Digital Studies 101

A common resource for Digital Studies at UMW.


Blogging is dead! Long live blogging!


In the early 2000s, the end of the “.com” era saw the rise of “Web 2.0” as a loosely defined trend in online content generation where everyday users — not traditional media producers — created the content that defined digital culture. Blogs more than any other modality came to symbolize the freedom and autonomy made available by new networks and new platforms. In some ways, that role has since been supplanted by social media, but blogging remains an accessible and powerful tool for sharing one’s ideas. In this module, your challenge is to become a blogger.


  • learn about the history of blogging
  • gain experience working with and customizing blogging platforms
  • develop a writerly “voice” as a blogger
  • use analytic tools to measure and grow engagement with an audience


  • Shirky, Clay. Here Comes Everybody: The Power of Organizing Without Organizations
  • O’Reilly, Tim. “What is Web 2.0” (2005)

Suggested Tasks

1. Experiment with Platforms

  • install WordPress somewhere on your domain as well as two or three other Blog or CMS platforms
  • try posting on each platform and reflect on the differences
  • practice customizing your site through whatever means those platforms make available
  • invite others (your teammates, for example) to review your blog theme and design and take feedback on what design elements work and which don’t
  • set up Google Analytics and install it in each of your platforms. Use it to learn more about who visits your site and why.
  • Learn about which platforms have been dominant in the past, and if they’re less popular now, reflect on why that might be?

2. Learn about Blogging Culture

  • When did blogging start? Why?
  • Who is blogging now? Are there demographic data available, and if so, what does it indicate?
  • Is there a resonant cultural idea of what “a blogger” is, either on or offline? What kind of person is “a blogger”?
  • How have blogs, bloggers or blogging factored into US politics?

3. Practice Blogging

  • Choose a topic or theme based on your understanding of the present culture of blogging.
  • With your preferred platform (see above) challenge yourself to a posting schedule: once a day, twice a day, or a word-limit per day.
  • Experiment with different genres of blog post: review, response, reflection, rant — heck, even a “listicle” is a kind of blogging.
  • As you write, enrich your posts with judiciously-integrated media elements such as links, embedded youtube videos, and so on.
  • Use other networks like Twitter, Facebook, or anywhere else to share your posts and build your audience.
  • Use analytics (see above) to measure which posts and post types are the most successful and reflect on why.

Slack Channel: blogging