Home | Away

I got plenty of nothin’

. . . and so I’ll just post a few excerpts from my Midwest MLA keynote address, “Professors at Work,” a good deal of which had to do with blogs.  The theme of the conference was “High and Low,” you see, so I thought this might be a good time to talk about academic blogs as a genre—as a subset of blogs in general, and as a form of scholarly exchange.  So I said a bunch of fairly obvious things, as is my wont.  I’ve since learned that one part of my talk may have been misheard or misremembered, thanks to someone named Stella Artois.  So perhaps academic blogs can help to straighten out these little misunderstandings that arise when academics go to hear other academics talk about academic blogs!  All of society will benefit, I’m sure.

At least I accomplished this much:  the MMLA keynote marked the first time I have gotten a chance to cite, in public, to a ballroom full of people, Fafblog’s famous “State of the Internet Address” for 2005:

The state of the internet is strong an fiesty! It’s bigger an better an quicker than ever an can skeletonize a buffalo in under sixteen seconds! But be careful: the internet can be dangerous. If the internet starts walkin up to you with its ears down makin growlin noises please back away from it slowly an find a grownup or a Communications Decency Act right away.

The internet has done so much in the last year! This year brought us the Blog Revolution, which wasn’t that big but moved so fast it went from Blog Bastille Day to the Blog Reign of Terror to the Blog Buncha Ol Fat Guys Talkin About Blog Bastille Day in like a week!

Then I made the obvious point that way back in 2002, when I first started reading blogs regularly, most academics did not blog and did not think much of most of the people who did.  Then I said:

_______

These days, I find that the general attitude of academics toward blogging is a bit more diffuse.  Most senior eminences do not blog, though a few well-established theory and/or poetics types, from Jodi Dean to Steven Shaviro to Ron Silliman, have very good blogs.  By and large, though, the senior members of our discipline tend to look upon academic bloggers the way they might look at ham radio enthusiasts—as engaging in a curious and somewhat self-aggrandizing hobby that matters only to other curious and self-aggrandizing hobbyists.  Part of that attitude is generational, no doubt, and speaks to a certain kind of generational cluelessness about the Internet—as evidenced, for example, by the job placement advisor who (in)famously told Ph.D. candidates to use the Google and remove any online information about themselves that might prove damaging in the eyes of prospective employers.  [Feel free to insert your favorite Ivan Tribble memory here.] Clearly, this placement advisor had no idea that the Internet does not accommodate the necessary Winky-Dink Kit that would enable readers to alter websites by writing directly on their computer screens; for in reality, the Internet is a series of tubes, and in order to change what’s in them you have to call Virtual Roto-Rooter or actually crawl into the tubes yourselves.  I’ve also run across a number of colleagues who think of blogs neither as a debased medium nor as a weird hobby but as something more like a pet ferret—you know, maybe it’s edgy and intriguing in some ways, but then again maybe it’ll run around all over the place and eat your shoes.  And then there are those among us who actually consider blogs cool, and wish we had one, if we only had the time to keep it up.  For those few, blogging is a little like becoming fluent in another language—something on the list of remote desires, things we can’t squeeze into our busy lives right now but would love to.

The fact that academics’ attitudes toward blogs have changed is not merely a function of the fact that more academics are bloggers.  (For one thing, more everybody are bloggers.  When I fired up mine in January 2004, and I thought I was doing it late in the game, there were 3 million blogs in the world.  Now there are 55 million.) It’s also a function of the related fact that blogs themselves have become more substantive: many of them feature original essays rather than mere links to news items and brief commentary. 
_______

See?  That was pretty obvious.  Here’s more:

