The last words
First and foremost, I noticed that when using a computer, my writing tends to become shorter, more concise and to the point. Short, pithy sentences seem more appropriate when communicating in a high-speed world, even if you supposedly have all the space you could ever want for writing. Even word processing on a computer does not have quite the same sense of urgency as blogging does; this post will probably seem more long-winded than some of my others because I am composing it using a word processor instead of Blogger.
This phenomenon seems to extend to the poetry I found as well. The vast majority of poetry blogs I found consist of short poetry; many are dedicated to haikus, a genre of poetry that is by nature extremely short and focused. Haiku seems to be, if not made for the computer-using generation, then at least well-adapted to it. It has been said that our attention spans are growing shorter and shorter the faster our information sources get. I personally will often skip over longer poems in books because they seem like they will take too long to read, though I have no problem reading ten short poems that in total are longer than the one longer piece of work. We handle both information and art, not in long, watered-down tracts of writing, but in condensed chunks that we try to swallow whole.
I wonder if we are able to absorb as much of the wisdom from this sort of concentrated writing as we do from something longer, but more expository. After all, haikus were once the realm of serious scholars who spent a lot of time studying them. More than a quick read-through is required in order to fully grasp what is being said, but in such a fast-paced universe as the internet, it is likely that a simple surface reading is all that is afforded to such poetry.
The second thing that I’ve noticed, both in internet poetry as well as in regular blog writing, is that the writing tends towards informality. This turned out to be sort of a road block to my project, as the lack of formality extends to the dearth of new poetic forms being used. Writing on the internet does not read the same way that a book does; the tone tends towards the conversational. It is accessible to the reader; the writer does not hide behind a big vocabulary or lofty sentence structure but instead is more concerned with the dissemination of information.
Thus, poetry on the internet rarely follows a form, or if it does, treats the rules of the form as a jumping-off point instead of a law that is set in stone. The aforementioned haikus often lack the syllabic structure of traditional poems in favor of an open-ended form.
As for the other lessons I have learned from blogging, there is one thing I have noticed. It seems that people are less likely to pay attention to social customs and politeness when they are writing on the internet than they do in “real life”. I think this may be because the internet makes a person feel anonymous, and other people seem like abstractions, not real people. This can be both good and bad; it is good in that it is more comfortable for people to speak their minds about certain subjects that they normally wouldn’t broach in regular discussion for fear of insulting others, or conversely, being laughed at themselves. Uncomfortable topics can be discussed and opinions shared when they would be avoided away from the computer.
However, this does lead into the downside: there are people who are not afraid to insult others openly while online. This does not just occur in blogging; there are certainly examples on message boards and in chat rooms as well. This can make online communities seem hostile and unwelcoming, which in my opinion negates the purpose of the internet: to create a way for people to freely share information, ideas, and opinions.
The biggest thing I wish I would have done differently is that I wish I would have combined my project blog and my regular blog. I truly do enjoy blogging, but I had a difficult time finding the sort of information I was looking for to post on my poetry blog. If I would have kept it all on one blog, I could have had far most consistent updates (although they would not have always been on topic). The other reason I regret my choice is that poetry is a very serious, personal thing for me. It is very much a part of who I am, and as such I prefer to post it on my personal blog so that the readers I already have there will see it. But I feel that posting it in both places seems self-absorbed and silly. So it would have made me much happier to combine the two.
In closing, I feel that I did learn a lot of things about my own writing style from this class, as well as learning about online communities and poetry. I was able to share my own writing, some of which I am very proud of. And finally, I discovered more about my own abilities and talents by looking through previous postings, both from the class and from before, and saw how my writing has changed in the past year. My learning was very much about self-discovery, and I find that knowledge to be invaluable.