The Year of the Blog: Weblogs in the Writing Classroom

If the Web were to have its own astrology—something, perhaps, like the Chinese system—then 2003 would be the Year of the Blog, for while blogs (short for "weblogs") have been around since at least 1993, something in the stars and planets has just now come into alignment, making blogs rise above the horizon of notice. Witness these events:

  • In January, Blogger (arguably the most popular tool for blogging) announced that it had reached the one million user mark. Just over a month later, Pyra Labs, Blogger's parent company, confirmed that it had been purchased by Google. More than a marriage between much loved web darlings, Google's acquistion of Blogger assured the longevity of the service in a post-dot-com economy.

  • In March, the Conference on College Composition and Communication (CCCC) featured a number of panels about blogs and blogging, as well as two presentations in NCTE/CCCC Mobile Technology Center, including one on "Weblogs in the Composition Classroom." Blogs are also featured in five panels or presentations at the 2003 Computers and Writing Conference. While these presentations, as a whole, represent a small percentage of the total presentations at both conferences, they still point to the ways in which blogs have gained a foothold in our scholarship and classroom practice. The extent of this foothold was made particularly apparent to me by the enthusiastic response to a call for participants in a proposed workshop on blogging at CCCC 2004.

  • In March, as U.S. and British forces entered Iraq, blogs were brought into worldwide focus. "War blogs," as they have come to be called, focus on the conflict from a variety of points of view. Journalists such as CNN's Kevin Sites ( provide an alternative news stream direct from the front lines (although CNN has since asked him to suspend his blog), as do blogs by soldiers such as the pseudonymous L.T. Smash (

    But perhaps the one blog to garner the most attention in this vein is "Where is Raed?" (, the blog of a young, Western-educated, gay Iraqi architect living in Baghdad and offering perhaps the only Iraqi civilian perspective on the war. Salam Pax, the author of the blog whose "nom de blog" means "Peace Peace," made headlines around the globe, and traffic to his blog increased so exponentially that Google had to create a mirror for the site. The world, in fact, continues to wait with baited breath to learn of Salam Pax's fate—there hasn't been an entry to his blog since March 24.

On the web, in the academy, and throughout the world, blogs are starting to make a name for themselves, so much so that soon I imagine one won't have to explain just what a blog is—they are moving towards the mainstream. In order to advance the adoption of this writing tool, one which Blogger's motto proclaims to be "Push-button publishing for the people," I have collected a series of resources you can use to make a blog of your own, as well as ideas about how blogs can be used in the composition classroom as both writing practice and content.




blog tools and how-tos


blogs as writing practice


blogs as class content


more resources





Barclay Barrios, Writing Program, Rutgers University—New Brunswick




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