Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Table Talk

One of the major topics covered in the conversations over the past two evenings of eating and socialising was that of blogging. I don't recall that I brought it up - although recollection is somewhat muddied. But what strikes me when I reflect is that I have been labouring under the delusion that blogging was a much more widely-accepted tool than it seems to be (a delusion probably fostered by my early introduction to the genre through family contacts).

The contention seemed to be that blogging was essentially fairly narcissistic, hierarchical (in that one person controlled each blog and everyone else commented) and limited in its uses. I know that this has been covered, probably ad nauseam, in other places, but this is me working it out for myself. And that's where my personal use of the medium comes in. I have always liked to think onto paper - so much so that when I was teaching I once found a carefully-argued paper on the subject of homework which I couldn't remember submitting to anyone - until I realised I'd written it for myself. So for me, this is an extension of that exercise - and maybe someone else will read this, and think "boring old fart", and pass on.

As for the notion of hierarchy: I have a feeling that as blogging has turned out to be so wonderfully easy technologically speaking, the only hierarchy involved is a much wider one - the ready access to and use of the internet. Otherwise it's surely a hierarchy of willingness - the desire to experiment, to share, to bring new interest to the old skills that English teachers like me have always tried to hammer into their pupils. After all, every Standard Grade pupil in the land has to write two essays - one factual/discursive and one creative/personal - and it's pain and grief for many of them.

There are no hard facts involved in this kind of communication. Just opinion, comment, sharing of experiences - and the expression of all this in a style the writer can be satisfied with. So maybe the big thing is that the blogger - beyond the kid stage - enjoys the exercise of crafting a piece of writing which creates a persona, explores ideas as they arrive and reaches a few others who may want to indulge in the dinner-table talk we started two nights ago.

So: are there bloggers out there for whom the act of writing is a chore? the kind of person who, say, excels at maths but hates writing an essay? (I'm heading back to the classroom here) What does that kind of person write about, if he/she exists? Answers, not on a postcard, please, but in my comment box!


  1. Anonymous8:35 AM

    In the past I used to do quite a bit of writing some poetry, none of which deserves to be preserved (Don't most people write poetry in their youth?); some writing of the two kinds you mention. Even a few years ago I usedto write pieces for the Yahoo clubs I'm in to start a discussion.
    But now I finf that I need the stimulus of what someone else has said to get me going. So I wouldn't be much good with a blog of my own. But I'm glad you have one to which I can contribute when I'm moved by something you have said.

  2. I've have also heard the "narcissistic" complaint made against blogging. I suppose there may be something in it since whenever anyone self-publishes, there must be at least a bit of ego in there. However, there are class blogs like those John Johnston where it is not so much "self-publishing" so are they purely "narcissistic"?

    I, like you, find bloging helps me organise what I think. I suppose I could write it down without posting it in a blog, but the two way communication and the extended conversations across multiple blogs make blogging my thoughts much more useful. So there may be some narcissisim in there - but the blogging community can be very good at bringing you back down with a bump if you get too full of yourself.

  3. Anonymous2:24 PM

    Oh there are lots of reasons for my blog. It can be to pass on info without me emailing groups of people, or for passing on news to the family without phoning everyone, or jotting down things that inspire me and which I want to record. In fact, I have realised that I have almost stopped journalling since I started blogging although I certainly don't blog what I used to journal, if you know what I mean. And it can also serve as Mission. I am constantly amazed at the comments I get from people all over the world. And good to find you Christine in the blogging community!
    Ruthie Rainbow

  4. Anonymous6:02 PM

    I had to look up 'blogging' in the dictionary a few weeks ago when I first heard of it.
    My own defination would be:
    A diary someone would keep if they still lived at home and had a very nosey Mum.
    It was me that commented:
    Superhuman is Superordinary
    I heard the joke years ago about anglicans being behind a wall in heaven because they thought they were the only ones there
    it was about Catholics then. I suppose you could say it about any denomination my favourite would be the Free Kirk