Some Small Change from Exchange on Circulars
Reading and much intrigued (puzzled, jostled) by Brian Kim Stefans and Darren Wershler-Henry's now "final" exchange, especially picking up in the middle where the two discuss personal and multiple author blogs, as well as optimal styles for blogging. Here are some excerpts, with glosses, for what it's worth. I suppose comments should go in the Free Space Comix comments window, but I'm thinking this might be a bit too much text (and maybe too redundant) for that. Brian, if you read this, let me know if otherwise.
DWL: "...the coalition model: a decent weblog NEEDS multiple authors to work even in the short term.... There's nothing *wrong* with personal weblogs, but, like reality TV, they get awfully thin over time. Even when the current search technologies adapt to spider the extra text that blogging has created, the problem of anemic content isn't going to go away unless we start doing more collective writing online. The problem is partly a need for education; most writers are still in the process of learning how to use the web to best advantage."
Two related "problems" here, of "anemic content" and "a need for education." Problems that might have more to do with "discipline," as discussed below, than blogging or the web per se. Is one problem (anemia) necessarily the result of or even related to the other (education)? I'm not sure, but I also shrink a bit from claims re the use of the web "to best advantage." Whose advantage?
BKS: "I'm not sure that it's necessary for a blog to be multi-authored; what it really needs is a mandate, and it's possible that, were the mandate simply to produce rich, incantatory prose -- imagine the Marcel Proust blog -- a highly disciplined approach could work."
Mandate and disciplined approach -- a good template for blog building, no doubt, with sites like Circulars offering compelling evidence in support. I agree generally that the blog adrift may not work as well as the one that tries to steer into the wind, on some course, but what guides the mandate? Re above, it's true that any blog or reality TV show can get "thin over time," but I wonder if an interest in *thickness* might preclude a different kind or set of mandates whose endgames, as personal or multi-authored efforts, vary from the journalistic reach of some.
BKS: "...the individual voice is sharpened by an informed sense of the social arena in which it will resonate (in which the message will ultimately become dulled)."
Exactly -- my suspicion is that there are few if any truly "personal" blogs. A bad analogy, but sort of like rain drops always adding up to rain.
BKS: "...Perhaps the model blog is that which responds to the formal issues of other blogs as if they were social issues....
A stellar mandate (or template for how to envision one) and maybe matches up somewhat with the idea of the "blog approach" (in a field report below). The shape of that response may not be so obvious or overt (maybe doesn't need to be), but I think the "response" (even when implicit) is precisely what prevents the ostensibly "personal" blog from being, in fact, limited to the personal. Nonetheless, being clear about that in one's approach is I think what BKS means by a "mandate."
DWL: "...Endless streams of novelistic prose, no matter how incantatory, are *not* what I want to read online."
DWL rephrases BKS's "rich, incantatory prose" as "novelistic prose," I guess to absorb the Proust example, but are they the same thing? Maybe a minor point, but since "prose" is such a big deal in blogging, maybe not.
DWL: "...I think that the paragraph-as-"post" is the optimal unit of online composition, and that an optimal online style would be some sort of hybrid of prose poetry and healthy geek cynicism.... But I think I see your point, that it's possible for one writer to produce the kind of dialogic multiplicity that could sustain a blog. There is, however, a large difference between 'possible' and 'likely.'"
Some hefty statements here that need sorting out. Yes, prose, if not novelistic prose. Paragraph-as-"post" as "optimal" unit of composition -- a paragraph, I assume (i.e., not a series, which might lean toward the novelistic?), like the paragraphs assembled in this exchange? A "hybrid" of prose poetry and geek cynicism could, I imagine, be "incantatory," and I keep using this word not to deconstruct the language but because I like incantatory prose, online or off, and I see real hope for new blog forms in some resolution of this prose/poetry/novelistic/incantatory quandary (Sawako's Texture Notes may be moving in the right direction.)
Otherwise, "dialogic multiplicity" of the sort DWL seems to favor probably does, in the end, require multiple heads in the post window, but again there are other ways to sustain a blog and no shortage of reasons why one approach, collective or personal, should be lauded as inherently more sustainable (not necessarily what's being argued here, but a risk all the same).
There's a lot more to this exchange and my responses are cursory. Now off with you to get the full story.