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September 30, 2003

Television and Duration

I'm still reading Margaret Morse and thinking about the blogging and the everyday paper. In her discussion of nonplaces, Morse discusses television, specifically Raymond Williams' understanding of television as "flow" (although she articulates her understanding of "flow" against his) as "the pure juxtaposition of unrelated segments" (229). As Morse explains flow, it seems like there is a similar process going on within blogs (or blogspace). There are two major similarities that I can recognize:

  1. The relationship of unrelated elements within blogs: Even though I have been using this blog primarily for research, I also write movie reviews, discuss my teaching, and dabble in politics, but I'm guessing that most blog readers don't read my blog from beginning to end.

  2. The relationship of unrelated elements between blogs: Like a television remote control, blogrolls, almost invariably navigated by clicking (a mouse instead of a remote), allow a viewer to bring together disparate elements.

I'm not sure how this connects to my notion of the everyday, but I think there is a relationship between blogging and television that can be triangulated through how the two mediums construct time. I'm also trying to wrap my head around the connection to "nonplaces" and the suggestion that television offers a "derealized" space, in part because it depends on a notion of "real" space that I find difficult to define.

I'm still thinking about the "media and democracy" points, too, especially in light of the ways in which blogging has functioned as an "alternative" media during the war and the recent allegations regarding the "outed" CIA agent.

More on that later, but now I'm going to take a break and watch my beloved Braves beat the Cubs.

Posted by chuck at September 30, 2003 9:24 PM

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Safari just quit in the middle of a long post--ESPN's MLB GameCast crashed it--as I was rubbing in Kerry Wood's double.*

Anyway, my point--now much truncated--was simply that re: your second point, interblog navigation is far more structured than using a television remote. A TV remote shifts between shows that have no relation other than they are both on at the same time. But in a blog, you're typically either following a link in a post or a blogroll, so there's some articulation of the two sites (linker/linkee). You can of course eventually produce disparate or unrelated elements, but the initial relation is stronger.

*I lived 3 blocks east of Wrigley during Kerry Wood's rookie year, at a time when there wasn't a whole lot else to look forward to about the Cubs. His starts were electrifying.

Posted by: Jason at September 30, 2003 10:17 PM

I posted this entry just minutes before that double. These Cubs are starting to remind me of the 1991 Braves, with their amazing young pitching staff (I remember a game where Wood struck out something like 18 Braves players)....

I think you're right about that distinction and knew that interblog navigation can be a bit more structured (the links are often explicitly connected). TV isn't completely disparate, though, because the TV viewer will usually know something about the channels and programming schedules she surfs (even if she has satellite TV).

I'd also add that even though I know roughly what I can expect on the various blogs I watch, the entries are still partial and fragmentary, sometimes unpredictable. But, yeah, the analogy is more nuanced than my original entry suggested.

Posted by: chuck at September 30, 2003 10:34 PM

Nice splicing of baseball and the TV-blogging comparision.

How often does the viewer "write to" television?

Even with blogs that don't accomodate a commentary mechanism, the surfer can turn writer and record a linking. One, of course, can write about television and even refer to a specific broadcast. Retrieval of the referenced work has an impact on the sense of time and immediacy. Obviously, the social construction of the archive is factor in the rereading of blogs just as it is with television shows.

The blogsphere has a broadcast stream and an archive. Hence the various types of splicing or linking: the triangulation offered by Jason and chuck with the ball game and their learned discussion on temporality and blogging; the link offered by chuck to the work of Margaret Morse.

Recapture of the record. Blogging as sieve. Two directional: from broadcast stream to archive and from archive to broadcast.

What a catch by the batter! What a run by the pitcher!

Posted by: Francois Lachance at October 1, 2003 11:52 AM

The communication between TV and viewer is almost completely one-way while blogging usually two-way. I suppose one could consider channel surfing as a kind of "writing" in that viewers who don't like a certain program can change the channel or can rewrite a narrative by watching only part of it (such as Native Americans who change the channel halfway through a Western, before the heroic white man comes to save the day).