There’s one line of thought—with which many of you are no doubt familiar—in which blogs are understood by way of analogy to the emergence of print culture in the early eighteenth century.  It’s not a bad parallel, insofar as we’re talking about relatively new media being opened to the masses—or, in this case, every member of the masses who has access to a personal computer.  But a more precise analogy, with regard to the phenomenon of blog readership, might be the emergence of popular periodicals in England in the early nineteenth century—the range of journals and reviews and fortnightlies that carried out the Wordsworthian imperative to create the taste by which they were to be enjoyed.  I wish I had come up with that analogy all by myself, but in fact I developed it in the course of a conversation with two of my fellow bloggers, Patrick and Teresa Nielsen Hayden, who also happen to be science fiction writers.  We met at a blogger meetup in the summer of 2005; this was one of those odd social events in which bloggers get together and talk about . . . uh . . . blogging.  Anyway, I had asked the Nielsen Haydens what I thought was an innocent question about whether they’d had any trouble merging their blogs into one; their answer, in brief, was “oh, don’t get us started.” When I asked why I shouldn’t get them started (I am very thick when it comes to certain social cues), they launched into a discussion of blog styles and claimed, plausibly enough, that blogs could be thought of as successors to zines—that low popular genre of the 1980s—and that each blog, like each zine, creates a very specific fan base and mode of discursive exchange. I thought that was a fascinating line of thought, so I brought up Jon Klancher’s 1987 book, The Making of English Reading Audiences, which argues that English literary and political periodicals did pretty much the same thing from 1790 to 1832.  The Nielsen Haydens were familiar with Klancher’s work, and we eventually agreed that even though Klancher made a heroic attempt to yoke together reader-response criticism and reception theory in order to argue that these periodicals actually created reader formations and Bourdieuian habituses in the very fabric of their prose styles, he never pulled off so audacious a formalist-historicist claim as all that.  But he would have had a better argument, the Nielsen Haydens and I agreed, if he had just waited seventeen or eighteen years and tried to make the same argument about blogs.

_______

But you blog readers knew all that already.  OK, so let’s skip over a lot of stuff and get to the big finale:

Finally, blogs serve as networks.  In some ways, I’ve left the most obvious point for last.  But at some point last year I tentatively suggested that there was a difference between “cooked” blogs and “raw” blogs, that is, between blogs that publish more or less complete, polished essays and invite commentary and debate, and blogs that are more like diaries or journals in which people discuss not only their work but also their private lives, their hopes and fears, their families and children and quotidian adventures.  I was of course evoking Robert Lowell’s distinction between raw and cooked poetry, elaborated in his National Book Award acceptance speech of 1960, and to more or less the same purpose: as Lowell said, cooked poetry was “marvelously expert and remote . . . constructed as a sort of mechanical or cat-nip mouse for graduate seminars,” whereas the “raw” was “jerry-built and forensically deadly . . . often like an unscored libretto by some bearded but vegetarian Castro.” Most blogs are somewhere between raw and cooked, perhaps half-cooked or medium rare.  And I intend no pernicious hierarchical evaluation of the raw and the cooked, either, though it’s probably worth noting that rawer bloggers tend to be anonymous, they tend to be junior, and they tend to be women.  (One semi-raw anonymous blogger, commonly known as Dr. Crazy, responded to my citation of her blog as a raw blog with a post titled, “Don’t You Wish Your Girlfriend Was Raw Like Me?” and followed this with a fascinating series of posts on the purpose of blogging for anonymous junior female faculty, to which a number of mostly anonymous apparently junior mostly female faculty bloggers responded.) I don’t think that raw blogs are any less substantial or important than cooked blogs when it comes to demonstrating what professors do all day.  On the contrary.  They combine serious reflections on teaching and writing with questions about how to cope with academe, with being single (male or female) in a small town, with having a stack of papers at one’s elbow, with juggling conference presentations and committee assignments and complicated families and vaguely unsettling department chairs.  The early blog by the professor known only as the Invisible Adjunct was a pioneer in this genre, and inspired literally hundreds if not thousands of tenured professors and adjuncts and graduate students to follow in her bloggy footsteps.  As a result, many young scholars have established online networks and clusters of virtual friends with whom they exchange career advice, teaching suggestions, and sympathetic commentary on how to balance one’s life and work in a profession that usually keeps one well off balance.

