Burke, Barthes, Berlin and the communal conversation of business blogging

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Burke, Barthes, Berlin and the communal conversation of business blogging
Ewy, Jared Russell ( author )
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University of Colorado Denver
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Internet marketing ( lcsh )
Business enterprises -- Blogs ( lcsh )
Blogs ( lcsh )
Blogs ( fast )
Business enterprises ( fast )
Internet marketing ( fast )
Blogs. ( fast )
bibliography ( marcgt )
theses ( marcgt )
non-fiction ( marcgt )
Blogs ( fast )


As a business composition professor or one of their students, you are most likely already engaged in intensive web and weblog writing lessons. I hope to add to what you're learning because the job market demands creative content providers who understand how to build and maintain an online community. Using rhetorical theory, composition philosophy, practical analysis and personal experience, I'll incorporate into this thesis an easier way to utilize the blog, and therefore a way to maximize exposure in the community as a trusted expert in your field. The adage goes that people do business with those they know and trust. The blog builds those relationships online, and adds value to all of your other marketing activities. This thesis gives a glimpse into creating and accessing online communities. It's also for those who'd like further insight into the historical and rhetorical depth that delivers unto us an intuitive move for any company: get online and blog. What is the goal of a business but to profit? Meeting that objective and maintaining solvency cannot be a simple endeavor, but building a blog for your company can help greatly in attracting new customers and retaining those that you already have. "Start a blog" might seem like a flippant suggestion to those embedded in their offices, cubicles and other workspaces buried in what seems an insurmountable amount of work. Keeping in mind that there can be nothing more annoying than a zealot of one form or another shrieking about how companies need to adopt and adapt, in this thesis I will create a place where theory and practice meet; where the business blogger can make the most impact by incorporating the requirements of the blog into what they're already doing within their daily work routines.
Thesis (M.A.)--University of Colorado Denver. English
Includes bibliographic references.
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Department of English
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by Jared Russell Ewy.

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BURKE, BARTHES, BERLIN AND THE COMMUNAL CONVERSATION OF BUSINESS BLOGGING by Jared Russell Ewy B.S., Fort Lewis College, 1996 A thesis submitted to the Faculty of the Graduate School of the University of Colorado in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Masters of Arts English 2013


ii This thesis for the Mast ers of Arts degree by Jared Russell Ewy has been approved for the Department of English by Michelle Comstock, Chair Joanne Addison Rodney Herring July 19, 2013


iii Ewy, Jared Russell (M.A., English) Burke, Barthes, Berlin and the Co mmunal Conversation of Business Blogging Thesis directed by Associate Professor Michelle Comstock ABSTRACT As a business composition professor or one of their students, you are most likely already engaged in intensiv e web and weblog writing less ons. I hope to add to what you’re learning because the job market demands creative content providers who understand how to build and maintain an on line community. Using rhetorical theory, composition philosophy, practical analysis and personal experience, I’ll incorporate into this thesis an easier way to utilize the blog, and therefore a way to maximize exposure in the community as a truste d expert in your field. The adage goes that people do business with those they know and trust. The blog builds those relationships online, and adds valu e to all of your other marketing activities. This thesis gives a glimpse into creating and accessing online communities. It’s also for those who’d like further insight into the historical and rhetor ical depth that delivers unto us an intuitive move for any company: get online and blog. What is the goal of a business but to profit? Meeting that objective and maintaining so lvency cannot be a simple endeavor, but building a blog for your comp any can help greatly in attracting new customers and retaining those that you already have. “Start a blog” might seem like a flippant suggestion to those embedded in their offices, cubicles and other workspaces burie d in what seems an insurmountable amount of work. Keeping in mind that there can be nothing more annoying than a zealot of one


iv form or another shrieking about how companies need to adopt and adap t, in this thesis I will create a place where theory and practice meet; where the business blogger can make the most impact by incorporat ing the requirements of the bl og into what theyÂ’re already doing within their da ily work routines. The form and content of this abstract are approved. I recommend its publication. Approved: Michelle Comstock


v TABLE OF CONTENTS CHAPTER I. THE FOUNDATION OF A GREAT PLATFORM II. TRUE STORY WRAPPED IN USEFUL BLOGGING ADVICE ................................ 6III. SEO: THE NECESSARY EVIL T HAT’S NOT SO EVIL ANYMORE ................... 10IV. HOW ONE HAS A CHANCE IN G ETTING THEIR MESSAGE BEYOND A FEW “LIKES’ ON FACEBOOK ............................................................................. 15The Inspiration: Making Your Blog Si gnificant (With Insight For Pedagogy) .... 21Voice: Figure Out Who You Ar e And How You Should Sound .......................... 25The First Rule Of Blogging: Blog ........................................................................ 27V. BECOMING BETTER BY BU ILDING A COMMUNITY ....................................... 37VI. A RHETORICAL STRUCTURE FOR PR OLIFIC WRITING AND DIGITAL INTERACTION .............................................................................................. 40VII. CONCLUSION ......................................................................................................... 46REFERENCES


vi LIST OF FIGURES Figure III.1 “Keyword Stuffing” for SEO circa 2006. ................................................................ 11 IV.1 ....................................................................................................... 16 IV.2 Justin’s links. ......................................................................................................... .. 18 IV.3 Heather Armstrong’s blog …………………………………………….………......19IV.4 Armstrong’s updated. .............................................................................................. 20IV.5 Tumblr. .................................................................................................................. ... 24IV.6 The Interactive Rh etoric of blogging. ...................................................................... 30IV.7 Google Analytics. .................................................................................................... 33IV.8 Facebook and Twitter. ............................................................................................. 34IV.9 Incredible numbers. ................................................................................................. 35 V.1 People are listening and sharing..................................................................................39


1 CHAPTER I THE FOUNDATION OF A GREAT PLATFORM We know the importance of the Internet a nd we are aware of how integral online discourse is to the success of business. Even businesses that aren’t online are affected by the trends and topics that are weaved into the interconnectivity of the World Wide Web’s evolving dialogue. This paper is going to argue that the weblog, more commonly known as the “blog,” is not only an important part of the discourse on the Internet, but also that its simplicity of use makes it a worthy investment of your time and effort. Simply “put in your oar” and become part of the conversa tion, might say Kenneth Burke, who shared such sentiment long before the web. Like ot her inspirations for this thesis, Burke’s analyses of symbols, actions communication, history, writing, relationships, rhetoric and their relevance are principles by whic h communication thrives. In Burke’s The Philosophy of Literary Form, he wrote his oft-cited metaphor for the parlor dialectic that makes history: “Where does the drama get its materials? From the ‘unending conversation’ that is going on at the point in history when we are born. Imagine that you enter a parlor. You come late. When you arrive, others have long preceded you, and they are engaged in a heated discussion, a discussion too heated for them to pause and tell you exactly what it is about. In fact, the discussion had already begun long before any of them got there, so that no one present is qualified to retrace for you all the steps that had gone before. You listen for a while, until you decide that you have caught the tenor of the argument; then you put in your oar. Someone answers; you answer him; another comes to your defense; another aligns himself agains t you, to either the embarrassment of gratification of your opponent, depend ing upon the quality of your ally’s assistance. However, the discussion is interminable. The hour grows late, you must depart. And you do depart, with the di scussion still vigorously in progress” (96).


2 The “Burkean Parlor” provides a lush visu al backdrop for the endlessly cavernous Internet, and it leaves a place at the table for James Berlin’s landmark book Rhetoric and Reality: Writing Instruction in American Colleges, 1900-1985 where he somehow fits eighty-five years of compositi on studies in fewer than two hundred pages. From him we get insight on the importance of rhetoric, mo stly Classical Transactional Rhetoric, and discover a brazen connection between the eas e and usefulness of business blogging and his declaration that “all truths arise out of dialectic, out of the interaction of individuals within discourse communities” (16). There are many more sources to cite, because with business blogging you can’t have only theory, but guidance to put it into practice. For that, I will share insight from interviews with multiple business bloggers. Erika Napoletano, Rick Ramos and Erik Wolf have all been published on the s ubject of blogging, including why you blog, how you blog and exactly what you do to make your blogging matter. For the basic writing lessons to get the content your blog require s, I go to Peter Elbow, the author Writing with Power: Techniques for Mastering the Writing Process His hope is that he can make “you comfortable putting words on paper,” which is, as you can imagine, a very important part of the blogging process (95). The history of blogging, its rapid ascent to communication ju ggernaut, and its relevance is delivered to you via analytical blog commentators like David Barlow, Robert Klotz, Michael Keren and Sc ott Rosenberg. I also invoke tech evangelist and blogging pioneer Robert Scoble. His in sight, along with the basic ho w-to knowledge of Eric Butow and Rebecca Bollwitt, found in their collaboration Blogging to Drive Business, help lay out the bones to the blog. For the blog’s soul, I consult Carol yn Miller and Dawn


3 Shepherd. Their article “Bl ogging as Social Action: A Ge nre Analysis of the Weblog” is some of the most intriguing reading around bl ogs and the “recurrent rhetorical motive that has found a conventional mode of expression” (1468). I share multiple rhetorical theorists, m odern bloggers and business consultants, and will synthesize the information currently available to prepare you for successful business blogging. Finally, for inspiration--for sensuality in the mi nutiae of the sentence-Roland Barthes illustrates the need to appr eciate writing for more than its words. His short The Pleasure of the Text rollicks through the pages giving your writing a body, a vessel for pleasure, and not simply the subj ugation of a day’s work. Blogging allows for a company to blow away the bric ks and mortar of traditiona l business with a launching of ideas into the ever-expanding “blogosphere.” Business blogging can be transcendent. It lives beyond the boardroom and in the fluorescent exhale of a modern technology office. It’s a newly defined space, perhaps even th e plush upholstery and fire place warmth of the Burkean parlor. What you as a blogger creates is up to up to you. What’s up to me is this very moment creating a path that takes someone from staring blankly at their computer to smiling at their blog. It’s a fulfillment that begins with the individual and spr eads throughout the blogging co mmunity. It’s the unending conversation; it’s Berlin’s transactional trut h. It’s deriving pleasure from Barthe’s text because with just one posting the process be gins and new media are linked into action. And that brings me to the main point of this thesis: business blogging is not business writing, it is communal sharing. This might not be the case with everyone but for some I feel that the phrase “communal sharing” can lead to side effects such as furrowed brows, rolling eyes and


4 dismissive mutterings about gr oup hugs. That could just be my experience in business, but as a reader you’re likely a student or a teacher; the former growing up in the modern era of online collaboration and the latter renow ned as a Swiss Army kni fe of interactivity. Even if you are not immediately taken by the idea of a community gathered around your work, you might be more moved to find that with blogging, your goa l is to share your expertise. You get to be who you are and, th rough the process of the online conversation, build your reputation while helping others. I’ll argue the blog is key for sharing what you do, how you do it and wh y. In the spirit of a sharing community, this paper is not at all dismissal of social media (Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin), or even that of traditional media. Newspaper, television and radio are the big three “traditional” sources of media, but going back even further, my argument will not at all forget the granddaddy of mode rn communication, the printed page. Because I’d like to show that with a blog, all communication platforms can be better utilized to make them accessible. When you step outside of school and decide what you want to do, then make it count by sharing your business ideals, culture, products and services. The blog is a hub where you and your efforts can be fully appreciated and understood. It should be disclaimed that while the In ternet has inspired a lot of heartwarming talk and symbolic rainbows, that that isn’t enough to ge t a blog beyond the door. This thesis will focus on composing text for the blog. At points it will be at risk of falling into the giant bargain bin of “how to” blog books because it’s not productive to discuss blog composition without blog strategy. I’ll begin w ith a story of my own failure and success before propping up the platform with the ba sics of blogging, search engine optimization,


5 building communities and, finally, an analysis of the innovative rhetoric al structure of the blog. Turns out the genre revealed itself in th e nick of time, giving businesses a place to go in the great flood of the Information Age (o r it could be the bl ogÂ’s popularity became a result of circumstance.) Consistent and phenomenal blog content can thrive on its own, but this thesis will help with what online content creators should do: position their creativ e material for most possible exposure. Those benefactors of bus iness who granted permission for a company blog will appreciate it. And, of course, for anyone blogging as a sole proprietor or freelance scribe, itÂ’s downright necessary.


6 CHAPTER II TRUE STORY WRAPPED IN USEFUL BLOGGING ADVICE IÂ’m a professional blogger, and never ha s there been more of a demand for blogging content. In my case, the success of Twitter and Facebook has given the blog a new life, opening arteries to share more info rmation. It is suggested that if you have a business Twitter and Facebook account, you have to have a blog. As it turns out, sharing you ate a biscuit or that you love your childre n, while both arguably necessary, arenÂ’t the status updates that keep people coming bac k. Web browsers (both human and computer) want content; they want to be informed, a nd the blog is the meat on the bare bones of a micro-blogging platform. I donÂ’t consider myself a consultant (although it might be a good idea for pay purposes.) I create blogging c ontent for businesses that want to be a part of a bigger conversation. They want a reason for others to share their information online, they want people to see that their site is updated and relevant, and th ey want their web address to be associated with useful information to both pe ople and search engines. Actually, one feeds the other. If people like it, comment about it and link to it, so w ill Google. Suddenly, after a decade of trying all kinds of trickery to be found on the Internet, it comes down to simply being interesting. Not unlike a good c onversationalist at a co cktail party, but now you donÂ’t have to do your hair or dress for a pageant. You can be heard and get the necessary feedback without havi ng to outshout the kids in the front of the class. Just as the blog can make a small business more of an authority than a bigger company, it can


