What’s in a Blog?

Wed, 10 Feb 2016 18:36:28 +0000

Why blog? Readers, it’s time to get a little bit meta. Every term we students scour our community, our field, and our brains to bring you interesting blog topics. Occasionally, when we are banging our heads against our keyboards, we wonder why. Reflection is rarely a wasted exercise, so let’s look at why Ooligan has a blog.

In our new Digital Skills class, led by the illustrious Kathi Inman Berens, we recently read several articles bemoaning the death of the blog. You can read them here and here—go ahead, they’re really interesting. The authors argue that the free, unfiltered exchange of information that formed the backbone of the internet in early years is being eroded by Facebook and smartphone apps.

Informal poll: how many of you out there go directly to blogs or use an RSS feed to find reading material on the internet? How many of you read only what appears in your Facebook or Twitter feed? I’d guess for most of us, it’s a mix of the two, but the trend does seem to be towards more and more app usage. The danger of this, as presented by Hossein Derakhshan and Nick Montfort, is twofold. First, the corporations that control apps like Facebook and Twitter can also control content. Readers can be manipulated at worst or aren’t getting a complete picture at best. Second, tailoring the content in our feeds to each of our personal tastes ensures that we are presented with material we know we will like, but it also precludes material with which we will probably disagree. This can hamper balanced discourse and limit our thinking. It’s that Facebook bubble you’re always hearing about. By keeping an active and vibrant blog, Ooligan is acting as a protector of informed debate and a beacon of hope in a rapidly decaying internet landscape. Now please follow us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter—the links are at the top of this page!

Internet theory aside, there are many practical reasons we run this blog. Our parent institution, Portland State University, prides itself on being an active, vital part of the Portland community, and we like to uphold those values. Thus our Ooligan at Large posts keep you up to date on the many publishing-related goings-on in the area. We’ve covered everything from poetry readings to cookbook panels to self-publishing conferences. In our Interview section, we bring you insights from community innovators, publishers, and the occasional PSU faculty member. We like to think that these articles shine a much-deserved spotlight on some of Portland’s best and foster an invaluable sense of community pride.

Speaking of pride, we are obviously all very proud of the work we do here at Ooligan. We’ve published some amazing books, and we like having a space to tell you all about them. In our Start to Finish posts, you can track the entire life span of our books from acquisition to publication and beyond. These posts actually serve two purposes. First off, we get to share all the exciting developments happening with our projects. Secondly, they provide a window into our publishing process. If you’ve ever thought about submitting a book to Ooligan, these Start to Finish posts will give you a great picture of what to expect. We firmly believe that the more informed a writer is about the process, the better their chances of getting published and the better their publishing experience will be.

This same thinking motivates many of our posts in the general Publishing category. We are here to serve and create a public that’s fully briefed on the ins and outs of the publishing industry. We also like to make you laugh, and this is where you’ll find some of our more lighthearted posts, from a dramatic war between CMS and AP style users to nine ways a business card can save your life.

We’ve got a lot of great posts in the pipeline, but as the term progresses we’d love to hear from you. What kinds of topics would you like to see Ooligan cover? Do you have a favorite post you’d like to see emulated? Do you think we should pack it in and migrate fully to social media? Sound off in the comments below or on your favored platform. Remember, the internet is as awesome as you make it.

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