Wednesday, October 22, 2003

This Should Be Obvious

So obvious, in fact, that I wrote this last night and then decided not to post it after all. Alas, a series of headlong days and short-shrift night coupled with the wife and child's absence -- they're off to her parents house to petsit for the next three or four -- have left me too busy to blog. I therefore bow to the weight of convenience, and post the real blogthoughts that evoked last night's mini-thought on the same topic (i.e. blogs); I ask only that you recognize the following as a first draft not worth polishing, and forgive, in advance, redundancy, rhetorical messiness, and redundancy.

Making Public The Lost Segue

I read Alex Halavais’ post-conference report on the informatics of blogging, I’ve been thinking about blogs, and I’ve had a beer. Here’s one reason why blogs matter in my own solipsistic blogworldview.

Blogs make public the act of segueless writing.

You might say they democratize it, or universalize it: by offering us a powerful yet relatively simple tool for / knowledge pools of the ability to create, publish, broadcast, and read to so many of us, they bring a David Lynchian postmodernism to the everyman, much like writing brought us realism and narrative as we recorded and rerecorded our stories.

Though we agree, you and I, about the relevance of blogging conferences and books, the straw men that profess and promise utopia through blogging are nothing new, and hardly worth dismissing anymore. We’ve heard it all before, for every new technology – the naysayers and the promisers, the yeas and the nays; we can put down our straw men, and move on unencumbered.

Sure, the mass spread of realism did not suddenly lead to mass empowerment. It did not transform the world; was symptom, not C-change. Expecting blogs to transform the universe is similarily both true and false: blogs only contain the force of change in that they are (one of) the transformed. Where the ability to record the real brought little more than the illusion of empowerment in re-ordering the world, as if the act of documenting was an act of ownership, the blog merely follows the overall trend, and asks us to own the world through dis-order.

But blogs say something about us – the very fact of them has real meaning. For example, where Alex points out that blogging requires technical skill not really held by the average member of the population, I’m currently watching a younger generation grow up with it. The rising numbers and the integration of blogs into the daily habits of even a twentieth of the total population can, perhaps, be used as a mark of technological literacy – say, once the number of bloggers reaches the same overall percentage of the culture once represented by journal-keepers, diary-writers, and secret-keepers.

But change…yes, now, we sure see change coming. Haven’t we learned by now that the good and bad in changes is what we make of them? When everyone can write, and those who want to saturate the environment do so – when technical stumbling blocks and a lack of basic literacy fade in re: the computer, as they did before, with the written language – then blogging will still not be transformative. But why so many people willingly shifted the way they use…well, blogs, yes, but pretty much any technology…what it means to us, what it signifies. Ay, there’s the rub.

posted by boyhowdy | 11:54 PM |

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