About those blogs all I can say is boy, am I jealous.  We never had anything like that when we were the new kids on the hallway.  And I’ll end by emphasizing the blogs that are not all criticism and political commentary and theory all the time—the blogs that combine, say, questions about how to compose a new syllabus in one’s rhetoric and theory course with sharing suggestions on where to look for good clothes in a conference city.  Because to the objection that those blogs are little more than academic diaries or online coffeehouses, I would say, well, yes—that’s precisely the point.  For all academic blogs, the big ones that get twenty thousand readers a day and the ones that get twenty friends stopping by, serve as representations of what professors do, in our variously high and low registers: we write introductions to “Signature Event Context” for our students, we ask each other about our courses and our students, we curl up with a good DVD now and then, and then we get online and we toss out a few thoughts, almost as if we’re at a dinner party or something.  Some of us blog, as I do, about an hour or two a day; others, an hour or two a week.  Some of us don’t take time away from our real work to do meaningless blogging, and some of us don’t take time away from important blogging to do other meaningless drivel.  Because we think that in the end, academic blogs just might serve the useful function of representing to any interested Internet passerby just what it is we do with our time and our skills.  For in all their high and low manifestations, our blogs depict professors at work.

Posted by on 11/15 at 09:46 AM
  1. I think you could argue a comparison between hypertext - or the internet in general - and the printing press, but not blogs. After all, blogs really are just a specific implementation of those technology.

    The comparison to zines is pretty good though. Certainly the spirit of zines is at home in the blog, and I don’t have to hunt down that backpacked punky hardcore hippy guy - whose name I can’t remember - to get my hands on them.

    Posted by Central Content Publisher  on  11/15  at  12:59 PM
  2. I truly believe that if I had had blogging as a resource when I was in grad school, I would have stuck it out and gotten my PhD. As it was, I could deal with the isolation.

    Posted by Hattie  on  11/15  at  01:29 PM
  3. Difference from zines: zines were insidery things. You had to be hip to the right rock shows, the right stores, the right head shops, whatever, to get hold of the latest issue of MMR or Craphound or what have you. You had to be hip to the tricks to reset the old mechanical Kinkos photocopy counters. And so forth. By contrast, certain urls might be obscure, but they’re not that inaccessible. Blogging might be ‘cutting edge,’ but it’s not, thank the fsm, hip.

    Posted by  on  11/15  at  01:56 PM
  4. On the subject of zines. A few weeks ago I wandered into the new wing of the Cleveland Public Library and found that they have an impressively large collection of zines, all organized cataloged and lovingly sealed in plastic bags.

    I was surprised and impressed by this, but maybe I’m behind the times (and don’t spend eneough time in public libraries). Has anyone else seen something similar?

    Posted by  on  11/15  at  02:06 PM
  5. Just wait til the Cleveland Public Library unveils its impressively large collection of blogs!

    Posted by Michael  on  11/15  at  02:08 PM
  6. The Pittsburgh Public Library has a zine collection, housed in the teenager area of the library (which is brilliantly attached to the adult main reading room, not the children’s area, but I digress).  I was horrified a few months ago to realize that my much-hipper-than-I-ever-was baby brother (currently in high school) had no idea what they were.

    Posted by  on  11/15  at  02:27 PM
  7. Barnard College has a part of the library dedicated to zines, too, which is all well and good, considering how much zines did to advance a particular type of radical feminism for a particular class of people.

    ... err, not MMR, but MRR. (Maximum Mock and Roll?)

    Posted by  on  11/15  at  02:42 PM
  8. Ron Silliman isn’t an academic, he’s a systems analyst or something. He is a senior eminence, though, assuredly.

    Posted by joseph duemer  on  11/15  at  03:07 PM
  9. "Part of that attitude is generational, no doubt, and speaks to a certain kind of generational cluelessness about the Internet...Clearly, this placement advisor had no idea that the Internet does not accommodate the necessary Winky-Dink Kit that would enable readers to alter websites by writing directly on their computer screens...”

    Keep in mind that this cuts both ways, and I am a bit younger than you wink

    Wikipedia is one of the better Winky-Dink Kits I’ve seen in awhile, and employers are free to check it just as any public source.  You could alter your biography by writing directly on the computer screen:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michael_Berube

    But that doesn’t mean “no questions asked,” or that you should.  Further reading:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/WP:COI

    Thanks, George

    Posted by George Chriss  on  11/15  at  03:20 PM
  10. Where does one fit Livejournal into this? Livejournals are kind of like blogs, but they operate in a much more closed network: readers are almost entirely other livejournalers, and you can be very specific about setting permissions for you who can read what. In my department at a R1, almost all of the graduate students have livejournal accounts. We use it to announce events, to polemicize, to ask questions, and most importantly to gossip about professors and each other. Way too risky to do on an normal blog, of course, but since you can specifiy exactly who gets to read what, there is a (probably mostly false) sense of security.

