Multiliteracies in ELA Classrooms

Blogging: The amateur author empowered

July 15th, 2014 · No Comments

Before the internet, and before blogs, those who wished to publish their written work needed to jump through many hoops before they would ever see their work publicized and consumed by a large readership. However, thanks to the availability and user-friendliness of blogs, anyone can be an author these days: all you need is a computer and internet connection, and something to say. One of the best things about blogging is how one is able to individually control all aspects of your work production: you don’t need a publisher, or an agent, or an editor to stamp your work as “worthy” of being shared. And this kind of control could be very empowering, especially if you are normally someone who is bashful about sharing your ideas aloud or having your work scrutinized by a third party.

Lankshear and Knobel state that the “quantum simplification of web publishing spawned a new mass generation of bloggers in a very short time” (2006). I find the language of this statement revealing: “spawned” pointing towards quick and prolific production, while the phrase “generation of bloggers” is interesting because it puts emphasis on the fact that these new bloggers most often fall within a certain age bracket, and that this generation is defined by the technology we use. Within this mass of bloggers, some have emerged as noteworthy, and some have climbed to fame despite their lack of formal education in journalism, creative writing, or other professional degrees. Granted, it isn’t easy to become a popular blogger, and success usually takes some talent. But the fact that amateurs are gaining access to a field of discourse they would never have been able to touch before could lead us to question the need for formal education. The gatekeepers to the world of publishing seem to have lost power with the rise of blogs.

Along with the new medium of blogging, then, comes the responsibility to contribute in acceptable ways. Sometimes the problem with the amateur author isn’t WHAT they say, but HOW they say it. Bloggers with many followers could have a lot of power: bloggers have the ability to “mobilise massively at short notice to challenge an opinion or state of affairs and achieve a result” (Lankshear & Knobel, 2006). As I stated in our seminar, the writer of The Oatmeal (Matthew Inman), an online comic and blog, famously rallied his readers to donate money in order to insult FunnyJunk, a website that was posting The Oatmeal’s comics without permission. The battle between the two sides had consequences that departed from the world of the web and bled into the physical world. Inman, an amateur author who found huge success in his online comics, had no trouble at all getting thousands of people to donate a large sum of money to support his cause. Had Inman been dishonest, he might have kept the money for himself; instead, he followed through and donated the sum to the charities he indicated he would support.

I believe that as teachers, then, we need to think about teaching our students how to interact online, and ask them to consider the full implications of their online actions. We have been told about the dangers of leaving a bad digital footprint, but I think that more emphasis needs to be put on interacting respectfully online, even if one is anonymous. Digital footprint aside, the internet can go from being a community to being a mob in no time, and oftentimes, the mob, disguised by usernames and avatars, can do irreversible and real damage.


Lankshear, C. and Knobel, M. (2006)/ Blogging as Participation: The Active Sociality of a New Literacy. American Educational Research Association, San Francisco, U.S. April 11, 2006. Available:

Tags: computer-mediated communication

0 responses so far ↓

  • There are no comments yet...Kick things off by filling out the form below.

You must log in to post a comment.