Saturday, September 27, 2008

Blog as Question


New to the blog-world, I am at a unique place in my own personal development to comment (and record) what makes a blog different and special to me, now, when compared to other forms of communication. Analogous to the Greek commentaries on the invention of writing, or the cultural discourse in the 50's about the affects of television, this is an opportunity to remind myself , once I become used to blogging, why it was, once, so 'different'. Hopefully it will also make me more conscious of the affects blogging will invariably have on how I communicate. For example, a blog 'thinks' backwards and although someday this will seem natural to me, it doesn't yet and if I want to follow a conversation, I have to start down the page. This is an odd way of thinking. English class teaches us that you start with an introduction, followed by a thesis, the body and conclusion. You build up an argument and let it unfold; there's a clear purpose- a punch-line. A blog, however works in reverse; you read the last segment first. Its like starting with the last page of the novel.

This leads me to my first observations that blogs are, I think, promoters of non-linear thought. Its not that they don't have an order, because they do, but because we don't think backwards (as I alluded to above), we tend to start each new post / entry as something, well new. One post is disconnected from the other: today is a new day and new thought. Or put another way: I feel this now. Comments are in turn diverse, disorganized and secondary. They are momentary, short quips, rants, musing or jabs, that much like a talk show, are really more like an expression of opinion and emotion. Not requiring the legitimacy of fact, an emotional statement carries weight because it is an expression of how one feels. For experienced bloggers this is taken for granted and one learns how to navigate through the conversation. Unsupported and unsubstantiated claims are secondary because, many comments, like a diner party are not meant to convince. Furthermore, even when one 'lists' reasons or enumerates a position, there is no guarantee that it is indeed accurate.

Ironically, this is exactly what I think makes the blog power: the audience, the community, the connectivity, the emotion, the expression and response. A blog is sort of like a public diary. But unlike most a pre-internet diaries this one is meant to present publicly the personal thoughts of an individual. Furthermore, unlike posthumously published diaries, this is live, can be changed, and by definition questions the assumptions it expresses by exposing it for public review and criticism.

A blog, by nature is a question.

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