Apr 06

Having come pretty late into the whole blogging arena, it still strikes me as a novel experience to log in here and share my thoughts, observations and even my lame jokes with you (that last one is better suited by the word “inflict” rather than “share”, I know). It seems so new to me – despite the fact that the quickest and most cursory look at the figures shows that there are millions of blogs out there, reflecting a staggeringly diverse pool of people. Exploring the blogs that are out there, some of which have been around for years, some months, some a matter of days, and coming to terms with the fact that there are a lot of people out there a damn sight funnier and better at this than I am has really opened my eyes. Which I suppose is the point of the whole thing, really: to impart a new perspective and make you think about things you might otherwise never have thought about.

So as I thought about it, read, enjoyed, commented on and added more and more blogs to my bookmarks (which I will have to put on my little blogroll down there to the bottom right) I looked around at other things and just like that, my perspective shifted just so and boom, I saw something I hadn’t really noticed before. Something that will no doubt have struck many of you as patently obvious, but I make no apologies for my relative dullness in this case. The (minor) revelation I happened upon?

Ladies and gentlemen, blogging isn’t anything new at all.

Sure, the name is new. The medium is new and still an unknown to many people in the world today, which can be attributed to economic, age or any number of other factors. The degree to which blogs can interlink with one another to form a living, breathing network of documented thought and experience is new. What isn’t new is the fundamental act itself, which is basically communication of experience and providing thoughts and context to those experiences.

I’m not talking about diaries (well, not all of them), which are a very different animal indeed. Blogs are intended for public consumption – the author might wish to remain anonymous, but what he/she says is out there and anyone can find it if they spend half an hour or so looking. Diaries are intensely private and I’ll be the first to admit that there are things I would write in a diary (if I kept one) that I would not put up here.

What I am talking about is a particular style of writing. I was reading a book the other night in which the author refers to a mister Ike Hoover, the Chief White House Usher for many many years and one of those people who, quite unlike the slightly more powerful residents of that place, had the fortune to develop a perspective over decades rather than chunks of four to eight years. Hoover’s memoir is essentially a blog – it is intended for others to read, is witty, plays to its audience and relays experience, but (and this is the important part) also imparts his perspective on those experiences. If he were to be alive and doing his memoirs today, a blog would be the ideal format for him.

In point of fact the very book I was reading all of this in, “Letter from America: 1946 – 2004” by Alistair Cooke, is also a blog on paper. Cooke was a British correspondent who moved to America and eventually took up residence there permanently. His radio broadcasts of the letters, transmitted once a week in what was to become the longest running radio show in broadcasting history, carried out the same function as a blog, just a very long running and influential one. The dooce of his day, you might say.

There are more of these books out there, and I am going to start looking for them a little more earnestly now. I know this might all sound terribly self evident and not just a little boring, but I was fascinated by the idea that this modern phenomenon, this thing that I have just recently started to get into, this trend that has increased my nightly net reading by a sizeable percentage…has been going on for centuries. Instead of being one voice in a vast chorus, I find I’m one voice in a continuum of history filled with different, overlapping choruses, counterpoints and themes, each overlapping and complementing one another. From participant in a purely modern phenomenon to one single atom in an entire, dizzying universe of experience.

Talk about your shift in perspective.

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