Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Blog Check + Notes on Titles

I've set up a list of blogs from the "Ethics of Food" cluster to the lower right. The list is sorted so that the most recently updated blogs will always float to the top. Each entry lists the title of the blog, the title of the most recent post, and the time of that post relative to the present (for example, "7 hours ago"). If you don't see your blog in the list, that means I do not have the address of your blog, and no one in the class can read it right now. If you see the title of your blog, but not the title of your most recent post or the time of that post, that means you haven't posted anything yet! In either case, you've missed the due date of your first homework since both of these things were supposed to be done by midnight. Uh oh.

Now let's notice a few things:

1. Some of the blogs have titles that don't tell the reader anything about the theme of the blog. Remember, the title of a piece of writing has two jobs to do: first, to give the reader a sense of what to expect from the work, and second, to attract her attention so that she'll want to read your work. Because you're publishing your writing for this class in the real world, we're playing by real world rules: an ineffective title can mean the difference between someone choosing to click on your blog or going elsewhere. With this in mind, some of you may want to think about changing the title of your blog to something more effective and intriguing. (To change your title, click on "Customize" at the top of the page, then "Settings.") You can use any phrase that fits the theme of the course. Be creative!

2. Similarly, we need to work on giving our posts descriptive titles. Look at the titles of your classmates posts: Which of them sound interesting? Which of them are you likely to read when you give comments on Tuesday morning? By thinking about what makes these titles attractive, you can learn to title your own posts more effectively.

In both cases, we're dealing with titles. It's easy to ignore them or to lose sight of their purpose in a classroom situation, where among other things you learn to take it for granted that the teacher is always going to read your work. But in the real world, the title is one of the most important parts of a piece of writing. It can make or break you. If you think about your own reading habits, both online and in print, you'll probably see that this is true: Who wants to read a magazine article or a web page (or go see a movie or play a video game) with a boring or obscure title?

Let's make that our first big writing lesson: Work on your titles!

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