I've been thinking about the assumptions inherent in blogging. What are the limits of the technology?
I read the book Four Arguments for the Elimination of Television about a million years ago (ok, ten, plain speech, Pam, plain speech) and loved it, but one of the things that most stayed with me was the idea that TV isnt' only full of crappy programming, or run by the wrong sort of folks, it has inherent limitations, as a technology, that cannot be fixed by better writers, or making it less commercial. For examples, you can portray violence on TV very well, it consists of big movements, visuals, sounds, simple images. You cannot convey the beauty of a still forest at all. It's not just that people like violence better, it's also that it "works" where other things simply don't, in that framework.
There are all sorts of things about blogging that strike me this way, inherent limitations, some of which we could bypass within the technolgy (I still long for the days of discussion groups, and wish that there were more and better discussion boards that were centered on topics, rather than individuals. I don't particularly want to blog, to have my name in lights, as it were, but there are things I want to discuss, and this seems the best way to reach people who might be interested and interesting to me.) and some we cannot address within the technolgoy:
*it's one dimensional (a flat screen)
*it's a tool of a priviliged few (Rob asked the other day if there are any quaker bloggers in Africa or Latin America - I answered that I think there are quite few. Think of how likely someone in the US or Britain is to own a computer with internet access good enough to make this pastime reasonable, and that has yielded, what? 30? 50? I doubt near 100 quakers bloggers. It's quite easy to forget that it's not the norm everywhere. And much of me hopes that those who share my quaker ideals would probably not access the technology in a place where it was so relatively extravagant - it would be like me having satellite TV and one of those huge TVs and gosh knows what else.
*it thereby limits who you talk to. By focusing my communicative energy on blogging I am choosing not to focus it on other more simple, possibly more accessible (though I think mail service is terrible in many places too, and blogs may reach more people than periodicals do), and certainly more local forms of communication.
*for the most part we do it alone. Our breathing does not fall in together, we don't even say something and have it heard on the same day, maybe even the same week. Does it create disconnect? Do those things matter?
* Zach has a great post about peak oil and the coming doom of civilization as we know it (it's true, you gotta love him!) and one of the articles he links talks about the petroleum and plain old water that is used up in the production of computers and computer products. I tend to turn a blind eye to this stuff, but every now and then I can't run from it and I think my god! what are we doing? using all these resources so we can blather on about what it means to be a quaker. In my heart I know that it doesn't mean using resources that others don't have access too, and that are running out as I type to sit alone and navel gaze publicly!
* I already alluded to this, but it's about ME, this is MY blog, come pay attention to ME. Is that what we want, as a community? as I said, I think it would be useful to have more fora, like nontheist friends, for mutual disucssion (Is there a way to create some sort of open blog? I know that one can have more than one user, but can it be unrestricted? Is there a way to make it essentially so??
*Oh yea, this is a bit different, but I wonder about quaker blogging. I found out about the trend from Liz a while ago, and I remember asking her if people who were quakers just wrote about their whole lives (crushes, work trouble, heating bills) or just about quaker spirituality. I've come to see that it's both, but I find that I feel I am somehow representing quakers, that if I just write about being scared to raise kids, I'm somehow being overly self-absorbed. And Zach, has three blogs (that I know of) - sort of keeping distinct spirituality, activism, and personal stuff..... I have thought of doing something like that, and yet I hope that my whole life is informed by my quaker values, and what's more, that my quakerism is informed by my whole life and the wholeness of life around me.
But then maybe that gets back to how many dimensions blogging has, or can have, and how many I need it to have. hmmmmm.
Am I just having a cranky day???