    Posted by bbound  on  11/15  at  03:46 PM
  11. Looking forward in all directions, it seems likely that what we now are experiencing as part and parcel of communicating our thoughts, ideas, personal demons, chastizement of others and so forth, will be tweaked more and more through the visual formating of the information. As one of those senioritis guys, i have noticed that most of my peers still aren’t very savvy about using the WWW and other electronic communication media.  Mention podcasts to them. and they glaze over with the same mindnumbed expression as they do when some mechanic tells them their ECM needs replacing.

    Yet, in the last ten years, we have a new generation of incoming students who have been surrounded their entire lives with all available forms of access to media for communicating with one another (can you say fullservice Trio or Blackberry?).  I can’t even begin to imagine how blogs will appear in five more years, but just witnessing the increased ease and use of graphix demonstrated on this site suggests that dig-vid uplinks are coming all too very soon.  Will we experience Michael podcasting, or better, watch multi-media vids with full surround sound drumming to his textual pieces?? 

    The 21st century version of the Winky-Dink Kit or maybe just another co-wink-eee-dink?

    Posted by  on  11/15  at  04:36 PM
  12. Regarding livejournal: when you think about it, all communications networks are closed if you step back far enough. This blog may not be available from certain countries, and certainly isn’t from many offices. Micheal could also choose to block viewers from specific domains, using specific handles, or originating from whole ranges of internet addresses. What’s my point? Oh ya. While security and privacy schemas alter specific blog services, they don’t fundamentally change the phenomenon, but rather, they limit the scope of the phenomenon.

    Posted by Central Content Publisher  on  11/15  at  05:27 PM
  13. Point of information:  Dr. Crazy still blogs as Dr. Crazy, but now she blogs at Reassigned Time.

    And off-topic:  thanks for putting my blathering in the side bar for the Liberalpalooza event.  I realize now it seems like I didn’t read the book since I really only address it obliquely, but I did! I swear! I just thought I’d write in response to it in my own half-baked (not exactly raw, but certainly not fully cooked) way!

    Posted by Dr. Virago  on  11/15  at  06:34 PM
  14. Hi, Dr. V.  Yeah, I know that Dr. C. is still in business, and I should have said “on the blog formerly known as The Chronicles of Dr. Crazy.” So I’ve edited the post to read ”commonly known as Dr. Crazy.”

    And Joseph, thanks for reminding me that Silliman is a senior eminence but not an academic.  Funny thing about blogs with comment sections—people can point out all your mistakes within hours.  That almost never happens in scholarly journals.

    Posted by  on  11/15  at  07:05 PM
  15. We met at a blogger meetup in the summer of 2005; this was one of those odd social events in which bloggers get together and talk about . . . uh . . .

    hockey, recipes and obscure Supreme Court decisions.

    Sometimes the glamor is almost too much…

    Capture word ideas

    Posted by julia  on  11/15  at  07:37 PM
  16. I’m totally on board with blogs as the new coffee houses. The salient difference is that in coffee houses, people honored the sign over the door that said people deviating from the standards of polite discourse will be banished forever.

    Posted by  on  11/15  at  07:53 PM
  17. If you like this post, you’ll love my book, The Raw and the Cooked: Blogologiques, Volume 1, which explains not just academic blogging but the deep structure of blogging itself.

