, but that’s one of the interesting things you learn by maintaining a blog. The post titled When the Whip Comes Down, prompted by some thoughts I had on re-watching Elvis’s Jailhouse Rock (the whipping scene, obviously), has also done quite well (posted December 2008, however, not in 2009). Interestingly, there is a high number of web searches on the subject of “whipping scenes in movies,” for reasons I cannot imagine. Perhaps more surprising is the fact that the post in which I discussed the meaning of “the great speckled bird” has also received a rather significant number of hits.

The downside, of course, is the amount of work this blog requires, but I’m repurposing it for the next few months so as to have it function in a new, and I think better, way for me. I’m going to incorporate my blog as part of a class I’m teaching this spring on “electronic literacy.” One of the requirements of the class is for the students to start up a blog (which they may take down at the end of the semester) not only in order to experience writing in an electronic environment, but also to require them to flex their writing muscle more than they may do normally. Therefore, once in awhile my posts may seem focused on narrowly academic issues or questions, but that doesn’t mean I’m giving up my usual ruminations on the subject of popular music. In fact, I’m teaching my “Writing About Popular Music” course again this spring, so some topics may pop up as a consequence of teaching that course as well. Students will be free to visit my blog to learn my thoughts on various subjects related to class discussions, in addition to the Blackboard discussion board I will also moderate. Hence I’m going to make this blog work for me in a way that it hasn’t done the past couple of years, making it a part of my teaching duties rather than an “outside” activity that seems disconnected from them. I do hope that returning readers continue to find my blog as engaging as ever, but a consequence of this slight change in purpose may change occasionally the nature of the posts, at least for the next four months.

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