Where are all the “blogs about late-night ramen noodle cram fests and freaking out (not to mention breaking out!) over finals?”, asks Erica Strauss. So are college students really not bloggers at all? Is there a reverse generation gap where older people are starting blogs and the tech-savvy college students could not care less?
No. I think Erica is not looking in the right places. There are plenty of college students and high school students writing online. Whether or not “writing online” means blogging is another story. Whether or not anyone can find and make any use of the online writing is again a separate issue. I first wrote online at Diaryland.com. Yes, I know, Diaryland? Is that not some teenage fantasy with a pink cover and mini-lock under the bed? But what Diaryland enlightened me to was that most people write online for themselves or a close group of friends. It’s a way to let out emotions via writing. It’s for themselves, not of others. That may not meet the standards of “blogging” in its current state. I see blogging as readable insight into someone else’s life, story, brain, experiences that is written as if it were for someone else. That can include “late-night ramen noodle fests” but much of this online writing for students is an internal dialogue of vague rants and emotions that mean nothing to the outsider. MySpace, LiveJournal, and, yes, Diaryland all feature this type of writing.
But I’ll admit that blogs aren’t what they could be from the college scene. College co-eds are far too busy social networking on Facebook than blogging. Why? Well, social networking has instantaneous results. You friend people, they accept. You send a message, you’ll likely get one back. You tag a picture, someone else comments back on it. But for blogging, you can go hours, days, weeks, years without anyone taking notice. Your blog could be banished to oblivion with zero readers. That’s why blogs tend to the more journalistic side so people can understand what you’re talking about.
I am in full support of college blogs and that’s why I have joined cblogs.net, the brainchild of Kelly Xiayu Jin. It is a network of quality college blogs about life in their respective institutions. So far, they don’t have too many members (a few from Cornell, UPenn, Yale, and Columbia) but I have a feeling it will change as it catches on. The idea is much like Random Shapes which encourages quality blogging among teens. Feel free to contact Kelly to join in on this exciting new project to collect college blogs for college students but also for prospective students.
Prospective students can read these blogs for an “inside” look at a particular college. My view is that these uncensored student blogs are one of the best ways to “sell” the school, far better than the usual glossy magazines with smiling students in the quad playing in fall foliage. Cornell has taken the plunge to have a few students blog with homepage publicity but alas the backlash on that has already begun. It’s a risky business to have students blog for the publicity of the school. The blogs need to be genuine and cannot be censored. I hesistate to pay these student bloggers too.
Want to read more about this subject? Serendipity 35, Wired Campus, and CollegeWebEditor.com are good places to start. Plus, Sam Jackson gives great insight for the college process as he applies this year.