    Posted by Claude Lévi-Strauss  on  11/15  at  08:00 PM
  18. Hi Mr. Berube! I was attempting to find an email address for you but no luck...perhaps I was searching incorrectly or you don’t want to be contacted smile
    My Language Development teacher assigned your essay “Life as We Know It” in our class and I was more than pleasantly surprised. I highly enjoyed your accounts of what many people perceive to be an ill-fated event, but what was actually the opposite. I looked you up on the internet and found this site and looked at the family photos and some of your blog postings. You have a beautiful family and I thoroughly enjoyed reading your ideas and comments. I went to a fine arts high school and was so surprised to remember one of my teachers mentioning your book, “Whats so Liberal About the Liberal Arts?” in a class. I hope to soon read it for myself. Anyway, I just wanted to say hello and that I enjoyed reading your story and hope to read more materials of yours in the near future. ~Stevie Alverson~

    Posted by  on  11/15  at  09:36 PM
  19. Careful with that post title. Be prepared to hear from the Gershwin family.

    Posted by Randy Paul  on  11/15  at  10:50 PM
  20. On the zines thing:  They’re going to take away my punk card, but I like blogs better.  To publish and distribute a zine, you had to be, like Karl said, an insider.  Before I got into blogging, I dabbled a little with fanzines, but since I wasn’t really in a position to publish my own, my writing was stuck in “concert review” mode.  I love blogs, because really, the fact that they are cheaper and easier than zines means that people who are sort of inept at most things but good writers can now get out there.  You know, like academics.  wink

    Posted by Amanda Marcotte  on  11/16  at  12:03 AM
  21. Okay; first, thanks, Prof. Berube, for sharing text of some of your comments from M/MLA meeting [most helpful for Stella’s faulty memory]; as a result, Stella now has some new notions about how the different sections of your talk really do hang together: (1) popular culture representations of “professors at work” are usually pretty dead-off; (2) the non-virtual, “real” workplace of academe [here’s where clips from “Toy Story” and Babe” come in] can often be a soul-killing place, but even this so-called “reality” does not adequately capture what is really happening among and between academics [i.e., we’re not all just vultures who eat our young]; (3) if one takes a trip to the blogosphere, you will not only see real “professors at work,” but you will also see, in some instances, the “humane” in the “humanities.” It all makes perfect sense.

    On another note and contra Karl the Grouchy Medievalist: blogs are hip, yes they are. You heard me, Karl. Meet me over at In The Middle for fisticuffs, if you dare.

    Posted by Eileen Joy  on  11/16  at  12:21 AM
  22. Oh, and I forgot to say, Prof. Berube, when you used the ferret analogy in your talk in Chicago, I almost snorted out my reception wine--it was that funny [and dead-on accurate]. If you hand not reprinted that bit here, I would not have ever recalled it.

    Posted by Eileen Joy  on  11/16  at  12:25 AM
  23. Good to hear I induced some reception wine snorting, Eileen!  I find that conference reception wine is actually tastier and more effective that way.  But I suppose it’s a good thing I didn’t unleash my actual pet ferret, which was chewing a hole in my jacket pocket the entire time Cranky Red Hat Man was fulminating.

    Stevie, thanks for stopping by!  I haven’t been thinking of Life As We Know It lately, but it’s always close to my heart for all the obvious and also a few obscure reasons.  Thanks for checking out this humble blog.

    Randy, who are the Gershwin family?  Are they those annoying nebbishes who complained about my post, “It Ain’t Necessarily So”?

    Pat, remember that coffee houses couldn’t ban nasty commenters and trolls.  Habermas has a whole chapter on how the Troll of Sorrow almost single-handedly ruined everything in The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere.

    Claude, will you knock it off with that “deep structure” already?  It’s so ahistorical.  And Amanda, no one will ever take away your punk card.  They’ll have to pry it out of your . . . hey! whaddya mean, “inept at most things”?  I sawed down an entire tree once.  Kind of.

    Posted by Michael  on  11/16  at  12:55 AM
  24. Posted by Bill Benzon  on  11/16  at  04:03 AM
  25. Actually, given the Nielsen Haydens’ background, I’ll bet they were talking about the original “zines,” from which 1980s punk “zines” were descended: science fiction fanzines, and specifically the kind of science fiction fanzines in which people with a shared background in science fiction went on to write and argue about all sorts of other subjects.

    Partly descended itself from the “amateur press” hobbyists of the 1870s through 1930s (and that’s a story in itself, involving, among other things, the correspondence of H. P. Lovecraft and Donald A. Wollheim), this subculture was itself ancestral to a whole bunch of other phenomena, including rock criticism, comics and media fandom, modern “fanfic,” and much of the primal culture of the Internet. 

