Some Wisdom about Writing from Lynn Hunt

You cannot accumulate pages if you constantly second guess yourself. You have to second guess yourself just enough to make constant revision productive and not debilitating. You have to believe that clarity is going to come, not all at once, and certainly not before you write, but eventually, if you work at it hard enough, it will come. Thought does emerge from writing. Something ineffable happens when you write down a thought. You think something you did not know you could or would think and it leads you to another thought almost unbidden.

So says Professor Lynn of Hunt of UCLA’s History department. The entire article “How Writing Leads to Thinking (And not the other way around)” from the Art of History column in the February 2010 issue of Perspectives on History is available online here. Thanks to Jean Smith of the History Compass Exchanges blog for calling Hunt’s article to my attention.

The idea of writing as discovery is not new to composition teachers, or rhetoricians, but I do very much wish that more senior scholars would do as Professor Hunt has, and talk about their writing process. Pass the link on to others; it might be the very thing some graduate student needs.

Medieval Jousting Bloggers at Inside Higher Ed

The story about less-than-ethical medievalist bloggers that I posted about here, thanks to Another Damned Medievalist and Meg of Xoom has been picked up by Inside Higher Education here.

I’ve been thinking about this some more, particularly in light of the Blogspot hosted Medievalist News. There are a few oddities, aside from the less-than-original posts. Not only are links and attributions removed from posts, it’s a one-to-many blog. There are no comment links. All comment are shut off. Blogging is in large part about conversation. As Tor Books editor, writer, and blogger Patrick Nielsen Hayden says:

Effective blogging is a combination of good personal writing and smart party hosting. A good blog post can be a sentence long, or three pages long; what matters is that it encourages further conversation.

By not including back-links, by shutting off comments, by not having a blogroll, Medieval News and Medievalist.net are not only not participating in the conversation, they are actively shutting it down. All the Twitter feeds with links to their post, and Facebook groups in the world can’t fix that. It is, however, a technique that I’ve seen in one other realm of the blogosphere; spam sites and scraping sites. They want traffic and Google rankings, so they obtain their content elsewhere, in order to sell ads.

Once Google, bloggers, and sys admins, and W3C noticed this practice, they created a work around; it’s called rel=”nofollow”. It works like this:

<a href="http://medievalnews.blogspot.com/" rel="nofollow">Medievalist News</a>

Using rel=”nofollow” means that links work, but the link is not tracked by Google or other search engines or sites like Alexa. So the misbehaving site gets no “Google juice.”

As ADM notes here, “we often forget about the ramifications of how internet communication works.”