Saturday, March 24, 2007
(10:14 AM) | Adam Kotsko:
"True life is absent."[UPDATE: The Wikipedia entry Blog calls most of the assertions in this first paragraph into radical question. I swear that I wasn't making this stuff up -- I read an article on the history of blogging once that was heavily focused on link-based blogs. Of course, it is always possible for me to simply tear out that article and create one that coheres with my genealogy. Indeed, I am sore tempted to do so.] The most curious thing about the infamous n+1 article about blogging isn't its perhaps ill-informed attack on literary blogs (adequately addressed here and here), but its apparent ignorance of the history of blogging. The author appears to believe that including links represents a degeneration of the form, yet it is my understanding that the "web log" in its originary sense was precisely a collection of interesting links. In our post-Google world, we may think that such a function is redundant, but it was absolutely crucial at the time. Those of us who were coming into our own when Altavista was at the cutting edge of search technology can muster no resentment toward a format that compiled links -- and in fact, Google capitalized on the labor of bloggers to make its search algorithm so effective. Contrary to n+1's ill-informed grumblings, it is precisely online diaries, a form valorized by n+1, or at least valorized in some imagined previous incarnation, that represent, if not a degeneration, then at least a mutation in the function of the blog. [UPDATE (2): I found the article that substantiates my claims! Better: in a Google search for "history of blogging," it comes in first place, meaning it is more authoritative than the Wikipedia entry.]
That said, I can sympathize with those who feel slightly betrayed by n+1's swipes at blogging. After all, what up and coming print publication has been more vigorously promoted by blogs than n+1? The literary or theory-oriented blogs represented a ready-made public and a means of free promotion for n+1's product. Of course, given my previous chiding of a certain Long Sundayan for his exaggerated veneration of n+1, that journal's attack on literary blogs as glorified fan sites is a fairly straightforward example of poetic justice, even if it wasn't consciously executed as such (a representative of n+1 clarified that of course they weren't referring to Long Sunday or The Valve...).
Of course, I am aware that no one will respond to what I'm saying here, because I'm not Scott Eric Kaufman. That guy can't belch without getting 1000 links and 100,000,000 visits, and yes: I'm jealous of him for that. Nonetheless, I press bravely onward, sure that my consistently high-quality product will one day get the recognition it deserves. Failing that, however, I plan to wait for something interesting to happen to me and spend the rest of the time meta-blogging about how blogging is affecting my career (short answer: not at all, from what I can tell).
In conclusion, then, I enjoyed the n+1 article on blogging, nearly as much as I enjoyed the sections on cell phones and e-mail. I am disappointed, however, because I was going to blog about how people with headsets initially look schizophrenic, and they stole my idea. Curse you, n+1! Curse your keen observations, your rapier wit, your penchant for paradox, your resigned bemusement!