Thursday, April 14, 2005

To Blog or Not to Blog . . .

Blog, in verb and noun form, seems an unfortunate word. It just kind of falls from your mouth. Having said it, done it, leaves your tongue hanging out with a bad taste, as if you have just licked a dozen envelopes (envelopes that hold letters that are strangely both very private and very public). I remain ambivalent about the act of Blogging.

But I like to read about things that attract and repel me at the same time, so I will tell you what I am finding out.

I was struggling with the idea of audience. Is it imagined, invisible, hostile, limited to friends of WCJ, etc? Sending my words out makes me uncomfortable, but is it is the same uncomfortable that I have with writing any old thing (because I do still have that uncomfortable) or is it a new uncomfortable, squarely fixed on this new technology and task? Most of what I am reading about Blogs recognizes this schism: Bloggers operate in a very public and networked world of words, but even with all that stimulation zooming to and from us, we remain in a cocoon of individuality and ego. I had been thinking of this act as very public, very outwardly focused, but Rebecca Blood claims otherwise.

From Rebecca Blood's book: The Weblog Handbook

The audience of one is the single most important principle behind creating [a Blog, Web site, etc] that is fresh, interesting and compelling. There are half a million weblogs; yours will be compelling only to the extent that it reflects your unique way of looking at the world. Your perspective is the point. It is the only reason to read a weblog at all.

It seems to me this is also something we try to convince developing writers of: contrary to what some teachers or their methods say, we really do want students to write about something that holds meaning for them and to think about what they like to read and why as a way to understand how writing works for readers. Right?

While I read Blood's handbook I wished that students had this handbook as their required first-year writing handbook:

If you allow yourself to begin posting entries based on what you think someone else wants you to write, you are missing the point . . .

Your weblog is your playground. Keep it fun for yourself.

Use whatever tools you have to let readers know exactly what you think about current foreign policy, your favorite brand of tofu, or your new haircut.

If a friend mentions one of your entries and you find yourself telling her why you felt that link was interesting or describing the details of the incident you wrote about, you can be sure that you aren't doing your best work.

Having to produce something for your weblog several times a week will force you - or give you an excuse - to practice your craft.

Writing short is hard, and the daily practice of having to summarize or analyze an article with concision will make you a clearer writer and a better thinker.

The initial Blog bug bite let me be silly or let me cheat you of my own writing by allowing me to easily link to other things. Now I am starting to rethink this medium, or genre, or indulgence--whatever it might be functioning as for me at this moment. I am rethinking Blogging in terms of personal and public writing, what writing means to me, what I think I might have to say to an unknown audience.

Holy Hannah, this Blog thing has me writing poems!

A Poem About Blogging

Note it: the giddiness and dread as you press send, submit, or print.
Making public your typeface of selected thoughts
just ain't right somehow or
it is what it is
for now



At 8:52 PM, Blogger shady said...

the (playful) questioning of audience leaves me thinking: what would Aristotle think of blogging? Socrates?

blogging is like throwing a small moment of your life out into a wonderful... space.

it's like sitting at a coffeeshop, writing a poem on a napkin, and leaving it on your table when you leave. you never know if anyone will read it, pass it over, or simply throw it away. but... you wrote it--and that's what it's all about.

(excuse the awful "hokey-pokey" moment, please.)

i find blogging to be a fun, creative outlet. however, i wonder what happens to blogs in the end? where do blogs go when the sun sets?

(will i, in ten, twenty, or thirty years, be found guilty of once calling the hokey-pokey awful?)

can i also relate blogging to graffitti, writings on the bathroom stall, and a desk in a classroom?

i've come to look forward to reading blogs, especially here. they are seldom too long and they often provide quick, slice-of-life anecdotes that i find intriguing. i'd often much rather read a blog than a newsarticle (the latter often being a stale, (semi- or biased)"factual" account of something that happened somewhere that was reported by someone who has done their best job to remain completely voiceless in their reporting.

blogs, then, are like editorials, i suppose. far more interesting, if only because they are much more "human," even though they exist in a virtual space.

this was my napkin. i only used it to write on.

At 8:15 AM, Blogger /WCJ/ said...


I picked up the napkin you left on the table and put it in my pocket.

Like you, I like reading blogs and I almost look forward to writing them now. The editorial column genre is appealing.

You ask a really good (scary) question: what does happen to all this writing? How will it be regarded years from now? Is this ability to build a blog in ten minutes and write to the world everyday just another notch in the belt of technological possibilites?

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