When I started this blog two and a half years ago, I assiduously avoided writing the traditional opening post on "what this blog will be about." I knew that I was blogging because I wanted to try regular, non-scholarly writing in a different form, so I simply dove into my first efforts without much fanfare. I assumed I'd feel my way through.
When the question of the blog as a communicative form came up in our "Blogging Visual Politics" panel yesterday, the participants said much the same thing: over time, they have felt their way through. But they were also helpfully explicit and reflective about their practices. What emerged in their comments was a series of paradoxes that encouraged a lively discussion and conversation. Here are a few of them:
1: The blog is not academic writing. This is freeing, but it also means your writing should be free of jargon.
2: The blog liberates you from constraints of academic publishing, but that also means you shouldn't expect it to "count" as academic publishing.
3: The blog opens your work to a potentially wide public audience that you invite into the conversation, but that also means you have to be willing to give up some control.
4: The blog is easy to launch, but hard to maintain. Blogs by definition encourage regularity, and one must devise strategies to keep things fresh and avoid burn-out, especially if it is not your "day job" but you are committed to posting daily.
5: Even if your blog does not focus on the personal, the blogger still needs to write with affect in order to cultivate a distinctive voice.
6: Although the act of blogging visual politics is frequently about helping visitors see ubiquitous images differently, it can also be about introducing images to audiences that they never see. Michael Shaw of BAGnewsNotes discussed how he has begun cultivating relationships with photojournalists like Nina Berman and Alan Chin, whose work makes visible different human experiences than we find in mainstream media.