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September 7, 2003

"Blogging and the Everyday" Paper Notes

A few disorganized thoughts: Like mcb, I'm working on my article for Into the Blogosphere. Because of my research on cinematic time, I became intrigued by the relationship between blogging and time, especially the ways in which blogs are used to assimilate our experiences. I'm still struggling with a number of difficulties, including the very pertinent question of determining which blogs will be the object of my study. Right now, my tendency is not to focus on a single blog (which seems reductive), but to perhaps focus instead on what I might call the "immediacy meme" that has been floating among the Wordherders and friends for some time. By focusing on a "meme" rather than a single blog, I think I will better illustrate the importance of hyperlinking to the development of concepts within blogging communities (but I'm not sure about that).

When I borrowed (stole?) George's description of blogs as "writing to the moment," I was intrigued by the complicated temporal relationship he was describing between immediate experience and assimilated experience. George is, of course, writing about blogs that have a biographical quality to them and asks,

In what narrative do we imagine we're participating? How does the importance of previous events change as later events occur?
Bloggers don't know how their narratives will turn out; therefore, when I write about this article, about my teaching, I do so without knowing how those narratives will resolve themselves. A second complication: from which point can the author/the reader make that determination? Now that I have written about my course blog's unexpected publicity, at what point does that narrative end? At the end of the semester? After I've (hopefully) earned a tenure-track teaching job? At the end of my career? Even later than that? I know these questions about deferred meanings have been around for a long time, but I think blogs raise the stakes in an intriguing way.

Of course as Dave reminds us, this concept of immediacy is itself something of an illusion, in part because these representations of experience are always mediated, in part by the technology itself, and Dave's discussion of blogs as a form of life-writing are far more developed than my own.

There is something about this illusion of immediacy that seems to speak to the social role that blogs seem to have served, especially here in the US. It's my understanding (and maybe others can back me up on this) that blogs gained a boost of popularity in the aftermath of September 11, with the traumatic experiences of that day finding their articulation in part through a medium that lends itself to very immediate personal reflections.

Certainly my interest in blogging as a medium was piqued by their use in articulating first-person accounts of the war in Iraq. The first person narratives of the war, particularly the observations of Salam Pax, were more powerful because of the appearance of immediacy that blogging provides. In fact, the treatment of Salam's blog in the press and in other blogs points to this desire for more authentic representations. But now I'm beginning to feel my definition of "immediacy" slipping away....Against what inauthentic representation am I now defining immediacy? Against mainstream media representations? Against all other mediation? How does one define "immediacy" in the first place when there are so many registers available? Can "immediacy" be defined without some opposite ("culture" to Derrida's "nature") to make it visible?

Final aside: Why not write on weblog narratives about the war?

Posted by chuck at September 7, 2003 2:35 PM

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