Monday, June 06, 2005

Meta-Blogging 10: Teresa NH on 'Ware vs. Praxis

I'm a relative newcomer to participation in subculture. I didn't join clubs, I didn't participate in my friends' zines, I didn't follow bands, I didn't go to conventions of any sort. Maybe what I really mean to say is that I didn't really participate in public life in any meaningful way--besides voting in every election I could--until I realized, in a fit of madness and isolation, that the online blogging community was smart and electric--which I mean in all possible senses. Having not wedged carrots in my ears and cucumber-slices over my eyes, however, I was aware that communities of non-traditional sorts, online and off, had been going on for years, and that I was comparatively late to the game.

Teresa Nielsen-Hayden, along with Gary Farber, help constitute the instutitional memory of the rapidly expanding blogosphere. These old hands--and I'm sure there are others, but these are the ones with whom I am familiar--have the experience with mediated communities to gauge blogging, as a medium, as a platform, and as a media phenomenon. They also, by the way, have handy advice for keeping mediated discussions from becoming useless flamewars, having witnessed and survived years of such behavior.

So it is with particular interest that I collect for my bloggish archives TNH's survey of 66 random, "recently updated" blogs from She notes that of the 66, 32 are sites that are using the blog software to post data that is in no way personal or represents a "log": most are google-whores, some are online casinos and variants, some are archives using blogging format, some are community-specific bulletin-boards. Many of the remaining sites, after the rubbish is cleared, are in languages that TNH cannot properly evaluate.

Her concluding remarks, however, are, I think, spot on. One of her bullet points:
Weblogging as currently constituted may or may not prove to be an enduring literary form, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the weblog template—episodic, open-ended, easily modified to have sidebars and text jumps and comments and embedded mini-blogs, imposing no relationship on it elements beyond chronological order—outlives everything else we’ve done. When people talk about innovation on the internet, all too often it’s about, say, some ditzy proprietary e-business software nobody’ll remember a few years from now. Inventing a new documentary form is a far rarer thing.
Indeed, something in the blogging format is answering a need. The genres will evolve--blogs will probably rapidly scatter into commercial, pop, corporate, left, right, personal, categories, which will bear little resemblence to each other--but the template, the medium, seems to address rather well our current being-in-the-world that requires constant connection and searchable history .


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