Monday, July 18, 2005

Blogging and the Mainstream

blogging and the mainstream

Blogging and the Mainstream?

Why would anyone expect something as technically astonishing and democratically beautiful as blogging to go "mainstream", into the dumbed-down unwashed masses of mediocrity, me-tooism, and corporate echo-chambers?

Should blogs become mainstream?

Is the blog a disruptive, intrusive, paradigm-shifting technology, with a fully integrated lifestyle accompanying it?

What happens to esoteric, specialist technologies when they're adopted and altered by the mainstream?

Do they increase in convenience?

In regimentation?


Is there an increase in over-simplification, translatable into: vulnerability to attack?

Maybe we hardcore bloggers don't necessarily long for the day blogging becomes "acceptable" and "pervasive".

Let's look together at, and together deconstruct, the predictions and assessments discoverable in

"Mainstream blogging"

by Alex Halavais
Oct. 20, 2003

[QUOTE...with my usual abrasive commentary.]

...the truth is really somewhere in the middle, I think.

Somewhere between 10% and 20% of the students I have introduced to what I will call “public blogging” (blogging for an audience wider than friends and associates) have taken to it, while the rest have blogged only under duress. And this is among a fairly fertile group.

[STREIGHT: Doing anything "under duress", as an imposed "assignment" from a self-assumed and institutionally enforced and propped up "authority" (professor), cannot possibly be accompanied by much genuine enthusiasm. No matter how "fertile" (why the sexual metaphor?) group.

All blogs are public, BTW, and only password-protected or registration-access only sites are private. How many readers, what type of readers, would Alex Halavais consider as sufficient to transform a limited audience blog to a "public blog"? Such distinctions are unnecessarily formalistic and suspect.]

My guess is that when AOL, MS [Microsoft], and the others open up blogging to Joe and Jane Sixpack, folks will be surprised to find no blogging gold rush.

[STREIGHT: I resent the elitist characterization of the mainstream, the Average Joe and Jill, as beer guzzling gold rushers. Why the condescending, patriarchal posing?]

Yes, many new bloggers will enter, and there will be some growth, but we will not see half of America blogging in the same way as we see half of America on the Web.

[STREIGHT: We must be careful in our terminology and attributions. "America blogging", suddenly the "mainstream" means only "mainstream America"? This is not in keeping with the New Economy of the Digital Global Family. Everything now must be "global" and not nationalistic. The web has removed those barriers, for the most part.

"...blogging" is meant to imply "operating, authoring, having" a blog.

But a blog is more than an author and a site. It also includes the readers and linkers and lurkers and commenters of the blog. Thus, "blogging" is not just publishing posts on your own blog, but also reading and interacting with blogs, whether you author a blog or not.]


(1) Because blogging takes time from (other forms of) work, from (other forms of) entertainment, and from (other forms of) communication. Most bloggers I know can justify blogging as part of their work—-I do—-or just have oodles of spare time to fill.

[STREIGHT: Welcome to the concept of the Blog as Thief. Here we enter a progressive "villainization" of the blog and bloggers.

This reminds me of early reaction to radio or television.

An ancient thought may have been expressed: "Where are people going to find the time to sit around listening to radio programs? or watching television?"

At first, it probably seemed like there was no spare time to devote. Now look how much time people spend at the boob tube (TV) or chatterbox (radio).

Most bloggers I know DO NOT have "oodles of time". They just use their time wisely. Less time feeling sorry for themselves, more time expressing their thoughts.

Less time passively absorbing messages and stories, more time conversing with others and telling their own stories.]

I think we need to know where people blog. Are they blogging at work? Where have they borrowed the time to blog?

[STREIGHT: Who cares? I don't approve of robbing your employer by blogging on company time, when you're supposed to be working. But I'd rather see people blogging than playing violent, sexist, occult video games.

So I don't care where they "borrow" the time. A philosophy of Time and Being would be a shoot in the arm for this academic authority figure.]

(2) Writing for fun? I guess the question we should be asking is whether Americans will stop watching WWE {wrestling}, the most watched sportainment [sic] in the world, in order to blog.

[STREIGHT: Who says we "have to stop" anything "in order to blog"? Some bloggers eat pizza, smoke cigarettes, listen to podcasts or music, or vaguely watch television while they blog. I'm trying to figure out how to mow the lawn and write new blog posts, super-simultaneously.]

I don’t think so. Despite invoking pro wrestling, this isn’t meant as an elitist argument.

It’s simply the case that many people do not enjoy the written word—-or at least would prefer to engage that word in a more expertly crafted form, like a good book.

[STREIGHT: Or a good text message? Or a good IM? Or a good online consumer product review? Or a good blog? Here again, we see the failed attempt to exalt Old Media over New Media. "More expertly crafted form"? Has Halavais skimmed through a best selling trash novel lately? That's what sells, is popular, is successful. Not the "expertly crafted" "good book".]

I have heard from my students time and time again the same thing: “I have nothing interesting to write about.”

Of course, they do, and discovering this can be a great experience for many of them.

But most of them are not ready or interested in discovering this.

They would prefer to remain uninteresting.

[STREIGHT: Shame on this "authority" puppet. A professor saying this? Can you believe this? This cynical, patronizing, demeaning, tyrannical, elitist, judgmental, intolerant, nearly misanthropic, attitude is quite astonishing.

His students seem to "prefer to remain uninteresting" because he is not skilled in motivating them. He is unable to reach their deeper resources and help them learn the joys of continual improvement in self-expression.]

