The emergence and popularity of social media and blogs is difficult to ignore. In August, the New York Times reported that at least once a month, four out of five adults use social media, such as blogs, social networks and review sites in some form.
Blogs are also being produced by people all over the world. In the St. Thomas community, the trend has students blogging from dorms, from the classroom and from overseas.
While their motivation, topics and writing style may be different, the following St. Thomas students have one thing in common: They’ve hopped on the blogging bandwagon.
Blogging led to a job working for a blog
David Carlson, a finance major with a political science minor, began his blog, The Liberty Blogger, a little more than a year ago.
“I blog about politics because I kind of have different views,” Carlson said. “People would ask a lot of questions. I just started writing about it so they could look on there and see, because I was having a lot of conversations that could just be written out.”
One of Carlson’s blog readers offered him a job working as a promotions and marketing specialist for a personal finance blog. Carlson accepted.
“Something I do for them is I read and comment on other blogs so [the name of their blog] links back to them,” he said. “For a few months, I was reading 10 personal finance blogs a day and commenting on them.”
While some create blogs to earn readership and profit through advertising, Carlson said he prefers the freedom to choose when he posts.
“Basically to make money you have to post every single day, and I like it where I can stop for a week,” he said. “I’ll do it for a month straight and then I’ll need a week off and I’ll stop.”
Blogging from abroad
Blogging allows for the exchange of opinions and ideas from people all over the world, including a few St. Thomas students who have created Web journals while studying overseas.
Junior Laura Wiering chronicles her travels in Italy through a blog she has created titled Livin’ la Vita Roma.
“It’s a convenient and surprisingly entertaining way to update my family and friends back in the states as to what I am doing here in Italy,” Wiering said. “The idea of sending out a mass e-mail forward with a few pictures attached does not appeal to me at all.”
For her, blogging combines storytelling with creativity.
“I love the visual aspect of a blog: pictures are specifically placed throughout the piece rather than as a mere footnote at the end,” Wiering said. “I enjoy the aesthetics just as much as the content; it has to tell a story visually and contextually.”
Another St. Thomas student, junior Scott Hansen, created a blog titled The Rhudabega, while studying in London this semester.
“Blogging is an outlet for me,” Hansen said. “There are always half a dozen random, often ridiculous, ideas running through my head: jokes, analogies, observances, whatever. This summer I decided to materialize the ideas into articles modeled after news reports, among other things.”
Hansen’s journal entries explore the adventures he’s encountered while abroad, as well as topics he and his readers enjoy.
“So far, I’ve racked up just a few loyal readers, but for me, the writing process is the best part.”
Blogging for class
Students in the American Politics in Comparative Perspective class taught by adjunct professor Steven Maloney have become bloggers as part of the curriculum. To Maloney, the blog creates the right level of formality and informality for students to feel comfortable engaging with ideas.
“People talk with a lot more depth and a lot more clarity than they do just raising their hands to say something in class, because it’s not as off the cuff as in class,” Maloney said. “They are a little bit less afraid of what they’re going to say when they know that they can edit it before they submit it.”
With the time and space blogs afford, Maloney has witnessed interesting exchanges and civil disagreements between students. Compared to St. Thomas’ Blackboard discussion board platform, Maloney feels the private Internet site creates a greater sense of freedom and informality.
The blog is a great way for students to practice the skills they are learning aside from just completing homework and showing up for class, Maloney said. Linking principles they have learned in class to stories they have read in the news help students exercise their abilities while blogging.
Sally Schreiber can be reached at email@example.com