Thursday, October 16, 2008

Why I blog, and what to do afterwards.

Andrew Sullivan has written a great piece over in the Atlantic about why he blogs. He goes through the history of blogging, and weighs it against other forms of writing. I agree with it in the most part, but I disagree with his characterization of blogging at the start: (italics are mine)

This form of instant and global self-publishing, made possible by technology widely available only for the past decade or so, allows for no retroactive editing (apart from fixing minor typos or small glitches) and removes from the act of writing any considered or lengthy review. It is the spontaneous expression of instant thought—impermanent beyond even the ephemera of daily journalism. It is accountable in immediate and unavoidable ways to readers and other bloggers, and linked via hypertext to continuously multiplying references and sources. Unlike any single piece of print journalism, its borders are extremely porous and its truth inherently transitory. The consequences of this for the act of writing are still sinking in.

I agree that social convention around blogging is to not go back and do heavy editing of what you've written in the past. This is a crucial cornerstone on which we build our arguments with each other and ourselves over time. If the past is allowed to be edited, then anything can be forced to be true with sufficient effort. So there is much value in keeping the archives safe.

However, there is also something to be said for adding to the archives, which I don't think is currently done on anywhere near the scale that it could be done. It might be useful for me at some future point to add references that point back to this article, add corrections, etc. I think there is quite a bit of value to be added in this way.

I personally flit around a bit too much for even my own sensibilities... tending towards a tangential life at times, but I do manage to get back to the basics, and get things done sufficiently well to allow society to consider me a valued member. (I hope)

I'll try to go back, see what value I can add, and make this blog a bit less ephemeral, and a bit better value for everyone. There are lots of good and bad arguments that have been made, decisions informed, and lessons learned. It's a shame to lose the value in them because they simply are too hard to find.

I believe we need to put a bit more effort into this, collectively as well. We need to slow down our pace, be a bit more considered, and we'll all be better for it. This requires no new tools, just a bit of a tweak to the social contract we bloggers share.  We can all make our existing work more valuable, and a proper gift to our children, instead of just a random pile of rants.

Thanks for your time and attention.

No comments: