"Multifaceted" might be the word to best describe Ratliff's scholarship, blog, and responses as seen separately and collectively in this interview. She is at once blogger, scholar, teacher, feminist, and visionary, and her work reveals an engaging combination of whimsy, reflection, and intellect. Ultimately, through her own unique melding of private and public, Ratliff is among those refashioning the landscape and boundaries of what it means to be an academician, even a rhetorician, in the 21st Century.
As a whole, Ratliff's responses reveal much about the balance that exists among the needs, expectations, and perceptions of bloggers and blog readers. For techno-rhetoricians, blogs are accessible spaces for recording and reflecting with an immediacy that inspires intellectual growth. For readers, blogs can serve as spaces where their perceptions and misperceptions about blogs and those who compose them are both reaffirmed and challenged by content, purpose, and design. In addition, since readers are able to customize their own blogging and reading experiences, it seems pertinent that we continue to explore how the values and identities of those users are reflected and projected with fluidity in these spaces.
Furthermore, Ratliff's responses demonstrate the personality(ies) of the blogger and the blog as they fluctuate over time and space. For example, Ratliff's narrative reflections regarding her experiences as a blogger suggest that the incentives for maintaining and reading blogs are situated among the levels of accountability that bloggers choose to take when sharing ideas frequently in public space(s). By exploring these relationships among the incentives and levels of accountability evident in blogs, we can look for connections among similar relationships that exist in other methods of professionalization in the field.
Clearly, by exploring and utilizing a space where scholarship, musings, and conversations can be shared, Ratliff's blog work reflects the increasingly transparent and/or collaborative nature of research. At the same time, Ratliff's work, to borrow a term from Bolter and Grusin, "remediates" the space it inhabits (2000). Just as no one term--"blogger" or "scholar"--neatly defines who Ratliff is and what she does, so, too, does no one term define her blogspace. (A similar blurring of lines is evident in Cheryl Ball's blog entitled, "Travelogue of an Academic" and Robin Murphy's blog, "RuralRhetorHicks"). By Ratliff's own admission, her blog began as an venue where she could share her thoughts about topics ranging from campus activism to her favorite television programs. However, as her interview responses indicate, her blog ultimately became its own scholarly network, which now attracts students, professors, researchers, special interest groups, and more.
As a blogger-scholar, Ratliff's on-going work serves to underscore the growing legitimacy of such ventures. Granted, as Daniel Drezner contends, there are "risks" to scholarly blogging since it "creat[es] new pathways to public recognition beyond the control of traditonal academic gatekeepers . . ." (2006, B7). But the willingness of Ratliff and others to take those risks suggests a forward movement into what Drezner might also describe as willingness to acknowlege that "quality blogs allow scholars to link grand theory to real-world events, cultivate new ideas, and spark public debates . . ." (2006, B7). While change can truly be a behemoth in traditional settings; the click of a mouse may very well precipitate a beginning of that change. And that is good news to those techno-rhetoricians who are searching out and fashioning their own multimodal pedagogies, research opportunities, publications and avenues toward tenure and promotion.
Special thanks to Clancy Ratliff for her generous input into this interview.
Almjeld, J. (2007). Making Blogs Produce: Using Modern Academic Storehouses and Factories. Computers and Composition Online. Retrieved November 30, 2007, from http://www.bgsu.edu/cconline/almjeld/almeld.htm
Bolter, J. & Grusin, R. (2000). Remediation: Understanding New Media. Cambridge: MIT Press.
Drezner, D.W. (2006). Can Blogging Derail Your Career?: The Trouble with Blogs. The Chronicle of Higher Education, p. B7. Retrieved December 3, 2007, from http://chronicle.com/free v52/i47/47b00701.htm
Krause, S.D. (2007). Where Do I List This on My CV? Kairos. Retrieved November 30, 2007, from http://kairos.technorhetoric.net/12.1/binder.html?topoi/krause/index.html
Mortensen, T. & Walker, J. (2002). Blogging thoughts: Personal publication as an online research tool. In Researching ICTs in Context, ed. Andrew Morrison, InterMedia Report, Oslo.
About Meredith Meredith Graupner is a doctoral candidate at Bowling Green State University where she researches digital media, multimodal assessment, and graduate education. Her dissertation will explore how Rhetoric and Composition doctoral programs emphasize the use of technology in the professionalization of their graduate students.
Graupner's recent publications include "Debunking Instant Messenger Myths: Meeting Student Needs in a Digital Age" in Language Arts Journal of Michigan. Her work, "Remediating Knowledg-Making Spaces in the Graduate Curriculum: Developing and Sustaining Multimodal Teaching and Research" co-authored with Kristine Blair and Lee Nickoson-Massey is forthcoming in a special issue of Computers and Composition.
Chris Denecker is an Assistant Professor of English at The University of Findlay and received her doctoral degree from Bowling Green State University. Her research interests include multimodal composition, technological pedagogies, and English education--specifically pre-service teacher preparation.
Her recent publications include "So You Want to be an English Teacher? Technology, Literacy, and Language Arts" in College English Association Forum, and "[Re]Fresh[ing] Perspectives: Multimodal Composition and the Pre-Service English Teacher " in this edition of Computers and Composition Online.