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June 30, 2003

Blogging Abstract

Here is my abstract for the Into the Blogosphere CFP:

Writing to the Moment: Blogging and the Everyday

One of the primary features of weblogs is that they allow the writer to instantly publish his or her thoughts. This sense of immediacy is, to my mind, the crucial characteristic of blogging, with this instantaneity often resulting in a focus on the contemporary, the ephemeral, although the archives allow this everyday content to be placed into a larger narrative. Blogs are also characterized by their privileging of the most recent post, usually placing it at the front or top of the page, creating a medium characterized by linear, sequential organization. Finally, blogs frequently contain multiple links, both within blogrolls of blogs that the writer regularly visits, and within the posts themselves. Each of these qualities contributes to the ways in which blogs organize our thinking while also providing insight into the way our thinking about time might inform the tools that we create. Linearity and discrete posts may produce a segmentation of thinking that is rather artificial; however, they also provide a means for working through everyday experience, specifically through the heavy linking associated with the weblog medium.

This paper will discuss the temporal dynamics of blogging, specifically the role of the medium’s chronological organization and frequent updates, in order to consider how the medium organizes thought. I will consider how weblogs function as a means for organizing and assimilating experience. In this sense, my argument will draw from Walter Benjamin's concept of experience, specifically as Peter Osborne has reworked it in
The Politics of Time. Blogs provide their writers a key means for sifting through the detritus of everyday life, and by extension, offer digital studies a crucial means for thinking about how we define the everyday. In this context, I find it useful to draw from a variety of blogs that engage with the everyday in different, often contradictory ways, in order to understand how writers approach and seek to understand their everyday experience.

I found it very difficult to limit myself to 250 words, and I'm not sure that I gave myself enough space to explain how I'll be engaging with Benjamin (especially his two distinct concepts of experience, Erlebnis and Erfahrung) in terms of blogging. Hopefully what I've submitted will be evocative (provocative?) enough. Other cool proposals: Anne Galloway's discussion of blogs as liminal spaces and Grumpygirl's Web Studio Abstract.

Posted by chuck at June 30, 2003 5:22 PM

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This sounds really interesting Chuck!

Posted by: Anne at June 30, 2003 6:06 PM

I agree. On the off chance that this doesn't get accepted for the collection, Chuck, you should consider other venues for this.

Posted by: George at June 30, 2003 8:32 PM

Looks great :)

I'm still reading your Dark City paper - about half way through (just wanted you to know I hadn't forgotten)...

Posted by: Jason at July 1, 2003 9:57 AM

Thanks everyone! No rush on the Dark City paper, Jason. Hope you're enjoying it.

Posted by: chuck at July 1, 2003 2:18 PM

Blog as Temporal Adjuster?
Blog as Toy?

Given Benjamin's links with Surrealism, this bit from comments registered Jason Rhody's blog might be of interest: http://misc.wordherders.net/archives/000900.html
For more on how "Globalization also entails that what were problems within national boundaries gradually became global." See Walid Hamarneh who in "That Tempestuous Loveliness of Terror" invokes the distinction between two types of experience Erlebnis and Erfahrung to reflect upon how trauma turns to terror. "The fear resulting from terror in life and life in terror turns terror from the sphere of the extraordinary, the abnormal, the rare, into the sphere of the daily, the always expected, the norm."

Posted by: Franxcois Lachance at October 23, 2003 5:01 PM

Wow, Francois, thanks for the link. I haven't followed the link yet (and I'm about to teach, so I'll have to procrastinate), but it looks promising, especially given the relatively commonplace observation that blogging tends to increase during "traumatic" (that word is getting a little too post-buzzy for me) moments.

Posted by: chuck at October 24, 2003 12:52 PM

You are most welcome, Chuck.

After reading your post and supply a comment, I found myself thinking about Trauma, Time and Terror with uppercase initials as in a title. And found myself wondering if the everyday practices and the temporality you are exploring in your refelction upon the genre and genres of blogging is not that time between the event (trauma) and the condition (terror). And here I find myself transvaluating into a more neutral mode: blog writers and readers play with time (its cycles and sequences) in order to manage hold in one mind two competing models: the atomistic randomness of occurences and the determinism of a rule-based environment. In a sense blogs are attractive to those that want to live between chronicle and history in that space of Time between Event and Environment, to those that want to both preserve and break patterns: rewrite one's relation to the reading of archives and the non-archiving of rewrites. Are we not all blogging on borrowed time?

Posted by: Francois Lachance at October 24, 2003 3:13 PM

I think these are some of the questions I'm trying to address, especially the tension between "atomistic randomness" and "organized time."

Also an interesting distinction between terror and trauma that provides the concept of "trauma" with the valence I'm trying to address.

BTW, with your permission, I may "borrow" (steal?) the phrase "blogging on borrowed time," with your permission, of course.

Posted by: chuck at October 27, 2003 11:29 AM


The phrase is not my property. Some one would have expressed it sometime. And indeed doing a WWW search I came across an entry that predates my inscription in the comments of your blog:

"the moon is on fire" (August 26, 2003)

i'm blogging on borrowed time here, my mum's laptop has 15 minutes left [...]
growing too slowly, aging too soon

That tag line "growing too slowly, aging too soon" is part of the signature block.

It is the asking of the question "Are we not all blogging on borrowed time?" that can be attributed to a moment that is mine or may become characterized as a question I often ask.

Thanks your asking allowed me to glimpse at that other blog and think about the art of timing questions.

Posted by: Francois Lachance at October 28, 2003 10:35 AM

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