    According to informed sources, the Nielsen Haydens do in fact agree with the observation that weblogs are less “insidery,” more inviting to intelligent outsiders, than most zines, which is probably one reason the Nielsen Haydens now sling HTML instead of mimeograph stencils.

    Posted by Patrick Nielsen Hayden  on  11/16  at  09:06 AM
  26. Hey Patrick!  Someone is leaving wry and witty blog comments in your name and talkin’ about you and Teresa in the third person.  And claiming that you were talking about the original “zines,” not the 80s punk versions.  Is that OK with you?

    Posted by Michael  on  11/16  at  10:11 AM
  27. Great post, Michael.  Additionally, I’m interested in how these networks you discuss come to form a sort of space of question across a group of different blogs, that then morph into more standard forms of academic work.  Acephalous and I got into a nice tussle over the theory wars a few months back, that generated a series of scattered diaries from both of us.  Over the course of the discussion it became clear that we were using the term “theory” in entirely different ways (not expected given that I’m a philosopher and he’s a lit person), but the exchange was ultimately productive and ended up generating an article for me and contributed to a conference paper for him.  Sometimes academic departments have the good fortune of forming themselves according to a certain vision of what their subject should be, and then, over the years, end up generating a series of publications (and training generations of students) that push the field in an entirely different direction.  What interests me is not so much what’s posted on a particular blog, but the way blogs link together and resonate with one another, stealing concepts here and there, taking questions from one blog and pushing them in a slightly different direction, generating something like a disparate research agenda whose origins are unrecognizable in published form.  Of course, my blog is less personal and more one of those straight theory blogs.  I admire those more personal blogs, but would be terrified of adopting such an autobiographical tone as I’m one of those junior academics still climbing.

    P.S. Things for the kind response to my query.

    Posted by Sinthome  on  11/16  at  11:19 AM
  28. It’s kinda funny, when you think about it, that the insiderness of zines is apparently not all that different from the insiderness of blogs (as illustrated by the themes of the above comments), except that one is blamed on hipness, and one is blamed on old-timerness (which sounds alot like hipness to me). Still… blogs are generally much more accessible. This shouldn’t be surprising when you consider that zines were an underground reaction to mainstream media and blogs, well, blogger is owned by google… so, of course it’s more accessible. And it’s a good thing too.

    Posted by Central Content Publisher  on  11/16  at  11:58 AM
  29. a totally off-topic comment, but that seems to be allowed on this tolerant blog, so: how *about* this year’s totally deserving national book award winner for fiction, our pal rick powers?! whoo-hoo!

    Posted by  on  11/16  at  01:48 PM
  30. Bill, is that the faster we go the rounder we get and the rounder we get the younger we are??? Yes, i am aware that there are a number of folks in my demographic who do enjoy the opportunities presented to them in this dimensional realm.  Yet, the per capita numbers are nothing like those of the most recent generation.  My sister (7 years younger than i), was part of the vanguard of late 70’s grad students who “secretly” began participating in those early versions of online MUDD gaming. 

    That Google bought YouTube, competitively bidding against Murdoch’s NewsCorp (that owns Myspace) represents the increasing commonality of tech literacy among the expanding masses.  Blogs, linked with podcasting and other interactive services, are increasing the versatility of these forms to provide more rapid, more immediate interconnectivity with diverse populations.  When kids in Asia can read this space, translated from English to Japanese, 3 or 4 Chinese languages, Vietnamese, and so forth, then we are beginning to see an informative conversation that opens to all manner of possibilities in connecting. 

    I, for one, applaud it hugely.  If i were a person with regrets (never had any conception of guilt for some reason) one might be that i was born too early to really fully experience the future of global networking.

    Posted by  on  11/16  at  02:22 PM
  31. mtt, I’m just getting there.  Look up!  No, not at the ceiling.  At the top of the blog!

    Posted by  on  11/16  at  02:34 PM
  32. Randy, who are the Gershwin family?  Are they those annoying nebbishes who complained about my post, “It Ain’t Necessarily So”?