7 also move the voices in the back forward, cr eating a level front on a more even playing field. Carrying on the sports analogy, I was getti ng trounced at the sharing game. As a radio guy IÂ’d gotten very used to the one-w ay blasting we incurred upon our audience with regularly scheduled programming. Great radi o is often interactive, but it can be very patriarchal, too. Radio talent gets very spoile d with the ability to te ll people where to go, how to live and what to listen to. So when I got out because I was certain my brain was beginning to atrophy, I tried my ha nd at this new-fangled soci al media stuff. IÂ’d promote my standup comedy shows on Twitter and F acebook, yet no one would show up. IÂ’m not saying radio doesnÂ’t provide a value to th e public, I just didnÂ’t know how to thrive without the built-in community that come s through billboards, giveaways, tireless promotion and a controlling st ake in the oligopoly of in-car entertainment. In 2008, after some sporadic success, I caved. I folded my freelance business and became a bureaucrat. A few years later, with my term as a government communications specialist at an end, and with a decision that was met with mi xed reviews from my wife, I decided to do 100 comedy shows in 10 days. After learning difficult lessons about making bureaucracy interesting to the average American house hold, my first goal was to make my own personal event mean something to somebody ot her than me. To add relevance to my quest, I teamed up with Volunteers of America so that every show raised money for their multitudes of charitable projects. Every blogge r I interviewed for this thesis echoed a similar sentiment about being more than just a shallow and perhaps shameless promoter. Erik Wolf, a blogging consultant, said in an in terview that advertising a simple sale wonÂ’t work on a blog, and in his book Blog for Business: Leveraging Content for Online


8 Marketing and Lead Generation, declares that online “people who ‘sell’ in the traditional sense are generally looked upon as cheesy, se lfish, spammy or alt ogether irrelevant” (127). To avoid becoming a flaming ball of failu re, I moved forth in a fashion that (unwittingly to me at the time) corresponds w ith James Berlin’s research in critical rhetoric. His work shed light on a rhetor ical altruism where students can become “subjects, not objects, of their experience” and with that a world “can be made to serve more equitably the interests of individuals” (Berlin, 773). Wh at I understood is that there needed to be a quid pro quo for people to be motivated. The irony is that without my partnership with VOA no one’s interest, not even mine, would have been served. As a blogger in a world of billions of daily rhetorical transactions that allow for a more diverse selection of entertainment, news and promo tional stunts like mine, you’ll sit in a lonely place if you cannot offer some benefit to the community in which you communicate. Having the potential benefit of bringing laughte r to the community, along with the rock solid offering of helping the community with donations to VOA, all I needed was a way to let people know what I was up to and how they could become involved. Here’s where blogging comes in. First, I bought a domain name ( and used URL (Uniform Resource Locator ) forwarding so that it would re solve at my site on the free blogging platform, There are bl og services that range from really easy to quite tech-savvy difficult. Squarespace is in the “easy” category in that, like Blogger or Tumblr, you don’t need website hosting. The blog s live on their computer servers, which means I had less flexibility with content and design, and I couldn’t move from one hosting provider to another. I traded those op tions for convenience. I did not need to buy


9 a domain name, as once an online blogging platform is set up, it has its own URL, or web address. Buying the domain makes it more memorable and easier to share.


10 CHAPTER III SEO: THE NECESSARY EVIL THATÂ’S NOT SO EVIL ANYMORE In the case of my 100 shows in ten da ys, I chose a platform that was hosted because this was going to be a short-lived bl og. I did not need the extra flexibility and space that comes with, for example, that must be uploaded to a separate hosting account. In about ten minutes I was ready to blog and share. IÂ’d spent ten dollars for the domain, but the blog was free. Most all of the basic blogging services are free, with graduated levels of expense for more memory, functionality and featur es. Still, with my completely free blog I was able to: Provide a unique and memorable link to anyone interested, especially media outlets, Define myself as a comedian who gave a damn, Post pictures and videos of the shows I was doing and for whom, Have one consolidated place to send traffic and Create a public calendar for the times av ailable for interested participants I did not employ much Search Engine Optim ization (SEO), which is the process of employing content to improve the relevance of your website to Internet search engines. Usually, with blogs, search e ngines can find your site based on your organic inclusions such as written entries, headlines, images and descriptions. This means the end of the forgettable days of stilted web copy jammed with as many relevant keywords as possible.


11 Figure III.1: “Keyword Stuffing” for SEO circa 2006 Do not write weblogs or any web copy like this, which may have b een written by this graduate student. Recently, search engine algorithms have been modified to favor content that humans might actually enjoy as well. If you were to focus on SEO with your blog, you’d do four simple steps, and then do exactly what pioneer tech blogger Robert Scoble and SEO professional Rick Ramos will soon share. First the steps:


12 1. Use key phrases in the descriptions and headlines when setting up your blog. 2. Update your blog often. 3. Be genuine and real in using key ph rases that you’d lik e people to find. 4. Register your blog with s earch engine directories. One of the biggest boosts, however, to your Google Page Rank (PR) are backlinks, or other bloggers and other websit es linking back to your site. This is where tech evangelist and blogger Sc oble comes in and, it’s funny, th e PR he’s talking about is Public Relations, but with updated search engine queries for Google Page Rank qualifications, there are now many similarities between the two. In his article “How to Get Good PR for Yourself in the Blogosphere,” he offers these tips: 1. “Go where the bloggers are.” That is to sa y, meet and create relationships with those you want to share material. Show them you car e about them, and they’ll care about you. 2. “Read the blogs of the people you want to cover you.” Find them in forums, conventions, on Twitter, Facebook and other soci al networks. Find them and interact on their sites. Even the most popular bloggers seek interaction in th eir comment sections. 3. “Send bloggers interesting stories.” It’s about the community. When you take care of fellow bloggers, there’s a better chance they ’ll link back to your site and be more receptive to reading your material. 4. “Start blogging.” Other blogge rs are searching for storie s that you’ve yet to write. That’s SEO simplified and if you use Wo rdpress there are pl ugins like the “AllIn-One SEO Pack” that helps you boost your bl og. In my case, I had confidence that the social networks would help me spread the story. In retrospect, th at sounds more cocky than confident as chances were very hi gh that no one would care. Out of the 95,000


13 weblogs created every day, you probably don’t hear that much about most of them. ( You can see that being too ideal a bout blogs can be hazardous to your hopes, but blogs have become catalysts for discussion, and despite any immediate success (or lack thereof) blogs deliver better and more organic SEO. Rick Ramos, SEO strategist at seOverfl ow in Denver says that “Keywords are still important but instead of solving for ke ywords, solve for relationships. Building links is about building relationships. You find wh ere the people are and you go there, engage intelligently and sound like you know what you’re talking about and then create phenomenal content.” Once you’re in or have built a blogging community, you become involved in the give and ta ke (providing feedback, comments, and linking) of the conversation to get more links on more site s. This is important to business blogging composition because you can write as you were intended to write and search engines are more responsive to actual conve rsations within the community. The discussion I had with my wife about how I wanted to get into comedy again became magnified on a global scale, and once it gained notoriety online, was picked up by national television and even cable channe l Comedy Central. A small part of the blogosphere was sharing this idea that I’d put into ac tion from my kitchen. And here’s the best part: people started to reference me as a comedian again. After ten of the more arduous days of my life, companies and orga nizations hired me to entertain for their events. I had, with the help of an ever -expanding digital dialogue, become who I’d wanted to be. The same can happen to persona lity of a business owner or to the brand (personality if you’d like) of a business by blogging about who or what the company decides to establish as an online presence.