One of the riteria here might be that writing "to" or "in" television would require that you write in the same medium (TV) rather than in print; otherwise it's something else, it's writing "on" TV. Perhaps Tivo and VCRs are other technologies for writing "to" TV.

I think this is why Blogathon interested me so much: publishing entries every half hour seemed awfully close to a simulation of the temporality of the broadcast with its clearly identified intervals.

Posted by: chuck at October 1, 2003 12:20 PM

Allow me to finesse my point about the two-way sieve. The temporality broadcasting and a regular publishing schedule are alike in that they involve transmission at regular intervals. The way that copying technologies have been deployed and regulated affects how in the social imaginary the semantics of "circulation" get mapped to the products of television. To place into circulation and to broadcast are similar gestures.

The dyanmics of reception, production and translation at at work no matter where the critic/theorist begins: writing as the performative and recording the writing. The on/to distinction doesn't quite work for mean. Even before the advent of multimedia, the written word could be voiced and the recited word recorded as a transcription. Such possibilities are inherent to how most natural languages operate in a combo of visual and auditory sensory modes.

Cultural artefacts are multi-temporal because human beings possess the ability to process their environments and themselves in multimodal sensory fashion. Human attention is directed, diverted and enticed. And that has less to do with the medium per se and more to do with social contexts and learnt behaviour that give rise to the habits of consumption, translation and reception.

Blogging has shown lots of people that they push, pull and splice. So has the rip, mix, burn experience of sampling and generalized access to digital recording technology.

It is perhaps difficult to imagine a world of readers who cannot write. It is easier to imagine a world where a shortage of writing supplies affects the numbers of readers who can write. It was not always where the "everyday" including the pen and paper pad in almost every household.

On a tangent, you might want to take a look at Elouise's blog entry on "praise".
There is there a theme about fluency and the degree to which a critical language for talking about multimedia is not terribly wide spread. That triangulation you are looking for may reside in language expressed in a given medium and expressed about in another medium about a given medium (aka as expertise of the appreciators). The existence of such languages surely affects the temporality of the experience.

How different is it to speak of cricket or baseball after having played the game?

Posted by: Francois Lachance at October 1, 2003 2:47 PM

I'm a little off my game today because of the comment spam, but I think my phrasing in the last comment may have been a little confusing. I like the connection to Elouise's discussion of "fluency," and I think that's where my struggles with this paper exist. I'm completely aware of the fact that the language I choose for talking about blog entries (whether I draw it from film, TV, the "digital") will certainly affect how I articulate the temporality of blogging.

I think you're also right about cultural artifacts being "multitemporal." When I've talked to students about certain blogs, their experience of them is often quite different than mine. Where I've grown with a blog, reading it daily, sometimes for weeks or months, they read multiple entries at once, leading them to read a much different narrative than the one I follow. Not sure I'm making this example clear enough.

The "tools" question seems particularly pertinent in this comparison. Blogging tools are available to anyone who has regular access to a computer. Of course a blogger also has to have a certain degree of computer "literacy" as well. The kinds of TV sampling you describe might require greater technological resources.

Posted by: chuck at October 2, 2003 12:42 PM

I don't think you were off your game. It was just a ploy to see if I would come back and engage -- especially since I have been thematizing the productivity of the interval (interaction followed by immersion followed by interaction) in a comment to an entry by Jason Rhody

Why not approach the paper as an interview with Elouise or Jason? Do like the sciences and share a publication credit.

For an example see what Stephen Ramsey and Geoffrey Rockwell did recently (June 6, 2003):

Posted by: Francois Lachance at October 2, 2003 3:46 PM

I definitely *like* the idea of writing a blog paper collaboratively. It makes more sense in many ways (especially given the collaborative nature of thinking in/through blogs), but I'll probably do this one alone since I have a fairly imminent deadline, and I'm not good at managing such things.

I wrote this comment off the cuff, so I'll have to go back and look at the exchange with Jason (immersion/interval sounds right up my alley) and the Ramsey/Rockwell paper....

Posted by: chuck at October 2, 2003 6:05 PM

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