NY Review of Books piece on blogging

In case you’re feeling all meta and socio-cultural-analytical, a link to a discussion of the origins of, reasons for, and evolution of blogging and its impact on our culture. Thanks, Dad.

There’s much food for thought in this article, particularly the idea that blogs allows us to assume whatever identity we want– be it a wholly imagined, wholly idealized, or wholly unconstrained version of ourselves. One thing I think the author misses is that “linky love” isn’t always for the link whores. As I said before, I think there’s a lot of desire to find a community out there– only some of it is ego-driven. The rest, I truly believe, is founded in a genuine desire to know others.

The other thing that interests me about the article is this paragraph:

“Bloggers assume that if you’re reading them, you’re one of their friends, or at least in on the gossip, the joke, or the names they drop. . . . Bloggers breeze through places, people, texts, and blogs that you might or might not know without providing any helpful identification. They figure that even if they don’t provide you with links you can get all the background you need by Googling unfamiliar terms, clicking through Wikipedia (the collaborative on-line encyclopedia) or searching their blog’s archives. The very tone of most blogs—reactive, punchy, conversational, knowing, and free-associative—is predicated on linkiness and infused with it.”

It’s true, in a lot of ways, and is part of the desire for community, and the wonderful result of knowing you’ve succeeded and there are regular readers who want to share. But there are two important points underlying this, which are: to what extent are the insider jokes off-putting to new readers, looking for an “open” community to join, and second, to what extent does prolonged use of this insider style stunt our writing, and our perspective on the www and the whole wide (real) world?

As to the first– I have most definitely stopped visiting sites where it was impossible to catch up on the lingo, or the author never acknowledged my presence ever, over several months, or it was impossible to penetrate the back and forth in comment windows. On the second– to what extent have I allowed my writing skills, my formal training from law school, to slide, comforted in the knowledge that “my” readers will forgive me a typo or grammatical error, a failure of proper attribution? It’s one thing to adopt a less formal tone, but I’ve got to think more about my comfort level as to informal content— because there’s informal, and then there’s sloppy and improper.

OK, navel gazing for the day is over. You may go watch the Stupidbowl, or whatever it’s called, now.


15 thoughts on “NY Review of Books piece on blogging

  1. painted maypole

    interesting. i think it depends a lot on which blogs you read (and what kind of blog you write). most of the stuff I read about blogging doesn’t seem to apply to the blogs I read, which indicates to me that there is a whole world our there unlike the one I inhabit. but i like the corner of the blogosphere that I have found, and that’s cool with me

  2. TIV: the individual voice

    Actually, I’d rather naval gaze. Which issue was this article in and which author? I want to read it. I agree that I’ve stopped visiting sites where I coudn’t penetrate the comments and was completely excluded. I never thought of that. There was one site, all men, and I was like invisible. So I really want to read this. I’ve been obsessing about blogging versus writing lately and how much of the linkiness helps vs hurts the writing.

  3. Ed the Gent

    Brilliant point, m’lady (or “m’lawyer,” rather). I agree in that the search for a community of like-minded bloggers plays a strong part in the expansion of this blogging world, with the hunt for a good recipe and witty banter playing an even stronger role.

    BUT, on this point:
    “…comforted in the knowledge that “my” readers will forgive me a typo or grammatical error, a failure of proper attribution?”

    I have one reader (who continues to remain anonymous) who absolutely eviscerates me for my occasional grammatical slip-up. I wish my readers were as benevolent and forgiving as yours.

    A presto,

  4. jess

    i only point out grammatical errors when a particular post has irritated me greatly and i feel like i can discredit the author by pointing out bad grammar or spelling. LOL.

    fascinating article, to say the least. i think it all depends on why you’re blogging in the first place. i mean, you can tell the bloggers who doing it JUST to make money. or to drive traffic to their own “independent consultant” website (not that there’s anything wrong with that…)

    you can also tell the people who blog just for themselves, and don’t really care if anyone else ever reads it.

    the insider jokes…are worrisome for me, because as a blog with three authors, we have several of those jokes…and i wonder if that makes people say, “wtf,” or if they just kind of realize it’s an inside joke and move on.

    we started our blog to have a conversation between the three of us. we never thought anyone else would read it. we still think we are stupid and wonder why people read. we know that in the blog world, we’re probably just kindergartners still…

    hugs…and stay warm.

  5. Camellia

    Another one of those posts that call for a discussion, though the comments section isn’t the place for that kind of thing. Recently I had been thinking about the attraction of blogging and something I read about Japan years ago. Japan’s dense population and limited space (and paper walls–do they still have those?) required the appearance of privacy. Blogging allows you to put yourself out there and to keep your space at the same time. No wonder 37% of blogs are in Japanese. With almost 7 billion people in the world and technology that allows us to either be on the move or isolate ourselves, is it any wonder that blogging is so wildly popular, correct grammar or no?

  6. standing still

    And, sometimes we just want it to be easy because everything in our own world is feeling very, very complicated right now. A place where you can go that is sometimes simple and stupid and worth a quick laugh. Or a recipe. Or a photo of a silly dog being wrangled. Or a really introspective look at mental illness. Depends on my mood. As does the content of my blog. It is in the moment.

  7. TIV: the individual voice

    This is a provocative post based on a provocative article that I’ve only skimmed but already take much issue with. For one thing, the author, never having been a blogger herself, is like a tourist visiting a country for a few days rather than an anthropologist immersing herself. There are so many complex nooks and crannies, languages, forms of communication, dissing etc. Definite fodder for many more posts.

  8. mike golch

    I really enjoy going to sites and if I transpose a word or ewven mispell it as I have done in the past,every one that I have visited has not told me to spell bettter,except for one coward that would not even leave their nname when they left a comment on my site.
    Thank you for being one of the kinder people,that don’t mind a misspelled word or two. That goes for all the visitor a that leave thier comments as well,on this site and on the other sites that I have treveled to.Mike Golch says that,and proud of it!

  9. thordora

    An old episode of Henry Rollins was making fun of blogging, the narrcisim of it all, and I was just like-uh, it’s what you do, but most of us don’t get paid.

    It seems to come back to this idea that if it isn’t paid for, it isn’t worth anything. Many novels you read, or articles, leave you guessing about people and places. And we’re cool with that.

    That said, if someone is too obtuse, I don’t keep reading. And if they NEVER acknowledge a comment after steady commenting…I leave.

  10. andrea

    Ohhh!! Good post! Certainly I appreciate responses to my comments when I make them but I guess being the insecure small blogger I am, I don’t expect too much traffic. Hmmm, this might be a pattern for me? Now I shall check out the article and try to get it in before I get swamped with work and calls!


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