(3) Blogs are for techies. It’s easy to forget that many people still don’t like to use email. They prefer to telephone or meet in person, or even to send a letter. Blogs are populated by the technophilic.

[STREIGHT: Blogs are not just for "techies" anymore. BTW, to what credible studies is he refering? How many people "don't like to use email"? Of course, now, in 2005, people seem to be abandoning email in favor of text messaging, blogs, and IM. But mainly because these are faster, have better archivability, or are more convenient.]

Blogger is easy? Think again.

There are a significant number of people who do not have enough familiarity with the technology to be able to use Blogger effectively.

[STREIGHT: Perhaps, but I doubt it. Blogger is as easy as email. Only template tweaking presents some challenges, but HTML and CSS basics can be easily learned.]

Then there are systems like MT, which presume a certain familiarity with setting up CGI scripts, working with CSS, and a basic understanding of HTML.

In other words, it is Greek to the average undergraduate student. I think bloggers tend to be more friendly when it comes to tech help than many other techy communities, but then AOL may change that quickly.

I predict that the age of grand pronouncements about the world of blogging is dead.

I suspect the term “blog” will also die a slow death.

[STREIGHT: Don't project your reality onto blogs. You sir, and all of us humans, are dying a slow death, more or less. Why do you seek the death of blogs, anyway? Or more precisely, the slow (torturous?) death of the term "blog".]

But some of the underlying social changes that blogging has brought about are likely to continue to spread like a virus throughout the web and throughout organizations.

[STREIGHT: Alright, I see the veiled implication that social changes brought about by blogging is a "disease", "virus", "affliction", "malady", or "illness". What "underlying social changes"? Lack of specifics indicates poor information foraging.]

Blogs may die, but the bloggy way of doing things is likely to show up in a variety of surprising venues as time goes by.

[STREIGHT: This anthropologically curious animism imposed on the blog is symptomatic of the gross confusion surrounding blogs in the academic and business sectors. There is expressively wished-for doom and demise. A craving for the catastrophic doing away with the blog and blogging as an activity.

Lectures: dictatorial authority broadcast, accompanied by passive absorbing of message by audience (students).

Blogs: interactive supplementing and enhancing of message, with new message creation via comment threads and reciprocal posts.]

In the meantime, I think we do a disservice in trying to lump together the blogging world as a whole.

There are interesting commonalities, but—-as I’ve said before—-the atypical blogger is far more interesting in many ways than the typical one.

[STREIGHT: Why are unspecified terms used, with no examples to clarify?

What is an "atypical blogger", and why are they superior, "far more interesting in many ways"?

Why a need to stomp on "typical bloggers"?

What is it that makes "typical bloggers", i.e., "bloggers in general, as a class", so less interesting than this other vague notion, the "atypical (super?) blogger"?

More Anti-Blog Nonsense from the Powers That Pretend To Be.]

Posted by alex at October 20, 2003 10:13 PM


[signed] Steven Streight aka Vaspers the Grate



carrie said...

i've mentioned that before.
people who say,

"well, America, i went to the store yesterday...."

this is the internet. it is not limited to Amerikuh.

carrie said...

yeah, why does it have to spread like a virus? why not wildfire? or simply: culture???

steven edward streight said...

Or this, Carrie:

blog are spreading like...

* euphoria

* love

* tranquility at a contemplative, vows-of-silence monastery

* candy melting in the July Illinois drought sun

* shivers from a fun scare

* popcorn popping in the microwave

Virus is a contagion of destructive, or even fatal impulsion.

Why virus?

Why a negative, sad, unfortunate spreading?

This is deconstruction.

Close reading and questioning of that which is "normatively" ignored, assumed, or demoted to irrelevance.

That's why Derrida is fun to read, for me anyway. And Lacan.

MARYBETH said...

"Less time passively absorbing messages and stories, more time conversing with others and telling their own stories.]"

Steven ,


If..... people can GET this critical truth, about blog's

"tell your own story"

Me thinks many more people young and old would desire to be part of what you so eloquently and clearly explain ( deconstruct) and actively support

the blogoshphere

I also see it as a great opportunity to learn and practice social interaction.
Some people who other people judge as being anti-social, unfriendly, often are not....
They simply have not yet learned some basic skills needed to interact with other people.

Or, people who "think" they have little to share or offer, can simply slap a few picture onto a blog and open the door to a world of new people.

I think it is exciting!

I think you should publih a basic manuel on Blogging.

Many people (like myself prior to finding you) do not know you can and should respond to comments on your own blog comment section; thus creating an on going conversation, as well as visiting the comenters individual blog and leaving regular communication.

steven edward streight said...

The original IRC discussion channels and text-based clients were quite open to the fact that real conversations could now occur, once the computers, the servo-mechanisms, were interconnected.

Computers connect, talk to each other via protocols, so humans can connect, talk to each other via text, photography, art, video, audio, etc.

What other purpose could exist for blog comment functionality?

All a comment is: a link in a conversation. A speaking solidified and ex-temporalized by inscriptions, writing, the so-called supplement, the dreaded expression.

Notice how you can say lots of things, in person, on the phone, bu the moment you commit something to written format, note, blog post, email, letter, fax, it now becomes subversive, radicalized by being embodied.

Go to a party, and furtively or openly jot notes every 20 seconds or minute. Watch the reactions. You will be swarmed: "what are you writing?"