For today’s blog class,…

For today's blog class, I had the students read John Scalzi's "Being Poor", along with a good chunk of the comments on that entry. We talked about:
  • the politics of the piece
  • how John crafted the piece stylistically
  • the impact of the ending
  • how it related to the Katrina media coverage of the time (what it did, that traditional media didn't or couldn't)
  • the fact that this piece was picked up by various newspapers (wider coverage)
  • the link to Nick Mamatas's response, and the separate conversation in his blog about relative and absolute poverty
  • the way John handled trolls, derailment, and confusion in the comments
  • the way his community of readers did the same
There are a couple of excellent examples in the comments to that piece of how one can effectively moderate a comments thread (I particularly liked John's response to Mike Cane at 4:02, and Mike's response back at 4:12), which leads in nicely to a discussion of the role of blogs and their communities in politics, and in our society generally. It was a really effective piece to use, for what I'm trying to teach them right now -- to get a sense of how blogs can function as both art and cultural influence.

They liked the piece and its comments, I think. It's hard not to respond to it. Especially when you read lines like this one:

"Being poor is trying to decide which one of you gets to eat today � the one of you that is pregnant or the one of you that can work." -- Anna, in comments


2 thoughts on “For today’s blog class,…”

  1. I wonder what a social darwinist would say to Anna’s comment.

    I’m not poor, but I am fully aware of how little it’d take me to become poor. One stroke of Bad Luck is all it takes. I guess I don’t believe in the Just World of some conservatives.

  2. Ouch. I’ve been poor, or thought I was, and not that poor. Sad to remember that I knew which food was the cheapest to fill me up; usually rice and beans, oil, peanut butter, oatmeal came down to $1/day. The thing we forget in America is that food is much more expensive in other countries, a much larger portion of income.

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