A LOVE SUPREME

I am now blogging at a new blog: erdman31.com

If you post comments here at Theos Project, please know that I will respond and engage your thoughts in a timely manner.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Blogoneutics 101

Does "blogging" = "writing"?

Consider the case of writing. We write a text and then send it off to a publisher. The editors at the publishing house send back their recommendations, etc. and through a process of haggling and bartering that rivals even the shrewdest ancient Mesopotamian we arrive at a text that “satisfies” all. So, now the text goes to print.


Once a text is in print it is “out of the hands of the author.” I put that in quotes because it is a major hermeneutical debate as to what exactly it means that at text is “out of the hands of the author.” (Does this mean that the author is no longer important, dead, etc.??) But regardless of where one falls on this debate is unimportant. The important thing is to recognize that, in some way, the text is no longer under the author’s control. It has been cut loose. Let’s call this case “traditional writing.”


But this is not the case of a blogger: He or she can publish and then rewrite at any point. Or, if the blogger prefers not to change the original blog, they can always leave a comment that amends, modifies, or expands the thoughts of the original post. So, there is a sense in which the “text” is never out of the hands of the author.


But what is the blogger’s “text”?


One might be tempted to say that it is the original post – or the post after the blogger has modified it. But this is not entirely the case because any person – be they foolish or wise – can modify the “text” by leaving comments. The text, then, is not just the opening post, it is the post and any comments written. The post, of course, is probably the primary focal point that “controls” the discussion, but this is only a general rule. In many cases two argumentative commenters might inflame one another and begin a series of comments that have absolutely nothing to do with the original post and everything to do with proving which of the two of them is the smart one, which by default will reveal that the other party is, in fact, a fool.


Additionally, it may be that the original post sets the subject matter, but a much more insightful comment is made, which rightfully becomes the focus of the comments that follow. If I were to review a work of Anthony Thiselton, and he were to leave a comment I would gladly defer the focus of my post to Dr. Thiselton. (I would do so even if he were simply to say, “Hello, there. Jolly good post. Good day.”)


So, as we can see, the “text” becomes much more fluid than traditional writing. It can change, and remains a continual work in process up until the time a blogger would close down comments and dies….or just chooses to no longer alter the text. The point is that a blog is fluid and morphs in directions that one cannot quite predict.





And we have not even yet considered the “control” that a blogger has in that he or she can delete comments!


In the end, it seems as though blogging simultaneously connects and disconnects the author in a way that traditional writing cannot do. The text is never severed from the author in the way it is in traditional writing: the blogger can change the post or alter the text by adding a comment. But, at the same time, the text is at the mercy of a countless number of factors because it is open to comment. It is this openness that makes blogging something so unique that to we might not quite be able to call it “writing.” Maybe writing is only a part of what is happening on a blog.










6 comments:

ktismatics said...

Blogging is something between writing and speaking. Derrida spends a lot of energy carving out the written word as something with its own integrity vis-a-vis the "logos" of speech. Jesus never wrote; Socrates never wrote; God the Father never wrote. Now blogging comes along and blurs the difference. I'll think more about this tomorrow perhaps.

stacy barton said...

most of the blogging i see is a conversation that happens to be in print form. to me it only slightly resembles the craft of writing. this is not to say that some posts are not crafted with thought or that some posts could not someday become a crafted piece in a book, but that by nature blogging is an immediate conversation steeped in its circumstance, rather than a articulation of thought that captures a wide audience in a larger expanse of time.

it will be interesting to see how the two influence each other.

Jonathan Erdman said...

Good point, Stacy.

The conversational aspect of blogging does seem to be key. True as well about this conversation being "steeped in its circumstance." Personally, I see this as a good thing in some regards. And, interestingly enough, this seems to reflect the broader cultural trends of finding meaning in localized conversations rather than universal meta-narratives.

I have heard that some (very popular) blogs have actually had some of their posts bound up and sold in hard copy. I guess you've "made it in the big time" as a blogger if that happens!

As for me, I kind of prefer the smaller and more intimate conversations on blogs rather than the blogs with posts that have 8,534 comments in the first 2 minutes.

Jonathan Erdman said...

Here are a couple of links of interest on blogging:



Jonathan Erdman said...

Mmmmmm....kaaaayyy.....try again:

Wikipedia on "blog":
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blogging

"How not to get fired because of your blog":
http://help.blogger.com/bin/answer.py?answer=41978

Rebecca's perspective (Sept. 2000):
http://www.rebeccablood.net/essays/weblog_history.html

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