“Dean’s World:” An Effective Blog

The blog “Dean’s World” is a great example of a blog that demonstrates an ability to draw and maintain audience through its rhetorical effectiveness.  The author does a wonderful job promoting discourse on the topics he writes about through a variation of different methods, which is something that I will discuss later. “Dean’s World” discusses “politics, science, history, religion and even occasionally pop culture and entertainment.” The founder, Dean Esmay is an IT professional with “decades of experience as a writer and a journalist.” You will see Dean’s posts take up the majority of the main blog entries, but you will also see occasional posts by Aziz Poonawalla, Ron Coleman, and a few others. In reading the “About” section, one would notice that this blog has an exceptional level of credibility, as in one instance, it was archived by the Library of Congress during the 2004 elections as being “Culturally Significant” to the presidential elections. It has also been nominated several times for awards in the “Weblog Awards,” an important fixture in the blogging community. There are not many blogs on the internet that can claim accolades as these.

The line that appears under the main title “Deans World” reads: “Defending the Liberal Tradition in History, Science, and Philosophy.”  This would seem to suggest that the intended audience might be morally on the “left” side of politics, but after reading the posts and more importantly, the comments, I believe “Dean’s World” is aimed at any and all people that care about what is going on in the world today. Because of the nature of what the author is talking about, ranging from Hillary Clinton making a surprise visit to Libya, to the Occupy Wall Street Movement, to bad movies that the author has recently seen, the audience really ranges from the politically right, to the politically left, and everything in between. Nonetheless, the comments are really what sets this blog apart from others and are what gives the reader the best idea of whom or what the audience is made up of.

There are people commenting on the threads with the username “Conservative Scientist” who bash a lot of what Dean is saying and say they have voted for every Republican candidate since 1956, and there are people commenting about how much they support the Occupy Wall Street movement, and say they cannot state enough how important liberal ideology is to the survival of this nation. I would have to say the audience is made up a a smaller number or young adults and a larger number of well matured adults probably being (and this a rough estimate) thirty, thirty five and up. It seems that at least one commenter per thread talks about how it was 40 years ago, or how they are turning 75 next month and do nothing but listen to political radio stations. I really enjoy reading these comments because it gives such a good sense of the range of values that the audience has, which is something I believe that the author Dean really does a great job invoking by the posts he publishes. I think he knows that he is drawing a very diverse range of people, and in a way feeds off of it for his future ideas. One thing I also notice from the way he analyzes matter on his post is that his audience is already informed on the topic, but it is his opinion they are coming for. Overall, the audience is made up of people who care about current issues, and love to discuss, love to challenge, and love to be challenged.

This blog fits in well with its discourse community, as it discusses many of the current and ongoing issues that are taking place today and can possibly affect our everyday lives. I believe that the way it digresses from subject to subject while still maintaining its overall goal is what makes this blog unique. All of the subject matter fits in to an overall perspective of a community that cares about the events going on in the world today. Although it features no links to other blogs, it doesn’t really have to, as much of what people want to know is discussed in the blog.

One of the reasons this blog connects well with the discourse community is that Dean establishes a “do-ocracy,” which is something that Aaron Barlow talks about in his book “Blogging @merica: The New Public Sphere.”. As you can see, the comment threads creates an opportunity for all members of the discourse community to come together, voice their opinion, and see what evolves out of it. Dean’s World is definitely not a blog that is aimed at isolating anybody, and in effect, a great, positive, discourse emerges.

A great thing about this blog community is it’s effort in the importance of breaking down “Mass Culture.” Dean’s blog is so effective because the ideas he presents and the discourse he promotes might not be accepted by the masses with open arms, but it often serves as food for thought and fuels the academic debate.

The topics discussed “Dean’s World” feature mainly newer developments in the political world, but also largely talk about things that appear on the front page of newspapers such as the death of Steve Jobs, or the scientist’s claim that they have broken the speed of light barrier. Dean also occasionally throws in music and video clips. For the typical blog post, Dean chooses to analyze and give his opinion on current events, because much of his audience is already generally informed on the subject matter.  Though the style of his posts seem to feature mainly personal and opinion based knowledge on these current events, the way he comments back and forth with his audience goes to show that his opinion has a lot of research behind it.

Most of his posts seem to appeal to all aspects of the rhetorical triangle. His strong opinions, backed by a historical analogies, factual data, and citations from expert and authorities all appeal to logos. There is also a good appeal to pathos with the tone and examples he uses, which makes the reader relate and think about what he is saying. The manner in which he posts does a good job of altering reality so that the reader might begin to agree with Dean whether they know it or not. The ethos aspect rounds it all of, as reliability is not in question due to his ideas, values, and competence and presented in a well drawn manner.

“Dean’s World” usually features at least a post a day, sometimes more, which is something I believe is important to the audience. There is more than one story in the news everyday, and they can most likely count on Dean to have posted his views and opinions on that story. The posts are usually four to five paragraphs, which of course is dependant upon the subject matter. Although some are less than four or five paragraphs, many of the posts (mainly posts on politics) are much more.

Although “Dean’s World” features some video clips, it is the linking that has the most effect on the multimodal approach. Before stating his opinion, he links to the story he is talking about, which helps audience members who might not yet be informed yet. He also likes to link old works of his, or works of his that might not appear on this blog. An effective method of his is the way he uses his links is when he asks a question on whether or not you believe something, then directs you to a link to try and sway your opinion, such as the one he does here:

The way he links has a very good rhetorical effect on people, as he posts these videos and links in a very smart way where he tries to convince you on something.

The design of the blog is fairly simple:

But it is in this simplicity of this design that his blog becomes so effective. There are three tabs that make up the site: the “Home” page, which is main page with the posts, the “About” page, where the reader gets to see the blog’s credentials, and last but not least, a page that is titled: “Are You a Liberal?” One can only help but click on the page “Are You a Liberal?” Dean really goes in depth to get the reader to make a decision on what type of person they are, based on the questions he asks, and if you are not already 100% sure you are a liberal, the answer might be somewhat amusing.

Back to the home page. This home page is simply limited to the title of the blog, Dean’s posts, and on the sidebar, a couple ads, recent posts, and most importantly links to recently discussed posts. For this type of blog I think that it is best that he limits his page to feature the cold hard facts. He doesn’t want people being distracted by other things on the page. I believe this positively promotes people to focus mainly on his posts and the discussion. All of this makes it very appealing to the reader, as they come here for two reasons; one, to read Dean’s posts, and two, to discuss Dean’s posts with Dean and other members of the audience.


1 thought on ““Dean’s World:” An Effective Blog”

  1. I thank you for your kind words. One thing: we do have other contributors. We used to have a much more active stable of them than we do now, but we will still see occasional front page posts by Aziz Poonawalla, Ron Coleman, and a few others, although in recent years the site has more and more gone back to its roots as being my sole blog–call it about 85% my materials, 15% others, these days. Although as you note, the comments are something special.

    I’m not sure that it’s “gut instinct” that my opinions go on, although there’s some truth there I imagine; mostly I don’t open my mouth (or start typing) until I’ve thoroughly thought through my position. But I’m not one to be unswayed by emotion.

    Anyway, thank you.

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