    LOL. No, they’re just some people who want to live through the hard and brilliant work of their ancestors rather than get real jobs.

    20 Years at ASCAP was not wasted on me.

    Posted by Randy Paul  on  11/16  at  03:19 PM
  33. #16: I think you need to read this.

    Posted by  on  11/16  at  05:08 PM
  34. Yeah, Sharon, everything I know about coffeehouses pertains to the 18th century, and comes from Stallybrass & White. (Who’s this “Habermas” guy I keep hearing about?) The analogy I see between blogs and coffeehouses pertains to gate-crashing and displacing aristocratic authority. But, there was certainly discourse policing going on. People were advised against things like foul language, bets over 5 shillings, profane scripture, dice, hookers, and meth. Maybe there’s a difference between standards and practices (was that advice only as effective as Internet Social Contracts?), or between early modern and properly modern coffehouse culture. In any case, blogs strike me as far more democratic, even if they’re only equally unruly environments. Thanks for the link.

    Posted by  on  11/16  at  08:10 PM
  35. Hey girl, hey Lassie. What’s that girl? Whatja say? The 18th century isn’t quite “properly modern?” Aw, thanks girl. I’m gonna go jump in that well we just pulled Timmy out of.

    Posted by  on  11/16  at  08:26 PM
  36. Maybe the insiderness of blogs arises in the comments area.  Take here, for instance--the inside jokes, the acronyms, the show trials constitute a community of regulars much smaller than the “5 million and more served” (in a McDonald’s meets You Got Served kinda way)--and help create a sense of, let’s please not call it hipness....

    Posted by The Constructivist  on  11/16  at  09:46 PM
  37. --and help create a sense of, let’s please not call it hipness....

    No need for hipness at all. Plain old community is fine. If people want to think they’re hip and this place is hip, well, that’s OK too, though I wouldn’t get too serious about this hipness.

    Posted by Bill Benzon  on  11/16  at  10:36 PM
  38. What inside jokes?

    Posted by Michael  on  11/17  at  12:50 AM
  39. Nothing’s inside about the WAAGNFNP. Here’s the presidential palance and interntional detention center:

    city-on-the-hill_972.jpg ALIGN=BOTTOM WIDTH=400 HEIGHT=240

    Here’s the Special Projects Division of the MOJ:

    dino_train_872.jpg ALIGN=BOTTOM WIDTH=400 HEIGHT=240

    And now you know the answer to the question: Who’s more powerful than a speeding locomotive?

    Posted by Bill Benzon  on  11/17  at  07:34 AM
  40. The blog phenomenon is an example of the adoption of technology. Technology doesn’t have to be a gadget, so the adoption curve seems to hold as does the center of influence part.

    Don’t fret over people not catching on despite their bulbous brainz. Adoption is life itself and smart people don’t have an advantage there for some reason.

    Mentioning livejournal makes me say that evolution is bushy, so whatever happens in cousin lineages doesn’t affect the entire family. That’s what is so very cool about web2.0 because it allows the nuts and bolts to disappear and code to surface in a transparent way as a new organism. (sorry, I didn’t mean to wax poetic there) Some wingnuts were left behind, I guess.

    Posted by Bob Calder  on  11/19  at  09:37 PM
  41. Bbound, there’s a whole raft of semi-closed blog-style networks out there (ranging from livejournal and vox through xanga and myspace) where the ability to “friends-lock” posts is a big attraction (second only, in some networks, to the simple accumulation of “friends") although some people use these sites rather like any blog, posting everything publicly.

    One is sometimes tempted to curse the efficiency of Google that makes it increasingly difficult to maintain anonymity when blogging. Whether the solution’s to acknowledge one’s blog publicly, as Michael has done here, to waffle on the issue (as I have done) or to hide out entirely in the thickets of LJ is obviously a personal choice. I think that gender as well as employment status both have some interesting effects on the choices people make.

    Posted by Ancarett  on  11/21  at  05:43 PM

Name:

Email:

Location:

URL:

Remember my personal information

Notify me of follow-up comments?

Submit the word you see below:


Next entry: Headliners

Previous entry: Spreadin' the danger

<< Back to main