14 With all the hype surrounding blogs, anyone who has started a website or a blog has most likely felt the disappoi ntment. It always starts bi g and, on wings of enthusiasm, you make big plans to conquer the blogosphere. You take extra time to cultivate ideas and even more placing the photos, video and ensuring that the grammar and spelling are perfect. You send out the blog to hundreds of friends, post it on Twitter and Facebook, and then go wild with dreams of your writing gone viral. Waking up the next morning, the newborn blogger opens their laptop to find that no one, not even their closest electronic fr iends, have visited th eir site. On Facebook they’ve received a few “likes,” which it appe ars has become the new pretending to listen. A chill blows across the Super Information highway. With disappointment ringing throughout the blogosphere, it’s hard to believe that any but a few of the most popular weblogs can have any kind of impact on the actions of a political body. How can a lonely blog have any democratic will if there’s no public participation? Hours of work and frustrati ng design experiments can culminate into your own forgotten Internet dead zone. So how...HOW...does one have a chance in ge tting their message beyond their a few “likes” on Facebook?


15 CHAPTER IV HOW ONE HAS A CHANCE IN GETTING THEIR MESSAGE BEYOND A FEW “LIKES’ ON FACEBOOK We’ll start with some history here. The next few paragraphs should do at least three things: 1. Impress you with the blog’s quick rise to inter active dominance. 2. Depress you that you’re up against a tsunami of competition. 3. Inspire you with the ease you can enlist yourself into th e conversation or, as Burke says, “Symbolically aligning” yourself with your assertions. It is called innovation: one day we’re enjoyi ng the latest Internet platform for selfexpression (and by “enjoying” I mean raising the limelight level beyond the merit of anything ever) and the next we’re mocking it as outdated. We still drive gas-powered cars and the Edison’s incandescent light bulb remain s best in the market, but it hasn’t even been twenty years since the first “weblog” was published and we’ve already seen a microcosm of evolution that has fo rever changed human interaction. As David Barlow puts it in his book Blogging @merica blogs “are part of the attempt to manage the information explosion” (134). An example of this deluge of data comes from two of the biggest media plat forms on the Internet. In January of 2013, blogging juggernaut reported that its “users produce about 33.9 million new posts and 40.9 million new comments each month.”


16 Fig IV.1 shares the growth of their blogging platform. On YouTube, the vlogging (V for “video”) giant with individual video entries and user feedback, seventy-two hours of video ar e uploaded to the us er-generated video website every minute which, in turn, provides the “500 years of video” that are watched on Facebook every day ( Blogs are helping to organize and “regularize” the network of the World Wide Web with “the growing culture of linking on the web, pressure towards always providing a pathway to the source of any bit of information” (Barlow, 134).


17 That’s a perfect sentiment for what Miller and Shepherd call an “unusual opportunity to study the evoluti on of a genre” in their articl e “Blogging as Social Action: A Genre Analysis of the Weblog” (1463). They discuss the “rhetorical exigence” of the blog as it characterized a “cultural kairos” of a people suddenly overwhelmed with an abundance media. In the 1990s we moved into the Real World on MTV and got a dose of an even realer world with our President’s se x life served up to a bleary-eyed audience growing more callous by the day. From this blogs arose with a new rhetorical power (1451). Today, in 2013, the basic blog has evol ved into a fully functional publishing platform that is being used for dynamic website s, versus the simple entry type blog made popular by Justin Hall’s firs t weblog ( The reverse chronological journal of Hall’s list of h yperlinks, poetry, stories and pe rsonal updates has not changed with more modern blogs. Typically entries are still posted from top to bottom, posts reading downward like a journal on a scroll. Th e changes that the weblog has seen since then fall in three categories: a rise in access to the medi um with more user-friendly software and applications, an increased capac ity for sharing and r eader interaction and recently, an image-heavy redesign that allows the reader more perceived control over


18 what they get to read. Figure IV.2 JustinÂ’s links still maintains the si mple top-down reverse chronology of his original blog


19 Figure IV.3 Heather ArmstrongÂ’s blog in 2005.


20 Fig IV.4 Armstrong’s updated “Dooce” in 2013. While Justin’s Links maintains the simple scroll-like look of some of the earlier blogs, Dooce’s look has completely changed. One large difference between the two is that Hall is not counting on his blog fo r a salary, while Armstrong has created a successful venture that supports her family and a handful of employees. Blogs have become moneymakers, therefore more likely to become a larger investment. Special


21 attention is paid to keywords and costs associated with sear ch engine optimization (SEO), specialized content and paid ad placement throughout the web. The blog broadcasts the news for, shares inspiration from business and lifestyle gurus and has been acquired as multi-million dollar commodities. Re cently, the Huffington Post blog sold for $300,000,000. The publishing world saw the venerable weekly magazine Newsweek merge with the popular blog The Daily Beast before the paper version folded into the web and is now like every other up-and-comi ng blog: digital articles optimized for aesthetics, waiting to be read and commented upon. The Inspiration: Making Your Blog Si gnificant (With Insight For Pedagogy) While working at a company in the tech sector, the management team and I decided to bring in an intern to work for th e summer. During the interview I asked if he was comfortable blogging. He said he was and, for a moment, I was a bit stung by his confidence. Apparently I was pining for hi m to pause and be intimidated by the art; maybe look to me for some advice as to how one begins to blog. But he did not. He said he blogged all of the time, so much so that he often starts a bl og around a specific topic and then abandons it. I cringed a bit at wh at I'm hoping didn't appear as an old guy recoiling at the ways of our fickle youth. His confidence, however, had us set him loose on the Internet, and it turns out he's right. Bl ogging is no longer a big deal, especially in terms of production and maintenance. Like a companyÂ’s promotiona l flier with a short shelf life, with blogs you can simply move on (without wasting one piece of paper.) The blog has become so user-friendly in its construction that the medium has become temporary. Just as a television news story can be a mere reflection of a single


22 event, a one-issue publication if you will, the blog can now emerge and fade with the moving news cycle. Back in the parlor, the blog has shrunk Burke’s world into fragments of often forgettable instances of histor y. Regardless, history is being made, or at least documented (which seems to be one and the same), at a pace and volume that would frighten your casual parlor goer. The blog has piqued public interest in personal reactions of the public arena, thus creating a perpetua l discussion that engages even further writing in a cycle of call and response. I bring up these fleeting instances of single-topic discourse so that you too can realize how not dif ficult blogging can be Tumblr is a fine example of the blog’s evolution, from the early days of computer c ode to being published in minutes. Tumblr is a platform for the long term or for a fleeti ng trend and, with its “reblog” function for sharing entries, is designed with community in mind. Tumblrs are easily built, so much so th at in one day, on February 6, 2013, Tumblr reported 72,190,713 posts were created in the 24 -hour period. The result of this new expediency has allowed entire blogs--not mere blog comments or microblogging posts-to become quick rejoinders to any situation. The blog became an overnight sensation with reader-g enerated photo responses to Governor Mitt Romney’s October 2012 statement that he had “binders full of wome n” as potential job applicants for his Massachussett’s gubernat orial cabinet. After only a few months the publisher has announced that “It’s time to close the binder,” the blog having successfully captured and magnified the mo ment for public engagement.


