Tuesday, January 25, 2005


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 meaningful).

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.

Cross-posted to Network(ed) Rhetorics.

Bookmark and Share Posted by at January 25, 2005 4:19 PM to Networks,On Weblogs