I was thinking about some stuff, and flipped through some old paperbacks found from a used book store. Years ago my reading was much more random, less focused than it is now. But there seems to be an odd pattern to the randomness, an enjoyment of frivolity. More than ever, I like the feeling of being outside.
Electric circuitry has overthrown the regime of “time” and “space” and pours upon us instantly and continuously the concerns of all other men. It has reconstituted dialogue on a global scale. Its message is Total Change, ending psychic, social, economic, and political parochialism. The old civic, state, and national groupings have become unworkable. Nothing can be further from the spirit of the new technology than “a place for everything and everything in its place.” You can’t go home again.
Marshall McLuhan and Quentin Fiore, The Medium is the Massage (1967).
That’s why I think categorizing blogs often fails. Keep Trying made some very interesting observations, particularly about the attention-span of blog dialogue, and proposed some categories, with suitable fuzzy boundaries:
It seems that blogs fall into three major types
1) Blogs with links to interesting and funny stuff and people
2) Blogs expounding opinions
3) Blogs which focus on self discovery
Many blogs combine all three of the above. But I think it is the everyday logging nature of blogs which distinguish them. The need to publish on a regular basis. The structure that the most current blog entry is first. This seems to me what distinguishes blogs from personal web pages.
I agree with the focus on temporality here. Perhaps time has not been overthrown nearly so completely as space, by the new technology. There is a certain mortality to writing when it’s presented in this format, a reality that makes it about life rather than just a means of exchanging ideas, because like life, blogging is temporal. Perhaps the dreamed of release from temporality only comes from death, or in the “petit mort.”
Something has spoken to me in the night, burning the tapers of the waning year; something has spoken in the night, and told me I shall die, I know not where. Saying:
“To lose the earth you know, for greater knowing; to lose the life you have, for greater life; to leave the friends you loved, for greater loving; to find a land more kind than home, more large than earth—
—Wheron the pillars of this earth are founded, toward which the conscience of the world is tending— a wind is rising, and the rivers flow.”
Thomas Wolfe, You Can’t Go Home Again
I suppose that’s what bothers me most about the theorizing about hypertext. You can’t overthrow time, except through death or orgasm. Theories of writing that don’t include the temporal aspect seem to be hopelessly doomed.