23 The second reason I share th is section about Tumblr is that successful blog writing is often about captur ing trends. Whether it’s comm enting on them or weaving them into a discussion about your business, brands are now putting up quick Tumblr sites that seize on a trend, a public persona or any number of i nnovations and/or train wrecks whirling around the web, and using them to bolst er their image, increase traffic to their website and even make money with ads and affili ate sales. The criticism of Tumblr is that it attracts a very young demographic, one th at isn’t making a lot of major household purchasing decisions right now. Howeve r, as Cathy Davidson writes in her book Now You See It: How the Brain Science of Attent ion Will Transform the Way We Live, Work, and Learn today’s youth have “grown up searching for information online. They had grown up socializing online, too, playing game s with their friends online and, of course, sharing music files online” ( 62). It’s a good time to intr oduce yourself to the most


24 Internet savvy generation yet. Figure VI.5 Tumblr allows a fast way to gain traffic through any trend. Not every trend (like risque memes of famous people) will fit a businessÂ’s image.


25 The dogma of the big dog/little dog bu siness binary has been buffered by technology opening “new avenues for expression ” that are “beginning to challenge the hegemony of the purveyors of mass culture” (B arlow, 130). The business that is online and blogging moves the conversation beyond the in teraction of the institution and into the community. Before that can happen, and before the discussion of actual composition, it is necessary to know how to sell the idea of a blog to mana gement and to the rest of the company. I’m including “the Pitche” in the th esis because it shares how simply a blog can be executed while benefitting the company’s brand and bottom line. Voice: Figure Out Who You A re And How You Should Sound When you’re in this position of pitching a blog to management, don’t forget about including the “rest of the company.” Having everyone’s buy-in means a built-in audience, an in-house expansion of social networks and perhaps even some talented blogging contributors. William Toll of said in an interview about employees as brand ambassadors that “your employees coul d very easily tell your story much better than any marketing person or any customer.” Before a company unleashes the platoons of posts, however, it’s important to hone the company’s voice. In Writing for the Web: A Practical Guide Cynthia Jeney explains that online writers must know ”(a) how to write cleanly and accurately in expected, user-satisfying styles and (b) how to develop exciting and stimulating new kinds of writing that will attract the attention and hold th e interest of those fickle, click-happy Internet surfers” (100). Jeney goes onto explain that style fo r the web is not unlike writing developed by Erma Bombeck or Emily Dickinson. They developed their own style for humor and drama, and readers came to expect and a dore the devices they used. A company can


26 implement a style guide and have only a lim ited number who can actually publish to the blog. To maintain voice, however, it’s a good idea to have one person who is the blog, the “Blogfather” perhaps, who writes most of the entries and can provide company context for guest posts. This is a good way to avoid micromanaging writing. In her book Using Blogs to Enhance Literacy Diane Penrod says that by understanding the blog, writers can learn “how to present th e right information at the right time for the right audien ce using the right discourse strategies” (47). This is a reminder to utilize multimodality to maxi mize voice. Any good blogging strategy uses the platform’s ability to host multiple media formats. Video and podcasting are innovative ways to capture people when th ey are speaking without editing (don’t worry, future manager, editing can always take place in post-production.) With modes of production outside of writing, the company’s spokespeople can speak without noodling over where to put a se micolon. They can slip back into the simplicity of sound and realize their au thentic human voice. For SEO purposes, highlights of what’s being said can be tran scribed and posted with the audio, video or graphic. And as far as recording is concer ned, simply keep that recorder on hand and capture the idea so you can get dow n on paper or in a blog post. The company voice (which very well c ould be your voice) may not congeal immediately, and the feedback may not show up in droves, but by using internal company insights, surveys and focus groups, you can sound and read as you’d like much faster. Then again, soliciting for comments is neve r a bad thing, as you need to invite your audience into the conversation and, as Ba rlow writes, the blog “enables immediate


27 reinforcement of the writing act, and that co mes in ways more reminiscent of speech than writing” (Barlow, 15). The First Rule Of Blogging: Blog Management and co-workers will want to know when you’ll find time to write. There has to be about a hundred publicatio ns promoting unplugging to get things done (one of the best being Manage Your Day-To-Day: Build Your Routine, Find Your Focus and Sharpen Your Creative Mind ). Today’s unplugging means you still get electricity, just not the Internet. You turn off chat, log out of email and, if you’re a serious case, get one of those applications th at locks you out of your web browsers for a set amount of time. This has become necessary not only for blogs, but also the drafts, press releases, promotional items, newsletters, social media posts and internal documents that you will eventually be called on to write. You can use this material, not alwa ys verbatim, but in the voice and in whatever template for public sharing that you can incorporate your brand to help you write for the public-facing blog. I can’t tell you how to write (As Berlin al so writes, ““All that the teacher can do is provide an environment in which the student can learn, relying on su ch activities as free writing, rewriting, journal writing, editorial groups, and the encouragement of the original metaphor” [152].) but I can gi ve a company many reasons why you should blog The italics are intended because blogging give s you more options than writing. The blog is multimodal--the king of multimodality-and can be a place to post pictures, infographics, video, podcasts, re levant memes and whatever is timely and beneficial for a growing audience.


28 The multimodality of the blog offers gr eat examples in what Eric Butow and Rebecca Bollwitt offer in their book, Blogging to Drive Business It’s a lesson in company messaging by where you “Don’t plug your business. Instead, provide free answers.” The Renaissance for content provid ers (writers, videogra phers, graphic artists) has arrived for providing answers and, “If pe ople like your answers a nd see that you’re an expert, they will find your profile and learn more about your business. (24)” In showing what they’re capable of, busin esses use the blog as a space where they can synthesize feedback and, in reaction, crea te a new composition that can now become a new source--a new part of the conversati on. As Elbow writes, “It opens up a door for you and somehow helps you think of more things to write” (22). Burke’s metaphor, a massive literary moment expanding outward over the entirety of human history, thrives in the microcosm of individual business blogs. The good news for the busy businessperson is that blog entries should be only about three hundred words long (Wolf, 58). For SEO purpos es, you’re wasting time if your posts are under two hundred, and for the purpose of audience retention you really shouldn’t go over five hundred. Blogs can make words come much easier as you’ll be involved in the collaboration necessary to become a better wr iter. Elbow encourages freewriting so that you learn to “just say it” without getting “dis tracted from their mean ing by considerations of spelling, grammar, rules, errors” (15). Write it down, ed it it later. With business blogging you do have to forego th e feel-goodness of an Intern et that excuses mistakes, because conventional composition errors are glaring on a web page associated with a company’s website.


