Sunday, September 17, 2006

The Cradle of Blogging

Re-reading Kottke's blog, I kind of stumbled over to this link, which is about Jorn Barger, who did perhaps the first blog I ever saw, Robot Wisdom. As the now-out-of-date essay indicates, the early blogs were often not much more than an attempt to make order out of the web chaos. The idea of a voice would have seemed faintly ridiculous to those guys.

Also inevitably, articles have been written -- in Salon, The New York Times, Wired -- consecrating Web logs as yet another New New Thing: At one time or another in the last 12 months, they have been the future of journalism, a budding branch on the tree of literature, or both.

In fact, they are neither, say some members of the Web’s weary anti-hype brigades. "Sorry, buddy -- you’re just a dork who can’t come up with anything more than a paragraph or two to say every day," wrote Teeth e-zine’s Ben Brown in an open letter to Web loggers last spring. "You’re not a designer, you’re not a writer, and you’re not an editor!"

Well, no, blogger, you’re not. And therein lies your gift. Because even if it’s true the vast majority of blogs would not be missed by more than a handful of people were the earth to open up and swallow them, and even if the best are still no substitute for the sustained attention of literary or journalistic works, it’s also true that sustained attention is not what Web logs are about anyway. At their most interesting they embody something that exceeds attention, and transforms it: They are constructed from and pay implicit tribute to a peculiarly contemporary sort of wonder.

1 comment:

Jorn said...

Dibbell totally stabbed me in the back with that spin-- he came to the interview with the goal of portraying me as an addict/compulsive, and so ignored everything I said about my very specific goals (which have never really changed). RobotWisdom is a radical paradigm-shift for the social sciences, centered on computer simulation. I just this morning wrote a new angle on the same argument. My blog ranges widely because my interests are broad, but in the end everything ties back to that main theme, though usually I'm the only one who sees how.

When I made up the word 'weblog' I had already analysed what features worked best for any regularly-updated page, and I foresaw that blogging would naturally become popular, though I never dreamt people would use my coinage.