In a May, 2004 post to Fragments from Floyd, Fred describes his discovery that a 55 gallon drum of waste oil has been dumped into Goose Creek, the stream which runs through his property. This incident of pollution coincides with a deluge of comment spam that threatens to cripple his blog, prompting him to conclude his post with this reflection:

There is no way to catch this slug of a human who did this. I would be perfectly willing to accept that this same person left Goose Creek and went back home to their regular job: propagating weblog comment spam. There are facets of human nature with which I am thankfully not often in contact--while some of the prisoners in Iraq have become quite familiar with them, I fear. God help us overcome the varied ways we find to reap pollution, corruption and hatred on the earth and each other.

Here we see a place blogger who ultimately is not interested in creating online communities as a way of compensating for the loss of actual communities and environments. In a single post, Fred manages to interweave observations of his backyard, the political situation in Iraq, and the affects of spam on online communities. However, while Fred can imagine that similar flaws in human nature might motivate a person to commit both comment spam and environmental crime, Fred does not elide the "places" affected by these actions: the oil in his creek has different material effects than the spam attacking his blogging software. But for Fred, blogging is the genre best suited to connect these varieties of "place" and explore the complexities of this experience in writing.

Place blogging makes more than a passing attempt to forge links between physical places and online rhetorical places. It is not that either one of these places is any less "real"; our experiences of online places and physical places are both discursively constructed. In the case of place blogs, the genre creates a structure that encourages a kind of movement between online places and physical places, while assuming that these are blurred categories. Ultimately, online experience depends on the material conditions of physical places, and online places in turn increasingly mediate our experience of physical places and provide the genres that allow us to make sense of them.

The place blogging explores areas of "underdetermined potential" present in online technologies, potentials "which can be exploited by interested agents determined to make a difference in their own lives" (Selfe and Selfe, 272). In this case, the difference involves finding ways to us the web to create a deeper sense of place. By responding to local contexts--physical places, student demographics, university environments, local ecologies--place blogging suggests ways of creating pedagogical places where students and teachers collaborate to figure out where they are in a rapidly changing and globalized world.

© Copyright Tim Lindgren