29 You’re surfing the Internet anyway (necessary or not) so take notes as you click around blogs, catch up on news and your favorite social sharers. Take notes to get ideas, to comment, use quotes and share. If you ’re properly citing work and, in the high compliment of the digital age, linking back to the original blog, th en you’re doing what is expected of an online community. Academic institutions usually do a pretty good job of scaring you away from plagiarism, which is good, because in the online business world, you’re risking a complete loss of credibility from whatever work you’ve done on your blog, throughout your social media, for your employee morale and your business in general. To begin the process of writing, take in al l the opportunity and then free write it into the tabula rasa of th e blog. You can save and come back later to make it more appealing (editing, adding an image, and putti ng in the appropriate li nks.) Every entry is a new opportunity to connect and, even more so, make your website the epicenter for the conversation about your products services, industry or even family, health issues, personal aspirations and interesting quirks. Su re, it has to work for your business, but don't be afraid to experiment. Besides, you s hould have an in-house editing process that includes a trusted team of coworkers. Sharing internally before you share it w ith the world is necessary so you know it’s something you should share at all. This isn’ t to say you can’t be trusted to write by yourself, but it offers assistance in not only editing and grammar, but also insight on potential public feedback to which you need to prepare a response. An example is the recent revelations of the National Security Agency’s (NSA) “PRISM” program that intercepts customer communi cations of major technology companies like Yahoo!, Google


30 and Facebook. If a company wanted to join the many in the tech sector that blogged against the program, theyÂ’d need to know how to respond to public (blog comments) questions about their own involvement, if any, and how they balance their commitment to customers with their responsibil ity to the federal government. This entry from Brad Feld, a venture cap italist who has turn ed his blogging and writing into a successful brand, demonstrates how you can expound on more than product and profits (also the importance of creati ng a community, which weÂ’re just about to discuss.) Fig IV.6 The Interactive Rhetoric of blogging invites readers into your life, and in return they offer an opportunity for new conversations


31 Even though he wades into the immensely personal, he still cr eates a conversation about commerce and keeps the content relata ble to those in th e business community. “From a work perspective, I fo cused on the things that mattered and tried to eliminate all the other stuff,” he writes before going into his business goals for Q3 ( You’re not going to be successful writing just anythi ng and hearkening back to the ranting days of the early blog, but as Feld did in Figure 8, you can certain ly write about things that affect your business. Will you take a job with Century 21 Real Estate and write about your depression? Maybe not, but any company would love to s how that they care about a serious issues. Some of the more popular business blogs, in cluding the newly invigorated LinkedIn blogging platform, cover everything from alleviating work stress to how to pull a successful office prank (note that both have a clear benefit to their niche audience.) Mark Nicholson, Head of Digital and Inte ractive for the bank ING Direct Canada warmed the collaborative heart of online co mmunities everywhere when he said, “Our whole view is that we shouldn’t have secret s. If we're willing to talk about it in a boardroom, we should be willing to talk a bout it in front of consumers” (Butow & Bollwit, 92). Any company should have a soci al media and blogging po licy in place. Tim O’Reilly’s Blogger’s Code of Conduct is a good place to start. Th is is the draft of the code inspired by the BlogHer Convention, and since has been updated multiple times by different organizations and colla borators. Here’s the most succi nct form from Wikipedia. According to the New York Times O'Reilly and Jimmy Wales based their preliminary list on one developed by the BlogHer women's blogging support network and, working with others, came up with a list of seven proposed ideas:


32 1. Take responsibility not just for your own words, but for the comments you allow on your blog. 2. Label your tolerance level for abusive comments. 3. Consider eliminating anonymous comments. 4. Don't feed the trolls. 5. Take the conversation off line, and talk directly, or find an intermediary who can do so. 6. If you know someone who is behaving badly, tell them so. 7. Don't say anything online that you wouldn't say in person. You could write an entirely differe nt thesis on corporate communication guidelines. Michael Goodman and Peter Hirsch’s subtitled “Strategic Adaptation for Global Practice” is a good place to start. In this thesis, the guidelines used are meant to aid in setting up a blog, the eventual com position, as well as making blog writing more significant to the community. In addressing the significance of your blogging, online composition comes with the advantage of using Internet analytics. Th is is the data-driven opportunity to examine a conversation and find out how long people are stay ing to read your entries, what material they’re responding to, and just how well you’re doing in attr acting people to your corner of the room. "What blog posting or broadcast message can I send out to my readership that really prompts a response?” asks Napol etano, who shared her Google Analytics in finding out how to replicate and improve upon success. She gets answers to her data


33 questions: “What time of day is listing the hi ghest open rate on my email. What is it on my Facebook page that's really, really getti ng people? What's spread ing organically? It's data that reminds me what's very impor tant and I have to keep track of it” ( Figure IV.7 Google Analytics measures traffic to your site. You’ll note the heavy traffic to Erika’s blog, a close second to her homepage.


34 Figure IV.8 You can see here that Facebook and Twitter ( are valuable for bringing visitors back to the website.


35 Figure IV.9 These are incredible numbers, especial ly for Direct and Referral traffic. A blogÂ’s dialogue encapsulates the learning process. The reader leaves comments, the writer responds, creating a conversation that helps bot h parties better understand any challenges they are facing. Beyond the human in teraction is the onlin e trail created by analytics that trace where you should concentrat e your efforts, and tells you in a very concise way what youÂ’re doing that is working. In Figures nine, ten and eleven you get a high-level overview of how and where to focu s your efforts. Who wants to be part of your community and why? The data tells you, especially when you investigate where your referral traffic (often coming from li nks on social media) is coming from. This


36 feedback helps incorporate ideas into the ne xt draft or the next piece altogether. This evolution of discourse is championed by Berlin ’s classical transacti on rhetoric that he says is the individual “conceive d of as inherently transactio nal, arriving at truth through engaging the surrounding material and social environment” (16).


