About Plinky: A Brief Review

Some time back I found Plinky, self-billed as “your web enabler since 2009.” I though this would be a good time to blog about it and the concept behind it since I seriously doubt that it will be anyone’s web enabler in 2010. However, if I’m wrong, it says something about people and writing I just don’t want to believe–that they can have the desire to write without having any idea what to write. If the need to express something is divorced from the act of writing, as in the case of some students and writing classes, well, that would be very bad indeed. The trick in writing classes is to realign the students’ need to say something and to count as someone who CAN say something with the act of writing. If that kind of disconnect exists outside of the classroom, we’re in serious trouble here. It would mean people no longer think, and I hope that’s not true.

The idea of Plinky is a simple one: a prompt a day and everyone writes about it. The prompts are uninspired and require at most, a short answer and no reflection. The prompt given on the splash page today is “Name a book that changed your mind or opened your eyes.” The sample response is “Oh Jack Kerouac–how you slay me,” a typical brief response that the site encourages the user to share through Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, or “most major blogging services.” In other words, this service generates single sentence answers to a daily question. That is not blogging.

On the other hand, do they claim it is blogging? Perhaps not since it is seen as a blog enabler, but that leaves the question of what it is and whether or not it is useful for the blogger who may occasionally run out of steam. Since the questions lead to personal blog-type responses rather than the world outside the self, I would say not. If a personal blogger runs out of things to say about themselves or their own lives, then they have much more serious problems than coming up with a blog entry. Granted, they may have entered a time when their lives need to be off the page–that’s fine. What’s not fine is substituting real content with filler. Here’s hoping this site and its creepy attitude of “Why bother thinking or reflecting! Let us do the thinking for you!” is gone by 2010.

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Author of the poetry collection The Tethered Ground and Professor of English at Missouri State University. Contact me for readings or for workshops on writing/publishing and on teaching writing online.

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