Thursday, September 18, 2008


Damn. August 4 was my 4th Blogaversary, and it blipped by me unnoticed. I think it had something to do with my son being born. Funny how life has this way of taking priority over blogging.

Anyway, I've been at this for four years now. It seems like 40. And it seems like four days. Time has no meaning in a blog. And a great deal has happened in four years. I got engaged, married, sold a house, bought a house, turned 50 and had two children. I'd say that it has been a pretty eventful time.

I didn't even know what a blog was when I stumbled into blogging. I'd been slogging away with my own Web page before that, writing HTML and then experimenting with programs like Dreamweaver to create pages. As irritating as can be, it is still light years ahead of hard coding pages with HTML.

Having been blogging for four years, I still can't really tell you what purpose it serves. Sure, it provides an easy and cheap (translate in most cases to free) outlet for writers and artists to publish. But at the same time, people tend to value things according to how much they pay for them. And with 14 million (give or take a few million) blogs out there spewing words for free, trying to get someone to read your blog and take you seriously as a writer is about as easy as a Jehovah's Witness making money selling Watchtower religious pamphlets in Las Vegas.

I suppose blogging is a social experiment more than anything else. Most people seem to stumble into it the way I did and get overwhelmed by the immensity of the blog community. It's a world with it's own rules, language and social pitfalls. There are trolls, lurkers, flame wars, stalkers and other virtual bogeymen. Since it is a one and two-dimensional world primarily of written words, it is fraught with misunderstandings and miscommunications. People make friends, enemies, allies and foes.

Blogging is carnival mirror of life.

Some people get burned out and stop blogging. Some take breaks and never come back. Some vow never to blog again and then blog the next day. I have gone days and weeks without blogging, but I have never really got tired of blogging or been tempted to stop. Maybe it is because I try not to make blogging an obligation or work.

Maybe I should write a book about blogging. I could call it Blogging for Dummies, but I tend to think that would be redundant. There is no formula for blogging. There is no plot, no real structure or format. It is the lack of a "right or wrong way to do it" that makes blogging so attractive to people. It is also why blogs will likely never be considered great literature in the classical sense.

But that is not necessarily a bad thing. All art needs to evolve. Perhaps out of the chaos and primeval ooze of blogs a new form of literature will evolve. It could be the expressionist movement or abstract art of the written word. And it may not be recognized in my lifetime as an art form.

I don't kid myself that I am a pioneer in this new way of writing. It's hard to consider yourself unique when millions of others are clicking away at the same thing. But I like to think that my blog is uniquely mine and not so much like any of the other 14 million out there.

Oh, and the sun revolves around the earth.


R. said...

Well, some would say that the blog was an evolution of sorts to the .plan file. The .plan file harks back to the UNIX days when you'd use a program called finger to find out the status of a user on a local or remote machine. Part of the output of finger would be the contents of the .plan file in the user's home directory. Users would write whatever was (un)useful to be publicly known in the .plan file.

I don't know why some expect the blog to be a phenomena or a... I dunno, whatever. It's just a database that stores text, pictures and movies which is accessed and displayed by a web interface. Like the .plan file of yore, users put whatever they'd like in it.

8=====o - - - (.)(.)

Time said...

R. And the canvas a Van Gogh painting is painted on is just some cloth stretched on a wood frame primed so it will retain powdered color pigments mixed with oils.

You must get your literal nature from your mother's side of the family.

R. said...

I guess my point is that people personify the medium and then try to apply human emotions and rules to it based on the meaning they derived from the contents stored in the medium.

When I say "Oil Paint" I don't think of Van Gogh (actually I remember the smell of linseed oil.) When I see one of Van Gogh's paintings I think of the painting and its subject.

Van Gogh is considered great because he successfully used the medium differently. If he was born to a stone mason I wonder if he'd have been chiseling out impressionist statues?

Time said...

R. My point is exactly that. I'm not talking about blog technology, but the new ways people can use it. It provides potential where there was none before to express emotions, feelings, thoughts and share them with millions instantly. If Van Gogh had been slapping palm prints on a cave walk I don't think his work would have reached out to as many people.

R. said...

Ah. Thus your mention of the signal to noise ratio problem. That's an interesting thing to observe in the blog format because unlike newsgroups or web based discussion boards it's pretty segmented. In some ways the problem is simplified in the blog format because one can sift through subject matter relatively quickly.

Anonymous said...

For me it's like the dozens of pen pals I had as a kid. I look forward to hearing what everyone's up to, even the mundane, just like I looked forward to that mailbox full of letters. I think I missed being the local cat lady but just a hair.

Time said...

It is funny how the bits and pieces of people's ordinairy lives can be so interesting. There are times that I have thought of some of my blog friends as extended family.