37 CHAPTER V BECOMING BETTER BY BUILDING A COMMUNITY This is where you get to become a be tter writer, a better communicator and a better representative to the company. This is where the “pull” comes roaring back to the blogger’s benefit. While you’re sharing your expertise, you’re not pushing products on people, you’re pulling them in with in formation from which they benefit. Blogging is about bringing value to your customers and ha s your target demogra phic realizing that you appreciate them. Being a blogger with trac tion is about creating conversations that make people say, “Hey, you appreciate me. You understand what’s important to me” ( Robert Scoble says that blogging demonstrates a person’s passion “by using language that shows you are excited about going to work every day” (126). In that case, the reader seeks out enthusiasm in the voice, in the style, and in th e topic. That passion garners readers of similar in terest, thus creating a community of readers with shared features and conventions. Miller and Shepherd trace the history of the weblog to the log of a ship or an airplane that has the “implication that the ge nre is the record of a journey whose details may be significant to others” (1464). Looking at data is one sure way to test wh ether you are signifi cant or not. Within your professional community, you can use crowdsourcing, polling and even prizes. Crowdsourcing “refers to asking readers of the blog for feedback so that the business can meet those customers’ needs as directly and immediately as possible” (Butow and Bollwitt, 14). Glen Fleishmann postulates in his article “Been ‘Blogging’? Web Discourse Hits a Higher Level,” that the blog has grown so quickly in part because, “The


38 structure enables readers to have a more direct relationship with the writer and that builds over time” (110). Listening is half of any conversation, so enabling your readers to speak and replying to their comments gives them “a sense of ownership, knowing their opinions truly matter to the company” (Butow and Bo llwitt, 72). You can also “listen” to the Internet using the likes of “Google Alerts along with Trueca st and Radian6 to scan the Internet for mentions” of your products, bran ds and conversations of interest (89). While the blog can instigate great conv ersations, critical thinking and online corroboration, it can also be a source of destructive critic ism. It’s something to keep in mind: you will be responsible for handling and providing feedback! The anonymity of online conversations has wrought a whole subc ulture of “trolls,” those blog commenters who can be downright cruel. Even the CEO of the Whole Foods grocery chain was found to be anonymously attacking a compet itor on Yahoo’s financial message boards (Rosenberg, 245). Erika Napoletano says that negativity is not entirely a bad thing because, as she asks, “Wouldn’t you rather have your cust omers come out and say they don’t like something so you can have that conversation directly with them?” Twitter and Facebook have become the greatest and most efficient places to show your customers that you are indeed listening. The blog is the reference to which you can guide those with questions that need bigger answers, such as policy queries, video tutorial s and even amicable rejoinders to contentious issues. When you’re tactfully answering a nd directing negative comments, those in your community are watchi ng and sharing what they are seeing as


39 quality customer service. Figure V.1 It’s not if you have a customer service i ssue, but how you handle it. People are listening and sharing. As Tyrone Adams and Stephen Smith write in their book Electronic Tribes it’s all about creating community. It’s where we can be comforted that Internet is “where physical safety is not threat ened and demographic inform ation may be lacking,” and where “group membership derives in part from shared symbol use, meanings, norms, prescriptions, and worldview” (144-145). That online community is where businesses can benefit from the blog’s ability to emulat e group settings, and even create a sense of loyalty where traditionally there may have been no sense of belonging at all.


40 CHAPTER VI A RHETORICAL STRUCTURE FOR PR OLIFIC WRITING AND DIGITAL INTERACTION It takes some courage and assertiveness to blog. You’re putting yourself out there to be read and be judged, let alone the reputatio n of an entire company. Here in this thesis it’s time to slip into the imp etus for blogging. It begins so innocently. You peruse a few other blogs until you believe that you could write something just as good. As Elbow prognosticates, “It makes you positively hungry to hear more, makes you wish you had written it, and then, finally, makes you real ize that you could have written it” (23). “‘If that nerd can write something like th at, so can I!’” is Elbow’s mantra for the sharing generation reared by a healthy di et of online collaboration (and perhaps competition.) The prewriting and free writing; the exercises that teach “you to write without thinking about writing” now can come to fruition beyond the writing classroom and with you into the modern workplace (15). It is with that energy that you need to step into Ber lin’s “discourse community” that serves to create meaning from the write r to the reader. If the traditional workplace were often a one-way public broadcast, the bl og is the interactive network of company’s communication potential. David Barlow writes th at the blog allows for, “Confirmation of understanding of a sort that could not come along with past composition, as it did with speech. This new possibility enables immediate reinforcement of the writing act, and that comes in ways more reminiscent of speech th an writing” (15). With the blog your writing is more resonant and deep with flesh; an intertextual beast to be devoured by the consumers of the Information Age.


41 As we have read, Burke and Berlin provi de a necessary rhetorical foundation for the conversation of blogging, but the depth of understanding to turn keystrokes into an organic, sometimes sensual, experience co mes from Roland Barthes. The linguist and literary critic does something like the Leaves of Grass version of compos itions studies in which he torches convention with a sensua l jaunt through the hidden meanings of the written word. In short, it’s a brief but helpfu l tutorial on the bliss th at darts ever elusively in the fog around it. The fog, at l east for the purpose of this li ttle paper, is everything seen and unseen, inflicted and mitigated, intended a nd not, in the atmosphere of a text. If you’ve ever heard anyone complain that the In ternet needs a font for sarcasm or a tilde for dry humor, then you unders tand the depth of text. Text arrives with baggage--bucket loads of societal and cultural expectations of what is to be understood. But in Barthes The Pleasure of the Text we are told how to turn our mess of guts and neuroses into a guiltless pleasure machine. It is, after all, our moment with the text, our conjugal visit wi th the words outside of our “historical, cultural, psychological assumptions.” Barthes says that the text is “that ra re locus of language” where “logomachy is absent.” According to Barthes, the text “s upersedes grammatical n eeds” and can be free from the “reign of the stereotypes imposed by the petit bourgeois culture.” The text no longer needs to be bloodless parts of a ca non, but can become more of a fertile body. Even the sentence, that “exceptional object” of language structure that is “infinitely renewable” (despite having its paradox “articulated by lingu ists”) takes note of the minutiae of organic familiarity. Daily routines murmured by a million mundane and minor voices create a catharsis of relation to the world.


42 Will you have that kind of voice online? Ba rthes suggests a variety of ways to access the pleasure of the text, from the fleeting first glance to the dist raction that bolts in and away leaving you with some sort of new disruption. Whatever it is, you work towards pleasure and form an aristocracy of thought and understanding, an exclusive place for two, reader and writer soaring above the expectations of society, government and even business. It might be rare that you find yourself rolling in hedonistic joy with your laptop pressed to your face and your inhibitions o ff on the waves of ecstatic, moaning pleasure. But there is a meeting point where your blogging becomes your own voice that it transcends so much of the “rules” of composition. People understand it because you’ve created a persona that could very well be an online version of you, but it’s writing that reads in a luxurious, almost gui lty, comfort that persists to nibble away the foundation of everything you were ever taught about a ta ut and conformed five-paragraph essay. How does this happen? How do you get to this point where people other than yourself care about what you’re creating? It’s a victory to get one comment on a blog, let alone anyone attributing their pleasure to your writing. Although, of course, the mere fact you’re blogging in the first place--jotting dow n and sharing the written word--is a mild form of resistance to the blissless business space. As Berlin says, to be “committed to truth conceived of as a social phenomenon, with implications for the entire community. (47)” Wile that’s pretty heady stuff for some one who just wants to share the latest in shoes, blogger Rebecca Blood helps put th e idea into perspec tive by writing, “The insightful weblogger has an opportunity to el ucidate and navigate the unknown for his readers instead of pulling the gate shut behind them.” Now, how to do that rhetorically.


