Friday, August 18, 2006

Perils of Blogging

Joseph Bottum has some thoughtful comments on the nature of blogging:

But there’s writing, and then there’s writing. Do most authors apply to what they do for the Web the same concentration they apply when they are writing their print essays and books? I’d take almost any odds the answer is no. There’s an ephemeral and occasional quality that all Web writing has—and that blogging has in spades. It’s not just in the topics chosen (see me here blog-blathering about the ukulele), but in the chatty voice, the supersized diction, and, most of all, the completion: A blog entry must, by its nature, gesture at thoughts it lacks the time, will, and form to develop.

So, suppose in writing a blog entry, I say something regrettable—oh, I don’t know, maybe, “Did you read what that wiggly-waggly idiot Ramesh Ponnuru wrote?” (You understand, we’re just working on a test case here: I picked Ramesh because he’s probably the least wiggly-waggly person I know.) Does the speed of composition, the bloggy voice and diction, make it a less or a more reliable guide to the author’s genuine thoughts? That’s akin to the question of whether what you say when you’re drunk reveals more of what you really believe or less—since there is a kind of intoxication about blog writing, the speed of posting, the speed of response.

Richard Starr—as the managing editor of the Weekly Standard, a man keenly observant of the foibles of writers—once called blogging “the crack-cocaine of writing,” and what he had in mind was the addictive quality of the instant gratification. There’s no other writing in the world with the same response time: bang! you scribble a thought, and bang! you publish it, and bang! you get a mailbox full of responses (much of it calling you a wiggly-waggly idiot, but still, a response is a response). Anyway, that regrettable thing I say in a blog entry—does it represent me? The ease with which corrections, clarifications, and apologies can be posted on the Web seems to weaken responsibility even more.
Some of us without other outlets maybe put a bit more time into our longer blog entries, but I think Bottum is generally correct.

1 comment:

dcat said...

I also think that providing, while clearly offering perils, also offers opportinuty.
As many of you may guess, I find comments more problematic than blog posts. Looking back on more than two years of blogging, I do not really regret any of my posts at any of the blogs I have participated in. Comments are another matter, and I think that is because they can be so reactive and visceral.