Van Dijck suggests that we might think of a weblog as a journal or
diary nouveau–the result of digital media and the internet blending to
enable linked writing spaces. I like the genealogy she traces: the
long (papery) tradition of daily record-keeping from the confessional,
lock-n-keyed entries of a teenager to the
"communal means of
expressing and remembering" we find in the nautical records of S.
Pole explorers. And yet I’m uneasy with the correlation between blogs and
diaries, perhaps because "that’s just journaling, right?" often comes with a
sneer meant to infantilize/trivialize the medium of weblogs (or perhaps that’s
just my own sensitivity to such suggestions, which I have, at times, thought to be pejorative, aimed at demeaning that which bloggers claim to find so
I don’t want to go blog-wild with this entry, but I do want
to register one half-formed idea: the label genre, while it might be
appropriate for the "varied and heterogeneous" category of diaries, seems to
work less well when applied to blogs. Half formed…perhaps less…that
idea. Genre, as I think of it, imposes a kind of hard edge to the scope of
what’s being defined. And, because blog, as Mortensen and Walker
point out, can be understood as an action (verb), I like to think of blogs
as considerably more varied and blog as infused with doing/performance
more than any genre (genera/kind) designation affords. So that’s all:
differentiating blogs by genre always makes me pause, as it did in Van Dijck’s
article. As well, on the correlations of weblog types to "link-logging"
and "life-logging," I find the clusters to overlap, rather than to function
discretely. (I’d have to review again whether Van Dijck is explicit about
this point, too). I only mean to say that weblogs consisting primarily of
entries reporting on links and weblogs consisting primarily of entries reporting
on life rarely deny the encroachment or interference of the other. As
guiding definitions, they quickly deteriorate or blur, I think. For such rules
(and rule-minded blogs), there are as many exceptions, and exceptionality
is–for me–one of the more fascinating dimensions of the blogosphere.
I want to put this entry to rest, but before I do so, here
are two more gems from Mortensen and Walker’s article (which is, I think, full
of simple, glowing bits). First, they say, "I think better when I write"
(269). I really like what this says, mostly for what it does to remind me
about my own habits of reading, writing and thinking. I think I think
better when I write, too, and it’s been especially engaging to write in a
blogspace where various folks can read into my writing to whatever extent their
own interests compel them. Second, they note that blogs have a discrete
topoi: memory and meta-reflection (270)–another interesting piece I’d like
to return to, explore, etc.