43 Blood has a nice fiery bit on pr ofessional bloggers and their need to be more open and communicative: Notably, weblogs that focus on a shared profession rarely ex hibit this closedmindedness or lack of respect with regard to dissenting opinion. They eagerly link to one another, disagree vigorously and re spectfully, and are willing to test their ideas against the differing ideas of their colleagues. Sometimes they simply state their opposing opinions and leave it to the reader to decide. In a the world of professional weblogs, disagreement is a vi rtue, but disrespect and animosity are not tolerated. You might reply, “Sweet God! I’m not going to toss typographical grenades at business colleagues!” Yes, for a business Blood might sound a little hot and opinionated. But it’s a nice mantra for the rhetorical key to access the attention your blogging deserves and to unearth the conversations that takes your conversation to near Barthes levels of appreciation. It is Invitati onal Rhetoric, and when Kenneth Burke wrote about in the article “A Rhetoric of Motives,” it was 1950 and women were expected to be vacuuming in a long dress and pearls. It is, however, a rh etorical turn based in Feminist Theory. To narrow this to business blogging: this is the In formation Age, information is the currency by which you can interest and access customer s, but that’s difficult if you don’t seem interested in them. Burke turns Aristotle's rhetoric from an available means of persuasion and explains that it does not have to be mani pulation. Invitational Rh etoric, according to Burke, can be a used to build communities and help us learn to live with each other


44 because “efforts to dominate and gain power over others cannot be used to develop relationships of equality” (Burke, 145). Across the blogosphere the invitation to build communities is not only recommended, but deemed necessary to attract the readers you want for your business. Burke explains the two primary rhetorical fo rms of Invitational Rhetoric as, “Offering perspectives, a model by which rhetors put fo rward for considerati on their perspectives; the second is the creation of external conditions that allow others to present their perspectives in an atmosphere of respect and dignity” (147). Sixty years later the same sentiments are echoed by some of the most successful business bloggers. Napoletano says that “The blog is a vehicle for me to start c onversations and see what other people have to say. When I share stories, the stories that are shared with me create conversations I never knew I’d have.” In examining Burke’s analysis of In vitational Rhetoric we find bloggers everywhere using its two primary tenets quite successfully. The “external conditions” he requires are the blog, the comments, trackbacks, shares and entire socially interactive landscape provided by the rhetor, which in this case is the blogger. James Berlin’s life and writing predates th e blog, but his defining of transactional rhetoric as “an epistemology that sees trut h as arising out of th e interaction of the elements of the rhetorical situation: an inte raction of subject and obj ect or of subject and audience or even of all the elements--subj ect, object, audience, and language--operating simultaneously” (15), bodes well for Michael Keren’s “rebirth of the public sphere.” Keren, a political scientist whose book Blogosphere suggests that blogs have “raised hopes for a reinvigoration of a public sp here worn off in an age of centralized


45 mass media” (9). Berlin’s portrayal of John Dewey's progressive education as a “social construction, a communal creation emergi ng from the dialectic al interplay of individuals,” paves a road to blogger Rebecca Blood’s “vigorous exchange of ideas” (47). The rhetorical structure of a blog le ads to Blood (and, fittingly, not blood as Aristotle had promoted the earliest rhetorical th eory as a superior m eans to brutality) and her “unprecedented tool with which to share ideas and understand other worldviews,” which is a very good thing for your company. By simply sharing your story, and therefore your passion and expertise, you’re pulling in new customers via inbound marketing, as compared to the sales calls of outbound marketing. Rebecca Corliss, an inbound marketing strategist at Hubspot, says: It’s content that’s of value to the cust omer on the blog that people like, share or click. You’re a business and your first in stinct is to let someone know about you, but when someone is investigating inform ation or looking for an answer, they’re not necessarily going to be thinking, ‘OK, what’s the best company to do this for me,’ but more ‘what is the information to make my life easier. ’ With a car issue I’m looking to see if I’m caring for my car properly and not looking for a specific mechanic. So when a mechanic gives me helpful advice, I’m going to trust that person and when I do need a mechanic I know where to take my car. The conversation you create with your cust omers is where truth can be found in a “social construct involving the interaction of interlocutor and audience (or discourse community)” (Berlin, 15). Ultimately, Berlin continues, “Choices are made on the basis of public discourse.” The structure of the blog’s discourse is built around a frame of Berlin’s definition of classi cal transactional rhetoric a nd Burke’s parlor conversation, which is always mutually beneficial when it’s wrapped up in Invitational Rhetoric. “Text is tissue,” adds Barthes. “We are now emphasizing, in the tissu e, the generative idea that the text is made; is worked out in a perpetual interweaving” (64).


46 CHAPTER VII CONCLUSION On June 25, 2013, Wendy Davis became a national sensation when she stood for eleven hours to filibuster a bill on the floor of the Texas State Senate. The problem was that the nationally televised media didn’t seem to care or, as they’d profess the following day, they didn’t have the staff or time to make it appear that they cared. When you flipped through the television ch annels, the traditional bast ions of information, there wasn’t a single story about the Texas senato r. However, there was one public television access channel that carried the vi gil online. Bloggers picked it up. Twitter carried links to it and the hash tag “#standwithwendy” went viral. The next morning one of the big stories was that she was successful in stoppi ng the bill. The other was that, thanks to social media and blogs, Davis’ filibuster became news without any major media entity paying any attention to it. Of course this is of litt le solace to a small business blog seeking to become a major news story. Davis has the advantage in that she’s elected official in a major institution in the second largest state in what is often considered the most powerful nation in the world. She was in a statewide o ffice talking about a national issue and a groundswell of support grew. Luckily, howev er, your blogging is building your own grassroots campaign. Like Burke’s parlor c onversation, the successful blog is created and grows over time. Your blog makes some memo rable moments but it’s your passion and expertise that gives reasons for people to keep coming back. You ’re blogging because it makes you better at what you do, keeping you ahead of your industr y and buoyed in the


47 growing deluge of information. Probably the be st part is that you’re now looked to as a trusted source for your ideas, products and services. Miller and Shepherd discuss the blog as a “shared rhetorical convention” that “functions as a site of relative stability.” They suggest we see all genres as such backward motions, as “efforts at stabilization in th e flux of continual change.” In a quickly changing culture, “the blog makes ‘real’ the refl exive effort to establish the self against the forces of fragmentation, through expr ession and connection, through disclosure” (1469). It’s a metaphor especially necessary under the fluorescent exhale of the office space where you have this page, a refuge really, where you can search through information to pull together something th at, through your voice, sh eds new light on the discussion already at hand. Within the web’s three-dimensional structure exists a new depth for movement, a hyperlinked slash right through the page and on and on, liberating you from budgetary and logistic al restraints, and reveali ng new colleagues and clients who appreciate your presence. And now you, transcending the neon hype of everything Internet, have joined the Burkean conversation. Its 19th Century parlor is now amplified acr oss the World Wide Web, into homes, classrooms and businesse s. You’re carrying the conversation and pulsing from nearly every pixel is an opportu nity for enhanced exposure, collaboration and community. The implications can go globa l but your blogging begins right where you are.


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